U.S. Department of State 95/08/04 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, August 4, l995 Briefer: David Johnson CROATIA Military Attack on Rebel Serb Forces; US Policy ........ 1-6 Possible Risk of Conflict Expansion ................... 1 NATO Role, UNPROFOR, Rapid Reaction Force .............. 2 Safety of UN Peacekeepers; Death of Dane, Poles Wounded 2 Possible Air Strikes Against Government Forces ......... 3-4 Peace Talks, Package; Rebel Reinforcements ............. 4-5 Legal Interpretation of Croatian Military Action ....... 5 U.S. Contacts with Croats, Belgrade Serbs .............. 5-6 Krajina Serb Troops Around Bihac ....................... 6 Bildt Comparison of Tudjman Actions & War Criminals .... 6-7 Communications with Russia on Croatia Situation ........ 14 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA Resignation of Prime Minister Silajdzic ................ 4 COLOMBIA U.S. Evidence re Pres. Samper Links to Cali Cartel ..... 7 Security Situation for American Citizens ............... 8 U.S. Policy Toward Colombia ............................ 14 CHINA Interagency Discussion re US Officers' Detention ....... 8-10 Interagency Review of Incident ......................... 8 Update on Detention of Harry Wu; Access Request ........ 13 EGYPT Possible Security Threat to Americans .................. 10-11 SOUTH AFRICA Effect of Relations with Iran, Cuba on US Relationship . 11 Intellectual Property Rights ........................... 11-12 PAKISTAN Update on Kidnapping by Kashmiri Separatists ........... 12-13 Information on US Hostage .............................. 13 Reports of Injuries to Hostages During Attempted Rescue 13-14 INDIA Cancellation of Nuclear Power Project .................. 13 ARMS CONTROL Senate Vote on ABM Treaty .............................. 14-15
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 1995, 1:07 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. JOHNSON: Is Mr. Gedda or Mr. Schweid doing the honors today? Q What do you have on the situation in Croatia? MR. JOHNSON: As you all, I am sure already know, the Croatian military forces this morning launched an attack on rebel Serb areas known as U.N. Sectors North and South. The United States regrets this resort to force and we have called on all sides to exercise restraint and to respect the safety and rights of civilians, POWs, and especially peacekeepers. We've conveyed our views to the Croatian Government, to the leaders of the so-called Krajina Serbs, and to the Government of Serbia. As we have made clear all long, we believe that the problem of reintegrating Serb-majority areas into Croatia should be resolved through political dialogue and not on the battlefield. I'd note that the United States worked hard, especially in the person of Ambassador to Croatia Galbraith, to achieve a political solution. We regret very much that Croatia chose not to pursue this, and we would urge the parties to return as soon as possible to the bargaining table. Q Do you have any far-reaching concerns about what this might lead to? Is this part of your Balkans domino theory? MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't describe it in quite those terms, but we've stated in the past that the risk of the outbreak of hostilities on this scale does risk a larger war and that is one of the many reasons we regret that this has taken place. Q And is there any role for NATO to prevent the spread of conflict? MR. JOHNSON: We have UNPROFOR on the ground; we have the Rapid Reaction Force on the ground. I think the President earlier today made a decision to provide another $l7 million of resources in order to help the Rapid Reaction Force deploy. But at this point we haven't had a request from the U.N., from the UNCRO, for any type of NATO support. Q Do you have a report that some U.N. peacekeepers have been either surrounded or kidnapped, or whatever? MR. JOHNSON: I don't have a report about any surroundings or kidnappings. I do know that one Danish peacekeeper has been killed and two Poles were wounded. These were peacekeepers attached to UNCRO, which is the successor in Croatia to UNPROFOR. I would note again that we condemn all hostile actions against U.N. peacekeepers, and we regret very much the death of the Dane and the wounding of these two Poles. Q David, what information does the U.S. Government have about President Samper's links to the cocaine cartels -- Q Can we stay on Croatia for a moment? MR. JOHNSON: Do you want to move off of Croatia? Q For example, I'd like to ask you a question on what you just said on the -- MR. JOHNSON: We'll get to that later. Q Does the U.S. know which side -- as a result of whose fire was this Danish person killed and to (inaudible)? MR. JOHNSON: I do not. I don't think that we have much information at all about the circumstances of this man's death. I would note that U.N. observation posts along the border