U.S. Department of State 95/09/22 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, September 22, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT--Announcements, Statements Congratulations to Russ Dybvik, USIA Chief Diplomatic Corresp., on his Retirement ...... 1 President Clinton's Authorization of Funding for Refugees, Returnees, and Victims of Rwanda/Burundi Conflict ...... 1-2 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Peace Process on Bosnia --Upcoming Discussions in New York ....................... 2-5,7-9 --Deputy Secretary Talbott/FM Sacirbey Mtg. .............. 2 --Roberts Owen/Chris Hill/FM Sacirbey Mtg. ............... 2 --Owen/Hill Travel to Belgrade ........................... 2-3 --Assistant Secretary Holbrooke return to Region ......... 2 --Constitutional Principles/Apportionment of Land ........ 3-4,6-12 --U.S. Position on Military Offensives ................... 5-6 --Geneva Document of September 8 ......................... 5-6,11 --Report of Bosnian-Serb FM remark re: Sarajevo .......... 10-11 --Strengthening of Federation ............................ 11 CHINA Secretary Christopher Mtg. w/Vice FM Li .................. 12,17 Undersecretary Tarnoff, Undersecretary Davis Mtgs. w/Li .. 12,18-19 Agrement/Confirmation of U.S. Ambassador to China ........ 13-14 U.S. China Policy ........................................ 14-16, 18-19 BRAZIL Secretary Christopher Mtg. w/FM of Brazil ................ 19-20 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli-Palestinian Talks ................................ 20-25 INDIA/PAKISTAN Indian Foreign Ministry Remarks re: U.S. Senate Vote on Pakistan............................ 25-26 COLOMBIA Guillermo Pallomari in U.S. .............................. 26-27
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1995, 1:11 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have two brief announcements before we get into the questions.
The first is sad for us and probably good news for him -- this gentleman in the back, Russ Dybvik. I'd like to say farewell to you, Russ. I understand that you're retiring after a very long career as a public servant of the United States.
Since some of us may not be here next week on your final day, I just wanted to say on behalf of all of my colleagues here in the Department and all of my predecessors, thank you for having been such a good colleague for the last 13 years when you were USIA's Chief Diplomatic Correspondent; and thank you for your 33 years of government service.
I have it on good authority, but, of course, you are free to confirm this or deny it, that you intend to continue to write, but now it's completely on your own terms and on your own time. So I want to say thank you very much, congratulations on a very productive, successful career and good luck in the future.
MR. DYBVIK: Thank you, Nick.
MR. BURNS: I have one additional statement, and that is that President Clinton authorized on September 20 the use of up to $20 million from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund; that sum of money to meet the unexpected and urgent needs of refugees, returnees and victims of the conflict in Rwanda and Burundi.
I think all of you are aware of the tremendous refugee crisis there that was produced not only by the very tragic events of more than a year and a half ago, but also by the recent fighting over the last several weeks in that region, and this is just part of a general United States' response to that situation, and it's indicative of our very
great interest in trying to help the refugees in that conflict.
With that, I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Q A few minutes ago, Secretary Christopher said he'd play an important role in the talks in New York on the Balkans. Could you give us a better idea of how those talks will proceed? I mean, who talks to whom? Do they talk together? Is there a Contact Group meeting?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I can say that in general, before I get to the specifics, we're continuing today in Washington our intensive efforts to push forward the peace process on Bosnia. The Secretary very shortly is going to meet with a group of his advisers to review our plans and our objectives for next week's discussions in New York between the United States and all the parties to this conflict, and between the Contact Group and the parties to this conflict.
The Bosnian Foreign Minister, Minister Sacirbey, has been in Washington this morning. He met with the Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott -- had a very good meeting with him. He is also meeting with Roberts Owen and Chris Hill, two of the key members of the U.S. diplomatic team.
Mr. Owen and Mr. Hill are traveling tonight to Belgrade where they intend to have this weekend a good -- we hope a good round of discussions with the Serbian Government on the constitutional issues that will be at the center of the peace process -- that are at the center of the peace process and on the issues of territory.
Next week, as you know, the Secretary, Secretary Christopher, and his negotiating team will have a series of meetings about Bosnia with many of the central actors. I don't have at this time any announcement about when these specific meetings will take place. We're still working on logistics, trying to make sure that we've got agreements for all these meetings -- at least agreements to the extent that we can coordinate schedules.
I believe that after these series of meetings next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Dick Holbrooke and his team will return to the region for another round of shuttle diplomacy. Our objective here again is to promote the peace discussions. It's to try to make progress on the substantive issues towards our goal of a peace conference.
I would just add one editorial note. There's been a lot of talk about what might happen at the ultimate end of this process, namely, if peace does break out, how would you secure it militarily. And it's certainly appropriate for NATO to begin planning for that, as NATO has, and you've heard a lot of senior people in this Administration talk publicly about that issue this week.
It's very important, however, that all of us focus on the intermediary steps which are considerable in number and which are very difficult indeed; and that is, there is no agreement now to even go to a peace conference. That's what we've got to work on now. Once we get to a peace conference, we and the parties will have to deal with extraordinarily difficult issues, given the history and the geography and the politics of that area.
I simply wanted to note that in addition to all the concentration about what happens at Step 140 at the end of the peace process -- how do you guarantee a peace, how do you implement it -- we have got to pay attention to all the steps in between, and that's a very difficult process indeed.
