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

                          Monday, August 7, l995

                                            Briefers:  Timothy Wirth
                                                       David Johnson

Reports on Global Infectious Disease:
  (1) Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases .....1-8
  (2) HIV/AIDS .........................................1-8
Anti-Drug Efforts in Colombia ..........................8-9

Croatian Offensive .....................................12-13,15
--Impact on Negotiations ...............................9-10
Mr. Carl Bildt's Work in Region ........................10
U.S. Technical Support to Croatian Gov't. ..............10-11,13-14
President Yeltsin's Proposal for Tudjman/Milosevic 
  Talks ................................................11-12
Humanitarian/Refugee Situation .........................12
Possibility of Bosnian-Moslem/Croatian Alliance ........11-13
Report of Karadzic/Mladic Split ........................13
U.S. Condemnation of Mistreatment/Killings of
  UN Peacekeepers ......................................14-15
Possibility of Bosnian-Serb Retaliation ................15

Arrest of Rodriguez Orejuela ...........................15-16
U.S.-Colombia Anti-Drug Cooperation ....................16

Western Hostages--Report of Arrests ....................17

Undersecretary/Vice Foreign Minister-Level Mtg. ........17
Harry Wu--Consular Officer Visit Approved & Scheduled ..17-18
U.S. Military Attaches .................................18


DPB #117

MONDAY, AUGUST 7, 1995, 12:44 P. M

MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon. I'm pleased to introduce to you, to begin our briefing today, Under Secretary of State Tim Wirth, our Under Secretary for Global Affairs. He has responsibilities for such issues in the Department as drug-trafficking, population, refugees, human rights, the environment, health, and international science and technology.

Today Under Secretary Wirth is going to describe two reports that speak to the implications for the United States of global infectious disease.

One of the reports on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases was unveiled on July 25; the second one on AIDS just an hour ago.

He will be making a short opening statement and be pleased to take your questions for a few minutes.

Under Secretary Wirth.

UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: Thank you, very much, and it's a pleasure to be back with you again. On previous visits we focused on various aspects of our broadened definition of national security. As the Cold War is over, clearly this Administration is working very hard to broaden the agenda beyond traditional foreign policy concerns, to focus on a whole new set of issues.

In previous sessions here, we have talked about population stabilization, climate change, human rights, narcotics, persistent organic pollutants and biodiversity. And today I would like to just describe very briefly to you some of the work on a major health and science problem, infectious diseases.

Ten days ago, at a major non-governmental organization event here in the Department, we released the report on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. I think these are available somewhere, these two reports -- have they been handed out -- on emerging and re-emerging infection diseases.

That report came out of a joint effort coordinated by the President's Science Advisory Committee, which I co-chaired with Jane Wales, the number two person at the President's Science Advisory Committee, and was put together by the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control.

And today, we are just back from an AID HIV/AIDS conference at which we released and will discuss with them tomorrow, the U.S. strategy on AIDS, which I will share with you today, as well. That was put together by State, AID, the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control.

Both reports lay out the urgency of the issue of infectious diseases. Tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, malaria, cholera, Legionnaires' disease, hantavirus, Lyme disease, HIV/AIDS, and the Ebola virus, "Dustin Hoffman outbreak.". You are familiar with the galaxy of problems that we face; probably less familiar with where we are in terms of national and international action on these issues.

Most infectious diseases have been pretty well controlled. Measles and smallpox are practically eliminated. Polio is effectively eliminated in the Western Hemisphere, and we are working very diligently with the Japanese to try to eliminate polio by the end of the century in the Pacific. Childhood diseases like whooping cough and diphtheria are sharply on the wane.

And as these diseases have declined, there has emerged a complacency about infectious diseases, an assumption that all is well in the world of infectious diseases and we don't have to worry about them. And as that complacency has set in, unfortunately we in the United States and nations all over the world have let down our guard -- have let down our guard in terms of our surveillance, in terms of the overall measuring of infectious diseases, and in terms of our capability of reacting to infectious diseases.

There are a lot of reasons for the decline of attention. One is this kind of complacency. A second is the fact that antibiotics, which have become so much a part of the global battle on infectious diseases, have in many cases been ill-used, and in many cases the microbes involved have developed a resistance to these antibiotics.

