U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/09/06 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, September 6, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Contact Group Meeting in Paris, September 7 ...............1 -- Expectations/OIC Countries Attending ...................1-2 -- Bosnia Serb Attendance .................................4 -- Iranian Participation/U.S.-Iranian Contact .............10-12,14-15 -- U.S. Support of Meeting ................................13-14 A/S Holbrooke's Activities ................................2-4 Agreement Not to Bomb Bosnian Serb Civilians Halting/Bombardment .....................................5-6 Options/Steps if Bosnian Serbs Don't Meet Conditions ......7-8,18-19 Milosevic As Speaker for Bosnian Serbs ....................4-5,8-9 Milosevic's Response to Bombing ...........................9-10 Diplomatic Efforts and NATO Bombing .......................10 Izetbegovic in Ankara .....................................12 Russia Condemns NATO Strikes ..............................12-13 Contact Group Meeting in Geneva, September 8 ..............13 -- Bosnian Serb Representation/War Criminals ..............15-16,19 -- Implementation of Peace Force ..........................21-22 -- Announcing a Date for Peace Talks ......................24 Continuing NATO Bombing Offensive/UNPROFOR ................16,18-19,22 Discussion of Eastern Slavonia ............................18 U.S. View on Status of Sarajevo ...........................19-21 Deployment of Turkish Troops in Bosnia ....................24-25 RUSSIA/IRAN Reported Cooperation on a Third/Fourth Reactor Sale .......22-24 IRAQ/KURDS Iraqi Kurdish Faction Meeting in Dublin ...................25 UNITED NATIONS U.S. Senior Officials Attendance at Clinton's Speech ......25-27 Administration Reviewed Speech ............................27 U.S.-Chinese Relations After Speech .......................27-28 MIDDLE EAST U.S. Policy on Jerusalem ..................................28-29 Secretary Meeting with "Seeds of Peace" ...................30-32 Status of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations ................32 -- Settlement in Hebron ...................................32 FRANCE U.S. Reaction to French Nuclear Testing Curtailment .............................................32 CHINA Purchases of Forced-Labor Made Goods ......................32
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1995, 12:56 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Welcome back, Carol. Glad to see you. I'm prepared to go to your questions directly. You get the first question. It's your first day back.
Q What can you tell us about this Contact Group meeting in Paris Thursday? Who will go, and what do you expect to come out of it?
MR. BURNS: The French have called a meeting on Thursday on Bosnia -- the situation in Bosnia. I understand that it will include the Contact Group members: the United States, Russia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as Italy, Spain, and Canada. In addition, representatives of the OIC -- the Organization of Islamic countries -- will attend this meeting.
The United States will be represented by Under Secretary of State Peter Tarnoff. He'll be leaving Washington this afternoon to travel to Paris for this meeting.
I understand that Mr. Zotov will represent the Russian Federation. He is their normal Contact Group representative. I also understand that the Bosnian Foreign Minister, Minister Sacirbey, will be at this meeting.
From the OIC Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, and Senegal will attend as well as Indonesia. That's what we have so far from the French authorities.
Q Could you repeat those?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Senegal, and Indonesia.
This is a very important group for us. You remember that Dick Holbrooke stopped in Geneva the other day -- Sunday, I believe -- and he met with the OIC Contact Group. The OIC has its own Contact Group for this because the Muslim countries have a great interest in Bosnia and some of them are troop-contributors to the U.N. mission. So it's understandable that we'd want to have a fuller exchange at the Contact Group level with them to talk about not only the military situation on the ground but prospects for peace.
So it's an important meeting. Under Secretary of State Tarnoff will be representing the United States at that meeting.
Q Is Holbrooke going to be there? He's been doing the negotiations.
MR. BURNS: He will not be there. He'll be in Geneva. He plans to go to Geneva tomorrow to prepare for the Friday peace talks in Geneva. That will include, as you know, the three Foreign Ministers of Bosnia, Croatia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Serbia-Montenegro. He's going to be preparing for that.
If you'd like, I can go in a little bit to what his agenda has been over the last 24 hours since we last met.
Q Do that, and then we'll follow up. It doesn't matter. Either way. Go ahead.
MR. BURNS: Let me just say, as you know, on Bosnia in general, NATO air operations and the Rapid Reaction Force military operations continue today. This was necessary because the Bosnian Serb army has still not complied with the U.N. and NATO conditions.
Secretary Christopher is back in the Department. He had a series of meetings this morning, one of which was on Bosnia. He'll have another meeting on Bosnia with his advisors this afternoon. He is right now over at the White House with the President for the meetings with the Panamanian President.
Secretary Christopher was on the phone yesterday just before departing California with the NATO Secretary General, Willy Claes, and with the U.N. Under Secretary General, Kofi Annan, about the situation in Bosnia.
I can give you, if you would like, some information on the continued peripatetic diplomatic mission of Dick Holbrooke in Europe.
When we last left him, he had just traveled from Ankara to Belgrade for discussions last night with President Milosevic. This morning, he departed Belgrade for Zagreb in Croatia where he met with President Tudjman. He continued on from there to Rome for consultations with Italian Government officials. He is currently in a meeting in the Italian Foreign Ministry when I tried to reach him just a couple of minutes ago.
The stop in Rome is important because Italy is a valued ally and a partner in this process. Italy has been a member of this expanded Contact Group that has been meeting for some weeks now. As I said, Dick Holbrooke will arrive in Geneva tomorrow afternoon to prepare for the meeting that will take place at the U.S. Mission in Geneva on Friday. I expect that Dick will be returning to the United States some time over the weekend after the Geneva meeting is concluded.
Now, specifically on his meetings that took place over the last two days, he met with President Milosevic for several hours yesterday, Tuesday, September 5, in Belgrade. Of course, General Wes Clark from the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as others in his delegation were with him.
The discussion with President Milosevic focused on the state of the on-going peace initiative of the United States in the run-up to Friday's meeting. Dick Holbrooke continued to explore ideas for what we hope will turn out to be a comprehensive peace at some point in the region consistent with the principles of the U.S. peace initiative which, as you know, is based on the Contact Group map and plan.
In his meeting with President Tudjman in Zagreb this morning, he had his fifth such meeting with President Tudjman in two weeks. Their discussion also focused on the peace initiative. It gave Dick Holbrooke an opportunity to brief President Tudjman on the meeting with Milosevic (and) on the forthcoming Geneva meeting where Croatia will be represented by its Foreign Minister, Mr. Granic; and they had a talk on the situation in eastern Slavonia, which is of particular interest to the Croatian Government.
That is a little bit of information on Dick's travels.
Pertaining to the Geneva meeting, as I said, it will be held at the U.S. Mission. The participants will be members of the Contact Group, the European Union negotiator, Carl Bildt, and of course the three Foreign Ministers from Croatia, Bosnia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro).