Q Nick, my recent question was, you know, partly logistical, but if the three main governments will have their Foreign Ministers meeting together and Christopher is in that meeting, how distinct is that from a peace conference? I mean, won't next week be peace negotiations, even though you're not calling it that?
MR. BURNS: There will certainly be discussions and negotiations, but it won't be a peace conference. The peace conference will be something quite different. That will be when these countries agree that they have made enough progress on the substantive diplomatic agenda that they want to sit down in one place, and for probably a very long time, and negotiate a final solution -- a final resolution of all the problems.
That's not where we are, Barry, where we are right now is trying to look at a number of issues that will play a role in the peace process and try to make progress on them next week, in anticipation, perhaps, of at some point in the future of convening a peace conference. But next week is not a peace conference. It's a continuation of the American-led diplomatic offensive here.
Q You mentioned that Owen and Hill are going back to discuss, among other things, constitutional issues. Are they actually at the point of drafting a proposed constitution? Is that where things are at?
MR. BURNS: They have taken a very aggressive role throughout the last couple of weeks, "they" being members of our negotiating team, our diplomatic team; and at several points along the way, they've offered ideas -- sometimes orally, sometimes in writing -- about aspects of this.
As I think I've said before, Mr. Owen is a distinguished attorney and constitutional scholar, and he is providing American expertise on the constitutional questions of how to set up a state, how to apportion powers among the various entities in that state.
Mr. Hill is a very fine Foreign Service Officer whose expertise is on the question of land, which is really the central question in the middle of this peace process; and that is, that if they do make peace and if they do decide they're going to live together in one state -- "they" being the Bosnians and the Bosnian Serbs -- who will get what part of the land, how it will be apportioned, how will that be done geographically, especially considering the military offensive of the last seven or eight days. So he's concentrating on those issues.
Q Is he drawing up a new variation on the Contact Group Map?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if he's gotten that specific. We certainly have for ourselves -- for our own reference use -- a new version of what we think the Map of Bosnia is, and it's changed considerably over the last week. I think one of the major papers here published a comparison between the Map on September 1 and the Map on September 19, and here we are a couple of days later, and it's changed even further.
So we do have an appreciation, a rough appreciation, of what the general breakdown now is in terms of land, but that is just for the beginning of a peace conference. The parties have agreed in writing at Geneva that 51/49 will be the starting point. It doesn't mean it will be the ultimate end point. It's up to them to decide that.
Q Going back to Barry's question to ask you about a specific premise in it: Will there be a meeting that includes all four Foreign Ministers -- the Serbian, Bosnian Serb, Croatian and Bosnian Foreign Ministers -- including Christopher in New York?
MR. BURNS: That is something that's a possibility but that we have not decided on definitively. What we know is that there will be a confluence of diplomatic actors next week in New York. You'll have the Foreign Ministers of the key countries in the Balkans. You have some of the Foreign Ministers and all of the political directors of the Contact Group countries, and you'll have the American Secretary of State, Warren Christopher.
So what we are planning is an intensive round of discussions -- diplomacy -- over the first three days of next week -- Monday through Wednesday -- and we are now trying to work out a schedule for those meetings. I had hoped to have that available to you today for announcement. I don't. That will probably be nailed down Saturday or maybe even as late as Sunday when the Secretary arrives in New York. As soon as we've got it done, we'll make it available to you.
Q To follow a slightly different subject in the same area, Sacirbey, apparently, as he left here today was asked about the offensive in the northwest and said that he was not asked to give guarantees about ending it nor were any guarantees given by him.
Shortly thereafter, Secretary of State Christopher said all parties had been urged to end the fighting. How do you square those two comments?
MR. BURNS: I would square them by saying very clearly that we have been given indications from the Croatian and Bosnian Governments that there will not be an attack on Banja Luka. And we have urged -- Secretary Christopher has urged the parties to cease their military operations in and around central and western Bosnia. That's the very clear and firm view of this government.
We don't think there is much to be gained, frankly, from further military operations. We think it's time for all the parties to move on to the peace table, and that's the message that's been given quite clearly to these governments.
Q Nick, what do you mean by "indications," indications different from promise or even a statement to that effect?
MR. BURNS: When Dick Holbrooke met with President Tudjman and President Izetbegovic in Zagreb a couple of days ago, they indicated -- they told him, indicated to him -- use a couple of verbs -- that there would not be an attack on Banja Luka.
I didn't use the word "commit," because I don't think they put it in writing. It's not part of a document that emerged from the meeting, but it was our very firm indication, which we quickly made public and have since repeated, that we don't believe that will happen.
Q They did say that face-to-face to Holbrooke?
MR. BURNS: Yes, they did.
Q Nick, I came in late. Excuse me if you've covered this. I'll just get it off the transcript. But you said the U.S. now has a Map that represents the way they think the land currently is divided after the (inaudible) fighting .
Two questions. Does that Map represent the 51/49 split that you all are looking for? And if not, what percentage do you see on the Map? And will you expect the Bosnians to still come to the table and agree to the 51/49 split?
MR. BURNS: I was just referring generally to a Map that we've been using to look at the current reality on the ground. I don't believe it's been blessed by any cartographers. I'm not aware it has.
