Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage


                      U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                        DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
                              I N D E X
                      Wednesday, August 2, l995

                                       Briefer:  David Johnson

Detained Air Force Officers ...............................1-3
President Clinton's Letter to President Jiang Zemin .......4
Secretary Christopher's Mtg. w/Foreign Minister ...........4-5
US Expulsion of Diplomats .................................6

Acting Secretary Tarnoff Mtg. w/EU Representative Carl
  Bildt ...................................................3-4
Vote to Lift Arms Embargo .................................6-7
Outcome of NAC Meeting ....................................7

Nuclear Weapons Capability ................................5

State Authorization Bill/Ambassadorial Nominations ........5

Investigation of President Samper .........................6
Resignation of Defense Minister ...........................7

Nuclear Testing ...........................................8

DPB #115
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2, 1995, 1:10 P.M.

MR. JOHNSON: Sorry to keep you waiting. I don't have any statements. Q What can you tell us about the two Americans who were expelled from China? MR. JOHNSON: Not very much, but I will tell you what I can. China has announced today that U.S. Air Force Colonel Joseph W. Chan and U.S. Air Force Captain Dwayne H. Florenzie, both assigned to the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, had been detained in China and will be released in the next 24 hours. At that time they will leave China. We have had no contact with the officers and at this time, they have not yet departed China. We would expect that, due to the time difference, to take place some time tonight. The two officers were traveling in China on valid diplomatic passports. When they failed to contact their families and offices as had been expected, the United States initiated inquiries into their whereabouts with Chinese authorities. The Chinese informed us through our Embassy in Beijing that the two men had been detained and that they were to be released within 24 hours. It is our hope this will have no repercussions on U.S.-China relations. I'd note for you that the Secretary did not raise this in his discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian because he knew it was being addressed through other channels, and that Qian did not raise it either. Q Do you know what they were doing in China? MR. JOHNSON: They were on travel. They were planning to consult with our Consulate General and with our Embassy in Beijing. That's all I've got for you on what their trip was all about. Q Which Consulate General? MR. JOHNSON: The Consulate in Guangzhou. Q (Inaudible) the Chinese accusation? MR. JOHNSON: We have not had a chance to talk to these fellows, and I think I'm going to stay right where we are. Normally, we don't comment on such allegations when they come in, and we're not going to change that this time, especially because we haven't yet had an opportunity to talk to them. I think we're going to wait and withhold further elaboration on what they were doing until after we've had a chance to chat with them. Q Do they have diplomatic status? MR. JOHNSON: They have diplomatic passports. Q Does that give them status when they're traveling outside of their -- MR. JOHNSON: Let me look into that for you. You're bringing up a legal question. We'll endeavor to give you a legal answer. I don't want to give you something off the cuff. Q Where were they specifically detained, geographically? MR. JOHNSON: I don't know. Q I take it then you wouldn't have any response to a recent wire where the Chinese Government is alleging that these men were caught on the spot and in an unauthorized military area and captured by troops? MR. JOHNSON: I would tell you that we are going to withhold comment until we've had an opportunity to talk to the officers. Q When exactly was the United States notified of their detention? MR. JOHNSON: I believe they notified our Embassy in Beijing sometime on August 2 early today, but 12 hours difference in time. Q Then how could the Secretary have known of this in advance of his meeting which has been widely reported? MR. JOHNSON: The Secretary knew in advance of his meeting that the two gentlemen were unaccounted for. That was what I was referring to. Q But he did not know that they had been detained at that point? MR. JOHNSON: We did not have a response from the Chinese Government at that point to our inquiry. Q Is there any unhappiness with the Chinese for having gone public with this? Aren't these issues normally dealt with quietly? MR. JOHNSON: George, I'm going to stay right where I am with this. We'd like an opportunity to see these fellows and talk to them before we comment any further. Q Were they traveling by train or by -- MR. JOHNSON: I don't have any details for you on their mode of travel. Q Do you have hometowns on them? MR. JOHNSON: I do not. Q Any flight plan for them? MR. JOHNSON: No, I do not. Q Since their detention, has the U.S. or will the U.S. make any efforts to see them before they are expelled? Are you pressing for that? MR. JOHNSON: We're expecting to see them reasonably early tomorrow morning Asian-time, so I don't think that's entered into our calculations. Q David, on another subject. What is going to be going on today with the EU mediator in Bosnia, Carl Bildt? MR. JOHNSON: He is going to be meeting today with Acting Secretary Peter Tarnoff, among others. He's going to be accompanied by other European Union allied representatives, we expect, from the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The purpose of our meeting with him is to discuss the offer of sanctions relief for Serbia in exchange for recognition of Bosnia- Herzegovina and tighter border control. I'd note for you that although he's going to be accompanied by some EU Contact Group members, this is not a Contact Group meeting. Q No Russian representative? MR. JOHNSON: Not expecting one. This is a meeting that was requested to meet with us. Q I'm not certain why it has to be discussed in a group in Washington. Isn't that the sort of thing that is handled by the Contact Group, usually in Europe? MR. JOHNSON: We're an important country in the Bosnian context. Mr. Bildt has asked to come and meet with officials here. We're going to be meeting with him. I don't see anything terribly unusual about that. Q What time is the meeting? MR. JOHNSON: The meeting with Mr. Tarnoff is later this afternoon, I believe somewhere in the 4:00-5:00 period. Q At what level are they coming from the other countries? MR. JOHNSON: I'll look into that. I don't have a list of participants. Q Can we go back to China for a while? MR. JOHNSON: If you wish. Q In today's Washington Post there's a story regarding a letter sent by President Clinton to President Jiang Zemin in which President Clinton reassured the Chinese side that Taiwan is a province of China instead of part of China. Can you clarify on that? MR. JOHNSON: I think I'm going to leave it to our folks traveling in the region who have commented extensively on the issues related to the Secretary's meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister and the letter that he passed, rather than to do it from here. Q How do you characterize the meeting the Secretary had with the Chinese Foreign Minister? MR. JOHNSON: It's not going to surprise you that I do my best to characterize it just the same way that they did in the region. It was a constructive and useful meeting. It covered the entire range of our bilateral relations -- Harry Wu, non-proliferation, trade, human rights. As your colleagues noted, the Secretary did give the Chinese Foreign Minister a letter from the President. The issue of a possible summit was raised but no decisions were made. There were no breakthroughs on specific issues. However, the Chinese Foreign Minister agreed that we would continue our talks at the level of Under Secretary or Vice Minister. Under Secretary Tarnoff and his counterpart will meet in the near future at a date that's going to be decided through diplomatic channels. The Foreign Minister and the Secretary will also be meeting on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in September. Q Your characterization seems to have a more optimistic tone as compared to the characterization by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, because the meeting has only been described as "useful" by the Chinese side. How can you square that? MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to attempt to. I'm going to tell you that that's our evaluation of the meeting, and we'll leave it right there. Q Another subject? MR. JOHNSON: Please. Q The Taiwan President, Lee Teng-hui, said earlier this week that Taiwan has the capability to develop nuclear weapons, but it will not. Do you have any comment on that statement? MR. JOHNSON: We believe that the limitation of nuclear weapons, those who possess them, is a good thing, and we are pleased that there is no intention to develop them. Q Do you have anything to say about Senator Helms putting a hold on 17 ambassadorial nominations? MR. JOHNSON: Just to note that we have been, are and will continue to be willing and ready to work with Senator Helms and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a broad range of issues, including a bipartisan State authorization bill, a position we've held throughout the Clinton Administration. It's also our hope to continue to work with him and his staff and his colleagues to ensure speedy confirmation of qualified ambassadors and to ratify treaties like START II, which are in the interest of the United States. Q David, are you going to, or do you plan to, expel any Chinese diplomats from Washington in retaliation? MR. JOHNSON: I think we're going to leave our discussion of that