U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/08/30 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, August 30, l995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns FORMER YUGOSLAVIA U.S. Support for NATO/UN Action ...........................1-2 A/S Holbrooke's Meetings in Belgrade ......................3,10-11 Possibility of Continued Military Action/Protection of Safe Areas/Purpose of Military Action ...................3,7 Need for Political Solution to the Conflict ...............3 Karadzic's Letter to President Carter .....................4 Serbian President's Leadership Role .......................4 Participation of Bosnian Serbs in Belgrade Talks ..........5 Effect of NATO Action on Negotiations .....................5-6,7-9 Yeltsin's Reaction to NATO Action .........................6,14 --Meeting of Contact Group ................................6 Reported Deaths of Members of the European Community Monitoring Mission ......................................11 Congressional Reaction to Military Action .................11-12 Timing of NATO Action .....................................12-13 --Croatian Offensive ......................................9-10 CHINA Women's Conference ........................................14 TERRORISM Exchanges with Syria over Terrorist Actions in the U.S. ...14 RUSSIA Cancellation of Public Announcement .......................15 IRAQ U.S. Position on Lifting Sanctions ........................15-17
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30, 1995, 1:50 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. As President Clinton said last evening, the United States strongly supports the action taken by NATO and the United Nations to hold the Bosnian Serbs responsible for their murderous attack on the Sarajevo marketplace two days ago. The message to the Bosnian Serb leadership from this latest military action and the diplomatic initiative led by Assistant Secretary of State Dick Holbrooke should be unambiguous and very clear. The only way to end this tragic conflict is to follow the path to peace. The actions taken by the United Nations and by NATO are in full compliance with the agreements reached by the international community at the July 21 London Conference and its subsequent NATO meetings. The United States Government regrets that such actions were necessary. But we made abundantly clear that attacks on safe areas would elicit a decisive response. A credible use of force is sometimes necessary to achieve diplomatic success. The United States remains fundamentally committed to seeking a peaceful solution to the tragedy of the Balkan war. The President and Secretary Christopher have sent Assistant Secretary of State Holbrooke to Europe to lead a peace initiative to find a way to have a peaceful end to this terrible conflict. We are not seeking to impose an American plan but we are exercising American leadership by engaging our allies, the Russian Government, and the parties to the conflict in an intensive effort to reach a peace settlement. After excellent discussions last evening in Paris with the Bosnian President, Mr. Izetbegovic, Mr. Holbrooke met today in Belgrade with the Serbian President, Mr. Milosevic. He is pressing with the Serbs our firm conviction that there is indeed a window of opportunity now for peace that all in the region, but especially the Bosnian Serbs, must grasp. He had a lengthy meeting this morning with President Milosevic. It was an important meeting and a constructive meeting. Just a few minutes ago, Mr. Holbrooke has started a second meeting with President Milosevic in Belgrade. There is, in the view of the United States, no military solution to this conflict. We believe that a solution can only be found at the negotiating table. Let me just give you an idea of some of what is happening here in the Department of State today. The Acting Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, has had an intensive series of meetings here in the Department and with his colleagues from other agencies here in the government. He spoke on the phone earlier this morning with the Bosnian Foreign Minister, Mr. Sacirbey. Mr. Sacirbey thanked the United States and thanked NATO and the United Nations for the very decisive actions that have been taken in the last 12 hours. Mr. Sacirbey also said that he hoped that these actions would provide an incentive for peace talks. The Department of State has also been in touch with the Russian Government overnight, and we have asked the Russian Government to use its influence with the Serbian Government to push the peace process forward. Acting Secretary Talbott has also been in touch with some members of the Congressional leadership -- Senators Helms, Pell, and Leahy, and Representative Livingston. All have supported this multinational NATO- U.N. action. I have just spoke with Secretary Christopher, who is in California. He has been briefed in detail and has been actively involved in all of these discussions over the last three days. He was briefed also in detail on the military action and some of the diplomatic events by Under Secretary of State Tarnoff just an hour ago. Needless to say, Secretary Christopher strongly supports the decisive efforts of NATO and the United Nations to push this situation towards peace. With that, I'll be glad to take your questions. Q Beyond saying that the meeting with Milosevic was