U.S. Department of State 95/09/20 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, September 20, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Introduction of Russian Presidential Press Secretary Sergey Medvedev, Albanian Diplomats, and Russian Lawyers................................1 Announcement re: Secretary's Travel to UN............1-2 Announcement re: Secretary's Address to Council on Foreign Relations .................................2-3 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Holbrooke's Schedule, Activities.....................3, 10-11 Serbian Compliance with Withdrawal of Weapons........4 FM's of Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia Meeting in New York..4 Secretary's Meeting with FM's in New York............5 UN/NATO Enforcement of Ceasefire.....................5-6 Cessation/Restraint of Military Operations -- Bosnians, Croats, Bosnian Serbs....................6, 11-12 Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.....................6-9 Meetings in Washington w/Federation Reps...........7 Bosnian Serb Loyalty to Federation.................7 Health of Federation...............................7 Alternative Bosnian Serb Leadership..................7-8 Holbrooke's Temporary Replacement in Balkans.........10 Contact Group Meeting................................10 Serbian Involvement in Fighting......................12-13 Russian Concerns.....................................13 RUSSIA Talbott/Mamedov Talks................................13 Russian Reactor Sale to Iran.......................14-15 Talbott's Comments on Polish Radio Station...........15 CFE..................................................15-17 CFE/ACDA Comments....................................16 "Loose Nukes" Agreement Status.......................17 COLUMBIA Pallomari (Cali) Surrenders to U.S. Officials........18-19 CUBA Carter Conference w/Cuban Government Officials.......19 Helms-Burton Legislation.............................19-21 CONGRESS Holding up Ambassadorial Appointments and Treaty Ratifications...........................21-22 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Sentencing of Filipino Maid..........................22 MALAYSIA Ferguson Case........................................22-23 JAPAN US Military Personnel Accused of Rape................23-24 CHINA/TIBET Dalai Lama Connection with Aum Cult..................24-25 IRAQ Jordanian Claim of Secret US-Iraq Contacts...........25 UNITED KINGDOM Argentinian-UK Talks.................................25 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Aid Bill to Palestinians.............................25-26 TURKEY Resignation of PM Ciller.............................26 FRANCE US Counter-terrorism Cooperation.....................27
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1995, 1:04 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: It's my great pleasure to introduce to all of you the Presidential Press Secretary of the Russian Federation, Mr. Sergei Medvedev. He is the Press Secretary to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He is in Washington as a distinguished guest of the United States through the USIA Visitors Program. Prior to becoming President Yeltsin's Press Secretary, Mr. Medvedev worked as a political correspondent for Ostankino Television and Radio Company in Moscow. He was invited to the United States by our mutual good friend Mike McCurry. He has been at the White House looking at the White House press operation. We're glad that you're here today with us.
We also have as guests today four diplomats from Albania, who are also visiting the United States to learn more about the system here in the United States, and you also are very welcome.
We have a group of three Russian attorneys who are here, developing laws that regulate the communications industries in Russia, and welcome to you.
So we have distinguished visitors. Everyone should be on his and her best behavior for our visitors. (Laughter)
I have two announcements.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher will travel to New York City on Sunday, September 24, to attend the 50th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. He'll conduct a series of important bilateral meetings with a number of his counterparts as well throughout the week.
As you know, the Secretary will deliver the United States speech to the General Assembly on Monday, September 25, at ll:00 a.m., and while at the U.N. the Secretary will reaffirm our very strong commitment to the United Nations and underscore the importance the United States attaches to United Nations reform.
The Secretary will also be engaged in a series of bilateral meetings, as I mentioned, with the U.N. Secretary General Boutros-Ghali, with his counterparts from the Russian Federation, from Japan, China, Britain, France, Germany, Italy.
There will be additional meetings with other counterparts of the Secretary, including meetings on Bosnia.
We're going to have a Press Office set up in the Waldorf for you and for us; and we'll be posting an information sheet about that, about press arrangements, after this briefing.
My final announcement deals with an address that the Secretary will make this evening at the Council on Foreign Relations here in Washington. This speech, unfortunately, is closed to members of the press. I think Council events of this type always are. But I'm going to make the text available to you on an embargoed basis late this afternoon. I will get it to you as soon as I can. I think he'll be making the speech at around 6:30 in the evening. He's going to have a simple message for the Council on Foreign Relations this evening, and that is that the drastic reductions proposed by the Congress in the State Department's operating budget will have a devastating impact on the ability of the United States to conduct our foreign policy. I think the message that he will put forth is one that he has talked to a number of you about; and that is about diplomatic readiness, the importance of maintaining a very strong diplomatic presence of the United States around the world and a strong American Foreign Service. We believe you can't have diplomacy or foreign policy on the cheap; we have to have the resources in order to make American foreign policy successful. So he'll be addressing that very important issue and addressing his very strong personal concern about this issue.
Q Will there be Q&A after the Secretary's speech? And the reason I ask is because it's always closed to the press. There are some members of the Press Corps that belong to the Council on Foreign Relations.
MR. BURNS: Yes, I believe there will be. There will be Q&A, yes.
Q Will they make time to let the Press Corps in for that portion, or -- ?
MR. BURNS: No. This is an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, so I refer you to them for the press arrangements, but it's their intention to have a private session between the Secretary and Council members.
Since this is of interest to you, and should be of interest to you, we're going to make the text of his speech available to you.
Q But the Q&A, I mean. Is that going to be open?
MR. BURNS: No. There are no plans to open that part of it to the press?
Q Well, is that going to be OFF THE RECORD then for those members of the Press Corps that go there?
