U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/07/31 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, July 31, l995 Briefer: David Johnson DEPARTMENT Schedule for Upcoming Press Briefings .....................1 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA War in Bosnia Acting Secretary Tarnoff Mtg. w/EU Representative Carl Bildt ...................................................1-2 --Discussion of Suspension of Sanctions on Belgrade .......2 U.S.-Russia Discussions: Christopher/Kozyrev Mtg. in Brunei ..................................................2-3 Update on Fighting/Humanitarian Situation: Bihac ..........3-4 Status of Rapid Reaction Force ............................4 Mtg. of NATO Military Committee ...........................4-5 Humanitarian/Refugee Assistance ...........................5 Status of Missing Bosnian Males from Safe Areas ...........6 Alleged Use of Gas in Zepa ................................6 MEXICO Drug Control Efforts ......................................6-7 VIETNAM Secretary Christopher's Trip to Region/Discussions .......7-8 NICARAGUA U.S. Foreign Aid .........................................8 CHINA Secretary Christopher's Mtg. w/Foreign Minister ...........8-9,11 Status of Harry Wu ........................................9-10 Letter from President Clinton to President Jiang ..........10 PAKISTAN Pressler Amendment ........................................11 ISRAEL Report of Extradition Request for Marzook .................11 FRANCE Alleged Terrorism by Algerian Fundamentalist Muslims ......11 IRAQ UN Sanctions ..............................................12 Reports of Amnesty of Political Prisoners .................12
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JULY 31, 1995, 1:09 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. JOHNSON: Just a brief housekeeping announcement. With the onset of summer -- you might have thought that with the temperatures we've had over the last 30 days, summer came on us a long time ago -- for planning purposes anyway, we are going to plan to brief, for the time being, on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We will have other appropriate encounters with you on Tuesday and Friday.
Q That's beyond this week?
MR. JOHNSON: That's through this week and probably into next week, and we'll see how things go.
I am at your service.
Q Is there going to be a Contact Group meeting in Washington?
MR. JOHNSON: What is going to happen here is that Carl Bildt, who represents the European Union and matters with respect to Balkans, is going to be in Washington on Wednesday. He's going to meet with the Acting Secretary of State, Mr. Tarnoff, and other U.S. officials. He's going to be accompanied on his trip by other representatives of the European Union and representatives of other European governments.
I'd like to note for the record that we appreciate Mr. Bildt's strenuous efforts. He's got a very difficult task, and we're looking forward to a productive discussion when he arrives later in the week.
I don't have anything specific to a Contact Group meeting being held in the context of his visit here. I don't think there are any plans for a full-scale Contact Group meeting to be held in Washington.
Since he has not yet arrived, I'm not going to exclude all possibilities; but I don't have any information that would lead me to believe that there's going to be a Contact Group meeting here later in the week.
Q Because the French are calling it a ministerial-level meeting of the Contact Group. That's not so, then?
MR. JOHNSON: No, I don't believe so. We're not expecting Foreign Ministers from all of the other countries. We're expecting Mr. Bildt and some other representatives of European countries. As you know, the Secretary of State is in Brunei.
Q Is there any special occasion or reason for the meeting and for the timing of the meeting?
MR. JOHNSON: None that I'm aware of. We continue to work hard to find ways to construct a negotiated settlement to the conflict in the Balkans, and Mr. Bildt's efforts could play a prominent role in that. But this is part of an on-going discussion that we have with Mr. Bildt and with our European allies. I wouldn't suggest that it was some sort of crunch point.
Q Will there be discussion of lifting the sanctions on Belgrade?
MR. JOHNSON: We've long had as part of the offer that we've on the table an exchange of suspension -- not lift -- of sanctions, as part of a package which would include the recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, within its recognized territorial boundaries, by the FRY. That remains on the table. That's one of the issues that Mr. Bildt has been spending a great deal of time working on. So I would expect that aspects of that would certainly be a featured part of the discussion that we would have with him when he arrives later in the week.