As Dick Holbrooke was quoted as saying -- I think when he was in Zagreb -- this is going to be a difficult meeting because this will be the first time that these three Foreign Ministers have met to discuss the fundamental issues that have divided them for a number of years. We're looking forward to this meeting, but we do so with a pragmatic sense that we have begun over the last two weeks a very important peace process that we think will be a long process, a complex process, a very important one, but one that will require a lot of work, a lot of patience, a lot of creativity and ingenuity to move forward. And we remain dedicated to that.
Q Do you have any word today -- any new word on whether the Bosnian Serbs intend to attend?
MR. BURNS: No, I don't, Barry. As we left it yesterday, we had no word that there is a specific individual that would appear in Geneva as a representative from the Bosnian Serb leadership. But as you know, following the agreement that President Milosevic worked out, there is a joint delegation. At times, it may be that officials from Belgrade, in fact, represent all the Serbs -- the Bosnian Serbs as well the Serbian Government. So we just don't know. If someone shows up, of course, that person would be most welcome to participate in these discussions.
Q But, philosophically, would you want Serbia to represent the Bosnian Serbs? Doesn't that sound sort of like a Greater Serbia in one form or another?
MR. BURNS: No. A Greater Serbia -- that dream is finished.
Q It is?
MR. BURNS: It's finished. I think it's clear to everybody as a result of the Croatian offensive and of the great losses that the Serbs suffered on the battlefield, as well as by the renewed Western initiative demonstrated by the display of military power from the United Nations and NATO, that the dream of a Greater Serbia is absolutely finished. It's over. They no longer -- "they," the Bosnian Serbs -- can achieve their objectives on the battlefield. They've got to turn to the peace table. That's what we've been trying to tell them. That is one of the messages.
Q The statement has been trying to draw a distinction between the Serbs in Belgrade who you find a little less noxious than the Serbs in Bosnia. In fact, you've sort of gotten fond of the Serbs in Belgrade lately and think you're getting some help from them on this initiative.
I just wonder if you -- wouldn't you rather that the Bosnian Serbs do attend; that there be Bosnian Serbs at the table so at least they can be eye-balled and talked to about an agreement that they may or may not eventually uphold?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I don't know if "fond" is the right word. But we certainly have had a lot of contact with them over the last couple of weeks. The Government in Belgrade is a very important part of this process.
I think the fact that they've formed the joint delegation was an important development because that was the first signal last Wednesday and Thursday that, in fact, during the resumption -- during the NATO and U.N. military activity -- they were interested in peace.
President Milosevic maintains that he will speak from time to time, as a part of this process, on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs. That is positive because he has shown himself to be ready for peace discussions, and that is positive.
Q The Bosnian Serb President said on television this morning that he couldn't move those guns anymore because they were needed to protect the Bosnian Serbs who live around the guns. Does the United States feel it could give assurances to him that those population areas would not be harmed by the Muslims or NATO airstrikes or Rapid Reaction Force guns?
MR. BURNS: All the guns will fall silent -- all of the guns from all sides -- when the Bosnian Serbs decide they're more interested in peace than war. We have called upon all sides of this conflict, particularly during the last two weeks, to show restraint.
Steve, I saw the interview this morning on CNN. What, of course, struck me was this cynical charade that somehow the Bosnian Serbs were prepared to withdraw their heavy weapons on Monday evening and they were prevented from doing on Tuesday morning by the resumption of the U.N. and NATO air campaign. That is cynicism at its highest. We've seen it before. We saw it in 1994, and now we've seen it again. They moved a few weapons around inside the 20-kilometer zone around Sarajevo. They didn't move any weapons outside of that zone.
They said they were complying when in fact they weren't complying. It is cynicism, and it is a charade. We were certainly not fooled by it.
The West -- in this case the U.N. and NATO -- had every right and, indeed, an obligation to resume the air campaign because of that cynicism.
Q Does that put the lie to Karadzic's seemingly Al Haig-like statement that he was in charge? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: Steve, as I've said before, it sometimes very difficult discern all of the behavior and statements of the Bosnian leadership and sometimes to even make sense of it.
We have seen a lot of conflicting and contradictory statements out of the Bosnian Serb leadership over the last 10 days. Again, words are cheap and words are easy; actions are much more important in this kind of situation. We're going to look at the actions and judge them accordingly.
Q Would you deal with the proposition head on, though -- can you? Can the State Department? Would the State Department entertain the notion of halting the bombardment, the NATO bombardment, to test whether the Bosnian Serbs indeed would use that hiatus to remove their weapons? Is there a point to doing that, or are you figuring they're so cynical, why even go through the exercise.
MR. BURNS: I have two things to say on that, Barry. Number one is the State Department will not make the decision as to when the bombing starts or ends. NATO and the U.N. will. Secondly, there was a pause in the NATO-U.N. bombing over the weekend. It lasted for four days.
During that four-day period, there was specific, very clear discussions between General Janvier and General Mladic. There were very clear messages sent to the Bosnian Serbs, privately as well as publicly. Here is the chance to prove by deeds that what you say in public will in fact happen; that you're interested in turning towards peace; that you will in fact move these weapons out of the zone as you have promised to do.
They had the chance for four days. At the 11th hour on Monday evening, as the ultimatum was set to expire, they moved a few weapons around within the 20-kilometer zone. They proudly proclaimed for everyone to see that they were moving them. They said they were moving them out of the zone. That was not true. Therefore, NATO and the U.N. had no recourse but to learn the lessons of history. And the lessons in this particular history are that this has happened before, that some people have been fooled in the past, and that that's no longer going to be the case. We weren't going to be fooled this time.
Q Admiral Smith said this morning in Naples that it is not his desire to inflict a lot of damage with these airstrikes. What if the Serbs decide that they can just -- if they realize that, that they're not going to be hurt militarily in the long run by these airstrikes and just make a political decision to sit them out, what options does that leave the West?
MR. BURNS: I have not seen all of Admiral Smith's interview. I have seen parts of it. I know that as part of that response he said that we have in fact, I think, inflicted certainly military damage on the Bosnian Serbs -- NATO and the United Nations -- and that is not inconsiderable damage; that they clearly are feeling the pain right now.
The decision as to when the bombing will stop is up to the Bosnian Serbs. It's up to them to decide this question. If they by their deeds prove that they're willing to meet the conditions that were laid out by the United Nations and by NATO, that they're willing to go to the peace table and leave behind them forever the prospect of gaining advantage by warfare, then it's very clear what's going to happen.
Of course the bombing will stop. But the bombing will not stop until the NATO and U.N. Commanders on the ground ascertain that Sarajevo is safe and ascertain that the conditions they have put forward have been et. And that's as clear as day.
Q May I follow-up on if they don't meet those conditions?
