U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/08/23 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, August 23, l995 Briefer: David Johnson DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS Briefings by Ambassador Albright, Under Secretary Wirth and Assistant Secretary Holbrooke .......................1 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Secretary Christopher's Meetings with Diplomatic. Representatives and Bosnian Foreign Minister ............2 New Diplomatic Team/Further Diplomatic Initiatives ........2-3,7,12 Reconstruction of Balkan Economies ........................4-5 Contact Group Meeting .....................................6 Use of Access Routes ......................................6-7 CHINA Possible Trial of Harry Wu ................................8 Travel by Under Secretary Tarnoff .........................9 Birthday of Deng Xiaoping .................................9 Visas for Women's Conference ..............................9-11 ZAIRE Expulsion of Refugees/Department Statement ................11 INDIA Kashmir--Hostage Situation ................................11-12 ARMS CONTROL Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing ................13-14 (###)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23, 1995, 3:02 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon. Thank you for your patience. Like yesterday, I've just come from a memorial service, so that's the reason we're starting a bit later than we try to.
Let me tell you about a couple of housekeeping things over the next several days that you might want to be aware of.
On Thursday, that is tomorrow at noon, as we've previously announced, Ambassador Albright and Under Secretary Wirth will have an on- the-record briefing here on the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women.
On Friday, at mid-day -- I'm not certain at exactly what time, we'll get something more precise -- Assistant Secretary Holbrooke will conduct a briefing here on his forthcoming visit back to Europe. And for other topics during those two days, Mr. Dinger will be available to you, meeting with you in the Press Room.
Q Will Thursday's special briefing be followed by a regular briefing?
MR. JOHNSON: It will not.
Q Nor will Friday?
MR. JOHNSON: Nor will Friday.
Q (Inaudible) time the briefing on Friday?
MR. JOHNSON: I think I just mentioned that I don't have a specific time for you yet. I'll let you know as soon as that's available.
As we get started today, I'd like to bring you up to date on some things you may be aware of, some not, concerning the diplomacy that's been going on today concerning the former Yugoslavia.
The Secretary met this morning with Bosnian Foreign Minister Sacirbey, who is part of the diplomatic process that we're engaged in, trying to bring peace to the Balkans. That meeting was preceded by a meeting with Mr. Holbrooke. Mr. Sacirbey is also going to be meeting with folks at Treasury later on this afternoon.
As many of you are aware, Foreign Minister Sacirbey was related by marriage, I believe a cousin of Joe Kruzel, and was in town both as a diplomat and as a family member for the memorial service today and for the funeral tomorrow.
In addition to that, Secretary Christopher opened a briefing today for a number of diplomats who were in town for the memorial service. It included the political directors from France, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Ambassador from Russia. In addition, Carl Bildt and Thorvald Stoltenberg representing the European Union were there, as were representatives from the Governments of Canada, Spain, and Italy.
It was a briefing on the efforts that had been undertaken over the last several weeks, first by National Security Advisor Lake and Under Secretary Tarnoff, and then over the last few days by the Holbrooke- Clark team in the Balkans.
The Secretary emphasized the continuing U.S. commitment to our current diplomatic initiative despite the loss of Frasure, Kruzel, and Drew. Assistant Secretary Holbrooke then briefed on his productive but inconclusive talks which have taken place over the last few days in the region.
Following the memorial service today, as Mike McCurry has already briefed a bit with the folks from the White House pool, the President met with his senior foreign policy advisors, including the Secretaries of State and Defense, Ambassador Albright, General Shalikashvili.
In addition to that group, he also met with the new team which Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and General Clark will be leading back to Europe this weekend. The President thanked the team for their willingness to go back and underlined his belief in the need to press ahead.
I would want to say that the new team is not a one-for-one replacement for those who have been lost so tragically. They are irreplaceable. But it's a new team that's designed to help build on the work that they did.
I draw, in particular, your attention to the appointment of Roberts Owen, a former legal advisor at the Department of State from 1979 to 1981. Mr. Owen is a partner in the Washington law firm of Covington & Burling. He has a great deal of experience as an international lawyer, having worked with Secretary Christopher on the Algiers Accords and is a noted international lawyer, especially on constitutional issues. He's going to be of great assistance to Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and General Clark and the rest of the team as they move into the region again to try to work toward a peaceful settlement of this dispute.
