U.S. Department of State 95/09/18 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, September 18, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Undersecretary Tarnoff to Meet w/Chinese Vice FM ......... 1 Welcome to Albanian Diplomats ............................ 1 Welcome to Ambassador Ojars Kalnins from Latvia .......... 1-2 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Implementation of Sarajevo Agreement ..................... 2-4 --Withdrawal of Heavy Weapons from Sarajevo .............. 2-5,16-17 --Ceasefire in and around Sarajevo ....................... 5,16 --Opening of Land Routes into Sarajevo ................... 16-17 --Opening of Airport to Humanitarian Traffic ............. 16 Bosnian Serb Refugees .................................... 4,9 Assistant Secretary Holbrooke's Itinerary: --w/Milosevic in Belgrade ................................ 5,16 --w/Tudjman, General Janvier, FM Granic in Zagreb ........ 5,14 --w/Izetbegovic in Sarajevo .............................. 5 --Tripartite Mtg. ........................................ 5,14 --Return to U.S. ......................................... 5,15 Croatian/Bosnian Offensive ............................... 5-12 Contact Group Map and Plan ............................... 8,10-14 Protection of Safe Areas ................................. 13 Organization of Islamic Conference's Involvement ......... 14 Reports of Mladic's Hospitalization ...................... 14-15 Reports of Missile Firings around Gorazde ................ 17 CHINA Possibility of U.S.-China Summit Mtg. .................... 18 Issuance of Unofficial U.S. Visas to Taiwan Officials .... 18-22 Return of Chinese Ambassador to U.S. ..................... 20 Resignations of American Institute of Taiwan Officials ... 22-23 LEGAL District Court Ruling on U.S. Extradition Statute ........ 23-25 IRAQ Internat. Mtg. of Two Major Kurdish Groups in Ireland .... 25-26 INDIA Reports of Army's Acquisition of Missiles ................ 26 CUBA Reports of U.S. Citizen Frank Terpil's Detention ......... 27-28 EQUATORIAL GUINEA Report of Investigation of Coup d'etat ................... 26-27
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1995, 1:15 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
I just want to let you all know, before we begin the questioning, of a couple of announcements. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff will meet with his Chinese counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, on September 2l-22. This follows up on their discussions in Beijing in late August.
The meetings this week will also lay the groundwork for Secretary of State Christopher's meetings next week in New York at the UNGA with his counterpart, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen. The subject of the meetings this week, of course, will be the very great number of issues that lie at the heart of the U.S.-China agenda. We can talk more about that if you are interested.
I'd also like to welcome --
Q The Tarnoff meeting is here?
MR. BURNS: The Tarnoff meeting is here, yes -- for two days, on Thursday and Friday.
I'd like to welcome to the briefing today diplomats -- 11 diplomats, I understand -- from Albania who are here to learn more about the American diplomatic system, and I guess today the American system of having someone stand up every day and take shots from the American press corps. So this should be an interesting experience for all of you.
Finally, I want to greet a very special visitor. He is the Ambassador from Latvia and a good friend -- Ambassador Ojars Kalnins.
Since presenting his credentials here in the United States in April l993, Ambassador Kalnins has worked very effectively to strengthen our relations with Latvia. He has the unique distinction of having spent many years in the United States before becoming Latvia's Ambassador to the United States. He made great contributions to this country. I think he's widely seen by most people in the Administration as one of the most effective ambassadors in Washington. One of his great strengths is that he's a Chicago White Sox fan. He's wearing a baseball tie today. (Laughter) Thank you, Ojars.
Let me just point to two issues that are important between the United States and Latvia. The first is that we worked very closely together in l993 and l994 to effect the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia and the destruction of the large-phased array radar at Skrunda in Latvia -- destruction that was carried out by an American firm financed by the United States Government.
In addition, the Ambassador recently attended the Partnership for Peace training exercise at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in which the Baltic Battalion participated; and I think which demonstrated the very great interest that the United States and other NATO countries have in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, and in our hope that the Baltic Battalion will become an active participant, I think as it has already become, in the future in PFP military exercises.
So it's a very great honor for all of us here, Mr. Ambassador, to have you with us. Thank you for coming.
With that, I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Q Well, could you bring us up-to-date on the situation concerning the heavy weapons outside Sarajevo?
MR. BURNS: Yes, I'll be glad to. I think, as you know, the United Nations and NATO determined yesterday that the terms of the agreement had been met for the first 72-hour period; and that is that a substantial number of heavy weapons had, in fact, been withdrawn from the Saravejo exclusion zone over the weekend.
We think the number is somewhere in the vicinity of l50 to l60 weapons. The U.N. and NATO are the best people to go to for an exact number.
In essence, the first part of this deal has been met. Now, this agreement that was worked out with the Bosnian Serbs and with the Serbian Government calls for a substantial number to have been withdrawn by last evening; all heavy weapons, equal to or greater than 82 millimeters to be withdrawn by Wednesday evening. That is at the 144th hour of the implementation of this agreement.
As we have said continuously, we will look very carefully to make sure that the Bosnian Serbs have, in fact, complied with this crucial provision of the agreement; and we fully expect that they will do so.
Q To or greater than the 82 millimeters -- that includes an 82- millimeter (inaudible)?
MR. BURNS: That's right. "Equal to" includes 82 millimeter mortars.
Q So you overcame the drafting error?
MR. BURNS: As I understand it -- and I was on the phone, again, just before coming out here, with Dick Holbrooke, who is now in Zagreb. As I understand it, it was a typographical error that was discussed with President Milosevic the day following the agreement and into Saturday. President Milosevic acknowledges the fact that 82-millimeter weapons must be withdrawn, and there is no longer a problem in that regard.
Let me just also state, since we're talking about this, of course, after the pullout of all heavy weapons at the 144th hour, there will be some smaller weapons left in the exclusion zone. Of course, there is no possibility for those weapons to be used. If they are used, and we've been very clear about this, that will constitute a violation of the agreement that the Serbs and Bosnian Serbs have offered to NATO and the U.N.
