U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/07/17 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, July 17 l995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Announcements Introduction of Anika Turner, Public Affairs Intern ....1 Release of U.S. Citizens Barloon/Daliberti from Iraq ...1-2 Secretary Christopher/Chinese FM Qian Mtg. in Brunei ...2 Secretary Christopher/UK Foreign Secretary Discussions .2 Assistant Secretary Oakley's Trip to Bosnia/Geneva .....2-3 Secretary Christopher's Trip to London for Bosnia Mtgs. 2-3 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA War in Bosnia --Possibility of Use of U.S. Helicopters/Flight Crews .....12,16 --Report of U.S. Message to France ........................4,15 --U.S. Discussions with Allies ............................4-8,10-11 --Defense of Goradzde; Protection of Enclaves .............8-10 --U.S. Position on UNPROFOR ...............................7,9,14-17 --Dual Key Arrangement ....................................11-12 --Unilateral Lifting of Sanctions .........................12-14 --Congressional Consultations .............................14,16 INDIA Kashmir--Hostage Situation; State Department Announcement .17-18 CHINA Secretary Christopher/Chinese FM Chen Mtg. in Brunei ......18-19 Release of Dissident Yang Zhou ............................18-19 Harry Wu Case .............................................18,20-21 U.S. Visas for Taiwanese Officials for Unofficial Visits ..19,31-32 Report of Agreement to Extradite Thanong ..................30 One China Policy ..........................................30-31 IRAQ Release of U.S. Citizens Barloon/Daliberti from Iraq ......21 --Congressman Richardson's Role ...........................22-26 Sanctions Against Iraq ....................................22-23 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli/Syrian Negotiations; Military Experts Mtg. ........26-28 Israeli/Palestinian Talks .................................28-29 THAILAND Allegations of Drug Trafficking ...........................29-30 NIGERIA Secret Trials in Lagos ....................................32-33 JAPAN Civil Aviation Talks ......................................33
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JULY 17, 1995, 1:03 P.M
. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, welcome to the State Department briefing. I see we have some special guests with us today. Welcome. How are you? Good.
I'd like to introduce Miss Anika Turner, who is an intern this summer in the PA front office, working with me and with Christine Shelley. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and she intends to pursue her graduate study shortly. Welcome, Anika.
Steve, do you have an introduction you want to make here?
Q My daughter, Ellen
MR. BURNS: Welcome. Are you going to ask questions? You're not. Okay. Just your dad, huh? (Laughter.)
MR. BURNS: You have a right to ask. If anything is unclear, just speak up.
Q (Inaudible) (Laughter.)
MR. BURNS: Okay. I have a few things, a few notices before we get to questions.
First, I just wanted to reaffirm how pleased all of us in the government are by the release of Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon overnight, and to congratulate again Congressman Bill Richardson. Secretary Christopher phoned out to Amman this morning to our Ambassador's residence and he talked to both Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon. I think you know the President also called and talked to them both. They are in great spirits. I think Mr. Daliberti is heading back to the U.S. and Mr. Barloon is to Kuwait where his family resides.
In addition to thanking Congressman Richardson, I think it's appropriate for all of us in the State Department to thank Mr. Ryszard Krystosik who is the chief official of the Polish protecting office in Baghdad. He is a veteran diplomat. He did an outstanding job for the United States and I think for the international community in trying to stay in touch with the two men over the last five months and in representing United States' interests, and we are very, very grateful to him and to the Polish Government.
Secondly, I wanted you all to know that the Secretary will indeed have a meeting on August lst in Brunei with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Qian. We agreed with the Chinese this morning that this meeting would take place on August l. We are looking forward to this meeting. The Secretary believes that it presents an opportunity to talk through some of the major and important issues on the agenda of both the United States and China. This will be the ninth meeting between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Qian.
Third, the Secretary will be having dinner tomorrow night with the U.K. Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, and they will be having discussions as well on Wednesday morning here in the Department. This was a meeting that was scheduled more than a week ago, just after Mr. Rifkind assumed his post as Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, and of course presents an opportunity to talk about Bosnia in greater detail, but also about many other issues that are of concern to the United States and the United Kingdom.
Also I would like you to note the Secretary has asked Assistant Secretary of State Phyllis Oakley to travel to Bosnia for an on-sight look at the problems, the tremendous problems that are afflicting the refugees from Srebrenica. She left yesterday. She was in Geneva early this morning, and she traveled with Mrs. Ogata this morning into Tuzla, spent the day in Tuzla, and I believe is now heading back to Geneva, so we hope to have some impressions from her visit perhaps later on today.
The purpose of her trip is to gain a firsthand impression of the problems of the refugees, but I think more relevant to the United States, what we can do working through the International Committee and the Red Cross, the World Food Program, the UNHCR, and working through the relevant non-governmental organizations, what we can do to help respond to the very urgent and very grave problems of the refugees.
Finally, I think you all know the Secretary talked a little bit earlier this morning on NPR about his intention to travel to London on Thursday afternoon for the Bosnian meetings that have been called, suggested, by the U.K. that will take place on Friday. So he will be spending part of Thursday evening and Friday and probably into Saturday in London on those meetings.
And there is a sign-up sheet today that is available for any of you who would like to accompany the Secretary and his party to London, and it closes at noon tomorrow.
Q Nick, can you -- what is Phyllis Oakley Assistant Secretary of, please? And it sounds like she made an extremely short, extremely brief trip. Can you put it in hours, or was she there a whole day, or what?
MR. BURNS: I think she was there the better part of the day. Her title is Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, and she has been in Geneva conferring with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs. Ogata. The intention was to fly in today, to talk to the officials of the international organizations who are on the ground dealing with the refugee problems, and to get a sense of what further assistance they need from the international community.
She will then spend the next two days in Geneva, where there is going to be a working group, a humanitarian issues working group, of all the organizations that are contributing money and services to the refugees in Bosnia, so that the international community can be united in what its response should be to this humanitarian situation.
Q You folks have been extremely clear about ruling out troops, and not to extend what will be a long briefing anyhow when we get to the Middle East among other things, what is the U.S. doing unilaterally, risk-free, without any need to send any troops into Bosnia? What is the U.S. doing on its own without waiting for an international consensus in behalf of these refugees in Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: Well, as you know, we don't have American Government personnel on the ground who are working with the refugees, trying to resolve the problems of the refugees. We are a financial contributor to organizations that do that work. So therefore it made sense for Mrs. Oakley to travel to Bosnia to look at the situation and talk to people on the ground, but also to go back to the headquarters of these organizations in Geneva in order to make some decisions about what further assistance is needed.
I don't think it is possible for the United States at this point to unilaterally intervene in a situation where you have three main international organizations working. I think it is much more effective to work through them since they have the infrastructure set up and the experience in the region.
Q What are the three? The High Commissioner for --
MR. BURNS: The UNHCR, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Food Program, and there are a number of non-governmental organizations, some of them American, some not American, that have specific contracts to work on this problem.