of Croatia and Serb-held territory came under Croatian tank fire last night after they refused to stand down their posts. What I do not know is that the casualties that we're aware of were the result of that fire or not. Q Is there any leverage other than exhortation that the United States has in reaching the Croatian Government to put pressure on them to pull back? MR. JOHNSON: I think for the moment what we're trying to do is to urge them to pull back and to use our diplomatic resources to do so. I'm not going to exclude any other type of -- to use your word -- "leverage," but I think at this point we are concentrating on the diplomatic efforts that we have at our disposal. Q Did you say "urge them to pull back"? Because that wasn't in your original statement when you talked about going to the bargaining table. MR. JOHNSON: Okay, "to restrain themselves." Q All right. Are you urging them to pull back, or aren't you? MR. JOHNSON: I think that the language I'd prefer to use is "to urge restraint." Q Okay. So you're striking that previous statement from the transcript? MR. JOHNSON: We're not under Judge Ito's rules here (laughter), so I wouldn't use his language. But if you noted me having used a verb that I would -- I'd prefer to use the word "restraint" because it's the word that's in front of me on this piece of paper. Q So you're not urging them to pull back? MR. JOHNSON: We're urging them to exercise restraint. Q Well does that mean pull back, or not pull back? MR. JOHNSON: I think you can draw your own conclusions there. Q No I can't. I'm totally unable to draw any conclusions whatsoever. MR. JOHNSON: My apologies to you then. Q David, ABC Radio reported this morning that UNPROFOR had, I believe, threatened the Croatian Government with airstrikes. Can you shed any light on this? Can you confirm that this has been done or not? MR. JOHNSON: I have seen some wire reports, which are not terribly well sourced, about that. I'm unaware of any request that's come to NATO for any type of air activity related to this. Q A request has not come to NATO? MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of any request that's come to NATO for that. Q David, the Bosnian Prime Minister Silajdic resigned today also, citing -- according to his statement -- the failure of the U.N. to come to the assistance of Bihac, and also expressed concern regarding eastern Bosnia. Do you have any statement on this, and what is the U.S. prepared to do with regard to Bihac in particular? MR. JOHNSON: I have seen several reports of Silajdic's resignation and several reasons for it. The first report I saw was yesterday and not today, and they're not terribly clear. For that reason, we're currently trying to reach him. We want to have an opportunity to talk to him about his decision and the reasons for it. Until we have had an opportunity to talk to him directly, I'd like to reserve comment on the reported reasons for it, since they're not mutually consistent. Q David, can you tell us, before the Croatian attack this morning, what was the status of Galbraith's peace effort? In other words, had the two sides -- as I understand, he was negotiating with one of the leaders of the break-away Serbs, and it wasn't clear whether or not the government in Knin had really accepted this peace offer. MR. JOHNSON: I think you in many respects have described the problem. There was really no peace deal in hand yesterday. We had strongly urged all sides to deal with their differences through talks rather than war. But it looked to them as though prospects for serious negotiations had failed to materialize. Babic, the "Prime Minister" of the self-declared republic of Serb Krajina did tell Ambassador Galbraith on Wednesday that the Serbs would withdraw from Bihac; open an oil pipeline, and announce political talks. On Thursday, however, the Krajina Serb delegation in Geneva failed to follow through on those signs and neither Babic's public statement nor actions on the ground corresponded to his promises. Instead, the Serbs reinforced their troops around Bihac and began to shell Croatian cities. As you noted yourself, the Krajina Serbs have been badly divided by internal power struggles, and this appears to have been a factor in the developments at the negotiating table over the last several days. Q What was the Croatian Government's reaction to Mr. Galbraith's peace package? MR. JOHNSON: My understanding is that they were working on it, but I don't know what ultimately led them to decide to abandon the negotiating table and go to the field. Q David, were the Croatians within their rights under international law in taking this action? MR. JOHNSON: Interesting question. I'll ask our lawyers if they want to make a comment on it, but I won't purport to give you a legal opinion standing up here. Q You've referred to the Serbs as the "rebel Serbs," and the United States presumably