Q What's the point of allowing them to keep these weapons if they're not allowed to use them?
MR. BURNS: Some of the weapons we're talking about are pistols and rifles and so forth, and the unilateral agreement that was offered did not encompass those. I think the conclusion was, among the NATO and U.N. countries -- and certainly on the part of our Government -- that those weapons did not constitute a threat to Sarajevo because of their size but also because we have arranged a situation now where they're not going to be used or else there's going to be a response from NATO.
The Bosnian Serbs understand, and have specifically included in this agreement, that all offensive military activities will be stopped as a result of this agreement. So whether they have the small arms or not, they can't be used.
Q Which side made the typographical error?
MR. BURNS: I don't know because I know this document, when it was first discussed on Thursday, went through several permutations. So I can't say whose word processor it came out of. The fact is that this issue was addressed after the initial announcement on late Thursday evening and has been addressed satisfactorily, at least in our point of view.
Q And so you're saying that the Serb side produced this document, discussed it and made some changes, came back, discussed it. I mean, so it wasn't, just as you said on Friday, a Serb declaration that Holbrooke parried around the Balkans. It was something that went through several changes, based on discussions with Mr. Holbrooke.
MR. BURNS: These were unilaterally offered Serb ideas. Of course, in the round of 11 hours of discussions that Dick Holbrooke had on Wednesday and Thursday with Milosevic, the issues were discussed in private. The offer was discussed in private. I think he was able to give Milosevic and the others a sense of what was going to work and what was not going to work, and as a result there was a unilateral final offer made as a result of those discussions. That's what was conveyed to the Croatians and the Bosnians subsequently by Dick Holbrooke.
Q How concerned is this building by the military action going on potentially around Banja Luka later today, and does this building take seriously the threat by Milosevic to send in his army to help if this doesn't stop?
MR. BURNS: We have discussed this issue intensively over the weekend, in fact, late last week, over the weekend, and including today. It's a very important issue. It was overshadowed on Thursday and Friday by the offer of a cease-fire, and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the Bosnian Serbs and the Serbs is a very important issue.
As I talked to Dick Holbrooke just before coming out here, he says there are a lot of conflicting reports from the battlefield about just how much territory has been conquered, about how many refugees have been created. A conservative estimate -- a conservative estimate -- of the refugees created over the last week is 85,000 refugees. These are Bosnian Serb refugees.
This is, indeed, a tragic situation for those people. The United States believes that after four years of warfare, after so much killing and fighting, it should stop. That is the message that Dick Holbrooke delivered yesterday to the parties, that he is delivering again today.
We think that now that there is momentum towards peace; there has been a successful meeting in Geneva; we have an agreement for a cease- fire in Sarajevo that is being honored; we have the withdrawal of Serb heavy weapons from Sarajevo; we have the prospect, we hope, of an extended cease-fire throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina -- now is not the time to escalate the war. It is time to turn towards peace and to the peace conference that we in the West hope to engineer.
Now, Dick Holbrooke was active over the weekend on this issue. On Saturday, he met with President Milosevic in Belgrade. On Sunday, he was in Zagreb and had a meeting with President Tudjman, which focused on this issue. He met with General Janvier in Zagreb on this and other issues. He then yesterday, Sunday, flew to Sarajevo -- in fact, flew into the airport -- which was a very important symbolic flight for those of us in the West. He met with President Izetbegovic in Sarajevo and then flew to Belgrade, had a late dinner until l:30 a.m. with President Milosevic.
Today, this morning, he continued those discussions with Milosevic for a couple of hours. He's now in Zagreb and, in fact, has begun a dinner with Foreign Minister Granic on this issue of the Bosnian and Croatian offensive in central Bosnia.
Tomorrow, he will meet in Zagreb with President Tudjman and President Izetbegovic together in a tripartite meeting to discuss the fighting in central Bosnia, to discuss our hope that the Federation, in many respects, can be strengthened as these parties approach a peace conference, and to discuss the specific constitutional issues about a future state and future issues concerning a Map.
I would then expect that after all of this travel over the last week or so that Dick would return home to the United States tomorrow evening. So it's an issue we're concerned about. We've been pushing it. And as I've just gone through Dick's schedule, you can see it's the focus of our efforts right now.
Q What has the response been from the Muslims and the Croats when we have put this concern to them?
MR. BURNS: I think, frankly, you've seen the response on the ground. The offensive has continued. Let us step back for just a moment. From one point of view, I think everybody understands that the Bosnians and Croatians after four years of war, four years of bloodshed -- brutality inflicted particularly upon the Bosnian Muslim population - - that they would try to make up on the battlefield what they lost over the last four years.
It is from a human point of view certainly understandable why they would engage in this type of offensive. That is just a way of acknowledging the obvious. Our very firmly held point of view is that despite the successes of the Croatian and Bosnian offensive over the last week, there is no military solution available to those two countries in this particularly tragic conflict.
There were times in the past -- in fact, just a couple of months ago -- when it looked like the Bosnian Serbs might win a military victory and they did not. That was reversed. We think that any attempt to achieve a comprehensive solution on the ground through military force will not succeed. In fact, it will fail. That's why the parties have to turn towards the peace table. We have a table. I think we even know what the shape of the table is right now. We know who is going to be in the room.
We're not ready to go to the room and sit down at the table because a lot of the issues have to be discussed and agreed on; certainly more so than they have been, to date.
But since we do have the prospect of a peace table, and a meeting, we think the parties should aim towards that and refrain from further military offensive.
Q Nick, what is the United States telling these two combatants will happen if they continue their offensive?
MR. BURNS: Obviously, what I don't want to do, as usual in these cases, is to go into the details of our negotiating position. Dick Holbrooke is in a meeting right now on the subject with Foreign Minister Granic.
