U.S. Department of State 95/07/24 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, July 24, l995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Secretary's Denunciation of Terrorist Attack in ISRAEL . 1 TURKEY Approves 17 Democratization Amendments .......... 1-2 U.S. Support for TURKEY EU Customs Union Agreement ..... 2 BOSNIA International Islamic Support for Lifting Arms Embargo . 2 U.S. Policy on Multilateral Lift, Provision of Arms .... 2-3 U.S. Expectations from NAC Discussions in Brussels ..... 3-4 Four Main Elements of London Conference Outcome ........ 4-5 NATO Retaliation for Attacks on Safe Havens, Trigger ... 5-6,20 Mandate re Protection of Bihac, Gorazde, other Safe Areas 6,13-15 Retaliatory NATO Air Strikes: -London Conclusion re Dual-Key Arrangement ............ 6 -Authority, Process to Call In Air Strikes ........... 6-9,12-1416-19 -RUSSIA Position, Message to Belgrade .................. 9-10 Warning Delivered to Bosnian Serb Military Leader Mladic 10-12 Alleged FRANCE Air Attack on Pale ...................... 12 U.S. View on CROATIA Assistance to Defense of Bihac .... 15-16,24-25 Humanitarian Efforts to Alleviate Suffering ............ 19-20 Gen. Rupert Smith's Employing Authority ................ 20 MIDDLE EAST Secretary re Stronger Involvement in Peace Process ..... 20-22 No Dennis Ross Travel Plans ............................ 22 CHINA U.S. Contacts re Chinese Missile Exercise .............. 22-23 TURKEY Democratization Amendments for Political/Economic Reform 23-24 SOUTH KOREA State Visit of President Kim Young Sam to U.S. ......... 24 JAPAN General Elections ...................................... 24
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Good afternoon everyone. Sorry we got started a little bit late. I have two items to relay to you. The first is, I think you heard -- those of you who were upstairs -- heard Secretary Christopher denounced in the strongest possible terms the outrageous terrorist attack in Israel this morning. Secretary Christopher has called both Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Peres. We'll be issuing a statement by him after this briefing that will be available to all of you in the Press Room, which expands on the remarks he gave all of you upstairs just a few minutes ago. Second, I'd just like to note a very important development in Turkey over the weekend and today. On July 23, Turkey's Grand National Assembly approved, by the overwhelming majority of 360 to 32, 17 constitutional amendments which will enhance Turkish democracy and broaden the participation of the Turkish people in that democracy. President Clinton has written Prime Minister Ciller with his congratulations on her leadership in securing approval for these measures. We also congratulate the leaders of Turkey's other political parties that supported this package. This package is part of a broad effort to enhance Turkey's democracy which we support. I would just make two further notes on this development. The first is, this is a tremendous achievement for Prime Minister Ciller. Because of her personal efforts, 17 of 22 proposed constitutional amendments have now been passed, and we hope will soon be signed into law by the Turkish President, Mr. Demirel. These measures will, in fact, build on Turkey's democratic base and add to both the economic and political reform that has been underway in Turkey under her leadership. Second, we hope very much that the European Union will consider the actions the Turkish Grand National Assembly has taken. The United States still strongly supports, and even more so today, Turkey's bid to have a Customs Agreement with the European Union. We think the action taken by the Turkish National Assembly certainly add to the argument of the Turkish Government, the United States Government, and others, that there ought to be an integration of Turkey in Europe. With that, I'll be glad to go to your questions. Q Nick, Egypt, Malaysia, and several other countries with predominantly Muslim populations, I guess distressed by the situation in Bosnia, have announced plans -- and some are and have been for some time -- to provide arms to the Bosnian Government. Egypt also reportedly is moving to try to get the U.N. arms embargo lifted. Assuming the U.S. hasn't changed its position against lifting the arms embargo, nor its reasons for it, how does the State Department feel about these countries helping the Bosnian Muslims? MR. BURNS: Barry, I would note, in answer to your question, that the Muslim countries contribute, I believe, up to one-third of the current peacekeeping troops in Bosnia. They have also contributed substantial humanitarian assistance to Bosnia. We respect the close relations the Bosnian Government has with a number of Islamic nations. We share the deep concern of a number of the countries that you mention, Barry, for the integrity of the Bosnian state and the safety of Bosnian citizens. We're not opposed to their involvement in the area -- not in any way -- but we certainly hope that any actions that they take will be in accordance with existing United Nations resolutions. You know our position on the arms embargo. We don't believe it should be lifted unilaterally by the United States. We don't believe that other countries should violate existing U.N. resolutions. Q If I understand correctly -- if that's what you mean to say, I wish you'd possibly say it directly -- you don't approve of them providing arms to the Bosnian Government while they're still is a U.N. arms embargo; is that what you're saying?
