U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/09/05 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, September 5, l995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns MIDDLE EAST Jerusalem 3000 Celebration/USG Representation ..........1-4 --Israel-Palestinian Talks/Status of Negotiations ......4-5 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Resumption of Airstrikes/Lack of Compliance by Bosnian Serbs with U.N./NATO Conditions ......................5-6,8,14-16 Diplomatic Efforts/Mtgs by Asst. Secretary Holbrooke ...6-7,17-18 Foreign Ministers Mtg in Geneva Scheduled for Friday ...7-8,18,22 --Objectives of the Conference/Next Steps ..............7-8,16 --Joint Serb-Bosnian Serb Negotiation Team .............8-9 Division in the Bosnian Serb Leadership ................9-10,16-17 Reported Independent Indonesian Initiative for Mtg with the Three Heads of State ........................11 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece/Mtg of Foreign Ministers in New York .....................6-7,11-13 Fate of French Pilots Shot Down ........................12,18 Reported Russian Criticism of Airstrike Resumption .....13-14 CAMBODIA Former Khmer Rouge Diplomat's Status in the U.S. .......18-21 NORTHERN IRELAND Status of the Peace Process/Issue of Decommissioning ...21-22 CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS Department of State Budget .............................23 Ballistic Missile Defense Provisions in DOD FY 96 Authorization and Appropriation Bills/ABM Treaty .....23-24,25-26 Secretary's Consultations with Congress ................24-25 Senator Pell's Announcement to Retire ..................27 MEXICO U.S.-Mexican Bilateral Relations .......................26 UNITED NATIONS Mrs. Clinton's Address to UN Women's Conference in Beijing...............................................28 Amb. Albright's Remarks re: China's Host Obligations ...28 RUSSIA/IRAN Reported Cooperation on a Third Reactor Sale ...........29
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, AUGUST 5, 1995, 1:17 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have a prepared statement, so I'd be glad to go to whichever of you would like to ask the first question.
Q Jerusalem had its 3,000th birthday yesterday -- not an insignificant event, probably have one 3,000 years from now again -- but the U.S. Ambassador somehow couldn't squeeze it into his schedule. Could you tell us what kept him away from that?
MR. BURNS: Barry, in anticipation of your interest, I have actually got something to say on this.
Q You have something.
MR. BURNS: Barry, as you know, Jerusalem 3000 is a year-long series of cultural events commemorating Jerusalem's culture and history, and the United States was indeed represented at the opening ceremony by our senior Cultural Affairs Officer, befitting the fact this is a cultural event.
Ambassador Indyk, I think, has explained -- as recently as a couple of hours ago -- that he had prior commitments and could not attend. Given the cultural nature of the event, we thought it was appropriate to send our Cultural Affairs Officer, and the United States will be represented in the course of some of the events that are coming up to signify Jerusalem 3000 in an appropriate way.
At times this could involve the Ambassador. At times it will not involve the Ambassador.
Q It sounds like a contradiction, though. He had other commitments so he couldn't attend, and yet you seem to be saying since it was a cultural event, the proper representation would be the Cultural Officer. I can't -- you've sort of got too many excuses there.
MR. BURNS: Sorry. (Laughter) You know, I --
Q They collide.
MR. BURNS: I just try to answer your questions.
Q Well, I mean --
MR. BURNS: But let me --
Q -- if it's a cultural event, then his other commitments have nothing to do with it at all.
MR. BURNS: If it's confusing, let me go over it again.
Q All right.
MR. BURNS: It is indeed a cultural event, and the series of events that ensue will be cultural events. Therefore, I'm sure we'll continue to send our Cultural Affairs Officer. But it's not inconsistent to also say that from time to time, if it's appropriate, the Ambassador may or may not attend some of these events.
I gave you the reason why we thought it was appropriate to send our Cultural Affairs Officer, but since so much of the press is focused on the activities of our Ambassador and why he was or wasn't there, I thought it was also appropriate to give you a sense of why he couldn't go last night.
Q You wouldn't let us in on what his other commitments -- was it a barbecue, I think?
MR. BURNS: No, I think --
Q I mean, a U.S. Labor Day barbecue.
MR. BURNS: I think he's actually even spoken to that. Yesterday was an American national holiday, Labor Day, and there was an American barbecue for the American community in Israel, and he attended that. I also understand that he also had another commitment about a women's shelter in Herzliya, which is a suburb of Tel Aviv, as you know -- in fact, where the Ambassador resides in Herzliya.
So he had very good and appropriate things to do yesterday, one event that is of importance to Israelis, another event of importance to Americans. He is the American Ambassador, so he was busy yesterday, and that's the story on Jerusalem 3000.
Q Nothing political about it, is there?
MR. BURNS: There is very rarely anything political having to do with our policy or situation in that region.
Q Most countries didn't send their Ambassadors. I think maybe 16 or 17 did, and I wondered if there was something political about all this from the U.S., as far as the U.S. decision is concerned.
MR. BURNS: No. In fact, I think that --
Q U.S. shunning them --
MR. BURNS: I think the fact that the United States was represented at all was duly noted because most countries in fact were not represented.
Q I thought they sent a whole lot of officials --
MR. BURNS: No, I don't believe so. So I think the United States actually stood out yesterday in the fact that an actually very senior member of our Embassy staff represented the United States. That's the story on Jerusalem 3000 as we know it here at the State Department.
And with that, I'm sure we're going to go quickly on to ---
Q Could we try on Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: Bosnia, yes. Jim.
Q Is the Foreign Minister --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me. Do you have another question on --
Q I have another question on that.
MR. BURNS: -- on Jerusalem?
Q On Jerusalem.
MR. BURNS: We'll exhaust this subject, Jim, and then we'll go to Bosnia.
Q We've heard that the Israeli Government is upset over the fact that since Israel supports the United States down to the line in even its most solitary commitments in the United Nations, that the United States did not support the Israeli Government on this, that they felt isolated, and that this could play into the hands of the rightist elements who are opposed to the peace process. Do you have any comment on that? Have you had any expression of displeasure from the Israeli Government with respect to the failure of Mr. Indyk to attend the celebration?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any. We have a very close relationship with the Israeli Government. I think it's clear to anybody, Ben, that the United States is a great supporter of Israel. We've worked very well with a succession of Administrations in Israel. I don't think anybody can question the level of the United States' support to Israel, so I don't really accept the premise of the question.