Holbrooke and his team will be leaving over this weekend and, as Foreign Minister Sacirbey said, will be going on to Paris initially to meet there with President Izetbegovic.
Following that meeting, and later in the week, he and the team will be going on to the Balkans to meet with the parties there and to try to move forward on the diplomatic initiative that we've undertaken.
If you have questions, I'll try to answer them.
Q On that team business, you meant the whole group? Not just the new people?
MR. JOHNSON: I meant the whole group. I meant the leadership -- Mr. Holbrooke, General Clark, Mr. Owen.
Q And who met with them, Christopher or the President?
MR. JOHNSON: The President and his foreign policy team met with the new group as well as General Clark and Mr. Holbrooke.
Q Earlier you had Holbrooke describing his mission as productive but inconclusive talks. Did he use that phrase?
MR. JOHNSON: That is the phrase. That's the phrase that --
Q He said that?
MR. JOHNSON: You should attribute that to me.
Q I'd rather find out what he said. There were about 27 meetings here without any access to the press, without giving the press any access. We're looking to do some direct reporting on what these various players said. If you knew that was the phrase, I would take your word for it, but you're not sure it's the phrase he used. You're not sure it's a phrase he used?
MR. JOHNSON: I cannot be certain it is a phrase that came from his lips; no, I cannot.
Q The fact that Minister Sacirbey is going to the Treasury, I gather also to the World Bank -- does that mean that a central part of this part of the process is the reconstruction, the rehabilitation funding that Bosnia is seeking as a price for its participation in the process?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd say it means that in order to have a durable peace, you first have to have the peace, but you also have to have an economically viable area where people are living on things other than relief from the world community, where they have a functioning economy.
In order for us to have a successful and durable negotiation, we're going to have to include not only the settlement of hostilities, but also some economic issues are going to have to be addressed as well.
Q On that, David, in speaking to reporters, the Foreign Minister -- at least five times -- referred to reconstruction of his country. It would not be unusual for the U.S. Government to encourage a country to make concessions by promising them assistance coming along. It's been done before, and Bosnia is being asked to make serious concessions.
Can you tell us if the U.S. has a plan to provide assistance or intention to provide assistance? Or are you thinking more in terms at this stage at least of setting up some international program to help whatever that new thing will be?
MR. JOHNSON: At this stage, we have a number of concepts and ideas we're trying to build eventually into a peace settlement in this region. As I noted, that's going to have to include more than just a cessation of hostilities. It's going to have to include some reconstruction and it's going to have include viable economies. But I'm not going to get into the notion of whether we're asking people to trade things off for one thing or another.
Q I don't want to get into that. I'm happy to draw that conclusion. The question is whether the U.S. is thinking in terms of American assistance or helping establish some international program?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm sure that no matter what comes out of this it will require a broad level of participation from a broad number of countries. It certainly would not be simply an American initiative.
Q David, on that point -- on reconstruction -- does the U.S. envision a reconstruction involving the entire Balkans, or are we talking specifically about Bosnia?
MR. JOHNSON: I think at this point we're working very hard on trying to translate the concepts and ideas that we first brought to Europe a few weeks ago into a durable peace settlement. As part of that, we're going to have to work on the economies in the area. I think it's going to have to include a broad spectrum, but Bosnia is the area where the war has principally taken place. So that's where the principal focus is going to have to be.
MR. JOHNSON: It's certainly a wide area. I'm not prepared to get beyond what I've said in terms --
Q But you do use the plural when you say "economies."
MR. JOHNSON: I do use the "Balkans" when I'm describing the area.
Q The Foreign Minister also said that he felt that there was a one to two-month window of opportunity here for negotiations. Do you agree with his assessment?
MR. JOHNSON: I agree that we need to press forward quickly and take advantage of the new dynamic that's been created on the ground. I do not agree that we are boxed in by any particular timetable. We're going to work as hard as we can and as fast we can in order to draw these hostilities to a conclusion, but I'm not going to be pinned down to any sort of specific goal or timetable that we have.
Q The itinerary -- you've straightened it considerably, maybe there are some more details you can fill in. Paris is -- well, first of all, McCurry (Mike) said they leave Sunday. Do you know the day they'll meet in Paris? Will it be only at the convenience of the Bosnians being there? That takes care of meeting, or at least that's for a Bosnian Government meeting. Then onto the Balkans -- what? -- to make several stops, to see all the parties?