When Dick Holbrooke came to brief Secretary Christopher yesterday on his trip and on his appreciation of the situation, he brought a Map which he laid out in front of the Secretary and which he went through and in which the discussions centered. That was, "How has this Map changed over the last several weeks because of the offensive in Western and Central Bosnia, and what diplomatic questions now flow out of that changed Map?"
I don't believe that that Map indicates the direct proportions that each side now appears to hold. It's a very rough estimate, if you look at it, but it's certainly an altered Map.
Q Mr. Holbrooke did not offer a percentage?
MR. BURNS: He did not. No, he didn't.
Q On the central question there, is 51/49 still relevant to anything? And are the Muslims clearly willing to give up land if they have to to bring it to 51/49?
MR. BURNS: Fifty-one/forty-nine is very important. It remains important because what we have going here, since we got involved so intensively on the diplomatic side, is a peace process that now has one seminal document. That is the document that was agreed to, in written form, on September 8 in Geneva, which declares that the three countries agree on the principles that will be at the heart of any peace conference.
One of those principles is 51/49 will be the starting point for discussions in any peace conference. Despite the fact that the Bosnian Serbs have lost a lot of ground since September 8 on the ground, and the Bosnian and Croatian Governments have gained a lot, we're not going to change -- and we don't want the parties to change -- that rough basis for the beginning of a peace conference. It took a lot to get to September 8. We certainly don't want to reopen that issue. We want to build on it, in fact, next week in New York and go beyond there towards a peace conference.
Q You say you don't want to reopen it. It's open and moving as we speak.
MR. BURNS: It hasn't moved way beyond 51/49, in this respect. While Dick Holbrooke has not -- I don't believe anyone else has given the Secretary exact figure on what the current breakdown is, because I'm not sure anybody knows, most people believe it's roughly, at this point, even.
Therefore, 51/49 is not such a bad place to start peace discussions after all.
Q Nick, is it your aim next Tuesday to produce an agreement on constitutional principles?
MR. BURNS: No, I don't believe that it's that specific. An agreement on constitutional principles, I assume, will not come until a peace conference because it's one of the most difficult and critical issues for both sides.
We're just trying to make progress. We're trying to get the parties to go beyond the Geneva statement and to fill it out with an agreement on a substantive agenda, and we hope agreement on some of the issues in that agenda. But I think the two critical ones right now are the final constitutional arrangements and the apportionment of land. I don't believe there will be an agreement on either of those until there is a peace conference.
Q You'd like the meeting to produce an agenda for the peace conference; is that it?
MR. BURNS: That is one of the things we're trying to determine, but I'm not offering that today as one of the things that we even expect to have ready next week. If we get them to agree to an agenda, then we may be very close to a peace conference. I'm not sure we'll be there next week.
Next week is a continuation of a peace process that is extremely difficult. I know there is this sense in some quarters that we're just around the corner from a peace conference and just around the corner from a NATO implementation force. We are far away.
We need to make up a lot of ground between now and those two points on a timetable.
Q Have the Bosnians expressed hesitation or asked to change the 51/49? Have they said flatly that they are not going to give up territory they now occupy?
MR. BURNS: No. I've not heard that at all.
Q You've never heard anything remotely --
MR. BURNS: I've never heard that idea proposed to a senior American official. I haven't been in all the conversations but I've been in many of them. I've not heard that.
Q As far as the Bosnians are telling you, they are gung-ho, go forward at 51/49?
MR. BURNS: I've not heard anything to the contrary. That's certainly the American view and the Contact Group view.
Q Nick, no Bosnian Serbs present?
MR. BURNS: In --
Q In the meetings?
MR. BURNS: In New York?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe there will be Bosnian Serbs there. I haven't been told there will be Bosnian Serbs there.
Q Will there be (inaudible) the last time?
MR. BURNS: Because these are complex, dynamic discussions and negotiations, I can't discount the possibility but I'm not aware that there are any plans for that.
Q Do you want to have, or did you try to have -- what you had when Holbrooke went out there -- which was that the Serbs would deliver the Bosnian Serbs?
MR. BURNS: Milosevic has formed a joint negotiating team. In many points along the way, we'll be dealing with Serb officials from Belgrade who represent the Bosnian Serbs.
Q That's true of next week, too?
MR. BURNS: I think it's going to be true of next week.
Q The negotiating team wasn't just four?
MR. BURNS: I don't have complete knowledge of who is in which delegation. I do want to leave the door open a little bit to the possibility that there might be some Bosnian Serbs in New York City next week.
Q I have trouble with the Map, and I've listened to this. I get the point that it's basically a representation of where the lines are now. But doesn't it give the lie to the notion that there's no point in fighting, you can't gain anything from it?
If the U.S. is now studying a Map that reflects the gains and the losses of the last few weeks, why wouldn't the parties keep fighting and try change the Map even further in a favorable direction? Because, obviously, it registers on the U.S. Government.
MR. BURNS: I think it gets back to self-interest. They have to calculate if it's in their interest to continue a military offensive. In the last two days we've seen a dramatic stiffening of the Bosnian Serb defensive positions west of Banja Luka. I don't think anybody -- least of all the Bosnians and Croatians -- underestimate the fighting capacity of the Bosnian Serbs. The capacity that they clearly have retained despite the fact that they've lost ground and they've withdrawn heavy weapons from Sarajevo.
I think self-interest would dictate, Barry, that these military offensives cease and that the peace negotiations quicken.