Q Nick, there is a report out of France that the United States has told the French that it would have to ask Congress to approve the use of helicopters in Bosnia for any operation that might be undertaken to strengthen Gorazde or any of the other safe havens. Is this accurate? Has the United States told the French that before it could provide that kind of transport, it would have to get approval from Congress?
MR. BURNS: That's the first I've heard of that, Carol. I'm not aware that we have passed any such message to the French Government. I can't know what all of our contacts have been, but I'm not aware that was a message that was passed yesterday.
Q At least in your discussions, you have not heard anyone talk about a legal requirement that -- or that the President couldn't make a decision like that without first --?
MR. BURNS: I have not. I'd be glad to look into that and check on it, but I have not. I think, you know, basically what we have done, to catch you up on events since Friday, is we continued our discussions with our allies throughout the weekend, and that was highlighted by the meeting that General Shalikashvili attended yesterday in London.
He is back. He had a meeting with Tony Lake, Secretary Christopher, Secretary Perry and Ambassador Albright this morning. I understand the President participated in that, and I think Mike will have something to say about that when Mike briefs, but he gave a firsthand report to all of those individuals about the meeting.
I think it is fair to say that it is going to be necessary for us to continue our discussions for the next couple of days with our NATO allies, with the other troop- contributing countries, to gain a more precise understanding of exactly what the French plan is, and also to work through some of the differences that are obviously out there among the troop-contributing countries on what the next best step is.
This will lead us to the meeting in London at the end of this week when both Foreign Ministers and Defense Ministers meet, all of these countries to assess the future of the United Nations operation there, and assess what makes sense to do in a strategic and tactical military sense, particularly pertaining to the eastern enclaves and particularly Gorazde, what makes sense next.
But I think it is still true that we don't have yet a detailed sense of what the military plan is. We do have a number of questions about the plan, questions that need to be answered certainly before a decision can be made by the President, questions of a military nature about the resources that will be brought to bear, that are important to know before you can, I think, appropriately make a decision.
Q And is it the assessment of this government that you have that time, that you have several days to make this decision, and still be able to intervene in a meaningful way?
MR. BURNS: It's difficult, Carol, because I think everybody watching the conflict, whether on the ground or from afar, understands that every day does count, and that every day is a day where the Bosnian Serbs continue to persecute the refugees and where they continue as they do today to be aggressive militarily as they are around Zepa, so every day counts.
I would also say, however, that for the United States to be able to meet a request for military assistance is a very important undertaking. We would be putting our forces and our resources at the service of others, and we need to have a very real appreciation of what the request is. We also need to have, frankly, further talks to look at the position of other countries that are involved before we can, I think, make a decision to go forward or make a decision to do something else. And I believe that the time table that I have sketched out is probably the appropriate one.
Q Nick, you raise an interesting point there in your last statement, when you say "under the service of others." This referring to possible -- this operation will not be commanded by U.S. officers?
MR. BURNS: I wasn't referring to that. I was just referring to the central point that certain countries, namely France, Britain, the Netherlands, have troops on the ground right now as part of the UNPROFOR forces. We do not, and we are not intending to put American combat troops on the ground to join them.
Any request -- the requests to us have been more in the way of lift and transport services and things of that nature. That does not get me into the issue of command and control which is not my preserve, which is certainly a question that the Pentagon should answer, and not me. But I don't mean to cast doubt on that either. I said I am just not speaking to that point.
Q Okay, I mean not to draw too fine a line, but what did you mean by "under the service of others?"
MR. BURNS: I simply meant at the request of others. Maybe that would have been a better way to put it, maybe it would have been more clear. We are in a situation now where France, Britain, the Netherlands, are the countries that comprise the rapid reaction force, there is a request from the French Government for the United States and Britain and others now to contribute to an undertaking to defend Gorazde, and the United States is responding to that -- or attempting to respond to that request, but we need greater clarity about that request.
Q When you say "greater clarity," isn't that really just cover for the assessment that this meeting was a failure? After all, I think just from Thursday onward the United States Government was asking publicly for the French to clarify what they meant by their request. And then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff flew all the way to London for a specific meeting to find out from the French what they were asking.
He had a long meeting with the French on that very subject, and there still isn't clarity?
MR. BURNS: Well, it's certainly not covered in this sense, Steve, and that is, anytime the United States is asked to involve itself militarily in a conflict or to meet a request to allow others to do so on the ground, we have to take that request seriously. And have an obligation to the men and women who would carry it out, and we simply have an obligation to understand fully what the request is and what the impact would be on the United States.
And, I don't believe even after yesterday's meeting that is sufficiently clear yet.
I think it's much too harsh to say that yesterday's meeting was a failure. The fact is, we have a request. There will be an answer to that request sooner or later. And that answer was not - we were not able to produce that answer yesterday. And the countries that met yesterday were not able to agree on a final response to the situation, but that will also, we hope, emerge in the coming days.
So, to say it's failure, I think we're just in mid-stream here. We've got to wait and see what happens in the next couple of days.
Q (Inaudible) the U.N. peacekeepers are going to stay? Everything you've said, everything Christopher said this morning is within that context. There's another construction, of course -- that the French are bluffing and that they will eventually try to leave the allies out of Bosnia and then you will go along.
You're putting everything in a sense of bolstering the peacekeepers. Is there a threshold decision to keep the peacekeepers in Bosnia and bolster them?
MR. BURNS: Well, that's a question, I think, that's going to be central to the meetings in London on Friday.
Q You can't - that Friday, it won't be the beginning of the withdrawal of the peacekeepers?
MR. BURNS: We certainly hope not. But I was just getting to the second part of my response. I think that is a central question for Friday, Barry. I also think it's - I also know that it's clear that our position is that they should stay and that they should be bolstered. And that in our discussion with most of the troop-contributing countries, that's certainly the very real sense that we get.
Q Do any of the troop-contributing countries now favor withdrawal?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that there are any that favor withdrawal right now.
Q How wide are the differences between the countries represented in London?
MR. BURNS: At yesterday's meeting?
MR. BURNS: Well, I can't speak with any degree of specificity about yesterday's meeting because I wasn't in the debrief that General Shalikashvili gave to the President and others this morning.
Obviously, these are exceedingly difficult problems. They need to be worked through, and there is not an agreement yet among the Western allies. We hope very much that there will be some kind of agreement by the end of this week.
Q Why can't the United States say at this point what it is willing to offer to such an operation?
MR. BURNS: Well, I'm just not going to go into the details of what General Shalikashvili did yesterday. I think that we've been clear in our private discussions with our allies what we might be prepared to do, but we also have a number of questions. And we've reserved the right to agree or not to agree based on the answers to those questions. And that's pretty much where we are right now.
Q Is there an assessment in the government whether Gorazde can be saved -- I mean, whether it is savable -- whether it should be saved, or whether it's going to take some American support to do that? I mean, can it be saved? Because time is obviously of the essence.
MR. BURNS: I think a much greater expert is Secretary Perry who took this question yesterday and I think answered in the affirmative. Of course, it can be saved; it can be protected. That is the mandate that the United Nations has. And, we believe that mandate should be taken seriously.
