U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/09/12 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, September 12, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns LIBYA Report of Opening of Chemical Factory ......................1 RUSSIA Deputy Secretary Talbott Trip to Russia ....................1-2,5,15-16 President Yeltsin's Statements on War in Yugoslavia ........2-6 U.S. Aid to Russia .........................................13 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Contact Group Mtg. @Russian Mission to UN in Geneva ........3,7 Assistant Secretary Holbrooke Mtgs. in Region ..............5,7-8,17 NATO Air Campaign ..........................................4-6,17-18 --Support/Participation of Italian Gov't. ..................6-7 --Use of Albanian Military Facilities ......................12-13 Secretary Christopher Mtg. w/Croatian FM Granic ............8-9 Bosnian-Serb Withdrawal of Heavy Artillery .................9-12,16 Report of Ceasefire Arrangement ............................10-11 Report of Bosnian Gov't./Croatian Seizure of Main Road .....14 U.S./Russian Contacts ......................................15-16 DEPARTMENT Consultations w/Senator McConnell re: Foreign Aid Bill .....13-14 Deputy Secretary Talbott in Milwaukee ......................15 ALBANIA Secretary Christopher Mtg. w/President of Albania ..........16-17 INDIA Report of Indian Defense Secretary Visit to Washington .....18 Western Hostages in Kashmir ................................19 CHINA Tibet--Dalai Lama Visit to U.S. ............................19-22 Former President Bush's Visit to China .....................21 U.S.-China Relations .......................................21
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 1995, 1:09 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I would be very glad to go directly to your questions. Q Can I ask you about -- George, you got one? I'm sorry. (Laughter) MR. BURNS: You're not sitting in the right place today. I was looking down -- Q Well, I want to start with something out of the regular -- out of the mainstream. There's a report from Cairo -- it's more than a report -- the Libyan Embassy in Cairo speaks of a new chemical factory that the Libyans will open September 20, I believe, with the leader, Muammar Qadhafi officiating, and I wonder if the State Department has heard this, was alarmed by it or is ordering cosmetics? MR. BURNS: No, we're not ordering cosmetics. Barry, I haven't seen the report. I haven't heard anything about this. Nothing would surprise us coming from the Libyan Government, but I haven't heard anything about it. Obviously, I think you're very well aware of our great concern about many things that the Libyan Government has done in the past. We'll check this out, and, if we have anything to say, I'll get back to you. Q (No response) MR. BURNS: Thank you very much. (Laughter) Q Nick, could you tell us about the Talbott trip. Was it hastily arranged, as they say, because of the deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow? MR. BURNS: I can assure you that was not the case. (Laughter) We have -- Q (Inaudible) Q Are there deteriorating relations or -- (inaudible) MR. BURNS: Everything. We have a very good relationship with the Russians. The Russians are an important partner for us now as we try to find our way from war to peace in the Balkans. We have an obvious tactical disagreement here with the Russian Government over the use of NATO air power as a way to try to bring this situation from one of war to one of peace. Strobe Talbott has been the Administration's point man on Russia since January 1993. He normally goes to Russia several times a year. He is going first and foremost to talk to the Russian Government this week about Bosnia and the wider problems in the Balkans. He'll also take advantage of his trip to talk about, as the Secretary said this morning, the Yeltsin-Clinton summit in October. He will be leaving tomorrow evening. He'll be arriving in Moscow on Thursday. He will have, I think, about 24 hours of talks there, and he'll be returning home on Friday evening. So we see it as an important trip in the sense that he'll have a chance to have a thorough set of discussions with the Russian Government on a wide range of issues including Bosnia. Q Nick, some in the Administration, in the last week or so, have tended to dismiss the Russian objections as playing to domestic audiences. Is the Administration now taking the statements of President Yeltsin and others more seriously than that? MR. BURNS: We always take President Yeltsin's statements seriously. We have never minimized the importance of statements coming out of the Russian Government on this particular issue going back several years now because of Russia's historic interest in this region, its close ties with a number of parties in the region, including the Bosnian Serbs and the Serbian Government. There's been no change in the way that we have appreciated the point of view of the Russian Government. We've always taken it seriously. There is no hiding the fact that there is a disagreement here over the use of air power. It is a disagreement that the NATO Secretary General, Willy Claes, spoke to, I think very effectively, yesterday, and it's an issue that we'll continue to talk to with the Russians. What is most important in this relationship is that Russia and the United States combine efforts for peace. As you know, the Russians do want to support and are supporting the peace process. There's going to be a Contact Group meeting in Geneva on Thursday, hosted by the Russian Government at the Russian Mission to the U.N., hosted by First Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov. At some point in the near future, there will probably be a Contact Group meeting in Moscow itself. Every effort is being made by the members of the Contact Group