MR. BURNS: I believe it is, but we'll check with -- yes, I'm getting a very affirmative "OFF THE RECORD" from the back of the room. So, therefore, if you are a Council member and will be there, you can enjoy the session on an OFF THE RECORD basis -- at least, the Q&A portion of it.
Q Bring us up-to-date on Bosnia.
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to.
Dick Holbrooke is back. He arrived early this morning, and he is taking a well-deserved day off in New York City.
We have been following the situation on the ground in Bosnia very closely. There are indications that the withdrawal of Bosnian-Serb heavy weapons from the Sarajevo exclusion zone is continuing. We believe that the stranglehold on Sarajevo, put in place so brutally by the Bosnian Serbs, is mostly lifted.
I think it's fair to say that the situation there is dramatically different from what it was even a few weeks ago. As you know, nonmilitary civilian goods are now moving freely into Sarajevo through the three roads that were opened up by the agreement offered by the Bosnian Serbs last week and conveyed to various parties by the United States. The Kiseljak, Hadzici, and airport roads are open.
There are very few checkpoints on these roads -- in some cases, no checkpoints. It's very important that not only food and medicine but badly needed supplies for the people of Sarajevo are moving into the city -- specifically furniture, cement, tools -- items that the people of Sarajevo need to rebuild their homes and to prepare for the coming winter.
We don't believe that the siege of Sarajevo can be considered to be totally lifted until there is a free flow of people and vehicles into Sarajevo. In this sense, we would just like to reiterate today: The Bosnian Serbs should understand that they cannot and should not undertake any military operations within this area of the Sarajevo exclusion zone and, if there are offensive military operations, NATO reserves the right to take the appropriate action.
As we approach the deadline for compliance, which is 4:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time, we will be looking to the United Nations and to NATO to indicate to us their judgment as to whether or not the Bosnian Serbs have, indeed, complied with the terms of the agreement, now that the l44th hour is approaching.
We have been in touch with the United Nations and NATO. I understand there was a meeting this morning that General Janvier, General Rupert Smith, and Admiral Leighton Smith had in Sarajevo about this. We would expect a public announcement from the United Nations and NATO on the situation, and then I think you'll see our Government react to that announcement.
We do believe the situation has improved, but we do want to emphasize that the Bosnian Serbs must not undertake any offensive military operations either in the coming hours or in the period after the compliance is judged or not judged to have met the standards set out last Friday.
Q There's a report in the newspaper today that said that the Foreign Ministers of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia would be meeting in New York. Can you comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I don't have an announcement to make about any meetings. Secretary Christopher plans to take advantage of the presence of many of the officials from that region in New York next week to have meetings concerning Bosnia, but I don't have any announcements right now about a specific meeting with the three Foreign Ministers.
Q Do you expect those two Foreign Ministers to be there?
MR. BURNS: I think the Governments of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia will be represented at a very high level in New York next week. I think there will be a lot of discussions next week, led by the United States, about the situation in Bosnia, but I just don't have any specific announcement to make about particular meetings.
Q This would be -- if the meeting took place, it would be the Secretary's first direct role in negotiations; is that correct?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary has been, of course, involved all along the way in directing the work of Dick Holbrooke. He has not been out in the field in Bosnia or in Serbia conducting the day-to-day negotiations.
Q This will be his first meeting with those three men since the peace process sort of grew?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any meeting to announce. He met Foreign Minister Granic last week. He's spoken on the telephone with President Izetbegovic, Prime Minister Silajdzic, Foreign Minister Sacirbey. He's had constant contact. I have no meeting to announce.
MR. BURNS: Bill.
Q Yes. Thank you.
With regard to enforcement of the peace -- this is, of course, very good news that the Bosnian Serbs are in compliance or may be; but there were reports of a mortar attack apparently coming from Bosnian-Muslim parts of Sarajevo against Serb suburbs of Sarajevo. I understand in parts of the country that personnel are coming from Serbia to aid the Serbs around Banja Luka and that the offensive against Banja Luka continues in spite of the fact that Richard Holbrooke has received some assurances that it will cease soon, or it will cease.
But, Nick, my question is: Is there any enforcement by the U.N. and NATO contemplated to bring about a complete cease-fire in Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: We are dealing with really separate questions here. The United Nations and NATO are going to assess and judge by 4:00 p.m. our time today whether or not the Bosnian Serbs are in compliance. We are very anxiously awaiting that judgment.
There are two separate questions, apart from that, I think, that you have asked Bill. One is there apparently were some mortar rounds fired this morning, and we are working with the United Nations and NATO to try to determine who is responsible for the firing of the mortar rounds. We have seen conflicting reports on that.
Secondly, you asked about a wider application of U.N. and NATO authority and power to try to achieve a cessation in the fighting. I think the United States has made quite clear over the course of the last couple of days that we think that it is time for the parties to turn towards peace.
We do not believe today that the Bosnian and Croatian armies will advance upon Banja Luka. We do believe that there has been a rather dramatic slow-down in the military operations that they have conducted in central and western Bosnia, but not a complete cessation of those military activities.
Q Have Mr. Granic or Mr. Silajdzic made a commitment to Mr. Holbrooke to bring about a complete cessation?
MR. BURNS: Well, I think that Dick Holbrooke and his delegation received an indication yesterday that the city of Banja Luka would not be subjected to an offensive military attack.
Bosnian Foreign Minister Sacirbey said yesterday that the time has come to de-emphasize military operations -- I am quoting him -- and to emphasize political discussion.
We agree with that statement. We welcome it and we support it, and we hope that that is, in fact, what the Bosnian and Croatian Governments now intend to do. We certainly hope that is what the Bosnian Serbs intend to do.