Q David, the Russians seem to now be saying that they don't agree with the action taken by the Secretary General to turn over air campaign authority or bombing authority to the U.N. military representative on the ground. Has this Administration been in touch with the Russians on this or other Bosnia-related matters?
MR. JOHNSON: We've had a great deal of on-going discussions with the Russians. You will recall that in London the Secretary had a meeting with Foreign Minister Kozyrev, and I believe Secretary of Defense Perry had a meeting with the Russian Defense Minister.
I'd also draw your attention to the fact that at 9:00 in the evening our time -- 9:00 in the morning Brunei time -- the Secretary will again meet with Foreign Minister Kozyrev.
With respect to the U.N. Secretary General's giving the authority for his so-called key to his commanders in the field, we believe that's fully consistent with both our objectives and trying to set the stage for a negotiated solution to this conflict; to bringing pressure to bear on the Serbians to negotiate, and to negotiate in good faith; and to relieve the pressure on the so-called U.N. safe areas.
Q Do you have any information on fighting in the Bihac area?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd note that all of the information I have comes from U.N. sources, so you're dealing with a secondary source here. But according to the information I have, fighting continues in the Bihac enclave despite the Croatian Serb's promise to U.N. officials to end their assault and to withdraw.
U.N. reports that only 500 Croatian Serb troops have left the enclave and armor and artillery remain in position.
According to the U.N. the Croatian Serbs and their rebel Muslim allies attacked government-held towns this morning in the center and the north of the enclave.
Croatian troops continued to assist Federation forces north of the Livno Valley in an attack that has reportedly recaptured 80 square miles of Bosnian territory, including supply routes linking the Krajina to Bosnian Serb-held territory.
I'd also note for you that the humanitarian situation in the Bihac enclave continues to deteriorate. The UNHCR reports that 10,000 Bosnians have fled their homes following the Serb assault, including 4,000 who have taken refuge in the town of Bihac.
The ICRC is reporting that it is assisting 8,000 Bosnian Serbs who fled northwards after the Federation recaptured the towns of Bosanski Grahovo and Glamoc.
The UNHCR is reporting that its food stocks for the 170,000 people in the Bihac enclave are exhausted and that the last UNHCR convoy to Bihac took place on July 14.
Q Do you know of any planning to try to provide food for these people in any way other than convoys since convoys can't get through?
MR. JOHNSON: I think the most effective way would be to re- establish a convoy supply route. I don't know of any plans to supply through other means.
Q David, isn't the participation of the Croatian regular forces consistent with the idea behind the Federation that was, in part, sponsored by this government between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd say that the two nations' work together is certainly consistent with the objectives that we set forth and the objectives they set forth when they signed their agreement here.
But I'd also want to note, as we've said over and over throughout this conflict, that there is not a solution on the ground through force of arms. The only solution which would be durable and which would be effective will come at the negotiating table. We are encouraging all participants in this conflict to pursue a diplomatic solution and not a solution through force of arms.
Q David, is the Rapid Reaction Force fully deployed yet, or do you know what the status -- the timetable is?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't have an up-to-date report for you on that. I'll see if I can find something out for you on its status and whether or not it is fully deployed and what plans it has for additions either in troops or materiel.
Q Also, last week, there was mention that the military advisors to the North Atlantic Council would meet over the weekend to develop a strategy plan for Bihac and that the NAC might actually meet today. Do you have anything on that?
MR. JOHNSON: I will confirm for you that NATO's military committee met on Sunday to discuss options with the aim of extending the so-called "Gorazde Rules" to the other U.N. safe areas. They have formulated a number of options. Those options will be forwarded to the North Atlantic Council on Tuesday.
At that time, we hope it will be possible for the NAC to take action to make those options effective since we continue to believe that expansion of the rules covering Gorazde to other safe areas can help stabilize the situation on the ground and help set the stage for a negotiated solution to the conflict.
Q It's sort of a technical question. When this is given to the Council tomorrow and they do -- let's just hypothetically say they do take it on board, does this then also take on board the fact that a decision to set this in motion would not have to go to the Secretary General? Or is this -- the military commander would also be able to call this strategy into play?
