U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/09/29 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, September 29, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT--Announcements/Statements Introduction of Thai Journalist ..........................1 Statement re: Coup Attempt on Comoros Islands ............1-2 State Department Budget ..................................17-18 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Secretary Christopher's Upcoming Trip to Amman Econ. Summit .................................................2-3,5 Secretary Christopher's Upcoming Mtg. w/Syrian FM ........3-5,9 Trilateral Commissions/Working Group on Implementation ....6-7 International Financial Assistance to Palestinian Authority ...............................................7-8 CHINA Undersecretary Tarnoff's Mtg. w/Vice FM Li ...............9-12 Termination of Chinese Nuclear Cooperation w/Iran ........11 Letter from President Jiang to President Clinton .........12 FM Qian Remark re: U.S. Military Presence in Pacific .....12-13 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Assistant Secretary Holbrooke's Mtg. w/Izetbegovic, Travel to Zagreb, Belgrade, Sofia, Sarajevo ............13-17 --Continuance of Peace Process; Ceasefire Issue; Peace Conference: Dimensions, Agenda; Territorial Issues; Supply of Gorazde ....................................14-15 Contact Mtgs. in Rome, Moscow Expected ...................14 Progress on Cessation of Hostilities .....................19 JAPAN Three U.S. Military Servicemen turned over to Japan ......19 COLOMBIA Allegation U.S. Gov't. Involved in "Internat'l. Conspiracy" ............................................19-20
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPB #146 FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1995, 1:02 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon to everyone. Welcome to the State Department briefing. We have a distinguished guest with us today. She is a journalist, anchor and editor from Thailand. Her name is Sompasong Karnthisa. She's here for a month in the United States by virtue of a grant from USIA. I want to congratulate you for your success over the past month and say that you are most welcome here. I do have a statement to lead off with before we go to questions. The United States strongly condemns the coup attempt underway in the Comoros Islands and calls for the immediate return of the democratically elected government. We very much regret the violence that has occurred so far and urge all parties to avoid further bloodshed. We call on all parties in the Comoros to adhere to the democratic process and principles contained in the constitution. We hope very much that planning for multiparty presidential elections will go forward for March 1996. We are following events from our Embassy in Mauritius. I would just note that our Embassy in the Comoros was closed in 1993 due to budgetary constraints. We'll continue to monitor the situation with a goal of assuring the safety of all of the Americans in the country. I think there are 33 Americans there -- Peace Corps volunteers and missionaries. In the meantime, we are suspending American assistance programs in the Comoros until the situation is clarified. Q Do you have a figure of that, the amount? MR. BURNS: I think it's roughly $375,000 per year. It mainly goes for scholarships for Comoran students to come to the United States. It's not something we ordinarily would like to do. We don't want to penalize the citizens of the islands, but there is a coup underway which we very much oppose, and we very much like the situation to return to normal -- that is, we'd like the governmental leaders to be returned to power -- to be allowed to return to power -- and to take up their duties again. Q Does that mean that you'll pull the Peace Corps operation, then? MR. BURNS: I don't think that decision has been made yet, Sid. Q You say you're following it closely. Is it the case that this is one French mercenary and a couple of friends, basically? MR. BURNS: It seems to be a case of a man named Bob Denard, who is a Frenchman. He and some others have led this coup. We very much oppose their actions. We're not entirely clear as to why they've undertaken this extreme action, and we very much regret the fact that violence has been used. Q Does he have any backing that you're aware of -- I mean, external backing? MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any external backing. I just can't answer that question. He certainly does not have any support or backing from the United States. We are roundly criticized in this. Q All right. You want to get started? MR. BURNS: We just got started. (Laughter) We had an announcement. We talked about the situation in Comoros. We'll continue. Q Reuters would be fine to take a filing break. Can you hold on a little? (Laughter) MR. BURNS: I noticed; I noticed. I'm looking at Andre, though. I think AFP may do something with this. Q Well, if you've cleared France of any involvement, I would like to ask you if you would now like to tell the rest of us what Mr. Christopher told, I guess on the "Today" program, that he expects to go the Middle East in two or three weeks? Can you sharpen that at all? Is there anything more definite? Obviously, we'll ask you a little more about it if you can tell us there is a trip coming up. MR. BURNS: The Secretary is going to be traveling to the Middle East during the last weekend in October for the -- Q The last weekend? MR. BURNS: -- weekend in October for the Amman Economic Summit. This is to work on the Middle East Development Bank; it's to work on our hope for regional economic