Another reason is populations have grown around the world, moved into areas where they had not lived before, and populations have become increasingly mobile, moving around the world and thus carrying these infectious diseases with them.

New viruses have emerged, and we have all become familiar, for example, with Legionnaires' disease, which hit this country about twelve years ago; Lyme disease, discovered first emerging in Connecticut; the Hantavirus, emerging in the southwest. This year's stories have been perhaps overwhelmed, above anything else, by the ebola virus outbreak in Central Africa, and very importantly, the persistent and very difficult issue of HIV/AIDS.

These issues are of scientific and medical attention, but also of great urgency to this Administration and to the United States of America. Obviously, the great suffering involved is enormously important. The loss of life, a tragic and an extraordinary waste. The people who are hit in particular by these diseases tend to be those who are less able to deal with those diseases: the poor; the poorest individuals, the most marginalized individuals, and this is especially true with HIV/AIDS.

It is extremely costly. The expense of infectious diseases when they hit is extremely costly. And we have also very, very narrow -- as well as broad international -- security concerns; very narrow domestic concerns in our concern that these may hit us, impact us right here in the United States of America, as has happened with some of the viruses I have described.

We have much to do around the world and here at home in prevention, detection and treatment. One of the key areas is the importance of giving it the highest level of political attention and leadership, which the United States is doing through these two very important reports.

Today on HIV/AIDS, in particular, I don't have to remind all of you that this has now become the number one killer of 25 to 44 year olds in the United States of America. There are estimates of 40 to l00 million cases of HIV/AIDS by the year 2000 around the world, and unlike most infectious diseases, like cholera or the plague, or others, AIDS is not likely to run its course and to subside.

Without better response strategies and without massive behavioral changes, we are going to continue to see a multiplication of AIDS infection, and we are seeing that around the world.

There is no known candidate now for an HIV/AIDS vaccine, and, if one is found, it will probably be l5 or 20 years before that becomes very broadly used.

So we are dependent upon a number of issues, a number of strategies. One, changing the behavior of individuals; second, developing non-vaccine technologies, particularly those necessary to allow women to protect themselves. There are some promising anti-viral therapies that are available now for expectant mothers, but we have a long way to go before a vaccine will be available, and therefore we have to work very much on technologies that may be found and could be useful very quickly.

Major prevention programs could cut the infectious level by 50 percent, and that's the best estimate of most people around the world, and we have certainly found that to be true here in the United States of America. But in order to have this kind of prevention program work, you have to have strong political leadership, a strong recognition of the problem, and the willingness to admit that the problem exists, and a strong commitment to do something about it.

The two reports that we have done were filled with recommendations about urgent action needed, especially at the international level, and those actions, like so many others, demand leadership from the United States of America: urging other governments to focus on these issues as legitimate and important issues of governments and of foreign policy; joining in various international and U.N. efforts; encouraging the non- governmental sector and the private sector to become more deeply involved in these; the importance of training our own people as they are moving around the world -- for example, elements that focus on disease have to be built into the training of Foreign Service officers, military officers, and are being done so; spreading examples of successful prevention programs.

We have been also working very closely with the military. Militaries are uniquely sensitive to infectious diseases, and this is particularly true in many developing countries, where the cadre of individuals most likely to be impacted by AIDS is the very leadership that is necessary for the security and stabilization of those countries. And the Department of Defense, I would say, has been absolutely extraordinary in its commitment to helping to spread the word on this, to helping to develop training programs, and very, very broad cooperation in the United States and around the world.

We are in need of continuing research on issues coming out of the NIH, the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration; the need to focus on safeguarding blood supplies, the need to focus on reproductive health issues. Especially important is the need to focus on the status of women. The economics of who gets infected is, as I pointed out earlier, those who are least able to take care of themselves, those who most vulnerable and those tend to be more women and children. They need to focus very sharply on education programs.

This is a very, very broad strategy that is necessary in both infectious diseases -- the Infectious Diseases Report of last week and HIV/AIDS.

I wanted to spend a little bit of time with you today, pointing out that this is extremely high priority for us here. We have launched this major interagency effort and come out with two, I think, very, very good reports replete with long sets of recommendations. Now it's going to be our responsibility, obviously, to follow up on this, both within the interagency process, but more importantly, across the government, working with the private sector, working with non-governmental organizations, and working to promote U.S. leadership around the world on this very important set of questions on infectious diseases. These reports are available.