The question is, how can it be done? That's the question that Secretary Christopher posed on his media appearance yesterday, and that is the question that needs to be answered this week.
Q But, Nick, this morning -- I don't know the condition, one city against another. But this morning, Christopher said explicitly that it was never assumed that the U.N. peacekeepers in Zepa could save that city. That was never their mission. They're lightly armed. There was never -- I'm looking for the exact words. But he said there was never an assumption that the U.N. peacekeepers would save the city. They're not so equipped.
Do you think this city is different? Or do you think Friday's meeting which, I suppose -- whatever results would take further time to implement -- all would be done in time to (1) to bolster; (2) the city is savable, salvageable, by bolster-peacekeeping forces? Is that what you're saying?
MR. BURNS: I'm very well aware of what the Secretary said.
Q No, today, this morning; not yesterday.
MR. BURNS: This morning. I was listening as well, this morning, when the Secretary spoke on NPR.
Q (Inaudible) U.N. troops.
MR. BURNS: The Secretary was stating a fact, and that is that all of these U.N. peacekeepers are lightly armed. And their central mission over the last couple of years has been humanitarian. That is a different fact than the question that Roy brought up. And the question is, is it possible to protect Gorazde? And, the answer is, yes, it certainly is. We hope very much that it will be protected and defended against the Bosnian Serbs.
Q By the way, his quote was: "They were never intended to try to defend the area," meaning the U.N. mission was never to defend Zepa. There aren't enough people there --
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that's what the Secretary said. I don't believe it's fair to infer that from his comments.
Q I'm not saying anything -- he's speaking of the poor peacekeepers who don't have the weapons and don't have the armament to defend a so-called safehaven. That's all he's saying.
MR. BURNS: Barry, all I'm saying is that you've added a description of what you thought he meant by that. I'll tell you what I think he meant by that.
What I think the Secretary meant was exactly what he said: They are lightly armed.
MR. BURNS: And they are in a very difficult position to engage in full-scale military activities as lightly armed individuals. And, their central mission has always been humanitarian.
The United Nations also has a mandate to protect those safe areas. It failed in that mandate last week in Srebrenica, and we hope very much it will not fail in the other enclaves.
Q Isn't the essence --
Q If it can be saved, then the next question is, should it be saved? Is there a view in the Administration that Gorazde should be saved if at all possible?
MR. BURNS: We certainly think Gorazde should be protected. We certainly think the U.N. mandate should be seriously - a serious part of this calculation, and that the people of Gorazde have every right to think that the United Nations will protect them.
The question is a very difficult question. In unfavorable military circumstances, where the Bosnian Serbs are now emboldened to pretty much get their way based on the events of the last couple of weeks, how can the United Nations now strengthen itself or reconfigure itself to, in essence, to defend the mandate that it clearly has? That's the question that the United States, France, Britain, The Netherlands, and other countries, along with the United Nations, have to answer this week. And that's what was at issue in yesterday's meeting and will be an issue in Friday's meeting in London.
Q But the problem is, with all of the meetings you were describing earlier, all the discussions this week, everything seems like the United States is sort of asking questions and waiting for somebody else to answer.
If it can be saved; if it should be saved; if it's a matter of saving the U.N.'s honor, doesn't the United States have to take some kind of a leadership role in figuring out how to do it, and let the others ask you questions. Why aren't you giving out some answers and, in fact, taking the lead on this?
MR. BURNS: Look, Roy, I'm simply not going to be in a position to go into everything that's said in every private meeting. I can assure you, we are asserting views in those meetings.
The fundamental fact of this conflict, however, is that we do not have troops on the ground. If we want to save Gorazde, if we want to protect it and protect the U.N. mandate, others are going to have to bear the brunt of that work -- namely, the French, the British, the Dutch, and others. That's just a fundamental fact of life.
So therefore when we are requested to help them, it is entirely legitimate and it is imminently sensible of the United States to ask questions that would help us understand what the mission is and how we can best help that mission. You would certainly not expect the Secretary of Defense or the Chairman of the Joint's staff to blindly agree to any request to do anything.
We have an obligation to our men and women in the service to make sure that their missions are carefully thought out. That is exactly what the United States is doing and has been doing for the past several days. And the answers have to be clear. We hope and expect very much that they will be clear as we lead up to Friday.
Q Isn't the essence of what you're talking about, the lack of agreement coming out of this meeting, isn't the essence of that that the British want to continue more or less under this current dual-key system which almost prohibits quick, reactive military tactics that the United States wants, if it goes along with this request, to be able to act as it sees fit and not ask the U.N. what to do, or if it may do it?
MR. BURNS: Steve, I'm just not in a position to go into private discussions we're having now with the British and French on issues like that.
Q But on the dual-key --
Q We listen to your words, all of us, very carefully. You are never -- not "you" just. But the U.S. Government is never critical of NATO, but they pass when the U.N. comes up.
So I guess one way to rephrase Steve's question is, is the U.S. still in favor of the dual-key arrangement?
MR. BURNS: I think, as --
Q You never fault NATO.
MR. BURNS: Nor should we fault NATO.
Q Right. I want to ask you if you fault the U.N.?
MR. BURNS: I think as Secretary Christopher said yesterday, if we had to do it all over again, we wouldn't agree, certainly, to a dual-key system. That is cumbersome and that has prevented resolute action in the past.
However, you can't rewrite history. We're not in a position to rewrite history at this point. We have very strong views on this issue but I'm just not going to go into the details of what we are saying in private at this point.
Q Technically speaking, does the dual-key just go on ad infinitum, or is it the type of an ad hoc arrangement that can be revised if there's a will to revise it?
MR. BURNS: It certainly today is part of the rules of the road for how the United Nations and NATO interact together. It is certainly not some kind of immutable law that can never be questioned. In fact, a lot of people think it should be questioned in the effort to strengthen UNPROFOR. I just can't go beyond that general -- that very general characterization.
Q Is the United States making efforts to get the dual-key arrangement changed before involving its helicopters or other aircraft?
MR. BURNS: I'm just not in a position to go into what we are saying in our private discussions.
Q Nick, is part of the question that still needs clarification the use of American flight crews on helicopters that might be supplied? Have you agreed that American flight crews will take part along with American helicopters?
MR. BURNS: There are a number of questions that we are asking; a lot of information that we are seeking so that we can make a decision. The Pentagon will be much more helpful to you in outlining what some of those military questions are. I think it's really appropriate for Ken Bacon and others to deal with that question.
Q Has that decision been made, notwithstanding who can answer it?
MR. BURNS: I just don't know if the decision has been made. I'm not sure we're that far along in the planning.
Q Nick, between now and Friday, it's likely there will be a strong show of political support on Capitol Hill for lifting the arms embargo and subsequently withdrawing the peacekeepers. How will that affect the dynamic of Friday's meeting? And are you, in the meantime, contributing to a vacuum that the Congressional leaders can walk right into?
