U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/08/29 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, August 29, l995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Introduction of Press Officer Alyson Shorter .............1 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Attack on Sarajevo: Responsibility, U.S. Condemnation ....1-2,6-7 --Acting Secretary Talbott Contacts w/Sec. Christopher, A/S Holbrooke ........................................1 --A/S Holbrooke Mtgs. in Paris, Departure to Belgrade ....1-2,5,7 --NATO, UN, U.S., other Country Contacts .................2-4 --Report of Russian FM Comment re: Military Response .....3 --Dual Key Arrangement ...................................4 --Protection of Safe Areas, UN Personnel .................2-3,17 CHINA Fourth UN Conference on Women/NGO Forum ..................7-9 --Visa Applications ......................................8-9 Foreign Ministry Spokesman's Comment re: Return of Ambassador Li to Washington ..............10 Replacement of American Ambassador .......................10-11 Report of Japan Govt's. Protest of China's Nuclear Tests .11 NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES GEORGIA--Bomb Explosion/President Shevardnadze Injured ...11-12 SOUTH ASIA Assistant Secretary Raphel's Trip to Region ..............12 INDIA U.S.-India Relations .....................................14 CONSULAR AFFAIRS Update on Kashmir Hostages ...............................14 CUBA Deputy A/S Anne Patterson Mtg. re: Flotillas to Cuba .....15 IRAQ Fighting in Northern Iraq: Kurdistan Democratic Party, Kurdish Workers Party ..................................16 Iraqi Defectors ..........................................16
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 1995, 1:23 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Before beginning the briefing today, I'd like to introduce to all of you our newest Press Officer, Alison Shorter. Alison is in the Foreign Service, has just returned from a three-year tour in our Embassy in Tunis, and before Tunis she served in Belgrade from 1990 until 1992. Alison has a degree in international relations from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and she is originally from the Washington, D.C., area. Welcome, Alison. These are your new colleagues. Lucky you and lucky us. Now I'll be prepared, George, to go to whatever may be on your mind today. I think I can guess. Q Right. Do you have an update on your thinking concerning the possibility of a military response with respect to the events of yesterday? MR. BURNS: George, let me get to that question, but let me first take you through what we've been doing for the past 24 hours, including this morning. As I think you know, the Administration has been intensively involved in this issue for the last 24 hours since the murderous and brutal attack on Sarajevo by the Bosnian Serbs. Acting Secretary of State Strobe Talbott has had several meetings this morning with his key advisers here in the Department, and he has been on the phone with Assistant Secretary of State Dick Holbrooke who remains in Paris. Mr. Talbott has communicated several times with Secretary Christopher over the last 24 hours. Secretary Christopher is in California, and he has stayed closely and actively in touch on this particular issue. Dick Holbrooke, as I said, remains in Paris where he had meetings yesterday. Today, starting very early in the day, he met with French Government officials early in the morning. He then had a meeting with representatives of our key allies in Europe. Following that, there was an expanded meeting of the Contact Group, which included officials from Spain, Italy and Canada. Following that meeting, he had another session with the Bosnian Foreign Minister, Mr. Sacirbey, and there was the possibility of further meetings with the Bosnian leadership, including with President Izetbegovic this evening in Paris. So Assistant Secretary Holbrooke will remain in Paris through this evening. He intends to depart tomorrow for Belgrade, where he will have talks with the leadership there, including President Milosevic. As you also know, officials from NATO and from the United Nations and from the United States and other countries have been in intense contact for the past day on the appropriate response to yesterday's attack. We now believe that 37 people were killed in this attack. Over 100 people were wounded. The United Nations has announced this morning that there is no doubt that this attack was carried out by the Bosnian Serbs, and this was the firm judgment of the United States yesterday. There is no doubt about who is responsible for yesterday's tragedy. The United States wishes to reiterate today our very strong condemnation of this attack. As we have said, this latest example of murderous behavior by the Bosnian Serbs will not be allowed to derail our efforts to find a political solution, a peaceful solution, ultimately to the Bosnian conflict, and that is why President Clinton and Secretary Christopher asked Assistant Secretary Holbrooke to travel to Europe to have the consultations and discussions that he is having this week. He intends to continue those efforts throughout this week. Q Have you seen the comment from the Bosnian Serb self-described