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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
95/07/25 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN

                     U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                       DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
                             I N D E X
                       Tuesday, July 25, l995
                                       Briefer:  Nicholas Burns

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
War in Bosnia
--Situation in Zepa .......................................1
--Secretary Christopher's Briefing on London Conference ...1
  --Dual-Key System Issue..................................1
  --Dole Amendment--Arms Embargo ..........................2
--NATO/NAC Mtgs. in Brussels:
  --Defense of Gorazde; Dual-Key System; Other Safe Areas .2-8
--Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev Mtgs. in Belgrade ......8-10
--War Crimes Tribunal Indictments .........................10-12
--Report of French Bombing of Pale ........................12-14
--Situation in Bihac ......................................16-18
IRAQ
U.S. Contacts with Kurdish Groups in Northern Iraq ........14-16
INDIA
Kashmir -- Status of Western Hostages .....................18
CHINA
Harry Wu Case .............................................18-19
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPB #111
TUESDAY, JULY 25, 1995, 1:19 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have no announcements, so I'm glad, George, to go to any questions you may have. Q Do you have any thoughts on the fall of Zepa and on the need to protect the population there from atrocities? MR. BURNS: Yes, I do. We've seen reports -- in fact, just in the last couple of hours -- that seem to confirm now the Bosnian Serb claim that indeed Zepa has fallen, that the fighters defending it have been defeated or have left the town. We believe it's very important that the atrocities, the brutalities of Srebrenica not be repeated. It's essential that the Bosnian Serb government and leadership, including the military people on the ground, understand that the international community is watching, understand that the United Nations is taking steps as we speak to try to evacuate the wounded from Zepa and to make sure that other civilians are allowed to leave if they wish to leave and stay if they wish to stay. Q Have you resolved -- or what are your hopes for resolving Boutros-Ghali's objections to the change in dual-key and NATO confusion over the next steps? MR. BURNS: Let me just, Andrea, step back and take advantage of your question and tell you what we're doing today on both of those questions. The Secretary has just left the building to go up to Capitol Hill where he'll be briefing the Senate Democratic caucus. In fact, I believe that just started a couple of minutes ago. He'll be briefing them on the results of the London Conference, including the issue that you mentioned, Andrea, the dual-key issue. He'll also be talking to them about the vote that is set for later today on the Dole amendment. That would be to have the United States unilaterally lift the arms embargo on Bosnia. He is going to be arguing very strenuously and vigorously against unilateral lift because we believe that that will Americanize the war. We believe that is the surest way to speed the introduction of American ground troops in Bosnia -- 25,000 estimated American ground troops. We think it will really torpedo any remaining hope that there can be political negotiations this summer and this fall that might prove to be beneficial to the process in Bosnia. So for a variety of very important reasons, not least among them of which is that we also don't think we should be deserting our NATO allies when they are increasing their troop commitment on the ground. The Secretary and Secretary Perry, who will be with him, will be arguing quite strongly against unilateral lift. In addition to the Secretary's appearance on the Hill, the NATO meetings have continued today in Brussels -- the meetings of the North Atlantic Council. The position that the United States has taken during the last 24 hours is that the very good and positive decisions taken at London should now be put into operation by NATO. The detailed operational plans should be written and agreed to that would allow NATO to carry out its responsibilities. These include, of course, the responsibility now to defend Gorazde from attacks by the Bosnian Serbs, and we have given a direct and personal ultimatum to Mr. Mladic on that question. There needs now to be a translation from the London decision into specific operational plans to put that into effect. Secondly, the United States continues to believe that the prior dual-key system, which was so inflexible and so inefficient in trying to achieve coordination between the United Nations and NATO in the past, must be changed. The decision was made at the London Conference to change that dual-key system, and we would like to see the North Atlantic Council confirm that decision and write new operational plans that would