So thank you all very much for your forbearance, and I guess they're available.

Q Secretary Wirth, you say that to fight AIDS you have to have the political leadership and the commitment to do something about it. To what extent is that commitment and the ability to do something about it subject to the vagaries of Congress? For example, Senator Helms seems to think that AIDS is a result of disgusting personal behavior and has opposed any large-scale Federal funding for things like this.

Is he or people who think like that -- are they in a position to stop what you consider to be such a priority battle?

UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: A significant majority in Congress reinforced our efforts and reinforced the need for this to continue to be a high priority domestically, with the Ryan White legislation reaffirmed by the Congress only last week.

I think most Americans have come to an understanding now that this is an extremely important issue. Whereas ten years ago, when I was in the Congress, for example, and we were just beginning to discover AIDS, it was extremely difficult to even talk about it.

Seven years ago, we distributed throughout -- eight years ago -- throughout the district that I represented a flyer on AIDS, and there was much less controversy. And by the time that we get to this day and age, most people are very aware of the fact that this has got to be discussed openly, honestly, and we have to continue to work on it. The cost of not doing so, as with other infectious diseases, is very high indeed.

I think we have very strong support on the Hill for a focus on infectious diseases overall and for HIV/AIDS in particular. I think the NIH appropriation in the House received an increase, as you probably know, and there was a good deal of discussion about the need for the Centers for Disease Control and NIH overall to be focusing on infectious diseases in that appropriation. So we were very pleased with that.

Q Could I just follow up. You say there is a significant majority, but Senator Helms is in a unique position where the forces of democracy may not work perfectly. In other words, he has some blocking power. Have you weighed in with him at all? Would he go along with this program?

UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: I don't know if he would go along with this program in particular. I think you're quite right in saying that Senator Helms is in a unique position and fills that position quite uniquely as well, and I think that that uniqueness is that he is not in a majority in the Congress in his view of the importance of our focusing on infectious diseases.

Q Secretary Wirth, you mentioned that there was a multiplication of infection, I believe you meant, in some developed countries. I take it in some Central African countries. Is this accurate?

UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: We're seeing an increase as you have populations moving into areas where they've not been before; increasing transport of individuals through various communications routes in Africa, and I can see a very rapid spreading of HIV/AIDS in some parts of Africa in a very alarming way.

Q My question would be on the other side what progress is reported in this HIV report with regard to stemming, remedying this spread of infection, and can you speak specifically to the United States?

UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: Broadly, the progress that's being made is the understanding that when prevention strategies are embraced by a national government from the top down -- in other words, saying that this is a legitimate issue to be discussed and worked on -- that country will tend to have a stronger program.

When not only the prevention strategies get going but behavioral changes start to work through society, we see changes there as well. Some of the successes that our military has had, again working with other militaries in Central and West Africa, have been sharp, although in small countries, have been sharp, and we would like to try to build upon that model.

A similar sort of thing here at home, I think, when we saw, starting 15 or 20 years ago, the first recognition of AIDS. Probably if we had had a better surveillance program, probably if we had had a better detection program, we would have caught AIDS earlier. That seems to be the consensus among the medical community. We would have caught that earlier and perhaps saved some of the early infection which, as you know, spiked out very sharply in the late 70s, early to mid-1980s.

For the next ten years, we saw a real decline in infections, and we began to get a handle on that as a public health program. As I understand it -- and I am no expert on what's going on domestically -- we've seen now an increase again. We're very concerned here in the Department about an increased heroin epidemic and the transfer of needles and the transfer of the disease in that fashion coming from very cheap heroin coming in from Southeast Asia. That's very, very troubling.

The behavior changes have not been -- apparently not as consistently permanent among some of the at-risk communities as we would like to see, and I know public health authorities are worried now that we may have again something of an increase in AIDS infections in the United States of America.

Q Is there a particular program in any of the countries of the world where we are seeing a success, an attenuation, at present that would be a good model?

UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: I might ask some of my colleagues. I know in West Africa where our military has been working very closely with governments, but I'll get back to you with a couple of examples of where that would be, if I could do that.