to make sure that Russia is a full partner here. Russia has fully supported the diplomatic process. I think you know that the Russian trip -- Mr. Ivanov's trip to Belgrade this weekend in fact was supported by Ambassador Holbrooke. So we look forward to working with the Russians, and Deputy Secretary Talbott's trip is part of our effort to make sure that we can work together productively with them at a time when we do have some disagreements on the military aspect of this. Q Nick, wouldn't you agree, though, that despite the West's efforts to try to draw Russia into a cooperative relationship, that there are still many prickles in that relationship. I mean, for instance, when the United States and Britain has a disagreement over Bosnia, Britain doesn't threaten to withdraw from NATO. Yet Russia is threatening to, you know, curtail in some way or even negate its relationship with the Partnership for Peace, and then today these remarks about Serbian -- genocide against the Serbs. I mean, it's quite inflamed rhetoric, wouldn't you say? MR. BURNS: I would just say that the process of building a good relationship between Russia and the West in general, and Russia and the U.S. specifically, is a long process that's evolutionary. We have a number of disagreements within the Contact Group, not just with Russia. From time to time we've had very profound disagreements with a number of our other European allies, some of whom are also NATO allies of ours, over tactical issues from time to time. It's nothing new to have these. You're right that this particular one now has taken on more of a public dimension. That is also in the nature of the U.S.-Russian relationship over the last couple of years. From time to time we have disagreements which become public, and this has become part of the relationship that we live with. What we're going to try to do now is turn the situation towards peace. I think the more we do that, the more that the diplomatic side of this comes to the fore, which we hope it will -- I think that the more common ground we will share with the Russians. In the meantime, we'll try to continue talking to them about the rationale for the use of air power, and we'll defend it, because we know that NATO is right in working with the United Nations to use air power. You've given me the opportunity to answer a second part of your question, and that's on the charge of genocide. That charge is grossly misplaced. NATO's actions are aimed at stopping the innocent killing of civilians in Sarajevo and the other safe areas. Let's remember just who is responsible for the many, many acts of barbarism in the Balkans over the last four years. It's the Bosnian Serbs. There's an International War Crimes Tribunal at work to investigate the many acts of barbarity over the last several years. NATO is doing what is right and what is just to try to end the war, and to try to bring the situation to one where peace talks can be accomplished. NATO has gone to enormous lengths over the last two weeks to minimize civilian casualties during this phase of the air war. And it is just not understandable why that term can be used when it is so clear, I think, to all countries in the world that the Bosnian Serbs are responsible for unspeakable acts of barbarity, and they're now paying for that. Q Nick, has the U.S. asked Russia directly to cool the rhetoric? The rhetoric itself now seems to be damaging. Have we asked them to stop? MR. BURNS: The U.S.-Russian relationship is a strong relationship, and what unites it are a lot of common interests about the importance of a close bilateral relationship on arms issues, on military issues, on bringing Russia into the major Western economic institutions. This relationship will withstand some of the disagreements that we are seeing right now on one aspect of the Balkan crisis. On the other major aspect of the Balkan crisis, which is the diplomatic offensive, we are united with the Russians. So I wouldn't overplay this, and I wouldn't exaggerate its importance in terms of its long-term effect on the U.S.-Russian relationship. Q You've just made a public, very strong rebuttal to a charge of genocide. MR. BURNS: I certainly did, because that charge was misplaced. Q Nick, given the rather heated rhetoric and the use of the word "genocide," do you think it would be appropriate and would it be planned that the Deputy Secretary of State would remind the Russians of the rather muted response from this capital during the height of the Russian attack on Chechnya? MR. BURNS: I don't want to anticipate what Strobe Talbott's specific agenda will be. First and foremost, Steve, I think that he will try to talk through the rationale for the NATO air action -- the NATO-U.N. air action -- with the Russian leadership, and he'll do that with the Russian Foreign Ministry. He'll certainly talk about the fact that Dick Holbrooke will now be leaving this evening for Belgrade, and then we'll have subsequent meetings in the region to talk about the peace diplomatic campaign. I don't think there's any reason to get into the kind of issues that you suggested in private with the Russians. Q Nick, would the Bosnian Serbs, and for that matter the Serbs, be wrong to be emboldened in their negotiating position by the Russian rhetoric? MR. BURNS: They would be wrong to conclude that somehow there is a way out for them; there is a way to return to the status quo, which for them was a dream of a greater Serbia, which for them was an expansionist military campaign to control all of Bosnia. They'd be very wrong to conclude that, because that's not where this situation is directed. The situation has turned against them. There was a very strong statement made yesterday in NATO -- by the NATO Secretary General -- about the unanimity in the Western alliance, in NATO, about the continued effectiveness of the air campaign. There was a U.N. Security