MR. BURNS: We'll just have to take things -- it's hard to look behind the horizon of a week or so in Bosnia, as you know very well. We'll have to take that situation as it comes. But I think that the Bosnian Serbs should not miss the very strong public message of the last eight or nine days -- and that is that they could once run amok in Bosnia, they could once rape and pillage cities, and they now cannot.
They now are on the defensive. They now are facing very intensive NATO air bombardment. They're facing the guns of the Rapid Reaction Force from Mt. Igman and other places around Sarajevo. It's a new day, it's certainly something different than they have felt in the past, and they ought to learn the lesson. This is not temporary. This is not illusory. It's not something that can be waited out, because there's a collective expression of international will here that the time has come to move to the peace table. That's what's important about what's happened over the last week.
We have a military process underway. There is a diplomatic process underway. Nobody believes that this situation can be resolved by air power alone. We certainly believe that it can only be settled at the peace table. We are offering the olive branch. We are offering the peace table to the Bosnian Serbs. They ought to take it. It's in their own self-interest to do so.
Q Speaking of the peace table you just referred to, I think a few moments ago you said Milosevic said he would speak for them -- the Bosnian Serbs -- from time to time. Does he speak for them from to time and when it's presumably convenient, or does he speak for them at all times? And on the subject of Holbrooke's meetings with Milosevic, do you mean to say that the subject of -- that Dick Holbrooke doesn't know whether there's going to be a Bosnian Serb representative at the table on Friday in Geneva?
MR. BURNS: Charlie, on your second question, all I can tell you is that we have not heard an announcement from Belgrade or from Pale that a specific individual is going to be at the table in Geneva. We're awaiting any such announcement, if it is to come.
Q That doesn't answer my question. Has Holbrooke heard from Milosevic whether Bosnian Serbs would be there -- individuals' names?
MR. BURNS: I can't tell you everything that Dick knows. I mean, he is in five capitals a day most days. He's got a lot of information in his head.
Q (Inaudible) that one away. Now go back to the --
MR. BURNS: That's right. I skirted that question. Let me move on to the first question. Would you like to repeat that?
Q Does he speak for the Bosnian Serbs from time to time, or does he speak for them, period?
MR. BURNS: There's a joint negotiating team that has been formed, and that team is headed by President Milosevic. There will be times when President Milosevic meets alone with Western interlocutors, as he has done on a number of occasions over the last couple of weeks with Dick Holbrooke and his colleagues.
There will be times when the Serb Government leaders in Belgrade, along with Bosnian Serbs, meet together with Western interlocutors at Geneva and outside of Geneva. So it's not an exact science, and I think that's the best description that the Serbian Government gave it. But it's a joint delegation.
What's important about that is that Belgrade does have influence, we believe, among all the Serbs; that President Milosevic is a respected leader among the Serbs. And for him to come out and dedicate his government to a peace process is a positive sign. It's the beginning of a process that we hope can move forward.
Q Can you shed any light on what Mr. Milosevic told Mr. Holbrooke about the bombing?
MR. BURNS: I cannot. I don't have any quotes to give you from President Milosevic about the bombing. I would note, though, Sid, that last Wednesday morning -- the morning that the bombing started and again just yesterday -- Dick Holbrooke had successful, lengthy, productive meetings with President Milosevic as the military activity was underway. I think that's in part the answer to your question.
Q He didn't object to the bombing then or at least there's nothing that you want to share with us along those lines?
MR. BURNS: I can't state categorically that he did not object to it. I don't know that he's pleased about it. But I think it's --
Q He didn't sort of pause?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that he did. But again I can't speak for all of the discussions that have taken place between Dick Holbrooke and President Milosevic. There are some parts of those discussions that we're going to leave off the public record, and there are other things that we would maybe like to put on the public record that we are not aware of right now.
I mean, these things take some time. But I think it is positive that the Government in Belgrade has decided that it's committed to a peace process. It's sending its Foreign Minister to the meeting in Geneva in two days' time, and we're going to build on that momentum.
Q Nick, Holbrooke said on Sunday on a television interview that the bombing was irrelevant to the peace process; that it was related solely to the Serb behavior around Sarajevo, which he called outrageous. Today you made a direct link between the bombing and the peace process and came close to saying NATO was bombing the Bosnian Serbs to the peace table. Why the shift in policy?
MR. BURNS: I didn't say that. I didn't say that NATO was bombing the Serbs to the peace table and didn't mean it. Dick is absolutely correct in stating -- he was on Sunday and I think he restated this with a slightly different formulation earlier today in Zagreb -- in saying that we have in this very complex situation a couple of things happening here.
We have the decision by the U.N. and NATO to undertake air and conventional land operations against the Bosnian Serb military because of their transgressions and because of their failure to meet the clearly stated conditions that have been laid down by both the United Nations and NATO.
We also have happening a peace process which is just now developing; and there is no tight, exact, detailed linkage between the people responsible for these two actions. Dick Holbrooke, as I said, is in five countries a day some days -- today, three.
He is not talking minute-by-minute or even hour-by-hour with the NATO and U.N. military commanders. They have their own clear instructions and by their own authority began, paused and recommenced military action. Dick is operating under the authority of President Clinton and Secretary of State Christopher. They have sent him to the region to take advantage of what we believe is a narrow window of opportunity for peace, and to try to use that opportunity to move forward.
So I think Dick was absolutely correct in putting it the way he did, and I would put it the same way.
Q What's the agenda for tomorrow's meeting, and does the presence of Iran pose any difficulties for this government?
MR. BURNS: The agenda for tomorrow's meeting is being established by the French Government, so I refer you to the French for a detailed explanation of the agenda. But, as I understand it, in general it is to be a meeting where the Islamic countries have a chance to meet and discuss these issues in some detail with the Contact Group countries and the Bosnian Government.
The meeting on Friday is intended, as we said yesterday, to be a meeting to establish the foundations of what we hope will be a comprehensive set of negotiations that will take place later on -- the principles that will be the foundations for a peace process among the major parties to this conflict. I really don't have a comment on the presence of Iran. It's an Islamic country. It's a part of this organization.
Q Will this be the highest level meeting between and American official and an Iranian in quite some time?
MR. BURNS: It's a very specific question, so let me try to give you a specific answer without trying to be too pendantic about it. I'm not trying to be too pedantic about it. It's not a meeting between the United States and Iran. It's an international meeting called by France, in which there will be an Iranian and an American participating among a lot of people. So it's in no sense a bilateral meeting, and we don't view it as such.
Q Nick, just about six months ago Dick Holbrooke himself said on the record that Iran is unwanted in Bosnia. It has no role and called them a bunch of terrorists. Is there a change of heart now?
MR. BURNS: The United States didn't -- we didn't sit back and cogitate for hours and hours about whether or not Iran should be invited to this meeting in Paris. The fact is that we were invited by the French Government. The French Government invited the OIC countries. Iran is a member of the OIC. It's really not a big deal. We didn't have to jump through hoops to decide what to do.