Q And is there any suggestion that the Israelis do not have the right to celebrate a Jewish anniversary in Jerusalem because of pressure by other countries?
MR. BURNS: We have great respect for the organizers of Jerusalem 3000. It is a cultural festival commemorating Jerusalem's culture and history. If we had any problem, we wouldn't have sent a senior official of our Embassy to this event and wouldn't have said today, as I have, that in the course of the coming days and weeks, other American officials, including possibly even the Ambassador, will be at some of these events. If we had a problem, we wouldn't send people to these events. We have done so.
As I told Barry, I think we are among the major countries, especially the European countries -- we are, I think, alone in having sent someone. So I think we've made our views well known by what we did yesterday in sending a senior person from the Embassy to this particular event.
Q Can I ask a Middle East question before you go on to the Balkans?
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q One of those American officials, Dennis Ross, is reported to have suggested that the Israeli-PLO talks be moved here for a quicker windup. They keep getting their end date pushed back by a couple of weeks. September 18th now seems impossible. Is that something the U.S. is considering or suggesting or has suggested?
MR. BURNS: I understand that the parties continue to work hard towards a conclusion of their talks, and that they are fairly close to an agreement. As we've said many, many times, if they would like to have a signing ceremony to signify that agreement here in Washington, we'd be quite eager and willing to host one for them, but I don't believe that we're at that point yet, Barry.
Q I mean, not the ceremony but concluding the negotiations here under America's benevolent stewardship?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing for you on that. I don't believe that's the case right now. I think they're going to complete their negotiations there; and then, perhaps, if they are successful, have some kind of signing ceremony here.
Any more on the Middle East?
Q On Bosnia --
MR. BURNS: On Bosnia.
Q In light of the military events, is the Foreign Ministers' session for this week in Geneva still on track?
MR. BURNS: It's very much on track. In fact, Jim, to best answer your question, maybe I should go over our appreciation of the events as we understand them right now, and I will definitely get to the Geneva Conference, because I want to talk about it and tell you a few things about it.
Q First, though, on the resumption of NATO airstrikes this morning. These airstrikes were resumed, as NATO and the U.N. have reported to you, against Bosnian Serb positions, because the Bosnian Serbs failed to implement the conditions set out by the United Nations and NATO by the deadline of last evening.
Those conditions were made very clear this past weekend in a letter from the U.N. Commander, General Janvier, to Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader. They are as follows:
There will be no Bosnian Serb attacks on Sarajevo or other safe areas.
That the Bosnian Serb withdrawal of heavy weapons from the 20- kilometer total exclusion zone around Sarajevo would be effected without delay.
And that there be complete freedom of movement for U.N. forces and personnel and for non-governmental organizations, and unrestricted use of Sarajevo airport.
As you know, the Bosnian Serbs by anybody's account did not comply with the three conditions laid out in the Janvier letter. In fact, General Mladic rejected them last night and repudiated an earlier message offering compliance, which was made by some of the political members of the Bosnian Serb leadership.
More importantly, the Bosnian Serbs made no clear effort on the ground to abide by the conditions by their deeds as well as by what they would say, including, most importantly, the heavy weapons that we believe have been moved -- at least some of them -- within the exclusion zone, but none have yet been seen to move out of the exclusion zone.
As I understand it, there are some routes now open into Sarajevo, fortunately, and up to 70 commercial trucks entered Sarajevo yesterday with provisions needed by the citizens of Sarajevo for the winter. That is positive.
But right now we've got the back of the hand. NATO and the U.N. have seen the back of the hand by the Bosnian Serbs, zero compliance, and that's why the United Nations and NATO acted as they did this morning. I'm approaching your question, but I just wanted to get those sentiments out.
I also wanted to review for you, as we approach the Geneva Conference, the very intensive, very active diplomatic schedule that Assistant Secretary of State Dick Holbrooke led throughout the weekend.
As you know, he and his delegation on Saturday briefed the Contact Group political directors in Bonn on the status of the negotiations in the region and on prospects for the Geneva Conference.
He then traveled to Brussels to participate in a NATO meeting, during which NATO and the U.N.'s ultimatum to the Bosnian Serbs was discussed. On Sunday, he met with the Organization of the Islamic Conference countries in Geneva to discuss the upcoming meetings that we hope will restore some momentum to the peace process. Then he went on Sunday to Belgrade and met with President Milosevic.
Yesterday, on Monday, he began a series of meetings aimed at reducing the prospects for a wider war in the Balkans; and, as you know, he met with Greek Prime Minister Papandreou and Foreign Minister Papoulias in Athens. Then he went to Skopje and met with President Gligorov of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
As we announced yesterday -- as the White House announced and the State Department also announced yesterday -- as a result of Ambassador Holbrooke's meetings with Skopje and Athens, officials from Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will soon meet in New York in a renewed attempt to resolve their dispute -- all this in an attempt by the United Nations and the United States to prevent a widening of the conflict in the Balkans.
Today, Ambassador Holbrooke met with Turkish President Demirel and with Bosnian President Izetbegovic in Ankara. Dick Holbrooke has just now in the last two hours returned to Belgrade where he is now meeting with President Milosevic. So he has been extremely active on behalf of the efforts of the President and Secretary of State Christopher to try to see if we can give a sense of momentum to the diplomatic opening which we believe is at hand.
Leading us to, Jim, finally your question -- after all that -- which is the Geneva Conference. As we announced on Friday, we expect that on this Friday, September 8, at the United States Mission in Geneva, the Foreign Ministers of Bosnia, of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Serbia-Montenegro will meet under the auspices of the Contact Group.
We expect this to be a one-day meeting. In addition to the United States, the other Contact Group countries and some others -- for instance, some of the U.N. negotiators -- are expected to attend this meeting.
Assistant Secretary of State Dick Holbrooke will represent the United States in this meeting, and I believe he will be chairing the meeting.
