U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/08/09 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, August 9, l995 Briefer: David Johnson FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Consultations by National Security Adviser Lake and Under Secretary of State Tarnoff ........................1-2 President Yeltsin's Proposal for Tudjman/Milosevic Talks ..2-3 --Participation of Bosnian Government .....................4 --Role of Bosnian Serbs ...................................7 Widening of Hostilities/Possibility of Further Serb Aggression ..............................................3-4 Humanitarian/Refugee Situation ............................4-6 Contact Group Map and Plan ................................6 Protection of UN Troops ...................................6-7 Reported Atrocities Against Bosnian Males .................7 CHINA Travel by Under Secretary Tarnoff .........................6 Consular Visit to Harry Wu ................................8-11 First Lady's Attendance at Women's Conference .............11 Visit by Dalai Lama .......................................11-12 RUSSIA Release of Army Captain ...................................12 AVIATION SECURITY FAA Security Alert ........................................13 MEXICO Testimony of Assistant Secretary Gelbard/Zedillo's Efforts to Combat Drug Trafficking and Corruption .......13-15
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9, 1995, 1:10 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED)
MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon, Mr. Schweid. How are you? Q I'm fine. So is everybody else, I think. You could poll it, if you want to. MR. JOHNSON: Would you care to call the roll? Q I don't really have any questions on Bosnia, which I suppose other people do, so why don't I pass. MR. JOHNSON: Okay. I suppose no one else has a question. (Laughter) Q We want to know what secret plan Tarnoff and Lake are bringing to the mix in Europe. Q I didn't have to ask because we have that already. MR. JOHNSON: If we told you, it wouldn't very well be a secret then, would it? I'm afraid I'm going to frustrate you a bit on your inquiries there. I'll tell you what I can tell you about what they're doing and let you know that the Administration has been working over the past several weeks on a set of ideas designed to advance the peace process in the Balkans. Those discussions have included consideration of the future of UNPROFOR, our long-term objective in the region, and some diplomatic initiatives. Based on those discussions here, we've begun a process of consultation with our allies and others involved in the Balkan crisis to seek renewed progress toward a settlement. National Security Adviser Lake and Under Secretary Tarnoff left this morning to go to Europe for further elaboration of those ideas. They're going to be accompanied by others from this Department, from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council staff. Their planned itinerary includes stops in London, Bonn and Paris. In addition to their trip, we're going to be consulting widely with others, especially those countries that are contributing troops to the U.N. Protection Force. Q Not Moscow, though. MR. JOHNSON: There are no plans at this time for a Moscow stop. Q The hills are alive with rumors about something, a successor to UNPROFOR which would have a more specific and perhaps effective mandate. Is that one of the ideas? MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to exclude that, but I'm just not in a position to confirm or to set aside any idea that might be reported widely or not so widely in the press. We'd like to have an opportunity to talk to our allies about some of the discussions we've had here and to see if we could work together to take advantage of the new dynamic that's been created by the changed situation on the ground and see if we can move this diplomatic process forward. Q Is there a reason why this team is not going to Moscow? MR. JOHNSON: I think that we're going to start with the stops that I've outlined for you, and we want to have a consultation with our allies and then see if it's appropriate and possible to move on to other things. But I want to emphasize for you that just because they are not going there doesn't mean that we're not consulting actively with other capitals, including Moscow. Q And Moscow is still a member in good standing of the Contact Group? MR. JOHNSON: Yes. Q Speaking of Moscow, a few days ago whoever was at the podium indicated that there would be very soon a U.S. appraisal of the Yeltsin initiative to bring the President of Croatia and the President of Serbia to Moscow. Curiously, there hasn't been anything from the podium for several days now, and in fact I'm hearing that the U.S. isn't enthralled with the idea of just having those two in Moscow. What is the U.S. view of this Russian initiative? MR. JOHNSON: I think, Barry, I would disagree a little bit with some of the sermonette that preceded your question. I don't think we said that we were going to