Peter Tarnoff will represent the United States. There will be many, many other people in the room. It's an international meeting. This is not intended by any grand or Machiavellian design to bring two people together in the room. It's simply a coincidence, actually.
Q If I could just follow up. Iran has also offered a division of troops for peacekeeping in Bosnia or something in Bosnia. Does Iran have a role to play on the ground in Bosnia, as far as the United States is concerned?
MR. BURNS: If Iran has offered a division of troops, I don't believe anyone has leapt forward to accept that offer.
I don't think the United States would think that would be a wise thing to do.
Q Okay, but what about a role? It doesn't have to be a division. Maybe it could be a patrol. Does Iran have a role to play on the ground in Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: The OIC has a role to play, because the OIC does have troop-contributing nations, among them some Southeast Asian nations, and they have a very important role to play. The connection with the OIC is important, because there is very great concern in the Islamic world about this particular conflict. We are sensitive to that, as is the French Government, and that is the reason for this meeting.
The United States does not believe that Iran does or should have much of a role in this particular conflict. We've turned a corner in this conflict. We are at the beginning of what we hope will be a renewed peace process, and we're doing just fine, thank you, without the additions of the contributions of any other state like Iran.
Q (Inaudible) yesterday that it was Izetbegovic who was in Ankara for that meeting?
MR. BURNS: Yes. He was in Ankara.
Q What was he doing over there? That's not on his way anywhere right now.
MR. BURNS: I can't say exactly what he was doing. He did meet with Dick Holbrooke, which was, I think, an important part of his stop in Ankara.
Q Did he say what he was in Turkey about -- meeting Izetbegovic?
MR. BURNS: No, he didn't mention that to me when I talked to him, but they had a very good meeting there. As I said, Dick has moved around Europe fairly rapidly. He's really covered almost all of the countries that are directly influenced by this conflict or have influence on it, and we believe that we've touched the bases that we should in anticipation of the Friday meeting in Geneva.
Q Russia has called the -- condemned the NATO strikes as illogical and punitive. Obviously, the U.S. favors the strikes. It had a lot to do with the strikes. What are you telling the Russians? How do you approach this? Is it a serious disagreement?
MR. BURNS: It's certainly a tactical disagreement, there's no question about that. We have had, through the history of the Contact Group, dating back to the late winter, early spring of 1994 -- we've had a number of tactical disagreements in the Group, not just between the United States and Russia; sometimes between other of our European allies, some of them and us. That's not surprising, considering how complex the situation is.
We're confident that when the peace talks get going, as they will on Friday, the Russians will be there, the Russians will take part. The Russians have consistently said this is what they want to have happen. They want the situation to turn from war to peace. So do we, and Friday is the first step in that process, and the Russians will be there with us. We're not overly worried about this. We've had an extensive set of discussions with the Russians this week and last about our respective views, and I think it is what it is.
Carol first and then David.
Q Is the United States actually chairing those peace talks on Friday?
MR. BURNS: Yes. The meeting is going to be held at the U.S. Mission in Geneva, and it will be chaired by Dick Holbrooke. The Contact Group is a collegial organization, and the chair revolves, depending sometimes on geographic location and sometimes on who had the initiative to call the meeting.
In this case, the United States took the initiative to call this particular meeting, and so therefore Dick will be chairing it. I remember very well the Contact Group Ministers' meeting in Noordwijk that went until two or three in the morning. It was chaired by the French Foreign Minister, Minister De Charette. So the chair does revolve, and in this case it will be an American chair.
Q And tomorrow's meeting with the OIC countries -- how do you see that supporting what's going to happen on Friday?
MR. BURNS: We have felt for a long time -- Secretary Christopher, Dick Holbrooke and others in this building -- that the OIC does have a role to play here. It's an important source of moral support for the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian people who have been subjected to warfare.
They are among the leading troop-contributors to UNPROFOR Moslem nations, and so therefore, since they have organized themselves into their own Contact Group, it's a very important base to touch. It's a very important place to go to trade ideas, to brief on what the foundations of this peace process are, to get their sense of how they can contribute to it. The French have taken the initiative to pull this meeting together between the Contact Group countries and OIC. It's a good idea, and that's why we're going to be there tomorrow.
Q Can we -- just a little bit more. I know you've dealt with it to some extent. Will there be U.S.-Iranian contact? You said it's not a bilateral meeting, but it's not much of a secret that Iran provides weapons to the Bosnian Government, and I don't know that the U.S. is upset about that.
It sort of sounds like we're replaying the old U.S.-PLO contacts. Will there be social contact between the U.S. and the Iranians? Will there be occasions when a common purpose will be served -- the Iranian interest in supporting the Bosnian Government and your interest? Will there be any discourse between American and Iranian officials, because, you know, you've pretty much managed to steer clear of Iran for some years now.
MR. BURNS: I think, with all due respect, that we're probably making a little bit too much of this. We have not sat back over the last couple of days or weeks and said, "How can we manage to get ourselves in the same room with Iran?" It's not like that at all.
Q But you will be in the same room.
MR. BURNS: We got the invitation list. We received it from the French Government. We're on it. Under Secretary of State Tarnoff will be there. We notice that the Government of Iran will be there. We are going to be a good guest. The French have invited both countries; there's not much we can do about that. This is in no way, shape or form an attempt by the United States to talk to the Iranians through the back door.
I don't anticipate there will be any serious bilateral discussions there. It is a discussion on Bosnia. There will be more than 20 people in the room. There will be a lot of people to talk to. So we're not planning extensive contacts.
They're going to be in the same room, so I cannot promise you that they won't look at each other or perhaps even exchange a word or two. I just can't promise that. But I can tell you that this is not a way to get at a U.S.-Iranian dialogue. Not at all.
Q (Inaudible) just how aloof you can be from the Iranians when the two governments have a common interest here.
MR. BURNS: We're fairly aloof in general. We're fairly aloof. (Laughter)
Q One of the goals Friday, you said, was to build a foundation for future peace talks. Would one of those foundations be an understanding amongst the parties that each party can name its own negotiators to attend the peace talks, and that those persons named will be able to attend the talks without difficulty?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that that has come up in Dick Holbrooke's conversations. It could have come up, but I just haven't been apprised of that by him. It's been --
Q What I'm getting at is the Serbs have already named their six- man delegation, and there are two war criminals on the list, and I wonder whether they're going to be allowed to attend peace talks.
MR. BURNS: There are indeed two people indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal on that list -- absolutely correct. It hasn't been a question in our minds over the last week as to who would attend the peace meeting scheduled by the United States. It will be the three Foreign Ministers that we have mentioned, and so therefore this question hasn't come up.