As you know, when we have Contact Group meetings -- and this meeting is under the auspices of the Contact Group -- the chair revolves depending on where the meeting is or who is taking the lead on a particular aspect of an issue. Since the United States, through Ambassador Holbrooke, did move the situation to this point, it's certainly appropriate that he would chair.
The purpose is to launch the next stage of the process, to discuss the principles that would be the foundation of a peace conference, and to achieve a framework for future negotiations. As Ambassador Holbrooke said a couple of days ago, it is also to move the momentum of the situation from one of war to one of peace.
We believe that the Holbrooke mission has achieved significant results during the last week, and we certainly want to build on that for this week. So there's been a lot of activity over the weekend.
The Friday meeting in Geneva will be an important meeting to launch a diplomatic process and to see if it's possible to prepare the way for subsequent, comprehensive negotiations on all the issues among the parties.
Q If I could just follow. The Serbs have given no evidence that they're having problems with the meeting in light of the attacks on their Bosnian allies.
MR. BURNS: The Serbs? The Serbs in Belgrade -- of the Serbian Government? No, we've received no indication whatsoever from the Government in Belgrade that it is rethinking at all its participation in the meeting on Friday.
I would just remind you that in the midst of the bombing last week, Dick Holbrooke was received in a very civil, professional way by the Serbian authorities in Belgrade. He was there on Sunday. The bombing was resumed this morning, and Dick Holbrooke has been received again in Belgrade. In fact, he is in a meeting with President Milosevic right now. So I think that answers your question.
We still believe that all three of these Foreign Ministers will be in Geneva on Friday to discuss what we hope will be an opening towards peace.
Q You just spoke of zero compliance, and yet, reasonably enough, you're trying as hard as you can to get negotiations going. What prospect do you have if you get an agreement that it would be fulfilled? How could you depend on a party that you yourself score as zero -- score as giving zero compliance to the U.N., the world community's rules and orders?
MR. BURNS: Barry, given the zero compliance over the weekend it was appropriate and logical and natural, and it fulfills the ultimatum made, that NATO and the U.N. would have resumed the air action this morning.
Last week we said on a number of occasions that there are times when diplomacy, to be successful, must be backed up or buttressed by the use of military force. This is clearly one of those times. It was certainly true last week, and it now is certainly true today that the Bosnian Serbs, for some reason, have failed to convince themselves it should be in their own self-interest now to move the situation from fighting to one of peace talks. That is where the United States is trying to move the situation, and that's why we hold open the prospect of a Geneva meeting.
Also last week, I think it's particularly noteworthy to remember that President Milosevic announced that, in fact, there would be a joint negotiating team of Serbs and Bosnian Serbs; that he would head that team, his representative, the Foreign Minister of his country, will be in Geneva to meet.
It could very well be the case, Barry, that we have peace talks going on in Geneva and we have a continuation of the military action on the ground. Anything that it takes to convince the Bosnian Serbs that it's in their interest to stop the fighting and to start talking about peace. As long as they do not fulfill the conditions laid down by General Janvier, I think they can expect a very vigorous, very consistent response from the West; in this case, from the United Nations and NATO, and that's what they're seeing this morning.
Q Nick, what does it say about President Milosevic's influence over the Bosnian Serbs and his ability to negotiate on their behalf if the Bosnian Serbs are totally obstructing the U.N. in refusing to comply with U.N. demands -- and he has not been able to make any headway with them?
MR. BURNS: Mark, welcome back, first. Good to see you. I would just note for the record that we have seen over the last week some rather conciliatory statements from certain members of the Bosnian Serb leadership about the desirability of peace talks, about the inclination of the Bosnian Serb leadership to participate in those talks even if, in some cases, they are represented by Serbs from the Government in Belgrade.
We have also seen, on the other hand, some tendentious statements by members of the military leadership of the Bosnian Serbs. We've certainly seen by deed, over the last four days, a disinclination to meet the ultimatum that was laid down on Saturday afternoon by the United Nations and NATO.
The Bosnian Serbs, by their deeds and by their actions, simply gave the international community no recourse but to return to a course of action that would now try to convince them, by the use of military force, that there is no longer a prospect for them to seek a military solution to the war. That is over. That is finished. It was finished by the action last week by NATO and the U.N. and also by a series of events over the last two months.
The course of war having turned against them, we think they now have to opt for peace talks. We are also offering that this week. The meeting will go ahead in Geneva on Friday, and we expect very much that the Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Serbia- Montenegro will be there.
Q I'm sorry, I just have to repeat Barry's question. What makes you think if Milosevic reaches an agreement with the other parties that he can impose it on the Bosnian Serbs and make it stick?
MR. BURNS: Any agreement worth its salt has to be verifiable. Therefore, you'll know by the actions of the other party whether or not the other party is adhering to any agreements that do result from any diplomatic meetings. That's always the case.
Let me just give you an example of that. Yesterday, we heard some very fine words from Pale about the fact that the Bosnian Serbs were, in fact, going to comply with the ultimatum laid down by General Janvier. We heard the words. We were told on various television networks that, in fact, the conditions were being met and it didn't happen. It didn't happen because we were misled yesterday.
So we're always going to be in a position -- I think in answer both to your question, Mark, and to Barry's -- of having to trust the actions, having to see the actions of the other side and see whether or not the actions are consistent with the words.
Yesterday, the words and the actions were inconsistent. So we're always going to watch very carefully. I think that's the answer to your question.
Q Do you see a split between the political and military leadership in Pale? And what are the implications of that split, if so?
MR. BURNS: I'm not an expert on the Bosnian Serb leadership. We certainly see a division in some of the words coming out of various political and military leaders among the Bosnian Serbs. I'm not quite sure what that means, but we certainly have seen that over the course of the last week.
In the final analysis, David, I think we're going to have to fall back on actions and interpreting people's actions. The actions over the weekend certainly lead us to believe that the Bosnian Serbs are not interested in ending the siege of Sarajevo; not interested in ending the state of war that exists.
We are trying now, through a combination of force and diplomacy, to convince them that they ought to draw that conclusion very quickly.