parliament saying that they now welcome the American initiative? MR. BURNS: We've seen the comment. Words are cheap. Actions are more important. Yesterday's actions were murderous. They are reprehensible, and the Bosnian Serbs must be held accountable for those actions. Bill. Q Nick, are the U.N. personnel throughout Bosnia now secure? Are they out of where they might be taken hostage by the Bosnian Serbs? Has that preparation been made for some kind of retaliation? MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to direct that question to the U.N. authorities in Sarajevo and Zagreb and elsewhere. It's well known that there was a drawdown in Gorazde. It began last Friday. I think it was completed yesterday evening, and it leaves only a few people, as I understand it, in Gorazde, but you'll have to go to the U.N. for an accounting of just where their people are. Q There are reports this morning that the U.S. is recommending military action. Can you comment on them? MR. BURNS: George, I think everything you're hearing from us indicates that a military response is appropriate. Q Is there resistance to this idea among the people with whom you're consulting? MR. BURNS: What I think is not prudent to do is to go into the nature of the discussions that we have had and that others have had -- the NATO officials and U.N. officials involved. There has been a very intensive round of discussions over the last 24 hours, and obviously the emphasis here is on the search for an appropriate and effective response to yesterday's attack. But it wouldn't be prudent or wise for me to go into the nature of those discussions or to try to preview what the results of those discussions might be. Q Can you confirm that the Russian Foreign Minister is less enthusiastic than this government is about a military response? MR. BURNS: I cannot. I had hoped to talk to Dick Holbrooke, but I understand that he is in a meeting now in Paris, so I was unable to reach him. I don't have a briefing from him on what the nature of the Contact Group discussion was this morning. The Russians were represented, not at Kozyrev's level, but at a political director level this morning in Paris at that particular meeting. But I can't confirm that particular statement. Steve. Q As I understood it, the military reaction or retaliation was to have been swift and firm. It hasn't been swift, and since it hasn't happened you can't tell if it's firm. What is the delay? MR. BURNS: Again, Steve, I think I'm going to have to -- you're going to have to understand that it would be unwise for me and irresponsible even to discuss any of the military aspects of this question. They are being intensively discussed in the appropriate channels, and we'll have to just wait until those discussions are finished and wait for whatever result comes out of those discussions. Q But the decision would be made in what some people in this building call the "Smith channel." General Smith and Admiral Smith will make the decision without any reference to approval from higher civilian officials, either in Brussels or in New York. Is that right? MR. BURNS: As I said yesterday, there has been an improvement in the so-called "dual-key" arrangements, and this was instigated by the United States, called for by the United States in July. It means that military officials who have responsibility for military forces on the ground -- meaning General Rupert Smith, the British commander of U.N. forces, and Admiral Leighton Smith, the American commander of NATO forces in Italy -- those are the people who will discuss these questions. I understand that General Janvier, who is the overall U.N. Commander of U.N. forces in the region, has returned to the region and is also in contact -- involved in these discussions today. Q Nick, what would you say to those who would argue that military retaliation could close the window of opportunity for negotiation in the former Yugoslavia? MR. BURNS: I don't believe that to be the case. I don't think there are many people in our government nor in other governments who believe that to be the case. The fact is that the international community has said time and again, including most recently at the London Conference in mid-July and in subsequent meetings of NATO after that in late July and early August, that it has a responsibility to help contain the violence and to help protect the safe areas in the region, including Sarajevo. That responsibility is an important one, and it must be considered importantly by NATO and by the United Nations and by all the affected countries, including the United States. Therefore, an action like yesterday's has to be judged on its merits. It has to be judged appropriately, and there has to be an appropriate response developed to those events, and that's what we're working on. That's what everyone is working on today. We also stand committed, remain committed to the peace process. That is why Assistant Secretary Holbrooke is in the region. That's why he's working so hard to convince the Bosnian Serbs, the Government in Belgrade, as well as the Bosnian Government, that the time has come for peace. Yesterday we discussed this in great detail, and it remains our very firm judgment that the tide in this war has turned against the Bosnian Serbs. That was