Needless to say, these are serious conversations. I think they are conversations whose message is being brought home clearly to both parties. The fact that we have arranged a three-way summit meeting tomorrow -- at least with two Presidents and with Dick Holbrooke in the room -- is a pretty good indication of how seriously we feel about the issue.
Q Is it safe to say that they'll be some consequent sanctions, something like that. That the United States and the international community, having come this far or what it believes to be this far on a peace process, is not going to let this kind of military action clear the deal?
MR. BURNS: I don't think there's been any talk of sanctions. We are friends with Croatia and with Bosnia; and in a lot of ways, Bosnia is the aggrieved party in this conflict. We've seen it like that for a number of years.
I think the ultimate impact of continued fighting, Carol, is going to be upon these two countries. We don't believe they are strong enough to win a military victory on the ground even at a time when it looks like the Bosnian Serbs are reeling and retreating, which they are; and even at a time when -- you know, 85 to a 100,000, perhaps, refugees have fled their homes towards Banja Luka and other cities.
There is an obvious temptation for parties on the ground, after so much misery, to feel emboldened by a success over a week. But countries shouldn't decide their ultimate objectives based on a week's work. They've got to elect to move towards the peace table. That's where they can achieve the ultimate justice that the Bosnian people deserve.
Q But the bottom line is that the United States' approach at this point is, even though your allies, your friends -- the Muslims -- are totally ignoring your entreaties, that talk is really all that you're planning?
MR. BURNS: I have to leave it to them to characterize how they look at our entreaties. I don't think they're being ignored. I think they're being intensively discussed.
They have drawn their own conclusions, obviously, through their actions on the battlefield. It's plain for all of us to see.
We are giving them now public as well as private advice: It's to your advantage to turn towards the peace table. They have accomplished a lot on the ground over the last week. If you look at the relative shares of territory right now, even by conservative estimates, the Bosnian Serbs have lost a great deal of turf over the last week. The Bosnian Government and Croatian Government are in a much better position now than they were even a week ago on the battlefield.
We just think that it's time now for them to conclude that the way to finish this process is through negotiations and not through war.
We shouldn't underestimate -- none of us should underestimate the military capability of the Bosnian Serbs. They are now on the defensive. It is still a highly effective fighting force. It's proven itself to be that.
We don't want to be a party to encouraging further bloodshed. Not after four years of war.
Q Going back to Betsy's question -- the part of it, I don't think you answered. Is there concern with the possibility or threats that Serbia proper, if the Bosnian Serbs in the northwest are pressed hard enough and far enough would enter again on the side of their Serbian brother?
MR. BURNS: There has always been that concern throughout this war. At several junctures of the war, that concern has grown more acute. I can't point you towards any statements or evidence that would lead us to think that there is going to be an intervention. But Serbia, obviously, has its own interests.
I think that President Milosevic has indicated quite clearly over the last two to three weeks -- in his formation of a joint negotiating team with the Bosnian Serbs, in his stewardship of that team towards the Geneva meeting a week ago Friday, in their offer of a cease-fire in Sarajevo, and the possibility of a broader cease-fire throughout Bosnian-Herzegovina -- they have indicated that they would like to begin a genuine diplomatic process.
We know that the Bosnian and Croatian Governments have reciprocated in that sentiment. We know that they want to have peace negotiations. Our message to them is, let's do it now. Let's have the negotiations begin when they can begin but let's move away from the battlefield.
Q Have the Bosnians and the Croats gained anything, in the longer term, by taking over this territory? In other words, does the U.S. still plan, as the moving force behind the attempt to build these negotiations, that any settlement will be on a 51/49 basis no matter who holds what?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We would not be a credible interlocutor, a credible intermediary, among these parties if now, when the tables have been turned on the Bosnian Serbs, we suddenly came up with a new basis for the Contact Group Map and Plan.
We offered that more than a year ago -- we in the Contact group -- when the situation was decidedly against the Bosnian Government. That remains the basis for any potential peace conference -- 51/49 on the Contact Group Map and Plan. There's no reason for us to change that right now.
Q So you think they're wasting blood, trying to take territory by force when they could get it at the table?
MR. BURNS: We think it is a great pity and is a human tragedy that 85,000 refugees have had to flee their homes over the last week. This is not a comment on the last four years. This is not an excuse or a justification for over the last four years. This is not sympathy for the Bosnian Serb leadership. They deserve very little, if any, sympathy.
But the Bosnian Serb civilians, who have fled their homes, who have lost their homes, who are now refugees on the road, deserve sympathy and they deserve the help of the international community. The UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross are responsible for coordinating the international effort to provide assistance to these refugees. We intend to cooperate with those two organizations -- we in the U.S. Government -- in whatever way we can.
Our fundamental, bottom line position is this: there's always going to be an excuse to fight. Someone is always going to be up and someone else is going to be down. It's time for maturity and a longer- term vision to take hold. It's time for these parties, now that they've got the first real prospect of a peace conference in more than four years, to grasp it and to understand that that's the way to resolve these issues in a comprehensive way, in a way that will be fair to everybody involved, and in a way that will best promote a lasting peace -- something that will survive a peace conference.
Q On that point, specifically, have the Serbs -- either President Milosevic or anybody else in the leadership -- threatened to withdraw from the negotiations, or the forthcoming negotiations if the Bosnian Muslim advances continue?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that that threat has been made publicly. I do know that there have been very intense discussions on this issue, not only with Croatia and Bosnia but also with Serbia and with the Bosnian Serbs who have participated from time to time in some of the discussions that Dick Holbrooke has had.
It wouldn't surprise me, Jim, but I haven't seen anything that would amount to a public threat.
Q Does the amber light that was given over the Croatian surge into the Krajina reduce your credibility in giving this message to the Muslims and the Croats now?
MR. BURNS: I don't think anybody can reasonably question the credibility of the United States or the West after what has happened over the last three weeks.
In fact, let's go back now, since you've opened this up, to London, again. I don't think a lot of people in Western governments had felt unduly proud of what had happened over the last four years. But at London, the West drew a line in the sand. The West followed up that commitment three weeks ago, on August 29, when the NATO air campaign started.