important and constructive, could you characterize it further? MR. BURNS: George, I really can't because that would be unfair to Dick Holbrooke. He arrived in Belgrade this morning. He was immediately received by President Milosevic. They had a very good meeting, an important meeting. It was a meeting that was filled with the details of the peace initiative that the United States has brought to the region. But since they've just started a second meeting, I think it would be unfair for me to put Dick in a situation where I present to you his talking points. Q Is the military action over? MR. BURNS: That's something that I think will be obvious when it's over. I would refer you to the NATO commanders and the U.N. commanders who are exercising leadership in that area. Q Mr. Karadzic says that bombs can destroy the peace process. Do you think that Milosevic can change his mind? MR. BURNS: The peace process has to have credibility to move forward. Credibility is built upon the fact that the international community meets its commitments. The international community made a commitment in mid-July to protect safe areas, to protect Sarajevo, Gorazde, Tuzla, and Bihac. There was a fundamental transgression -- a moral transgression and a political/military transgression made two days ago by the Bosnian Serbs. They launched a murderous attack. They killed 38 people and left over 100 people wounded. That aggression and that transgression had to be met by the international community and it has been met. Now that it has been met, we hope that the lesson that has been learned by the Bosnian Serb leadership is that their quest for a Greater Serbia is over, it is finished. The tide of the war has turned against them. It began to turn against them during the Croatian offensive; it has fundamentally turned against them during the last 12 hours. They cannot seek a military solution to this conflict. They have to seek a political solution. In due respect, David, to Mr. Karadzic, I think he has got to learn the lesson and derive the lesson, from the actions over the last 12 to 24 hours, that he has got to turn to the negotiating table. There was a letter sent by him to former President Jimmy Carter. We are studying that letter. We think that the letter has some potentially positive elements to it. President Carter stated yesterday that it appeared to him that the Bosnian Serb leadership was accepting, as a basis for future peace negotiations, the 51/49 parameter of the U.S. and Contact Group peace initiative. If that is the case, that would indeed be a very useful and hopeful development. But as we've also said, words are easy; words are sometimes cheap; actions speak much more loudly. The actions on Monday -- two days ago -- were reprehensible. We hope now that the future actions of the Bosnian Serb leadership will be directed towards peace. Q In light of the letter from Karadzic and what you consider to be the turning of the tide, is there any thought to contacting them directly or indirectly through former President Carter? MR. BURNS: I don't believe that former President Carter has any intention to go to the region. At least, that's what we understand from our conversations with him and his representatives. I think the proper place, Jim, to point our concerns is the Serbian leadership in Belgrade. That's why Assistant Secretary Holbrooke has traveled to Belgrade today. That's why he's engaged right now in such an important meeting with the Serbian leadership. After that meeting, we'll have a better sense of what the leader of Serbia intends to do -- what Mr. Milosevic intends to do -- and we'll be able to ascertain whether or not it is, in fact, necessary to have any subsequent conversations with other Serbs or Bosnian Serbs. Q Could I just follow up on that point? MR. BURNS: Let me just go to Jim, Charlie. Q One of the reasons the tide is turning against the Bosnian Serbs, as you say, is an estrangement between Milosevic and the leadership in Pale. Do you still believe that Milosevic has any direct influence over the actions of the people in Pale? MR. BURNS: I think we do believe that President Milosevic does have influence with the Bosnian Serbs. He exercises leadership among the Serbian community, in general, in the Balkans. He's a very important leader. We believe that he does have the ability to play a leadership role for peace. We hope very much that he will choose that course. Q You told us, Nick, before that Assistant Secretary Holbrooke didn't have any plans to meet with the Bosnian Serb leadership while he was in Belgrade. But has that changed in the last 24 hours? Specifically, does he have any plans to meet with them, or have you received any signals that the Bosnian Serb leadership has sent anyone to Belgrade? MR. BURNS: I can tell you, Charlie, that in the three and a half hour meeting that Dick Holbrooke had with Milosevic this morning, I believe there were only three people from the Serbian side and none of them were Bosnian Serbs. Whether or not there are going to be future meetings with Bosnian Serbs included in Belgrade is something that I just simply cannot answer from this distance. We did not go to Belgrade -- he did not go to Belgrade -- Mr. Holbrooke, looking for meetings with the Bosnian Serbs. He went there to have a series of discussions with President Milosevic. So I think we'll have to leave my comments right there. Q If they turned