recognizes this territory as part of the territory of Croatia. MR. JOHNSON: I don't take exception to either my characterization of the Serbs or our recognition of the territory as the territory of Croatia, but you're asking me to make a legal conclusion here, and in general when I try to make legal conclusions, I try to do it with legal advice. Q I'm just trying to get at -- how do you describe this action? Is it an invasion? Is it an aggression against an ethnic minority? I mean, what -- MR. JOHNSON: We describe it as an action which we regret. We regret the resort to force. We believe that the differences between the Krajina Serbs and the Croatian Government are best resolved at the negotiating table. Q David, still on the subject. Reuters reports this morning that the Krajina Serb capital of Knin was burning under steady Croatian artillery and missile onslaught. Does the State Department -- does this government believe that Knin is a military objective of the Croatian offensive, and that -- MR. JOHNSON: I'm not in a position to describe for you what their military objectives are. I can only go back and tell you how much that we have urged them to go back to the negotiating table. Q Are you in touch with the Belgrade Serbs? MR. JOHNSON: Yes. Q What are you telling them? MR. JOHNSON: We've conveyed to them as well as to the Croatian Government our position on this issue and our desire for the parties to return to the negotiating table. Q Did you say a moment ago that the Krajina Serbs have not withdrawn troops from the Bihac area and in fact have reinforced their positions there? MR. JOHNSON: I said that they had not in the course of these negotiations, even after noting on Wednesday that they would withdraw and open the oil pipeline and begin political talks. On Thursday they did reinforce their troops around Bihac and they began to shell some Croatian cities. Now whether or not they, at this very moment, continue to hold the territory around Bihac, I don't know. I thought that was the nature of your question as to whether at this very moment they continue to hold that territory, and that's something I'm not -- Q It sounds rather extraordinary for them to be trying to take Bihac while they're losing their hometown. It's unusual behavior. I mean -- MR. JOHNSON: You could draw that conclusion. Q David, can you tell us what the Croatians in Zagreb said when our Ambassador delivered our message? MR. JOHNSON: I can't. I don't have anything directly to their response. Q Do you know if they responded at all or if they simply listened and said thank you very much? MR. JOHNSON: I'd have to look into that further. I don't have anything to characterize as the response of any of the parties to our efforts to urge them to exercise restraint. Are we finished with this topic? Q Carl Bildt put out a statement in which he seemed to be suggesting that President Tudjman might be considered a war criminal for having attacked Knin. What does the U.S. think? MR. JOHNSON: About? Q It compared him -- he said that there's no difference between what Tudjman's forces are doing this morning and what the forces of the Krajina Serbs did when they shelled Zagreb, for which they were accused of war crimes -- for which their leader was accused of -- was charged with being a war criminal. MR. JOHNSON: I'd like to look into that a little further before I associate myself with Mr. Bildt's remarks -- or Mr. Bildt's reported remarks. I'll put it that way. Q Another subject. MR. JOHNSON: I think we're going to do Colombia first. Q Thank you. Gracias. MR. JOHNSON: Por nada. Q Is the U.S. going to provide whatever information it has regarding Colombian President Samper's links to the cocaine cartels, specifically the fact that through his campaign treasurer and manager he solicited and got over $6 million in campaign funds? MR. JOHNSON: Go on. I didn't understand the nature of your question. Q Normally Sid Balman would be asking the questions, since he reported on this a year ago. But we said that the U.S. Government at that time had information regarding President Samper's links to the cocaine cartels and at that point chose not to act. Our question now is, given what's happening in Colombia, given the resignation of the Defense Minister who was the campaign manager, given the rest of the campaign treasurer, given his allegations that Samper knew and solicited this money, is the U.S. going to come forward with any information it has on this and cooperate in any way in the investigation of President Samper? MR. JOHNSON: Without associating myself in any way with all the premises of your question, I would note that the issues before the Colombians now are issues for the Colombian Government and the Colombian people. We're watching those developments very closely, especially due to their potential effects on our bilateral relationship and, as you note yourself, especially on the narcotics issue. But beyond that I'm not going to comment further. Q A follow-up. Are there U.S. concerns that the situation in Colombia right now may lead to some kind of constitutional crisis that may destabilize the country? MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything that would support such an allegation.