Council session yesterday which also supported the continuation of NATO's efforts responding to U.N. Security Council resolution 836 to try to make the Bosnian Serbs understand that they have to think and act in different ways. So the Bosnian Serbs should not deduce from any of the public comments, David, this week that somehow there's a way out for them; that they're off the hook, because they're not. Q But how can you not draw that conclusion or at least have some hope, given the fact that President Yeltsin has talked about possibly sending arms to them, and that he's talked about withdrawing from Partnership for Peace just because they are being bombed by NATO? How can they not draw hope from that? MR. BURNS: NATO is unified, and NATO and the United Nations are prosecuting the military action against the Bosnian Serbs. What they've got to be most concerned about is the military action; the fact that their ammunition storage sites, communications facilities, and a lot of the rest of their infrastructure is now being chipped away at, is being weakened by the air action. That's what's got to be of most concern to someone like General Mladic. The words that we've seen in public and some of the public statements that have been made are not going to deter NATO from continuing its course. Q Speaking of NATO being unified, do you have anything to say about the Italians blocking the deployment of the F-117s? MR. BURNS: I would just say this: I had a long conversation this morning with our Ambassador in Italy, Ambassador Reg Bartholomew. He gave me a very full description of the very good support that the Italian Government has given NATO during the last two weeks as this air campaign has been waged. There is certainly no rift in the alliance. Italy is certainly with the alliance in this and any discussion of military assets and where military assets may or may not be moved is really the preserve of the Pentagon. I know that Ken Bacon has already briefed and spoken to this question this morning. Q Do the Italians have a legitimate beef? Weren't they shut out of at least some part of the negotiations in Geneva? MR. BURNS: Again, Barry, as I understand it, the Italians are, in fact, fully supportive of the NATO military effort. As to other aspects that may be loosely associated with this question, that's really a question for the European community. Q The U.S. is part of the Contact Group. It's the driving force right now. MR. BURNS: The United States is a leading member of the Contact Group. As far as I know, from my briefing on this situation, there is no problem between Italy and the United States on this issue. Q I remember several times in your announcing events you announced Spain, Italy, others -- MR. BURNS: That's right. Q -- would participate. That was all noted -- duly noted. But the question is, are the Italians justified in their complaint that there were times when they were not permitted to participate in serious negotiations, such as Geneva? MR. BURNS: Again, I think the Italians have let us know very directly that they have no complaint with the United States. If there are complaints, perhaps the complaints are elsewhere. It's really not my position to speak about such complaints. I have to be concerned, and we in this building and Ambassador Bartholomew, have to be concerned with our bilateral relationship, which is sound. The communication channels are open, and we have a very good relationship with the Government of Italy. Q (Inaudible) Friday at the behest of other nations, not the United States? MR. BURNS: I think that's really a question for the Italian Government; not for us. Q Has any thought been given to adding Italy to the Contact Group? MR. BURNS: The Contact Group is comprised, at least at its inception in the winter and spring of 1994, of five members. Very frequently over the last couple of weeks, the Contact Group has met in an expanded session and Italy has been a part of that. That hasn't happened in each session, but it's happened in the majority of sessions over the last couple of weeks. I would anticipate that would also take place in the future. Q In Geneva, on Thursday, will they be meeting? MR. BURNS: I don't know what the composition of the meeting is in Geneva on Thursday. Steve, while we're on it, let me just give you a sense of Dick Holbrooke's itinerary. Assistant Secretary Holbrooke is leaving tonight from New York with his delegation, the delegation that accompanied him on his last trip, for Belgrade. They will be in Belgrade tomorrow morning for meetings with President Milosevic; and then on Thursday, they will travel to Geneva for a meeting of the Contact Group. That is going to be hosted by, as I said before, the Russian Mission in Geneva. First Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov is expected at that meeting. Following that -- probably on Thursday night -- Mr. Holbrooke will travel to Zagreb where he plans to have discussions with the Croatian President, President Tudjman. Then he will most likely travel back to Belgrade and resume the Balkan shuttle diplomacy that he has initiated over the last several weeks. In addition to that, I believe that he'll be staying in the region over the weekend and into the early part of next week, but he has not yet set a specific schedule for what he will be doing on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Let me just also say, Secretary Christopher had a very good meeting this morning with the Croatian Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Granic, that lasted roughly 45 minutes. Foreign Minister Granic thanked the United States for its very strong support of Croatia; thanked the United States for leading the peace process, the initiative for peace, over the last month or so. They had a long discussion of the Map, a long discussion of many of the territorial and constitutional issues that