MR. JOHNSON: We anticipate them being in the region for a considerable period of time. I'm not going to outline all other stops for reasons that I think are even more clear this week than they were last week, about the need to maintain the security of these individuals as they try to do their work.
I anticipate them being there for a period of time in order to have visits in various areas, but I'm not going to project one stop after another. That's just not appropriate.
In terms of their going, they're going to Paris first. They'll be there a day or two and then they will move into the region.
Q So that is not an occasion for the U.S. meeting with other governments?
MR. JOHNSON: You bring up a good point, and I thank you for that. In addition to the meeting with Izetbegovic which will take place in Paris, there will be a meeting of the Contact Group, which will take place after we've had a chance to meet with the Bosnians.
Q That is at the political-director level?
MR. JOHNSON: Political-director level.
Q In Paris?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes, probably in Paris.
Q The Bosnian Serbs say that they have offered use of a better road than the one that was used over Mt. Igman, and that there will be no problems if American diplomats take that road. Is that an offer that the U.S. plans to accept?
MR. JOHNSON: We made clear earlier this week that we took the road that we took not because it was the route that we wished to take but because it was the only one over which we could get assurances that we could safely travel. We would be pleased to explore other routes which could prove safer.
Q So you're pleased to explore it, but you don't necessarily believe that commitment that has been forthcoming?
MR. JOHNSON: I was unfamiliar with that commitment before you announced it to me. So I wouldn't want to accept it based on your statement.
Q President Karadzic said it in a communication to the U.S. Government that that was something that they were offering.
MR. JOHNSON: If we can work out assurances on other routes, we will, of course, look into those. We will take the safest possible route for our negotiators should they need to return to that area.
Q On that point, David, is there any communication now between the U.S. Government and the Bosnian Serb Government in Pale?
MR. JOHNSON: Beyond the note that Karadzic sent, I'm unfamiliar with any sort of channel of communication, as you describe it.
Q At any point in this exploration initiative -- or whatever you call this process -- is there any thought of bringing the Bosnian Serbs into it even at the minimum of simply advising them what the state of play is?
MR. JOHNSON: I think I said a week or so ago that they are a party to the conflict; eventually, they will have to be a party to the solution of the conflict. I'm not in a position to forecast exactly when we're going to be perhaps meeting with them, but I'm not going to foreclose it.
Q Do you have anything more on Owens' background? I notice you mentioned some of the things he did 15 years ago, and you did not mention he does have some experience in Balkans. Do you have any information at all on that?
MR. JOHNSON: We're going to have a more complete biographical piece for you at the conclusion of this briefing that we'll be pleased to provide you.
I didn't mention that. It is mentioned in the announcement of him and others that he's currently the Bosnian Federation arbitrator, and he has a great deal of experience, as you point out.
Q I take it at this point the replacements are one-for-one. But in his case, is he the new "Frasure?"
MR. JOHNSON: No, I would not characterize him that way. He's a senior advisor to the Secretary of State on the former Yugoslavia. It's a position where we hope to take advantage of some unique skills and talents that he has.
Q But he isn't necessarily the traveling man that Frasure was?
MR. JOHNSON: The team that --
Q I don't mean this trip.
MR. JOHNSON: I think this is a different team. It's not the same team. It's not a one-for-one situation. How we move on from this encounter with the parties during this next trip, what the next permutation and how we pursue that, I think, is something that is yet to be worked out.
Q Do the four new people go on this trip?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes, they will.
Q And who is the representative on the Contact Group?
MR. JOHNSON: I believe Mr. Holbrooke will fill that role.
Q He will be on it?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes.
MR. JOHNSON: Yes.
Q Anything on a Harry Wu trial?
MR. JOHNSON: Since Mr. Wu's incarceration, we have held quiet diplomatic discussions with the Chinese regarding his imprisonment. We've made our point repeatedly on issues regarding access and our belief that he should be released promptly for humanitarian reasons. But I'm not in a position to go into any details about the discussions that we've had.
As you're aware, Mr. Tarnoff will be going to China this weekend. Among the issues he's going to be discussing is the case of Mr. Wu. I think for the time being, I'll just leave it there.
Q You have nothing to say about a trial or a lack of a trial?
MR. JOHNSON: I do not.