Q Still on Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: Still on Bosnia. Bill.
Q Still on Bosnia. To follow up on the question on Milosevic and Serbia, it appears that the Bosnian Serbs are diplomatically/ politically isolated -- one. Two, would you agree with this, Nick?
They cannot defend themselves against the NATO air actions, so militarily they are basically indefensible. I would ask, what could their objective be at this point? How could they possibly see a victory or being able to even hold their ground?
MR. BURNS: Bill, let me just say in answer to your question, it is certainly true that the Bosnian Serbs are isolated diplomatically; that they are isolated militarily; that they are not going to win militarily; and that they ought to listen to the lesson of force that is being taught them this morning. That's all true, all true.
Q Nick, there's also been an invitation extended by the Foreign Minister of Indonesia to the three Balkan heads of state -- invitations, I believe, which have been accepted -- to come to Indonesia under the auspices of the non-aligned group. Is that being coordinated with the U.S. or is it in tandem with U.S. strategy? Or is this an independent initiative which is being taken?
MR. BURNS: As I said, Ambassador Holbrooke did have a meeting in Geneva over the weekend with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, so we are in very close touch with the Indonesians and the Malaysians and others in that organization. I'm not aware that there is such a meeting that is planned that has the promised participation of the three Foreign Ministers, so I don't have, really, a comment on it at this point.
Q Nick, the Foreign Ministers -- it was actually Tudjman, Milosevic --
MR. BURNS: The heads of state? I'm sorry. I'm not aware that there was a commitment to do that.
Q In your preliminary statement, which covered a lot of ground, you made reference to Greece --
MR. BURNS: Yes. Let's go into that a little bit.
Q -- and (inaudible) Macedonia. Do you mean their own disagreement, or do you mean their individual approaches to the Balkans? Because the Greeks have played a kind of major role in helping Serbia, for instance. But, go ahead.
MR. BURNS: No. I'm talking about the long-standing disagreement between Athens and Skopje, about the state of their relations and about the status of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the world community. So let me just give you what I have on that, Barry.
We believe that there was a significant step taken towards peace and stability in the Balkans over the weekend. Yesterday, Prime Minister Papandreou of Greece and President Gligorov of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia agreed to send their Foreign Ministers to New York next week to conclude an agreement, which takes the first important steps towards establishing friendly, stable relations between those two countries.
We would like to applaud the leadership and dedication of Prime Minister Papandreou and President Gligorov. It has taken great courage and dedication on the part of these two leaders to begin to bridge the differences between them. This development is the culmination of months of extraordinary effort by the U.N. negotiator, former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, and by the U.N. Presidential Envoy, Matthew Nimitz.
The effort was brought together over the weekend by Assistant Secretary of State Holbrooke, who visited both capitals, Athens and Skopje, as part of his mission to seek a stable peace in the Balkans.
As I said, there is a meeting scheduled in New York for next week. I don't believe that we have settled on a specific date, but the representatives of the United States at that meeting, when it is scheduled, will be the Presidential Envoy, Mr. Nimitz.
Q Do you have any word on the fate of the two French pilots who were downed?
MR. BURNS: I do not have any independent word, Jim, on the fate of the pilots; no. I'd have to refer you to the French Government on that particular question.
Q Can I just ask whether there's a name for this entity yet, as part of the agreement that is out to be signed next week?
MR. BURNS: You're referring now to the agreement announced in Athens and Skopje?
Q Yes. What's the country going to be called?
MR. BURNS: I think I'd be getting way ahead of them if I uttered any kind of thought about what the answer to that question should be. That, in fact, is one of the core issues, and that is the issue that will be addressed by both sides when they do get together, and we hope successfully. We hope they will work this out.
Q But you used the cumbersome appellation advisedly?
MR. BURNS: Yes, I did, very advisedly.
Q So as far as the State Department is concerned, there is no -- it's the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia -- F-R- capital -- right?
MR. BURNS: As far as the U.S. Government and the State Department are concerned, we think there's been a step forward. We think there's some reason to hope that the answer to your question and David's question is near at hand. We trust that can be completed in New York.
Q The Greeks have just said that they're going to keep the embargo in place while these talks are going on. Does the United States consider that embargo to be illegal?
MR. BURNS: Since we've just had a good step forward by both parties over the weekend, I don't want to pick a fight with any of the parties. I think we're just going to let the two go to New York. We'll be there with the two and others, and we'll work very hard towards a culmination of this process.
Q Nick, the Russian Foreign Ministry has put out another statement this morning criticizing the resumption of NATO airstrikes. Is this just a domestic consumption in Russia, or are you concerned that there could be a genuine split in the Contact Group if the bombing continues over time?
MR. BURNS: I don't think there will be a split in the Contact Group. The Contact Group has held together very well on strategy over the last year and a half. There have been quite often some tactical differences among the members. We're certainly seeing that due to the statement made from Moscow this morning.
But I would just remind you, Chris, that the Russians have talked repeatedly about the importance of negotiations. That is, in fact, what the United States has been able now to bring about -- the prospect of negotiations on Friday in Geneva and the hope that there may be subsequent negotiations; and so we're sure we'll have the Russian Government in that action.
But as for military action, as you know, President Clinton reiterated again this morning that he strongly supports the action by the United Nations and NATO. That is because we believe that the conditions that have been laid down by General Janvier should be taken very seriously. They are the conditions that must be met before the situation can return to normal and before the West will give up its commitment to make sure that the citizens of Sarajevo are safe. That is the commitment that we undertook in July at the London Conference.
We have taken that commitment very seriously, and we've exercised it very seriously over the last week. The Bosnian Serbs must understand that.
Q Were the Russians informed that the bombing was going to resume?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Were the Russians informed that the bombing was going to resume?
MR. BURNS: I assume that the Russians were by the relevant military authorities on the ground -- that is to say, the United Nations and by NATO. They are the channel for that kind of communication, and I'm quite sure that that did take place.
Q Whatever effect this bombing might have on facilitating negotiations, that is the reason for the bombing -- the violations of Sarajevo?