are at play in our attempt to bring the situation to one of comprehensive peace negotiations. Mr. Granic confirmed that Croatia wants to strengthen its federation with Bosnia-Herzegovina. There was also a discussion of Eastern Slavonia, the situation in the Krajina, and other issues. So that was a very good opportunity for the Secretary to see a Foreign Minister for whom he has very great respect. Q The Secretary said this morning that Croatia should show flexibility and statesmanship on Slavonia. What did he mean? MR. BURNS: I think that was a general comment having to do with the fact that as these parties approach what we hope will be at some point in the future a peace conference, peace negotiations, all sides are going to have the obligation to compromise, to be flexible about some of these very difficult substantive issues. It's not just a message for the Croatians. It's also a message for the Bosnian Government and, certainly, for the Bosnian Serbs. So I think that was the reason why the Secretary said what he did. But in terms of Eastern Slavonia, I think you know that the United States is committed to Croatian sovereignty over all of its territory. That is a very important element of our diplomacy pertaining to Croatia and to Serbia. Q Nick, to prolong the theme of compromise and flexibility, but specifically to respond to the Bosnian Serbs charge that they can't withdraw their heavy artillery as the U.N. has requested/demanded because it leaves the Bosnian Serb civilians at risk of whatever danger from the Bosnian Muslims: Is the Administration willing to compromise or show flexibility in terms of the withdrawal of the artillery from that zone? Is that under discussion in any of the meetings that have been taking place at the White House or here? MR. BURNS: First -- and this is a point that I'd just like to stress over and over -- this is NATO and the United Nations that are talking to the Bosnian Serb military leaders on the ground; that have set out the conditions publicly for what it will take for the Bosnian Serbs to be relieved from the very heavy air bombardment that they are now experiencing. This is not a difficult proposition, when you look at it from a certain distance. This is a question of the Bosnian Serbs simply stopping their militaristic activities; from pulling back from their military designs on Sarajevo; from putting their guns in a position where they can no longer threaten the innocent people of Sarajevo and the other safe areas. We have not set standards that cannot be met. We have set standards that can easily be met if the Bosnian Serbs would simply elect to turn towards peace and away from war. That's not a question, Charlie, that the United States can decide on its own. It's a question that NATO and the U.N. together will be talking to the Bosnian Serbs about. Q Correct. But my question was, within the Administration, as you take the U.S. position to the meetings of the Contact Group and NATO and at the U.N., within the Administration is there a willingness to perhaps talk a little compromise over this issue of the withdrawal of the heavy weapons? MR. BURNS: I think the safety of the people of Sarajevo is a bottom-line issue, and a bottom-line concern of this Administration as we talk to other members of NATO and to the NATO and U.N. military commanders on the ground. We, in the West, have been able to transform this situation very slowly but, I think, in a very significant way over the last couple of months. Let's just remember again the facts of life on the ground in July and the murderous bombings of all the safe areas. That is no longer happening and for very good reason. So there is no question that we don't want to let up on the pressure right now on the Bosnian Serbs. We want to keep that pressure on them so that they will conclude, on the basis of their own self- interest, that there is only one option here. No matter what other countries are saying, there's only one option, and that is that they've got to move towards peace and away from war. Q Just to follow up on the heavy weapons. Judd probably doesn't want to ask the third time, so let me pick up from him. There's a lot of room in what you said for compromise, which you said, of course, yesterday, all the warring parties have to accept. You're having sort of a diplomatic war with Moscow, and it's obvious we smell a compromise down the road to keep the Russians on board and because U.S.-Russian relations go beyond the Balkans. They go into all sorts of important areas. Will you say for the record now that the Bosnian Serbs have to remove all their heavy weapons from that zone, up to 12-l/2 miles from Sarajevo? Or, as far as the U.S. is concerned, NATO should keep bombing them? MR. BURNS: As far as the U.S. is concerned, NATO and the United Nations have every reason to continue the air campaign until the Bosnian Serbs act in such a way, which will be very clear to everybody involved and everybody in this room, that that is no longer necessary. The specific conditions that were laid in front of the Bosnian Serbs were enunciated by the United Nations' military commander and reaffirmed by NATO. Q Just to follow up on that, Nick. There is talk in Europe of possibly trying to arrange a cease-fire which will be linked with the withdrawal of the Serb weapons so that the Serbs will then not have concerns that the Muslims would come and attack them immediately afterwards? Do you know anything about that? MR. BURNS: I don't have anything specific to say on that. The Bosnian Serbs just have to understand, there's no deal here for them. There's no break; there's no relief without them doing what they obviously must do, and that is to reduce and take away, in fact, the military pressure on these safe areas and to comply with what the United Nations and NATO has said they must comply with. Q The difference between "reduce" and "remove," did you intend to make that difference? Clear, it was removed; now it's reduce. MR. BURNS: Let me go with the word "remove." I think that's the best thing to say. That is the most accurate description of what has to be done to convince NATO and the United Nations that there would no longer be a reason for military action. Q So is it the U.S. view that the Bosnian Serbs should remove the heavy weapons from that zone even under bombardment? Or should there be some respite in the bombardment to permit the removal? MR. BURNS: I don't think it would be helpful to those who are directly involved on the ground if I began to speak in such detail, Barry, about a very complex question. But I think our position is clear. This is an easy thing for all to see. Once the Bosnian Serbs take the appropriate military actions, it will be clear to everybody that therefore there will be no longer a need for a NATO military campaign. They haven't done that. At times over the last couple of weeks they have said they're pulling the weapons out. They've said that they want to pull the weapons out. They haven't done a thing. They haven't done anything on the ground to convince us that it's time for NATO to rethink its own strategy. And so NATO will not rethink their strategy until the Bosnian Serbs first, and by action, do what NATO and the United Nations have said must be done. Q So a verbal promise from Mladic to Janvier wouldn't do the trick? MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. I think that actions are much more important than words. Because the words, frankly, have not been worth much in the past, especially over the last couple of weeks when they've said one thing and done another. They said they were pulling out two weeks ago and they didn't. So I think we need to be convinced by the proof -- the facts on the ground. Q So the answer to Barry's question is "yes"? MR. BURNS: Excuse me? Q Why don't you bomb the weapons directly? MR. BURNS: The Rapid Reaction Force has targeted the weapons. Q But the aircraft have not? MR. BURNS: It's a very difficult proposition because many of these weapons can be easily concealed in the heavily-wooded terrain around Sarajevo. It's something that the Rapid Reaction Force perhaps has a greater capability to do than the air action. That is not off limits. It's something that the Rapid Reaction Force has been concerned with. Q Nick, U.N. monitoring of the weapons would not satisfy the United States? MR. BURNS: I'm not going to be drawn into a detailed discussion of the 800 steps that they have to take in order to lift the air bombardment by NATO and the United Nations. They know what has to happen for this campaign to end. It's very clear to them. They just have to decide that it's in their interest to do it. We hope they'll decide that. Q Do you need any sort of Congressional authorization to pay for this activity? MR. BURNS: Pay for what activity? Q The Tomahawk missiles and the air campaign? MR. BURNS: No, I don't believe so. Specifically, you mean a blow- by-blow authorization? Every time you use a new weapon? No. Q How much is it costing basically? MR. BURNS: That's a question for the Pentagon. The Pentagon can tell you how much it costs. The President and the Administration have consulted fully with Congress on the current NATO-U.N. military action. There is no need to get specific authorization to use specific weapons. Q New subject. The Albanian President said yesterday that they could make more military facilities available for use by the NATO operations. I'm wondering whether in the meeting with the Secretary today that subject came up? MR. BURNS: The Secretary and the President are meeting with the Albanian President right now. So I just can't speak to the specific question of what may or may not be said in that meeting. Q Can I take you back to the Russian rhetoric? Is this going to make it more difficult for the Administration to defend its Russian aid program on Capitol Hill? MR. BURNS: It should not and it will not. The Administration will vigorously defend its economic assistance program to Russia when we have our conversations with the Congress over the final FY-96 appropriations bills, which is going to happen in a couple of weeks. There is no question that United States aid to Russia is in our national interest. Our economic engagement with them -- certainly on the commercial side -- everything that we've done to try to help Russia make the transformation from a command economy to a market economy is in our clear national interest. If we set up as a standard, Norm, for every country in the world with which we have a relationship that you could never have a disagreement over any issue, then that would be a standard that would not be met in any of our relationships. The fact is that in our relationship with all of our European allies, with all of our Asian allies, from time to time, we have very sharp disagreements. We now have a disagreement with Russia over the use of NATO airpower. Does that then mean, and should we conclude, that somehow we should stop all of the other parts of this relationship; that we should retard movement in the economic relationship? That would be contrary to our self-interests. So we will tell the Congress -- we're telling them now and the American public now -- that the U.S.-Russia relationship has to stand on its own foundations. The U.S.