MR. BURNS: We're certainly not leaving a vacuum. Our position on unilateral lift is clear. We think it's very unwise. We think it would widen the war. It would lead to the withdrawal of the U.N. forces. That's what the U.N. troop-contributing countries have told us. We think it would cripple any chance for political negotiations which, at the end of the day, are really the only long-term hope to resolve this problem in Bosnia.
So we have a very firm position. As we go off to the meetings on Friday, our allies will know that the position of the United States is that we are against unilateral lift.
Q How can you argue that forcefully with the allies when a majority of Congress -- I can't guarantee it -- but a majority of Congress is likely to say otherwise?
MR. BURNS: We will argue it forcefully because it is the President's right to conduct foreign policy. The President and the Secretary and others believe that unilateral lift would cripple whatever chances are left for the United Nations to salvage some semblance of a peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.
It's very important that we not walk out on our allies now, and that's essentially what "unilateral lift" would have us do -- walk out on our NATO allies. Our NATO allies have made it very clear that their preference is for the United States to stay engaged, support UNPROFOR on the ground, and now consider a further request -- at least, from the French Government. At a time when we are debating steps to strengthen UNPROFOR, it would not make sense to pull the rug out from under UNPROFOR's feet.
So I think you'll see that American leaders say that with a great deal of authority.
There was a time a couple of weeks ago when some in Congress were saying, "You can't assist the Rapid Reaction Force. You shouldn't obligate any money; you shouldn't deliver equipment; you shouldn't deliver lifts." The President felt it was important enough to go ahead on his own. He made it very public why he was doing that. We issued the text of his letter to the Congressional leadership. We've gone ahead with lift.
We are now lifting British and French troops into Split who will then go on to Bosnia to form the Rapid Reaction Force. We're delivering equipment, and we're going to deliver the other things that we promised -- intelligence and communication support.
I think this government is unified and determined to make sure that we do not leave our NATO allies unprotected as a unilateral lift would do.
Q Just one more question, Nick. Doesn't the absence of an agreement and the fact that the meeting of ministers will not occur until Friday create a four-day leadership vacuum that Congress is likely to try to fill?
MR. BURNS: Congress will do what Congress wants to do, and Congress has to make its own decisions. The Administration is making clear -- publicly clear and privately clear to members of Congress -- that we think unilateral lift would be a very serious mistake, contrary to the interests of the United States and contrary to the interests of our allies who have troops on the ground.
We couldn't have made it more clear, and if you watched Secretary Christopher and Secretary Perry yesterday, they made it clear; we'll continue to do that. There will be no vacuum in the debate. We'll very gladly take part in the debate this week, and when we go off to London for the meetings on Friday, our allies will be clear about what the position of the United States Government is, as they were clear and are now clear on our position of aiding the Rapid Reaction Force.
Some in Congress said it would not be done. The President went ahead and did it.
Q What's your alternative, however, to unilateral lift? I mean, you have nothing to offer them, it sounds like, until Friday, if then. I mean, to offer Congress. How can you say that you have a better alternative when you don't have an alternative?
MR. BURNS: I guess I don't agree with the basis of the question. We are now considering a very serious request to strengthen UNPROFOR and to put the United Nations in a better position to live up to the mandates that it clearly has. And, as I said, those decisions sometimes cannot be made in a morning or even in a morning and an afternoon. Sometimes they do take days or a week to decide.
But once we've come to the point of decision, I think it will be very clear to the Congress what we're doing. If Congress wants to vote in the next couple of days, that's Congress' prerogative, but it certainly will not interfere -- our schedule, diplomatic and military -- to respond to the request of our allies and to work with them through these very difficult questions.
Q Do you understand if Congress votes that immediately the entire plan for strengthening UNPROFOR is off and that UNPROFOR simply decides to leave? I mean, is that your understanding of the allies?
MR. BURNS: There's more than just a Congressional vote here. There has to be a Congressional vote that then the Administration would respond to, and then there might be further action by the Congress. So this thing is not likely to be fully and finally answered whatever day this vote takes place, if it does, this week. The Administration simply does not have time to delay everything until that Congressional legislative process is finished. So we're going to go about our business of working with the French and the British and others to answer the very important task ahead of us this week.
Q Since the Serbs are rolling very fast and quick to topple all these safehavens and possibly another one will be falling today, you are talking about the UNPROFOR or the United Nations forces. Is there any consideration for changing the mission of the United Nations forces on the ground or peacekeepers on the ground from humanitarian to possibly, if not fighting, at least people who could defend or stand in the way of the rolling forces of the Serbs in other areas that could fall some time soon?
MR. BURNS: I think everybody agrees that UNPROFOR's humanitarian mission must continue to be carried out, and I think almost everybody agrees that UNPROFOR ought to be strengthened militarily. That's what the United States has been saying since the Noordwijk meeting, and that's what we'll say this week, and that's what our position will be going into these London meetings -- that UNPROFOR should stay in its humanitarian role and be strengthened militarily.
Q Could the French militarily carry out the mission or to defend against Serbs?
MR. BURNS: To strengthen itself militarily so that the United Nations can be an effective institution to stay on the ground, to continue its humanitarian mission, and to be true to the commitment that it has made to protect the enclaves. It failed to do that last week for a variety of reasons.
We would hope to put UNPROFOR in a position so that it could succeed and not fail in the future.
Q You said earlier in the briefing that you were not aware that there was a message in London that the Administration would have to consult Congress before providing transport for reinforcements of UNPROFOR, and that you knew of no legal requirement. Are you prepared to say that the United States did not tell its allies that it would have to consult with Congress before putting the Rapid Reaction Force in, and are you prepared to say that it will not consult -- it does not need to consult with Congress?
MR. BURNS: I didn't mean that. We always consult with Congress. We consulted with Congress on the question of funding for the Rapid Reaction Force. We had a difference of opinion with the Congress. We went out way. Congress went its way.
We'll certainly consult with the Congress, and I didn't mean at all to infer that we would not. The question, though, was somewhat different, and I tried to respond to the question. I'm not in a position to say categorically, yes, we've delivered this message. I'm not aware that we did. I'll certainly be glad to check on it, but I'm not aware that that message as quoted was delivered.
Q I shouldn't say "consult." I should say do you think that the Congress has a right to and should vote on whether or not Apache helicopters and troop carrier helicopters should be sent in or not?
MR. BURNS: That's up to the Congress to decide. It is certainly reasonable for the Congress to expect that the Administration would consult, meaning that we would talk to them. We'd explain our point of view. We'd explain the state of play in the Alliance as we go up to Friday and when we come back from Friday's meetings. That's reasonable. We will certainly do that.
The question of whether or not they should vote up or down on any prospective action is one that Congress has to decide. I'm not an expert on legislative prerogatives, and so forth, and I'm not a lawyer, so I don't want (inaudible).
Q The question I'm asking is what is the Administration's position? Does the Administration believe that the President could go ahead and take this action without a Congressional vote, does it believe that it would have to have one?