Q Did Milosevic tell Ambassador Holbrooke that Banja Luka would be, in effect, a trip-wire for Serbian troops coming into the region?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that he said anything like that. I am not in a position to say yes or no. I talked to Ambassador Holbrooke this morning, have a general description of his trip and his conversations, but not of one so specific as that. I have not heard that in any of the conversations that I have had privately here in the Department.
Q Nick, there apparently is a delegation, representatives of the Federation, of the presidency of the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina in town this week. They have had meetings here. They will be having meetings at the White House. And I believe it's primarily composed of Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs loyal to the government of Bosnia Herzegovina.
Do you have any information as to the contents of the discussion that they have been having?
MR. BURNS: I don't. We have delegations here in Washington frequently. I don't have any information on this particular one.
Q Can you tell me then, as a follow-up, what is the estimate of this Department regarding the shift of loyalties on the part of the Bosnian Serbs? There are about, I think, l5 percent Bosnian Serbs loyal to the government of the Federation, and this seems to shift now as disappointment and disillusionment with the policies of Karadzic and Mladic have grown within the Serb population.
What are the estimates of a shift, in that respect, towards reviving the multi-ethnic nature of the Federation of Bosnia- Herzegovina?
MR. BURNS: Well, if there is a shift occurring, and if people throughout Bosnia are going to begin to have greater allegiance to the Federation, and particularly to the Bosnian Government, that will be a very good thing, indeed.
I am not in a position to attach proportional figures to that shift in sentiment, if it indeed is occurring. Certainly there is a lot of reason for people, Bosnian Serbs in particular, to be disillusioned with the Bosnian Serb leadership because they have created a catastrophe for themselves, particularly in their interactions over the last month or so and they certainly have seen a dramatic reversal of their own military and political fortunes on the ground.
Q Sacirbey is talking about trying to make some kind of political deal with some alternative Serb leadership in Banja Luka. It may just be another term for capitulation.
Do you see anything realistic in what he is talking about?
MR. BURNS: We see the same reports, Tom. I think we have even seen public statements from Minister Sacirbey about his intention to try to negotiate a transfer of authority in Banja Luka.
We are not going to put ourselves in the position of championing this kind of tactical maneuver, if that's indeed what it is.
The fact is that we are going to be most effective when we can argue broadly for peace, and in this case the United States has led the initiative to set up a peace process. It's on-going. We'd like to get to a peace conference. So we will refrain from the temptation to comment on particular episodes like this.
We think that the most important thing is for them now to prepare the way to sit down to talk about the Contact Group map and plan, the division of territory between the two major ethnic communities that will make up a future Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Q Nick, what is your assessment of the health of the Federation?
MR. BURNS: Our assessment is that the Federation since its inception some time ago has had to operate under enormous strains produced by the war, but that the meeting yesterday between President Izetbegovic and President Tudjman was a step in the right direction, because both publicly reaffirmed in a joint statement their commitment to maintaining the Federation and, indeed, strengthening the Federation politically as well as militarily.
I think you have seen militarily that there has been a great deal of cooperation and coordination between the two over the last couple of weeks and with good results for them on the ground.
Politically there certainly can be a lot more done to strengthen the Federation, particularly in their joint administration of several of the cities. That is what we have encouraged them to do. That was actually the aim of Dick Holbrooke's meeting with the two leaders yesterday.
Of course, they talked about other issues, but the major focus of the meeting was on the Federation itself.
Q Could you be a little more specific on strengthening the administration -- specifically strengthening the administration of the joint areas? Are there other things? Can you expand on that a little bit?
MR. BURNS: Well, I think I'd refer you to the somewhat detailed joint statement that was issued by the two Presidents yesterday about the Federation. But I understand, as I remember from reading it, that they did reaffirm their commitment to the Washington agreement -- that's from February of this year -- and the subsequent agreements that talked about strengthening the Federation.
They agreed to undertake further integration of the Federation. They agreed that their strategic cooperation in a military-political sense would continue to aim towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
They agreed that all refugees and displaced persons had the right to return to their homes. They reaffirmed their commitment to work jointly with the international humanitarian organizations that are doing such a good job in helping refugees.
So those are some details. I would refer you to the Bosnian and Croatian Governments for others, and the Federation itself for others.
Q Those of us who have bureaus there have seen that. You mentioned that the U.S. would like them to do something. Can you expand on that a little bit?
MR. BURNS: Can we be more specific about what we'd like them to do?
Q You just said it, strengthen their cooperation in jointly administered areas, I think is what you said.
MR. BURNS: Well, we think the creation of the Federation was a very important development for both, particularly for the Bosnian Government, in strengthening the resistance of both countries against Bosnian Serb aggression.
We think the continuation of the Federation is particularly important now, as the parties hopefully will move towards a peace conference where these political and constitutional issues of governance will be at the center of a peace conference, in addition to the questions over land, and who gets what part of the land of Bosnia- Herzegovina.
A great challenge will be to decide on the governing structure of a future state, the government itself, and on a system of laws that hopefully will provide ultimately for some sort of stability.
So all of these things are very vitally important, and we continue to encourage the Federation to work on them. You know, the Secretary has a special adviser, the noted attorney Roberts Owen, who has been part of Dick Holbrooke's delegation, who has reported to the Secretary frequently in the last couple of weeks about these issues of governance and the issues of constitutionality that will be so important to the peace conference.
So we have been involved with them. We have very great hopes that the Federation will continue.
Q MR. BURNS: Nick, assuming, as many do, that the Serbs around Sarajevo will be found in compliance and that bombing raids do not begin at least in the shorter run, has the United States left anyone behind, since Holbrooke has come back, to push this process along? And could you speculate for us, or tell us, what the next likely move is going to be after that, assuming it happens?