up in Belgrade, would Assistant Secretary Holbrooke meet with them? MR. BURNS: It's a hypothetical question. We certainly wouldn't turn down any meetings if they turned up in Belgrade, but that is not what he is dealing with right now. Betsy. Q Has NATO been in touch with the Bosnian Serbs? MR. BURNS: You'll have to ask NATO whether it has. I just don't know. Q Nick, if I could follow on Charlie's question and then one of my own. There were reports that a number of Bosnian Serb leaders went to Belgrade, and they did not say for what purpose, but they apparently are there. Did you speak with Mr. Holbrooke on the phone yourself this morning? MR. BURNS: I have not, no. Since he arrived in Belgrade, he's been closeted with President Milosevic. There was a brief pause, a brief interval where they took a break from their meeting and lunch, and I understand that Dick has just gone back in with President Milosevic. So I haven't had a chance to speak with him, no. Q May I ask, to follow: Has there been any indication that any harm has been done to that negotiation by the military action of the last 24 hours? Has there been any objection stated to our people in Belgrade that Mr. Milosevic might be upset or this might damage the talks in any way? MR. BURNS: Since I'm not present in the discussions in Belgrade, I can't speak for what may have transpired. But I can say that it doesn't appear to us that there has been any fundamental break in the momentum that we sense in the region for a peace process. Certainly, Mr. Milosevic, in receiving Assistant Secretary Holbrooke this morning, has indicated his intention to discuss these issues with us, and we hope very much that that will continue. Again, let me just say we hope that the Bosnian Serb leadership will learn the correct lesson from the actions of the last 12 hours and more, and that is that there is no military solution for them. They have got to decide that their interests can be best met at the peace table. That is clearly the position of the Bosnian Government and clearly the sense that Dick Holbrooke got from the Bosnian Governmental leadership last evening in Paris when he met with Dr. Izetbegovic and Minister Sacirbey, and we very much hope that is the lesson that will be received now in Pale. Q You said that you asked the Russians to use whatever influence they had to help bring this to a peaceful solution. What was their response, and have they given the State Department a direct response to the airstrikes that were made in the last 24 hours? MR. BURNS: We have been in touch with the Russians through a variety of channels. There was a Contact Group meeting yesterday in Paris, at which the Russians were represented. Our Embassy in Moscow has gone in to the Russians this morning to have lengthy conversations with them about the rationale for the NATO-U.N. action and about the basis for the U.S.-led peace effort that is now being discussed in Belgrade. We've had other conversations in other capitals with the Russians. I'd prefer to keep those conversations in the diplomatic realm where they properly belong, but I can say that Russia's a very important part of the effort to find peace in the Balkans. In the past, the Russian Government has consistently said that it is interested in producing a situation that can lead to negotiations. That is exactly where the United States and its allies are headed, and we're quite sure that the Russians will support us in this. Steve. Q Is it correct to assume, when you make the statement that the aim of all of this is to show the Bosnian Serbs that there is no military solution to be had by them, that the NATO and U.N. activity was designed at the outset to so cripple the Bosnian Serb war machine that it couldn't fight any longer? MR. BURNS: The aim of the actions undertaken by the multinational community -- the NATO nations and the United Nations -- over the last 12 hours are aimed at making the Bosnian Serbs -- keeping them responsible for their actions, their murderous actions on Monday and of convincing them that they can no longer operate at will in the region and attack innocent civilians as they did two days ago. That was the commitment, again, that the United States and its allies made in London on July 21 -- the commitment that NATO made subsequent to the London meeting. There was a very strong feeling in the United States Government, Steve -- as early as Monday morning -- and certainly in the NATO Alliance throughout the last two days that we had to live up to our international commitment -- our commitments to protect, in this case, the innocent civilians in Sarajevo. I think that was the fundamental reason for the military initiative last evening, but certainly it is directed to give a very strong, a compelling and a decisive message to the Bosnian Serb leadership, and it is certainly intended to have a very damaging effect on their capability to wage war in the future. Betsy. Q Nick, you've said that there's a window of opportunity here for talks. Can you explain why you think there is this window and how long you think it will last? MR. BURNS: Betsy, I think it's been produced by the events of the last month -- the events that we have clearly seen: the Croatian offensive that has changed the course of the war against the interests of the Bosnian Serbs, by the fact that the international community, led by the United States in London in July, made