-Russia relationship, strong as it is, will survive and prosper through the current disagreements that we have over the use of airpower. Q A little bit on foreign aid here. Senator McConnell is going to introduce a bill today on foreign aid. I'm wondering whether he consulted the State Department in preparation of this bill? MR. BURNS: Yes, there have been consultations with Senator McConnell; yes. And very recently over the last 24 hours. Q Did you disagree with the numbers in those bills? Can you tell us something about the State Department reaction to that bill? MR. BURNS: Ben, let me look at that and see what we can give you on that. I don't want to make a blanket statement here on something that I'm not sure has even been tabled yet, that we haven't seen specifically. Let me get back to you on that. Q May we return to Bosnia? MR. BURNS: Sure. Q There are reports that the Bosnian Government in coalition with the Croatians have taken control of the main road that runs from Serbia proper through Tuzla and on into Bosnian Serb territory, to the west. Can you talk about that? MR. BURNS: I haven't seen that report. Q The State Department doesn't know about that? MR. BURNS: I haven't seen that report. There may be others in the State Department who are aware of this development. I have not seen that particular report. Q Would that be contrary to sort of the rules of the road as this bombing campaign goes on if the Bosnian Government were engaged in such an offensive? MR. BURNS: We have called upon all the parties to the conflict, including the Bosnian Government and the Croatian Government, to refrain from offensive military activities as the current NATO-U.N. operation is conducted. That has been a very specific message to the Bosnian Government and the Croatian Government. That has been sent to them several times during the last few weeks. That's a very important message. There should be no piling on here. NATO and the United Nations are making a point to the Bosnian Serbs. We are weakening the military capability of the Bosnian Serbs, and we think that should be the focus of the military actions in the area. Q Can you recount for us what high-level contacts there have been with the Russians in the last couple of days? I know that Secretary Perry spoke to Minister Grachev yesterday. Who will Mr. Talbott be seeing? MR. BURNS: I'd refer you to the Pentagon for a readout, but I believe there was a conversation at the ministerial level yesterday. Deputy Secretary Talbott will be seeing senior officials of the Russian Foreign Ministry. He may also have other appointments in Moscow, but they're not yet set. He's now working out his agenda. He is in Milwaukee today for a town meeting with American citizens from Wisconsin and the other surrounding states about the State Department budget, about Bosnia, about U.S.-Russia relations. He's going to return from that tonight. He will then leave tomorrow afternoon. I know that his staff is working on his schedule, but we don't have specific appointments yet that we can tell you about. Q At the moment, with Mr. Chernomyrdin, and no plans to go to Sochi and see Mr. Yeltsin? MR. BURNS: None that I'm aware of, no. Q Did Secretary Christopher, by any chance, speak with Mr. Kozyrev in the last 48 hours? Or has the President been in touch with Mr. Yeltsin? MR. BURNS: I know that Secretary Christopher has not spoken with Foreign Minister Kozyrev over the last 48 hours. I don't believe that there has been any conversation between the President, but you want to check with the White House Press Office on that. Q Do you happen to know when the last time they spoke was? MR. BURNS: The President and President Yeltsin? Q Yes. MR. BURNS: I don't have a specific date for you, no. Q Has there been an attempt at the Foreign Minister level or the Presidential level to have a telephone conversation with the Russians? MR. BURNS: No, there has not. Secretary Christopher has not tried to reach Minister Kozyrev. Q Do you have any readout from yesterday's meeting between -- MR. BURNS: Excuse me, I have a question from Carol here. The question is, why not? Q Why not? MR. BURNS: We have an embassy in Moscow, and normally diplomatic business is carried out by embassies. In this case, the Secretary decided that the situation was such that it made sense to send Strobe Talbott to Moscow. That's a very high-level contact. Strobe is the Deputy Secretary of State, the Number Two official in this building. It's a very high level. I think it indicates the seriousness that we attach to our relationship with Russia and our hope that we will remain partners with Russia throughout this conflict. Q To clarify, I think it might be important to restate -- it's the United States position that now and in the future the Bosnian Serbs must withdraw each and every heavy weapon from that exclusion zone around Sarajevo in order for the bombing to stop? MR. BURNS: You see, Lee, if I answer your question, then it would be rational for spokespeople for all the NATO countries -- in fact, why not all the U.N. countries? -- to also speak in that level of detail about what must happen. What we've really got to do here is rely upon the people in charge on the ground -- the United Nations military commanders, the NATO military commanders -- to answer that question. They have answered it. They've been very clear in public about what it is going to take for the Bosnian Serbs to get some relief. I think I'll just let my comments rest there. Q Do you have any readout for yesterday's meeting between Secretary of State Christopher and Albanian President Sali Berisha -- if they discussed the Greek-Albanian relations, in particular, the status of the Greek minority in Albania? MR. BURNS: There was a very good meeting between the Secretary and President Berisha yesterday. It was a discussion that focused on the conflict in the Balkans, Albania's perspective on that conflict, Albania's support for the efforts to bring peace to the area. There was a second part of the discussion on United States' investment in Albania, and there were some bilateral issues discussed as well. I don't know specifically if the Greek issue did come up in that particular meeting. Q Is the Russian factor part of the reason why Mr. Holbrooke is going back to Europe early this week? MR. BURNS: The Secretary asked him to go back tonight, because we felt that we