put a new, more flexible, and more efficient system into place. Third, the NAC is also considering the question of what the West ought to do if other safe areas and enclaves come under the type of attack that Srebrenica and Zepa faced in the last couple of weeks. As you know, the American position has been that since the London meeting, we now have in place a system whereby it's possible for NATO to take the decision to take similar action, if it so chooses, as we have taken in Gorazde. What has happened over the last couple of days in Brussels is that taking all of these general agreements from London and translating them into specific operational plans has become a difficult and complicated exercise. It is difficult and complicated because any time you take the decisions of 16 nations and try then to write specific plans, it's not something that can be easily achieved or achieved overnight. We remain confident that the North Atlantic Council will indeed confirm the decisions of the London meeting. We think it is absolutely necessary for it to do so because UNPROFOR is in a fairly exposed and in some cases fairly weak position in the field. It is necessary now to strengthen it. The decisions taken at the London Conference will indeed strengthen it, and that's why we're arguing so hard that these discussions be concluded and that these decision be codified into operational decisions. Q If I may follow, there's an "Alice in Wonderland" quality to this. You're suggesting that the NAC translate the "decisions" of the London Conference into operational orders, but there is no apparent agreement as to what the decisions of the London Conference were. The United States seems to have a unilateral interpretation of that which is in conflict with members of NATO as well as with the U.N. Secretary General. MR. BURNS: I don't agree with your assessment. I hope it's not "Alice in Wonderland." I don't think it is, Andrea. I can tell you on the key decision that the London Conference took, the defense of Gorazde, there is an agreement between the United Kingdom, the United States and France, the three major countries that discussed this last week, to defend Gorazde. It is a complicated question to write an operational plan that all can agree to on the defense of Gorazde, and there's no reason to sweep that under the rug. We've had animated discussions in Brussels about the best way to put that into operational plans. We believe, based on conversations that we've had today, that we're going to get there; but it has taken a number of hours, both yesterday and today, to slog through some of these issues. I would say the same on dual-key. Q (Inaudible) MR. BURNS: Let me just finish, and I'll be glad to go to that. I would expect the same on the dual-key provisions. There's no question that the United Kingdom, France and the United States stand together on dual-key right now. There is a difference of interpretation between, I think, the three of us and between the United Nations. You have seen some public statements out of the United Nations that say the Secretary General has not given up his authority to hold a key in the combined NATO-U.N. air operations. We believe that it is absolutely essential that the dual- key be a process of coordination between the NATO Commander in Naples and the U.N. Commander on the ground in Sarajevo. That was the decision that was publicly announced last Friday in London, and not just by the United States. But it's certainly a decision that has been taken issue with by some in the United Nations. We are engaged in discussions today, as we were yesterday, to convince the United Nations that we intend to move forward with an altered dual- key system, because in our estimation that is the only way to make UNPROFOR more capable, more effective and more strong. Now, David and Judd, to get to your question, we had hoped very much -- and I think I said this yesterday -- that we would conclude these discussions today in Brussels. The NAC continues to meet. Ambassador Bob Hunter is representing the United States. It may be that they conclude today, it may be they have to go into tomorrow. There's no way for me to know from the vantage point of 1:26 in the afternoon whether indeed we will finish tonight. But I do want to leave you with this impression. Despite some of the contradictory things that you've seen in the press and some of the contradictory statements, the United States' position hasn't changed since London. We have maintained a consistent position. On the dual-key, for instance, we have a written agreement to change it from London, and on Gorazde we have the conference Chairman's statement to deploy substantial and decisive air power to protect Gorazde. There is a lot of hard slogging to do on this issue, but we're not going to change our position. We're not going to deviate from our positions. We're going to see it through, with the hope and expectation that we'll resolve these complications shortly and get on with the business of trying to strengthen UNPROFOR. Yes, Jim. Q Did the Secretary General sign on to the statement about the dual-key