Q Any discussion yet going on? Has Mr. Holbrooke had any about where peace talks should occur?
MR. BURNS: Do you mean peace talks that might occur after this first meeting?
MR. BURNS: A comprehensive set of peace negotiations?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if he has gotten to that stage, frankly. The challenge of scheduling this meeting, of working through the substantive agenda for this meeting, of trying to contact all the parties to the meeting and work out a way that this meeting might be successful, that has been considerable.
It's forced Dick Holbrooke to devote all of his considerable energies to it. He's been all over Europe talking about it, so I don't believe that he's really focused or we certainly have not focused back here on the logistics of any future peace meetings. You know, where would it be, in which hall, what city would it be in, or what the shape of the table would be -- that kind of thing.
Q Isn't it pretty fundamental that the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs have to be able to choose their representative, and that person has to be at such peace talks? Isn't it a fundamental problem, not just a logistical problem, that the two top leaders of the Bosnian Serbs can't travel without risk of arrest?
MR. BURNS: They certainly can't travel in most parts of the world in countries that belong to the International Court of Justice and in countries that support the War Crimes Tribunal. Among those countries is the United States. We support the War Crimes Tribunal. We helped to finance it, and we have even detailed and seconded American officials to support the activities of that.
We have supported the indictments and fully support the process that may or may not lead from indictments to convictions. It's very clear what the United States supports here. There may be ways, David, for some of these individuals to travel to countries that don't have a relationship with the International Court of Justice and with the United Nations in general. That is a possible avenue for them. I'm not advising them of that. I'm just noting that as a fact.
To take it back one step, David, I think the most important point to offer -- that we can offer -- is this: President Milosevic established a joint delegation, and he said that from time to time meetings could take place between one member of that joint delegation and the international community, namely, himself. That certainly happened over the last week and two weeks as he has met Dick Holbrooke.
So it may be that there's some flexibility for the Serbs in general and the way that they approach collectively any peace negotiations.
Q Thanks. Nick, to revisit the military enforcement issue, a couple of questions. One, will the NATO-UNPROFOR military intercession be persistent? Is it intended, planned to be persistent through time? Is it going to be in effect? Is the United States going to continue to participate and support this to show that we have staying power, one. That's, you know, to prevent further Serb military gains. In other words, to keep them stalemated. Question number one.
MR. BURNS: It's going to be persistent and consistent and forceful, and NATO and the U.N. have made that clear. Again, without trying to be too simplistic about it, it's the Bosnian Serbs who will determine when this phase ends and when we can finally turn completely away from war towards peace. That's where the United States wants the situation to head.
Q And if I could follow, please.
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q Then NATO and UNPROFOR are intended to be the only military actor in the theater, in the Bosnian theater -- the only one taking any military action. Is that --
MR. BURNS: We certainly hope so, and we certainly await the day when NATO and the U.N.'s military efforts will no longer be necessary because all parties will have devoted themselves to peace after four years of war. That's clearly not the case this week.
The Bosnian Serbs remain in some ways very active militarily, and they have not complied with one of the more important conditions laid down by General Janvier, and that is the withdrawal of the heavy weapons from in and around Sarajevo, a very important condition laid down by the United Nations.
Q They are stymied, though, are they not -- stalemated -- in that they cannot take offensive military action with this air power hanging over their heads.
MR. BURNS: They have not taken the kind of offensive action that they took to the great disadvantage of everybody in the region in July, but they have from time to time over the last eight or nine days engaged in some shelling of civilian parts of Sarajevo.
Q Understood. But in the respect that they cannot no longer go on the offensive, are they not in fact -- in this respect are they not defeated militarily?
MR. BURNS: They certainly have suffered a defeat, but they continue to represent -- their guns represent a threat to the citizens of Sarajevo, and the United Nations and NATO are taking this action to relieve the citizens of Sarajevo from this threat. We want to make Sarajevo a safe city this winter -- the fourth winter of war.
Q Did Holbrooke have any success in persuading Tudjman not to send his troops into Eastern Slavonia?
MR. BURNS: I think I'll leave that for Dick. Dick feels very strongly, he doesn't want to publicize all aspects of his conversations. The subject of Eastern Slavonia was intensively discussed yesterday, as it has, I think, in all of the five meetings that Dick Holbrooke has had with President Tudjman over the last couple of weeks. It's a subject of great concern to all parties.
Q Is the Administration confident now that there will be no UNPROFOR withdrawal this fall?
MR. BURNS: I think the prospect of an UNPROFOR withdrawal has completely gone away. That was a question -- a very real question in July after the failure of the U.N. effort in Srebrenica and Zepa. There's nobody that I know of who is planning an UNPROFOR withdrawal this autumn or this winter.
There was some talk about that in July. There's no longer any talk about that, because the situation has changed, I think, principally because of the decisive nature of the London Conference, in renewing the will of the Western community, and by the Croatian offensive. The situation has changed.
Q When did Holbrooke meet Tudjman? Yesterday or today?
MR. BURNS: Today, in Zagreb. Yes.
Q Given your aversion to hypothetical questions, I'll pose one at any rate. Should what is happening now in terms of airstrikes and artillery shelling from NATO and the United Nations not finally convince the Bosnian Serbs to move their guns, what does the United States have in mind as a next stage or step?
MR. BURNS: We have not looked down the road and prepared contingency plans for failure. We are preparing for success. We're preparing for a peace process. We're being very pragmatic about it. We know that it will be long and complicated, and we know that success in that will be elusive and may take a long time, but we are not preparing right now for the great efforts made by the international community over the last two weeks to fail.
We have every reason to think that at some point self-interest will dictate the behavior of the Bosnian Serbs.
Q Will the NATO bombing continue through the Friday meeting if the heavy forces aren't out of the exclusion zone, or is there any consideration being given to some type of pause during the Friday Geneva meeting?
MR. BURNS: The bombing will continue as long as the NATO and U.N. Commanders believe it is necessary, and ultimately it's up to the Bosnian Serbs. I can't forecast when this bombing will cease; when there may or may not be a pause. It's entirely possible that there will be a peace meeting that coexists -- that takes place simultaneously with the air campaign and the RRF campaign -- entirely possible for that to happen.
Q Is Switzerland one of those places where these Bosnian Serbs who are accused of war crimes travel without fear of being arrested for those crimes?
MR. BURNS: I missed the very beginning of the question. I'm sorry.
Q Is Switzerland one of the countries where these people can travel without fear of being arrested for those crimes?
MR. BURNS: Let me check on that for you.
Q Could we ask about those Russian reactors to Iran, reports of which you were skeptical yesterday. Q One more on Bosnia.
MR. BURNS: Barry, we have another Bosnia question. Let me get to that in a minute. Yes, Tom.
