U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/08/21 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, August 21, l995 Briefer: David Johnson DEPARTMENT STATEMENTS Statement on Behalf of Secretary Christopher concerning Bombing in Jerusalem .........................1 --Condolence to Family of American Killed in Attack .......2 --Secretary Christopher/Rabin Contact .....................9 Ceremony at Andrews AFB for Ambassador Robert Frasure, Dr. Joseph Kruzel, Colonel Samuel Nelson Drew ...........2 --Memorial Service on 8/22 ................................7 Secretary Christopher's Schedule ..........................7 Press Briefing Schedule ...................................11 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Mtg. at Andrews to Reinforce Balkans Peace Process w/Christopher, Perry, Lake, Albright ....................2,4 Mtg. on August 22 w/Amb. Holbrooke, Gen. Clark ............2 U.S. Diplomatic Initiative: Mtgs. w/Parties ...............3 --Holbrooke Mission's Return to Europe ....................5 Report of Letter from Karadzic to President Clinton .......3-4 Frasure, Kruzel, Drew Accident ............................4-5 Report of D/S Talbott, FM of Bangladesh Mtg. on 8/22 ......5-6 British Decision to Withdraw Peacekeepers from Gorazde ....6 Croatian Offensive/Status of Fighting .....................6-8 U.S. Position on Lifting of Arms Embargo ..................7-8 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Progress on Arrangements for Security .....................9 Hamas Leader Detained in New York .........................10 CHINA/TAIWAN Taiwan Relations Act ......................................10-11 Report of Amphibious Exercises in Taiwan Area .............11 IRAQ Iraqi Defectors ...........................................11 (###)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 1995, 3:02 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon. Thank you for your patience. I have a couple of statements I'd like to -- a statement and then some opening remarks before we get to questions.
The first is a statement on behalf of the Secretary of State. It concerns the bombing this morning in Jerusalem.
"I want to offer my deepest sympathies, and those of the American people to all the families of those killed and injured in this morning's terror attack in Jerusalem. I reaffirm to the people of Israel that the United States stands with them in the face of this outrage.
"Those who carried out this attack had one purpose: to kill Israelis and to destroy the peace process. We must not allow these extremists to succeed; we will not submit to their terror and intimidation, and we will not permit them to kill the chances for peace through negotiations.
"Throughout its history, the people of Israel have expressed extraordinary courage in the face of terror. They have chosen not to surrender to the forces of extremism and terror and to pursue peace.
"Today, they demonstrate that courage again by re-committing themselves to pursue peace with their Palestinian neighbors. This choice is not an easy one. But it offers a real chance to achieve a peace with the kind of security that Israelis have been denied for so long. Fortified by the courage and determination already shown by those committed to peace, we will do everything we can to help the parties reach their goal of a lasting, comprehensive peace with security for all."
I'd also like to pass along the Secretary's and Department's condolences to the family of the American who was killed in this attack. Since the next-of-kin have not yet been notified, I'm not in a position to release that name.
The second thing I'd like to tell you a bit about is, as many of you have, I've just come from Andrews Air Force Base. It was a moving time for all of us.
The Foreign Service and the Department of State, Department of Defense, the National Security Council, and the United States Air Force have lost three of their finest. These are the men who do the hard detail work of diplomacy. They, and men and women like them, are America's first line of defense.
As has already been noted, the highest tribute we can pay to Ambassador Robert Frasure, Dr. Joseph Kruzel, and Colonel Nelson Drew is to finish their work and to bring peace to the Balkans.
Toward that end, Secretary Christopher, Secretary Perry, National Security Advisor Lake, Ambassador Albright, Deputy National Security Advisor Berger, and Deputy Secretary of State Talbott, and others, met following the ceremonies to re-enforce the peace process in the Balkans. That meeting was held at Andrews Air Force Base, since Secretary Perry had to leave this afternoon for a long-standing speaking engagement to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Arizona.
In that meeting, they reviewed the status of the Balkan peace process. They made plans to meet tomorrow with Ambassador Holbrooke and General Clark after those two men have had some time to spend with their families.
Reflecting the ceremony that had just taken place, the meeting was somber but there was a real sense of commitment among all to move the process forward. They began discussing who might join and re-enforce the team led by Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and General Clark.
I want to dissuade you from any notion that the process for the pursuit of peace in the Balkans is faltering. It's not. There's a real, concrete determination to move this process forward. We expect the team to be back in Europe within a week. We believe this is clearly the best opportunity we've had to pursue a peaceful solution to this conflict, and we're determined not to let it slip from our grasp.
Do you have any questions?