development in the Middle East. That trip is firmly on his schedule. He has no other trips to the Middle East planned between now and roughly a month from now when he'll be flying off to Amman. He has said, though, Barry, on a number of occasions, that if the parties would like him to come out and if progress can be made, of course, he would do that. But they haven't asked right now, and he has no plans to go to the Middle East until the end of October. Q Good. That's very clear. Let me ask a little follow to that. That, of course, is a conference in Amman. Can you tell even this early whether he will use that as a springboard for making the circuit? MR. BURNS: He hasn't made any decisions about any additional cities or stops that he would make around, before, or after the Amman conference. Q Nick, on the television program the other day, he said he would be traveling to the Middle East in regard to the Syrian matter in two to three weeks, which seems to be at variance with what you just said here. MR. BURNS: He was thinking of the Amman conference, and it may just have been a case of having different dates in mind. Q He was asked in reference to the Syrian negotiations. MR. BURNS: That's right. I was there, and I remember exactly what he said, Jim. You're right to bring it up because I want to allay any misunderstandings here. He was definitely thinking of the trip to Amman. That's what he meant, and that's what the trip that is scheduled is -- it's the trip to Amman. We have nothing scheduled between now and -- Q Just to make sure that it's only a misunderstanding, he was not disinvited by the Syrians? MR. BURNS: Absolutely not. In fact, we talked just after that particular program, and what was clearly in mind was the trip to Amman for the economic summit. He has never had a trip scheduled before that. He's never talked to any of the governments about a trip before that. I would just note that the Secretary is having today a round of bilaterals with some of these leaders. He's going to be meeting with the Syrian Foreign Minister, Farouk al-Shara, on October 2 here in the Department. So he's very much looking forward to the opportunity, now that the Israeli-Palestinian track has been so successful, to resume our efforts to promote the Syrian-Israeli track. The Secretary also mentioned, I believe in that same interview a couple of days ago, that he very much hopes that the progress that has been made on one track might be able to encourage progress on another track -- the Syrian track. Q We have no ceremony today, so we're headed for the tea leaves. He was to see the Syrian Foreign Minister in New York? MR. BURNS: Yes. Q The Syrians didn't want to have any high-level official at the ceremony. The Syrian will see him October 2. Is that an attempt -- do you see that -- does the State Department see it as an attempt by Syria to establish some space between their meeting with the U.S. and yesterday's events? MR. BURNS: The choreography here, Barry, was that the Secretary originally planned to spend five days at the United Nations, extending to this afternoon. When the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were successful, he decided to curtail that portion of the trip to come back for the ceremonies and today's meetings. He called Foreign Minister Shara on Sunday morning to say that they wouldn't be able to have the meeting in New York; could they reschedule them? Minister Shara completely understood, and they agreed on the mutual date of October 2. Q Who moved it past this week -- Shara or Christopher? I know, mutually -- MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher offered the date of October 2, early next week, because, as you know, he was at the White House most of yesterday. Today, Secretary Christopher has had breakfast with Prime Minister Rabin. He had the trilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Peres and Chairman Arafat at which, as you know, they established the creation of the trilateral undertaking among the three countries, including ours. He had a bilateral with Arafat up in his office following the press availability. The Secretary now is with the President for bilateral meetings with President Mubarak and King Hussein. This afternoon, King Hussein will come here to the Department for a meeting with Secretary Christopher, mid-afternoon; and then late this afternoon the Secretary will go over to see President Mubarak at Blair House for their bilateral. So there was just no time today. If you throw into that the meeting that the President and the Secretary are having with Congressional leaders on Bosnia, there was no time today to have this Syrian bilateral. So it was mutually agreed upon that they would meet early next week. Q Just on the Secretary's travel plans. Are you saying that after this round of consultations with Middle East leaders, his travel plans could change? MR. BURNS: I'm saying -- and I hope very clearly, because I have a very clear understanding of this -- that the Secretary has one trip planned to the Middle East in the future, and that is the Amman Economic Summit. I believe we leave here on the 29th of October. We'll be spending a couple of days in Amman. It's very likely that if he travels to Amman, he will go to other capitals, but we have nothing to announce and he has made no specific plans to do so, but it is likely because we're going all the way to the Middle East. He has been intimately involved in negotiations with a number of the other countries. He has nothing scheduled between now and then. I would be less than candid if I didn't say that he has said repeatedly that if a situation develops where he could make a