clearly the case as a result of the Croatian offensive, which was so decidedly against the interests and the positions of the Bosnian Serbs, and it remains so today. We think there is an opportunity for peace, and we think that opportunity should be grasped quite strongly by the Bosnian Serbs. Yesterday's action runs contrary to that opportunity for peace, and the Bosnian Serbs ought to wake up and understand that that opportunity still exists, but it won't exist forever. Q One follow-up. Has Mr. Holbrooke consulted Mr. Milosevic about the possible consequences as far as the Serbians are concerned about retaliation? Has that specific been brought up yet? MR. BURNS: Assistant Secretary Holbrooke has not been in touch with Mr. Milosevic since their prior discussions before the tragic accident a week ago Saturday near Sarajevo. He is going back to Belgrade to pick up again those discussions. I don't believe he's had any independent contact with him in the intervening time. But I think it should be clear to Mr. Milosevic, as it should be abundantly clear to the Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale and elsewhere, that there is an opportunity now. The international community, led by the United States, is ready to help achieve a negotiated settlement to this conflict. But that opportunity cannot exist forever and will not exist forever. The time has come now to negotiate. David. Q I understand that you don't think the statement by the Bosnian Serb parliament should have any effect on Western decision-making about whether there will be retaliation or not, but does it perhaps signal a breakthrough or the possibility of a breakthrough in the peace talks? MR. BURNS: It's unclear. We've heard a lot of talk in the past from the Bosnian Serb leadership, a lot of talk that has not produced any kind of effective or positive action. As I said before, words are cheap. Words are easy to use, especially at a time like this. It's much more important that the Bosnian Serb leadership commit itself in an active way by deeds. Yesterday's actions were not at all commensurate or consistent with the kind of commitment that we think that they have to make toward peace -- not in any way, shape or form, consistent with that commitment -- and they'll just have to indicate to us by their actions that they're interested in peace, and we hope very much that that will be the case in the coming days and weeks. Q Do you rule out the possibility that yesterday's incident was the product of a renegade faction of the Serbs who were acting in defiance of the wishes of the central authority? MR. BURNS: I have no idea if that's the case. I've not seen that particular theory floated. I would just say there is no doubt in our mind that the Bosnian Serb military leadership and military forces were responsible for yesterday's murderous attack. They launched the mortars that killed 37 people and wounded more than 100 people. The Bosnian Serb leadership is responsible for their military forces. They're responsible for the actions of their military forces, and they must bear responsibility and blame for this particular act of terrorism. Q Nick, on that point, yesterday, you were out first with the firm belief that this came from a Bosnian Serb position. You cited the examination of the crater in the marketplace. Do you have other indications -- radio intercepts or radar or anything -- to bolster that theory? MR. BURNS: We have a variety of means at our disposal to judge, from a military point of view, who is responsible for yesterday's attack. After analyzing the situation yesterday morning, after listening to the views of our Embassy in Sarajevo, which has been very actively involved, led by a very fine diplomat, John Menzies, and talking with U.N. military officials on the ground, it was absolutely and abundantly clear to us that the Bosnian Serbs are responsible. The United Nations took a bit longer time to make a very thorough, comprehensive investigation -- we're glad they did -- to analyze the crater and to make other military judgments. They concluded as early as this morning what we had concluded yesterday, and that is that the Bosnian Serbs are responsible. We had a variety of means available to us yesterday. We used them all, and we were left with the assurance in our own minds that the Bosnian Serbs were responsible. That has been re-enforced today, of course, by now the judgment of the United Nations. There was never a doubt in our mind, though, yesterday about this. Q Are there any talks -- are there any plans for Holbrooke to talk at all to the Bosnian Serbs on this trip? MR. BURNS: There are no plans for him to travel to Pale where the Bosnian Serb political leadership resides. He will be in Belgrade. He will be talking to the Serbian leadership there. I just don't know who else might be in Belgrade and whether or not they'll be other encounters, but there are no plans now for a meeting between Holbrooke and Karadzic or any of the other leaders. But I can't exclude the possibility that in Belgrade there may be other people present at some of these meetings. Q Has the U.S. requested that other people be present at those meetings in Belgrade? MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of that. I'm not aware that we have, Betsy. Q