Q Your remark, "your attempt to dissuade us from any notion that the process is faltering," is based, it seems to me, on an assertion of determination. Apart from the determination which is clear and has been stated by the Secretary and by lots of other people, what is it that these folks accomplished out there in the last week? What is it that they accomplished when three Americans who were part of this process lost their lives?
All we're hearing is how your idea of swapping Gorazde for part of Sarajevo wasn't acceptable to the Muslims. Your attempt to get Milosevic to recognize Bosnia hasn't been achieved. Of course, your over-arching attempt to persuade the Bosnian Serbs to negotiate hasn't succeeded.
I know you're not faltering in a spiritual sense. But what have you accomplished in a real sense this last week?
MR. JOHNSON: We've had a number of opportunities to meet with the parties involved. We've had some opportunities to explain the concepts and ideas that were first brought to Europe by National Security Advisor Lake and Under Secretary Tarnoff. We believe we've made some progress, that those meetings have been useful meetings.
We do not underestimate how difficult this process is going to be, but we're determined to see it out.
Q Would you challenge any of the three points I raised?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm simply not going to engage on the details of those discussions. We believe we stand the best chance of making progress when we have an opportunity to talk to the parties privately and to try to explain those concepts and ideas which we have and to try to bring them to a point where they can negotiate a peaceful solution to this conflict.
Q The New York Times report said Karadzic had sent a letter to President Clinton expressing his condolences over the deaths of the three diplomats; and in sort of a chiding way, saying that they did after all take a very dangerous route in their attempt to get to Sarajevo. Were there alternate routes available? And do you have any comment about Karadzic comments in that report?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to comment specifically on the report. I would note that we have received messages of condolences from all of the parties. As we discussed here on Sunday afternoon, they took that route into Sarajevo because they needed to meet with Bosnian officials. It was the only route where their security could be assured. There were no alternative routes that were available for their use.
Q Would you characterize it as disingenuous of them to say that they took a dangerous route?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't want to characterize it. I'll tell you the facts. They took that route because it was the one that was available to them.
Q Let me just clarify it. Did anybody try to secure another route through Bosnian-Serb territory and were turned down?
MR. JOHNSON: There were no other routes available.
Q On the meeting at Andrews -- I think I'm right -- Holbrooke was not part of the meeting?
MR. JOHNSON: No. Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and General Clark left Andrews Air Force Base with their families. This has been a very difficult time for them. They will be meeting with the Secretary and others tomorrow in order to push the process forward.
Q Then, is it possible to infer that at that meeting there was no discussion of the substance of this last exploration by the Holbrooke team?
MR. JOHNSON: No. I don't think you could draw that inference at all. I believe that Assistant Secretary Holbrooke has had several opportunities to talk to the Secretary and others on the phone. We know what the nature of their exchanges were during the process of their meetings over the last several days. But this was a meeting more to reflect on what they had accomplished and to talk about how they could re-enforce their team.
There was some discussion of some individuals who might be added to that team to re-enforce it. I'm not in a position to give you any names today. There was a meeting so that we could avoid losing any time and get the process back on track as fast as possible -- or get the team back in the field as quick as possible; more to the point.
Q Are you expecting that Contact Group -- a Political Director's meeting -- to take place in the next week?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't have a date for you. I believe the team will be back in Europe within a week.
Q Back in the Balkans?
MR. JOHNSON: Back in Europe. I'm not sure, in terms of a timetable, where they will be during that time.
Q David, could you take a specific question with regard to the accident? A couple of specific questions. One that was raised by a report I heard on NPR on Saturday was that the APC pulled to the shoulder. I take it the outside, the down-slope side of the mountain, just before that road base gave way. Is that an accurate report, that the French driver went to the shoulder?
MR. JOHNSON: It's our understanding that in order to allow an on- coming convoy to pass that the APC pulled over onto a shoulder which, due to rain, gave way. The APC tumbled down the hill some 400 to 500 yards.
Q I understand it's even described as spinning down the hill and taking all the trees -- clearing all the trees -- as it went. I understand there were seven human beings in that APC, four of which survived. How? Did they ride that spinning APC all the way to the bottom with our three guys that died?
MR. JOHNSON: Several of the people -- and they did survive -- there were two, as you know, who were injured who returned with the party today. As far as I know, they remained inside the vehicle until it came to a stop. I'm not certain on that point.
Q David, could I go back to your opening statement on the Jerusalem bombing?
MR. JOHNSON: You may. If we're finished with --
Q Can I ask one more Bosnia question?
MR. JOHNSON: Sure.