MR. BURNS: We believe it's certainly reasonable to consult with Congress. The President, I think, has shown in a number of cases but most recently in the case of the Rapid Reaction Force that when we think it's in our national interest to go forward to help allies, we do so, and we hope very much the Congress will support us on that.
Q Nick, do you have a figure of how much force -- how many personnel forces that are needed on the ground in order to bolster the mission of the United Nations from humanitarian to defend itself or to be able to repel any aggression by the Serbs?
MR. BURNS: That's a very good question. It's one of the questions that's being discussed in our meetings with the allies. I don't believe there's a final answer on that or a final agreement on that question.
Q Change the subject?
Q One more. Can you say whether you -- from what you have heard about this meeting in London, that the British are like-minded with the French that in the -- on the issue that if something isn't done now relatively soon, we're going to take our troops out as well. Because that was the French threat; do it. At one point, they were saying within 48 hours or agreed to it. Do the British think that way too?
MR. BURNS: I think it's better to let the British and the French speak for themselves, and to avoid my having to characterize a meeting in which I did not participate that was held in London yesterday.
Q Nick, on a different subject, can you bring us up to date on -- if there's any news on -- the hostage situation in Kashmir and the American being held? The deadline has passed, and I just wondered what the situation was.
MR. BURNS: The United States remains very deeply concerned about the situation in Kashmir where five hostages are being held by the Al- Faran group. We have an officer in New Delhi who is in Srinagar. He works continuously with the Indian authorities in their efforts to secure release of the hostages.
We continue to hope for a peaceful outcome out of concern for the safety of the American involved and the others. I'm going to limit my comments. But I would like to say that Kashmir remains a very dangerous place where terrorist activities and acts of violence continue.
The State Department has issued a public announcement -- we issued it on Friday -- to remind American citizens of the dangers of travel to Jammu and Kashmir, and to inform the American public of our government's restriction on travel by official Americans to that region.
We are monitoring it very closely with the one person that we have there, and through the efforts of our Embassy in New Delhi, we're hopeful for a peaceful outcome to this. We call upon, of course, the Al-Faran group to exercise reason and a humanitarian commitment to resolve this problem peacefully and to release all of the captives unharmed.
Q Do you think there are any direct talks between your person on the scene and this group? Has there been any direct contact at all?
MR. BURNS: I can't say. I think I want to say as little as possible, so that I don't in any way affect negatively the efforts by the Indian Government to bring this crisis to a successful and peaceful conclusion.
Q Are you suggesting, though, it is in the hands of the Indian Government right now, not --
MR. BURNS: It's certainly in the hands of the Indian Government, yes. It most definitely is, and we are working with them. We have a direct interest, obviously, because an American citizen is being held, and for that reason we have an Embassy officer in Srinagar.
Q Can we talk about China?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q The willingness of Beijing to schedule this meeting with the Secretary and Qian and their release of the dissident from -- a prominent dissident from Shanghai, does this suggest that maybe the trend has now gone the other way; that relations are -- at least there's a sign relations may start to improve?
MR. BURNS: We certainly hope relations will improve. We've gone through a very rough patch, and we've said all along from the beginning of these troubles and differences of opinions with the Chinese that there was no substitute for high-level contact between the two governments; and it was just this kind of meeting that's now planned for Brunei that we had in mind. When countries have differences, they have to work through them.
So we are certainly encouraged by the fact that there will be a meeting. It will be a meeting where we express our views very plainly and clearly on the opportunities where we think we can work together and on the problems that we have.
One of the problems is the case of Harry Wu who is still, as far as we know, being held in Wuhan. We are still seeking consular access to him beyond the meeting that our Consular Officer had last Monday. We hope very much that the Chinese Government will decide that he should be released immediately and be allowed to leave China.
On your second question, Carol, we very much welcome the announcement that the prominent dissident, Yang Zhou, has been released. Mr. Yang was one of nine dissidents detained in 1993 for signing the peace charter. We understand that he is ailing. He's ill. He's in need of medical treatment. Chinese law permits the medical parole of prisoners in need of medical care, and we certainly urge the Chinese Government to release all persons in prison solely for the peaceful expression of their political and social views or their religious beliefs.
Q How did the meeting with the Secretary and Qian come about? Did it just happen? Was it agreed through Embassies? Did the Secretary talk to the Foreign Minister on the phone?
MR. BURNS: It was agreed through Embassies. We, I think, contacted the Chinese some time ago -- several weeks ago -- to say that since both men would be in Brunei in the early part of August for the ASEAN meetings, that they should get together as they had in New York in April. We heard this morning from the Chinese Government they agree with that, and that we would schedule the meeting at a certain place and a certain time, and we're now working out the details. But there's a commitment now to have the meeting.
Q Nick, the Secretary said this morning that he could not rule -- he would not rule out the issuance of a visa for a Taiwanese official on non-official business in the United States. Can it now be surmised that the Administration's position is it will not accede to the Chinese demand of no more visas for Taiwanese officials on official or non- official business?
MR. BURNS: It's hard to improve on such a clear statement that the Secretary gave this morning, but I would just try to refer you back to something we said, I believe, the day that we announced the decision to grant the visa to President Lee for his unofficial visit, and that was that in the future when officials from Taiwan request visas for unofficial visits to the United States, that those requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. I think you should see the Secretary's remarks this morning on NPR in that light.
Only the United States, only American consular officers can make decisions on who comes to the United States and on whether or not visas are granted. It can be no other way. All countries have the right to decide who comes into their country and who does not, and we simply stand by our right to make those decisions, but we'll do so on a case- by-case basis.
Q Can we go back to --
MR. BURNS: Still on China?
Q Different subject. No.
MR. BURNS: China, Steve.
Q I believe it was last week after Wu was arrested and charged that you made the comments that you were not in a position to talk about the validity of those charges because you just weren't sure enough yet about the circumstances.
I believe the Secretary moved that position a little bit forward today. I was wondering if I'm correct or incorrect in saying that let's just not talk about whether he's guilty of anything or not. He's an American citizen. We think he's wrongly detained, so why don't you send him home, and we won't debate the legalities of what he may or may not have done.
MR. BURNS: It's an interesting day. We're delving deep into interpretation of what the Secretary said this morning. I thought the Secretary, as I listened to him on Diane Rehm, was quite direct and clear on all of these issues.
I know, Steve, that we have a rudimentary understanding of Chinese law through our Embassy and Consulates in China. But since we've had such limited contact with the Chinese Government and since all we know is that he is being -- he may be officially charged at the end of this pre-trial investigative period with certain specific crimes.
All we know is that he's in this precarious legal position. We have not had an opportunity to be apprised by the Chinese Government of specifically what evidence they bring to these charges, and I don't believe that Mr. Wu has either.
So I think we are still in a position of not being able to substantiate to our satisfaction the basis and the evidence for his detention and his arrest. I also think that while it's a very serious point for the Chinese Government to consider, there's a much larger point here, and that is that Harry Wu should be released, and he should be allowed to return to the United States. That has been our position all along, and that will be the central point that we bring to all of our conversations with the Chinese.