needed to maintain momentum in the peace initiative. I don't think there was any one factor, David, that convinced Dick Holbrooke to leave tonight. He always intended to go back this week. He felt, and the Secretary felt, it was important to have an initial conversation with President Milosevic in Belgrade and then to go on to the Contact Group meeting. Then I would expect that there will be a shuttle by Dick in the region between Zagreb and Belgrade and some other capitals. Q Contrary to Secretary Christopher, the French Foreign Minister had two telephone conversations with Kozyrev yesterday and today. Was he acting on behalf of the Western part of the Contact Group or passing any message to the Russians or was he acting particularly on his own? MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that Minister De Charette phoned on behalf of the Contact Group. I would imagine that this was a bilateral contact between France and Russia, which is not unusual. Q Nick -- MR. BURNS: Yes. Still on Bosnia? Q Can I take you to the subcontinent for a second? MR. BURNS: Let's just make sure that we've covered all the Bosnia questions, and then we'll go back to you. Q One of the things that the Russians have been making noise about is what they say is a secret agreement between the U.N. and NATO greatly expanding the terms for NATO bombardment of the Serbs. They say they were kept in the dark about this agreement, and they're trying to get this agreement published. Did you have anything on that? MR. BURNS: There are no secret agreements between the United Nations and NATO of which the Russian Government is unaware on this particular question. As I said before, Russia has been a full member -- Q (Inaudible) MR. BURNS: We can go back to your comments, if you'd like. Q (Inaudible) but Russia knows, is that what you're saying. MR. BURNS: No. I'm just saying on this particular question, on this particular issue, Russia has been a full member of the Contact Group, and Russia has been briefed all along the way as we have proceeded. There is no possibility that the Russian Government was not aware of the fact that there was going to be an air campaign, and we've tried our very, very best to keep Russia informed of everything as we've gone along. Any more on Bosnia? Q Can I just ask again, is there any thought being given to going to Level 3 bombing? MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any specific planning right now of moving from Phase 2 to Phase 3. Right now Phase 2 is underway. There is specific NATO authorization for that, and there is U.N. authorization -- U.N. Security Council Resolution 836 that authorizes that -- and, as Admiral Smith has said in a couple of occasions over the last two days, there are many, many more targets that can be hit by the NATO aircraft, and that campaign will continue until the Bosnian Serbs decide it's going to end. Q Mr. Burns, there has been a high-level Indian defense delegation in Washington since yesterday, led by the Indian Defense Secretary. Meanwhile, there have been reports in the Indian press that the United States Government is willing to release certain defense technology to India in return for India showing sympathy for ongoing efforts to release equipment for which Pakistan has paid but which has not been delivered owing to the Pressler Amendment -- if India would cease its opposition in return for this. Do you have anything on this? MR. BURNS: I don't. I have nothing, really, to say on that particular point. Betsy. Q Do you have anything on the reported meetings by the Indian Government with the Kashmiri rebels on release of the Western hostages? MR. BURNS: I don't. I think we are watching the situation very carefully, relying upon the Indian Government to do what it must do to secure a peaceful end to this very terrible crisis. We think about Mr. Donald Hutchings every day. He's been in captivity for a long time under very difficult circumstances, and we have an excellent relationship with the Indian Government on this issue. They've been communicative with us. We are relying upon them to be in contact with the Al-Faran organization, and we're hoping very much for a peaceful conclusion of this. Q Nick, are Clinton Administration officials avoiding the Dalai Lama out of fear it might upset the Chinese and the great relationship we have with them? MR. BURNS: No, I'm not aware. Are you aware of any way in which we're avoiding the Dalai Lama? I'm not. The Dalai Lama is here -- Q Two newspapers have chosen to report it today. MR. BURNS: Just because it's in the newspapers doesn't mean it's right. (Laughter) I mean, sometimes the newspapers report things -- Q He did meet the Dalai Lama lots of times he was here, and he's not meeting him this time. Is there any -- MR. BURNS: Just because the newspapers report things doesn't mean that it's got a lock on what the U.S. Government's thinking. No, we're not avoiding the Dalai Lama. He's here in the United States and as in his past visits to the United States, his visit is privately sponsored. I understand that he's going to be here -- I guess he arrived yesterday. He'll be here through the 14th. We have very high regard for him as a religious leader, as an advocate of the peaceful resolution of disputes, and I expect that as in recent years when he has visited this country and this capital, he will be received at a very high level in our government -- a level that will demonstrate our respect for him and the courtesy that is due him as a very senior and respected world figure. I'm not aware that he has requested any meetings in the State Department, but I know that Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor John Shattuck will attend a reception today at the Cosmos Club, at which the Dalai Lama will also be present. I think I'd refer you to the White House for an announcement of other meetings that even higher