China? MR. BURNS: I just want to add an editorial comment. I can't believe we've exhausted Bosnia at this point, but I'm glad to go to China. Q If you have more to say -- MR. BURNS: I have nothing more to say. It's just somewhat abnormal for us, but I'm glad to go to China. Q Well, we're waiting for bombs, not words. On China, do you have any reaction to the Chinese Government's announcement that there is a small area set aside 30 kilometers outside Beijing where demonstrations may occur and only there? MR. BURNS: David, you're referring here to the Women's Conference? Right. Let me just say what we understand the situation to be. We understand that the Chinese Ministry of Public Security has designated a site for the non-governmental organizations as a demonstration area. This is now outside of Beijing. We've been told that the non-governmental organization meeting, apart from the U.N. Conference, will be able to hold demonstrations and to protest in this area should they wish. One of the main objectives of the non-governmental forum is to share experiences and exchange ideas among the participants. We very much -- the United States -- encourages an open exchange of views at the non-governmental forum as we do at the U.N. Conference in Beijing. In that regard, we fully expect that the Chinese Government will respect the freedom of speech by all participants, both at the U.N. Conference and at the non-governmental organization forum. The forum organizers are working closely, we understand, with the Government of China, to clarify the degree to which United Nations rules dealing with security and speech or local government rules will govern the behavior of those at the forum. The Chinese Government has not been, I understand, completely clear on this very important point. Obviously, the United States believes that the United Nations rules should prevail as they are less restrictive of freedom of speech. We have said time and again that this is a U.N. conference on women. It's very important that China, as the host, respect the freedoms that the many thousands of people coming from outside China -- particularly, most of them will be women delegates -- the freedoms that they enjoy in their own countries. China has an obligation to ensure that these people have the right to express themselves freely while they're in China for this particular conference or while they're at the non-governmental organization forum. Q Are you satisfied with the number of people who were given visas having applied for them to attend the conference? MR. BURNS: There have been a number of problems in that regard, David. The State Department has worked intensively and closely with the Government of China to try to make sure that everybody from our country who wants to participate can. I don't have available to me a scorecard of how well we've done. But I know that we've worked very actively, and I know this has gone, in some cases, to very senior levels, including the level of Under Secretary of State Peter Tarnoff who mentioned it in his discussions in Beijing over the weekend -- specific visa cases of American citizens who wanted to travel to Beijing and who encountered some trouble in doing so. Q Was there satisfaction on the cases he raised? MR. BURNS: I can't report on the specific cases. I can certainly look into that for you. But it's our expectation that will be the case - - that Americans who want to travel to Beijing will be allowed to travel there. Q Have you seen any pattern on the part of those who have been refused? Are they human rights activists or Tibetan activists? Is there anything in common with those women who have been refused for visas? MR. BURNS: Jim, I'm not aware that there has been a pattern. I can look into that and see if the people who are working directly on this have any views on this that might be useful to you. Q I'm kind of curious as to why you all of a sudden expect the Chinese to allow freedom of speech for demonstrations when they've already indicated that they won't allow demonstrations that are anti- Chinese. And, secondly, when you have said repeatedly, in the case of Harry Wu and in reference to Cuba and other countries, that when people go abroad they're subject to the rules of the country they're in? MR. BURNS: That is always the case whenever people travel beyond their own countries. But in this case, Charlie, it's a slightly different situation. China very much wanted to be the host of this particular U.N. Conference and the NGO forum. China undertook some responsibilities to the international community -- particularly to the United Nations -- in accepting the role of host. United Nations conferences are not meant to be conferences where people's points of view are repressed. They're meant to be conferences where people from all over the world can speak freely about the issues of the day -- in this case, about the issue of women and the future of women throughout the world. That is the very strong expectation that the United States has about this particular conference. We think that the Chinese Government has an obligation to allow these women to say what they want. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security has agreed to set up an area for protests, for demonstrations, outside the NGO forum. This is a very good step. We just want to make sure that now having set up this mechanism, these people will be, in fact, allowed to express themselves freely, as we've said time and again, repeatedly, over the last couple of months as we've discussed this conference. Q Your Chinese colleagues seem to make a linkage between the return of Ambassador Li to Washington with their approval of James Sasser as the U.S. Ambassador. Do you have any comment on this linkage? MR. BURNS: Let me just say, Ron, I would, of course, defer to my Chinese colleagues on any announcement on the subject of the return of the Chinese Ambassador to the United States. I note that the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Mr. Chen Jian, indicated this morning that Ambassador Li Daoyu would return to Washington at an appropriate time. We very much welcome this. We would welcome his early return to Washington because this would help facilitate daily communication between the Government of China and the Government of the United States. This relationship deserves to have and ought to have the highest possible representation of both countries in respective capitals. So we await the return of the Ambassador of China to the United States, but it is, of course, up to the Government in Beijing to announce that return. As for an American Ambassador in China, to replace Stapleton Roy, who has departed China, the White House has not made an announcement on an American nominee for Ambassador to China, so I would have to refer you to the White House for any further information. But as I said yesterday, Under Secretary of State Tarnoff made very clear to the Chinese leadership, in his talks over the weekend, that we do have an individual in mind; that we would like that individual to receive agrement, which is the time-honored diplomatic process whereby one nation agrees to the nomination of another as ambassador in that country. We would very much like to have an American Ambassador in Beijing this autumn, and we expect that will be the case. Q Are you saying then that they gave agrement to the U.S. suggestion? MR. BURNS: No, I think I used the conditional tense. I didn't use the past tense. No, we would very much like this to happen, George; but they have not yet given agrement to the individual in question. Q Once they do, then you have to get past Jesse Helms who may be a bigger obstacle than Beijing? MR. BURNS: In diplomacy, sometimes you take things on a step-by- step basis. This is a first step. We're dealing with the Government of China, and we'll deal with the Government of China. Then when the Government of China has granted agrement, as we hope and expect that it will do, then we'll deal with the confirmation process which is sometimes quite interesting here in the United States, and we look forward to that. We look forward to that opportunity, George. Q As led by the Chairman of the People's Republic of North Carolina. (Laughter) MR. BURNS: Still on China. Q The Japanese Government announced to freeze most of its grant aid to China to protest against these nuclear tests. Do you have any comment on that? MR. BURNS: I don't have any particular comment on that, no. Betsy. Q Do you have any information on the attack on Shevardnadze this morning? MR. BURNS: I have a little bit of information on that for you. Q And do you agree it was specifically an attack aimed at him? MR. BURNS: We have checked with our Embassy in Tbilisi. We, of course, have seen the terrible footage on CNN -- that a bomb exploded today in the parking lot behind the office building which houses the office of President Shevardnadze. The bomb appears to have been a car bomb. President Shevardnadze was driving away from the building when the bomb exploded. We understand that he's being treated at a hospital in Tbilisi for minor injuries; that he is not in serious condition. We have reports of other injuries, but fortunately we don't have any reports of any deaths. The explosion was a very powerful one. It was felt in the U.S. Embassy building which is a quarter of a mile away from President Shevardnadze's office. U.S. Embassy personnel are now in direct touch with the Government of Georgia about this incident. Let me just say, obviously, President Shevardnadze is a very close friend of the United States. He's somebody we hold in great respect. He has been a very effective and admirable leader of the Government of Georgia in the most trying circumstances. The President and the Secretary of State have the greatest respect for him. We are obviously relieved that he is safe and that he is well. We obviously condemn all such acts of terrorism. It's difficult for us to say, from this distance -- this incident just having occurred a couple of hours ago -- who might be responsible, why this bomb was planted where it was, but we condemn all such acts of terrorism. We specifically condemn this morning's incident and we congratulate President Shevardnadze on his safety and the fact that he appears to be well. Q Have you been asked to help in any way, giving any sort -- MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that we have. But I do understand that our Embassy is in touch at a variety of levels with the Government of Georgia. I may perhaps have something further