Q David, is there any heightened alert in light of what's going on in Colombia for either U.S. citizens or U.S. news agencies? I know that yesterday the EIR correspondent, Javier Almario, received a death threat by telephone a day after the Defense Minister Botero resigned, and I was wondering if there are other instances of that or a general concern from the State Department regarding U.S. citizens and U.S.- connected organizations in Colombia? MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of the specifics that you cite, but I do know that our Consular information sheet on Colombia does state in some detail our cautions to individuals who might be traveling or contemplating travel there. I'd refer you to it in its entirety to describe our position on that issue. Q China. Do you have any comment on The New York Times' story today about Secretary Christopher's displeasure with the CIA and Pentagon about sending the two Air Force officers into China at such a delicate time? MR. JOHNSON: I'd note for you some comments, which were attributed to the Secretary from Secretary Perry based on a conversation that the two of them had this morning, in which Secretary Christopher called to tell Secretary Perry how disturbed he was about that article and how inaccurate it was. Certainly not he nor anyone that he had been associated with and authorized expressed the opinions that are alleged to have been attributed to State Department or other government officials in that article. The Secretary did not have concern about the actions that the Pentagon would take, and that this was essentially a sideshow. Q Well, is there no investigation as alleged in the article? MR. JOHNSON: I'm sure that all the government agencies, who have an interest in this, are going to review what happened -- I wouldn't characterize it as an investigation -- and see what kind of lessons might be lessons might be learned, but that review is going to a cooperative one. It's not in any sense an investigation as far as I'm aware. Q The Secretary cannot make a statement? You're not referring to Perry's appearance before a breakfast group here. MR. JOHNSON: I am. Q Well, those are under certain, you know, difficult rules. Can't the State Department or the Secretary make a straight-out statement about -- MR. JOHNSON: What did I just do? Q Well, you said -- you told us what Christopher told Perry -- MR. JOHNSON: I thought it would give -- Q -- that Perry then relayed to reporters and that was probably -- I don't know -- but usually a background session -- MR. JOHNSON: I think I told you what -- Q Should we just take what you said as Christopher's position? MR. JOHNSON: I told you what Christopher said to Perry as relayed to me. Q Gotcha. And we'll just have you say what Christopher said. MR. JOHNSON: That will be fine. Q David, without reference to either what the Secretary was purported to have said or what Secretary Perry said, does the State Department now think it was a clever time to send an intelligence team into China? MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't characterize anything that's gone on about this the way that you have. I'd say that we're going to look into this and see if we can learn some lessons from it. I'm not going to characterize it as clever or unclever or in any other fashion. Q David, was it proper for the Chinese authorities to handle this case as they did? MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to characterize their actions on this. I think we've said what we've had to say and what we want to say about this. Q Was it proper for them to hold the two Americans for four days before taking them out? MR. JOHNSON: I think Mr. Bacon addressed that at some length in his briefing yesterday. I'll leave you with his remarks. Q Dave, just to follow a little further on this. What you're saying is that the State Department, the Secretary of State, is not upset with the Defense Department for this -- what is allegedly characterized by Mr. Bacon as a routine intelligence gathering -- and legal, I understand, intelligence gathering activity. In other words, there is not a breach between the Secretaries here, is that correct? MR. JOHNSON: That's exactly correct. There was no breach between the Secretaries and not a breach between the Departments. Q And let me follow and just ask then, what have we learned from our two Air Force officers since their return to Hong Kong? What can you report? MR. JOHNSON: I'm not in a position to relate to you anything that we may have had in discussions with them. Q Then go back to