difference -- a positive difference -- then, of course, he would be willing to travel. But there is nothing planned. We are planning, in fact, otherwise. We're scheduling meetings here in the Department for the first two weeks of October. The next trip planned would be in mid-October when the Secretary accompanies the President to New York for the U.N. Summit and the summit meeting with President Yeltsin at Hyde Park. Q The Secretary's aides have also said that he would not return to Damascus until President Assad followed the timetable that he agreed to and the Secretary announced and sent his military experts here to Washington for a second round of talks. Is that still the case? Will the Secretary return to Damascus before Assad lives up to his pledge? MR. BURNS: We'll just have to see what transpires in the future. I don't recall any of the Secretary's aides, or the Secretary himself, saying publicly that there were these conditions out there that had to be met before a trip was made. I don't recall ever having made that statement. I don't recall Dennis Ross having made that statement. Clearly, that is something that we hope will happen. When the Secretary was in Damascus in the middle of June, there was a very clear understanding that a number of military-to-military meetings would ensue. One of those did, and that was the meeting between the Syrian and Israeli chiefs of staff. There was then, as you remember, a meeting scheduled at the next lower level to talk in more detail about the Golan and other issues. That meeting never took place, and we very much hope that it will take place. That, in fact, has been an impediment in moving forward on the Syrian-Israeli track. I don't believe that any of us has ever said that somehow X, Y, and Z have to happen before the Secretary agrees to go to the Middle East again. Q Well, somebody did. MR. BURNS: On the record? I don't recall that as a public remark. Q Nick, what's the purpose of this trilateral commission they're setting up this morning? MR. BURNS: The purpose of the trilateral is to now turn to the very important business of implementing the agreements that have been reached, the very detailed agreements that have been reached, over the last week and were signed yesterday. Specifically, what the Secretary and Foreign Minister Peres and Chairman Arafat talked about this morning was implementation. Each of them has appointed a senior individual from their countries to be responsible to form a working group on implementation of some of the economic development measures and of a number of the political steps that are called for as part of the agreement. Most of the conversation this morning centered on the economic issues, on our hope that both international aid may be forthcoming at a greater pace -- international aid to the Palestinians; that economic development zones might be set up in Gaza and in a number of West Bank cities -- Gaza, Jenin, Nablus, and other places; and that we might even draw other countries from the region into this effort, specifically, Jordan and Egypt. There is a similar trilateral commission that has been established among the United States, Jordan and Israel. It's been very successful. The Secretary felt that we should replicate that in the case of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. So it was a good meeting about the agenda and a good meeting about what the challenges are ahead, and we think that this group should meet often in order to move forward. I may have more detail, if you're interested. In any case, we're going to be issuing a press statement after the briefing that will give you some more detail about this. Some of the discussion this morning I want to also mention involved water and the effort by the United States, the Palestinians and Israel to increase the availability of potable water resources for the Palestinian population in the West Bank; also, to promote cooperation on regional economic issues; and, as I said, economic development in both Gaza and the West Bank. Q Nick, Congressman Burton and at least three other Republicans, as he is, have scheduled -- I don't know if they've had it -- a news conference. They're protesting assistance to the PLO, and Burton's statement says that the U.S. shouldn't be spending all this money on the PLO, the budget being in the shape it's in. And he says that the PLO has -- I forgot the figure -- it might actually be $8 billion -- but he says they have much, much money stashed away in bank accounts and wonders why that isn't being used instead of American taxpayer money. Is it the judgment of Dennis Ross and other people who follow these things that the PLO has huge bank accounts that are untouched, even while you reach out and into your own pockets for more money for them? MR. BURNS: I just have no information on what kind of financial resources the PLO may or may not have. I do know this, Barry, there is a very broad international consensus that the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people are in dire need of international economic assistance. You saw that yesterday here at the Department the Norwegians and the Americans -- Norway and the United States convened a meeting of the ad hoc liaison group, and everybody from the World Bank to the International Monetary Fund, to Saudi Arabia, Russia, Japan, the United States -- everybody testified to the very great need that these people have -- Q Nobody questions that the people are in dire straits. The question is -- MR. BURNS: -- that they have for international assistance. Q The question isn't whether there are people in horrible shape in Gaza and the West Bank. There's no dispute over