MR. BURNS: We think all existing U.N. resolutions should be heeded by all members of the international community. We think the best way to contain the war, to prevent its widening, and to seek a peaceful solution of the problems, which, of course, is the goal of everybody concerned with the possible exception of the Bosnian Serbs, we think that goal would be best met by all countries respecting existing U.N. resolutions. Yes, Mark. Q Just to follow that up. Doesn't this suggest, though, that if the United States were to lift the embargo, it would not be a unilateral move but, rather, perhaps the United States acting in concert with a number of Muslim countries and therefore it would be quite a broad lifting of the embargo, even without Security Council approval, perhaps? MR. BURNS: The United States Government does not favor a lifting of the arms embargo by the United States. That's been clear for a long time. There may be an attempt in the U.S. Senate to do that this week. We're very much opposed to that legislation. We are making that clear to all members of Congress -- and all members of the U.S. Senate. You've heard us say this before, but it's worth going over. We believe it will Americanize the war. We believe it will lead to attempts by some to widen the war. We think it will effectively kill the political process that Mr. Carl Bildt has underway and which, in some respects, is showing some promise. We believe it is totally inconsistent where we think the international community should be in this situation. I would say this: that continued war, which a unilateral embargo would certainly fuel, is in the interest of the Bosnian Serbs. Peace is in the interest of the Bosnian Government. Q You would not be able to call it a unilateral lifting of the embargo, with the strong indications from the Muslim countries that they would quickly join in? MR. BURNS: We're not in favor of the United States lifting the arms embargo at this time. Yes, Andrea. Q What do you expect out of Brussels, given the fact that there are reports that there is disagreement in NATO about the decisions suggested in London? MR. BURNS: We expect that the NATO officials meeting in Brussels - - they met all day today; they will meet again tomorrow -- we expect that they will confirm and put into operation the decisions that were made by the London Conference on Friday. Let me just review for you the four main elements of decision- making: First, was the defense of Gorazde. The British Government called for this conference because of what everyone perceived to be the imminent threat to Gorazde by the Bosnian Serb military offensive in eastern Bosnia. The conference gave a very clear endorsement of a policy whereby NATO and the United Nations would work together to stem and prevent, contain, and deter a Bosnian Serb offensive against Gorazde. Now it's a question really, Andrea, of operationalizing that decision to have NATO both confirm the decision and draw up detailed military plans to implement it when necessary. We hope it will never be necessary to implement the decision. We hope that the Bosnian Serbs will be deterred from advancing towards Gorazde. But as Secretary Christopher and Secretary Perry and, of course, the President, over the weekend, have made clear, if they cross the line, they will be hit by substantial and decisive air power from NATO forces. That was the first decision made in London. We expect that to be confirmed and put into operation and have operational plans drawn up to support it by tomorrow morning in Brussels. Secondly, the London Conference called upon the international community and the United Nations to take steps to ease the siege of Sarajevo. You've seen over the weekend that already both British and French forces are taking those steps, specifically on the Mt. Igman road, to try to increase the possibility of getting humanitarian supplies into Sarajevo. You know from the testimony of Mrs. Ogata, who was in Tuzla last week and from Phyllis Oakley, the American Assistant Secretary of State, that last month only 10 percent of the alloted supplies were able to get into Sarajevo to feed the population. We need to improve that as we approach winter. Third decision made in London was to alter the arrangements of the so-called dual-key arrangements. That was an initiative spurred on by the United States, agreed to by our major allies. We think we have in place now greater speed and flexibility that would allow the NATO commander in Naples, Admiral Smith, to work directly on the ground with the United Nations commander on the ground in Sarajevo to determine what type of NATO and U.N. coordination is necessary to repel the Bosnian Serbs in the future. Fourth, a decision was made in London -- and this is one that NATO will not act on tomorrow because it doesn't pertain to NATO -- to try to increase international support for the humanitarian supplies that have got to get in not only to Sarajevo but to Tuzla and other places. That is something that the United States has had a very strong voice in. As you know, Mrs. Oakley was in Tuzla last Wednesday and was able to conclude that the UNHCR is actually doing a very fine job in providing for the refugees. But, clearly, a number of member states must meet their existing financial commitments to keep UNHCR and the International Committee on the Red Cross in the field. So those are the four main decisions that were taken in London. NATO must act on certainly two of those decisions. We believe that NATO will act very clearly and decisively tomorrow morning. I think that the NATO session starts in Brussels at 9:00 a.m. Brussels-time. Q Let me ask you about your first point. You said, if they cross the line -- meaning in Gorazde -- they will be hit by substantial air power. What if they cross the line in Bihac, which they already have? MR. BURNS: I think the United States has made its view very clear. It did on Friday and has since throughout the weekend. Q (Inaudible) unilateral view. MR. BURNS: I don't believe it's a unilateral view. Let me describe it for the others, and then we can decide if it's unilateral or not. The United States feels very strongly that as a result of the decisions made in London, there is certainly the capability available that could allow NATO to make a similar decision in the future on any other of the safe areas as it is made in Gorazde. We believe that decision would be taken by the North Atlantic Council in Brussels and not by any other body. We think that's also a significant accomplishment of the London Conference. The London Conference, as I said, looks specifically and almost exclusively at the situation in Gorazde which was the reason for the