provide an analysis promptly. We just said we were unable to do it at that time, and we hoped -- Q Do it the next day. On Monday the Spokesman said "It's new and fresh. We'll have something for you tomorrow." Whoever was running around the press room the next day had nothing to say. Here it is Wednesday, and I think there is a reason you have nothing to say. Either you haven't decided what to make of it, or you don't think it's a terrific idea, and I'd like you to come clean now. MR. JOHNSON: I shall frustrate you yet again -- Q That's all right. There are other (inaudible) in the building. MR. JOHNSON: -- and let you know that we're pursuing right now, I believe, this mission that we've launched this morning for the National Security Adviser and the Under Secretary and his team to go forward. There are some press reports about who's coming and who's not coming to Moscow. It's clearly a situation which is evolving rather rapidly, so I think it would be unwise and potentially inaccurate for me to try to give you an assessment at this point. Q But is the Russian initiative a troubling distraction? MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't describe it that way. Q And let me ask you something else which bears on this mission and the situation generally. Before the Serb -- before the Croatians succeeded in Krajina, there was great anxiety from the podium about a wider war. What is the current feeling about the possibility, or even a likelihood, whatever -- you can supply the word, if you will -- for Serbia jumping into the war in Croatia? MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't want to provide a word for you there. I would say that our concerns continue about activities in the region that could cause hostilities to break out in other places. As we did before the Croatian offensive took place, we continue to urge restraint on all the parties in the area and to continue to reaffirm our belief that the best, durable solution to this conflict will take place at the negotiating table; and that's what we're hoping to pursue with this consultative trip which began today. Q I was looking more specifically for Serbia, because, you see, you folks have seen a dynamic. Every day you remember to say there's a new dynamic, and the dynamic apparently is the Serbs have gotten bloodied in Croatia and part of the dynamic, I understand, is there's a split in the Bosnian Serb leadership. It sort of creates the image that the Serbs are a little bit weaker and may be more receptive to negotiations. I'm trying to turn the coin around and see if there's still concern though that the Serbs are muscular enough to be ready to jump into the conflict with Croatia, if you see any danger of that? MR. JOHNSON: We certainly see danger of a wider war, which is a result of some of the aspects of this offensive which took place, especially the increased refugee flows which have resulted from it. I don't think anyone doubts the combat capability of the army which is in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. I'm not predicting anything that's going to happen. I'm just suggesting that our concerns remain, and it remains one of our objectives to try to prevent the outbreak of wider hostilities during this entire conflict. Q On the Russian idea, you say what you've been saying all along, that the best durable solution is at the negotiating table. Does the State Department believe that the Bosnia-Herzegovina people belong at that negotiating table? MR. JOHNSON: We believe that any conclusive outcome to this has got to include them, certainly. Q Then you would fault the Yeltsin idea -- MR. JOHNSON: That's a conclusion that I'm not going to draw for you there. I'm not going to exclude other activities which might bring progress; but I think that any solution has to include, of course, the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Q Have you been able to confirm reports of atrocities committed against Serb refugees in the Krajina or as they've crossed over the border? MR. JOHNSON: Say that one more time. I'm not sure I understand. Q Have you looked into reports, and have you been able to confirm the reports of atrocities committed by Croat and Bosnian troops against Serb refugees? MR. JOHNSON: The information we have on that at this point remains kind of sketchy. We note that the Croatian Government has pledged to protect the human rights of Croatian Serbs and has guaranteed to protect its Serbian citizens from discrimination, and we plan to hold them at their word. We are looking into that situation through representatives of international organizations that are there on the ground. We don't have anybody in those regions that reports directly to us who can make such confirmation or rebuttal, and so we're looking into that with some view toward determining whether or not any atrocities have in fact taken place. There are without a doubt significant refugee flows which have resulted from this, and there were reports earlier of the use of UNCRO forces as human shields during the hostilities