MR. BURNS: The reason for the bombing is the fact that the Bosnian Serbs were given yet another ultimatum on Saturday. It was very clear to the Bosnian Serb military and political leadership what had to take place for the bombing not to occur. We had zero compliance, Barry, over the weekend and therefore there was no question as to what decision had to be taken.
It is entirely appropriate for the international community to take this action to defend the citizens of Sarajevo.
Sid, welcome back.
Q (Inaudible) bombing and the peace talks to go on at the same time?
MR. BURNS: Quite possible. Because it is sometimes necessary to use different levers to achieve political objectives.
In this case, given the abject violation of the U.N. conditions by the Bosnian Serbs -- I think we've already established this afternoon there was no alternative available to the West.
On the other hand, we don't believe that military action alone by itself can bring this situation from a state of war to a state of peace which is where everybody in the world wants it to be. Therefore, the United States undertook several weeks ago a diplomatic mission -- the President called for this -- whereby the United States would lead efforts to try to get people together to talk, and we have been successful in doing that.
We've made some good first steps. We need to build on that progress. So it is absolutely possible for diplomacy and military action to co-exist, and, in this case I think, co-exist quite effectively.
Q But if somebody is being bombed, they clearly don't want to talk about peace. So I don't see how the two can -- I understand force with diplomacy. But if the Bosnian Serbs don't want to talk peace and you keep bombing, then what's the point?
MR. BURNS: The resumption of military action was brought about because of the failure of the Bosnian Serbs -- the onus must be put squarely on them -- to fulfill the clearly held wishes of the international community as expressed by the United Nations and NATO. There was every reason to undertake that.
But as I've just said, we don't believe there is a long-term solution available simply through airstrikes. Airstrikes must be supported by -- and airstrikes must also support -- diplomatic action. That is why the President and Secretary of State sent Ambassador Holbrooke, and originally Bob Frasure and Joe Kruzel and Nelson Drew, on a diplomatic mission. That mission was interrupted tragically, but it has been resumed and resumed quite successfully and with a lot of determination by both the United Nations and the international community.
The Bosnian Serbs have to understand that the international community is going to meet its obligations to the people of Sarajevo and the other safe areas. There is no way around that. They've got to conclude it's in their interest now to turn towards peace and turn away from war.
Mark, and then to you, Steve.
Q You spoke that one purpose of the Geneva meeting is to launch the next stage of the process. Can you describe what that will be?
MR. BURNS: Mark, that would be getting a little bit ahead of the process. But, in general, our strategic objective is for a genuine peace process to be launched where there would be comprehensive negotiations aimed at a political settlement. That is the only way that we see that this tragic war will be brought to an end.
Before we get to that type of comprehensive peace process, there has to be some agreement among the major parties to the conflict on what the first order of principles are that would be the foundation for such a conference. There has to be some agreement on what the parameters of such a conference would be. So that is the reason for the meeting on Friday -- to have those first order principles be discussed and, hopefully, to achieve some agreement about next steps in the diplomatic process.
The first order of principles, of course, are what we have said all along: that the territorial integrity of Bosnia must be preserved; that there should be a breakdown in the territorial division of Bosnia. We hope that we will start with a 51/49 breakdown, consistent with the Contact Group Map and Plan. That, in fact, is what the Serbian leadership and also Mr. Karadzic has said will be the basis of their participation in these talks. That is very good news, indeed.
Q You've ruled out all of the characters but Mladic as someone on board. Is it correct to assume that the United States Government feels he is the party blocking further progress at this point?
MR. BURNS: I don't simply want to isolate him. It's very clear by the actions of the Bosnian Serb military leadership that the military leadership has not grasped exactly what happened last week and what's going to happen for the rest of this week should they not comply with the U.N.-NATO conditions.
We have seen some very nice words, Steve, from the political leadership in Pale but one must assume, of course, that they bear some degree of responsibility for the actions of the military as well. So I don't mean to single out a sole individual. But there are clearly some divisions in the Bosnian Serb leadership -- clearly, some divisions.
Q Is there any way for a Geneva agreement to work without the consent of the military leadership in Pale?
MR. BURNS: Ultimately, for peace negotiations to succeed, the fighting has to stop. The guns have to fall silent. That is what we're trying to do right now. We're trying to impress upon the military people, who control the Bosnian Serb military, that their dream of a Greater Serbia is over.
They once had an open field, as recently as a couple of months ago in Srebrenica and Zepa. They had a relatively unfettered path. They clearly don't now. The tables have been turned through the Croatian offensive, through the renewed Western will, from the London conference led by the United States, and now the expression of that will last week and again today by NATO and the United Nations.
The message ought to be loud and clear to the Bosnian Serbs: The military solution is past. You've only got a political solution.
Q Was this discussed with President Demirel and President Izetbegovic in Ankara? What was the outcome of this meeting?
And, secondly, there was a wire report concerning eight Turkish jets that were on their way to Ghedi air base in Italy. Greece did not give permission for the jets to fly through its air space although they were participating in a NATO operation. Would you have any comments on that?
MR. BURNS: On the second question, I don't have a comment. I think that NATO military authorities would be the people best placed to answer that type of question. I simply can't from my own perspective.
On the first question, as you know, Turkey is a very important ally of the United States; very important country in the Balkan conflict. Assistant Secretary Holbrooke felt it was prudent and wise to stop and to both brief President Demirel but also to hear from him about Turkey's thoughts on the Balkan conflict. He took advantage of that stop to see President Izetbegovic who was in Ankara at the time.
I don't have a detailed briefing on the meeting. When Dick ended his meetings, he went to the airport and flew to Belgrade and that's where he is now.
Q New subject?
MR. BURNS: New subject?
Q One more on Bosnia. Is there any indication yet whether any Bosnian Serbs will come to Geneva, or will it just be the Belgrade Serbians?
MR. BURNS: Right now, Patrick, there's no indication that I have that they will be in Geneva. I would just refer you to the statement made by President Milosevic, that there's a joint negotiating team. In many cases, the Government in Belgrade will speak for the Bosnian Serbs.
If a Bosnian Serb turns up in Geneva, he or she will not be turned away. He or she would be, of course, welcome to participate in the discussions. But if the Serbian Foreign Minister says that he's going to speak for the Bosnian Serbs at the Geneva meeting, we also have no objection to that.