Q Secretary Wirth, to what extent has the research and recommendations included in these reports focused on the former Soviet Union, particularly the spread and in many cases reappearance of alarming diseases such as typhus, diphtheria, cholera, and so forth?

UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: This report is not focused country by country but rather on the steps the United States Government should be taking in these areas, both domestically and particularly internationally.

But we have seen a very troubling collapse of the public health system in the former Soviet Union. That's very disturbing in many, many ways. Perhaps many people view this as a case study of what may happen with the collapse of public health and the collapse of environmental standards and the exposure of people to an enormous number of environmental variables, including infectious diseases, and the need for us to much better understand the very close relationship between the environment and human health. Maybe the route to increasing people's sense of urgency about environmental issues will be found in the nexus of health and environmental issues coming together.

Q Would you like to take the last one.


Q Thank you. Yes. Talking about a different issue now. Yesterday the Colombian Government arrest another Cali cartel trafficker. What he says is the Colombian President doesn't receive any money from the Colombian Cali cartel. What does the United States Government think about it, and do you believe there's any corruption in the Colombian Government now?

UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: I think any government anywhere in the world, including our own, faces the difficulties of corruption coming from narcotics and narcotics money. It's everywhere. One of the highest priorities of this Department and this Administration is to do everything we can to profile the very major set of problems that relate to narcotics. We see that in the Andean countries in particular, but we also see it in the states of the former Soviet Union. We see the corruption of drugs in Nigeria, increasingly in South Africa, in Southeast Asia. You know, it is everywhere.

In many ways it's probably fair to say that James Bond was about right, but 20 years ahead of time, or truth is stranger than fiction. The same concentration of enormous amounts of money, private armies and access to weapons, plus the corruption of governments was something that was a construct of Ian Fleming but now is becoming a reality, and we're seeing that in many, many places.

We are working very closely with the Government in Colombia. We applaud the efforts made by the authorities in Colombia, particularly the change of command in which the drug enforcement has been much more aggressively carried out, and we hope that this continues, and we will do everything we can to assist the authorities in Colombia to make sure that happens.

Thank you.

Q Thank you.

(Under Secretary Wirth concluded his briefing at 1:05 p.m., at which time Deputy Spokesman David Johnson began the Daily Press Briefing)

MR. JOHNSON: I don't have any announcements for you. Mr. Schweid.

Q Yes, sir. Pentagon, White House, State Department officials -- senior officials in all places -- are speaking hopefully of the Croatian victory in Croatia against Serbs as possibly foreshadowing a diplomatic opportunity to settle the war in Bosnia.

Would you mind getting into the rationale of that type of semi- prediction we're getting from Christopher and McCurry, the President, I believe, Pentagon, I believe. What is it? Is it that it would not be as -- they would not press their initiative against Bihac or what?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm not sure I agree with everything you've laid out --

Q Well, maybe --

MR. JOHNSON: -- in your thesis, but I think what we're recognizing is that the change in the situation on the ground holds the possibility of producing the type of new dynamic where negotiations could bear fruit. We've made clear ever since I've been involved in this, and I'm sure in years before, that we believe that the only lasting solution is going to come through a negotiated process.

It's our hope that the changed situation on the ground and the new dynamic it introduces could play a role in making those negotiations more productive.

Q That's really my question. How? Last week Administration officials were sending a message of caution to the Croatians up there, saying that they're anxious -- the U.S. is anxious that this war could spread if they took the offensive.

Now they have taken the offensive, and somehow you folks see a silver lining. So I'm trying to understand not so much the change in tone, but what is it that you think has possibilities for new dynamics - - that the Serbs will get tired, that they will take this defeat to heart and sit down and negotiate? I don't get it.

Q Let me back you up a little bit. Last week we were saying and we did say, up until the moment this offensive started, that we did not think it was a good idea; that we thought that the best solution was at the negotiating table. We had our Ambassador in Zagreb out working very hard -- and I'm sure that you wrote about -- your wire services and on television made a number of reports of that.

But it's also clear that the recalcitrant negotiating partner throughout all of this -- the group that did not accept the Contact Group Map and Plan -- was the Bosnian Serbs. If this situation on the ground induces changes of heart which allow fruitful negotiations to go forward, that is where the hope lies. It's that -- it's a hope; it's not a prediction, and it's based on a new dynamic. It's not a result of this. We didn't favor this outcome on the ground. We didn't favor this offensive on the part of the Croatian Government, but it's a reality that we've had to deal with now, and we're hoping that we can turn it to an advantage at the negotiating table.