conference. However, we're very well aware of what's happening in Sarajevo; very glad that the British and French have decided to take a more forceful position in Sarajevo during the last two days. Concerning Bihac, there's no question that the situation is very, very difficult for the Bosnian Government there. There has been a broad attack from both the north and south by rebel Muslim groups and by the Bosnian Serb army, obviously, in an attempt to either divide the Bihac pocket, the Bihac territory, or to take it -- have it surrender altogether. We are relying, of course, on the United Nations officials on the ground to tell us when western involvement will be most effective. No request has come to NATO at this point. But, as I said, should one come in the future, we believe that the capability now exists because of the London meetings to call upon the NAC to make another decision. Q I'd like to ask you about dual-key. Last week, you said that, in retrospect, dual-key was not a good idea. What specifically was -- in London, what exactly did you conclude with regard to dual-key? And I'm wondering, when you talk about these NATO airstrikes, will NATO will be acting completely on its own? Will it be taking, thus, responsibility on its own? MR. BURNS: On your second question, NATO will not act on its own. NATO will act in conjunction with and in coordination with the United Nations, which gets to your first question -- the question of dual-key. We have been most dissatisfied by the dual-key provisions, to date -- the ones that existed until Friday -- because they were inflexible in many ways. They called upon sometimes civilian officials sitting far away from the battle to make very fundamental decisions. We saw that in the case of Srebrenica where it was very clear that the airstrikes were called in much too late to have any tactical impression upon the Bosnian Serbs. In London, the United States, France, Britain, Germany, a number of the other NATO countries that have troops on the ground, worked out a specific written agreement that details cooperation between the NATO commander in Naples, Admiral Smith, and the U.N. Commander on the ground, General Smith -- Rupert Smith, not to be confused with each other -- so that they will work in close coordination. They will decide when it is necessary for NATO to become involved. It will no longer be a convoluted Rube Goldberg-type organizational chart where you have to check 32 boxes before you can decide that airstrikes are necessary. Sometimes a situation doesn't permit that. That was the decision made in London. That decision will also be operationalized, if you will, by the NATO countries as they meet in Brussels. We think it's a tremendous improvement upon the situation that existed until this weekend. Can we stay on Bosnia and then we'll go to the Middle East? Q It's very disturbing that some Muslims, including the Ambassador to London, of a so-called moderate Saudi Arabian country to say that Christian and Jews wouldn't suffer the same fate in Bosnia if they were -- the Muslims wouldn't suffer the same fate -- if they were Christians or Jews. I think this is putting the situation to an extreme which the United States Government ought to say something about in terms of moderation. Let's cool it a little bit about a religious war. The fact of the matter is that a poll taken by 23 countries, American organizations -- seven of them were Jews, others were Christian and Arabic. The Foreign Minister of Bosnia just a week ago in response to a question at the National Press Club lauded the Jews of America and the world for supporting the Bosnian Muslims, and yet we get this sort of stuff that was reported this morning, as if to say there has to be a religious war because the Christians and Jews of the world are supporting Bosnian Muslims. So I would appreciate if you could respond to that in some way on behalf of the State Department. MR. BURNS: Thank you. There's enough confusion, enough problems in Bosnia, that we don't need to add any tinge or element of religious war to it. I agree with you. Tom. Q On Friday, Boutros-Ghali said in a formal statement that the London Conference was an occasion for a constructive and frank exchange of differing views, but that no formal decisions were made. And this morning his spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, said that the authority to call in airstrikes rests with the Secretary General and nothing has changed in this regard. That seems inconsistent with the way you characterized, (1) the London meeting, and (2) a question of command and control. MR. BURNS: I haven't seen that particular statement, Tom, but obviously you just read it. I would just say it's certainly inconsistent with the decisions that were made in London that we have a very clear sense, as do our allies, about what decisions were made in London. The United Nations was represented at the conference. Secretary General Boutros-Ghali was at the conference. I don't believe these types of reservations were raised at the conference. Therefore, the United States and its allies intend to proceed at Brussels with putting into operation the decisions on airstrikes, the decisions on dual-key that were made at London. We are absolutely confident this is the right way to go. The United Nations is in a fairly precarious state in Bosnia. The United Nations has not met its commitment to protect the people of Srebrenica in the past couple of weeks. We clearly need now to act in a way that will strengthen UNPROFOR and make it more effective. We believe that these two measures can contribute to that, and we intend to take them. Q Nick, can I follow that up? You said the U.N. Commander in consultation with (inaudible) commander would take these decisions. Do you have an understanding -- do you have anything explicit or even implicit that the U.N. Commander will not do what would seem to be totally logical, check with his bosses in New York? Can you imagine the U.N. Commander in the Balkans deciding without getting any at least supervision or any consultation with Mr. Akashi and Mr. Boutros-Ghali, moving ahead and agreeing to airstrikes? MR. BURNS: I can't speak for the U.N. system, Barry. I can speak for the fact that the United Nations Commander who I named, General Smith, was in London on Friday; was privy and in fact a direct participant in a number of these conversations to modify the system. I think it's well known in the past that sometimes U.N. military commanders on the ground have had a different perspective of what was required from a military point of view than civilians sitting elsewhere, whether in Zagreb or in New York. We are quite clear that a change has been made. We think it's going to be a change for the better, and we think that the people who are serving in the very difficult mission there in Bosnia understand that there has to be a change to make this type of coordination both more flexible and easier to implement. It has never been a question of NATO wanting to go it alone. Our military people, including General Shalikashvili, have said time and again, both privately in the London Conference and publicly, that this kind of decision has to be a partnership. You can't call in airstrikes without an idea of what the people on the ground think of it, whether they think it makes sense or not, and they have to be an equal participant in these conversations. We think we've worked that system out. It will be a joint U.N.