Q But the Bosnian Serbs will be part of the Yugoslav delegation; is that correct?
MR. BURNS: If the Bosnian Serb turned up, we assume he or she will be part of the Serb delegation -- the joint Serb delegation that was announced last week in Belgrade.
Q Do you have anything new, Nick, on the two French airmen who were shot down?
MR. BURNS: I do not. I'd have to refer you to the Government of France on that.
Q It turns out that a senior member of the Khmer Rouge has turned up alive and well and living in New York. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BURNS: I think you're referring to a former Khmer Rouge diplomat, Mr. Prasith. He is, as I understand it, has been in the United States for a number of years. He was in the United States, I believe, between 1979 and 1992 as a diplomat assigned to the United Nations on behalf of the Cambodian Government.
Apparently, after the peace agreement and the formation of the new government in Cambodia, his diplomatic status was terminated.
In the spring of 1994, Mr. Prasith and his wife submitted applications to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for an adjustment of their status to become legal, permanent residents of the United States.
Pending the submission of additional forms by Mr. Prasith and his wife, which would pass through the State Department, we understand that processing of these applications has now been suspended. We have no record of those forms having been submitted.
We are looking -- "we" at the Department of State -- are looking into the question of whether or not there is a legal basis from removing Mr. Prasith entirely from the United States.
It's really as much as I can say right now. It has now become a legal matter, and therefore there are certain things that I can and cannot say about the status of Mr. Prasith. I think having given what I have said, I think you know our general view on this subject, George.
Q Are you looking for justification for expelling him; is that what you're saying?
MR. BURNS: We are looking into the question of whether or not there can be a legal basis to remove him. This is a country of laws. We can't simply just expel people without recourse to a law. We are looking as to whether or not there is now a legal basis for a subsequent removal of Mr. Prasith from the United States.
Q What you want to do is legally remove him from the United --
MR. BURNS: That's basically what we're looking into right now. So I think it's pretty obvious what we want to do in this situation. But it's a legal matter and I must be very careful in legal matters not to say things that lawyers don't want me to say, so I've got to be a little bit careful.
Q Do you know at what point in this process an alarm bell or alert should have gone off at some point to suggest that he not be given the visa status he currently holds? Where was the breakdown? Was there a breakdown in the system that should have identified him as someone who would not be allowed to remain in the U.S.?
MR. BURNS: Between '79 and '92, he was in the United States but as a diplomat recognized as a representative of another country. So therefore he was in a quite different status than he has been in the subsequent three years. During that time, he submitted some initial forms to become a legal permanent resident. During that process, the Department of State decided that we weren't quite sure we wanted to go ahead with that.
This is not a science. I can't give you a timetable of what we knew and when we knew it, but I think we acted appropriately and under the circumstances rather decisively in this case.
Q Does the U.S. consider him a possible war criminal?
MR. BURNS: I just don't have any information on that, Sid.
Q Nick, do we have reports in Southeast Asia that a lot of the first Khmers to reach Thailand in '79 and apply for asylum in the United States were, in fact, Khmer Rouge cadre who simply fled before the Vietnamese? There are many Cambodians in the United States who participated in Khmer Rouge atrocities but were never prosecuted. Is the State Department in any sort of investigation or any sort of process to root these people out or to follow up any of these charges.
MR. BURNS: I don't know, Ben, if there is a specific program that is now underway. I can check on that. But certainly getting to the general thrust of your question, we abhor the performance of the Khmer Rouge while it was in power in Cambodia. We support the reunification of the country and the fact that a new government has been formed under the leadership of King Sihanouk, and that is a positive development.
The Secretary was in Phnom Penh in early August, in order to express our very strong support for the people who are now in charge and for the nascent democracy that is underway there, and our very strong opposition to some of the Khmer Rouge elements that are still operating in parts of Cambodia.
So I would not say anything that would link us in any way to any kind of support or even tolerance for the past actions or the current actions of the Khmer Rouge leadership. It's a despicable group of people. They deserve to be prosecuted when they can under appropriate law for crimes that they committed.
What I just don't know is if there's any ongoing intensive process underway to look at everybody who's currently in the United States who may or may not have been a member of that group, but I can certainly look into that question.
Q Well, if they're so despicable and his diplomatic status was terminated in '92, why was he not simply asked to leave?
MR. BURNS: George, I can't tell you what the Bush Administration in 1992 knew or didn't know about this individual. I have no idea what information was available to the Bush Administration, but I can tell you what the Clinton Administration -- I was not working on Cambodia.
There are a lot of people in this building who were there. But I can tell you what the Clinton Administration has done, and that is that we have taken some steps to interfere with the paper process that would have led this person -- given him the right to stay in the United States, and we've put that process into some question.
Q Have you moved with alacrity?
MR. BURNS: I think we've moved with a sense of decisiveness, George, and I think I can say that.
Q An Anglo-Irish summit which is scheduled to take place tomorrow announcing unlikely apparently to take place. Over the past year the U.S. has given glowing tributes to the peace process. Are you now worried about its state of health?
MR. BURNS: The British and Irish Governments are working very hard to move the peace process forward. We continue to support those efforts, and we remain optimistic that they are indeed making progress. In any of the negotiations, it is not unusual to meet roadblocks. It's not unusual to have impediments arise along the way, but we hope that the two governments will soon find a way to breathe new life into the political dialogue between all the parties.
I would just say on the issue of decommissioning, which I know is very prominent, it's up to the parties to resolve the remaining obstacles. We urge all parties to address outstanding issues seriously and move to talks that might produce a lasting settlement.
Q So in the run-up to President Clinton's visit, the U.S. is not likely to do anything to try and move forward the processes -- the dispute about decommissioning?
MR. BURNS: On decommissioning, as you know, it remains an essential part of the peace process, and President Clinton has urged the Irish Republican Army and the loyalist paramilitary forces to begin to discuss decommissioning seriously. That was the promise of this process, and the obligation that a number of parties undertook in this process, and the United States feels strongly that that has to be discussed, and hopefully that progress will be made on it.