Q Karadzic said this morning that it seems to him that the aim of this operation is to force the Muslims to give up all of Sarajevo. Can you clarify what is the U.S. view on what the status of Sarajevo should be, and is this, in your view, a negotiable issue in these peace meetings, whether Sarajevo can be divided along ethnic lines or not?
MR. BURNS: Tom, I'm just going to have to tell you up front that what we don't want to start doing is debating publicly our position on some of the very important issues that will be debated in Geneva on Friday and we hope after Friday. I have seen comments this morning from the Bosnian Government as well as the Bosnian Serbs on that issue.
I think the U.S. position on Sarajevo is well known. What we want to do right now is keep Sarajevo unified, safe and peaceful. I think the premium right now is on safety, is to relieve the military pressure from the big guns around Sarajevo -- the Bosnian Serb guns -- and that is one of the objectives of the NATO-U.N. operation.
Q Isn't that a little short of where you were -- the State Department was -- that Sarajevo is the capital of a sovereign country, a country that you wanted recognized by Milosevic, for instance; and, without going into what Holbrooke's game plan was for making trade-offs, which have fallen apart anyhow because of the Gorazde problem, you're not retreating from the notion that Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia.
MR. BURNS: Not at all. In fact, one of the cornerstones of the U.S. peace effort is that Bosnia should remain a single state within its present territorial boundaries, that are internationally recognized. We have diplomatic relations with Bosnia. It has a capital in Sarajevo. We have an Ambassador in Sarajevo. I'm not retreating from that at all. I just didn't give a detailed, comprehensive answer.
Q When you're asked about 51/49, you say everything's negotiable when you get to the table. I mean, you know, it's awkward for the U.S. Government, I understand, to say what's negotiable and what isn't negotiable, but your position on Sarajevo is about as well known as your position on Jerusalem. You know, it leaves a lot ambiguous. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: You know, Barry, you've made a very --
Q It's about as ambiguous as your position on Jerusalem.
MR. BURNS: -- you've made a very good suggestion. I think that for all further questions -- I mean, I think we can say, you know, it's such a sensitive issue and our position is so well known on Sarajevo.
Q Can I ask one about the reactor sales to Iran, reports of which --
Q (Multiple comments)
MR. BURNS: You've really opened up the box.
Q You left out the word "multi-ethnic" in your definition of Sarajevo. Was that intended?
MR. BURNS: No. Generally, on issues like Jerusalem, Taiwan, Kashmir, I give theological responses. I will get you a theological response on this particular issue and give it at the briefing tomorrow. I was just very innocently --
Q (Multiple comments)
MR. BURNS: -- very innocently trying to reply to Tom's question by saying that we have a well known position on Sarajevo, but right now what's most important is the safety of the people within Sarajevo and all the international efforts are directed to that right now -- relieve the military pressure from Sarajevo.
Q I wonder if you --
MR. BURNS: Is this still on Bosnia?
Q No, it's on Jerusalem.
MR. BURNS: Okay. (Laughter) Is there a Kashmir question? Can we just make sure that we've totally exhausted the Bosnia question, and then Barry has reactors, then we'll go to Jerusalem, and we'll go Kashmir -- if anyone wants to go Kashmir -- and we'll do Taiwan as well.
Q Will tomorrow's meeting and/or Friday's meeting discuss the question of a follow-on force to implement a peace agreement in Bosnia, and is it the United States position that that force should be under NATO command?
MR. BURNS: There has been discussion within our government and within the West -- contacts with the Europeans about this particular issue. There's been a lot of discussion about it. We are not yet at the stage, Mark, where I think that's going to be a primary issue on the agenda or perhaps even a secondary issue, either in the meeting in Paris or the principal meeting in Geneva on Friday.
At some point, if we get to that, we'll be able to tell ourselves we've made a lot of progress, because we're at the stage where we're talking about how to implement a peace agreement. We're clearly not at that point yet.
Q When you were asked --
Q (Inaudible) under NATO command?
MR. BURNS: I think that decision just remains -- it's in the future. It needs to be decided at some point if we get to a peace agreement, but we're not there yet.
Q So that's not the American position.
MR. BURNS: What I don't want to do is to go into some of the conversations we've had on a confidential basis with our European partners, and I don't want to look, in this situation especially, ahead too far. We don't take success for granted in the peace process. We've just started it. We've just made a first few good steps.
Let's work on those steps. If we get to the point where there's a peace agreement and the question is, how do you enforce it on the ground, we'll give it all of our attention and we'll talk about it here at the briefing in as much detail as we've talked about other things today.
Q If you don't take success for granted, why aren't you planning for other contingencies militarily?
MR. BURNS: Because we've made a lot of good steps in the last two weeks, Charlie. The situation has come a long way, and we are dedicated to maintaining the momentum in this process.
Q What is the U.S. Government's official understanding of whether or not Russia intends to provide Iran with nuclear reactors?
MR. BURNS: David, let me answer this question and then we'll go back to -- I have to defer to the senior correspondent in the room here. Barry, MINATOM is the Ministry of the Russian Government.
Q (Inaudible) and now we have officials.
MR. BURNS: Do you want to answer the question?
Q No. I say you have officials. Have you heard otherwise from the Russian Government?
MR. BURNS: I just want to give a complete answer because I think people are looking for complete answers this morning, comprehensive answers to all questions. I want to give a complete answer. It will be very short.
We assume that the statements of the Russian leadership reflect official Russian Government policy.
I understand that Minister Mikhailov, the Russian Minister who heads MINATOM, has said that Russia's January 1995 Protocol with Iran has called for the completion of one nuclear power unit at Bushehr and work on construction of several light-water research reactors. No information has been given to us on the locations of those reactors.
He stated on August 29 that the Bushehr Agreement provides for a total of four power reactors but that no timetable has been set for the construction of the additional units.
Our position has been with the Russian Government, as recently as this morning, that we're absolutely, unequivocally opposed to Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran.
There have been conflicting statements from the Russian Government and press about this issue. We assume that what the Minister says represents official Russian Government policy.
Q What do you mean, "as of this morning?" You told it to them this morning?
MR. BURNS: We have been talking to the Russians --
Q In Moscow or here?
MR. BURNS: -- consistently on this issue in Moscow. We continuously raise this issue with the Russian Government. The President raised it with President Yeltsin in May. The Vice President raised it with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin in June. The Secretary has raised it with Minister Kozyrev. We have established, as a result of the May Summit in Moscow, an expert level working group to trade information and views on this issue.
We are not yet, from a U.S. point of view, at the end of this discussion. Because we think, again, it ought to be in Russia's self- interest to reflect upon the fact that an Iran capable of designing and building nuclear weapons is not in Russia's interest. That's where we believe this type of civilian cooperation can lead -- to military purposes.
Q But even tougher than that, it's going to assist -- the Secretary has led a campaign to provide no sophisticated technology to Iran or to Iraq.