Q Can I ask you just -- and I'll drop it -- where Mr. Bildt is now or where does the process stand now, do you know? He was going to Belgrade last we heard, but planning stops in other capitals and checking back with you folks.

MR. JOHNSON: I believe he is continuing his work in the region, and it's not just in the capitals of the Contact Group that he has to do his work. It's also in Belgrade and in Zagreb and in Sarajevo where any plan that he might develop further and finally get adopted is going to have to be acceptable to all the parties concerned.

We continue to work with him and hope that his plan can bear fruit. He's continuing those efforts to try to build an equitable package that can be supported by all the sides in the conflict, but exactly where he is physically located at this moment, I do not know.

Q David, you said the United States Government didn't favor this outcome on the ground. The Bosnian Serbs are saying, however, that there are some Americans in the guise of technical advisers or whatever who in fact did play a role in the military action that took place in the last three or four days.

Were there any official Americans involved on the side of the Croatians?

MR. JOHNSON: There are no official Americans. What one could be referring to there is some technical support being provided to the Croatian Government in helping them establish a military that functions in a civil society; that does things like report to civil authority and is a functioning military that observes the rules of conflict. But we in no way provided any technical or strategic advice or planning that was part of this offensive.

Q David, Yeltsin has said that he is trying to get Tudjman and Milosevic into talks. Are we being kept up to date by the Russians on his efforts?

MR. JOHNSON: We have had conversations with the Russians. We are in the process of learning more about the details of what President Yeltsin proposes to put forward. We hope to learn more of those details before we give you a fuller reaction to how that might play a role in a negotiated solution.

Q Is Mr. Bildt being tied into this particular --

MR. JOHNSON: I am not aware of how he is being tied in. I wouldn't exclude that, but I don't have anything to tie him in specifically for you.

Q When do you expect to have more information on this?

MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't expect to have more during the balance of the business day. I hope to have some more information tomorrow.

Q David, one of the biggest problems has been the splits in the conflicts between the Bosnians and the Croatians throughout the years, since both were subject to Serb aggression and individually they really couldn't put up any kind of a force, but together they could do something, as was proven in the recent offensive.

The real question is how stable is that unity now? There are a lot of rumors going on, a lot of stories in the European press about a special deal that's been made between Milosevic and Tudjman. Yeltsin invited both Milosevic and Tudjman to Moscow. What is the U.S. impression? Is this thing going to hold, or are there potential splits which can create further conflicts down the road?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to be able to be a crystal ball gazer for you. We worked very hard to try to put the Federation together, and we've worked hard since then in a number of ways to try to keep it intact. I'm not going to speculate about what type of pressures might be on it. We think it's been a successful diplomatic outcome that we are pleased to have played a part in bringing into play, but I'm not in a position to try to tell you what sort of pressures might be on it in the future.

Q I want to ask about Colombia for a minute.

MR. JOHNSON: Let's do Bosnia and then we'll change to other subjects.

Q Can you give us a readout on the humanitarian situation on the ground now with this exodus of new refugees?

MR. JOHNSON: The reports I have on that are based on reports from the U.N. High Commission on Refugees and Mrs. Ogata's people on the ground there. They're anticipating as many as 150,000 ethnic Serbs from Croatia could flee their homes in response to the Croatian military offensive. Most of those are believed to be heading toward the Serb- held towns of Banja Luka and Prijedor in northern Bosnia.

UNHCR estimates that 30,000 Serbs have already arrived in Banja Luka. An additional 60,000 displaced persons from Sector North and 30,000 from Sector South are also expected. UNHCR is concerned that the refugee influx will force the estimated 67,000 non-Serbs living in Banja Luka to evacuate.

For that reason, the U.N. is sending monitors to the area to check on that, as well as issues such as human rights abuses against the Croats and Muslims who might remain in the area.

Both UNHCR and ICRC have stocks of food and emergency supplies in Banja Luka, and in addition to that a 13-truck UNHCR convoy is en route to the area from Belgrade.

There are reports that another 20-30,000 refugees are reported to be waiting to get into Serbia, but we don't have anything to confirm that.