- NATO decision but in military hands, as these decisions should be. Q One quick follow-up. The U.N. has been one of the major drag effects; the other has been Russia. You've made no mention of Russia. You've described the countries that have agreed to this. There are various arrangements, one Britsh-French-American, another British- French-American-German, one NATO, Russia. Are you prepared now to go ahead with what you think is the right thing to do without worrying, without picking up the phone and calling Kozyrev every ten minutes and trying to figure out what Russia's position is, which is fairly well known, actually. MR. BURNS: I don't think, Barry, that in the future it will be necessary for NATO to check with any other government as these decisions are made. At the London Conference, Secretary Christopher met with Foreign Minister Kozyrev. They had a very good meeting. It was a cooperative meeting. It was a meeting, I think, based on understanding of what the common threat was, and Secretary of Defense Perry met with Grachev at the London Conference, and I can tell you that we had another cooperative meeting. It's very clear to us from those two meetings and from the statements that the Russian Government made at the conference, the plenary session of the conference, that the Russian Government is similarly outraged, as are all Western Governments, by the attacks on Srebrenica and Zepa and by the outlandish behavior of the Bosnian Serb military. It's also very clear that the Russian Government does not favor the approach that the United States has proposed and has now been adopted, which is an approach to have expanded use of air power to contain the Bosnian Serb military offensive. They do not agree with that. However, they also sat in the plenary session when the conference statement was adopted. There was no untoward demand made by the Russian Government about that statement or about the decisions that clearly flow from that statement. So I think we're quite comfortable with the fact that we've had a good exchange with the Russian Government, and we do not expect that there will be any kind of trouble or disagreement in the future as we implement these decisions. I would note finally that Minister Kozyrev sent a letter to Secretary Christopher this morning, saying that President Yeltsin had instructed him to travel to Belgrade in part to warn the Bosnian Serb leadership about some of the decisions made at London, and I say warn in our sense in a very positive way to give them a direct message that the West means business; and that was certainly the message that the three military commanders made in Belgrade. Q Excuse me -- the Bosnian Serbs or the Belgrade Serbs? MR. BURNS: He's going to give it in Belgrade, but, as our generals did yesterday, they traveled to Belgrade to meet a senior member of the Bosnian Serb military, Mr. Mladic. So now you have a situation that as a result of London, the United States, France and Britain have given a direct and personal warning to the senior Bosnian Serb military commander about what will happen if they cross the line that has been drawn. We're satisfied that the Russian Government will also give their own perspective on the meetings in London and warn the Bosnian Serb leadership of the consequences that will ensue, should they continue their offensive towards Gorazde, and Minister Kozyrev has promised Secretary Christopher a detailed readout on his conversations in Belgrade. So we're actually quite satisfied with the cooperation that we have right now with the Russian Government. Q Nick, the direct warning which you've given to General Mladic by the three allies is rather substantially undermined by the position of the U.N. who have said very plainly that nothing has changed in the dual-key system. What sort of message is being sent now to the Bosnian Serbs? MR. BURNS: I would just say this, Chris. The Bosnian Serbs have clearly not listened to the words of the United Nations in the past, of which we are one. They've clearly not listened to the meaning of the mandates of the United Nations or the resolutions or to all the other public and rhetorical warnings in the past. That is why we, Britain and France sought a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Mladic to give him a personal message, and that is that he can have no doubt, just as Saddam Hussein should have had no doubt in 1990 and 1991, that when the United States says, "We are going to unleash substantial and decisive air power against him," we mean it. Secretary of Defense Perry, Secretary Christopher and the President have all spoken to this issue over the weekend. There can be no doubt in the mind of Mr. Mladic or his political leadership about what is going to happen if they cross that line in Gorazde. That was the meaning of the meeting yesterday. That message was delivered directly to him across the table and quite forcefully, and, if he's smart, he'll listen to the message. Q The implication was that forget -- don't listen to what the U.N. says any more, you're dealing with us now. Is that what you're -- MR. BURNS: The countries that made the commitment in London to use their air power to attack the Bosnian Serb military, with the United States, Britain, France and a number of other countries with whom we are close allies -- Germany, Spain and others -- he certainly ought to listen to the representatives of the three that met with him yesterday in Belgrade. David. Q Are there plans to deliver this message to any other members of the Bosnian Serb leadership in perhaps another form? That's my first question. And the second one I'll remember by the time you finish answering it. (Laughter) MR. BURNS: Let me answer the first one, and I'll drag it out until I see you stop turning the pages. David, I think we sought out Mr. Mladic yesterday because he clearly has been the devious mastermind behind the brutal Bosnian Serb offensive in eastern