Q The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh is supposed to meet with the Deputy Secretary tomorrow morning to discuss this question of the Islamic force that would replace UNPROFOR. What's the status of that?
MR. JOHNSON: We've had a number of discussions with a number of folks who might be able to make a contribution, but I don't have anything specific to the meeting that is going to be held tomorrow -- or you say it's going to be held. I can't confirm that. I simply don't know, Tom. I'd be glad to look into that.
Q Can I ask you a related question? Is there a State Department position on the U.N. decision to withdraw armed peacekeepers from Gorazde?
MR. JOHNSON: We've noted that the British, I believe, plan to withdraw their contingent from Gorazde. I would note in that context that we have every intention of keeping the commitments that we made in London to protect Gorazde, if necessary, with air power. That's not a decision we're changing based on the planned departure of on-the-ground peacekeepers who are there.
Q Well, it's a clear answer, but the U.S. isn't on the ground.
MR. JOHNSON: We're capable of being in the air, Barry.
Q I understand, and you can do a lot of damage from the air, too. You can have some powerful effect. But the point is that the peacekeepers are pulling out and the story is moving along now. Evidently, the U.N. has offered to send in unarmed peacekeepers. The Bosnian Government -- I forget which official -- has said that's inadequate and it's not keeping faith with, of course, the commitment, that Gorazde be a protected zone.
So on that whole general picture, is the State Department concerned with this shift from armed peacekeepers to unarmed peacekeepers?
MR. JOHNSON: We believe we're going to be able to keep the commitments that we've made.
Q The U.S. is going to keep the commitments.
MR. JOHNSON: Right.
Q But are the others keeping their commitments?
MR. JOHNSON: The commitment that we've made along with others is to protect Gorazde, if necessary using air power.
Q You restated your intentions to move the peace process forward, but the Croatian army continues in its military engagements. Isn't there some concern that while you will put a team together and they will be back in the region within a week that there will be a loss of momentum, or that there will be some further military gains on the ground that will affect or influence the parties?
MR. JOHNSON: We continue to believe that the use of armed force to try to change the situation on the ground is extremely risky. It risks the outbreak of a wider conflict. We have continued to urge all of the parties to avoid the use of force and to use this time to try to come together and settle this conflict at the negotiating table.
Q When is the Secretary resuming his vacation?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything for you definitely on that.
Q He is in town tomorrow.
MR. JOHNSON: He is in town tomorrow, and we expect him here tomorrow.
Q Do you know if he'll be at the Wednesday ceremony?
MR. JOHNSON: I would imagine so, but I don't have anything firm for you on his schedule.
Q Do you have anything on other people who will attend the memorial service?
MR. JOHNSON: At this point I do not. We have people here with the Military District of Washington and with others associated with the Department of Defense, who are working on those issues now, and we're in the process of working them out. But I don't have a list of speakers or a program that will take place. It's my understanding it's going to take place at Fort Myer.
Q Are you aware of any foreign dignitaries who will come for this?
MR. JOHNSON: At this point I'm not.
Q Has there been any change on the Administration position on the issue of lifting the arms embargo? Apparently there was a report that this is one of the weapons that the delegation was using to force a settlement.
MR. JOHNSON: We have not changed our position. We're in favor of a multilateral life of the arms embargo, and we continue to believe that a unilateral lift is not in the best interests of the United States or in the best interests of peace in the area.
Q So it was not used as one of the weapons to pressure the parties.
MR. JOHNSON: I can only restate our position.
Q David, is the truce -- or the status quo at least holding as of today?
MR. JOHNSON: There's a fair amount of violence in the area. I would not call it a truce.
Q Let's just ask it this way. Has there been an increase in violence here over the weekend or -- especially in --
MR. JOHNSON: I mean, you're going to have to get a little more specific with your question. There continue to be outbreaks of violence which trouble us, and we are continuing to urge all of the parties to exercise restraint.
Q Specifically in the Dubrovnik area where there's been a buildup, is there an offensive underway or about -- do we foresee such?
MR. JOHNSON: The situation there continues to be tense, and the Croatian forces are now shelling Trebinje in response to the shelling of the suburbs of Dubrovnik by the Bosnian Serbs.
Q Have you got any concern at all that when the Congress comes back, they might be voting on the lifting the arms embargo, and there's a possibility they can override the President's veto?
MR. JOHNSON: I think the President's veto statement states our position on that as clearly and succinctly as I can. We're determined to work with the Congress and to sustain that veto.
Q Want to go to the Middle East?