We have not only -- "we," in NATO and the United Nations -- stopped in its tracks the Bosnian Serb offensive in eastern Bosnia; we have not only negotiated now a cease-fire in Sarajevo and a withdrawal, we hope, of all heavy weapons in a certain category by Wednesday evening, we've also begun a peace process. We also have had a successful first meeting. We've laid down and have mutually agreed now the foundation principles for any peace process.
I think the credibility of the West is quite strong. I think it's intact. I think all Americans should be proud of what their government has done over the last couple of weeks. I know a lot of us are proud of it.
Q To follow up. Won't the advances made by the Muslims and Croats reduce the likelihood that when American troops are sent in there as peacekeepers, the Americans would actually have to forcibly push back the Serbs?
MR. BURNS: It's just hard to say. I know that's the conventional wisdom. But if you look very closely at some of the challenges -- and Dick Holbrooke has been doing that -- you have constitutional challenges. You also have territorial challenges.
If, indeed, one of the parties -- the Bosnian Government -- is going to end up with 51 percent of the land or some such figure that they will negotiate, what part of the land? Has that really been decided? Do we know exactly which towns will go to them and which regions will go them? What part of the 49, or some other figure, will the Bosnian Serbs get?
This is going to be the most difficult issue -- land -- at any future peace conference. I don't think we know what the colors are going to be as Bosnia-Herzegovina emerges with two distinct entities. I don't think we know what exact proportion they will end up with. Fifty- one/forty-nine is a starting point. It doesn't have to be the ending point. We certainly don't know who is going to get which part of the 51; who is going to get which part of the 49.
This is a long-term process here. For anyone to think that somehow all these facts being created are going to put things in neat categories, I think that's an illusion.
Q Are you saying that should the Federation offensive continue and mess up the percentages -- the 51/49 percent -- that as far as the United States is concerned, anything over 51 percent that the Bosnians have, our position will be that they should give it back to the Serbs?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not saying that. I didn't mean to say that. I don't think I did say that in any previous answer in this briefing.
The fact is that 51/49 is a starting point. It's a basis for beginning discussions. If the parties emerge and want 90/10 or 50/50 or 52/48, that's up to them to negotiate. If it's a mutually agreed upon result that we think is also satisfactory, we'll back it. Fifty- one/forty-nine is a starting point, but we can't sit here and say what the end point of any negotiations is.
Q How is your position not that the Bosnians should give back land? I don't see how that jives.
MR. BURNS: Our position is that the parties should negotiate a comprehensive peace; that Bosnia-Herzegovina should remain a single state within its present borders. We assume that the two entities will emerge within that state. It will have a single U.N. seat, and so forth, but two distinct entities; that the tough issue at the negotiations will be what percentage of the land and what part of the land does Entity A get and what percentage and part of the land does Entity B get.
We cannot prescribe now or at the beginning of the negotiations answers to those two questions. But we can be involved in the search for a resolution to those two questions. We don't have any magic answers right now.
Secretary Christopher and Dick Holbrooke do not have, in their pocket, some kind of blueprint that answers those questions. The parties have to resolve those.
Q Nick, if you're not going to force them to stick to 51/49, I do not understand why it is not in the interest of the Bosnian Muslims to keep fighting if they're doing so well. What have they got to lose?
MR. BURNS: Just so there is clarity on this particular question, we never said ever, in the year and some months that this Contact Group Map and Plan has been in existence, that 51/49 was the absolute end point of a peace conference; that, in fact, we were going to dictate the percentages and the particular pieces of land that would go to each side.
We always did say that we think that's an equitable place to start and a fair place to start. Now the parties have agreed to that. They agreed to that in Geneva. That was a direct and concrete result of Geneva. So that's where we're going to start. It's up to them to figure out where they end.
Obviously, David, for me to be completely frank -- and I think everybody in the room understands this -- it's obviously the calculation of the Bosnians and Croats that they're going to strengthen their hand at a negotiating table if they conquer more land. It's not difficult to see that that's what they intend.
All we're saying is, after four years of war -- and I do want to repeat this; it's the most relevant thing I can say today -- it would really be not only unwise, irresponsible for us to encourage any party to continue warfare, continue creating refugees, continue to kill, in pursuit of peace.
We think the day has come now to turn towards the peace table and to turn away from war.
Q "Words are cheap," as you've said very often. And that's all you are offering on this.
MR. BURNS: I have said that, but I said that in a very different situation. I don't think these words are cheap. I don't think that if you encourage people to talk peace at a time when peace is possible, when there is really a peace to discuss; when it is within their sight, when the parameters of that peace have already been identified and agreed to by them -- I don't think those are cheap words. I think those are wise words. They are the words that any government like ours should be enunciating at this time.
Q Do you think that peace might slip from their grasp if they don't grab it?
MR. BURNS: There's always that possibility in the Balkans. What we've tried to do is avoid euphoria over the last couple of weeks. The situation has completely changed -- 180 degrees over the last three weeks.
Four weeks ago, a lot of us, including a lot of you, were despairing about the situation. Now, there's a temptation to think that peace is at hand, that we can declare victory. We are far from that. We haven't even arrived at the peace conference much less dealt with the issues of the peace conference. We think that we, in the United States Government, have to talk responsibly and have to be responsible in what we encourage the parties to do, and that is to seek peace, not war.
Q Nick, as far as the Administration is concerned, NATO will continue to honor its obligations -- no-fly, safe areas, etc -- regardless of what the Bosnians and the Croats do on the ground?
MR. BURNS: We have an ongoing -- "we," in the international community -- ongoing commitment to protect the safe areas. That is why the Bosnian Serbs ought to heed President Clinton's words on Friday morning, that we will be watching carefully. Any attempt to back away from the commitments they've made in this Sarajevo agreement will, in effect, lead to further NATO action against them.