that. The question is whether the PLO over the years has stashed away huge sums of money that now might be the occasion to use to help their own people. And you don't know -- the State Department doesn't know if the PLO has hidden resources. MR. BURNS: I don't have any information on that that I can give you today. But I can say this: We and others around the world would not be making substantial financial contributions to this effort if we suspected that somehow billions were salted away somewhere and were not being used. What we know about the Palestinian Authority is that it is a young governing authority that does not have a lot of resources at its disposal -- that is, in really desperate need of international assistance. As you know, $2.4 billion has been pledged. We've pledged $500 million over five years. I would say to the people who have made this charge and who believe that we should not be extending assistance to the Palestinians, visit the area -- visit the area and look at the conditions there and look at what is not being and done and what has to be done in the way of drinking water, appropriate sewerage systems, in the way of infrastructure, payment of salaries for their police force and for their civil servants. Q That's the Authority, not the people. They're not saying don't help the people. They say don't give money to the Authority because they have enough. They have plenty of their own. MR. BURNS: The money that we are extending supports both the Palestinian Authority and, in some cases, Palestinians in villages and towns directly by a variety of means. As you know, we've had since 1975, an assistance program there which has largely been carried out through private voluntary organizations -- AMIDEAST, UNRWA, Save the Children, and other organizations. A lot of this money over the years has gone directly to Palestinians. Some of it now is going directly to the Palestinian Authority as well, and we would argue it's money well spent -- the money to the Palestinian Authority. Q Back to what we were talking about before. It's a month until that Amman event. MR. BURNS: That's right. Q In the interim, with all the things up in the air, with all the things that were decided yesterday -- at least in principle -- will you have people traveling? Can you tell us whether Dennis (Ross) will be jetting out there, or other folks, and particularly on the Syrian front. If I can amend that, there are only two Arab holdouts. Isn't it time, or is it time to deal directly with Lebanon and put Lebanon on the shuttle circuit? MR. BURNS: It's certainly time to continue to deal directly and make progress on the Syrian track, and that's why the Secretary is going to be meeting with Foreign Minister Shara on October 2, just to answer your question: What will happen between now and the Amman Economic Summit? Secondly, we have developed a new diplomatic art form, and that is shuttle by telephone, and that was quite successful. Q (Inaudible) MR. BURNS: Thank you. So did we. We thought it was very successful. I think the Secretary and Dennis Ross are going to be very actively involved on this track over the coming weeks, because it is time that progress was made. As President Clinton and others noted yesterday, there were people missing from the ceremony yesterday. The heads of state of both Syria and Lebanon. They ought to be there to complete a comprehensive Middle East peace. So we're going to turn our attention very energetically to the Syrian track right now. Q What can you say about Tarnoff's meeting yesterday with Li, and are they meeting again today? MR. BURNS: Under Secretary Tarnoff had a meeting yesterday afternoon with Vice Minister Li. He met again with Vice Minister Li this morning. They are meeting because they were asked by Foreign Minister Qian and Secretary Christopher on Wednesday afternoon to continue our bilateral discussions on a couple of issues, but most notably the prospect of a higher-level meeting between the heads of state of China and the United States. It's a subject that was the principle subject discussed in Wednesday's bilateral meeting that the Secretary had, and it's a subject in which we have a great interest if a summit can be worked out. So they've talked about that now twice since the Secretary's departure from New York. I can't report that we have come to the end of those discussions. We clearly have not, and I think they'll continue today and probably into tomorrow morning. Q Oh, really. MR. BURNS: Yes. Q Are you making any progress? MR. BURNS: At this point, I really can't tell you whether we're heading north or south on this issue. All I know is that the United States believes that it is critically important to have high-level meetings between our country and China because of the importance of the relationship. We certainly wanted to return to a state of normalcy in U.S.