where we have it right now. Q May I change the topic to Colombia? Very recently the State Department expressed satisfaction for the progress that the Colombians have made with respect to trafficking. How do you see the situation now that Colombia's Attorney General has called for a congressional investigation into charges that President Samper was linked to the use of funds from the Cali drug cartel in the elections, and also that Minister Fernando Botero was also involved? MR. JOHNSON: Without responding to the specifics of all of your question, I'd note that President Samper himself has requested an investigation. It's an issue that we're watching closely, as we do all narcotics-related issues which might affect U.S. interests, but I don't really have any official reaction to the report that you mention. Q If the finished investigation results that Samper was involved, what do you think that the reaction of the United States would be? MR. JOHNSON: I generally avoid doing hypothetical questions and answers, and I think I'll stay with that here as well. Q Before we adjourn, if you have any new information before the close of business about the two Americans in China, could you give us an update, please? MR. JOHNSON: I would be pleased to, but my expectation is that it will be sometime after the close of business before we do, just because of the way the sun and the position of the country works. Q Do you have anything about the KEDO meeting in New York? MR. JOHNSON: I had something several days ago about that. If you want to call someone in the Press Office, I'm sure that they could help you -- I think on Monday. Q Bosnia. MR. JOHNSON: If you wish. Q I don't, but -- the vote yesterday, David, was over the two- thirds margin. That's two-thirds in both houses. First, what is the plan of the Administration now with regard to the legislation favoring the unilateral lift of the arms embargo? And then I have a follow-up. MR. JOHNSON: The Administration's position has not changed. We oppose unilateral lift. We believe that its only consequence could lead to the Americanization of the war. We don't believe that we have a lot of good choices in Bosnia, but we believe the best choice among those that are available is to strengthen UNPROFOR and to try to help our allies who are there on the ground do a better job. We've taken several steps over the last several days in order to put that into action, including one just taken yesterday at the North Atlantic Council, and we plan to pursue that -- that is, the strengthening of UNPROFOR as the best option available in order to address the situation in Bosnia. Q Mr. Zotov, the Russian representative to the Contact Group, expressed his hope that the Administration would be able to delay the implementation if, indeed, the veto -- I take it there will be a veto -- if the veto were overridden. And General Philippe Morillon yesterday was very saddened by the news of this vote. He had come to lobby in the Congress and around town. Do you have any comment on either one of their statements? MR. JOHNSON: No, I think the Administration's statements on its position on the unilateral lifting of the arms embargo is quite sufficient. Q Did the North Atlantic Council come out the way the United States wished it to come out in terms of widening the Gorazde rule? MR. JOHNSON: I think we achieved a very important objective yesterday, and that is that we did widen the protection of the safe areas. We were pleased with the outcome of the NAC meeting and the statement made by the Secretary General yesterday, and we believe that that action can help contribute to producing a situation which would bring the parties back to the table for a negotiated settlement, which we've made clear all along we believe is the only possible durable outcome to this conflict. Q Any reaction on the fact that the Colombian Defense Minister just resigned a couple of hours ago? MR. JOHNSON: I've heard some reports on that, but I don't have anything for you on that. I got a call just before I walked in just to let me know that there were reports on the wire that he had resigned. I don't have any formal reaction for you. Q The South Pacific -- MR. JOHNSON: Excuse me. Q The South Pacific is okay? French radio reported that the French Government ordered -- conduct the nuclear explosion test on September 8th. Do you have any information on the possible date? MR. JOHNSON: No. I don't have anything to confirm that report. Our position on the breaking of the moratorium we've made clear on other occasions. Q Do you plan to support measures -- resolutions in the General Assembly condemning the French for this? I understand the Japanese mounted some sort of diplomatic effort in the U.N. MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything for you with respect to the U.N. We've made our position known to the French. I think we'll probably continue to do that bilaterally. Thank you. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:26 p.m.) (###)

To the top of this page