on that later today or tomorrow but I don't have anything for you on that right now. Q Nick, just revisiting Bangladesh -- Q Can we stay on Georgia -- MR. BURNS: Sure. We'll stay on Georgia and then go to Bangladesh. Q Is the United States still providing, as it used to, some security help to President Shevardnadze? MR. BURNS: David, I have really nothing to say on that today. There's nothing available to me today to really answer that question, but it's something I can perhaps look into. Q Anyone claim responsibility for the event? MR. BURNS: I think there have been some press reports about groups that have claimed responsibility, but we're not in any position to comment on those reports. Bangladesh. Q Could you please revisit us on Robin Raphel's trip to Bangladesh and who she is meeting, and what are the implications? Is there any message she is carrying from the President of the United States in order to break the deadlock -- a constitutional deadlock -- in Bangladesh at some point? Could you give us some highlight into the situation of Robin Raphel's trip? MR. BURNS: Yes. I can confirm that Assistant Secretary Robin Raphel will be visiting Bangladesh for four days, beginning on September 4, as part of a trip to South Asia which also includes stops in Karachi, Pakistan and in Sri Lanka. I believe it's an annual event for her to visit all of the countries in her region of South Asia. This visit has been planned for some time and it's part of her regular duties as Assistant Secretary to track and assess events and trends in the region. She will be meeting with local government officials and also with U.S. Mission personnel. She will meet with leaders of all the major parties in Bangladesh as well as government officials. She will not meet, I understand, with Mrs. Ershad. The United States policy towards Bangladesh is focused on promoting democracy and respect for human rights and encouraging economic growth and economic development. We are encouraging the Government of Bangladesh and the opposition parties to resolve the current political impasse through political dialogue that will strengthen Bangladesh's democratic institutions. The United States and Bangladesh have an open and cooperative relationship and Bangladesh has been a valued partner in peacekeeping operations in many parts of the world. Q Will the United States Government support the release of the political prisoners, including the release of the former President before the coming elections? MR. BURNS: That is one of the issues, certainly, that Assistant Secretary Raphel will be dealing with, and I think I'd rather leave to her any public comments on that particular issue. Q A readout on the meeting yesterday with Anne Patterson and the leaders of the flotilla that's going to set sail for Cuba on Saturday? MR. BURNS: I do have something on that. Q Could you please answer one more question about South Asia before you -- MR. BURNS: Sure, I'd be glad to do that for you before we go to Cuba. Q Why isn't Mrs. Raphel going to India, or is this going to be a kind of separate trip? MR. BURNS: I can assure you that Assistant Secretary Raphel has made it a practice to visit all the countries for which she is responsible here in the State Department on an annual basis. She makes several trips to the region each year. On this particular trip, she'll be visiting Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. She has been in India recently, and I'm sure she'll be in India in the future. I don't have anything specific to announce, however, about her travel to India. But since you've raised India, let me just say, we're very pleased with the state of our relationship with India. One of our most senior diplomats, Frank Wisner, is our Ambassador, and I think it's our very firm view that our relationship with India has improved quite dramatically over the last year or so due to the efforts of both governments to recognize that India and the United States have a lot in common; that we have a lot of issues that we can work on cooperatively and with great benefit to both countries. So I'm glad you raised India. It gave me the chance to comment on our relationship. Q Anything on the hostages? MR. BURNS: I don't have a lot that takes us beyond yesterday, but I can say that we have been briefed by the Indian Government on their telephone conversation with our American citizen, Donald Hutchings. They were able to be in touch with him yesterday. We believe as of yesterday that all four of the Western hostages were alive and well, based on their responses to personal questions put to them by the Indian Government on the telephone -- questions that only they could answer. We are encouraged by this news, but we continue to urge the al-Faran organization to release the hostages immediately, and we continue to emphasize that the responsibility for the safety of Mr. Hutchings and the other Western hostages rests entirely with the al-Faran organization. George, you wanted to go to Cuba. Q Yes. MR. BURNS: Deputy Assistant Secretary Anne Patterson met yesterday with representatives of two groups from Florida who are planning to approach Cuban territorial seas and airspace in a flotilla on September 2. You will remember that the Department of State issued a public announcement on August 