Q But, Nick, the point is, why are you unwilling to allow Chinese law to take its course?
MR. BURNS: Because we think he was unjustly detained and now is unjustly imprisoned. Let's just review once again what happened. Here is an individual with a valid American passport. He sent an application for a visa to a Chinese Consulate or its Embassy in Washington in the United States. He asked for a visa. They gave him a visa. They, therefore, gave him every indication that he was accepted for entry into China.
When he showed up at the border, he was detained and then subsequently arrested. That doesn't seem to be fair. It's not the normal way that this is done in diplomatic practice. It's certainly not the way that the United States would have done it, and so, therefore, considering those facts and considering the fact that he is a great champion of human rights and a well-respected person here, we think he should be released. We think that's the central question here.
The question of whether or not he is guilty of violation of Chinese law, well, that's something the Chinese have to consider. They have been very spare in telling us what their evidence is -- what basis they have for these actions. Therefore, we think it behooves them to take the immediate step of releasing him.
Q Isn't there a contradiction there?
MR. BURNS: What's the contradiction?
Q Well, you, on the one hand, are asking the Chinese to be specific about what the charges are and to go ahead with the legal procedure, and, on the other hand, you're saying they granted him a visa and they should release him immediately. There's a contradiction --
MR. BURNS: Well, it's not on the one hand and on the other. I mean, I would say this. Our primary point here with the Chinese is release him. You've asked a question about what the Secretary meant in speaking to some of the legal issues, and I gave you an answer. But that's really the second or third point we've made to the Chinese. The first point is it's going to help U.S.-China relations if you release Harry Wu.
Q Nick, can I go back to your first statement about the Iraqis and the two Americans, if you're finished with China?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Has Congressman Richardson been in touch with the United States State Department during his secret talks with Iraqis in New York and/or in Baghdad?
MR. BURNS: I think you know from all of the accounts that were given over the last 24 hours that he was in touch with us over the last couple of weeks -- Congressman Richardson. However, he did not go as an official emissary of the Administration. He did not bring a letter from the President or the Secretary or anybody else in the Administration, but he certainly had our best wishes. There were a number of discussions with him before he departed. He had our best wishes.
For obvious reasons, we thought it was wise to keep all of this a little bit quiet, because we didn't want to endanger the prospects that he might actually be able to go to Baghdad and convince the Iraqi leadership that these two individuals should be released. He was successful. We are very grateful to him, as I think everybody is in the United States, and we congratulate him for the work that he did -- Congressman Richardson. We're also very grateful to the Polish Government.
Q Can you add to the statement of the Secretary of State yesterday who said that this could be a first step to improved relations or to improve the atmosphere between the United States and Iraq? You know, not specific -- I didn't say specifically about, you know, the gist of it -- what the Secretary said after the release.
MR. BURNS: I don't remember the Secretary quite saying it like that, but I do know it's obvious to the Iraqi leadership what it must do to normalize its relations with the United States. It must do a lot. It must make up for a lot of its brutal transgressions of international law and of human rights, and a number of other questions pertaining to sanctions.
I do remember from "Meet the Press" yesterday that the Secretary very clearly said that this decision by the Iraqi leadership -- and we're glad they took it -- to release these two men in no way will have an effect on the question of sanctions, because that has to do with the very serious issue of biological growth material, 17 tons of which is missing; and of Iraq's very flagrant and consistent violation of international law, both on chemical and biological weapons, and for its unacceptable treatment of its Kurdish and Shi'a minorities. There's a lot that Iraq must answer for.
Q But Richardson said something to the effect that if they will come clean or they go forward on the chemical things or the bacteriological things that, you know, the environment is conducive to be changed or something to the effect that --
MR. BURNS: Again, Congressman Richardson did a very great thing over the weekend. I think Secretary Christopher was clear in describing United States policy. Those questions of chemical and biological weapons and activity are central, but, as you remember, U.N. Security Council Resolution 688 also talked about other activities. What happened to the 600 missing Kuwaitis, who were taken prisoner by the Iraqis, when they invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Can they account for those people. We think they should before we can successfully put to an end this question of sanctions.
We also think that the Iraqis have to forsake their commitment to support terrorist groups in the Middle East, and we think they have to do something to redress their brutal treatment of the Shi'as and the Kurds. So we have always said very consistently, the United States, it's not just a question of the chemical and biological weapons; it's also a question of these other factors that date now from nearly five years ago.
Q Well, why shouldn't it be seen as a concession to Saddam Hussein that a Congressman -- U.S. Congressman who is publicly acknowledged by the White House and the Administration to be a friend of the President -- goes directly to Baghdad and meets personally with Saddam to seek the release of these two men? Why is that not a concession, at least --
MR. BURNS: I don't think he's a concession because he undertook a humanitarian mission. He did what was right. Two of his fellow Americans were unjustly imprisoned, and he used his influence and his position and his negotiating skill to get them out. He ought to be congratulated.
It's not a concession. It might have been a concession had we taken a different stand -- had we gone begging on our knees, had we sent emissaries, had we sent letters, had we promised things in return for this action. We didn't do any of that. We promised nothing. We didn't send any official communication with Congressman Richardson, and I think that's very important to remember, because we always felt that Daliberti and Barloon were unjustly imprisoned, and that Iraq had no right to get anything in return for their release. And they haven't gotten anything in return for their release.
Q Who asked for Richardson to go? Was this his own idea, or did Baghdad say, "Look, if you send somebody over to give us a face- saver, we'll be able to work out some deal." And are you planning to send him to Beijing to get Harry Wu out?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any plans to send him to Beijing. He's traveled a lot. He probably wants to come back to the United States. On the first question, I think you'll have to go to Congressman Richardson. I know that he was in contact with the Iraqis before he went to Baghdad. Obviously, you would have expected that, but I just can't tell you who made the first step forward on this. I just don't know the answer to that.
Q Can we switch to the Middle East?
Q Just one more. You said he didn't take a letter -- that he didn't take an official communique.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q Did he communicate on behalf of the President of the United States that on humanitarian grounds -- not officially, but something that the President would like -- that on humanitarian grounds these two men should be released?
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen a briefing on his conversation with Saddam Hussein. I know that he did not travel to that meeting as a representative -- a direct emissary of the President, a representative of the President. I know he went on his own. He went with our best wishes.
I'm not aware that he did convey any message from the President or the Secretary to Saddam Hussein. This was described, I think, by Congressman Richardson as a personal effort by an interested member of Congress, and we're very glad that he did what he did.
Q Do you mean that he went in there and -- I mean, it doesn't make sense that he wouldn't go in there and say the President of the United States would like him to be released. I mean, he didn't even say that? I mean, how could he have any voice --
MR. BURNS: Sid, I can't be in a position to quote from the conversation that took place 48 hours ago, and I don't represent Congressman Richardson. We have great respect for him, but I don't represent him. So you're just coming to the wrong person for that.