themselves. There have been some other reports of some shooting on the refugees as they try to get out of the way of those hostilities. But that's not something we're in a position to confirm. Q There seems to be some dispute between the United States and Britain, for example, on whether what happened in the Krajina constitutes ethnic cleansing. What is the position of the U.S. Government? Is that ethnic cleansing? MR. JOHNSON: I think what's going on in the Krajina area now looks to be a departure of refugees. We don't have any direct evidence that the Croatian Government has sought to rid that area of its Serbian population. But that's something that we're certainly going to look into. That's something we're certainly exploring to see if anything which could be called that might be taking place, and we won't hesitate to call it what it is if that's what we see. Q But at this point you don't consider it ethnic cleansing? MR. JOHNSON: At this point we don't have anything that would allow us to draw that conclusion simply because we don't have people on the ground there, and we don't have the evidence which would allow us to draw such a conclusion. Q Isn't the effect the same? You have an entire population of one ethnic group moved out. MR. JOHNSON: I think what has been called ethnic cleansing in the past is where it's the government policy and where the people are driven, whether they want to remain or not. I think there is some distinction between that and refugees leaving because of their belief that there might be a lack of safety there, as distinct from being driven from their homes as a government policy. Q One administrative detail. Does this trip mean that Tarnoff will not be able to keep his appointment in Beijing? MR. JOHNSON: It does not. We're not in a position now to announce such a trip but we still plan for such a trip to take place. We wouldn't expect this to affect Under Secretary Tarnoff's itinerary. Q David, how wedded is the United States now to the 51/49 breakdown put forward previously by the Contact Group? And is the United States willing now for there to be a confederation between the Bosnian Serbs and Serbia proper? MR. JOHNSON: I don't know of any reason to believe that our position on either of those two issues has changed as a result of anything in the last few days, so I don't have anything to contradict our positions we've taken before on that. Q But what is your position on the map? Because you sent out little signals, like you did with the Spokesman yesterday -- that that division isn't immutable; that we're looking at things, we're considering things. You sure are looking at things and considering things. But it would be helpful if you could state, even if it's the same old position, what the U.S. position is on that proffered map, that creation of ethnic zones, and the way that they're drawn? MR. JOHNSON: We've said in the past that it's the basis for negotiations. I don't think I want to say anything more than that today. Q You mean, you don't want to say that they could be changed at the bargaining table? MR. JOHNSON: It has to be the basis, and it could be changed at the bargaining table. The same thing we've said, I think, innumerable times in the past. Q David, a recent wire out of Moscow, via UPI, quotes Mr. Andrei Kozyrev as being quite upset with the U.N. for -- well, let's say quite upset about the lack of protection of U.N. troops during the Croatian offensive in Krajina; also decrying the lack of NATO air power to prevent the offensive. Have the Russians come to the United States to lodge their complaints about the Krajina offensive? MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of them coming to the United States to make any sort of complaint like that. I would note that the U.N. Security Council President, on behalf of all the members of the Security Council, made at least two statements over the weekend with respect to protection of U.N. personnel in the Krajina; and the United States, from this lectern, made statements as well. We share the sentiment that U.N. personnel should be protected. We condemned the use of any U.N. personnel in combat as human shields or in any other way that was improper. We called upon the Croatian Government to investigate those allegations and to punish those who were responsible. Q David, has the Croatian Government expressed to our Ambassador, or through any other channel to our government, their displeasure with the criticism by the Russians that might be precluding Tudjman from going to Moscow? MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of anything that would let me know that. It would be unusual for them to complain through our Ambassador about something like that, that another state had said. I would find it a bit puzzling if I read it, but I haven't read anything like that. Q Do you have any information on U.S. spy plane photos of an apparent mass grave outside the stadium in Srebrenica? MR. JOHNSON: I can say that we've got some evidence from sensitive sources that tend to corroborate accounts