MR. JOHNSON: Let me look into that and get you a more well-thought answer. It's my understanding that this action by the North Atlantic Council is the key to getting this done.
Q David, about the refugees problem. Could you please highlight some of the steps that have been taken by the United Nations, and also following the London Conference? If you could give us some facts and figures on how these refugee problems are being taken care of?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd be glad to look into it and get you a comprehensive answer which provides the amount of expenditures that the United States has been providing.
As you know, we are the largest donor to the humanitarian operations in Bosnia. What I'd like to do is to, perhaps, come back to this later. I could get you a full rundown of all of the expenditures that have taken place and all of the actions that are being undertaken by the various international groups to help remedy the humanitarian situation and help address it.
As we've said many times before, the U.N. is feeding more than a million people very day in Bosnia, and I'd like to get you something that outlines how that's being done and who has undertaken the actions to make that effective.
Q David, there seems to be a lot of fund-raising going on in the Middle East and other Arab or Muslim countries. It's not entirely clear whether this would turn out to be for humanitarian supplies or for weapons. Is the U.S. or the U.N. or EU -- is anyone helping these countries to try and direct this fund-raising to an area that you all want it to go to?
MR. JOHNSON: The organs of the United Nations and the organs of the other international humanitarian groups on the ground there can, of course, use a good deal more resources in order to carry out their duties. I'm sure that they would welcome any and all contributions which help them to supply the needs of the population there. But I'm unaware of anyone who's -- if we have a technical person with the OIC or with any other group that's suggesting to whom and when and how to write their checks.
Q Will the Clinton Administration and the U.N. make any stronger statements about the Bosnian men who are apparently being held hostage or prisoners of war from the Srebrenica and Zepa regions?
MR. JOHNSON: We've made some pretty strong statements in the past, and we're certainly not retreating from those. I'd also note that we have Assistant Secretary Shattuck in the region. One of the things that he is doing is looking into that very situation, trying to assist the international human rights groups and the international humanitarian groups who are on the ground there in trying to get observers into the area so that they can verify the condition of those individuals who have been missing for some time.
We have not been shy about stating how concerned we are about the reported treatment of the men and boys from the safe areas that have been overrun. We have pushed to get observers in on the ground from international organizations who can give an impartial view as to what exactly these individuals' situation is.
Q Is there anything more on the use of gas in Zepa?
MR. JOHNSON: No, I don't have anything related to that.
Welcome back, Bill.
Q Thank you, David. As I've been out of the country for six weeks, could you bring me up to speed on reports last week in the press of the U.S. policy -- possible U.S. policy of flying French troops into safehavens as protection, and what is the status of the bombing policy insofar as authority to authorize bombing?
MR. JOHNSON: Bill, I can give you a couple of transcripts from the last several days which I think will bring you right up to speed on that. But you're asking me to go back over about the last two weeks and bring you from London through the NAC, through the U.N. Secretary General's press statement of I believe last Tuesday. I think that if you'll take a look at some of the materials we've put out during that period, it will lead you through all of that.
Q David, on another subject, has the Department seen today's article in The New York Times which alleges that this government played down high-level involvement in Mexico with the drug trade in order not to spoil the chances of NAFTA?
MR. JOHNSON: I've seen the article and reject the notion that our drug policy with respect to Mexico or any other country is based on primacy of any other issue. We know that the shift of drug smuggling, from routes through the Caribbean through Mexico, has increased the challenge of confronting drug-trafficking in Mexico and has made -- as President Zedillo himself has stated -- the war against narco- traffickers a critical national security issue in Mexico.
He has acknowledged the problems of drug-trafficking and narco- corruption publicly and has taken some positive initial steps. He has launched, for instance, a massive administration of justice reform campaign.
We believe that a strong and effective partnership with the Government of Mexico is a critical element of our drug control strategy. Even before Zedillo's inauguration last December, we had already underscored the importance that Mexico's counter-narcotics efforts hold for the future of relations between Mexico and the United States.