a decisive and firm commitment to stand by its international commitments to protect the safe areas. We hope, by an emerging opinion in Pale and other parts of the Bosnian Serb areas, that they now have to turn towards the peace table. That seems to have been indicated in the letter that Karadzic sent to former President Carter yesterday, and that was made public, and we hope very much that is the case. So I think there are a combination of events here that have led us to a quite different situation, and we think there is a window of opportunity for peace. It's not a window, as Dick Holbrooke said the other day, that will be open forever. It's not a window that can be open forever. We hope now that the Bosnian Serbs have concluded that now is the time to talk about peace. Q What has been achieved militarily in the last 12 hours to persuade you that the tide has turned? MR. BURNS: I think the tide had begun to turn before the military action, but I think that that has certainly been confirmed and strengthened by the military action over the last 12 hours. Q Can you be a little more specific about what sorts of damage has been done to convince you of this? MR. BURNS: I think it's really only proper for me to allow the NATO and U.N. commanders who are leading this military action to speak about the effect on the ground of what has happened over the last 12 hours. I think that will be the case in a couple of hours from the region, from Naples and from Sarajevo and other cities, and I just don't think it's proper for someone in Washington to talk about the effects of the military strikes at this point. Q Does it appear that the Bosnian army will try to take advantage of the strikes against the Serbs? Have you pressed them not to do it? MR. BURNS: We've been in very close touch with the Bosnian leadership. As I mentioned, Dick Holbrooke had two meetings over the last two days with President Izetbegovic. Acting Secretary of State Talbott has been in touch with Minister Sacirbey. They support the peace process. They support the efforts of the international community now to work towards peace, and I don't believe there will be any problem in that regard. Q Can I follow up on that. Is there any concern that the Bosnians may be emboldened by the bombing attacks to demand more than is realistic in a peace settlement? MR. BURNS: I think the Bosnian Government is concentrating on protecting its people. That was the impetus that we felt from the Bosnian Government over the last two days. There was a terrible massacre in Sarajevo two days ago, and the Bosnian Government would like the international -- called upon the international community to help it to protect its civilians. That was one of the reasons why the West -- NATO and the U.N. -- undertook this military action. I don't believe that we have any reason to believe that the Bosnian Government will take undue advantage from these events. They seem and are committed to the peace process. They are ready to talk. It's now up to the Bosnian Serbs to present themselves as well at the peace table. Q Nick, if I could follow -- there is a report, a Reuters wire report this morning with an allegation that the Bosnian Muslims have joined the U.N. in an attack on a Bosnian Serb portion of Sarajevo. Do you know if the Bosnian Muslim Government is in any way engaged in concert with NATO and the U.N., or are they standing down? MR. BURNS: Bill, I simply can't speak to that. I'll have to direct you to the U.N. authorities on the ground in Sarajevo. Lee, you had a question. Q Yes. Do you find this more robust action in the view of the government as the definitive answer to three years of criticism that America and the West have been impotent to stop the slaughter in Bosnia? Do you think that this is going to change people's perceptions? MR. BURNS: I think we ought to be mindful of the past four years and the tragedy of the past four years and not delude ourselves into thinking that any actions one can take can be definitive or decisive. These are important actions. They are important actions because by them and through them the United States and the other countries that are contributing to this effort are living up to their international commitments. We are showing that we are a credible force for peace in the area. That's important. But it's going to be doubly important in the coming days and weeks that the United States and our allies in Europe and especially the parties on the ground now take the opportunity for peace. Lee, that's where our thoughts are turning today. That is the business that Secretary Christopher and Strobe Talbott and the others in this building are thinking about -- what can we do over the next day, the coming days and coming weeks to take advantage of this opportunity and to push forward very hard for peace. That's where our thoughts are. Q To follow up on that in a little different way, what's different -- except for the Croatian offensive -- what's different in recent times? Why didn't the West react after -- I mean, why did Gorazde have to fall, why did Zepa have to fall? Why have there been other instances that have gone unanswered? Only the Croatian offensive has come along here to change things on the list of things you've mentioned. MR. BURNS: Charlie, as I said in answer to Betsy's question, I think there has been a combination of factors. I would point you to one in particular