in London? MR. BURNS: All I can say is that the United Nations was represented in London. The Secretary General participated in the conversations. He was there. The dual-key decision was openly discussed and openly arrived at, and there were no complications on Friday. Obviously, complications have arisen since Friday, and we know that from both the public statements that you and I have heard and by some of our private discussions up in New York. We are taking the position that for the United States to be asked to take on a greater role through military air power, as we were, means that the United States has got to approach this with a great degree of seriousness and strength. The only effective way to deploy our air power is to do it in such a way that it can be done speedily and efficiently, and that was certainly not the case with the old dual-key system. Sid. Q Nick, if I hear you right -- correct me if I'm wrong -- are you saying the United States will not participate in the defense of Gorazde and the other activities laid out on Friday unless dual-key is changed and agreed? MR. BURNS: No, I don't mean to give you that impression. Let me just say it perhaps more clearly. We went into the London Conference with a request from the French Government to become more heavily involved in the situation in Gorazde through the provision of American helicopters and crews. We went in to the London Conference with our own proposal that we deploy substantial NATO -- and inside that rubric, American -- air power to defend Gorazde. We did it on the assumption that the dual-key would have to be changed. That was the very clear policy advice from our military, and all the civilians in this government agreed to it, and I think last week I talked about there being unanimity in this government about that. We had detailed conversations with the French, the British, the United Nations and others. There was a written agreement worked out between the major troop-contributing countries about how a new dual-key system would operate. The basis for our decision to agree to air power was hand in hand with the decision to alter the dual-key system, and so we still believe it's very, very important that the Gorazde decision go forward with the altered dual-key system. Q Just a follow-up then. I still don't -- it sounds like you're saying it the way I just stated it. Let me go at it another way. Will the United States do what it committed to do in London if dual-key remains in place? MR. BURNS: I don't think we need to answer that hypothetical because we fully expect that NATO will codify in an operational sense the decisions made at London, including the decision on dual-key. I'm not here to make any threats or to send any public signals that we're going to take our marbles and go home if we don't get our way, because we fully expect to get our way. Our way is not just our way; it's the way that the United Kingdom and France and the United States, Germany and other countries had decided to proceed militarily. We fully expect that that will be the operational decision by the NAC, and so therefore I don't think it's necessary for us to engage in hypothetical debate about what might not happen. Q So there's been no consideration in this government anywhere about the wisdom of proceeding with massive airstrikes around Gorazde if U.N. civilians maintain control of the operation? Nobody in this government has even thought about it? MR. BURNS: Since we know what the London Conference decided, we know that the NATO conference is headed in the direction of codifying this. I think that we are confident that this decision will be worked out. Q Nick, what happened? Why has this -- if it was so clear, why has this impasse come to be? MR. BURNS: Because there are very complicated issues. To take a general decision, like defending a city, and then translating it into a specific military plan has proven to be and turned out to be very complicated. Q I talking specifically about dual-key. If it was on paper, as you say, and was very specific and was very clear, why is it not clear today to some people? MR. BURNS: I think maybe it's best to address that question to New York and to the United Nations but not to the United States. We felt we had an agreement. We did not hear any counter-arguments on Friday. We have heard counter-arguments since, and we're going to proceed as best we can to codify the decision that we think makes sense. This is not just a theoretical point for the United States. It's a very important point about military effectiveness. Q Do you think Boutros-Ghali just had a change of heart; that some of his advisers said, you know, really, you're giving up your authority? MR. BURNS: I think it's best to address that question to others. I don't want to get into the business of interpreting others. I just know how strongly people in our government feel about this. Q Nick, if NAC goes ahead and codifies this and agrees to proceed, you still have the complications that have arisen in terms of how the U.N. feels about it. MR. BURNS: We hope to resolve those complications to our satisfaction. We