MR. BURNS: We have permanently left behind our Ambassadors in Zagreb and Sarajevo and our Charge d'Affaires in Belgrade, all of them senior diplomats of this government, and all of them highly respected here.
All of them work on a day-to-day basis with the leaders of each of these countries; our Charge in Belgrade, Mr. Perina, sees Mr. Milosevic frequently, as do Peter Galbraith and our Embassy, of course, in Sarajevo.
I think the diplomacy will shift somewhat towards New York into next week. The United Nations General Assembly opening will see a collection of world leaders, many of them who have an interest or a direct involvement in this drama in the Balkans.
The Secretary intends to take advantage of his presence in New York next week to meet a number of them, and the Secretary will obviously want to see if we can push forward the peace process and to make progress on it towards our objective, which is a peace conference.
Q Nick, to follow that up. Will Mr. Holbrooke then delay any return to the region until after next week's meetings?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that Dick Holbrooke has any plans to return to the region pending the discussions next week in the New York that the Secretary will conduct.
Q Will there be a Contact Group meeting, as such?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything to announce on that. I think most members of the Contact Group will be in New York on the same days next week. We have not yet announced a meeting. I think it's fair to say there will be lots of discussions, both formal and informal, about Bosnia.
This is a major priority for the United States. Having achieved so much in the last couple of weeks, we're going to use every ounce of diplomatic strength and creativity that we have to push it forward. Next week will be a good example of that.
Q Is Holbrooke reporting? He's delayed in New York?
MR. BURNS: Holbrooke is resting today in New York. He'll be returning to Washington tomorrow.
Q Does he report to the President? When does he report on the Milosevic meeting to the Secretary, or has he? Did he do an overnight letter?
MR. BURNS: Yes. He's been on the phone with the Secretary since his arrival, and he's been on the phone with a number of other people here. He'll be coming back down to Washington tomorrow. He'll be engaged in a detailed briefing with Secretary Christopher tomorrow morning, and there will be additional meetings tomorrow as well on this issue. Tomorrow is a big day, internally here, to assess how far we've come, where we need to go, and how we can get there.
Q Are you as confident as you were yesterday -- and reports seem to bear out your confidence -- that the Bosnian Government and the Croats will restrain their offensive all around the country?
You described Sarajevo as being dramatically different. That would have a lot to do with the guns. There were warlords, if I can use that word, yesterday, even while you were saying hopeful things, that were saying: "We're going to press our offensive." And border-crossings were cited. What's your feel today?
MR. BURNS: Our assessment is that the situation in Sarajevo itself and for the 20-kilometer zone around Sarajevo is stable; that it has taken a dramatic turn for the better; that the people of Sarajevo now have the prospect of a peaceful winter in contrast to the terrible winters of the past.
In the situation throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, we are reasonably confident, based on the direct commitments given to us yesterday, that Banja Luka, which is, of course, a very important city for the Bosnian Serbs, will not be subjected to a direct military offensive. I am less confident that fighting is going to cease throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, particularly in the West and Central parts of the country. There are many, many reports just in the last couple of hours about fighting around important cities and fighting in small towns and in agricultural areas.
Given the number of factions in the area, given some of the reports of a counter-offensive from the Bosnian Serbs -- at least from some elements loyal to the Bosnian Serbs -- I think we can expect to see additional fighting in that area, Barry.
Q All three groups are someplace on the move?
MR. BURNS: And different factions of the groups, and so forth.
Q Nick, if I could follow on that and go back to the issue of interference or a joining by Serbians of the Bosnian Serb forces -- insofar as movement of personnel and materials from Serbia? Once again, the question: What has Milosevic had to say on this particular subject? Is he still very firmly in favor of the agreements that he's made so far with Richard Holbrooke?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing to report to you on any movement of goods or material or people from Serbia into areas controlled by the Bosnian Serbs, which I believe was really the goal of your first question.
On the second question, pertaining to Mr. Milosevic, I believe the United States, in this case, Dick Holbrooke, has found him -- during the last several weeks on these issues of Sarajevo, the issue of forming a joint delegation -- to be reliable. He has certainly, I think, made very clear in public his strategic intention to try to move the situation from one of warfare to one of discussions for peace. That is, in fact, where the United States and our allies believe the situation should be headed.
Q Understood. Back to John's question about a trip-wire. Has Milosevic warned that the Croatian and Bosnian Muslim forces can go only so far before there is some kind of reaction from Serbia?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to discuss and cannot discuss any details from our private negotiations. I think, though, as a general point, it is obvious that Serbia has its own strategic interests in the region and that Serbia, in the past, has made known its intention to protect those interests. That is certainly a factor, that everybody involved has to pay attention to. I believe the Bosnian and Croatian Governments are aware of that reality.
Q That was one of the two main points that Holbrooke was to take up with Milosevic. Are you giving us sort of a sidewise warning that he may not have gotten very far on that?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not. I'm just trying to state a fact which I think is part of the calculation that everybody involved has to be aware of.
It's certainly the hope and desire of the United States that Serbia will not involve itself militarily in the fighting that continues in Central and Western Bosnia, or in any part of the fighting throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. That message has been communicated directly to President Milosevic time and again. It cannot have been misunderstood.
It is also true, however, as an objective fact, that Serbia, as a strong country -- strong military presence in the region -- has its own interests. Others have to be aware of those interests, and I think that the other parties are aware of those interests.
Q Has the Russian Government reiterated any new or renewed concerns regarding the offensives that are going on?
MR. BURNS: I have not seen any new comments from Moscow. I believe after the developments of last week -- namely, the pause in NATO bombings, the prospect of an agreement on Sarajevo, and the trip of Deputy Secretary Talbott -- we have restored a sense of stability in U.S.-Russian relations on this issue and that the United States and Russia are, indeed, working together on this issue.