There is a threat hanging over their heads. There is pressure on them to withdraw these heavy weapons.
This is a very good example of a situation where diplomacy could not do it alone. Diplomacy could not achieve our objectives alone. Force had to be coupled with it, and that remains part of American strategy.
Q Regardless of whether the Bosnians and Croats continue right to the Serb border or not?
MR. BURNS: Right now, we have a fundamental obligation to protect Gorazde, Sarajevo, Bihac, and Tuzla, and we will continue to do that.
Q And there's no re-thinking of it based on what's going on on the ground?
MR. BURNS: No, there isn't.
Q In their discussions with Holbrooke or other officials, have the Bosnians and Croats indicated any sense of what their military goals are? Have they indicated this much land and --
MR. BURNS: Without betraying the substance and details of those discussions, which I don't want to do, I think it's clear they want to take land; they want to take cities and they want to gain as much ground as they can. That's what we've been speaking to today.
Q Right. But have they indicated any specific set of goals?
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry. Whether it's more specific than that? There's conflicting information about what their longer-term objectives are, conflicting information about where they may be headed. I think you've seen a lot of that conflicting information.
One of the reasons for Dick Holbrooke's meeting with Granic this morning -- tonight, excuse me -- in Zagreb, and the reason for the three-party meeting tomorrow with Izetbegovic and Tudjman is to get into that question a little bit.
Q The French Government today is welcoming the Islamic role in the peace process, considering there is very strong sentiment in the Islamic world about the Bosnian issue. There is a contact group also working on this Islamic Conference. What is the U.S. position on this?
MR. BURNS: We welcome the OIC -- the Organization of Islamic Conference involvement -- more than two weeks ago. Dick Holbrooke, two weeks ago yesterday, had a meeting with the OIC Contact Group in Geneva. We welcomed them to the meeting in Paris, the day before the meeting in Geneva, a week and a half ago.
We have had bilateral discussions with Malaysia, Turkey, and with Bangladesh and a number of other countries in this group, and we will continue that. The OIC's involvement -- Muslim countries involvements - - is a very important part of this because Muslim countries are doing some of the peacekeeping through the United Nations.
Q Does the U.S. Administration find credible reports that Mladic is suddenly incapacitated in a hospital in Belgrade?
MR. BURNS: It's hard to say. We've seen the same reports that he's suffering from an ailment and is in a hospital. Who knows? We don't have any independent way at this point, at least, to verify that.
Q Holbrooke said nothing about it when he was --
MR. BURNS: He didn't mention anything to me. I didn't actually ask him that question. He didn't mention it to me.
Q I'm curious. If, as you say, there are intensive negotiations going on and things are moving in the right direction, why is Holbrooke coming back tomorrow?
MR. BURNS: Anybody who was in three capitals yesterday, has probably logged tens of thousands of miles in the last three weeks, deserves a break. That's not the primary reason for coming back. He is completing the second round of our discussions.
The first round, of course, was late August/early September. The second began last week. I think with all of the conversations he's had, it's time to come back and to have some discussions here in Washington about how we now get to the next stage, which we hope ultimately will be a peace conference. What would the shape and structure of that be? Who would come? What will be the central issues that we need to work on before the peace conference can be convened? That kind of thing.
It doesn't mean the negotiations will stop. We'll continue to have people in the field. We'll continue to have our ambassadors in each of these capitals working actively. But I think it's time for him to come back and to assess where we are and where we have to go with Secretary Christopher and with President Clinton.
Dick had about an hour long discussion this morning on the phone with Secretary Christopher -- early this morning. They agreed that was the best course of action.
I would also say, he deserves a little bit of R&R -- maybe even 24 hours of R&R given the amazing pace that he has kept over the last three weeks. The physical task has been in many ways equally daunting as the intellectual one for his shuttle diplomacy.
Q Is he leaving anybody behind -- General Clark or anybody like that?
MR. BURNS: I just don't have anything for you on that right now. That may be an option for him, but I have nothing to announce.
Q (Inaudible) shape of the table that they're going to sit at in these peace negotiations. You must know the city in which that table sits?
MR. BURNS: No, the shape of the table was defined at Geneva when they met at a round table. We know who was around the table. We know what the principles were that they agreed to for any eventual peace conference.
Where a conference is held is up to the Contact Group, which I know will be the sponsor of any conference, and to the parties. That has not been settled yet.
Q Nick, were any of the key Bosnian Serb leaders in any of the meetings between Milosevic and Holbrooke in Belgrade Saturday or yesterday or this morning?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that they were. I'm pretty sure that the two people most interesting to you were not. One of them is reported to be in the hospital. I don't believe there are others in the room. It doesn't preclude the possibility that in the future they or others may be in the room. We've already said that's important to do from time to time.
Q In addition to the removal of the heavy weapons, there are several other requirements in the unilateral undertaking that the Bosnian Serbs made to the world. Have all those requirements been honored? Specifically, have there been any attacks or has there been an firing on U.N. positions or safe areas?
MR. BURNS: There were several other aspects of this agreement -- you're right -- were and are important. Number one, that a cease-fire be adhered to in and around Sarajevo. We believe that for the most part -- I can't say in all respects -- that has been adhered to.
Number two: That two land routes -- specific roads -- would be opened up into Sarajevo. Both have been opened.
Number three: The airport would be open to traffic and that has also occurred. There were test flights on Friday and Saturday into Sarajevo. Dick Holbrooke's plane went into Sarajevo yesterday. I think there will be another flight tomorrow.
Two land convoys reached Sarajevo with a total of 363 metric tons of civilian goods, and three more UNHCR convoys are en route to Sarajevo.
The Mt. Igman road has been opened up. It has not been shelled. It has not been sniped at by individual snipers which was the case over the last eight to ten months. There is a very, very rich flow of traffic -- private civilian traffic -- over the Mt. Igman road into Sarajevo.
Gas prices have fallen. Food prices have fallen as a result of this influx of imports of food and gas and other materials into Sarajevo -- all good.