intend to. There are discussions going on today and later on this afternoon up in New York where we'll be represented by Ambassador Madeleine Albright. We simply will make clear the consensus out of London that the prior dual-key operation was not working and that it was necessary to alter that system so that UNPROFOR could be more effective and the West can be more effective. Q You don't know whether, by the time Albright has her meetings in New York, whether she'll be able to speak on behalf of all of the allies, whether a consensus will have been reached in Brussels? MR. BURNS: We very much hope that there will be a consensus on this and all issues reached in Brussels. I can't forecast whether or not that will come by 5:00 this afternoon. We'll have to see. Q Nick, if NAC resolves all the questions of dual-key, can you proceed without Boutros Boutros-Ghali's approval, or in face of his opposition on this? MR. BURNS: We hope it doesn't come to that, because we're in a partnership here with the United Nations. We work very closely with the United Nations, and we want to be good partners. We want to have agreed-upon rules of the road for that partnership, and that's what we'll try to do -- work out an agreement with the United Nations. Q Regardless of whether the NAC or the U.N. agrees on procedures -- and I know you can't speak for Britain and France -- but will the United States live up to the commitment it made to defend Gorazde, in spite of all the other peripheral issues? MR. BURNS: There's no question that having delivered an ultimatum, having participated, been one of the three countries that delivered an ultimatum to Mr. Mladic, the United States is going to live up to its commitments. We intend to do that. There's no question about that. Q Regardless of the dual key? MR. BURNS: I'm not operating on that assumption or that basis. The decision taken by the President to commit privately and publicly to deploy U.S. air power within NATO in a substantial way, should it be necessary, was taken on the basis of several assumptions. Those assumptions were agreed to at London. We believe they will be agreed to in Brussels by the NAC. I really don't want to go down a hypothetical road. I'm just going to talk about reality and what's happening today. I think all of our partners are aware of our position. Q It's not hypothetical for 70,000 people in Gorazde who are counting on Washington to defend them. Can you reassure them and tell them that regardless, even if you have to go it alone, will the United States live up to the commitment it made in London? MR. BURNS: I think it's important for those people living in Gorazde to understand that the West made decisions in London, it wasn't just the United States, and that all of us ought to live up to the commitments that we made in London. The United States certainly intends to do that. Betsy. Q Do you have a readout on the Kozyrev meetings in Belgrade? MR. BURNS: We have a very brief readout. We received it today from the Russian Foreign Ministry. I think Minister Kozyrev is on his way back to Moscow after having met Mr. Milosevic and I believe Mr. Mladic in Belgrade. The readout is very brief. It is that Mr. Kozyrev, I think, conveyed to them the seriousness of purpose that was present at the London Conference. He has promised to get in touch with Secretary Christopher and others in our government upon his return to Moscow. So I don't have anything in more detail than that. Q One more question. I understand that he did write -- that Kozyrev wrote the Secretary a letter to tell him that he was going to go to Belgrade. Did that letter also contain what he was going to say? MR. BURNS: Yes. Minister Kozyrev wrote the Secretary yesterday a letter saying that President Yeltsin had instructed him to go to Belgrade to have serious talks with the Serbian and Bosnian Serb leadership about the results of the London Conference. We had every expectation that Minister Kozyrev was in this sense carrying a helpful message on the part of the international community -- helpful to our position -- to the Bosnian Serbs and to the Serbian leadership. David. Q You've said that there's a problem, and it's publicly known that there is a problem with the civilian leadership at the U.N. over the question of dual-key. But under the assumption that there isn't a problem in Brussels on the dual-key question, what is the problem in Brussels? MR. BURNS: I think what has happened in Brussels over the last 48 hours is that the decisions in London are serious decisions. To translate them into operational content, operational detail, has proven to be complicated. There are some tactical disagreements on some issues. But, in the main, we certainly are pushing hard to translate those decisions into practical realities and we'll continue to do that. We're confident that the NAC will eventually end, whether it's today or tomorrow, and end having codified the major decisions from London. We don't see any other way to move forward. Q For example, do America's allies agree with it that should Gorazde be attacked, massive air power should be used, not excluding