Q That's a good answer about realism on the ground. This conflict is motivated not entirely by realistic forces but very emotional forces. If they know the prime peacemaker is watching closely every surge or every fallback, I would think that would motivate them to not put down their rifles?
MR. BURNS: I don't agree. Because the prime peacemaker has also said, along with all of its partners, that 51/49 is the starting point for territorial discussions. So I think that's an important point for everybody in the region to remember and understand.
Q Nick, could you take the question on the Bosnian Serb representation, if there had been visa requests by any Bosnian Serbs? And, if so, how do you issue a visa to someone who doesn't hold a passport?
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to look into that. I'll be glad to look into that question.
Q Have you heard anything -- let me back up. There is a report from Paris that says the Bosnian Serb Foreign Minister said today that there is agreement that Sarajevo will not be divided, which would be a gigantic, sort of diplomatic move, although the suburbs might still be apportioned to the various ethnic groups. Have you heard that? Do you know if that's a truthful statement from him?
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen that particular statement, Steve. But it's our very firm position that Sarajevo must remain a united city and not become a divided city. We've had bitter experience over the last 50-odd years with divided cities -- Berlin and Jerusalem just being two.
So I think it's the very firm position that we have been communicating to all the parties, that Sarajevo ought to be a united city and certainly ought to be the capital of the future state.
I can't tell you exactly what we've heard in the private discussions because some of those must remain private. But if this statement from Paris is, in fact, genuine, then it's certainly a step in the right direction.
Q Is Sarajevo (inaudible) 51 percent -- excuse me?
MR. BURNS: It's part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, so it's a part of the 100 percent. Whether it's part of the 51/49, that's an issue for the negotiators.
Q That's the question we're all -- it's a question. You deal with the capitals in very clever ways -- the State Department does.
Is Sarajevo a Muslim city or isn't it? Will it remain the capital of the mostly Muslim or Muslim majority country? Or is it now everybody's city?
MR. BURNS: It's always been a multi-ethnic city.
Q I know. People of all types live there.
MR. BURNS: It's always been a multi-ethnic city, and I assume it will remain such. We can't dictate before a peace conference has even begun what the final status of Sarajevo will be. It's up to the Bosnians and the Bosnian Serbs to do that -- to negotiate that.
Q Nick, what kinds of discussions are going on or have gone on between the Bosnian Government and the Croatian Government about how they will divide up the land between them? Are you confident that you can avoid fighting between them again over territory?
For example, just to get you started, there were comments in one of the newspaper articles --
MR. BURNS: I need prodding along today -- not being forthcoming today?
Q The comments in one of the newspaper articles that suggested that there might be a dispute over who would get Banja Luka if it were to be conquered, or if it were to be given in a peace treaty to the 51 side rather the 49 side that currently hold it?
MR. BURNS: We are assuming -- in fact, the Geneva document of September 8 states that there will be one country and two entities, two dominant entities, within that country -- one Serb and one Bosnian.
The Bosnians have a Federation. They've got to work out their own problems with the Croatians within that Federation. But, certainly, I think we're talking about all of these three countries -- well, the three countries and all the ethnic groups being a party to the negotiations. I can't get ahead of those negotiations and predict how each of them are going to get along.
We would like to see the Federation strengthened. The Federation has been useful to both sides. It does have a number of problems within it and there are some strains in the Federation that are well known. We have worked -- in fact, that's why Dick Holbrooke met with the two leaders the other day in Zagreb -- to try to narrow the differences on some of the issues within the Federation itself.
Q Just for the record, you oppose, do you not, any changes in the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
MR. BURNS: We do. We believe that the state should survive and, in fact, continue beyond a peace conference within it's current internationally recognized borders.
Q No piece for Croatia?
MR. BURNS: We believe that the current borders should be the final borders. Within those borders, the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serbs need to work out constitutional arrangements and land arrangements towards a final settlement. Those are the key issues.
Q Anything on Sino-U.S. talks?
MR. BURNS: Yes, I have a little bit on this morning's discussions.
As Secretary Christopher indicated to some of you, he had a good meeting this morning with Vice Foreign Minister Li. It was a 30-minute meeting in the Secretary's office. They reviewed the initial discussions that Vice Foreign Minister Li has had with Under Secretary Peter Tarnoff. They look forward to next week's meeting, on Wednesday in New York, between the Secretary and his colleague, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian.
I would say that the discussions this morning were very good discussions. They were productive.
Both Secretary Christopher and the Vice Foreign Minister stressed the fact that we have common interests and there is common ground between China and the United States; that this is an important relationship; that both of us have to work to improve the relationship and make it grow.
There were several issues talked about and discussed. One, of course, was the possibility of future high-level meetings.
As you know, we have been discussing this for a number of months with the Chinese Government. We have not set a date for any meetings nor have we agreed to any specific meetings. There was a discussion this morning.
I think the view of the United States, as expressed by Secretary Christopher, is that any high-level meetings should be successful. They should be aimed at moving the relationship forward in a positive vein.
There was also a discussion of the very strong hope that we have that our dialogue on human rights, on security issues, and on non- proliferation will now be resumed.
We would like the Chinese Ambassador to return to Washington where there is a lot of work that awaits him.
As Secretary Christopher indicated, the Chinese Government informed us this morning that it has given agrement to the eminent person who has been nominated by the Administration to be the next American Ambassador to Beijing.