-China relations, and the Secretary was fully prepared on Wednesday to discuss this issue in great detail. He did, and he has now asked Peter Tarnoff to continue those discussions, and we hope very much that they'll end in success. But I can't forecast now exactly what the ending will be. Q Nick, are the discussions about more than just Chinese flags flying on Pennsylvania Avenue for a state visit? MR. BURNS: The discussions are about how to promote and organize a successful meeting between the two countries and the two heads of state. Q There were reports that a 21-gun salute and the Clinton Administration's unwillingness to have Chinese flags flying in the streets of Washington were the core of the disagreement, that the Chinese President wanted a full-blown state visit. Are those reports accurate? MR. BURNS: I don't recall any discussion of flags or guns. I do recall very specifically a discussion of what it will take for both of us to create the basis for a successful meeting, which, of course, is always the object of these kinds of events. We're discussing this in private with the Chinese, so I really don't want to get into the details of it in public. Q Does the U.S. side think that you can have a successful meeting with an official working visit in Washington? MR. BURNS: We think we can have a successful meeting in many forms. It could be a private meeting. It can be an official meeting. We think there can be many types of successful meetings. We have a very broad view of this. We're very liberal, and we think about what it takes to constitute a successful meeting. We don't think necessarily it has to fit a certain prescription and -- Q (inaudible) state visit. MR. BURNS: I don't want to get into that, because that's just protocol. But I will say that the important thing is not the flags and the guns and all that. The important thing is not the trappings, it's the substance, and it's the inclination to have a meeting regardless of the trappings, and that's, I think, the point that we're making. Q According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen also assured the Iranian Foreign Minister that the nuclear deal would go ahead. You know, Chinese-Iranian nuclear cooperation would go ahead, would continue. Do you find that contradictory to what you have heard from Mr. Qian in New York? MR. BURNS: Yes. Foreign Minister Qian said very clearly and unequivocally to Secretary Christopher that the prospect, the plans for Chinese nuclear cooperation with Iran had been terminated, which was the word used. I would note a statement out of the Chinese Government this morning that corroborates that private statement to us. I've seen the press reports from Iran, and, frankly, I understand why they say what they did in Tehran, but I think they're mistaken about the facts. We clearly understand that China will not cooperate now in providing nuclear reactors to Iran, and we're very, very glad. It was one of the high points of the meeting. Glad to see that, because we have felt for a long time, and we've discussed this with the Chinese Government, that Iran simply cannot be trusted with this type of technology. Q Going back to the summit issue, you've said that this whole issue of whether it was a state or visit or what kind of visit it was, was just a matter or protocol. But it becomes more than a matter of protocol on I think two fronts. One, as you know so well, often governments of that type place great importance in legitimizing themselves through state visits. And, secondly, if there isn't going to be a summit because of a matter of protocol, then it becomes more than a matter of protocol. So I was wondering if you would try again to address that issue of whether this inability to announce a summit did grow out of the fact that the Chinese did want a state visit and the United States didn't. MR. BURNS: Let me try again, Steve, but you understand that since Peter Tarnoff is having private discussions, I really don't want to interfere with those. The important thing in the viewpoint of the United States is that since the U.S.-China relations have turned a corner for the better, since we now clearly have an ability to talk about issues other than Taiwan -- the other day we talked about a whole host of issues other than Taiwan -- it's time to think about higher- level meetings. But in order to make that decision, we've got to be assured that the meeting will be successful and productive. I think that's the standard that we're setting for this meeting. We think getting together is probably more important than worrying about some of the other details. Q Then why don't you just have a state visit like the Chinese want? MR. BURNS: Sid, I'm just not going to get into specifics of this discussion. We're making our views very clear to the Chinese Government; and, when we have come to the end of that discussion, we'll talk about it publicly. Q But you say that it doesn't matter to the United States, the protocol and visits? MR. BURNS: What I said was what really matters to us is making sure that a meeting is productive and successful, and that's where our discussions are aimed with the Chinese. I should just say maybe we in this briefing are giving this a little bit more attention than it deserves. There is no air of crisis here. The meeting on Wednesday between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Qian ended quite amicably with smiles all around. They had a good meeting. There was not very much discussion of the issue of Taiwan at that meeting, and we thought that was a positive point, because we felt we had made our views on Taiwan abundantly clear. There was very good discussion about the issue of Chinese-Iranian nuclear cooperation. So we were pleased with the meeting, and we hope now we can get to the next level. Q Do you have anything to say about Holbrooke's meanderings? Q Could we back up for one more question on China? Are you able at this point to say anything more about the friendly letter that was sent through Foreign Minister Qian by the Chinese President to the United States President? MR. BURNS: I cannot, no. That's a private letter that was addressed to the President, and I have nothing, really, to offer on that. I think Carol had a question. Are you still on China, Bill? Q Yes. MR. BURNS: Okay. One more on China and then we'll go to Carol's question. Q Nick, on Taiwan security and military -- what we would view - - military intimidations of Taiwan by the PRC -- was