any targets? MR. BURNS: That's one of the issues that's been discussed. It's been quite complicated to work out, and we hope very much we can work it out very soon. Q What about differences as to which targets should be threatened in the case of an attack on Gorazde? MR. BURNS: As I said, it's been very complicated. There have been some tactical differences that we hope can be worked out. What I don't want to do, because there is a meeting going on and I can't possibly tell you where the meeting is now since I walked in the door here, I just don't want to run through where I think the respective countries are, because positions are changing, views are being expressed today. They're slightly different than yesterday. We are working hard to make sure that the London Conference decisions are going to now be codified. That's the most important thing that we've got to do right now. I won't hide the fact that it's been more complicated than we thought, but we're hoping very much for success. Q Nick, Secretary Perry said last week that if there was bombing, the first targets would be the Serb air defense systems. Is that still the case, or is that another of the things that's -- MR. BURNS: I know that Secretary Perry said that on a number of occasions, and I certainly would not take issue with that. Q On General Mladic, have you seen the report that the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague has issued warrants for him and President Karadzic and 31 others, I think. Does that complicate things in any sense? Does it harden their position or make it impossible for them to go abroad to deal with possible peace negotiations? MR. BURNS: It's hard to say whether it will complicate things, Jim. From our perspective, it clarifies responsibility -- these indictments -- for crimes committed in 1992 and in 1995. Let me just give you our sense of what this decision means. We were apprised this morning that the prosecutor for the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal announced that indictments and arrest warrants had, indeed, been issued against the Bosnian Serb President, Mr. Karadzic, and the Serb army commander, Mr. Mladic, as well as the Croatian Serb President, Mr. Martic, and some 21 others, in addition to those three individuals. Karadzic and Mladic are being charged with genocide and crimes against humanity arising, among others, from atrocities perpetrated against the civilian population throughout Bosnia, for the sniping campaign against civilians in Sarajevo, for the taking of U.N. peacekeepers as hostages in 1995, and for their use as human shields. The other individuals, beyond the leaders that I mentioned, have been indicted in relation to investigations relating to incidents in several towns throughout Bosnia in 1992. A total of 46 people have been accused by the Tribunal of serious violations of international law. As I said, the indictments announced today relate to events which occurred in both Croatia and Bosnia and to atrocities committed against Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats, and against Croatians. They do cover events that took place in two years -- 1992 and 1995. Justice Goldstone is investigating alleged crimes also by Muslims and Croats, but his investigation of those alleged crimes is being delayed by a lack of cooperation from the Pale authorities, interestingly enough. We believe that the action taken by the Tribunal in prosecuting war crimes is in the long-term interest of the international community and in our long-term interest to achieve peace in the region. Q Nick, what is the likelihood, do you think, that Karadzic and Mladic will ever be brought to trial? There is this problem of getting them into custody. MR. BURNS: There is the problem of bringing them to trial because it might be difficult to bring them into custody. That's correct. It's hard to know what the eventual outcome will be. We believe that if indictments have been handed down, that trials obviously should take place. But right now, I think the wartime conditions might make that very difficult. We certainly support the activities of the Tribunal, and we'll continue to. Q Nick, what about the impact of this on any peace efforts? Does this mean now that they're indicted that U.N. negotiators -- Contact Group negotiators -- will not be able to talk to them? MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. I think in this sense -- in response to your specific question -- the judicial and political processes are somewhat distinct. These individuals have been accused and now indicted of various crimes. They have not been convicted in trials. So I don't believe that their indictment means that the United Nations is precluded from contact with them. In saying that, I do want to say we support the work that has been done. We have contributed both financial assistance, and a number of Americans have been detailed to work for the Tribunal. Q What if the U.N. negotiators went to meet with them at Pale? Wouldn't it a responsibility of that U.N. official or that U.N.