Bosnia and now the brutal attacks on Bihac, continued with the attempt to strangle Sarajevo. We felt it was important to go to the person who seems to be making the tactical as well as strategic decisions on the ground in Bosnia, and we accomplished that. I would also say that Secretary Rifkind's press conference on Friday afternoon, along with Secretary Christopher and Perry and General Shalikashvili's press conference, represent the first warning. We will make this warning abundantly clear to anybody who needs to hear it. I'm just not aware of any specific plans to go to Karadzic in Pale. Q My other question was, is it true that the French have bombed Pale, and, if so, did they inform you before doing so? MR. BURNS: The French Government has said publicly from Paris that it did not bomb Pale, and we certainly take the French at their word. Q (Inaudible) -- Chirac's comment that they did bomb Pale, on the record also. Have you seen that? MR. BURNS: I have not seen that. I have just seen the comment from the French Government in Paris that the French did not. Q If they did -- MR. BURNS: Until I see another comment, I'll just rest on my first statement. Q Can I follow up on Barry's question on the dual-key -- not to beat a dead horse, but just to clarify. Did Rupert Smith tell the U.S. or Britain or France in London that he has the authority to call for airstrikes without consulting New York or Zagreb? MR. BURNS: I don't know what specifically General Smith might have communicated to our military people who are in London. All I know is that as a result of conversations with him, with the British military leadership and the French military leadership, we have an agreed-upon mode of operation now pertaining to coordination that must take place between air authorities and ground authorities -- in this case air being NATO, ground being the United Nations. Q But that's the critical point, isn't it? I mean, it's one thing for the allies to say that Rupert Smith has the authority. If his bosses don't give him that authority, if he doesn't think he has it, you're back to square one, aren't you? MR. BURNS: We're confident that we have an arrangement that will work in a much better way to promote a much better and more effective deterrence -- military deterrence against the Bosnian Serbs. We're confident we've got it all worked out, and that in fact the operational details of that are being taken care of right now in Brussels. I understand that there are some conflicting statements from a number of people in New York. I would just like to rest on my previous statement. We're confident it's worked out. We're also confident it's the only way to go. The United Nations, I think, must understand that its mission has got to be strengthened if it's to stay. If its mission fails again in protecting an enclave or a safe area, well, then I think we've said on a number of occasions, it might be very difficult to keep the mission in the field. We want to keep the mission in the field. We think it's best to keep the mission in the field. You can only do that if you strengthen it. Changing the rules of the road on the so-called dual-key is one very important way to change it, and we did that in London. Q I don't recall that the conference was called to discuss the defense of Gorazde alone, as you said earlier. It seems to be it was a little broader mandate that everybody sat down to try to hash out, but if you all are spinning it that way now, okay. I have a couple of questions. First, what can this group of countries do to protect Bihac? What specifically is required? Will it need another meeting of the NAC and a written decision? Does the existing mandate require it to be just a quick go-ahead? And, secondly, why are you now drawing so narrowly the mandate of the conference to only include the defense of Gorazde? MR. BURNS: I think if you will look at what we said going in, we're certainly not trying to spin or reinterpret to our own advantage a description of the conference. The letter of invitation that came from the British Government cited Gorazde as the specific issue to be discussed. It did not mention a discussion of the others. When we talked to you all, both a number of departments, but certainly on Wednesday and Thursday, and when there was a briefing mid- day on Friday about the conference, we talked about Gorazde as being the crux of the discussion. I think it's a very important point to remember. The United States came to the conference and said, "We ought to talk about a broader situation. We ought to talk about the threat to the other enclaves." There's fighting going on in Bihac which is more severe on Friday and over the weekend and today than the fighting around Gorazde.
So in that sense I would agree with you that we all ought to be concerned with the other enclaves. The conference in London was an ad hoc group. It was not an existing group. It was pulled together for one meeting. We don't believe there will be any repetition of the specific group of 16 countries that met in London. In the future, if we believe and if the U.N. Commanders on the ground believe that NATO air power should be used to protect any of the other enclaves -- Bihac, Tuzla, Sarajevo -- that decision could be made by the North Atlantic Council. It would not have to be referred back to a London-type conference. The London Conference has already met and made a decision. It would not have to be referred to the United Nations Security Council, because there is clearly existing authority in the Security Council that would allow NATO air power to be deployed. So it's just a question of going to the North Atlantic Council. We have a lot of experience for many decades in the North Atlantic Council. It's a group that does function quite well. It's a group of like-minded countries, and we think it's probably the best place to put this decision-making. Q Just to follow: And that's the arrangement everyone understands. Everyone left London understanding that it would be a quick meeting of the NAC and then we'll go for it. MR. BURNS: I think that there may have been, frankly, some problems in communicating the decisions of London to some of the countries meeting in Brussels. But all I can say on that is that we're confident that after all the discussion, the important discussion today in Brussels, we'll have a very clear decision tomorrow morning. Q On? MR. BURNS: On the fact that the North Atlantic Council will take the results of the London meeting and put them into operation and write and agree on detailed operational plans to back up the use of NATO air power. Q In Gorazde only. MR. BURNS: In this case it's Gorazde only. Q Why isn't NAC considering Bihac now?