and that is the decisive impact that the London meeting in July and the subsequent NATO meetings have had upon the cohesiveness of the Western countries. It was a terrible tragedy that Srebrenica and Zepa fell and that so many thousands of people lost their lives and so many tens of thousands found themselves to be refugees. In the wake of those disasters, led by the United States, Secretary Christopher went to London and worked very hard to produce a positive outcome whereby the West was united in one important way: that if there would be further attacks against the safe areas, they would be met by substantial and decisive military force. That is what we've seen over the last 12 hours. I think that is, among all the factors that have led to this new stage in the Bosnian conflict, in our own view, that is the most important. Q If the focus here is now on the diplomatic effort and you feel you have a window of opportunity, tell us what you can about what is the peace proposal that Mr. Holbrooke has in his hands? What is it? MR. BURNS: It's a proposal to convince the Bosnian Serbs, the Bosnian Government and other parties to the conflict, that after four years of fighting they ought now to turn toward a political discussion about how they might provide for a more peaceful future for all of their people. It is a proposal that I think its details are centered in the Contact Group Map and Plan, that is centered in the belief that there must be a territorial division between the groups but in one state, and that is the focus of the proposal and the crux of the proposal. There were discussions yesterday among the Contact Group members and other countries -- Italy, Canada and Spain among them -- about this proposal. I think there is very clear Western support for it, and now the imperative is to see if there can actually be negotiations begun and quite soon among all the parties to discuss these major elements that I've mentioned but also some of the important details that I have not. Q For example, how would this entity that's going to be divided be governed? MR. BURNS: David, I think it would be very dangerous and foolish for me to prescribe an American view as to how all these questions have got to come out in the end. Ultimately the United States and its allies can establish a process whereby people sit down and talk about peace, and we can give some intellectual momentum to that. We can provide, as we are in this case, in this U.S.-led initiative, a plan, a map, some suggestions for how some of these very difficult constitutional and territorial problems might be settled. But ultimately it's going to be up to the people centrally involved to answer those questions. What we in the United States Government do not wish to do is to stand at podiums and prescribe in detail what the outcome should be. That is up to the Bosnian Government, the Bosnian Serbs, the Croatians and others. Q Nick, there were reports earlier regarding a possible killing of European Union representatives. These were unconfirmed radio reports. Have you been able to either confirm or deny that anything has occurred, and is there any indication of any retaliatory action by the Bosnian Serbs? MR. BURNS: We have seen those very disturbing reports that five members of the European Community Monitoring Mission in Bosnia were killed last night near Pale. The reports that we have seen have been varied and sometimes contradictory. We are in touch with the European Union. We are attempting to confirm those reports. It is only right, of course, that the European Union would make an official and clear announcement about what exactly has transpired. So I'm not able to give you, I think, satisfaction on that particular question. Q To follow -- MR. BURNS: I believe Lee had a question first, Bill. Q Nick, do you think that this action will help eliminate the schism between the Administration and the Congress on Bosnia policy, specifically lifting the arms embargo? I believe Senator Dole today hinted that they might not resuscitate that proposal, and he called such coordinated action, I believe, "the eighth wonder of the world." So is this going to help you with Congress? MR. BURNS: I think it's obviously the view of the Clinton Administration that we must press forward to meet our international commitments, and that is we must be a reliable partner. We can't unilaterally -- we should not unilaterally decide what we wish to do. We have made commitments to our European allies, our NATO allies, about what we will do to support them. They have troops on the ground in the area. We cannot run from those obligations, and that is the focus and the crux of what the President and Secretary Christopher have believed for a long time about this particular question. Senator Dole's statements contain many positive elements, and we hope very much that we'll have the support of the Congress as we proceed through the diplomatic thicket over the next couple of weeks and months. It certainly would not be wise for the United States and the American people to run just at the time when the tide appears to be turning against the people who have fomented the war -- the Bosnian Serbs -- and for negotiations. If we're going to enter into negotiations, if we are to play a role in those negotiations, there has to be some constancy and solidity to the American involvement, and that's the appeal we would make to