- associated official -- however you want to define it -- to take them into custody? MR. BURNS: That's an interesting question. It could very well be the theoretical responsibility. But actualizing that and actually doing it might be quite difficult given the fact that there is a war going on. Whenever the United Nations negotiators show up in Pale, they do so in a sense that they're out-numbered. The Bosnian Serbs have guns and the U.N. diplomats do not; just to be practical about it. Q So at any rate, the bottom line, though, is that even though these guys now have been indicted, the United States and its allies intend to continue to try to negotiate peace with them because you have no choice, right? MR. BURNS: As I said, these are distinct processes because these individuals have not been convicted, they have been indicted. A number of others are under investigation. That's an important process that we support, but I don't think it will stop the activities of the United Nations and countries like the United States to try to seek a peaceful solution to the problems of the area. Q Do you know if arrest warrants are going to be issued for them? Or is the intention not to issue arrest warrants, precisely to get around this problem, in case you one day want to invite them to Geneva or something for peace talks? MR. BURNS: I don't know. That's a question, I think, for the Tribunal and the United Nations. The Tribunal operates under the authority of the United Nations. It's a question for them. I simply don't know the answer to that. Q Nick, could you tell us anything about the report in the New York Times today that quotes American officials as saying that there is intelligence showing that the French probably bombed Pale; dropped a bomb on a house in Pale? MR. BURNS: David, all I can say is that the spokeswoman for the President of France has denied that particular report, as have other French officials, on the record. So I have to refer you to the French Government on that one. Q Have you asked the French Government? MR. BURNS: I'm not aware what kind of conversations we've had with the French on this. But I would just simply note that the French have publicly denied that, indeed, they took this action. I would refer you to the French for any further questions. Q Can you tell us whether or not it's true that American officials saw evidence that a plane had flown over Pale that day and that -- MR. BURNS: I cannot. I simply have not been involved in the details of this particular question. I cannot tell you. I cannot confirm that report either way. Q Nick, the French Government did not specifically deny new artillery placements on Mount Igman could have possibly fired artillery rather than an airstrike. Has the French Government informed you in any way that was the case? MR. BURNS: I simply don't know. I hadn't heard that angle before. I was answering a specific question. I believe that the spokeswoman for President Chirac was asked yesterday whether or not French aircraft had bombed Pale. She said, no. That's the quote that I read in the press. I'm basing my comments on that report. Q The President, himself, said he had ordered a counter-attack. MR. BURNS: I saw that quote as well. Q So I'm asking, again, is there evidence that it was an artillery strike rather than an airstrike? MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any evidence that it was an artillery strike as opposed to an airstrike. Q Let me ask the question just another way. Are you aware of any counter-attack by the French, quite apart from what Chirac may have said? MR. BURNS: I would just refer you back to my original statement, and that is that we have noted the French response on this. I would refer you to the French for further information. Q Does it matter? Do you care if they did? MR. BURNS: I think it probably matters. Q You would be supportive, right? MR. BURNS: Let me choose my words carefully here. I think it matters a great deal. We care very deeply, but I have nothing further to say than what I've said. Q (Inaudible). MR. BURNS: Excuse me? We're just saying what we're saying. The fact is, there are a lot of reports out there. We have noted an equivocal statement that the bombing attack did not take place by French planes. We've noted that, and we refer you to the French Government for any further questions. Q Nick, what are the rules of engagement for the French artillery which is now placed on Mount Igman? The Serbs are continuing bombing Sarajevo, and the French do not respond to that; they would respond if they themselves were attacked. What if the supply trains were attacked or were bombed by the Serb artillery. Would the French forces respond to that? MR. BURNS: That's a question, again, for the French. I guess we should have held today's briefing in Paris. It might have been more illuminating. We think it's a good thing that the British and French have gone up to Mount Igman; that they have widened the road in some places; that they want to get convoys through. This was clearly the spirit of what was agreed to in London on Sarajevo. As to what their rules of engagement are, I can't speak for the French military. You'll have to ask