of atrocities against the Bosnian men and boys who were prevented from leaving Srebrenica. That's an issue that we're going to be taking up at the U.N., and I'm going to refer you to our mission in New York City on how this issue is going to be pursued. Q David, just one other point. In these negotiations that the United States would like to see, do you still believe that the Bosnian Serbs also belong at the negotiating table? MR. JOHNSON: We believe that the Bosnian Serbs certainly have a role to play. Q At the table? MR. JOHNSON: They have a role to play. I'll leave it at that. I'm not going to try to define "tables" for you today; how many sides they have and who sits where. Are we still doing Bosnia, or are we moving? Q I have an un-Bosnia question. MR. JOHNSON: I think the gentleman has his hand up several minutes ago. Q David, can we go to China? Do you have anything on the meeting in Wuhan with Harry Wu? MR. JOHNSON: I do. Our Citizens Services Officer, Dan Piccuta, met today for 30 minutes with Harry Wu at the Wuhan Public Security Bureau's Number One Detention Center. I'd note that the length of that meeting was set by the Chinese. The visit began at 11:00 a.m. Wuhan-time and took place under similar conditions -- that is, through glass and by telephone -- as the meeting which took place 30 days ago, and was consistent with the practices that the Chinese have followed on other United States Consular visits with people that have been detained. We're pleased to report that Mr. Piccuta found Mr. Wu to be fit and in good condition. In his report of the visit, Mr. Piccuta noted that Mr. Wu did not resemble the tired and anxious figure that appeared in the video which was released two weeks ago. Mr. Wu told Mr. Piccuta that he had not been mistreated, but he did say that he had some back pain from a condition which preceded his incarceration. Mr. Piccuta told Mr. Wu that he has passed to the Wuhan security officials some prescription medication sent by Mrs. Wu, along with some correspondence from her. Along with a discussion of Mr. Wu's physical condition, they also talked briefly about Mr. Wu's case. Mr. Wu told our Consul that he had been told nothing more about the possible charges against him than what both of them had read in Chinese newspapers. Following the meeting, Mr. Piccuta spoke with the security officials in Wuhan to underline our concerns over Mr. Wu's medical problem. He asked the Security Bureau about Mr. Wu's case, including a clarification of the possible charges, selection of an attorney, and for a copy of the formal arrest notice. He underlined our desire for more frequent visits. In response to all of those questions and requests, Mr. Piccuta was told that these questions would be given "consideration." As was consistent with the previous visit, the reading materials which consisted of Chinese and American newspapers and books, including some collections of short stories as well as the correspondence, were given to the Wuhan security officials to be delivered to Mr. Wu. Mr. Wu told the Consul that he had received the reading materials left by the Consul General during last month's visit a few days after the meeting took place, but he had never been given the lawyers' list which the Consul General had left to be given to Mr. Wu. I'd note that we are gratified to have found Mr. Wu in good physical condition, especially under the circumstances. We have concerns about his overall physical health and continue to believe that he should be released immediately on humanitarian grounds. Q Why was the discussion of the case brief? Was that an American decision? MR. JOHNSON: I believe it was brief because we know very little about any charges that might be pending because our only source is through Chinese newspapers, and Mr. Wu's information comes from similar sources. So there's not much to go on to have a very extensive discussion that -- only 30 minutes is allowed by the security officials for the entire encounter and so there were other topics and other issues that our Consul wished to cover during the minimum time that was allotted to him. Q The Chinese did not impose any restrictions? MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of any restrictions or any cut-offs or anything like that which precluded a lengthier conversation. It's just a lack of information and the press of time. Q You have been saying he ought to be released on humanitarian grounds. Does that conflict in any way with how fit you found him? Or, do you just mean humanitarian -- it isn't nice to be imprisoned for a long time? I don't know what your humanitarian argument is. MR. JOHNSON: Our humanitarian argument is that Mr. Wu is a noted human rights advocate. We believe that it is in the best interest of the United States and China and our relationship for him to be released. We have asked for that to be done. Q It's not pursuant to his medical condition? MR. JOHNSON: I don't know that it's specifically related to his medical condition or anything else. It's our belief that he should be released