Q David, if the Harry Wu case is resolved promptly, will it make it possible for the First Lady to go to Beijing?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd say that the Wu case has certainly been a difficulty that we've had to contend with in our relations with China. But I'll also say, as I've said many times before, that any announcement on Mrs. Clinton's plans to go to China or not to go to China are going to come from the White House and not from here.
Q Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui announced yesterday that he will be running for re-election. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. JOHNSON: I do not. We have unofficial relations with authorities on Taiwan.
Q Can we stay on China?
MR. JOHNSON: Sure.
Q We asked before if Peter Tarnoff would make any move to meet with Harry Wu personally. Is there any word on that?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of any plans to meet directly with Mr. Wu. I think when you asked that first, I noted the geographical distance between Beijing and where Mr. Wu was currently being held, and I wouldn't anticipate a meeting. I would anticipate, and have anticipated before, that the subject would certainly be part of his discussions.
Q Also, is there any U.S. comment on the statement today by Xinhua, the Chinese news service which mentions avoiding the "Cold War II," and terminology like that -- incredibly critical of U.S. policy toward China?
MR. JOHNSON: I haven't read the piece to which you refer. I think that Mr. Tarnoff's trip represents our effort to re-establish a productive relationship with China, building on the meeting that the Secretary had with Foreign Minister Qian in Brunei and the one that he anticipates having in New York as part of the U.N. General Assembly.
Q David, does the Department have a belated birthday message for Deng Xiaoping? (Laughter)
MR. JOHNSON: No. I asked that question yesterday and was told that it was our practice to provide greetings to governments on their national days and not to individual leaders.
Q Another one on China?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes.
Q On the visa situation, is there any good news, or any progress?
MR. JOHNSON: I would not characterize it that way. China is issuing visas to some Americans who intend to participate in the Fourth World Conference on Women and in the related forum for non-governmental organizations.
There are, however, still several hundred U.S. citizens who intend to travel to China this week and early next who have contacted the Department to inform us that they have yet to obtain their visas.
China has denied very few visas to American citizens. But many have already missed flights to China because of the delays and have found it difficult or impossible to reschedule their travel.
Ambassador Albright, as Chairman of the Delegation, has met with Chinese Ambassador and Permanent Representative Chen, and conveyed our concerns about the delays and denials.. She's asked him to use all available means to expedite visa processing for all U.S. citizens who have met the criteria to attend the meeting. Department officials here as well as our Embassy in Beijing have also expressed similar concern to people with the Chinese Government with whom they have spoken.
Ambassador Albright has also expressed these views to Secretary General Boutros Ghali and to other senior officials at the U.N.
It remains our view that in order for this to be a successful conference, the participation of NGO representatives must be facilitated.
Q There's the supposition that the Chinese will delay until the conference is over? Is that what you're suggesting?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to draw that conclusion for you. It's our belief that they need to issue the visas now so that the individuals can --
Q But some people have already missed flights and, presumably, can't go -- can't make other arrangements?
MR. JOHNSON: That is a correct statement.
Q Do you see this as part of the continuing Cold War that's broken out between China and the United States?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to draw that description for you. I'm simply going to state that we believe it's China's obligation to issue these visas promptly and to ensure this conference is a productive one and one where both official delegations and delegations to the NGO forum have the opportunity to participate.
Q David, just to round that out. Have the Chinese here in Washington had any comment that you can pass along to us? Are they working as hard as they can? Did they know what's happening?
MR. JOHNSON: They have not given us a response which satisfies all of our concerns.
Q Do you have any comment on the situation in Zaire which seems to be getting worse?
MR. JOHNSON: I do. In fact, I have a statement on the situation in Zaire.
The United States is deeply concerned by the Zairian Government's forcible repatriation of refugees from eastern Zaire since August 19. We acknowledge the great burden that hosting these refugees places on the people of Zaire, Tanzania, and Burundi. We recognize these governments' frustration with the slow pace of efforts to achieve a long-term, viable solution to the regional refugee crisis.
The United States calls for an immediate halt to the forced repatriation of refugees from Zaire. This action risks a grave humanitarian crisis and an increase in tensions not long along Zaire's border with Rwanda but within Zaire itself, as refugees seeking to escape repatriation scatter through the countryside in increasing numbers.
We're deeply disturbed by the prospect of confrontations between Zairian security forces, the Zairian population, forces of the former government of Rwanda, and refugees.
We're calling on all parties to uphold international principles of asylum and humanitarian treatment to protect the stability of the region. We believe all parties should refocus on organizing the orderly, voluntary repatriation in partnership with the international community. We support the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to work with all parties toward that end.