MR. BURNS: There hasn't been a request to consider Bihac, either by the Bosnian Government or by the U.N. commanders on the ground. There was a request to consider Gorazde, but one of the successes of London, if you will, is that having made the decision on Gorazde -- if we are asked to make a decision any place else, we believe that the capability now exists to make such a decision in the NAC, and that is a significant improvement over where we were -- Q (Multiple questions) MR. BURNS: That is a significant improvement -- excuse me -- that is a significant improvement upon where we were as we entered the London conversations. Now I'll be glad to go to your questions. Q Why is it then that the Secretary this morning said that there's a new determination coming out of London that the Bosnian Serbs should know that we are going to be similarly resolved to the other safe areas? MR. BURNS: That is a position, certainly, that he and others in this government have been articulating, and we now believe that having spent a lot of time and effort last week in London to agree to take the decision on Gorazde, the capability now exists for the North Atlantic Council to make similar decisions on the other enclaves. I should tell you, in London there was not a consensus that we should decide to have a blanket coverage for Bosnia taken at that conference. But we believe that the NATO countries can take those decisions through the North Atlantic Council. Q But Bihac, as you know, has special implications for Croatia. MR. BURNS: Yes, it does. Q So you need to be asked, unfortunately, if you think Croatia should stay out of this fight, and do you think Croatia should not provide weapons to the Bosnian Government, which they promised to do. You can understand why they would, can't you? MR. BURNS: I can understand why you asked the question. Q Yes, but I can't understand why this would not come up in London, but that's okay. Bihac was under pressure last week, too. MR. BURNS: That's right. Q Your fear of a wider war -- does it go to the -- has it reached the point where you would tell Croatia not to help Bosnia defend against the rebel Serbs? MR. BURNS: You're absolutely right that there was a lot of discussion about Bihac in London. There just wasn't a decision made in London to have blanket coverage for the NATO decision over all of Bosnia. Frankly, the United States went into the conference thinking that we had to be concerned with all the enclaves. We're not turning a blind eye to what's happening in Bihac. I would just say, Barry, to answer your question that the answer on the problem of Bihac -- and forgive me for sounding trite, but I think it's elemental -- is for the Bosnian Serbs to cease their offensive, and we certainly have urged all parties to act in such a way that the war will be contained and not widened. Q Nick, excuse me if all of this has been asked and it's just a jumble in my mind, but who actually calls for the airstrikes now under the current rules? Who can call for an airstrike? MR. BURNS: Let me just get my definitions straight. "Current rules" means the rules adopted since Friday. Q Right. MR. BURNS: It is a process, as our Pentagon has described it again and again, of coordination between two bodies -- the U.N. military forces on the ground, which are currently headed by General Rupert Smith, a British general wearing a United Nations hat. He is the Commander of U.N. forces on the ground. He's the one who commands the Ukrainians in Zepa, the British in Gorazde, the Bangladeshis in Bihac. He will work in coordination with Admiral Leighton Smith who is the NATO Commander in Naples, who has direct command of NATO air force in the region, both in air bases in Italy and also on the ships in the Adriatic -- the American and other allied ships in the Adriatic. So if General Rupert Smith decides that an attack on Gorazde must be repelled by NATO air power, he would request that from Admiral Leighton Smith in Naples. The two of them would be the focus of the coordination, rather than have a system whereby you've got those two individuals, but you also have civilians in Zagreb, civilians in New York and a host of others. We think this is proper, having now made the political decision -- in our case at a head of state level by President Clinton -- to offer NATO military power to defend Gorazde. We think it's proper for the military people who have expertise and direct personal knowledge of the situation make the call as to when it's best to call them in. I would just note -- I mean, I understand why there is confusion, because there has been so much talk, by so many people over the weekend and now some contradictory statements from New York. I would just note that in the past what often happened -- at least it's our understanding as to what often happened -- is that the U.N. Commanders would make a decision that their forces had to be buttressed by air power and some of those decisions were countermanded by civilians sitting far away. Frankly, the United Nations has come to the point in Bosnia where its lifespan is going to be severely limited if it just continues business as usual. We went to London thinking that we had to change the way the United Nations was acting and operating, and we had to improve the military coordination. We had the sense that if we didn't, the United Nations was going to fail completely. That's why the United States put forward a proposal to change the dual-key operation, and that's why we put forward our proposal to employ substantial and decisive NATO air power to defend the enclaves -- something that had not been done in the past. In the past you had pinprick airstrikes. If the Bosnian Serbs were attacking a town, you would strike at one tank or one artillery piece or one armored personnel carrier instead of deploying the kind of substantial or massive, if you will, air power that would send a true message and it would hurt. So we went to London with those objectives, and we were able to achieve them. Q And you've still got a dual-operation, in the sense that you still have the U.N. and NATO involved, but you feel by excluding the civilian leadership from this decision, you really have a system now that will work? MR. BURNS: We do. I know that our senior Pentagon leaders felt, you simply can't have a system whereby the people who command the air forces make all the decisions and have sole authority.