There was a Contact Group meeting hosted by the Russian Federation at the Russian Mission in Geneva last Friday. Secretary Christopher has been in close touch with Minister Kozyrev and will be again next week when they meet on this particular issue.
We're off Bosnia? We're still on Bosnia.
Q Do you have any kind of a readout yet on the meeting between Strobe Talbott and Georgiy Mamedov in Annapolis?
MR. BURNS: Strobe Talbott and Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov are meeting today at the U.S. Naval Academy. That is the venue for the Strategic Stability Talks. This is one in a series of meetings that we've had with the Russians going back to early in 1993. They're going to be discussing the situation in Bosnia and, I think, more importantly for this particular set of discussions, the process of NATO expansion, the development of a NATO-Russia relationship, and a number of the bilateral issues that will be discussed by the two Presidents -- President Yeltsin and President Clinton -- in New York in mid-October when they have their meeting.
Q Will Russian reactors going to Iran be part of their discussions?
MR. BURNS: I'm sure it will be today. It's a major issue in the U.S.-Russian relationship.
Q What more is there for the United States to say about that? The Russians have made it pretty clear they're going ahead with the one and then two more.
MR. BURNS: The Russian Government publicly has made it clear over the course of the last couple of weeks that it intends to proceed with at least a few aspects of the potential Russian-Iranian nuclear cooperation.
Minister Mikhailov has talked about proceeding with the reconstruction of the unfinished unit at Bushehr and the possibility of a new contract. Beyond those two, there's the possibility of two more. They have said that publicly.
President Yeltsin and President Clinton agreed on May 10 in Moscow, however, that the United States and Russia had to continue to talk about this; that Russia would be receptive to information provided by the United States about Iran's nuclear intentions. We believe that Iran does have the intention to build a nuclear weapons capacity.
In fact, we've taken advantage of that offer -- in late June, in Moscow, when the Vice President visited Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and in other meetings, and we'll do so again today -- to inform the Russians that we still believe -- and we have a variety of evidence that has brought us to this conclusion -- that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons; that that is not in Russia's interests nor is in America's interests.
The United States intends to keep this issue very much alive and in the forefront of our relationship with Russia.
Q Would you expect that Mr. Talbott will be sharing the type of information with Mr. Mamedov -- somewhat classified information about the Iranian program, as you all have done in the past?
MR. BURNS: I don't know in particular what type of information is going to be transmitted today. I do know that this is on the top of our agenda, so therefore it will be discussed today.
Q Was there anything in what Talbott said to this Polish radio station about the need to at least plan for a pessimistic scenario in Russia that represents either a change or even a reversal of policy, as one Russian newspaper said today?
MR. BURNS: I'm glad you asked that question, because I was intrigued by the article in the Washington Times this morning. I think that, frankly, the author of the article might have taken the attempt to understand that Strobe Talbott was in Washington yesterday, not in Warsaw. The article had Strobe in Warsaw. Well, he was in Washington. He hasn't been in Warsaw in quite some time -- many, many months, if not years.
Secondly, I think the article in a very fundamental way completely distorted the American position on this issue and specifically Deputy Secretary Talbott's position on this issue, going all the way back to the fall of 1993, and I can speak very clearly about this particular topic.
He has always supported, since the fall of 1993, the process of NATO expansion, and in fact was in the forefront within the Administration pushing that, and there's been a great deal of conventional wisdom to the contrary that is absolutely incorrect on this issue.
I've read the relevant part of the transcript of his interview with Polish radio yesterday that was given from Washington, D.C., and I challenge anyone who's read that to indicate that there's been a policy shift, either by the American Administration or by Strobe Talbott.
Therefore, I'm telling you I think very little of the article that appeared this morning, and I think they should have checked their facts before they printed it.
Q Do you have anything yet about what the ideas are the U.S. is proposing to the Russians on CFE, on how to get around the problem of the fact that they want to violate it?
MR. BURNS: Unfortunately, no. No. We do have a NATO proposal that will be presented by the United States, but I think to try to enhance the success of that proposal and communication, we'll do that privately.
Q So that will stay private for how much -- it will be up to the Russians to announce it if they want to?
MR. BURNS: I think that both of our governments would treat it confidentially during the period where we discuss it with each other. This is such an important issue that this issue normally is discussed at the highest levels -- presidential and foreign minister levels -- and I wouldn't be surprised to see this issue go back up to that level before too long.
Q Nick, are you at least prepared to concede that the U.S. has changed its position on Russian compliance by November -- Russian compliance with the CFE as it now exists and as the Director of ACDA said yesterday on the record?
MR. BURNS: Remind me what the Director of ACDA said on the record yesterday, as I wasn't present when he said it on the record.
Q That NATO had come up with a new proposal for CFE that allows the Russians to change the sub-limits -- to alter the sub-limits without -- and does not have to be in compliance by November with the original CFE.
MR. BURNS: I saw at least a story on that particular interview, and I wouldn't have characterized it like that. So let me just speak without reference to Director Holum's remarks which, of course, were accurate -- I'm sure were accurate -- because he's an expert on this issue.
We believe that all countries should be in compliance, and the judgment about whether or not countries are in compliance ultimately will be made at the CFE Review Conference next April -- April 1996.
November is an important date, and all of us are looking forward to that, and that's why we're having such intensive conversations with the Russian Government as well as a number of others. But certainly we want to see all countries in compliance. That's the objective of the current set of discussions with the Russian Government.
Q But this NATO proposal allows Russia to change its -- I don't know the details of it -- to change the sub-limits in the flank regions, which you all in Moscow, you said was out of the question.