This man, head of the construction department of the Ministry, says the contract calls for shipping in two reactors. Have they told you they're not going to ship those reactors?
MR. BURNS: They have told us that they're going to help complete construction of one; that the total deal does call for four. But they have not told us that the construction of the other three is underway, as far as I know. We've had a very active diplomatic discourse with them on this.
Q Isn't completion of construction the kind of thing that was up in the air and to be discussed by the Gore-Chernomyrdin? It sounds like they've come to a conclusion.
MR. BURNS: We hope they haven't come to a conclusion. Sometimes in dealing with this government and other governments, it's hard to know -- because there are so many different statements -- what's up and what's down.
But on this one, I think the Russian leadership -- President Yeltsin, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, Minister Mikhalilov -- cannot have failed to understand our position on this issue, which is, felt at the highest levels, to be a very serious issue in the U.S.-Russia relationship.
David, you had another question on Bosnia.
Q I want to ask you whether it is one of Mr. Holbrooke's goals at the meeting on Friday that he will chair to be able to announce a date and place for peace talks?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. As he said this morning and as he has said many times over the last couple of days, let's not get our hopes up too high. This is a meeting to discuss the principles that will lie at the heart of future negotiations. I don't believe that we are planning right now to announce anything specific at Geneva.
If we're in a position as a result of the meeting in Geneva to do that, that would be a great step forward. But we are not going into this meeting, as far as I know, with that kind of expectation.
Q There are reports which say that among the topics Mr. Holbrooke discussed in Ankara with President Izetbegovic and President Demirel is the deployment of Turkish troops to Bosnia once a peace treaty is signed. Could you comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I really can't. I think it gets back to the question that Mark was asking about peace implementation. We have had some discussions, both within this government and with other governments, about this prospect.
But it is well down the road, and we're not at this time prepared to announced any kind of understandings or agreements or even discussions with other governments on this.
Q My question concerns what Mr. Holbrooke already discussed with the two Presidents?
MR. BURNS: I can't confirm that he specifically discussed that. Again, I wasn't in the meeting. I know, in general, what transpired. I can't account for every part of the discussion.
Q Do you know anything about a meeting of the Iraqi Kurdish factions in Dublin on September 12?
MR. BURNS: In Dublin?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of that specific meeting.
Q How about another location?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not aware of that. I do know that we are in contact with them fairly regularly, with the two major Kurdish organizations in northern Iraq. We have appealed to them to put aside their differences, to stop fighting, and to concentrate on peace and stability in northern Iraq which has been elusive for four years. I'm not aware of a Dublin meeting.
Q (Inaudible) special meeting --
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to check.
Q I have another question. Apparently, Assistant Secretary Lord and some other U.S. officials had a hard time getting in to hear Hillary Clinton's speech. I was wondering how you felt about that?
MR. BURNS: As I understand it, Mrs. Clinton was to have given a speech to many thousands of people outdoors. It was raining very hard. At the last moment -- I think you understand how these events happen -- the speech was moved indoors to a facility that housed about 1,500 people. In the process of going outside to inside, it is true that Win Lord and I believe Secretary Shalala had some trouble getting into the hall. They did make it into the hall. They were able to hear Mrs. Clinton speak, and that's the important thing.
Q It was no big deal?
MR. BURNS: I don't think it was. I think Donna Shalala was quoted as saying that the women's movement has suffered much greater trials than this -- something to that effect. I thought that was the best comment on that.
Q You're dealing in relativities here. What's the important thing, and worse injustices. Were they treated improperly by the Chinese Government?
MR. BURNS: I don't know, Barry.
Q If there's some mild criticism, this is the opportunity for you to enunciate it.
MR. BURNS: Thank you. Thank you.
Q If you think it's just a matter of rain -- if rain was the problem, just say so, please?
MR. BURNS: Well, I just said so. I think the rain was the major -- Q -- but there are other considerations here.
MR. BURNS: I think that --
Q Don't be shy.
MR. BURNS: I'll try not to be shy, Barry. Thank you for the opportunity to make this statement on U.S.-Chinese relations.
I think we don't have a first-hand account from either Secretary Shalala or from Win on this. We understand by second hand what happened. We're not making a big deal about it. There's no reason to make a big deal about it. It's hard to move 15,000 people into 1,500 seats. That is, I think, the magnitude of the challenge this morning.
The fact is, Mrs. Clinton gave a very fine speech. She once again represented the Administration very, very well in China. Assistant Secretary Lord has been with her throughout the trip. He was able to hear the speech. He was wet by the time he got inside, but it's not that big a deal.
Q (Inaudible) criticizing China?
MR. BURNS: No. Mrs. Clinton's statement yesterday and her statement today obviously stand on their own. They represent the Administration's policy towards China very well.
Q Did the Administration review her speech before she gave it?
MR. BURNS: I can absolutely and equivocally say yes, at the highest levels. Also, Assistant Secretary Lord, who has been with her throughout her trip, was involved in looking at this speech and talking to her about this speech before and after the speech.
Her speech represents the views that are largely felt in this Administration.
Q Nick, Terrance Hunt, an AP White House correspondent, was on the scene and reported --
MR. BURNS: Which scene?
Q On the scene in Huairou --
MR. BURNS: During the rain.
Q During the rain --
MR. BURNS: Did he get into the speech?
Q I don't know about that. I think he did get in. He said that security forces posted at the entrances with their arms locked shoved away Donna Shalala and Winston Lord. They were man-handled; they were physically abused by security guards. Could you check to see first-hand from them if they, indeed, they were?
MR. BURNS: They're 12 hours or so ahead of us. We haven't had a chance to talk to them personally. Secretary Shalala commented to the press that she had gone through a lot worse than this in the history of the struggle for women's rights. That was her comment. She's a senior official of the government. I think we should put her comment out on the record and say, "That's a comment from the U.S. Government on this."
Ambassador Albright spoke yesterday to the very serious problems that have been encountered by many of the women due to the overbearing security throughout the last six or seven days, particularly at the NGO forum outside of Beijing. Ambassador Albright was on the record. I reiterated her comments yesterday. I don't think there's a need to do so today. We're not pleased with many aspects of the way this conference has been run. There's nothing new in this.
Q The Chinese are reporting gritting their teeth about the speeches of Mrs. Albright, who told us what she was going to do here in this room and went and did it; and especially the bold speech of the President's wife, Mrs. Clinton. Are not the relations between China and the United States being strained?
MR. BURNS: We've made a good step forward in U.S.-China relations by virtue of the August 1 meeting in Brunei between the Vice Prime Minister, Qian Qichen, and Secretary Christopher; by Peter Tarnoff's discussions with him and with other Chinese officials two weeks ago in Beijing.