8 about the risks of entering Cuban territory -- territorial seas, Cuban airspace -- without prior authorization from the Cuban Government. Anne Patterson made clear to the groups yesterday that in many cases, of course, we have common ground with them on our outlook toward the situation in Cuba, namely that we believe that the Castro regime must change fundamentally; that a greater measure of political and economic freedom must be given to the Cuban people. That is longstanding, decades-long U.S. policy. But it is our responsibility as the primary government agency responsible for advising American citizens on their travel overseas to inform them that there are a number of dangers that could be associated with an incident that is being planned such as this - - dangers if a number of these vessels or aircraft should either stray into Cuban territory or airspace or enter it deliberately. Any American citizen entering the territorial space of Cuba or any other country will be subject to the laws of Cuba and subject to law enforcement agencies in Cuba. There is sometimes a limited amount that any American consulate -- in this case our Interests Section -- can do to help American citizens in this situation. So we just wanted to give them a clear sense of what we thought the dangers and risks were in an operation like this. It has nothing to do really with the substance or the politics of the issue, because I think we do have common ground with a lot of these organizations on the politics -- the foreign politics of our relationship with Cuba. But we do have some concerns about this particular event. There was a similar event earlier in the summer whereby a flotilla did enter the territorial waters of Cuba. We simply believe that the Government of Cuba and these organizations should make every effort to make sure that whatever happens this weekend happens peacefully; that every effort should be made to exercise restraint in handling this event, and, should it proceed, that both sides should avoid unnecessary risks to themselves and to others and do everything possible to insure the safety of the lives of those people involved. Q Thank you. MR. BURNS: I think we have just a couple of other questions here. I just wanted to make sure I call on people. Q Do you have anything on the situation in northern Iraq? I asked yesterday. You said you'd look into it. And also on the defections -- anything new? MR. BURNS: I did look into the question that you asked yesterday. We have seen reports of clashes last weekend between the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Kurdish Worker's Party, the so-called PKK. As you know, the PKK is a terrorist group and has no constructive role to play in northern Iraq or anywhere else for that matter. Both the Kurdish partners in the ongoing peace process facilitated by the United States -- that is, the Kurdish Democratic Party -- and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan have expressed support for Turkey's legitimate security interests in its struggle against the PKK. We know that the PKK uses northern Iraq as a safehaven when the security situation is uncertain enough to allow it freedom of movement and action, and increased stability among the Kurds in northern Iraq is the best way to deter PKK terrorist operations inside northern Iraq. Q Do you have anything new on defections? MR. BURNS: I don't have anything at all on defections. I'm just really not sure what you mean by that. Q All right. Any new developments in that situation? MR. BURNS: No. Defections from Iraq you mean? Q Yes. MR. BURNS: I'm sorry. No, I have nothing on that at all today. Q What kind of representation do you expect from Taiwan at the World War II commemoration ceremonies in Honolulu? MR. BURNS: Since that is an event that is being organized by my colleagues at the Department of Defense, I would refer you to them for a specific answer to that question. Q One more on Bosnia. MR. BURNS: Can't resist. Okay, Bill, one more. Q Okay, will you take one more? MR. BURNS: I thought we'd done pretty well on Bosnia today. Q Well, I was going to come at it from a different angle on my first question about guarding against hostage-taking and possible military retaliation on the part of the Bosnian Serbs. Will the United States Government insist that there are no opportunities for taking of U.N. personnel and that other U.N. personnel will be militarily safeguarded before some kind of retaliation, bombing or artillery fire, takes place? MR. BURNS: Bill, with all due respect, it's a very interesting question, but it's really one that should be directed to the United Nations authorities who have responsibility for United Nations personnel on the ground. It's not really a question that I can answer in an authoritative way for you. Q But if the United States is to be involved militarily in some retaliation, would we not first insist that our colleagues on the ground be clear and protected? MR. BURNS: The one thing I'm trying very carefully to do today is to stay away from a discussion of the military options or what might ensue from the particular discussions that have taken place yesterday and today. Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 2:00 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page