We believe that this is an extremely serious problem for both Mexico and the United States, and it's one which neither Mexico nor the United States can solve on its own. We plan to continue to work constructively with the Mexican Government to find ways to address this problem and to solve it.
Q I understand what you're saying, but I don't think it directly answers a specific charge that at a certain point for political purposes --
MR. JOHNSON: I don't see how I can be any more categorical than I was opening up.
Q Well, the corruption at high levels in the Mexican Government was not --
MR. JOHNSON: We did not subordinate our efforts to stem the tide of narcotics trafficking to our economic goals. We have an active and ongoing campaign and have had one all during the last several years, including all the time that we were negotiating the NAFTA and seeking its approval by Congress.
Q I missed the background briefing on Friday, so pardon me if this came up, but is Cam Ranh Bay going to be on the Secretary's agenda at all when he's in Vietnam?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of it being on his agenda. Are you talking about his traveling agenda or his discussion agenda? I have not seen anything that addresses Cam Ranh Bay as an issue. I wouldn't exclude anything. He's going to be on the ground in Hanoi for two days, and so I wouldn't suggest that I have seen every possible snippet of paper that might come to his attention.
But the focus of his trip to Hanoi and to Vietnam is on issue related to the fullest possible accounting of the MIAs and other issues related to the opening of relations with Vietnam.
Q I have a question on Nicaragua and the idea to stop foreign aid to Nicaragua. Is it true that the Clinton Administration signed a waiver on Friday that would continue to provide assistance to that country for reasons of national security if it's necessary? Can you confirm that the Clinton Administration has signed a new waiver for Nicaragua, and what are the details of it?
MR. JOHNSON: Let me take that question for you, because I want to make sure I get it right, and I'm not certain of the details.
MR. JOHNSON: Certainly.
Q All right. A wire today quotes Mr. Shen Guofeng -- I believe that's the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry -- says, "Should the U.S. Government fail to adopt specific concrete measures to correct its mistake and to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, then it would be very difficult for the Sino-U.S. relations to be improved."
I believe the mistake has to do with letting President Lee come to the country. I think that's their primary bone of contention.
Does the United States have some concrete measures to correct what is perceived by the Chinese -- this particular mistake?
MR. JOHNSON: We've addressed ourselves to the reasons that the United States decided to permit Lee Teng-hui to make an unofficial private visit to his alma mater several weeks ago. We do have one thing that is very concrete that we're going to do, and that's at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, Eastern Daylight Time, there's a concrete appointment between the Secretary of State and the Chinese Foreign Minister. I think that it's best for me and for you and for the relations between our two countries -- that is, China and the United States -- to let that meeting take place and let the Secretary work on the broad range of issues we have between the United States and China.
As we tend to do, when we have the Secretary traveling, I'll leave it to him and his traveling party to comment on things that are directly related to the mission that they're on.
Q Understood. David, to follow, last week there was a very disturbing quotation from a speech given by Henry Kissinger about our policy toward China was in free fall. Did you address that last week, or could you make a comment about it?
MR. JOHNSON: I think we've addressed it over and over again. We believe that our policy is best addressed through the types of meetings that are going to take place in the morning. We look forward to that meeting.
Q David, do you have anything more on Harry Wu? Was there any attempt to see him again today?
MR. JOHNSON: The information I have is that we've made representations with the Chinese last Wednesday and Thursday, requesting an appointment. We do not have an appointment scheduled that would fulfill the obligation under the Consular Convention for us to have an appointment to see him at least every 30 days.
My information is the last meeting with him was on July 10, so we would expect that meeting to be taking place in the next several days, if not sooner.
Q I mean, will you go and see them tomorrow and attempt to get another appointment so that you know when this is going to be or --
MR. JOHNSON: I'm not sure what the schedule of the folks in Beijing is. We're concentrating right now on the appointment that the Secretary has tomorrow with the Chinese Foreign Minister. I think that's going to be the time when we have our discussions about the full range of relations between China and the United States.
Q Is there anything that you can tell us about what this Administration is -- the sorts of information that we may be gathering to give to Harry Wu if they allow us to hand anything over? A list of lawyers, more about the law itself?