All of this was good news this morning. The Vice Foreign Minister is currently having lunch with Peter Tarnoff. He's meeting Lynn Davis, the Under Secretary of State here, who is responsible for the non- proliferation talks.
There was also a discussion of Taiwan this morning, which would have been familiar to all of you in the room had you been there, in which the United States articulated its well-known position on this issue.
Q Did the Vice Foreign Minister give any indication when the Chinese Ambassador to Washington would return to his post?
MR. BURNS: No, he did not. It's our strong hope that he'll be returning shortly to Washington.
Q He doesn't have to wait for Sasser to be cleared, do you? You don't have to have any perfect parallel?
MR. BURNS: No. The Chinese Ambassador has never been withdrawn diplomatically. He simply went back to China on a trip, and the trip has lasted several months.
MR. BURNS: Consulting. The Washington summer is over and autumn is a beautiful time here in Washington. It's probably time to come back.
Q On the ambassadors, do you also have agrement from Chairman Helms that the confirmation will be given early attention?
MR. BURNS: In our labyrinthine process of nominating ambassadors and getting them confirmed, first, you need agrement, which we now have achieved -- received; next, you need Senate confirmation. Our nominee will shortly present himself for Senate confirmation.
This is a very important diplomatic post for the United States at a very important time in our relations with China. We need the best possible person to head one of our most important embassies anywhere in the world.
So the Administration certainly would expect a very swift and decisive and positive outcome to the confirmation process. We will be putting our shoulder behind that process shortly.
Q Has the Secretary or anyone else in the Department spoken to Senator Helms about this?
MR. BURNS: I believe that he and others have talked to the Senator and others at many points along the way. I don't believe he's talked to Senator Helms this morning since we received the news early this morning.
Q I mean that as a kind of --
MR. BURNS: We have indicated that this is one of the most important posts for the United States. This is a very important nomination. We'd like to see it move swiftly.
Q Are there more ambassadors being held up than are overseas now? What's the current count?
MR. BURNS: I don't think we've quite reached that point yet. The scales haven't been tipped all the way back.
I don't have a specific number. I think we're up around 30 right now. There are various categories, of course. Because some of the ambassadorial nominations are for people who serve here in Washington and who are receiving the title of "Ambassador." Others are for people who are overseas and represent us in embassies. It's a combination.
Q What, in the Secretary's mind, would make a Sino-U.S. summit successful and move the relationship forward?
MR. BURNS: We clearly have gone through a rough patch in the relationship where a lot of differences in the relationship have been the dominate themes articulated -- certainly, by the Chinese Government over the past summer. What we would like to see is a relationship that is stable, where the two sides talk about not only the differences but the common ground and the opportunities.
The issue of Taiwan has been discussed. Our position is clear. We have a one-China policy. Our position on Taiwan is clear, our position on visas is clear. We need to get beyond that.
We need to get now into discussions about our security relations, about non-proliferation concerns, about the many, many political and geo-political issues that any U.S. and Chinese leaders should discuss and about human rights. That's what I think we mean by turning a corner and moving towards a productive, stable point in the relationship.
Q Did the Chinese side indicate their willingness to accept the U.S. position on the Taiwan issues?
MR. BURNS: We continue to discuss it. We continue to articulate our respective views.
Q But they haven't accepted your position?
MR. BURNS: We have put forward in writing and now in several meetings, beginning in Brunei at several points, a very clear reaffirmation of United States policy on China -- the one-China policy, the importance of the three communiques, and our policy on Taiwan which, of course, is based on our unofficial relations.
We've done it on a number of points. It couldn't be more clear. We'll continue to do that and hope that this issue now recedes into the background of our relationship so we can get on with the major issues in the relationship.
Q Do you know how much time you've spent on these issues?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q How much time you spent on Taiwan issues?
MR. BURNS: In general?
Q Yes; in the discussion?
MR. BURNS: The discussion this morning was dominated by Taiwan. It was dominated by other issues, but Taiwan did come up for part of the meeting, but it did not dominate the meeting. This was a very productive meeting this morning; a very positive meeting.
Q How many minutes would you estimate?
MR. BURNS: Maybe three or four minutes out of 30.
Q I had a question on Brazil if we're done with China?
Q Can we stay on this?
MR. BURNS: Let's stay on China, and then we'll go to Brazil. We also have to talk about the Middle East today.
Q Would you say as a result of the meetings, especially the ones that occurred in the last couple of days, that the Taiwan issue has been put aside and both sides have decided to move ahead with other aspects of the relationship?
MR. BURNS: It's clearly our view -- the American view -- that the Taiwan issue has been discussed adequately in the relationship.
I would just have to refer you to the Chinese Government for its own analysis of that particular question. It still comes up. It still is raised.
Q Do you expect the same issue to come up at the meeting between the Secretary and Chinese Foreign Minister Qian next week?
MR. BURNS: I'm sure it will come up at the meeting then. I think that would be appropriate because that was a major part of their discussion in Brunei. It's important when Ministers get together to reaffirm policy and to make sure that things are understood. I'm sure that will be discussed next week.
Q Can you elaborate a little bit on the written form of assurances? Is it in the sort of exchange of diplomatic notes, or a letter from the President to Chinese Chairman Jiang Zemin -- what?
MR. BURNS: There have been several communications over the last several months from the President, from the Secretary of State. There have been many meetings.