MR. JOHNSON: Jim, you had a question on --
Q Yes. Going back to the Secretary's statement on the bombing in Israel, he said the people of Israel are determined to go ahead with the peace process. But according to reports that we see on the wire, there have been demonstrations by right-wingers throughout Israel -- every large city -- demanding an end to the peace process. Do you discount those?
MR. JOHNSON: The Secretary has today spoken with Mr. Rabin, and the Secretary had an opportunity to convey his condolences. It's our understanding, based on that conversation, the Israeli Government plans to move forward after a short suspension.
Q He called Rabin?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes.
Q The Israeli Government is not exactly saying the same thing necessarily. It's the people of Israel, right?
MR. JOHNSON: They're their elected representatives.
Q By every account, there's more than a majority of Israelis very skeptical of this process, but if the Secretary wants to say the Israelis are for it, we'll take his word for then. But how does the Secretary and how do all the people who helped shape this policy know that the concessions, the process involving Israeli concessions, troop pullbacks, turning over territory to the PLO doesn't inspire attacks on Israel. How do you know that it works the other way, that it enhances Israel's security? What do you have to come to that judgment? What do you base it on? There have been more people killed since this process began than were killed before. Is that just -- how do you come to these conclusions, these scientifically unsupportable conclusions?
MR. JOHNSON: I would not discount the anger of those who would like to derail this process and to incite more violence in the region. But based on the evidence that we have, based on the cooperation that the Israeli security authorities have been able to have with the Palestinian authority and the bombings that have been stopped, the work that's been done in that area, we believe that there's real progress been made under this framework.
Q You feel Israel is more secure now than it was before the process began.
MR. JOHNSON: We believe the peace process has the best hope for making Israel secure, yes.
Q Wouldn't you agree to the proposition but in the meantime Israel's less secure than it was?
MR. JOHNSON: No, I wouldn't agree to that proposition.
Q Then what does the death toll signify?
MR. JOHNSON: The death toll signifies that those who are against the peace process are willing to go to great lengths in order to try to derail it.
Q But, as you said, you're kind of insecure, aren't you? I mean, if there are more deaths, it demonstrates insecurity.
MR. JOHNSON: Barry, if you'd like to have a debate --
Q No, I don't want to have a debate, but you guys put these things out -- these platitudes, and you have nothing to back them up with.
MR. JOHNSON: We believe we have things to back them up with.
Q Well, I doubt that you do. Do you think that the PLO and the Palestinian -- there have been Israeli Cabinet members, even people who support Mr. Rabin, are speaking of a lack of what they think -- they're thinking that the PLO hasn't done an adequate job insofar as security is concerned. In light of this event -- I mean, it's timely to ask every time there's a major disaster -- if the U.S. is satisfied with the arrangements being taken for security?
MR. JOHNSON: We're working with the parties. We believe that they're making progress.
Q On security?
MR. JOHNSON: On the issues that confront them, including that.
Q Are you making any progress on the Hamas leader that is in captivity? Any legal progress insofar as --
MR. JOHNSON: I believe that that's something that the Palestinians and the Israelis are taking -- oh, you're referring to the gentleman in New York.
Q Yes, the gentleman whose name I cannot recall.
MR. JOHNSON: It's an ongoing judicial process. In the United States those are handled by the Department of Justice.
Q The Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, Mr. Bellochi, said during the weekend he said if China uses force against Taiwan, the U.S. will meet its commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act. But can you clarify what does that mean for the "U.S. will fulfill its commitment under Taiwan Relations Act"?
MR. JOHNSON: The United States would act in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act in case that were to occur.
Q And can you elaborate a little bit more than that?
MR. JOHNSON: That is our position.
Q Quick housekeeping question. Are you going back to the summer schedule? No briefing tomorrow, or do you know yet?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't know yet.
Q Back on Taiwan. What does the Act require -- that the United States consult or --
MR. JOHNSON: I'd refer you to the Act. I don't have it in front of me here. It's very specific.
Q David, the PRC has announced some amphibious exercises coming up, perhaps as early as the 1st of September that will be demonstrations -- military demonstrations in the Taiwan area. What does the United States Government say to this kind of possible provocation or aggression?
MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't associate myself with your remarks. I'm unfamiliar with the exercise that you refer to. We've made ourselves clear in the past when exercises have been held in that area. I wouldn't expect our reaction to be any different if this exercise is in fact scheduled.
Q Did you learn anything new from Hussein Kamel in Jordan about the Iraqi nuclear programs?
MR. JOHNSON: I think we've said a number of times from this lectern that we're neither going to confirm nor deny that we have had any contact with the gentleman to whom you refer.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 3:25 p.m.)
(###)To the top of this page