MR. JOHNSON: I know that our Consular representatives are working carefully to make sure that when they meet with him, they're able to provide the utmost service, but I don't have a catalogue of everything that they plan to present to him. It's standard procedure for any U.S. Consul who's working with an American citizen who may be incarcerated abroad to provide them with a list of local attorneys with whom we've had some experience, and to offer the opportunity for the individual who's been incarcerated to make a selection based on that listing.
I would certainly expect that to take place, but I think I'd let our folks, who work on this particular case, tell me specifically what they are planning to present to him before I try to give you a catalogue listing.
Q Do you have anything on a proposed meeting in the fall between President Clinton and Li Peng and the possibility that the Harry Wu issue would hang up that meeting?
MR. JOHNSON: I would note what I've been told by the folks who are traveling that Secretary Christopher is carrying a letter from President Clinton to President Jiang, but that we have not disclosed the contents of that letter, especially since we haven't even handed it over to the Chinese yet.
I'd note from comments from the region and from the White House, that there's no specific invitation in the letter, and that the traveling party has said that it's very difficult to envisage any circumstances under which President Jiang would be able to visit the United States if Wu had not been released.
Q Is that to visit the United States, or is that come to Washington for an official visit? Isn't he scheduled to be in New York for the United Nations?
MR. JOHNSON: That's correct. Any sort of official encounter. Thank you for minding my P's and Q's there.
Q Is that including an official encounter in New York?
MR. JOHNSON: Let me leave it where I have. It's difficult to envisage circumstances when there would be an official encounter if Wu has not been released.
Q Mr. Shen hinted that China may not accept the invitation of Mr. Jiang to visit with our officials without a conciliatory gestures by the United States. Can you respond to that, David?
MR. JOHNSON: I can respond just the way I did before. I think that's something we're going to leave with the folks in the region to be talking about.
Q Pakistan: Is there any progress in supply or military equipment to Pakistan which was held in the pipeline under the pretext of the Pressler Amendment?
MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't take issue with the premise of your statement, that no pretext is involved; but I don't have anything to update you on the issue.
Q David, do you have anything on the extradition request by the Israelis?
MR. JOHNSON: That I believe you're going to find very unsatisfactory.
As a matter of practice, we do not comment on extradition requests. This is a legal matter, not a political one. Were we to receive a request for the provisional arrest of Marzook pending a formal Israeli request for extradition, we would review the matter and work with the Department of Justice which handles such matters through the United States courts.
Q What about --
MR. JOHNSON: Glad to be so helpful.
Q This means you have not received a request yet?
MR. JOHNSON: I was careful in my use of the subjunctive mood -- "were we to receive."
Q One more David.
MR. JOHNSON: As long as it's not on China, we're ready to go.
Q It's not on China. It's on terrorism in France, allegedly by Algerian fundamentalist Muslims. The allegation is that the bombing in the subway was the work of Algerian terrorists supported, allegedly, by Iranian agents. Does this government have any comment on those allegations? Or is there any evidence that we have seen about this?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't think it's going to surprise you that we wouldn't be commenting on evidence which might be useful in the prosecution of a criminal case. I don't have anything to confirm or to reject what you've said.
Q On Iraq: Following Congressman Richardson's successful maneuver in handing those two people back to the United States, could you please update on any change of heart in the lifting of sanctions from the Clinton Administration's point of view?
MR. JOHNSON: Only to note that there are multiple human rights issues under U.N. Resolution 688, and there are also resolutions on Iraq that deal with a range of additional matters, such as weapons of mass destruction. Our position remains as we have articulated it all along - - that Iraq must live up to all of its obligations under U.N. resolutions before sanctions can be lifted.
Q Have you seen reports that Iraq of a general amnesty of political prisoners?
MR. JOHNSON: We've seen reports, but we'd note that Iraqi actions will speak louder than its words. It remains to be seen how many Iraqis will be released from prison; for what crimes they will receive amnesty and what changes there might be in the overall human rights situation. We're going to continue to monitor the situation closely.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:38 p.m.)
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