MR. BURNS: You see, the problem that I've got is that I can't talk about the details of the NATO proposal; so therefore I really can't answer the question.
Q Without revealing the details, can you say that the United States is -- that NATO is open to changing the Russian obligation?
MR. BURNS: NATO believes and the United States believes that all countries should be in compliance with the CFE strictures, and that is the bedrock of our policy, that's the bedrock of our current proposal.
Q Can you bring us up to date on the American drive to get an agreement with Russia on the so-called "loose nukes" and whether it's anticipated that an agreement will be reached by next spring?
MR. BURNS: As you know, this has been, I think, in President Clinton's view -- personal view -- one of the critical issues in the U.S.-Russian relationship, the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship, and throughout that part of the world. Since January 1993, the President has done a lot to expand the vision of our government on this question and to expand the resources that we give to it.
A lot of our diplomacy -- in terms of denuclearization with Ukraine, successful diplomacy with Belarus and Kazakhstan and with Russia -- has been directed at getting at this question, trying to build up the international reservoir of talent to deal with the question in international coordination, because it presents such a grave threat to the future stability of Europe and North America, the Middle East, well into the next century.
There's going to be a summit meeting next spring about this. I don't think we've announced the dates, but there certainly is going to be a summit meeting hosted by the Russian Government. It was an idea that President Yeltsin had that we felt was a very good idea, and we're going to work very closely with the Russian Government towards that summit and with others in the international community, our NATO allies, to try to build up the capacity of the international community to deal with the issue.
Q Is that in any way part of Talbott's meeting today with Mamedov?
MR. BURNS: It's always a part. There are a number of specialists on this issue at the National Security Council, the State Department and at the Pentagon, who are part of Strobe Talbott's interagency team that forms the U.S. side in the Strategic Stability Talks with the Russian side. Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov has brought a number of Russian experts on non-proliferation to these talks.
Q This is Maria at "24 Hours News", Colombia. The top bookkeeper for the Cali drug cartel has surrendered to the U.S. drug officials. My question is, do you know anything about this issue?
MR. BURNS: I understand that that individual has arrived in the United States and has voluntarily surrendered to United States officials. But, as you know, as a matter of policy, we do not discuss the specifics of these cases because we want to maximize the ability of the U.S. law enforcement officials and agencies to be successful in our quest to fight the trafficking of narcotics.
Q Could you please let me know if this person is under the DEA protection here in Washington, D.C.?
MR. BURNS: I can't discuss that.
Q Can you name the person?
MR. BURNS: Can I name the person? Yes, I believe the person's name is Mr. Guillermo Pallomari.
Q Nick, can you say whether the U.S. has agreed to cooperate with the Colombian Government in sharing whatever information they're able to get from this man?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any details about our discussions with the Colombian Government on this issue.
Q To your knowledge, he's the top bookkeeper for the Cali cartel?
MR. BURNS: I know that Mr. Guillermo Pallomari has arrived in the United States and has voluntarily surrendered himself to United States officials. I am not authorized to describe his past activities, but he has arrived, and it's not going to be possible to give a lot of detail on this.
Q Are you hopeful your consultations with him will prove fruitful?
MR. BURNS: We're always hopeful, whenever we have consultations with anyone from a foreign country, that they're fruitful and constructive. I can say that. (Laughter) We really hope it will be fruitful, yes.
Q Is he under indictment?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any information to that effect, George. I have very little information about Mr. Pallomari, and I've been asked to say very little about Mr. Pallomari.
Q (Inaudible) easy.
MR. BURNS: (Laughter) Thank you. I always want to succeed.
Q (Inaudible) government has control over him?
MR. BURNS: I would refer you to the usual suspects around town -- the U.S. law enforcement agencies that normally get involved in these kinds of things.
Q President Carter announced today that he wants to hold a conference with some Cuban Government officials, with the aim being to move progress ahead on U.S.-Cuba relations, to try to open up the relationship a little bit. I'm wondering whether you think these kinds of activities are consistent with your understandings of the provisions of the Cuban Democracy Act and whether the Department would act favorably upon visa requests from these individuals?
MR. BURNS: I do know that former President Carter -- I've seen reports he's going to host a conference of Cuban exiles in the United States. I've also seen reports that he wants to hold a meeting with Cuban officials.
As far as I know -- and I will check this again today, because I checked it a couple of days ago -- we have still not received any applications for visas for any officials for discussions with former President Carter. I can check this again, but I don't believe we've been apprised of any specific meeting that's going to take place. But, in the interests of fairness, let me just check it again for you and see if we have any more information.
Q Do you have a policy on Cuban Government officials coming to the United States on business other than official business?
MR. BURNS: I think we have normally met with Cuban Government officials in New York -- those that are there for U.N. business. I think official contacts in Washington have been infrequent.
Q The House proponents of this Libertad legislation are saying that they think it's going to pass when they schedule for a vote later this afternoon. Is that legislation consistent with the Cuban Democracy Act? Would it further, would it advance that? Or, would it tie your hands in trying to apply it?
MR. BURNS: Are you referring to the Helms-Burton legislation?
Q Yes, sir.
MR. BURNS: We're following Helms-Burton. We've been following it for many, many months. We've been very active in discussing it with the Congress. We understand it may come up for a vote very soon. Unfortunately, at least when I last checked -- and these things move very quickly because we have people on the Hill talking about these issues all the time -- but when I last checked yesterday, we were not pleased with the structure of the bill and with many of the ingredients of the bill, and we were addressing those concerns to the congressional leaders who were sponsoring the legislation.
But that was yesterday. I'd rather have an update today from our congressional affairs experts before I say anything else.