my question of day before yesterday: Were these gentlemen apprehended by uniformed Chinese PLA soldiers? MR. JOHNSON: I think we've said what we'd planned to say about this incident. Q Okay. Will you be -- Q I'm sorry. Q Go ahead, Barry. Q I wanted to switch to the very, very brief statement put out here about 12 hours ago -- maybe 16 hours ago -- on the situation in Egypt. U.S. facilities or something being targeted. Do you have more on it? MR. JOHNSON: No. I would just note for you that in terms of what we're in a position to provide, the statement speaks for itself. I would also remind you that whenever we become aware of information which could potentially affect the safety of U.S. citizens, we do our best to make them aware of it on the same basis we make government employees aware of any threat to them. That goes under the moniker of our "no double standard" policy. While the threats that we're aware of here are against American facilities and American officials, the fact is that a lot of the buildings that we use are public buildings and citizens come into them from time to time. It's for that reason we decided that we would make the potential threat known not only to the official American community, but also to private Americans, who might be in contact with them. Q Are you able to say anything about the origin of the threat. MR. JOHNSON: I'm sorry. I'm not. Q David, I've seen at least two stories lately about a supposed deterioration of relations with South Africa based on South African trade policies and its policies toward Cuba, and so forth. Do you have anything on that general subject? MR. JOHNSON: With respect to our overall relationship, it's a growing one and one that we believe is a very good one. With respect to the specifics that you note, as you're aware, the United States has imposed trade and investment sanctions on Iran because of its support for terrorism and its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. We've urged our trading partners, including South Africa, to take similar action. We've specifically asked them and others not to fill the void resulting from U.S. firms' departure from the Iranian market. We believe it is inappropriate to provide Tehran with additional financial resources while the government supports terrorism and pursues weapons of mass destruction. We've expressed our concern to the South African Government regarding its agreement to store Iranian oil, and we've urged it to reconsider its cooperation with Iran. Q Any other -- MR. JOHNSON: We've noted from time to time our position on Cuba and especially human rights in Cuba, and we would hope that South Africa would use any contacts it may have with the Cuban regime to press for meaningful democratic and economic reform and respect for human rights. Q How about the trade issue involving chicken parts? MR. JOHNSON: I'm aware of some issues involving intellectual property rights, but chicken parts are not something that's come to my direct attention. We have placed South Africa on a watch list for failure to provide adequate protection for intellectual property. That's because U.S. firms have petitioned that South Africa be placed on such a priority list and because of the serious problems American firms have encountered in establishing and defending their trademarks under South African law. There's two key problems here: One is the effective protection of internationally well known marks consistent with South Africa's international obligations; and the second involves some special circumstances for non-use of registered trademark during the era of sanctions. Q What does being on the watch list involve? Does it mean that South Africans will be stopped at the airports and -- MR. JOHNSON: No. It has to do with the actions which will be undertaken and reviews which might be undertaken by the U.S. Special Trade Representative under United States trade law and does not affect comings and goings. Q What about Nazi war criminals from South Africa? Would they also be on a watch list -- different watch list? MR. JOHNSON: If they were under the provisions of the United States law, Section 212A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, they would certainly be on such a list. Q Let me ask on a separate question. MR. JOHNSON: You may. Q Do you have any news about a group of foreigners, including one American, who were kidnapped by Kashmiri separatists? MR. JOHNSON: Our primary concern in this case continues to be the safety of American citizen John Hutchings and the other Western hostages being held in Srinigar. This is especially true, given the reported illness of one of the hostages and makes it even more important that the kidnappers release the hostages immediately. I'd note the responsibility for the hostages' safety rests entirely with their captors. The United States, as well as interested groups in Kashmir and throughout