the French military and the United Nations what the rules of engagement are. Q Another subject? MR. BURNS: Sure. Q Do you have anything more on Iraq and whether or not we're doing any negotiating or mediating with the Iraqi groups? MR. BURNS: Yes, I believe I do. We have had a long-term interest since March and April of 1991 in trying to work with the groups in northern Iraq to get them to unify -- because they have been feuding for a long time -- to create conditions of stability in northern Iraq. We have sent, on a regular basis, American diplomats into northern Iraq -- people who work in this building -- to talk with both groups; to encourage them to end their particular feuds and to coalesce so that they can create a basis for stability, for protection from terrorism in northern Iraq -- that's been a real problem because of the PKK, a Kurdish group; and to prepare themselves for the future, whatever may happen in the future in Iraq. We've, in fact, just had, quite recently, an officer in northern Iraq to have these conversations. He is trying to get them both to commit to a plan of action in the future. I believe one of the groups has decided to do that and one has not. So we'll keep working at that. Q The one that has not, are you saying that they rejected it or that they just haven't given an answer? MR. BURNS: I don't know in fact that they've totally rejected it, but we haven't had success in getting them to agree to what we have been proposing, but we'll work at it, and we'll continue to work with both groups. It's important that we do that. Q And when was this most recent contact? MR. BURNS: I believe it was a couple of weeks ago. Q A couple of weeks. MR. BURNS: I can check on that, to be more specific. But we have regular contacts by Department officials, and we'll continue those contacts, because, after all, we're one of the four major countries in "Provide Comfort II," and we have an interest in stability in northern Iraq; and the actions of these two major Kurdish groups are the key factor in whether or not northern Iraq is going to be stable. Q Nick, can you say which group has accepted the proposal, and do we know which group has rejected -- has not committed to it yet? And can you put some meat on the bones of the proposal? What sort of specific things are you asking them to do? MR. BURNS: I think it's fair to say that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan has accepted our offer, and the Kurdish Democratic Party has at this point held back a little bit. We'd like to bridge the differences between these two groups, and we'll continue to do that. Q What is it specifically that you'd like them to do? MR. BURNS: We'd like them to reconcile their differences, work together for economic and political and civil stability in northern Iraq, which has been sadly lacking over the last four years. Q You mean form a government of some kind? MR. BURNS: At this point, as you know, we recognize Iraqi sovereignty in northern Iraq. We don't recognize Kurdish sovereignty. We have not recognized the Kurdish state. But we certainly would like the Kurdish people to live in the best possible conditions that they can, and that is certainly a function of how these two rival groups cooperate or fail to cooperate. So I think our objectives are to get them to work together for the benefit of the people of northern Iraq. But it's not a question of recognizing a government; government entails sovereignty, and I think you know we do recognize Iraqi sovereignty above the 36th parallel. Q But you recognize the Palestinian National Authority and that's not a government per se. MR. BURNS: That's a different situation. Q Right. But are you telling us -- it's sort of a municipal -- I don't want to use "government" -- but "municipal" for lack of a better word -- some sort of ruling body that would oversee Kurdish affairs? MR. BURNS: No. At this point I think it's more fundamental than that. These groups have been feuding. They have fought each other in the past, in the recent past, and we think they need to cooperate, both for their own good, but also for the benefit of the people whom they represent. So it's not a question of establishing a government or a governing entity at this point. I believe it's a question of trying to resolve a feud and get them to agree on a common plan of action to make northern Iraq a better place for the people of that region to live. Q Did the United States propose any formulas for revenue sharing among these two groups? MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that we did. Q Nick, can we get a situation report on Bihac and perhaps a reaction to the reports that Croatian Government forces are now involved in the fighting there? MR. BURNS: Certainly. The situation, as we understand it, in Bihac is quite critical. One of the major offensives of the last couple of years was begun last week by the Bosnian Serb military leadership. We believe they're attempting to divide the pocket into two to make it more easily conquerable in the future. We obviously have called repeatedly upon the Bosnian Serb military leaders to cease and