the Congress and the argument that I'm sure when Congress comes back next week. Q Can you tell us, there have been various reports as to why there was such a long delay between the attack on Monday and this morning's retaliation. Why was there such a long delay? MR. BURNS: David, with all due respect, I'm not sure that's a pertinent question now, at least in my own view, because of the strength and decisiveness of the action taken by NATO and the United Nations last evening and today. The fact is that when the shelling stopped in Sarajevo on Monday, the United States concluded rather quickly that the Bosnian Serbs were responsible. It's quite understandable that the United Nations would have taken perhaps some more time to achieve a very thorough analysis of what had happened, and we were pleased to see yesterday morning that the United Nations had also concluded that the Bosnian Serbs were culpable and responsible for the bombing on Monday. Once that happened, once the United Nations made its announcement, I think there was a very clear resolve in the West, in NATO and the United Nations that something had to be done to allow us to live up to our commitments. The question then became a military question of how you would carry out these attacks. That was in military hands yesterday and I think, as all can see, it's been very capably done. Q Nick, do you know where Holbrooke is going next and when? MR. BURNS: Dick does not have any concrete plans beyond Belgrade. I don't know how long he will be in Belgrade, but I can tell you that he will be very actively involved in the peace process. There may indeed be further stops along the way, but I have nothing to announce right now. Q In this largest -- what is termed by several of the wire services as the largest NATO hostile action in history since its founding, there have been no losses of aircraft, no hostages taken, as far as any reports that I've seen -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- and no, let's say, terribly effective retaliation, if any -- major retaliation on the part of the Serbs. It appears that this operation was very well planned. Am I correct in this? We haven't lost any hostages or aircraft? MR. BURNS: Bill, I think just in the last few hours you and others will have seen some footage that there was one aircraft down. I'm just going to have to refer you to NATO and the United Nations for information on that. Q A follow-up on a past question. Did you say that NATO had been waiting for the U.N. to confirm the source of the shelling in Sarajevo before they decided to make these attacks? MR. BURNS: What I said was that was a very important development in the history of the last two days since the bombing of the marketplace -- important because I think it enabled us to achieve a great degree of unity among the Western countries about what had to follow -- that confirmation of who was responsible for the marketplace bombing. Q You said NATO had determined early on that it was -- MR. BURNS: The United States had determined early on. Q That the United States had determined early on. But you're not saying that we waited for the United Nations to come up with the same determination before we -- MR. BURNS: This is a multinational effort. What has transpired over the last 12 hours is not a United States effort. It's a multinational effort led by NATO and the United Nations. There are many countries involved in these efforts, and it does take a little bit of time to have discussions with all those countries -- among them all -- to achieve a consensus on what should be done. That was achieved yesterday. I think the result is clear for all to see. Q What is your reaction to the objections raised by President Yeltsin to these actions? MR. BURNS: My only reaction, David, is to say that Russia is a very important part of the peace process; that Russia is a valued partner for the United States and the other countries; that we're carrying on intensive discussions with them, and I prefer to keep those discussions somewhat private at this point. Okay, on to other issues. Steve. Q Has the State Department given any thought to reports that the Chinese are stationing blankets and the like around at strategic points on the streets there in case there should be any untoward protest by the women attending the conference? MR. BURNS: Well, Steve, I did see that article this morning in the press. I read it. When I read it, I thought to myself, it's probably a good thing that Anna Nicole Smith didn't make the U.S. delegation. That's my only comment on that. (Laughter) Q Nick, do you have any comment on the story in the Washington Post this morning about Secretary Christopher admonishing Syria over terrorist actions in the United States and elsewhere? MR. BURNS: That report did get my attention. I'm not going to get into the details of our diplomatic exchanges, especially when a major newspaper has been able to produce a diplomatic message that was not intended to appear in that major newspaper. But I can say this: We take very seriously any potential threat to American citizens anywhere. We consider it important that any individual or group that may be tempted to take such actions understand fully the consequences of doing so. We are confident that the message referred to in the newspaper article this morning has been received and understood by a variety of parties. That message was not