But I can tell you, based on my conversations with everyone here in the Department that he did not travel with a communication from us. He did not make representations on our behalf. He was there as an American legislator, a respected one, and he was successful, and I think that speaks for itself.
Q Nick, you have a case then of a Congressman carrying out unauthorized diplomacy, individual diplomacy?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Is this a case, then, of a Congressman carrying out -- a member of the legislature carrying out independent diplomacy?
MR. BURNS: Okay, let me just try to help bring this part of our briefing to a conclusion by saying there are sometimes cases where people -- even Congressmen -- travel and don't necessarily have the good wishes of the Administration. In this case, it was very clear that Congressman Richardson did not travel as an emissary of the Clinton Administration, but he certainly had the good wishes of the Clinton Administration, and we certainly had discussions with him before he went.
There's a very great difference between what he did over the weekend and what some others have done in the past, and I can't give you any examples of what those may be, but I think you all know them when you see them.
Q Did the State Department have to grant him any kind of a waiver in order to be able to travel to Baghdad?
MR. BURNS: Let me check into that for you. I don't know technically the answer to that question.
(TO STAFF, MR. JOHNSON): David, can you help us?
MR. JOHNSON: (Inaudible)
MR. BURNS: Okay, we'll look into it. I think that's a good question. I'm just not aware of the specifics on it.
Q At any point during his three or four days there, did he communicate with the Secretary or U.S. officials here at the White House about the progress of his consultations?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that he did. I know he communicated just before he went in, before he left the United States. Then I believe, if it's true -- if I'm right -- he went through Amman. He undoubtedly communicated with our Ambassador in Amman, Ambassador Egan, but I'm not aware that once he entered Iraqi territory, the long drive across the desert to Baghdad, was in Baghdad, I'm not aware that he was in direct communication with us. I can check on that but I'm just not aware of anything.
We'll go to the Middle East and then we'll be glad to come back.
Q I don't know if Prime Minister Rabin watches "Meet the Press," but he seems to have a different view than the Secretary does of the state of play between Syria and Israel. So we can leave "Meet the Press" out of it and what was said yesterday.
Can you say today what it is that is keeping the Israelis and the Syrians from resuming their negotiations here?
MR. BURNS: I just feel compelled to say the words, "Meet the Press."
Q Go ahead. We're all here to hear what "Meet the Press" did yesterday.
MR. BURNS: The Secretary gave a full account of his appraisal of the situation on "Meet the Press." As he explained, Barry, we do expect the Syrian and Israeli Ambassadors to get together soon in Washington, although no dates have been set for those meetings. We're sure that dates will be set for those meetings.
We think, as he said, it's important to maintain a perspective on this negotiation. These are very tough and complex issues. Some progress has been made, but there are very real gaps that remain between Syria and Israel on the question of the Golan Heights.
We have been in touch through Dennis Ross. The Secretary has been in touch with both parties to see if we can bridge those gaps.
Now, specifically, there was an understanding about a sequence of steps for these talks. The last step of that sequence was a military expert's meeting by the end of July. You remember that when the Secretary was in Damascus, he announced that based on a discussion that he had with both Prime Minister Rabin and President Assad. We're still working on that.
It's been our judgment -- now we've come to the really interesting part.
Q It's the technical part that the Secretary referred to on television yesterday. The Syrians ripping up the schedule is a technical problem that you're still working on, right?
MR. BURNS: Let me continue with our well throughout and well reasoned line of argumentation here. It has been our judgment that this sequence offers the most effective way to accelerate the negotiations which, of course, is our objective.
We think it's important to remain realistic and patient in coping with the inevitable ups and downs in this process, as the Secretary said yesterday on "Meet the Press" -- very relevant remarks he made on "Meet the Press."
When the parties make commitments to each other or to us, it is important that they live up to those commitments.
Q Nick, it isn't a matter of the parties reneging on commitments. There is a party who is reneging on a commitment. Why are you saying both parties?
MR. BURNS: I use the plural. I meant to use the plural: When the parties make commitments to each other or to us, it's important they live up to them. That is such a clear statement of our policy. I don't think I can improve upon it.
Q If I understand what Rabin is saying today -- and I only have what you frequently refer to as wire reports is this; it's not quite as authentic as being on "Meet the Press" -- I understand Rabin today said, at least on the Reuter News Service, he would hope that the United States would try -- would urge the Syrians to fulfill their commitment to have these talks; that it's not a technical problem that the Secretary of State described it as being.
Is the United States in the process of trying to urge the Syrians to fulfill their commitment?
MR. BURNS: First, it's very hard for me to improve upon what the Secretary said yesterday. I've given you a slightly --
Q Rabin has spoken to the Secretary.
MR. BURNS: I've given you slightly further elucidation of those remarks today, of what our policy is today. I really don't have anything to add to that.
We're working, as I say, with both parties to bridge the gaps that inevitably come up in negotiations as serious as this.
Q Nick, we're not talking about bridging gaps. We're talking about a schedule that you had that apparently is no longer in effect. We're asking if the Secretary of State considers one of the parties to have been somehow remiss in fulfilling the schedule and what he's doing about it. Not the gaps on the issues, an agreement to be here.
You wisely, but, of course, it doesn't work, said that you expect the Ambassadors to resume. That isn't the question. You know that. The question is, will the Generals come here as they said they would, as the U.S. said several times they would; as the U.S. took deep bows, including Dennis Ross, for having accomplished. This mission is now up in the air. What are you doing about it?
MR. BURNS: First of all, I appreciate your helping me along with this issue. I know you've got long experience on this, but let me just beg to differ on one technical point, that is, we believe we are trying to bridge the gaps. That's a relevant question.
But I also said, as I try to be helpful to you in responding to your specific question, that there was an understanding that we announced publicly in Damascus -- the Secretary of State announced -- about the sequence of steps for the talks.
It's very clear to us that the last step in that sequence was, indeed, military-level talks, experts meetings, below the level of Chief of Staff. We were very clear about saying we thought this was a good thing and we thought it was a step in the right direction.
I said it's in our judgment this sequence is the best way to go. It's the best way now to further progress, to accelerate the negotiations. I ended by saying, when parties make commitments to each other or to us, it's important they live up to them. I think that's probably the most relevant, pertinent thing I can say on this issue today.
Q While we are there, can we address the issue of the talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. If you can give us a situation report, if you have something positive on --
MR. BURNS: I can't give you much detail beyond what I had for you last week. The parties continue to work very hard. They've made some progress. They still have a ways to go. They have declared next Tuesday as the day by which they hope to have achieved full progress and a conclusion of their discussions. We very much wish them well in these talks.
We are, of course, actively monitoring them. We retain a great interest in them, and we're willing to do whatever we can to help the parties make progress.
Q A question on Thailand. Nick, do you have any new guidance on the case of Narong Wongwan, a Thai politician, who has been accused by this Department of drug trafficking?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any new guidance on the situation in Thailand. I don't believe, in my own remarks about this, I ever put a name -- a specific name -- to some of the concerns we had about the post-election scene in Bangkok, but I think my remarks should probably - - I want to leave them where they were 10 days/2 weeks ago.