the region have condemned the kidnapping and have appealed for the release of the hostages immediately on humanitarian grounds. Out of concern for the safety of the hostages, we have in the past and will continue to decline to discuss specifics of our efforts and the efforts of others to gain their release. We have an officer from our Embassy in New Delhi in Srinigar who continues to work closely with Indian authorities toward a peaceful resolution. Q Can you tell us anything about Hutchings? Where he's from? MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything with me here, but I'll be pleased to look into it for you. Q David, also on India, you were asked the other day -- I don't think I saw an answer -- does the United States Government have any reservations about the cancellation of this huge nuclear project by the Government of India? MR. JOHNSON: We are deeply concerned by press reports that the Government of Maharashtra has cancelled the Dahbol Power Project. We want to study the details of their decision and take into account the reaction to the decisions of the Government of India before making a further comment, and we hope that a resolution to this matter will contribute to a positive investment climate in India. Q David, speaking of U.S. Embassy officials in touch with local governments, is there anything new in the Harry Wu case in terms of Scott Hallford or Mr. Macias being in touch with Mr. Wu? MR. JOHNSON: I know that we are continuing to press for access to him; that the 30 days since our last regular Consular access will be on the 9th of August -- that's my count -- and we do not, as far as I'm aware, yet have a scheduled appointment to see him. Q David, one more question about the Kashmiri. There were reports that there had been an attempt to free these hostages, and that several had been injured. You didn't mention that in your report. You mentioned an illness. Do you have any information that contradicts -- MR. JOHNSON: I don't have any information that contradicts the report of injuries, but I don't have anything to confirm it either. Q Do you have any idea of the nature of the illness of one of these -- MR. JOHNSON: I don't. I'll see if we've got anything that can provide further information that, but I don't have anything here. Q I wonder if we could go back to Colombia one more time. Given the recent events, is the U.S. considering a change in policy towards Colombia, or has there been a change in policy, whether it's in the drug arena or anything else? MR. JOHNSON: We have a very active relationship with the Government of Colombia, and I'm sure that there are people in this building who spend all day working to make that a more effective policy, but I'm unaware of any policy review or any policy changes which have been ordered or are being considered in any sort of unusual way. Q David, back to Croatia. The Russian Foreign Ministry suggested -- I believe yesterday or this morning -- that unnamed Western governments were actually showing solidarity with the military action of the Croatian side, and that these unnamed governments were supporting the assaults of the Croatians. My question is, is the United States Government currently involved in bilateral talks with the Russians concerning a pacification in Croatia? MR. JOHNSON: We have an active conversation of the Russians as a member of the Contact Group. We've been in touch with our allies on the situation in Croatia. I'm sure that we've been talking to the Russians, but I don't have any specific conversation I can cite for you. Q You don't know if they are complaining to us about these unnamed Western governments. MR. JOHNSON: I am unaware of any specific complaints. Q Are we one of those unnamed governments? MR. JOHNSON: I've made it as clear as I possibly can our belief that this is best solved at the negotiating table and not in the battlefield. Can I draw one thing to your attention that you didn't ask me about? Most of the newspapers this morning have articles on the vote in the Senate last night about the ABM Treaty. I'd like to note for the record that we were deeply disappointed by this vote. The missile defense provisions in the bill we believe usurp Executive authority regarding treaties and would in effect mandate United States abrogation of the ABM Treaty, which we believe is a cornerstone of our strategic stability. Q You've told them that before. MR. JOHNSON: We've said this a couple of other times. Q Whereas your own missile defense program is totally in conformity with the ABM Treaty, isn't it? MR. JOHNSON: We believe it is. Q Because it's yours. (Laughter) Because it's administrative. This is legislative. MR. JOHNSON: We believe that ours is Treaty conformed, yes, but not for the reasons which you described. Q All right, sir. Thank you very much. (The briefing concluded at 1:39 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page