There was the August 1 meeting. There was the late August meetings that Peter Tarnoff had in Beijing; this week's meetings; they'll be next week's meetings. Lots of discussions.
Q In those discussions and letters, does the United States restate its principle of free speech and freedom to travel and freedom of assembly, and all those other constitutional guarantees, some of which were the rationale for having the President of Taiwan go to Ithaca?
MR. BURNS: We have certainly restated in most of our communications, oral and written, our policy on Taiwan, in all of its dimensions. Some of the communications have been more specific, where it wasn't necessary to include every major issue in the relationship in the letter or in a statement. But Taiwan does come up regularly. We regularly restate our position on it, including on visas.
Q Who raised the Taiwan issue today?
MR. BURNS: I believe it was raised by the Vice Foreign Minister.
Q Not by the Secretary?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary is glad to talk about it and reaffirm our position.
Q Nick, I may be reading too much into it, but what the Secretary said about a summit sounded new to me. He said he thinks there should be a summit -- it's appropriate; it's just a matter of when to schedule it.
It seems to me before he's always said, "if the circumstances were right."
Is the Secretary now endorsing the idea of a summit?
MR. BURNS: He's going to make a recommendation to the President. He'll do that, and that will be a private recommendation.
He said this morning that it's appropriate that we consider this idea now, and that's why it was discussed this morning. I'm sure it will be a central part of the discussions next week in New York.
Q I don't think he said it's appropriate -- not to cut words here -- I don't he said it was appropriate to consider it. I think he said it was appropriate to have one. That sounds like it's new and incremental to me?
MR. BURNS: My interpretation of his remarks to you is that it doesn't take us beyond where we have been since late August, since Peter Tarnoff's visit to Beijing when this was last discussed publicly.
Q He did say it seems appropriate to have a meeting.
MR. BURNS: He also believes -- it's appropriate to have a meeting -- he also believes it's very important to have a successful meeting and a productive meeting.
Q Those are the only kinds of meetings that are worth having.
MR. BURNS: Absolutely. (Laughter) We very firmly agree with you on that, Barry. Absolutely. We don't like to have unproductive, non- successful meetings.
Q Did the Chinese propose a fourth communique, or it's a dead horse now?
MR. BURNS: The Chinese did not propose a fourth communique. It is a dead horse right now. We are not talking about a fourth communique. We're not really interested in a fourth communique. We really like the three communiques. There's a nice unity to the three communiques. Sometimes odd numbers are better than even numbers, so we'll stick with the three.
Q A different subject.
MR. BURNS: Still on China? Anyone still on China? We still have a couple of Chinese questions. We have a Brazilian question. We have to get on to Middle East questions. They're very important today.
Q May I ask your impression that this Taiwan issue's magnitude -- I mean, if -- unless this issue is solved, you would not -- the two countries would not agree to hold top meeting, or is it kind of one of the issues which can even be solved through the summit meeting?
MR. BURNS: From the American point of view, there is, I think, a very clear policy on the issue of Taiwan, which has been reaffirmed and re-articulated and re-enunciated, and so we very much hope to go on to additional senior-level meetings, having now spoken so often and so clearly about the Taiwan issue.
Q The issue of the military exercises, intimidations, and I understand there's still an amphibious exercise scheduled by the PRC in the straits, somewhere in the vicinity of Taiwan -- were these issues raised, Nick?
MR. BURNS: Peter Tarnoff is having two days' worth of discussions, and I think he'll get together with Vice Foreign Minister Li again over the weekend and early next week in some additional discussions; and they're covering every aspect of the U.S.-China relationship. That particular issue was not raised in the conversation this morning in which the Secretary participated, however.
Q So, Nick, you're saying the talks have been extended into next week.
MR. BURNS: Yes. The Secretary has asked Under Secretary Tarnoff and Vice Foreign Minister Li to hold some additional discussions -- it may be they take place in New York -- so that the Secretary's meeting with Vice Premier Qian can be adequately and successfully prepared; and there are still some additional discussions that we think need to take place before the Ministers meet next week.
Q Can you say how many more days? Can you say the weekend, Monday, Tuesday --
MR. BURNS: The Secretary simply asked Under Secretary Tarnoff and Vice Foreign Minister Li to have some more discussions. It's up to them as to when they're going to meet, obviously.
Q How should we read this? As if you're struggling, or does this suggest that the relationship really is back on track?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary said this morning he thought we'd turned a corner -- a positive corner in the relationship. I would read it as a positive sign that we are inclined to discuss some very important issues together. We're certainly not struggling.
I think the dialogue now with China is a lot more productive than it was two or three months ago. That's my impression.
Q So he's extending his meetings because so many new issues are now open for discussion.
MR. BURNS: And other issues need to be discussed in further detail.
MR. BURNS: Lots of issues. I mean, there are so many issues on the agenda, it's sometimes even hard to --
Q Could you tell us about the meeting between Secretary Christopher and the Minister of Brazil this morning, the Foreign Minister of Brazil? What was the most important topic of discussion?
MR. BURNS: They, of course, met the press together. They began their meeting, and they're having lunch at Blair House. I'm here and they're there, and so I just don't have an account. I believe the meeting may just now be breaking up. So perhaps later in the day we'll have something for you.
Q It's our understanding that Brazil and the U.S. are signing an agreement under which Brazil will have access to missile technology control. Do you have any details on that now?