Q He was accused by your predecessor, though, by name. So it's on the record. I believe you renewed it about 10 days ago just after their elections.
MR. BURNS: I had a very short and simple statement about some concerns we had, but I think those concerns were expressed clearly enough that I don't need to go further.
Q Is the State Department aware that the CIA has investigated their own case against Wongwan and determined that their principal source -- in fact, the U.S. Government's principal source -- of information was a fabricator, somebody on whom the CIA has now issued what they call a "burn notice?"
MR. BURNS: As you know, Roy, it has been our practice not to discuss intelligence issues or matters pertaining to the CIA from this podium. You'll have to go to the CIA for a response on that question.
Q The CIA has, in fact, referred questions to the State Department because they say they've issued a burn notice, but it's up to the consumers at the State Department to decide whether they're going to observe this or not? And does the State Department observe this --
MR. BURNS: I can certainly check with my good friend, Dennis Box. I don't think he'd want me to be talking about agency business in public in this particular setting.
Q Well, if a foreign politician has been accused of drug trafficking by this Department and it turns out that there's no basis for it, is there a kind of moral obligation by the Department to clear the air and to either produce its evidence or to say we have nothing on the guy?
MR. BURNS: When we make statement, we always try to have our facts in order. We always try to be able to back them up.
You have now mentioned a process whereby a report that people in the CIA may be questioning the basis of that. I can't to speak to intelligence matters in public. I just can't do it.
Q This is a case of there's being no intelligence on the guy, in fact, but it was the basis for the State Department's own judgment at an earlier point. So if there is no intelligence -- it's not a question of protecting intelligence; it's protecting false intelligence that, in fact, has led to a possible misjudgment of a person and a denunciation that has no basis?
MR. BURNS: It is a question of protecting our relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency and not violating a fundamental tenet of that relationship, which is, we don't discuss their business -- certainly not in public. We don't discuss their business. They have to discuss their own operations.
They are working on this case. They are in a position to tell you what they have or perhaps not to tell you what they have based on their own rules and regulations, but I can't do that for them. I know it does impinge on an issue in which I've spoken. I clearly accept that, Roy, but I just can't get into this part of it.
Q Another Taiwanese question. A former opposition member of parliament apparently -- named Thanong -- the United States was seeking his extradition and a Thai criminal court has agreed with that. Can you shed any light on when that extradition may take place?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any information on that, Carol. None at all. I'll see what we can do. Yes?
Q Assistant Secretary Win Lord keeps saying in the past several days that the United States does not have official relations with Taiwan because Taiwan insists the one-China policy and they don't want to have official relations with the United States. Taiwan says it's not true. He misrepresents Taiwan's position. It has changed already. Can you clarify that?
MR. BURNS: Well, we have gone over this many times. I'll be glad to do it once more, very briefly.
It is our understanding that the Taiwan authorities continue to maintain that Taiwan is part of China, but I would certainly direct you to the Taiwan authorities for a description of their own policy.
The United States policy, as we reaffirmed it last week, is quite clear. We recognize the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, and we certainly acknowledge the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
Q If Taiwan changed their position, say they called themselves ROC, Republic of China or Republic or Taiwan, then the United States would have to change their position. Is that the meaning?
MR. BURNS: No, it does not mean that. I think we have been very careful to say over the last couple of months that our China policy must remain firmly grounded in the three communiques, and firmly grounded in the fact that we recognize the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China. There can be no confusion about United States policy. There is no willingness or interest in changing the basis for our China policy.
Q Indeed, though, I think you have referred to the Government of Taiwan before. We assumed it was just probably a figure of speech. You don't think that Taiwan is --
MR. BURNS: No, I can't remember ever saying it here. That's a little bit unfair.
Q Unfair, but what isn't unfair is you think the Secretary's statement today was very clear. I think it was incredibly ambiguous.
MR. BURNS: Well, it depends on your perspective.
Q Yes, yes, you said there were frequent visits, but let me not debate what the Secretary said.
MR. BURNS: Good.
Q Let me take you up on what you said. You said these decisions are made by Consular Officers. When you let the President of Taiwan here, the State Department said, it was an expression of freedom of speech; that it was a government policy that the President be permitted to come here and go to Cornell because we believe in free speech. So it seemed to me you had an overriding policy, not one that would be made case-by-case by a Consular Officer some place. Isn't that still the governing policy?
MR. BURNS: Well, it is certainly true that only Consular Officers can issue these --
Q Technically, of course.
MR. BURNS: Sometimes a visa case is so prominent that people in Washington, in fact senior members of the government take a position and that becomes the position of the government on a particular visa request. No question about it. I was simply trying to make the point that we cannot allow ourselves to be put in a position to permit other countries to decide the basis for issuing visas. Only the United States, i.e., Consular Officers or their superiors some place else, can make those decisions, and that has to be the policy of the United States. Yes.
Q Do you have anything on Nigeria today?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything new on the situation there, but I certainly can tell you that we remain very concerned about the situation in Lagos. We understand that the secret trials have gone on in Lagos. We are trying to confirm what decisions these in camera sessions may have come to. We are deeply concerned about the safety of those Nigerian opposition leaders, former politicians, former government officials, a former president of the country, General Abacha, we are deeply concerned about their fate. We are concerned about the fact that they have been denied an adequate trial under international law, and we certainly call upon the Government of Nigeria to respect international norms and laws pertaining to human rights, pertaining to due process, to universal declaration of human rights. We certainly have a lot of concerns about what is happening now to all of these people.
Q Is the United States also concerned that the Nigerian Government apparently has told Britain that its oil interests in Nigeria may be affected if it continues to take a very strong stand about exactly this issue?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that that has been a message passed. I have seen press reports to that effect. I am not aware that there has been an official message from Lagos to London.
Q Does the United States and the U.S. oil industry --
MR. BURNS: Well, we have important oil interests in Nigeria, as you know -- American companies, British companies and others. That does not mean that we should somehow become mute when so many people, we believe, are being unjustly arrested, and now unjustly and incorrectly tried. We are going to continue to speak out on those human rights violations that are so apparent right now in Nigeria. Yes. I think we have one more.
Q Just in regard to the aviation spat with Japan?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Has the Department responded to the Japanese proposal for higher level talks to work out the differences?
MR. BURNS: Well, we held talks July l3th to l5th in Tokyo on the civil aviation issues. There was no agreement reached at those talks, but discussions have not broken off. We went to Japan to have productive talks. We think they were productive. The Japanese have now proposed another vice minister level meeting to develop ideas and further define problems, and following that a ministerial level meeting. I believe they have given us some specific proposals on where and when those meetings should be held. We'll be replying to those proposals very shortly. We want to continue these discussions. We want to reach agreement, and we are very much hopeful that will be the case in the near future.
(The briefing concluded at 2:l2 p.m.)
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