In any military engagement, including in our own military when it's just Americans making these decisions, it's always a process of ground and air commanders making a decision together as to when air power is deployed. It's certainly not a question of someone sitting in Naples making a sole decision. It's got to be a team effort. So we're absolutely comfortable with the fact that you would have a ground commander. The only ground commander available is the United Nations ground commander. He commands the troops on the ground. Q So Hans Blix now, is he no longer part of the decision-making process? MR. BURNS: David, we understand that it will be General Smith who makes these decisions. Q Just to clarify, Nick. The U.N. commander, as he always has, calls for airstrikes, as it has been the entire four years, however long they've been there. It starts with the U.N. commander who requests support from NATO? MR. BURNS: That's right. Q The only difference is that Akashi, or whoever, will not be involved. The U.N. civilian command will have no input whatsoever -- sort of to go back to Barry's question -- on the ground commander's decision? MR. BURNS: That's a compelling difference. Q But that's the case? MR. BURNS: You're right. I did not negotiate this. This was negotiated by our senior military people -- our senior military people. So I wouldn't say, "it's just the only decision." It's certainly a compelling change in the way this is going to work. Q Was there any discussion at the London Conference and any concern expressed about these representations by the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, and leaders of governments other than Saudi Arabia, which appears to provoke or inflame passions that this is really a religious situation, of Muslims against the rest? MR. BURNS: I must say that the discussion really centered on the security, the military aspects of the situation as well as the humanitarian. Tom, I believe you had a question. Q Just to make this clear. You now regard the North Atlantic Council as the decision-making body as far as military action in Bosnia. This sounds like the U.N., as a body, has been sidelined from this area of decision-making as a result of the encumbrance; is that what you're saying? MR. BURNS: No, not completely, and I want to be clear about this. The North Atlantic Council is the locus of decision-making on the use of air power, but that is a process whereby the United Nations is involved and necessarily has to be involved. What happens in terms of the tactical deployment of the U.N. peacekeepers on the ground or, for instance, the efforts to relieve the strangulation of Sarajevo are very much the efforts of the United Nations. We're not trying to usurp to NATO responsibility for or control for all of the operations there; not by any means, but certainly, the air operations, to which the United States has now made a Presidential commitment will be governed by decisions by the North Atlantic Council. That's just part of the military action in Bosnia, as you know. Q I have this question. At the London Conference, about the humanitarian assistance that you have made (inaudible) point, have there been specifics that had been discussed of how to elevate the sufferings? And is there any commitment to that extent? MR. BURNS: I think there's a specific decision by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to try to get the Srebrenica refugees out of the Tuzla airport area and into more secure and more comfortable surroundings. That will be the responsibility of the United Nations to house them and feed them, and so forth. I think the United Nations would like the cooperation of the Bosnian Government in that effort. There was a specific attempt by the United States to remind contributing countries -- and as Secretary Christopher said, they know who they are -- to meet their financial commitments to the UNHCR. There are a number of countries that have not met their financial commitments for the Bosnia operations of the UNHCR. If there was ever a time to find a way to meet a country's commitments, the time is now to do that. I will be posting later on today a detailed account of what the United States has done to help finance the humanitarian mission. I believe our contributions now are well over $900 million over the last several years. Mrs. Oakley has done a superb job in providing American leadership in conjunction with UNHCR on this issue. Q Could I ask, who has the power to hire and fire General Rupert Smith? MR. BURNS: I'm not specifically aware of the answer. I can certainly check on that for you, David. Q It does seem relevant since he may be disobeying the orders of his superiors shortly. MR. BURNS: It may be relevant. I think we do have an agreement as to how this is going to work. I think we will be able to convince even some of those who think it's not going to work that it should work the way it's going to work. I'll take you question and will endeavor to find out. Q I actually have one more question. Has there been agreement on what would be the trip-wire for a response -- MR. BURNS: The military term is the "trigger," right. Under what conditions would NATO air power be employed? It's a very good question. It's one that we talked about in London. I think we had some preliminary assessment of what the triggers trip-wire should be. That's one of the issues that NATO is taking up today and will decide upon tomorrow. We'll be able to talk about that once NATO has finished its discussions. Q The Secretary made a reference to the State Department, or him -- for Dennis(Ross) -- of taking a more active role in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Those weren't his exact words, but words to that effect. MR. BURNS: Was that this morning. Q "A stronger hand." Q What did he mean? MR. BURNS: I think the Secretary has felt for some time that when the peace process is challenged, it's one of his fundamental duties -- and it's where we have a comparative advantage to try to protect the peace process. It is curious, as the Secretary mentioned this morning, that time and again, just when the parties seem to be on the edge of an agreement, there's a terrorist act designed to spoil that agreement. We feel very strongly -- the Secretary of State feels very strongly -- that we cannot allow the peace process to be held hostage to those who engage in terrorism, those who are responsible for actions like this morning's bombing of the commuter bus in Tel Aviv. That is clearly the message we are sending today. We were also very gratified to see that was the message Prime Minister Rabin gave the Israeli people this morning. As you know, the Palestinian-Israeli talks have been postponed until after the burial of the victims of the bus attack. That is only proper and that's understandable. I know that Chairman Arafat, in his denounciation of the terrorist attack this morning, was understanding of the decision by the Israeli Government to postpone the talks until the Israeli nation could grieve and bury the dead. Prime Minister Rabin left a very strong message with which we agree. That is the peace process must continue and must not be stopped by terrorists. Q What did the Secretary mean? What's going to be our stronger hand or stronger role? MR. BURNS: We've made it clear, on a number of occasions, that we're willing to do whatever the parties would like us to do. I would just note that Dennis Ross was involved in a very intensive way, over the weekend, in communicating with both sides about the