now. Q How long did the conversation go? Was there any threat of a cut-off or any interference from the Chinese official on the line? MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of any problems which came up in that respect. The conversation went as they have in the past when American consular officials have had interviews and encounters with Americans who are being held in Chinese detention facilities. Q Any word on another meeting? This was 30 days since the previous -- MR. JOHNSON: It is exactly 30 days since the previous meeting. Q Does that mean anything? What does it mean for the future? Do you know? MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't speculate on that. I would note that we have asked for more frequent meetings, and we've continued to press for that. Mark. Q Was there a difference between this meeting and the previous one in that the consular official was actually able to broach the subject of the charges against Mr. Wu without being cut off by one of the Chinese intermediaries? MR. JOHNSON: I suppose one could draw that conclusion, but the lack of information about what the charges might be and what the case might be made that conversation not terribly meaningful. Q What is the assessment now of the reported videotaped confession? Does this building think that, in fact, Mr. Wu said the things that the tape shows him saying, and was it coerced? MR. JOHNSON: The Department continues to believe that there is no way it can assess the conditions under which that was made. Given the circumstances under which Mr. Wu was held, you could not draw the conclusion that it was a freely given conversation that was taped at his direction. Q Did you find out whether it was the authorities themselves who had taped it? Is it an authentic video in the Department's eyes? MR. JOHNSON: We found little reason to go into those sorts of technical questions because of the circumstances under which any such tape would obviously have been made. Whether it was authentic in the expression that you describe as "authentic" is not terribly meaningful given the circumstances under which any such tape would have had to have been made. Q You said, David, he's in fit and good physical condition. Can you give us any assessment of his mental or psychological or emotional state? MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything to indicate that it's anything other than satisfactory, but I'm not going to give you a complete rundown here on those sorts of things because I don't have information which directly relates to those questions. Q Are you still on China? Can I have one more China, please? MR. JOHNSON: You may. Q Now that the Secretary has come back from his meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister, is he going to push for the trip to Beijing by the First Lady? Does he support that? MR. JOHNSON: I'd refer you to two things. One that I've said, which is any announcement or decision about an announcement -- or an announcement about a decision about that is not going to come from this place. It's going to come from the White House. The second is, when the Secretary was asked that question by one of your colleagues with ABC last Sunday, he suggested that the appropriate place to give his advice on that would be not to reporters but to the White House. I think he intends to take that. Q Does the Department take a position on this? MR. JOHNSON: The Department takes a position that we will let the White House speak on that issue because it involves the First Lady. Q Yesterday, the International Campaign for Tibet announced that the Dalai Lama would visit Washington next month and would like to meet key U.S. policymakers. I wonder whether the State Department would welcome a meeting with the Dalai Lama, who might meet him, and in what capacity? MR. JOHNSON: We've received no formal request for any meetings at the State Department with the Dalai Lama. We would, of course, carefully consider any request which was made. Because of the Dalai Lama's status as a spiritual leader and Nobel Laureate, it certainly is possible that he might meet with senior Administration officials during his forthcoming visit to the United States. I would note for you that during his last visit to the U.S., he did meet with the Secretary on the margins of a reception that was held here at the Department. Q Is it possible that U.S. policymakers might meet him in his capacity as head of the government in exile? MR. JOHNSON: I would refer you to the long-standing U.S. policy that Tibet is part of China. Q Can we ask about the Captain, the West Point Captain, and his troubles in Siberia? Things were not all that clear yesterday. I could ask you just to bring us up to date or ask you specifically, are you saying he was not engaged in any improper activity? MR. JOHNSON: He was, of course, not engaged in any improper activity. But in terms of exactly what he was doing and the circumstances under which he encountered the security officials, we're really not in a position to give you any more than we did