MR. BURNS: We have posted or we are posting a joint statement about the relationship, and I think what I'd like to do is have perhaps somebody who is in the meeting -- in the lunch today provide you with some background information on what took place. But the timing really isn't right, unfortunately, to be responsive to your question.
Q Could I ask just one more general question. Is the U.S. supporting Brazil in its effort to be included as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary spoke to that this morning. It's an issue that we are discussing with Brazil. I'm sure it came up at the lunch discussion today. The United States has stated in the past -- and Secretary Christopher repeated -- that we believe that Japan and Germany should be members of an expanded Security Council. We think this is an important process. Certainly, the discussions around it, internationally, need to continue.
Q Last question, I promise. How much progress have the Brazilians made on the issue of intellectual property rights, and specifically on the computer software issue, and what was the message -- or do you know what the message of Secretary Christopher to the Foreign Minister was on that today?
MR. BURNS: Again, I think that's a question, if you just bear with us, we will try to get you some answers. The Press Office will be glad to get you some answers once we know that the meeting is concluded. Those issues were going to be discussed at the lunch today.
Q Do you expect that there will be some kind of signing ceremony in the near future on the Israeli-PLO agreement?
MR. BURNS: Let me just say on the Middle East, I know that Foreign Minister Peres and Chairman Arafat have just had a press availability together before the start of Shabbat in Israel. It's our impression that they are very close; that they have indeed made a lot of progress.
They said at their press availability that they would resume the discussions tomorrow night after Shabbat concludes, and we are hopeful that they will be able to resolve any remaining differences and move on to an agreement. If they would like to have a peace signing in Washington, we'd be very glad to host it.
I would like to say that the United States has been intensively involved over the last 24 hours over the last week. I think it's probably the first time in modern diplomatic history that an intensive shuttle has been conducted by phone.
Both the Secretary --
MR. BURNS: This is a Kissinger-like shuttle by phone. Both Secretary Christopher and Dennis Ross have been on the phone repeatedly with Chairman Arafat, with Foreign Minister Peres, with others. I know that Ambassador Ross was up most of the evening. I know he got one or two hours of sleep, because he was on the phone.
Secretary Christopher has called at important intervals here to give impetus to these negotiations, and I would describe this as almost as a shuttle mission by phone. It's a unique way to conduct diplomacy, but I think it's been very effective, and we do have confidence that they can move on now and perhaps resolve these remaining differences. We'll keep our fingers crossed for tomorrow night.
Q Since you were so involved and it was so intensive, presumably the U.S. expressed opinions as to, for instance, the future of Hebron?
MR. BURNS: We often have expressed opinions on some of these thorny issues.
Q Do you want to share some of them with us?
MR. BURNS: No, I don't think so. (Laughter) We normally don't do that.
Q You can't claim to just be a facilitator if you're on the phone all day and poor Dennis only gets an hour's sleep. Presumably Dennis is helping the Palestinians and the Israelis chart the future of the West Bank, correct?
MR. BURNS: I think the United States has been a very effective intermediary -- that's a word I would use -- between the parties, and a friend to both, and we hope constructive in our conversations with both and the conversations that we've had with both of them on one phone line, and that's happened, too.
Q Even if you won't be specific, would you say the U.S. is able to persuade one side or the other on a particular view? In other words, overcome a negative, overcome a roadblock?
MR. BURNS: Maybe we should leave that to the retrospective. Once a peace agreement is signed, and we hope it is, then perhaps we can engage in some retrospective about how it happened. You certainly don't want to claim credit for something that hasn't happened yet.
Q You're awfully close to it.
MR. BURNS: But shying just short of it. (Laughter) Just a little bit, Barry. Just a little bit. They haven't quite gotten over the finish line, and that's what we're waiting for.
Q Is the U.S. only an intermediary, or is it playing any other role, facilitating or offering assistance or --
MR. BURNS: Barry had a good word. I mean, we are facilitating. We are talking. You know, we're talking to both.
Q I said you usually say you're facilitating. I wonder if you're doing more this time.
MR. BURNS: We're doing a bit of both.
Q Opinionating, opining.
MR. BURNS: A bit of both, Barry.
Q (inaudible) a lot, perhaps?
MR. BURNS: Oh, I don't know about that. We're friends to both. We want this process to succeed. We're working hard on it.
Q Given your budget troubles, does this -- and I would assume that this kind of diplomacy is cheaper -- does this set a trend for the future? (Laughter) Is this a model for future diplomatic efforts?
MR. BURNS: This is the "Brave New World," right, of cyberspace. No, despite our budget troubles, despite the fact -- and do I need to be prodded on this subject today? -- despite our budgetary problems, the Secretary will continue to give a lot of time and money and resources to the operation of traveling to the Middle East and working with the parties there. And I'm sure he'll be doing that this autumn.
Q Just for the record, Nick, I think it would be a virtual --
Q As long as the U.S. is ostensibly involved in this, why are you reluctant to -- why do you fall back on the old formulation of "if the parties want us to host a signing agreement." You're not telling us that that hasn't been talked about yet in all these phone calls, are you?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not. I mean, it's certainly been talked about, but they haven't agreed on anything yet, and so therefore we can't have a signing ceremony if they haven't agreed on anything to sign.
Q Right. But plans are underway, are they not, in case they reach agreement?
MR. BURNS: If they get an agreement and they want to have a signing ceremony, we'll begin planning furiously for that event.