directed solely at any one party but at a variety of parties in the Middle East, and we're very confident that that message has been understood. Q Speaking of messages, there seems to be some confusion about the announcement here, I think, on Friday about the possibility of terrorist attacks against American tourists in St. Petersburg. According to one story, the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg never saw that message or didn't receive an official version of it? MR. BURNS: To paraphrase a former Secretary of State, Al Haig, "Sometimes we are very, very good, and sometimes we're not." Let me just take you through this saga. We issued a public announcement for Russia on August 25, which provided information to the American public on a possible threat to American citizens traveling in St. Petersburg. The announcement was based on the best information available at the time. We have withdrawn the public announcement because the threat was determined, upon further investigation, to no longer be credible. But let me just assure you, Jim, as I think you would understand, that our actions were taken in the best interest of the safety of American citizens. The Department of State, as the primary U.S. Government agency responsible for foreign affairs, has a responsibility to all Americans to inform them when we think there may be threats to them overseas. We thought that was the case a couple of days ago. We now believe that is not the case. Just so it's absolutely clear, we have withdrawn the public announcement dated August 25, 1995. It has been canceled. Q And had it gone to the Consulate in St. Petersburg by the time you made the announcement? MR. BURNS: I'm sure it did. I'm sure the Consulate was fully informed as was the Embassy in Moscow. Q Nick, on Iraq. The Egyptian Foreign Minister met with his Jordanian counterpart and came out of that meeting saying that perhaps it is time now to think about lifting these sanctions against Iraq because apparently the Iraqis are now giving more information than previously and cooperating with the United Nations and have showed an indication that they will cooperate. What is the U.S. position on that? What is the bottom line in terms of the U.S. agreeing to lifting the sanctions on Iraq? MR. BURNS: The bottom line is, the Iraqis don't deserve it. Their actions don't comport with any kind of inclination to be straight with the international community. The fundamental fact is that despite the very pleasant and nice words from Baghdad about what they may have done in the past, Iraq was trying to develop a clandestine nuclear weapons program. Iraq did develop a biological weapons capacity. Iraq has not accounted for tons of biological growth material. Iraq has not accounted for the more than 600 Kuwaitis who disappeared during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait back in 1990-1991. Are these the actions of a country that deserves a break from the international community? Far from it. It's the firm view of the United States -- and we believe we will have solid support from our allies in this -- that Iraq does not deserve it. Iraq has a long way to go to prove that it can be a reliable member of the international community. Q Why the attitude then, on the part of the Egyptians and the Jordanians -- isn't there a significant difference of opinions with countries that are working closely together with us on this particular issue and other issues, as a matter of fact? MR. BURNS: I would just have to direct you to those governments to speak for themselves. I simply can't speak for them but I can speak for our government. I think I've given you a fairly clear and detailed view of what our position is. We're not going to change that position until there is a fundamental change in the behavior -- not just the words -- but the behavior and the actions of the Iraqi Government. Q Does that mean Saddam Hussein has to be gone before the U.S. would agree to that? MR. BURNS: That's a decision that the Iraqi people have to make. It's not a decision that the United States or anybody else can make for the Iraqi people. But, certainly, based on the events of the last few years, it's difficult to see Iraq complying fully with all the resolutions. They haven't done so. It's difficult to see Saddam remaining in power if they do. Bill. Q If I could follow. If we know that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program and was some months from completing a fission weapon, could we not project and at least be looking for the possibility that Iraq has a radiational weapon program? Is that fear or an anticipation -- excuse me -- on the part of this government? MR. BURNS: There's a United Nations mission that is looking into all of these questions, or at least many of these questions, Bill. That mission, UNSCOM, led by Mr. Ekeus, has done a very fine job. It has provided leadership and a lot of good information to the United Nations Security Council members over the last couple of months. We'll rely upon the information developed there. The United States also has a very clear interest in the issues you've just mentioned, and you can be assured that we are using all the means at our disposal to look into these questions and we'll continue to do so. Q Thank you. MR. BURNS: Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 2:28 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page