yesterday because we still haven't talked to the Captain. He's scheduled to have been sailing down the Yenisey River both yesterday and today -- Q Long river. MR. JOHNSON: It's a long river trip anyway -- and to leave on August 11 and return to the United States on August 12. So the fact that we haven't been able to speak to him due to presumably the remoteness of his journey kind of leaves us at a bit of a problem in responding very fully to your request. Q Any disruption in this program, this environmental program? MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of any disruption at all in his program. Q Do you have anything on an increased security alert related to a reported FAA decision to boost security levels at airports? MR. JOHNSON: I've conferred with the folks here who work with the FAA and they tell us that it is a domestic issue which the FAA is addressing and suggesting that they are the best people to talk to about the reasons which it might be put in force. But it's not an international issue, from our point of view -- the State Department's going to be addressing. Q The Secretary's work schedule? He's back? He's -- MR. JOHNSON: He arrived last night. Started work first thing this morning and is in the office today. He has full range of activities. Q Did he have an opportunity to pass on whatever it is this delegation is taking to three European capitals? MR. JOHNSON: He had an opportunity to tell me what I was able to tell you earlier in the briefing. I don't really have anything to elaborate on that. Q You notice we haven't asked about the familiar assertion in one newspaper that State and NSC don't get along all that well. MR. JOHNSON: I'm here to tell you today that I'm the personification of how well we get along. Q David, if I could change the subject to Mexico. MR. JOHNSON: Yes. Q Yesterday in the hearing on Capitol Hill, the Senate side, the Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Gelbard and Thomas Constantine gave a very sobering and somewhat optimistic assessment of the fight against drugs -- drug-trafficking especially in Mexico. Mr. Constantine -- excuse me, Mr. Gelbard told me that the arrests in Colombia had a very positive effect in Mexico. But on the other side of the story a gentleman named David Jordan, a former Ambassador, and Mr. Andrew Redding, who were confirmed and backed up by a man named Eduardo Valle, a former Mexican justice official, told me that the war on drugs, and especially the cartels, was not succeeding in that the large cartels were being left alone -- the large drug traffickers. The political forces that be, especially the Carlos Hank Gonzales and Carlos (Hank) Rohn families, were impeding the progress of President Zedillo, and specifically that the judicial police of Mexico were still in the pockets of the large cartels and protecting them. David, do you have any reaction to the opposition perspective with regard to the narco- political guerra. MR. JOHNSON: Excuse me? Q The narco-political war, the war against the cartels. MR. JOHNSON: I would note a few things for you. First of all, Mexico's not Colombia. Drug trafficking does not pose yet a threat to Mexican society like it does in Colombia, but it has had an impact. Drug-related violence has expanded and includes the murder of public officials. Investigations have unearthed the extent of narco-corruption within some Mexican institutions. Drug use is on the rise, money laundering is on the rise, and there are some rural populations that have been exploited by drug traffickers. I'd also note very positively, though, that President Zedillo has demonstrated his will to combat drug trafficking and corruption. He's promised to take on the drug mafias and reform the judicial system. He's appointed Mr. Lozano, a member of the opposition party, as Attorney General and has given him a free hand to conduct corruption investigations. We intend to work very closely with him in an effort to accomplish those goals. Q A leading Mexican news service informed me this morning of this matter of the judicial police, especially, and the fact that the large cartels were being more or less left alone. There hadn't been any major arrests, and the implication was they couldn't touch them. Does the U.S. Government have any comment as to these impediments -- alleged impediments? MR. JOHNSON: We know that the corruption of narcotics and narcotics money affects governments and police organizations in a number of societies. The problems that Mexico has to deal with are certainly difficult ones, but I'd draw you back to the determination that President Zedillo has expressed, as evidenced by his appointment of someone from the opposition, as a commitment to combat this. Q And the United States continues to back Zedillo, fully. MR. JOHNSON: We continue to work with Zedillo, and we plan to work with him and with Mr. Lozano to try to combat the drug problem which afflicts both of our countries. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:43 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page