Administration officials intend to have with the Dalai Lama. Q So there's no one -- I mean, Shattuck's going to a cocktail reception for him, but there are no meetings at the State Department for the Dalai Lama. MR. BURNS: I checked this morning, and I don't believe that we have had any request for meetings here at the State Department, but Assistant Secretary Shattuck, of course, a very senior official here, will be meeting with him today. I think there is a good possibility of higher level meetings on the part of Administration officials, but they would be announced at the White House, not the State Department. Q Given his stated support for human rights around the world, it seems a little odd that the Secretary is not going to meet with someone who epitomizes Chinese repression. MR. BURNS: I would refer you to the comments that the Dalai Lama made to some of your colleagues in the press yesterday when he said that he felt he was being well treated by the Administration; that the Administration would receive him at an appropriate level. We have great respect for him, Sid, and if someone even higher -- at a higher level than the Secretary sees him, I think that would be an indication of the respect we do have for him. Q What is Tibet? MR. BURNS: Excuse me? Q What is Tibet? MR. BURNS: What is it. Okay. As you know, longstanding United States policy is that Tibet is part of China. The United States has never recognized Tibet as a separate sovereign state. In fact, although we have urged the Chinese Government on many occasions to improve its human rights record in Tibet -- and it badly needs improvement there -- and to grant Tibetans a significant say in the handling of their own internal affairs, we have never sought and previous Administrations have never sought Tibet's independence from China. We have urged the Chinese Government to respect the human rights of Tibetans, to preserve Tibet's unique religion, its culture and its language. Let me just say, since we're on this topic again, we see the Dalai Lama as an internationally recognized spiritual leader. He is a moral leader. He's been honored with a Nobel Peace prize, and what is also very important, he's a committed advocate of non-violent change, something that he spoke to in his interview with the press yesterday. So we are receiving him here on his private visit as a respected figure, and I think quite appropriately. Q While we're on the subject of China, what was your reaction to George Bush's visit to China and his statements? MR. BURNS: Is there any particular aspect of the statements that you're interested in? Q He criticized the Women's Conference and seemed to be critical of the Clinton Administration approach to China -- the confrontation. MR. BURNS: I certainly don't want to get between George Bush and Bela Abzug, so let me just -- (laughter) -- that wouldn't be a smart thing to do. I'll put that to the side. I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment directly on what President Bush said, but I can comment on U.S.-China relations as this Administration sees it. We have a very important relationship at stake here as we look towards the next century with China, which is a growing power in the world, and we've taken that relationship very seriously. We've put a lot of time and attention into it. We think that the relationship is turning the right corner after the problems we had this summer over the issuance of a visa for a private visit by President Lee Teng-hui to the United States. That issue caused a lot of trouble and consternation and public comment in U.S.-China relations. But since that event, Secretary Christopher has had a productive meeting with his colleague, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen. They're going to meet in two weeks in New York. Peter Tarnoff had a successful visit to Beijing. He's going to meet with his counterpart just before Qian Qichen arrives in the United States, and there's a possibility of other high-level meetings this autumn between the United States and China. U.S.-China relations are in very good hands. This Administration is paying very close attention to American interests in China -- economic interests, many of the political questions that China and the United States believe are important for the future of the globe, and also the situation of human rights, which the United States continues to believe is an important part of the U.S.-China relationship -- issues that the First Lady spoke to last week quite effectively in Beijing. So we think this relationship is headed in the right direction. It will be a relationship like the U.S.-Russian relationship that is characterized by problems from time to time, but it's going to be given the high-level attention it deserves. Q If I could just go back to the Dalai Lama for one second. You acknowledge he's a spiritual leader and a great name. Do you also know that he represents the interests of several large groups of people in occupied China -- that he's the leader of a large group of people? MR. BURNS: Sid, we certainly recognize the fact that for many, many Tibetans he is their respected leader, and he's a respected moral and spiritual leader. There's no question about that. But you used a term in your question that I don't want to associate myself with. I just want to repeat U.S. policy. We have never recognized Tibet as a separate sovereign state, and our longstanding policy is that Tibet is part of China. Having said that, we have very great respect for the Dalai Lama, and we certainly have an interest and will continue to urge the Chinese Government to respect the human rights of Tibetans and their language and their culture, and that will be the case into the future, as it has been in the past. Q Thank you. MR. BURNS: Thank you. (The press briefing concluded at 1:56 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page