In addition to that, the key provision is the one that deals with heavy weapons. I would just like to correct some of the newspaper accounts this morning which say that NATO, in effect, relaxed the agreement, or put aside the agreement and allowed the bombing pause to continue.
The agreement called for an assessment at 72 hours and an assessment of 144 hours. Yesterday's assessment indicated that they have met the test of substantial withdrawal. Wednesday's assessment is complete withdrawal of heavy weapons at or above 82 millimeters.
Q Is it true that in the last couple of days there were missiles fired, which missed, at NATO aircraft?
MR. BURNS: There were reports on Saturday that there were missiles fired around Gorazde. I think the appropriate complaints have been directed to the appropriate people. I don't have any details on those incidents.
Q Are those the only incidents of that sort?
MR. BURNS: Of that sort that I've heard of over the weekend, yes.
Q Nick, you said on Friday that you all were concerned about other kinds of things getting in besides humanitarian goods -- things like furniture -- and that that was being negotiated with the Bosnian Serbs so that they would not block the shipments coming in. Has that been accomplished?
MR. BURNS: Yes. There were two concerns with the agreement on Friday and Saturday. One was the heavy weapons, the type of heavy weapons that had to be withdrawn. That has been resolved.
The second was -- I believe the agreement calls for the transportation of humanitarian goods which at least some Bosnian Serbs were reading to be food and medicine. We had a much broader definition: household supplies, civilian goods, and so forth. We believe that that is what is actually getting in now and is not being stopped by the Bosnian Serbs nor should it be stopped by the Bosnian Serbs.
Q New subject? The Chinese Premier said earlier today that there would be a meeting between Chinese President Jiang Zemin and President Clinton in New York and in October.
Could you tell us whether it's going to be a full-fledged summit meeting or is it going to be a brief function?
MR. BURNS: There has been no decision between the United States and China to have a summit meeting. There is a possibility of a summit meeting. Whether it takes place or not will depend on how much progress we make in U.S.-China relations. We have a chance to do that now, later this week, when the Vice Foreign Minister arrives here in Washington for talks with Peter Tarnoff; but I think especially next week in New York when Secretary Christopher meets with Foreign Minister Qichen. If there is good progress made in these two discussions, it may be possible, as a result of those meetings, to have a summit meeting. But we have not agreed to have one. We have not scheduled one, and we're not in a position to announce one.
Q Nick, what kind of progress are we talking about that has to be made before such a summit meeting takes place?
MR. BURNS: There are issues of concern to the United States. I know there are some issues of concern to China, and they have to be worked out. If they can be worked out, then we'll have a summit meeting. I prefer not to go into them in detail. I don't want to set public conditions for this, but the Chinese know what we're talking about.
Q Nick, last week, at the Foreign Press Center you were giving a briefing. At that briefing, you were asked whether or not there would be a fourth communique. I understand that you have consistently denied that there would be one.
You said at that briefing the fourth communique meant banning Taiwan leaders from coming to the U.S. for visits in the future. Could you clarify the situation for us, whether or not there will be attempts to sign a communique or not?
MR. BURNS: If, by a fourth communique, the authors of the communique want to assert that the United States cannot ever again in the future issue a visa to anybody from Taiwan, then we won't be able to agree to such a communique. We've said that very clearly and plainly.
The reason is that while the United States will continue to maintain only unofficial relations with Taiwan, it is entirely possible that at some point in the future we will issue a visa to an official from Taiwan for a private, unofficial, personal visit. This will be done on a case-by-case basis.
We cannot give an ironclad promise, nor should we give an ironclad promise, that we will not issue a visa at some point in the future under the circumstances that I characterized -- private, unofficial, case-by- case basis.
Who gets American visas will be determined by the United States and by American diplomats; not by anybody else.
Q Are you saying that -- sorry, just a quick follow-up -- are you saying that you are not denying that you could issue another communique but not with such content as to whether or not you are going to issue visas to Taiwanese leaders?
MR. BURNS: The three joint communiques of 1979 and 1982 were developed by both countries together -- by the People's Republic of China and the United States together. If we are being offered now a fourth communique, which does assert what you and I have just discussed -- a ban on visas to anybody from Taiwan -- then we're not interested in such a communique nor will we pursue one. If there are other ideas that China has for a fourth communique, we'll be very glad to listen to those and discuss them. But we are not going to take a Shermanesque pledge on visas for people from Taiwan who have an unofficial, private relationship with the United States.
Q You're not saying what progress needs to be made in U.S.- Chinese relations before there can be a summit. What are the areas in which the U.S. is seeking progress?
MR. BURNS: We certainly are seeking progress across the board, David, on economic issues, on a number of regional issues, in the human rights domain. Those are just three.
We certainly would like to see a stable relationship emerge, a relationship in which we do not have to debate issues endlessly in public but can discuss them fruitfully in private, and a relationship in which our unofficial, private relationship with Taiwan is understood to be what it is on its own merits and is no longer questioned because it's very clear what that relationship is.
Q I notice you didn't mention non-proliferation or missile sales, right?
MR. BURNS: I'm glad you corrected me and reminded me. It's a very important issue. If we can state for the record and include in the minutes, this is an exceedingly important issue, and particularly the prospect of potential Chinese sales of nuclear technology to Iran. That's a very important issue. It came up on April 17, August 1 -- the last two meetings the Secretary had with the Chinese Foreign Minister -- and will come up next week as well.
Q (Inaudible) add for the record?
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to be corrected -- any unilateral corrections want to emerge, we'll consider them for the record.
One more on China and then --
Q The Chinese Embassy said today that the Chinese Ambassador will not be back to host the National Day celebration for October 1. Do you have any idea when the Chinese Ambassador is coming back, given the fact that the two countries are talking to each other?