Q It feels strongly they're not going to do anything about it to intervene. It's up to the parties. Is that what you're saying?
MR. BURNS: I think I'd just like to limit, myself, Chris, to the statement I've made today. I mean, we are, of course, active as a friend of both Ireland and the U.K. in this process. We have been active in many points along the way, but it's primarily a question for these two governments. It's not a question primarily for the United States but for the two of them.
Q Could I go back to Bosnia just for a second -- or Geneva? Will any representatives of OIC countries be participating in the Friday's meeting? You mentioned some others besides the Foreign Ministers. Who they are exactly?
MR. BURNS: I know that the U.N. negotiators -- Mr. Bildt and Mr. Stoltenberg -- will be there. As for OIC participation, I don't believe that they will be participating in the Friday conference. But to be absolutely sure, let me look into that one for you, and I think we can probably produce a fairly quick answer.
Q About northern Iraq. Between the PKK and Barzani's forces, KDP, their fighting has increased and getting more fierce, and we heard that the Talabani forces, which are PUK, are helping the PKK (inaudible).
Do you have any contact with the northern Iraq Kurdish groups, and do you have any plan to settle down this conflict?
MR. BURNS: We have contacts from time to time with both the major Kurdish factions in northern Iraq. We do not have contact diplomatically with the PKK because of the fact that it's a vicious terrorist organization, as we have said many, many times. But we do have contact with the mainline Kurdish organizations.
We do know that here has been some fighting in northern Iraq. We hope it will stop. We hope that they will unite in this sense. They'll unite for stability and on behalf of all the people in northern Iraq who suffer because of this violence.
Q And also they attacked the Provide Comfort forces -- the PKK forces. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BURNS: The PKK attacked "Provide Comfort"?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any specific knowledge of that, but the PKK has been doing all sorts of violent and negative things recently, and we've condemned every act of which we are aware.
Q Given that Congress is coming back to town today and tomorrow, could you give us a sense of how the Secretary's efforts to persuade Jesse Helms to let things -- treaties and other things advance is going?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that one of the first orders of business for Secretary Christopher when he returns to Washington later on today will be to work very closely with Congress on a number of different issues.
First and foremost will be the budget. The State Department not only needs a budget that will allow the State Department to perform its diplomatic mission, but the United States needs an economic assistance budget, humanitarian assistance budget to allow the United States to meet its own interests around the world.
The Secretary has said quite frequently for the last several months that this is a first-order priority for him as well as for the President.
There are a number of other issues that are of interest here. I would just single out one. The Administration has expressed its serious concerns about the ballistic missile defense provisions in both the House and Senate versions of the DoD FY-96 authorization and appropriation bills.
Some of these provisions, as they now stand, would usurp the authority of the President to negotiate, interpret and implement treaties for the United States. Other provisions could be seen as mandating de facto abrogation of the ABM Treaty and would jeopardize further reductions in strategic offensive arms under both START I and START II.
The ABM Treaty is a cornerstone of strategic stability. Not only has it been critical to preventing a costly and futile arms race, but it has also been important to make possible far-reaching reductions in the level of strategic offensive arms and a very important part of our relationship with the Russian Federation.
I understand that there is an amendment to this bill, a bipartisan missile defense amendment, which does represent a significant improvement upon the current Senate version of the DoD authorization bill. Nevertheless, the Administration continues to have concerns about certain provisions contained in the amendment, principally the non- binding sense of the Senate statements that purport to reflect the policy of the United States.
So I wanted to single out that, because it has relevance today to an amendment that is going to be debated in the Congress today, and one in which both the State Department and the Pentagon as well as the White House have been very active on this morning.
Q Thanks for correcting my question to --
MR. BURNS: You're welcome.
Q -- to have it be the ABM. That wasn't exactly what I was asking about.
MR. BURNS: I thought I'd just take advantage of the opportunity there to indicate our very strong interest in the ABM Treaty.
Q What about --
MR. BURNS: As I interpreted the question.
Q Do I take it that the Secretary has not yet made a breakthrough with his negotiations with the Senator about freeing up movement on the pending treaties and other matters that he has apparently indicated he's planning on holding up?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary has been working very hard on that for a long time, and that process will continue today when both the Secretary and the Congress arrive back in Washington.
Q Will the Secretary have a chance to talk to Senator Helms in the next couple of days? Is that --
MR. BURNS: I don't want to say -- I don't know if his specific plans do that, but I know that the Secretary is going to be engaging with the Senate leadership, so it wouldn't be surprising to me.
Q How long can a hold-up like that persist without serious ramifications?
MR. BURNS: We certainly hope it doesn't hold very long, because there are very serious issues at stake here for the American people. How are we going to represent ourselves abroad? How is the United States going to meet its national interests abroad and with which level of resources? Those are the very important questions.
Q Is the Administration at this point planning on making any reorganization proposal, counter to -- compromise with Senator Helms?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of anything. I just have nothing to say on that today.
Q On the ABM, there is no forum. The podium is a forum, but, I mean, there's no hearing for the Secretary.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q You said State and Defense had been busy.
MR. BURNS: Yes. In consultations with staff.
Q With staff people, talking to staff people?
MR. BURNS: That's right. Because we understood that there would be some imminent action -- at least imminent debate on this particular issue, so there has been quite a lot of communication between the Administration and the Congress on this issue, which is why I beg the indulgence of Terry. I took advantage of his question to talk about it.
Q It's an important issue, and, if I can part the curtain a little bit, this -- your position -- State's position on monkeying with the -- with the Congress monkeying with the ABM Treaty has long been known. They did that weeks and weeks ago. Didn't this bipartisan measure have some State input into it -- the one you're now unhappy with? Maybe you've been unhappy with it all along.
MR. BURNS: Oh, I can't speak for how legislation is put together. I'd just refer you to the Hill on that. It's sometimes true that legislation is put together with the views of an Administration in mind, and we have seen some very positive elements in this particular amendment. But there are still provisions in the amendment with which we cannot agree, and therefore further work, we hope, will be done to satisfy both the Administration and Congress.