Q Is the concern that the bill would hamstring you?
MR. BURNS: We want to make sure that this bill is fully and entirely consistent with the Cuban Democracy Act and with the two major emphases of the Cuban Democracy Act, and, at least as of yesterday, it was not our impression that the bill was.
Q Could you mention which specific problems are the most important that you still have with the bill now?
MR. BURNS: Again, because I know that we have people up on Capitol Hill right now talking to the Congress about this bill and other bills, I don't want to be in a position of saying things that may be overtaken by events. At least I don't know if in fact the leaders have dropped certain provisions in the last couple of hours or not.
So I think what I'd rather do is get maybe an answer we could post at the end of the day that the people involved in this can look at and ascertain to be entirely up to date.
Q But in the beginning the internationalization of the embargo was the main issue, because other countries asked you to fight against that. Are you happy with how it has been resolved -- that issue -- or not?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if it has been resolved. But, again, I think the best thing I can do for you is to get an updated assessment of this from our congressional affairs experts.
Q Nick, how many pieces of legislation, treaties and Ambassadorial appointments is Senator Helms currently holding up?
MR. BURNS: We have a major problem now with the Congress and that is the Congress is holding up the ratification of two very important treaties to the United States: the START II Treaty, which would bring the level of ballistic missile warheads down to historically low levels by the year 2003; and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which was introduced in the Senate in November 1993 and it's been sitting there since.
We very much encourage the Congress to give its advice and consent to both of these treaties, to take measures to ratify the treaties as soon as possible, because both of these treaties -- the disposition of chemical weapons in the world and restrictions on their use, and the level of nuclear warheads between the United States and the Russian Federation -- are really at the center of our foreign policy. They are of vital concern to every American.
What could be more important than the nuclear balance in the world? What could be more important than the disposition of chemical weapons in the world?
Both treaties were successfully negotiated by the Bush Administration. President Bush went to Moscow on January 3, 1993 to sign START II. Secretary of State Eagleburger went to Europe on January 13, 1993 to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention on behalf of the United States. Why in the world would we want to wait on these two Treaties that every American should be concerned about?
In addition to that, we've talked about diplomatic readiness. I can get you the list. We have a long list of Ambassadorial nominees who have been held up for one reason or another by various members of Congress. Therefore, in many, many parts of the world where we have important relationships, we don't have Ambassadors representing President Clinton and Secretary of State Christopher, and that's a pity. It's a pity for American foreign policy -- and not only for this Administration but for the Congress as well, which has an interest in effective foreign policy.
We do have a very direct problem here with the Congress. We also have a problem with the level of funding that they have proposed for the State Department, and we believe that our diplomatic potential and capacity is being undermined by these actions.
Q Would Senator Helms be the promulgator of said problem?
MR. BURNS: I don't think I'm going to serve a useful purpose by getting into specific cases here. I think it is --
Q (Inaudible) (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: I know it would. It wouldn't be okay for me, however, and it wouldn't be productive.
Secretary Christopher spoke to this yesterday, when he saw some of you in interviews. I think we need now to impress upon the Congress as a whole the urgent requirement for quick action on Ambassadorial nominees and these two very important Treaties that are vital to the security of this country.
Q Various members of Congress are holding up Ambassadorial appointments. Are there really any that are being held up by anyone other than Senator Helms?
MR. BURNS: Let me again kick this ball to our Congressional experts who have a detailed understanding of exactly who is holding up whom, but this is a problem that the Congress and the Administration share. It's one that we've got to work together on more effectively, and that is certainly Secretary Christopher's strong desire, that we work out whatever problems there are and we get these Ambassadorial nominees confirmed and get these two Treaties ratified.
Q Abu Dhabi, please? Does the Administration think that the Government of the UAE is acting fairly in sentencing to death the l6- year-old Filipino maid who killed the man who had raped her?
MR. BURNS: We're aware of the issue. I'm aware of the issue; I've seen all the press reports on the issue. What I have not received from our experts here is an indication of what we may or may not have said to either of the governments involved in this particular case.
Sid, I think it's a fair question. Let me check on that and try to get you a better answer than I've given you.
Q Is there movement today on the case of the American woman whose last name is Ferguson, who's being held in a Malaysian jail?
MR. BURNS: I do not have any updated information on that, but she is being held under suspicion of narcotics trafficking. She is receiving the advice and assistance of the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
In these situations, American Government officials are constrained in a number of ways by the law about what we can and cannot do for a person who is being held in another country on such a serious charge. We can certainly advise her, or at least attempt to make sure that she understands what her rights are.
We can give her help to get her access to legal counsel. We cannot represent her. These are very serious charges. Yes.
Q Can I follow up on the situation in Okinawa, with the Marines and the Navy people there? Despite the apologies from here and from Mondale in Tokyo, it seems as though this problem isn't going away.
Can we expect Secretary Christopher to bring this up with Mr. Kono in New York City next week at the Two-Plus-Twos?
MR BURNS: Well, we certainly understand -- all of us, beginning with Ambassador Mondale and with our military leaders in Japan, our military leaders -- that this is a very, very serious and sensitive case for us, as well as for the Japanese people and the residents of Okinawa.
We take it very seriously. Ambassador Mondale released a statement, his own statement, about this yesterday. We made a very clear, I think, and strong statement yesterday. We understand the sensitivities; we respect them. We understand the brutality that was involved in this particular case. There are three suspects, and those suspects are American soldiers. We have pledged that we will work cooperatively with the Government of Japan in the judicial process as it proceeds.
Q One of the complaints of the Japanese and the Okinawans is that the Americans seem to have been basically free to roam around the base, and they haven't been under confinement.