MR. BURNS: It's been our long-standing position that the Ambassador of China should come back. He's China's Ambassador to the United States. The weather is beautiful in the fall. There are important meetings coming between the United States and China. It's a good time to come back. We hope very much that the Government of China will respond favorably to the entreaties we've made on behalf of a distinguished American citizen who we think would make a great, fine American Ambassador to China.
Those are two issues that we think should move forward in the U.S.- China relationship.
Still on China.
Q On a fourth communique, is that something that the United States is discussing with China?
MR. BURNS: We have not suggested a fourth communique.
Q There's been discussion with China?
MR. BURNS: There's been a lot of talk about a fourth communique. The way it's been described is the way you heard it this afternoon, and I think I've described our position on it.
Q Are the United States and China discussing a fourth communique?
MR. BURNS: What do you mean by that question? Just to toss it back. What do you mean? What's behind the question? What am I suppose to be answering?
Q This issue sort of materialized out of thin air. You're shooting down an aspect of it; but there's a whole different way to treat it if something else is in this fourth communique. That's why I ask if there are discussions between the United States and China on a fourth communique.
I assume the position you're revealing was produced in some sort of review or discussions.
MR. BURNS: I'm not revealing a position. It was revealed last week. I'm not revealing it for the first time today. We didn't have any idea of a fourth communique on visas for people who live in Taiwan. That was not our idea. That has been floated as an idea, and we don't agree with that idea.
Q How about a fourth communique that doesn't deal specifically with a visa exclusion but more broadly restates the U.S. position on relations with China? Do you see a need for some sort of official statement like that?
MR. BURNS: It's just hard to say. We need to have these discussions this week and next week. At some point, if there is a need for such a communique, I'm sure we'll talk about it. But right now, I have nothing to offer on that issue.
Q But it's under consideration?
MR. BURNS: I can't say in any level of detail that it is at this point. There are all sorts of things under consideration in a relationship. Publishing a fourth communique, agreeing to one as a principal foundation of our relationship, I'm not aware that we're there yet with the Chinese or that we have even started down the road on that question, in terms of a formal communique that would be issued.
Q Is it on the agenda for the talks this week?
MR. BURNS: Certainly, I think it probably will be on the agenda. The issue of Taiwan seems to be on the agenda whenever we talk about U.S.-China relations, so we'll gladly talk about it.
We have a very clear view. We'll reaffirm, re-articulate that view this week.
Q I'm not talking about the issue of Taiwan, I'm talking about the issue of a fourth communique.
MR. BURNS: Again, I'm just trying to be very clear; I want to answer your question. I'm just trying to be very clear about what the question is.
We're not now proposing a Fourth Communique.
MR. BURNS: We don't want to take the pledge on visas. We're going to decide who gets American visas. We'll decide how we issue American visas. We're not going to issue any kind of pledges. But we're going to continue to assure the People's Republic of China of our fundamental position on the issue of China and the issue of Taiwan; it's well known.
Q Is it being discussed between China and the United States to produce a piece of paper which might not have the status of a formal communique but which would represent the understanding of the two governments as to where things stand or should go?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything for you on that, David. I do know that there have been a number of letters that have gone back and forth between the two governments over the last several months seeking to reaffirm the basis of American policy -- from their point of view, Chinese policy about this relationship. I think that stage is over in the relationship.
The key point at which it was over was August l in Brunei when there was a complete airing of the differences, as well as the agreements, on U.S.-China relations. We certainly hope that we can now go beyond this issue and get on to the non-proliferation issues -- which Carol has so rightly pointed out are at the top of the agenda -- as well as the economic and political issues that we have to deal with with China.
Q Nick, if I got it right this morning on the wires, I believe two out of the three directors of the -- what is it called? -- the American Institute In Taiwan, the unofficial U.S. diplomatic presence in Taipei, will be resigning. Why is that?
MR. BURNS: I think I did confirm on Friday that two of the individuals are resigning. I'm not in a position to speak for them. You might ask them why they're resigning.
We think they've done outstanding work. We regret their departure. The American Institute In Taiwan will not only survive but we hope prosper in the future.
Q On Friday, a Federal judge in the District of Columbia widened the previous ruling that dealt with two Illinois police officers wanted for extradition into Canada, particularly on charges of kidnapping. When he widened that ruling, apparently as it stands many officials of other governments believe that the State Department and the Justice Department no longer have the ability to forcibly remove anybody from the United States, regardless of the nature of the claim by another country. What is the State Department telling other governments about what they intend to do about this, and during this period does it mean that the United States is withdrawing or withholding -- or putting on hold -- any of their claims for extradition out of other countries?
MR. BURNS: Thank you for the question because I think it's a pertinent question for all of us today as we consider this issue. Let me give you the facts of the situation, which I think is what we're now communicating to foreign governments, including the Government of Canada.
The State Department is disappointed with the District Court's September l5 decision. The decision, as you know, on September l5, by Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, certified as a class all persons who currently or in the future will face extradition from the United States and prohibited the United States from surrendering any member of that class to a foreign country, even when extradition has been found lawful by another Federal judge.
In doing so, the judge amended his August 3l memorandum opinion and order in which he found the statute governing U.S. extradition practice unconstitutional and enjoined the United States from taking any further act to extradite people in this group.
The United States believes that the statute in question is constitutional. The District Court's September l5 ruling is unfortunate and we believe could adversely affect our international law-enforcement relations.
The United States Government intends to file a motion for a stay, pending appeal, of the District Court's nationwide injunction; and we also intend to appeal the District Court's September l5 ruling. The U.S. Government already is appealing the District Court's August 3l ruling that the statute governing U.S. extradition practice is unconstitutional.
Q Just as a follow-up to that question, is it then correct that you cannot extradite anybody from this country, either citizen or non- citizen, despite request of any government; and will you, as I asked before, have a hold on your request for extradition of other countries?