desist from these actions. They are exposing the civilian population of Bihac to shelling, to killing, to sniping, and it should stop. At the same time, we have advised all the parties in the region that an escalation of the conflict cannot serve our long-term interest in peace in the area, and that's basically the extent, I think, of the information, David, that I have here today on Bihac. Q And there still are reports that Croatian forces are fighting in Bihac? MR. BURNS: We understand that elements of the Croatian army have gone into action around Bihac. They are doing this, we believe, as part of the Federation -- the Bosnian-Croatian Federation -- in an attempt to defend Bihac against the Krajina Serbs and the Bosnian Serbs and others in the area. Q Nick, would you then say that perhaps the United States effort to get this Federation -- to form this Federation may be backfiring on you in this regard? MR. BURNS: I don't think so. I think we believe that the formation of the Federation has been one of the few major positive accomplishments of the last couple of years in Bosnia. It has certainly strengthened Bosnia itself, and we hope it will lend a measure of stability in the future as the peace talks begin. We have been active in trying to advise them on how best to set up the Federation, including the military parts of the Federation -- not in terms of tactics or strategy but in organization -- and we are very great supporters of the Federation. Q In this point it seems to be that the Federation is becoming a mechanism for exactly what you don't want to happen, which is to have Croatian involvement. MR. BURNS: I think the proper spotlight ought to be put on the Bosnian Serbs. The Federation did not start the fighting in Bihac. It wasn't the Bosnian Government. It wasn't the Croatian Government. It was the Bosnian Serbs and their allies, the Krajina Serbs. The responsibility for the fighting rests on their shoulders, and that's where our spotlight is today. Q Why aren't you welcoming the Croatians helping their fellow Federation members? MR. BURNS: David, I think we're in a situation where fighting has broken out all over Bosnia. We believe it's important that the war be contained, and we also believe it's important that the war not be escalated in any part of the country. We believe that U.N. mandates and resolutions ought to be respected. Betsy. Q Do you have anything new today on the Kashmiri rebels holding hostages? The Indian Government has said that they will not negotiate for the release of these hostages. MR. BURNS: I don't have anything new. We're continuing to follow the situation through the Indian Government. We support the actions of the Indian Government. We call on the Al-Faran group to release Mr. Hutchings and the other Westerners who are being held hostage, but I have no new information on their status. Q Back on northern Iraq. Do you have the name of the U.S. diplomat who was out there most recently? MR. BURNS: I don't. Q Nick, do you have anything on Harry Wu? MR. BURNS: There's nothing new on Harry Wu. Our Charge d'Affaires, Scott Hallford, was in again today, in conversations with Chinese Foreign Ministry, seeking Consular access. I don't believe he's been successful in seeking greater Consular access -- greater flexibility on the part of the Chinese Government about the Consular Convention, and that calls for a minimum of one visit per month. Q When is that in effect? Do you know, Nick? MR. BURNS: I'll have to check. I believe we've got a couple of weeks left. I think that Mr. Macias went to Wuhan, if I'm not mistaken, two weeks ago Monday, but I'll check on that. Q Nick, has the U.S. in a couple of weeks of study reached a conclusion as to whether his detention is legal, even under Chinese law? MR. BURNS: I don't think we've pursued that quite aggressively, because it's not been a question for us of legality, as much as it's been a question of reason. We believe that Harry Wu should be released immediately. He was traveling on a valid American passport and received a valid Chinese visa and was summarily and suddenly detained and then arrested. We don't think that's right, and we think the Chinese ought to release him. So we're not pursuing a defined legal argument here as much as we are a practical humanitarian and political argument, and that is they ought not to hold him. They ought not to try him. They ought to send him back to the United States so he can live here in peace and freedom. Q Ambassador Lord said on the Hill yesterday it was illegal and immoral. MR. BURNS: It's certainly immoral, and I'm sure if Ambassador Lord said it was illegal, it is, because he chooses his words carefully. The primary message we sent to the Government of China is that we don't think this is going to help the quest to improve relations between the United States and China -- in fact it will hurt it -- and we think it certainly goes against the grain of what is reasonable and on a humanitarian basis we would ask that he be released. Q Thank you. MR. BURNS: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 2:02 p.m.) (###) To the top of this page