Secretary Christopher is going to be seeing the Vice Prime Minister in a couple of weeks in New York. U.S.-China relations had been in a state of some difficulty. We think we have now restored some stability to that relationship. We think there is a lot of common ground between the United States and China as well as issues that divide us. What's important is that we talk about those issues and move forward as best as we can. That's what we're determined to do in our relationship with China.
Q On Jerusalem?
MR. BURNS: On Jerusalem.
Q When the issue of moving the Embassy from Tel Avid to Jerusalem was raised, you mentioned the well-known position of the President as it was made public during the campaign. It's still the policy of the United States.
First, this time you said it's well known, and you compared it to Taiwan -- you compared Jerusalem to Taiwan --
MR. BURNS: Don't take that literally, by the way. It has no implications for visas or anything else.
Q Anyhow, what I'm trying to understand --
MR. BURNS: Your visa or anyone else's visa.
Q If you can just, for the record, mention what is the policy towards Jerusalem and towards moving the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That's one --
MR. BURNS: That's one question.
Q The second thing is, in the letter that you sent to the Senate on the issue of moving the Embassy, it is mentioned that Jerusalem is important for Israelis and it is a holy place for Christians and Moslems -- not for Jews. It was done by mistake?
MR. BURNS: Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Christians, and Moslems -- for all three monotheistic religions. There's no question about that.
There are people in this room who can recite the Jerusalem position even better than I can. It is so well known.
Our position is that it is such a sensitive issue in the politics and the history of the region that the parties have agreed to discuss it themselves -- Israel and the Palestinian Authority -- in the final status talks. That takes place in 1996; not in 1995.
It is not to anyone's advantage for the United States to make detailed pronouncements on this issue or to get involved in this issue in any way that would be political before the parties have a chance to do it themselves. That's what is important about Jerusalem.
Q So now the position which was presented by President Clinton during the campaign is not any more the policy of the United States?
MR. BURNS: President Clinton has enunciated at several junctures the American position on Jerusalem. The American position is well known to everybody involved -- the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority, others in the region.
What's really important, though, is that the problems of the area will finally be resolved, not by the United States --
Q Why is it so secret that you can't mention --
MR. BURNS: If I could just finish. The problems of the Middle East are not going to be resolved by the United States. They're going to be resolved by Israel, the Palestinians, and Israel's neighbors.
The Israelis and Palestinians have decided not to talk about Jerusalem -- not to have their spokesmen stand up in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, in Gaza, and elsewhere and talk about a detailed position. That happens in 1996. So it doesn't make any sense for me to run contrary to the position and attitude of the Government of Israel or of the Palestinian Authority.
Q I'm not speaking of the spokesmen for the Israelis or the Palestinian Authority. I'm asking you as the Spokesman of the State Department -- what is the American position? "Well-known," -- if it's so obvious, why do you not just --
MR. BURNS: I'm doing my very best to give you my very best answer. I've given you, I think, the best answer I can to that question.
Q In a while -- maybe an hour -- the Secretary is going to meet with the "Seeds for Peace." Just back -- busy day -- he's talking about Bosnia; you've got Russia on the docket. He's just back from vacation.
Can you -- either here or maybe in some printed form, a couple of paragraphs -- explain how this came about? Because, obviously, having his picture taken with a group that has a particular position -- it's well known, by the way, on the Arab-Israeli dispute -- gives it a certain cachet, a certain publicity, certainly. I wonder how it all came about when the Secretary decided -- very unusually and at a very tough and a very busy time -- to go through this exercise and to bring all the cameras in? What brought that about?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary is busy today. He has had his Bosnia meetings. He's got another Bosnia meeting come up in five minutes which I have to attend. He's got a meeting with Senator Phil Gramm later on today. He's very busy.
"Seeds of Peace" is an organization that he and others in this building very much respect. It brings together young Israeli kids with young Palestinian kids and others to try to work together, to go to camp together in Maine.
When the Secretary was in Jerusalem in June, he met at the Larome Hotel with two of these young kids. I think they were 13-year old boys. They're going to present him with a T-shirt of the "Seeds of Peace" organization today, and the Secretary is going to make some remarks. He was impressed by them.
They were two kids from Jerusalem: one Israeli and one Palestinian. We stood on the balcony of the Larome Hotel. The Israeli kid was able to point out where the Palestinian kid lived. They had visited each other's homes. This is the kind of people-to-people contact that for many, many decades was not possible between Israelis and Palestinians. It's now possible.
The United States wants to encourage it. Secretary Christopher personally believes this is a very important thing to do, to produce generational change so that Israelis and Palestinians can learn to live with each other and trust each other and work with each other. "Seeds of Peace" is a very concrete expression of those sentiments. So he absolutely supports it and that's why he'll be there in an hour.
I would invite all of you to attend. This is not an interactive session with the press in the sense that he's going to go and have a presentation made to him. He's going to speak, and then he'll probably leave. But you're invited to come and to meet these kids.
Q He won't take questions? Is that what you're saying?
MR. BURNS: Not from the press.
Q Will he take them from kids, if we bring little children in, if he won't take questions from the press?
MR. BURNS: That's not in the spirit of "Seeds of Peace," Barry.
Q We're talking in the spirit of informing the public about his views on various matters.
MR. BURNS: You will have ample opportunity to talk to Secretary Christopher at some other time.
Q A little boy, he could ask a question?
MR. BURNS: Is this your son's --
Q He's gone.
MR. BURNS: That would have been different. If he had stayed, it would have been different. I think it's your opportunity, if you'd like -- there's no obligation here -- to come and witness this event.
Q One question about the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Are you hopeful that they will be able to come here by September 18, as the target date to make some kind of arrangement or announcement about the --
MR. BURNS: I don't know if there's a magic date. I do know that they're making progress. I believe there's an important meeting that takes place today between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We're hopeful they'll make progress. And if they would like to have a signing ceremony in Washington, we'd be very glad to host it. But we don't have an agreement yet. They don't have one, and there's no agreement on a date yet.
Q Did the Administration have any reaction to what Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said about the settlement in Hebron, it they cannot be removed?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe we've had a reaction to that.
Q Can you have a reaction to this?
MR. BURNS: No, but let me look into it for you.
Q The reaction today of the French nuclear test and the announcement that they may curtail some of the tests?
MR. BURNS: The White House issued a statement last evening. The statement essentially said that we regret very much the decision to undertake these tests. We hope very much that France will participate fully with us in the search for a comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which we would like to conclude by 1996 -- by next year.
One more. The final question.
Q The tragic arrest and incarceration, the story of Harry Wu comes to mind in the context of forced labor and forced labor goods -- we'd like to know what the United States Government is doing to restrict its overseas purchases and acquisition of slave-made and forced labor- made goods?
MR. BURNS: We certainly don't support the practice. We certainly, many times in the past, have applauded the actions of Harry Wu to bring some of these practices to light. That's really as much as I can say right now.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:02 p.m.)
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