that brought up? And, secondly, the overall security of the Western Pacific, the U.S. military presence, was that discussed at all, especially the issue of withdrawing U.S. troops -- military forces from that theater? MR. BURNS: There was a question asked on the second issue at the Press Conference, and Foreign Minister Qian said that China had never stated that it had an objection to a continued U.S. military presence in the Pacific. I think that question was dealt with. That was not raised privately. That subject did not come up after the press availability. On the first question, as I said, there was a very limited, brief discussion of the Taiwan issue, but really only the major issue of the well-known U.S. position on China and on Taiwan. It did not delve into either the visa issue or to the military issue in the Straits. It did not. Q Holbrooke and Bosnia. MR. BURNS: Maybe we can go back to China at some point. Let's go on to Bosnia. Q Dick Holbrooke had a six-hour meeting today with President Izetbegovic and his advisers. Dick said that the meeting was most productive -- in fact, one of the most productive meetings that he has had with the Bosnian Government in some time. They discussed specifically the very great hope that the United States has that there might be a cease-fire throughout Bosnia- Herzegovina. They discussed the question of the Map and other territorial issues that will be at the center of a peace conference. They discussed constitutional principles and specifically some of the issues that flow out of the agreement that was reached on Tuesday in New York. They discussed United Nations implementation of the Sarajevo agreement of earlier in September and specifically on that the very strong hope that the United States has that more roads may be opened tomorrow to civilian traffic into Sarajevo. I understand that some members of Dick's delegation are now meeting with United Nations officials to try to ensure that in fact that will happen. Dick is going to be going to Zagreb and Belgrade over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday, for talks with President Tudjman and President Milosevic. On Sunday evening he will travel to Sofia, to Bulgaria, for discussions with the Bulgarian Government. That will extend it to Monday morning. On Monday, he will return to Sarajevo for further discussions with the Bosnian Government. He has not made any specific travel plans beyond Monday, but he is on a shuttle mission, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him stay in the region. He is there, and he has set out on this trip to pursue the following issues and the following objectives. We want to continue the U.S.-led initiative for peace. We had a very positive development this week, I think thanks in part to the intervention of the United States at several points on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday morning, led by Secretary Christopher and Dick Holbrooke. There is a momentum for peace. There is in sight at some point in the future the convening of an international peace conference on Bosnia. Specifically in order to drive towards that peace conference, Dick Holbrooke will be pursuing the issue of cease-fire -- the issue that Secretary Christopher believes very strongly should be entertained seriously by all the parties. Second, the territorial questions that will lie at the heart of the peace conference, specifically 51/49, and what impact the recent territorial changes have had on the thinking of the parties to the conflict. Third, the situation around Gorazde, whether or not it will be possible -- we hope it will -- to open a secure road into Gorazde. I understand that just a couple of days ago a U.N. convoy made it into Gorazde with 100 metric tons of food. That was the first convoy into Gorazde since August 23. So the supply of Gorazde for the winter is a very important question. Last and perhaps most importantly, in all of these discussions Dick Holbrooke will be focusing on the central question: What will be the dimensions and parameters of a peace conference. What will be the agenda of a peace conference, and how can we work in the next couple of weeks and perhaps beyond that to establish a firm foundation for a conference so that it will have a prospect of success once it is convened. These are all very important issues. As he finishes, the next couple of days, of shuttling among these capitals, he will keep the Contact Group closely informed of what he is hearing and what he is thinking. I would expect that there will be a Contact Group meeting in Rome before too long; and, as you know, we would hope very much that some session might be arranged as well in Moscow. Those are both firmly in our view as part of our attempt to keep the Contact Group together and focused on this imperative of a peace conference. We've gone through a lot of different permutations on this issue over the last month. This is a very important stage. We now have an agreement on constitutional principles. In fact, we have an expanded agreement on that. We have an agreement on the territorial basis of a peace conference, but we don't have an agenda. We don't have any definite parameters. We don't have a commitment to a cease-fire, which is desirable but not necessary, before a peace conference unfolds. So we've got to make more progress. Rather than let the situation sit for a week or two, the Secretary thought that Dick ought to go out and take advantage of the progress we made this week to try to make more. Q Diplomats are saying that you're trying to pull together a peace conference in the next few weeks. Is that the kind of urgency that you're feeling? MR. BURNS: There's a real sense of urgency in our government -- I think from the President and Secretary Christopher on down -- to move fast to give this peace process and infusion of American energy and creativity, which is being supplied, I think, in spades by our leadership. There is not a good sense right now tactically as to when we're going to be in a position to suggest to the parties that a peace conference should be set and should convene. We'd rather do it sooner than later, but in the Balkans it's always very difficult to predict progress. I would just remind you of the difficulty that we had on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday when both Secretary Christopher and Dick Holbrooke were on the phone at unusual hours with Sarajevo and Belgrade and Zagreb to try to put back together what we thought we had established. Frankly, it was harder than we thought to get the agreement on the expanded constitutional principles, and so that leads us to believe that there's hard sledding ahead, and Dick, I think, in his initial public comments this morning in effect said that. Q Why did he think it was one of the most productive meetings he's had in some time with Izetbegovic? MR. BURNS: Because he felt that the quality of the discussion on these specific issues that I mentioned -- on the constitutional principles, on the Map, on cease-fire, and on U.N. implementation -- was very good. The spirit of cooperation was good. I think he sensed a willingness to move forward on the part of the Bosnian Government. But now, of course, he's got to go onto Belgrade and Zagreb, and then back to Sarajevo. We don't want to declare a victory on the basis of this. I just wanted to note that he felt it was a most positive and productive meeting. Q On what subjects did he sense new flexibility on the part of the Muslims that caused him to think it was more productive than previous meetings? MR. BURNS: Let me just, David, rest on the fact that he says "productive" and specifically on the issues that I mentioned. What I cannot do, obviously, is go into a level of detail that would impair his ability to negotiate privately. Q You want all of us to go out there and write about the most productive meeting since whenever. I had the same question as David did, and you're not answering them, but you did mention three issues. You got a little closer to explaining what was so productive. What was productive about the 51/49 split? Did they agree to take less? MR. BURNS: We have an agreement here that we're not going to get into the specifics of any of these issues as we have not over the past month. Q I understand. But when you were able to use -- a very recent and big example -- when you were able to get the Bosnian Serbs or to get Milosevic to say the siege would be lifted, the guns would be pulled back, you were delighted -- the State Department was delighted -- to announce it and for good reason, because it's impetus to the other parties. If you had gotten something out of Izetbegovic, I think State would want to publicize it as a means of moving the other parties. It isn't like we're intruding. State does make announcements when one of the parties or another makes a major concession. Did the Bosnian Government make a major concession that you could tell us about? MR. BURNS: They did not make a major concession that I can tell you about. Q The part about the discussion is a nice thing, but -- MR. BURNS: If we had made the type of progress today that have been made in the past, if a fundamentally important step were taken, then we would announce it today. We're talking about the quality of the discussion. The quality of the discussion last weekend was at times difficult and very challenging. It took us many, many more hours to get to Tuesday afternoon than we had suspected it would -- as recently as Sunday morning. The quality of discussion today was quite good. We wanted to note that publicly. It's a good start to his mission but there was no significant step taken today that can be announced as tangible, concrete progress. Q There's no specific step taken that you can announce, or there was no specific step taken? (Laughter) I hate to keep harping on it. You're moving awfully -- As Margaret Tutweiler used to say, "cute by half." Q Go ahead, Sid, harp on it. MR. BURNS: Margaret used to say that? Q That's what she used to say. MR. BURNS: I meant to say exactly what I said. I really can't interpret it any better. Our position is so well known on this one. I can't really help you out on this one. Q The Senate is now debating the State, Commerce, Justice appropriations bill. We've heard at length from Department officials about how these budget numbers would impair, in the Administration's belief, its ability to conduct foreign policy. Why should ordinary Americans care about this? If an American travels abroad, will their services be affected in some way? Could you give us some specific examples as to why a gentleman in Iowa should give a damn? MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to. This is the kind of question where I can give concrete examples. (Laughter) You have to go? You don't want to hear the answer? Q This is going to be along answer. MR. BURNS: This is a very important issue, Barry. I'm glad that David has asked this question. The fact is that one of the fundamental responsibilities of American embassies and consulates is to serve the American public and in countless ways. Last year, our embassies and consulates performed 1.7 million services for American citizens. By that I mean, everything from birth to death: Issuing birth certificates; issuing death certificates; rescuing Americans