Q Nick, just for the record --
MR. BURNS: Furiously.
Q Just for the record, I think the phrase would be a "virtual shuttle."
MR. BURNS: Excuse me.
Q A virtual shuttle.
MR. BURNS: A virtual shuttle. I think that's even a better interpretation. (Laughter)
Q No, not on the telephone. You've got to do that over the Internet.
Q Especially if you do it on the Internet.
Q You said earlier that he had both parties on the telephone at the same time? They were --
MR. BURNS: At certain points.
Q Were they conference call negotiating sessions with Christopher and Peres and Arafat?
MR. BURNS: No, I don't want -- what I don't want to do is get too much into detail. I'll leave that for the retrospective, if there's a successful conclusion.
Q Could you clarify that one comment when you said you had them both on the line --
MR. BURNS: There have been conference calls, and there have been individual -- there have been bilateral calls. There have been both.
Q Conference calls. Who was on the line?
MR. BURNS: Various people.
Q Did Christopher ever get on the line simultaneously with Peres and Arafat?
MR. BURNS: I'll check on that. I know he's been on the line with both of them.
Q Nick, the Indian Foreign Ministry has said it's gravely concerned --
Q Could we have one more question on the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: One more on the Middle East, and then we'll go to --
Q The Palestinians are saying it's going to be on the 28th without a doubt, and this is from a very good source in the Palestinian delegation. Do you have any timing at all on this?
MR. BURNS: No. I'm not in a position to say anything about timing until there's an agreement, until they say that they'd like to have a signing ceremony outside of their region.
Q One follow-up. Is the signing the best carrot we have in this, or are there some other carrots that you have put into the pot?
MR. BURNS: I'm not sure they need at this point carrots. I think they both clearly want to have an agreement. It's very difficult getting there, because the issues are extremely difficult.
Q Well, Lee Hamilton said yesterday that if the Middle East Facilitation Act should fail to be passed in the House, this would cause the failure of the peace negotiations. Is that the view of the Department at this point?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to use the word "failure." It would certainly be a severe blow to our efforts to be a credible interlocutor with both, and we think that our assistance to the Palestinians makes sense for us, as well as for the Palestinians, as well as for the Israelis. I believe that the Israeli Government is a strong supporter of American assistance to the Palestinians, so certainly we support that.
Q Nick, the Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesman has said he's gravely concerned about the Senate vote on Pakistan yesterday, and said it's likely to lead to an arms race in South Asia. Have you had any formal contact with the Indian Government about this? And, secondly, is there anything the U.S. can do to prevent an arms race?
MR. BURNS: I assume that our Embassy in Delhi has briefed the Indian Government on this development.
Q As far as you know, he hasn't been called in for any discussions?
MR. BURNS: Ambassador Wisner?
MR. BURNS: I just don't know whether he has or not today. But we believe that the action taken by the Congress yesterday is positive. We believe that it speaks to our commitment to a good and stable relationship with Pakistan.
Q But, I mean, there's an Indian general election due, I think, the middle of next year. It's a time when tensions always rise. Are you not concerned that things could spin out of control somewhat?
MR. BURNS: I think in watching events in South Asia, there's always a concern about relations between Pakistan and India, but we're pleased by the passage of this amendment, because we want to develop a much stronger relationship and a more flexible relationship with Pakistan.
This amendment gives the President authority to release equipment that they purchased, worth about $370 million, that they purchased prior to the imposition of the Pressler sanction, and it also authorizes us now to engage in narcotics cooperation, anti-narcotics trafficking cooperation, cooperation on terrorism -- and there was a very severe terrorist act in March that killed two American diplomats in Karachi -- to cooperate on economic development issues. It allows OPIC and the Trade and Development Agency now to operate in Pakistan.
It returns us to a more stable, normal relationship in many respects with Pakistan. That's a very good thing.
Q If I could go back to the Middle East. Egypt -- the question of Israel -- we asked you yesterday. You said you'd look into it. The question of Israel killing Egyptian soldiers a couple decades ago. Do you have anything on that? Do you think Israel ought to do a full-blown investigation? What's the State Department's opinion?
MR. BURNS: I do not have anything new on that, beyond what I said the other day, and that is that this question is being looked into by both the Israeli and Egyptian Governments, and we obviously have an interest in it. But it's up to the two governments, I think, to discuss this issue between themselves first.
Q (Inaudible) interest in it?
MR. BURNS: We have an interest in promoting peace and stability in the Middle East, and we have been a major actor in that effort for many decades.
Q Also another one. You were asked a few days ago about the Filipino maid in Abu Dhabi. Do you have any response on that?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe I've seen a response on that.
(TO STAFF) John (Dinger), do we have something that we can share with Sid after the briefing.
MR. DINGER: Yes.
MR. BURNS: Okay.
Q I'd rather -- if you have something, if you could do it on the record, it would be better.
MR. BURNS: Maybe we can do it on the record after -- you know, at some point. I don't have it with me right now.
Q Just one more, Barry, please. Nick, anything new you can tell us about Guillermo Pallomari, specifically with regard to Colombian press sources saying this man could expose graft, corruption, bribery throughout the world by the Cali cartel.
MR. BURNS: I don't believe there's anything more I can say than what I said yesterday -- that he came here voluntarily -- and obviously I can't discuss what conversations we may or may not be having with him.
MR. BURNS: I don't know if it has or not.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:03 p.m.)
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