Q David, has the State Department seen the photographs and purported tape recordings released by the kidnappers of the Westerners in Kashmir? Do you think, one, they're genuine? And do you draw any conclusions from them?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware that we have seen the documents which you refer. I'm not excluding it. I just don't have any information for you on it.
We remain deeply concerned about those hostages' safety. We're in close contact with the Indian authorities in both New Delhi and in Kashmir. We're continuing to work with all concerned parties for the safe return of the remaining hostages.
I'd note that on August 16, we re-issued a public announcement which strongly urged private U.S. citizens traveling in India to avoid all travel to Jammu and Kashmir.
Q David, has there been a high-level U.S. contact with Pakistan over this issue?
MR. JOHNSON: With Pakistan?
MR. JOHNSON: We've had a continuing engagement with our embassies in the region -- with their interlocutors -- and trying to encourage anyone who might have any influence at all, to exercise it.
If you're referring to an allegation in the Indian press about a White House contact, the White House as not contacted anyone about this issue.
Q Can I just go back to Bosnia and the new team for a moment?
MR. JOHNSON: Surely.
Q If this is all known, just let me know. How much of the other three -- you mentioned the one person who has got a fair amount of background on Bosnia. How much of the other three have got some knowledge of Bosnia or other expertise that might fit in?
And, secondly, was there sort of a second tier under Frasure, Kruzel, and Drew who were training to sort of training to go for the next round? Are these people who were there just on the back burner sort of thing and have now been brought forward?
MR. JOHNSON: We try to keep as deep a bench as possible when we're dealing with issues which are as important and require as much attention as the Balkans.
Two of these individuals, in particular, have current ongoing work on the Balkans which they will be able to draw. James Pardew is currently the Director of the Balkan Task Force in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Chris Hill is currently the Office Director for South-Central European Affairs for the State Department; and before this assignment, was our Charge in Albania.
Brigadier General Kerrick, I'm sure, has substantial expertise in the area because of his current work as Director of the National Military Intelligence Centers and his former work as a member of the National Security Council Staff. So they all bring a lot of talent to this.
I just wanted to note Mr. Owen, in particular, because he's coming from outside of the government; that he has had some rather outstanding credentials in this area, and I wanted to point those out.
Q Have any of those four traveled with Frasure, Kruzel, or Drew before -- while this initiative has been going on?
MR. JOHNSON: They were not part of the team that was in the Balkans when the tragedy took place, if that is your question. But they have a long association with the people in the Department working on Balkan issues, and they themselves, as individuals, have a lot of experience and a lot of expertise in the area which they will be able to bring to bear in their new roles.
Q David, the issue has to do with the Foreign Relations Committee hearing on loose nukes yesterday -- Senator Lugar's hearing. Specifically, a comment made by Senator Lugar who said -- I quote -- "Americans have every reason to anticipate acts of nuclear terrorism against American targets before this decade is out." I believe Mr. Osias from the Central Intelligence Agency earlier had said that he could confirm that on at least two occasions fissionable materials had escaped the Soviet Union, had been taken from Russia and transported outside of Russia. He thought it entirely possible that some material had been delivered.
So I ask you, does this Department share the concern of Mr. Osias and Mr. Lugar in their statements yesterday?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to make any predictions for you when bad things are going to occur. I will you that we're working with the Russians on fissile material security. One of the principle means we're doing that is through the Nunn-Lugar program which works on materials protection and control.
We're identifying and addressing problem areas so that potential problems don't become reality. We remain committed to that program.
Q And then, David, Mr. Bruce Blair of the Brookings Institution had a comment. He said, "To me, the overall picture is not that encouraging. In fact, it is a bit discouraging. The world remains unsafe as long as there are thousands of launch-ready nuclear weapons at the fingertips of a Russian command system that is tottering on the edge of civil collapse." Is this a point of view that this government is concerned about?
MR. JOHNSON: The world is an unsafe place. I'll concur with that. We believe that the command-and-control system that the Russians employ is reasonably safe. But we want to work with them, and we want to work on this issue related to fissile material security in order to improve our security further.
I think we've made great strides in the last several years on improving the security of the American people through a number of ways, working directly with the Russians and providing aid through such programs in the Nunn-Lugar program. It's something we want to continue.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 3:32 p.m.)
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