who are in trouble, as the four Americans were who survived the balloon incidents in Belarus a couple of days ago; helping American mothers who have child custody problems; helping Americans who are incarcerated; advising them of their legal rights when they're incarcerated, when their imprisoned in foreign countries; helping to get them legal assistance. A lot of American citizens who are tourists, in places like Bordeaux, in Florence, find themselves in trouble, find themselves ill or in prison because they didn't understand the legal system or they came crosswise with the system, and the only people they can turn to for help are American diplomats. So it's critically important to the average American -- and millions of Americans travel overseas every year -- that they have Americans who can help them when they get into trouble. It happens all the time. I can even go on if you'd like. Q I'm sure you could. But this is general discussion. The whole government's budget is being cut. Why is this more important than something else? MR. BURNS: First of all, the whole government's budget is not being cut. Some Cabinet agencies are receiving significant increases in their budget beyond what they asked for -- most notably the Pentagon. The State Department budget is different. We don't have tanks and planes. We don't have hardware that can be cut. We have people; the people who help American citizens overseas. If 23 percent of our budget is going to be cut, as is threatened by Senator Gramm, then we have to cut into people. We have to cut into our ability to put people in places like Bordeaux and Florence and other major cities where Americans travel. That will limit the ability of the United States Government to help people overseas, and we don't want to do that. Because since the beginning of the country, since the time we first had diplomatic missions overseas, the fundamental purpose of embassies is to serve American citizens when they're in trouble as well as relating to foreign governments. That's a service and a responsibility that the State Department takes very, very seriously. Q Nick, both you and the Secretary have emphasized the State Department part of this overseas spending. Could the arms control agency or the aid agency survive? By our reckoning, it's a 21 percent cut. Not to quibble -- 21, 23. Should the Senate, which has taken it up already today, but may not finish today, do this, would those two agencies be able to survive? MR. BURNS: State Department, AID, ACDA, and USIA would all suffer from budget cuts. All of them have very important responsibilities that they carry out, and we think that all of them should be able to continue those operations. Bill. Q Nick, Secretary of Defense Perry, on Monday, stated that continued hostilities in Bosnia would erode -- it was a danger to the peace process there. Can you report progress on putting the pressure by all sides -- Russia, U.S., NATO, the U.N. -- to bring about this cessation of hostilities? MR. BURNS: There's been very little progress towards the cessation of hostilities. In fact, I think, after a lull last week, the fighting seems to have picked up over the last couple of days, specifically, in Western and Central Bosnia. I can't report any progress on that, but I think you know our position, and that is that the fighting should stop and that the parties should turn towards peace. Q Does the State Department agree with Secretary Perry's assessment that hostilities erode the process or the prospects? MR. BURNS: They certainly have a direct effect on the political process -- a directly negative effect in most cases. That's one of the reasons why we think that the fighting should stop. It should also stop because none of these countries is going to be able to achieve a military solution to this conflict. They've been unable to do that for four years. They will not succeed now. Sooner or later they've got to turn towards negotiations. Q Do you have any comment on the indictment of the three U.S. military personnel on Okinawa? MR. BURNS: I can just confirm that the three American servicemen, after their indictment this morning, were handed over to Japanese authorities. They will now be subject to the Japanese legal system. This was a commitment that the United States made to the Japanese people shortly after this brutal incident took place; that once indicted, the United States would cooperate with the Japanese legal system in every way possible. I just want to refer you to Secretaries Christopher and Perry's public comments on Wednesday in New York when they met with their Japanese counterparts. Secretary Perry outlined a number of steps that U.S. forces in Japan will take to try to correct this problem and to try to make sure it doesn't happen in the future. Q What is today the situation about charges of the Colombian Minister against the DEA? MR. BURNS: Can you be more specific? Q The Colombian Minister said yesterday about the conspiracy for (inaudible) Mr. Samper (inaudible)? MR. BURNS: Let me just say, I issued a statement on this yesterday. Attorney General Reno spoke out as did the Drug Enforcement Agency. The charges that were made by this particular individual are outrageous and we reject them completely. It's appalling behavior which can only have a negative affect on our bilateral relations if, in fact, these people are speaking for the Colombian Government. We've made these views known in very clear, strong, unequivocal terms to the Colombian Government itself since these outrageous charges were made public more than 24 hours ago. (Press briefing concluded at 1:46 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page