Is there some sort of -- I'm not really too sure about the agreement, but is there an agreement that says that they need to be held under lock and key, or they need to be confined to barracks, or if they are free to move on any --
MR BURNS: Well, I understand that the three suspects, two U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy person, are now being held in the Marine Corps confinement facility at Camp Hansen in Okinawa.
I would refer you to the Pentagon for a detailed description of what that facility is and what rights or privileges or constraints these individuals are under.
I think if it's a Marine Corps confinement facility, I believe that it is what it says, it's a confinement facility. They are not free to roam around Okinawa, and they are being held by U.S. military authorities pending judicial action by the Government of Japan.
So, if you want more detail on that, I would refer you to my colleagues at the Pentagon, but I do want to stress how deeply disturbed many of us are here in Washington and certainly to refer you to the very strong statement that Ambassador Mondale issued yesterday.
Q A last question, if I can just follow up on that real quickly? Obviously, this is a very sensitive issue. Does the United States Government feel that it is now time to change this Status of Forces Agreement within the security relationship? Is it a good time to bring this up and possibly change this?
MR BURNS: The longstanding practice of the United States and Japan, as agreed in the Status of Forces Agreement and related agreements, is that the United States will turn over suspects upon formal indictment by Japanese authorities. In the past, this arrangement has satisfied the needs of both countries, and we see no reason therefore to revise the Status of Forces Agreement at this time. Yes.
Q Nick, when the Dalai Lama was here, he had very high level meetings in the Administration and was given the red carpet treatment by Senator Helms and other people up on Capitol Hill, where Tibet has become a new big question for them.
It was recently revealed -- although there have been rumors around for some time now -- in the German magazine "Focus" that the Dalai Lama met five times in 1987 with Mr. Asahara of the Aum cult, that the Dalai Lama had been very active in trying to help set up the so-called "pro- educational programs" of the Aum cult and had, furthermore, helped to get them tax-free status in Tokyo.
Don't these connections cast a shadow on the activities of the Dalai Lama, and is there not some concern in this Department regarding some aspects of the activity of this religious leader which might have a more sinister character?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of the -- I can't speak to the credibility of these reports. This is the first time I've heard about these alleged associations. All I can say is that the United States has the highest respect for the Dalai Lama, for his spiritual role, for the way he acquitted himself last week here in Washington. I think our respect for him was made clear by the fact that President Clinton met him as well as Vice President Gore.
Q Nick, the Jordanian Foreign Minister just said that Iraq has made some secret contacts with the U.S. to obtain a lifting of sanctions. Can you confirm that? Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I cannot. It's the first I've heard of that. I have no information available to me on that, on that particular issue, Andre.
Q Would you take the question?
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to take the question.
Q Argentina and Britain apparently have been together in agreement to hold exportation of the Malvinas Islands. Also, the President of Argentina announced today that it will meet your Mayor in New York. It will be the first time the Presidents of both countries will meet after the war. Do you have any comment; any reaction to that?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any particular reaction. We have good relations with Argentina as well as the United Kingdom. Obviously, we will support their mutual efforts to resolve this issue.
Q On aid -- on the debate over the aid bill. There are some in Congress who don't think the United States should be sending any aid to the Palestinian entity. Is the Administration confident that its aid for the Palestinians will get through Congress?
MR. BURNS: The United States strongly supports economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people. This is one of the cornerstones of our relationship with the Palestinian Authority. This assistance is strongly supported by the Government of Israel. The fact is, when this peace process is ultimately successful -- and we strongly believe it will be successful -- the Palestinian and Israeli people will be living side by side.
The Palestinian people deserve to have the ability to help their economy grow, to live in decent conditions -- those who are living in refugee camps. It's a high priority.
Secretary Christopher and Ambassador Dennis Ross have given this their personal attention in what we've tried to do and that is to give bilateral American support for infrastructure projects in Gaza and the West Bank, to try to increase the level of international lending to the Holst Fund, to help the Palestinian Authority absorb some of the running costs of their operation, particularly with the police.
It's a very important issue. It's one that Secretary Christopher addresses each time he goes to the Middle East. So we strongly support it as a foundation of the Middle East peace process. We will make that argument with the Congress, and we'll be successful in that -- we will be successful in that.
Q What's the dollar amount? Do you know?
MR. BURNS: Let me get you a Fact Sheet on that, David, but I believe we've made a commitment for $500 million in assistance over a number of years to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Q One more, Nick.
MR. BURNS: One more. We do have some more questions.
Q It has been announced by the Prime Minister that the Turkish coalition government will resign. Do you have a comment on that?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me? The Turkish --
Q The coalition government will resign. It was announced by the Prime Minister.
MR. BURNS: Yes. We understand that Prime Minister Ciller has resigned and that she will shortly submit her resignation formally to President Demirel. I certainly don't want to speculate on whom the President might ask to form a new government. Our relations with Turkey are excellent, and we're confident that this will not change.
Governments do change from time to time. It's up to the Turkish people to decide questions like this, and we very much will respect that in the coming days and will refrain from detailed comments on the situation.
Bill, you had another question?
Q Yes. Just one. A very high-ranking French police official last week confirmed press reports that the French police have hard evidence -- compelling evidence -- that a cell - a segment -- of the GIA terrorist organization working out of Algeria was responsible for the reign of terror in France, the bombings, and the assassination of the Muslim cleric.
My question to you, Nick, is the United States Government cooperating in a counter-terror capacity with the French Government or in a police capacity in any of these investigations in that the GIA has been linked to Iranian intelligence and terrorists organizations?
MR. BURNS: I would have to, Bill, refer you to the Government of France on this question.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:02 p.m.)
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