MR. BURNS: As I understand it, and I'm not an attorney -- as I understand what I have heard this morning from our Legal Advisor and others, we are filing a motion for a stay. I think, at least as of today -- September l8 -- it is not now possible for us to engage in extradition cases the way that we would like to. But we hope that by filing this motion for a stay and appealing the earlier ruling that we can return to a normal practice whereby the United States has the capability to extradite criminals -- would-be criminals, people we suspect are criminals -- from other countries to stand trial in the United States.
We have to deal in the real world with international terrorism, with drug-trafficking, with all sorts of crimes that have a direct influence on Americans every single day. The United States Government obviously needs a mechanism to work with other governments on a legal basis, internationally accepted -- and we hope accepted here in our own country -- to fight terrorism and fight drug-trafficking.
That is why we've taken the steps that we have taken, and we do believe that the current statute governing U.S. extradition practice is in fact a constitutional statute.
Q Do you have any figures on how many people face extradition?
MR. BURNS: I asked this morning. I don't have a specific figure, but I think on an annual basis we roughly deal with 50 cases per year -- roughly.
Still on extradition?
Q Fifty who were successfully extradited, or -- ?
MR. BURNS: That's how I understand it, yes.
Q So are you, for the moment, in violation of treaties with other countries on extradition?
MR. BURNS: Again, I'm going to have to give you a general rather than a specific response because I am not a lawyer -- very glad not to be a lawyer on some days, and today is one of them. (Laughter)
All I know is that the lawyers have gotten together and there is an argument about the constitutionality of our extradition practice. The United States Government has a very clear position, which we are aggressively putting forward. We're filing a motion for a stay, and we hope very much to be successful in that.
Q Can I follow up? What day do you pan to file?
MR. BURNS: I believe it's being filed probably tomorrow.
Q In what court?
MR. BURNS: I believe it will be the three-judge Court of Appeals, but I want to be very specific on that and I'll post an answer on that after the briefing.
Q In the District of Columbia?
MR. BURNS: Yes, in the District of Columbia -- yes.
Still on extradition? Extradition? Okay.
You've been very patient. Let's go here, and then we'll go to the other side of the room.
Q Nick, the two Iraqi Kurdish groups, they finished their Dublin meeting without an agreement. Do you have any comment on it?
MR. BURNS: The United States did coordinate an international meeting that took place in Ireland over the last week, and the two major Kurdish groups from northern Iraq were there. They had a good meeting. I can't point to a specific landmark breakthrough in their discussions, but I can say it was a good meeting. We think from time to time it makes sense for the United States to talk to the two parties. Turkey and the United Kingdom were observers to these talks, and that in essence is what I have to say about that.
Q Will you have another meeting on the subject?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing on that for you. I'm sure in the future there will be future encounters with the two groups. We have an ongoing concern that they work together more effectively than they have done in the past for stability and peace in northern Iraq and that they work together to help Turkey fight the threat of terrorism from the PKK.
These are ongoing concerns. We're going to stick with it, but I don't have anything specific to announce by way of further meetings.
Q According to the polls appearing in the Indian press, the Indian Army has been delivered (inaudible) missile, which can be specifically targeting only one country. How do you view of this?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me. I didn't quite get the question.
Q Regarding reports appearing in the Indian press, the Indian Army has been delivered Prithvi missiles now.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me -- "delivered?"
Q -- has been given Prithvi missiles, newly delivered. And these Prithvi missiles specifically target only one country. So how do you view this development?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything for you on that particular report.
Q (Inaudible) of Spain said today that John Bennett, that was your Ambassador to Malabo in the nineties and today is in charge of Panama embassy, approved of the -- gave a clear line to a coup d'etat against the president of that country.
MR. BURNS: A Cuban attack?
Q No, no. Coup d'etat.
MR. BURNS: A coup d'etat. I'm sorry. I'm hearing different things. (Laughter)
Q Against --
MR. BURNS: A coup d'etat in -- ?
Q In Malabo, in Equatorial Guinea, against the President, (inaudible) Nguema. There was a full investigation about that. They say that your diplomat, in cooperation with one of the opposition leaders -- (inaudible) -- agreed to do something against the President in that time, l994. Now, when --
MR. BURNS: In l994?
Q In l994. Bennett now is in charge of the Panama Embassy. Do you have anything on that? Have you seen it before?
MR. BURNS: It's the first I've heard. It's an fantastic charge. I can't believe it's true. I'll ask the relevant people here and we'll get an answer for you -- a specific answer. But it just sounds like one of those fantastic stories that is too improbable to be true.
Q Has Cuba offered to hand over Frank Terpil to the United States?
MR. BURNS: We're aware of reports that Frank Terpil, who is an American citizen who is a fugitive from United States justice, has been detained by the Cuban Government, allegedly for corrupt business practices.
We've not been contacted by the Cuban Government about him. We're not aware that he has asked for consular access from our U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Obviously, we will inform the Cuban Government of our interest in having Mr. Terpil returned to the United States to face charges pending against him, if in fact he's in Cuba and he can be found in Cuba. In that case, we will seek consular access to him.
He's a fugitive from justice, so we do have an interest in this case. I'm not aware that he's contacted us or the Cubans have contacted us about him.
Q You had no idea he was there until --
MR. BURNS: I can't say that. We do have an Interests Section. We have a lot of diplomats. We may have been aware he was there. But like Mr. Vesco, who is also a U.S. citizen, we had no means to talk to him. We'd also love to talk to him, but he's incommunicado at this point.
Q (Inaudible) We don't have an extradition treaty with the Cuba?
MR. BURNS: There is an existing U.S.-Cuba Extradition Treaty which contains a mutual obligation to surrender persons charged with or convicted of crimes in the other country. It is still in force, although it has not been invoked by either side for over 35 years.
Just another interesting bit of information that we supply you with on a daily basis.
Q A consumer question, to follow up on something that Sid asked last week about the make of that copier that stopped the full force of a rocket-propelled grenade. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: After long research into this question, Steve, we discovered that it was an IBM copier that stopped the RPG. If it had been a Canon copier, it would have fired back. (Laughter)
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:16 p.m.)
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