Q The Secretary can't -- there's no place for him to go up and make this point.
MR. BURNS: Not in the next 24 hours. There will be testimony foreseen.
Q Mexico, please. It has been one year now since President -- Mexican President Zedillo took power. Can you give an assessment about the issues in the bilateral agenda which remain the most sensitive? And according to the United States' perspective, have you detected some advances, if that's the case, (inaudible) and which will remain at last the biggest problems that may threaten or endanger the bilateral relation?
MR. BURNS: President Zedillo will be making a very important visit to the United States, I think, in about 30 days or a little bit more than that in October. The Administration is looking forward to that visit.
It's no secret, I think -- and I'll just try to be brief in my answer, because you've asked a very large question -- that Mexico is one of the most important countries to the United States that we border, that we share our over 2,000-mile border.
It is exceedingly important to all Americans, particularly those who live in the south and southwest, that over the past year, Mexico has weathered a very serious economic crisis -- weathered it quite well, we think, under the leadership of President Zedillo. We very much support a number of the measures that he has undertaken to restore a sense of stability to the economy.
We've also worked closely with President Zedillo in our mutual fight against narcotics and narcotics trafficking, which is an issue that both our countries share. We share a concern for it, because both of our peoples are victimized by it, and we are working very closely with the Zedillo Administration on this question of narcotics.
We're very satisfied that we have a close relationship with Mexico under its current leadership; that Mexico's leadership is in good hands. We have a lot of respect for President Zedillo. He faces enormous challenges. We wish him well, and we're ready to support him when we can and work with him very closely.
Q Senator Pell announced his retirement today. He's not going to run for re-election. And he's been a very important supporter of many Administration positions on the United Nations and national treaties. Can you give us sort of a view of how it affects the foreign policy of this country?
MR. BURNS: I would like to make just a very brief comment on the announcement that Senator Claiborne Pell made this morning that he will retire when his term expires next year. For eight years, Senator Pell served with distinction as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he is now the ranking member.
His dedication to issues such as arms control, non-proliferation, human rights and the global environment have indeed made the policies of the United States more successful and the world a safer place.
His longstanding efforts on behalf of the United Nations were acknowledged by President Clinton this June in San Francisco during the ceremonies to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the signing of the U.N. Charter.
The Secretary, Secretary Christopher, looks forward to continuing our important work with Senator Pell in this Congress and wishes him well in his future endeavors.
Let me just say as a Foreign Service Officer, Senator Pell was also a Foreign Service Officer at the beginning of his career, and he always showed the greatest respect for the Foreign Service and the greatest support for the Foreign Service in his years in the United States Senate, and that is appreciated by generations of Foreign Service Officers who respect him very much.
Q Nick, by any chance has the State Department -- you may not have expected this question, but I think there are international implications -- about English -- the need for the United States having an official language, it being English? (Laughter) I think that sends a (inaudible) message, and I wonder if State has thought about it at all?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that the State Department has yet taken a position on that issue, Barry. I think that's an issue that is really in the political domain in our country.
MR. BURNS: I think the issue is in the political arena in our country to be debated by political leaders in our country. I think the State Department will stand aside from that particular debate.
Q Nick, do you have anything on Mrs. Clinton's speech and activities in Beijing, and the way that the Beijing Women's Conference is conducted?
MR. BURNS: Mrs. Clinton's speech this morning to the Women's Conference stands on its own. It's a speech that I think was very well received, a speech that clearly supports and clearly is consistent with every aspect of Administration policy on the Women's Conference as well as on other issues.
So I think I'll just leave it there unless you have a more specific question.
Q Well, just to change the subject a little bit. There is controversy in Taiwan about whether President Lee Teng-hui is willing or is not willing to meet with President Jiang Zemin from Beijing in either a domestic setting or international setting. Does the United States take a position on whether or not the two leaders should meet, either in a Chinese setting or an international setting?
MR. BURNS: No. The United States does not take a position on that question. That's certainly up to China and Taiwan to decide that question.
Any more on China?
Q Yes. Has there been any reaction from the PRC officially or unofficially regarding Mrs. Clinton's speech? Have they made any changes based on her criticism -- criticism we heard in here last week, I believe.
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen anything, Bill, on the wires or on the networks, in answer to that question. I would just note, though, what Ambassador Madeleine Albright said earlier today in Beijing, and she said in effect that when China agreed to host the Women's Conference, it accepted certain responsibilities, including the responsibility to ensure full freedom of expression and association for participants, and we expect China to fulfill the commitments it made to the international community regarding its preparations for the conference and its handling of security arrangements, both at the conference and at the Non- Governmental Organization Forum outside of Beijing.
That's a very important statement made this morning by Ambassador Albright, and I recommend it to you.
Q Nick, just one quick one. Tass announced this morning that Russia will be cooperating on the third nuclear reactor with Iran. Is that something you all are familiar with and can comment on?
MR. BURNS: Sid, last week we debated this issue at some length. There are all sorts of contradictory statements out of the MINATOM -- the Ministry of Atomic Energy in Moscow -- about a third reactor, about a fourth reactor. Minister Mikhailov gave a press conference in which he said that none of these reports were true.
So it appears to us, at least, that the matter stands where we left it, and that is that there's a possibility of two nuclear reactor sales or renovation of two with Iran. Of course, the United States is absolutely and adamantly opposed to this sale, and we continue to make that clear in all of our meetings with the Russians.
Q But Tass did issue a statement a couple of hours ago saying -- contradicting what you're saying, that there is in fact a third and a fourth.
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to look at the Tass statement. I think what's more important than statements from Tass will be statements from the specific ministers in the Russian Government who have responsibility, because last week there were official looking statements out of Moscow from news agencies, and then official denunciations of those statements.
So I think we'll look into it, Sid. It's a fair question, because it gets to a question that is at the heart of our relationship with Russia right now, and that is our continuing belief that any Russian, or Chinese for that matter, activities to buttress the nuclear power industry in Iran might very well lead Iran to have a significant advantage in developing nuclear weapons, and we stand opposed to that, and we think that it should be in the interests of Russia as well as China to also cease and desist from these types of activities.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:17 p.m.)
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