Q Is it the sense of this Department that the offensive is over?

MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything that says it in quite that way. Most of the territory that was held by the Krajina Serbs has been retaken except for the Sector East. So one could draw that conclusion, but I'm not in a position to do so.

Q David, going back again to your statement that the United States favored neither side, but isn't an alliance between the Bosnian Muslims and the Croatians a logical outcome of the Federation that this United States Government promoted so heavily?

MR. JOHNSON: It could be one of a number of outcomes. I don't profess to predict that future for you.

Q Well, wasn't that one of the purposes of it -- to put pressure on the Bosnian Serbs because of the potential threat from an alliance between the Croatians and the Muslims?

MR. JOHNSON: The purpose of it was to enable the Bosnian Muslims and the Bosnian Croats and the Croatians to cease their hostilities against one another and to work together to try to build a more stable situation.

Q And that happened.

MR. JOHNSON: And it has.

Q Do you have any information on the split between Ratko Mladic and Karadzic, and what that portends?

MR. JOHNSON: I have the same facts that you do, and the fact that there is no love lost between them, it is not sadness, I believe.

Q It's not sadness on your part.

Q David, can I ask -- Jim before you spoke of -- so badly phrased now but just to be succinct about it -- this program to teach democracy to the Croatian military. What program is that part of, and is it being done -- is something comparable being done elsewhere in the Balkans or in Eastern Europe or whatever? How did it just happen? I mean, did it just happen?

MR. JOHNSON: I'll look into any comparables for you. It's a commercial licensed transaction between some consultants here in the United States and the Croatian military.

Q Private consultants, with U.S. approval?

MR. JOHNSON: It's a licensed transaction.

Q Okay. What kind of -- I'm not sure I understand. They're selling democracy?

MR. JOHNSON: Purchase of services --

Q You mean --

MR. JOHNSON: -- in terms of how one organizes a military in a democracy. How one responds to civilian control. How one organizes oneself so that one respects the rights of non-combatants -- those types of issues that we were interested in a military that would be working that area knowing about.

Q And they would teach Croatian soldiers how to treat civilians humanely is the idea?

MR. JOHNSON: That was the goal.

Q Do they have any other talents, teaching them how to treat combatants, perhaps not so humanely? I mean, like point in that direction and maybe you'll hit something? Don't aim at the school, aim at the ammunition depot. Are they part of the Croatian military structure?

MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't call them part of the Croatian military structure. I'd call them a service that the Croatians have purchased in terms of advice on how to organize their military, and our interest in it was how to organize a military so that it functions in a democratic state.

Q Is there any other company that has a like contract -- licensed contract?


Q Between Croatia and this country?

MR. JOHNSON: I simply don't know. I couldn't exclude that, but I don't know it to be the case.

Q Could you look in?

MR. JOHNSON: I will do my best.

Q Can you give a preliminary tally or score card how the Croatians have behaved so far as your repeated appeals last week for treating civilians humanely? I know you spoke of the refugee flow and all. What's their performance so far --

MR. JOHNSON: We don't have people on the ground there to assess that, so it's not something I'm in a position to give you. I can tell you we are very disappointed, and we have condemned both publicly ourselves and in concert with others at the U.N. the reported treatment of a number of U.N. peacekeepers who were reportedly used as "human shields." We've also condemned the deaths of I believe four peacekeepers during this action.

We saw no reason for that, and we have asked that the Croatian military investigate those deaths as well as the mistreatment of other U.N. peacekeepers, and we're looking for a public report on that and for prosecution and punishment of any of those who are involved in treating them wrongly.

Q David, two military questions. Back to the point that you had made on Krajina. Have the Croatian Government informed the U.N., NATO or this country, Mr. Galbraith, of any further actions -- military actions or objectives within the Krajina, within their own borders?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of any knowledge we might have of any further objectives that they are going to pursue.

Q And, secondly, are we aware by the means of intelligence from any source of the Bosnian Serbs or the Krajina Serbs retaliating, countering any actions that have been taken by the Croatians or any other actions they might in Bosnia?

MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything for you on anything related to that. Are we finished with Bosnia, and would we like to go to Colombia for a while?

Q I wanted to ask you what impact do you expect the arrest of Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela will have on trade of cocaine?