status and progress of the Israeli-Palestinian talks. He has been involved again today. As you know, both he and the Secretary will remain personally involved and we'll be prepared to step up our involvement should the parties so desire it. Q The U.S. side is making proposals on its own as to how Israel and the Palestinians should craft the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and how the Palestinians should hold their elections now? Is that what you're saying? MR. BURNS: I didn't say that. The parties are the ones that have to do the negotiating. They're the ones that are responsible for the decisions and must live with the decisions. We are available and have been available to be helpful to them. We have often made detailed suggestions to help these negotiations along. Obviously, because we want to maintain a sense of confidentiality, and we also want to maintain our influence. What we don't do is talk specifically in public about the specific advice that we are giving, but we're certainly giving it, and we'll continue to give it. Q Might Dennis go back this week? MR. BURNS: I talked to Dennis this morning. As I said, he's very much involved by phone. He just came back from the region where he was personally involved. I don't believe he has any travel plans at this time. Q When you say the people who make the parties responsible for decisions and have to live with it, will the United States withdraw completely from the decisions that are made and say, "Well, you make the decisions," when the United States is driving so hard to get a decision made by the parties with their influence, as witnessed by Dennis Ross' activities? MR. BURNS: I'm just saying that in every peace negotiation that's taken place, going all the way back to the early 1970s, the United States has been centrally involved. We want and should be centrally involved, but ultimately it's the parties that must take responsibility for deciding on what solutions are arrived at. We can't make those decisions for them. They have to make them themselves, and they are prepared to do so. On Israel, Carol? Q No. MR. BURNS: We'll come back in just a minute. Q Nick, do you have anything to report upon your exchanges with the Chinese on the missile exercises now that the exercises have been going on for four days now? MR. BURNS: We've been in contact with the Chinese Government on the issue of the missile exercise. We do not believe this test contributes to peace and stability in the area. It's been the long-standing policy of the United States to seek to promote peace, security, and stability in the area of the Taiwan Strait. This is in the interest of the United States, the People's Republic of China, and Taiwan. Q Can you elaborate on that? MR. BURNS: That answer was supposed to have been precise. I think it stands on its own. (Laughter) Q Do you consider it to be a provocation against the Taiwanese? MR. BURNS: We don't believe that it contributed to peace and stability in the area. We've made that clear to the Chinese Government. Q Nick, press reports say the Chinese are planning on new exercises, probably different types, but large-scale exercises. Do you have anything on this? Is the United States taking any steps to counter this, or are you urging any of your allies to take steps to counter this? MR. BURNS: I think I've detailed how we feel about the test, what we've done about it, and I'd just leave it there. Q When will we get the Secretary's statement on the Middle East? MR. BURNS: Right after the briefing. It will be available in the Press Room right down the hall. Carol. I just want to go back to you. Q Back to Turkey. Are you satisfied with the steps that the Turkish Government took this weekend, or do you see further action being necessary? MR. BURNS: As I understand it, Prime Minister Ciller offered 22 amendments to the Turkish constitutions. These were very lengthy deliberations with the National Assembly. The fact that she was able to have 17 of them passed -- and we hope they'll soon be signed into law by the Turkish President -- is a significant achievement for her. This is a long-term effort on her part to try to broaden the foundation for political and economic reform. I think she's got to be congratulated on that, so we're very much satisfied that Turkey has gone a long way. Obviously, in any country, including our own, there's always room for further improvement. I believe that the United States Government feels that the Turkish Government ought to continue this effort to liberalize and to reform. But we want to take a moment today to congratulate the Turkish Government on what it has accomplished. Q You can't be specific on where you'd like to see improvement in the future?
MR. BURNS: No, I don't think so. I know we had a phone report from our Ambassador in Ankara, Marc Grossman, on this action. I don't believe we've yet seen a detailed cable from our embassy. I'm just looking through my papers. I don't think I have specific information, Carol, on your question. Q Nick, do you have anything about the South Korean President, Kim Yong-sam visit to the United States? MR. BURNS: I know that the President and the Secretary are looking forward to his state visit here this week. There's been a lot of work done to prepare for this given our very important relationship with the Republic of Korea. He is one of our most important allies in Asia, indeed, around the world. His visit is well timed. It comes at a time when the United States has been focusing increasingly on its policy towards Asia, in general. It will happen just before the Secretary travels to Brunei, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam for a very important trip. It occurs at a time when, of course, we have successfully surmounted a number of hurdles on the North Korea Agreed Framework; it occurs at a time when the United States-China relations must be improved; and it also occurs at a time when it's important for us to look back symbolically upon the Korean War, as the President and the South Korean relationship will do this coming Thursday when they dedicate the Korean War Memorial on the Mall in Washington. Q Does the State Department comment on the Japanese general elections that were held this weekend? MR. BURNS: We very rarely comment on elections, in this case. I think I'll refrain from commenting. We don't want to interfere in what happens internally in Japan. We continue to work well with the current government and look forward to working with that government in the future. Q Nick, just on Bihac once again. Do you actually oppose the Croatian Government providing military assistance to the Muslims trying to defend Bihac? MR. BURNS: David, we've called on all sides to take steps that would not widen the war but contain it. I believe that expression has is well known. It has been made clear to all concerned. Q I don't know if that means that you oppose, specifically, the Croatian assistance for those trying to defend Bihac. After all, the London Conference didn't do anything for Bihac. MR. BURNS: I'm just going to limit myself to saying that our public focus is going to be turned first and foremost to the Bosnian Serbs who are responsible for the fighting in Bihac. We certainly call upon them to stop the fighting. We're urging all parties to restrain themselves; urging all parties to take steps to contain and not widen the conflict. Q Thank you. MR. BURNS: Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 2:50 p.m.)
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