MR. JOHNSON: Our hope is that it would have a significant impact on the operations of the cartel and therefore a significance -- since they control a large portion of the cocaine supply in the world, a significant impact on that.

I'm not in a position to provide you with that assessment as to how his arrest as an individual is going to affect the drug trade. We certainly have hoped that it would have a significant impact on it, but I would hesitate to draw that conclusion on my own.

Q Would it be correct to interpret this as an effort from the Samper Government to alleviate the scandal against them, in relation to the investigation of the money given to his campaign?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to infer any motives. I will tell you that we congratulate the Colombian police and law enforcement officials for their continuing perseverance in the pursuit of the drug trafficking organization in Cali as represented by the arrest of Rodriguez-Orejuela.

Q My last question, do you expect the Mexico/South Asia cartels to assume the leadership position left vacant from the Rodriguez- Orejuela brothers?

MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't make that type of prediction for you, but we will, of course, remain vigilant to try to make sure that no one does assume the market opening that is provided, we hope, by the collapse of the Cali cartel.

Q Indeed, has there been such an impact on the Cali cartel?

MR. JOHNSON: I said "we hope." Did you hear me, we hope by the collapse of the Cali cartel.

Q Yes, but, David, what is the impact?

MR. JOHNSON: I just decline to try to give an assessment of what the impact is on the cartel itself from the arrest of this individual.

Q And I was talking about the shipment of cocaine into this country by these arrests in recent months.

MR. JOHNSON: And the answer remains.

Q All right.

Q Do you think the Colombian Government and the United States have good relations now?

MR. JOHNSON: We have worked very hard with the Colombians, especially in the police force over the last several years. We are very pleased with the turn that they have made with respect to bringing down the leadership of this cartel.

Q There were some arrests over the weekend in Pakistan. Are these individuals somehow connected to the killing of the Americans in Karachi?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of the arrests to which you refer. Q On China, --

MR. JOHNSON: I think your colleague in the back of the room was going to ask about China before you imagined it, so I'll let you go first.

Q Yes. Has the meeting with the Chinese, at the Under Secretary and Vice Foreign Minister level been scheduled?

MR. JOHNSON: I know that we announced that such a meeting would take place, coming out of the Secretary's meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister. We are working with the Chinese Government on coming up with an acceptable and appropriate time for that to take place. We are hopeful that it will take place very soon, but I don't have anything to announce for you today on a definite time for it.

Do you want to do China as well, or did we do that?

Q On Harry Wu, have you done any confirmation there will be a meeting this Wednesday with the Charge from the Embassy?

MR. JOHNSON: Slightly different than you phrase it. Hubei Province foreign affairs officials informed the U.S. Embassy in Beijing today that our request for a Consular Officer to visit Mr. Wu in Wuhan has been approved and scheduled for Wednesday, August 9. That date, as you might note, is exactly 30 days since our first and most recent visit with Mr. Wu on July l0.

The chief of our American Citizens Services Section in Beijing, Dan Piccuta, will plan to arrive in Wuhan on August 8.

Our position on Mr. Wu's detention is the same as it has been. We believe that he should be released immediately on humanitarian grounds.

Q Because he's innocent?

MR. JOHNSON: On humanitarian grounds. We have declined to take a position on what allegations may or may not be made against him, and allegations that may or may not have been made against him. We believe that this is a case which should be resolved on humanitarian grounds and he should be released now.

Q Have you been advised by the Chinese as to how they are going to proceed with the case?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of anything further the Chinese have told us about the case.

Q Are there any other actions that you are planning to take?

MR. JOHNSON: I think we are going to see Mr. Wu, and then we'll perhaps have other things to tell you. But I don't anticipate any before then.

Q Do you anticipate any information coming out of that meeting will impact the trip by the First Lady to Beijing?

MR. JOHNSON: I think all remarks on the First Lady's trip will be coming from that direction. I won't attempt to answer them.

Q Do you have anything on the Hamas question, any plea bargaining, anything on what's going on there?

MR. JOHNSON: I'd refer you to the Justice Department. That's a legal issue. It's not a political issue and we are going to deal with it as such.

Q Going back to China, anything from our Military Attaches on the details of their experience?

MR. JOHNSON: I think we have had what we want to say about that already said.

Q Thank you.

MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at l:27 p.m.)


To the top of this page