U.S. Department of State 95/10/05 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, October 5, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Ceasefire Agreement/Convening of Proximity Talks in U.S. . 1-7,9-12, 14-17 --Enforcement/Violations of Ceasefire .................... 4,10-11 --Road Access between Sarajevo and Gorazde ............... 15 --Gas and Electricity Services to Sarajevo ............... 15-16 Peace Conference in France ............................... 3 Contingency Plans for NATO Implementation Force/ Russian Cooperation .................................... 12-14, 17-18 Withdrawal of 9,000 UN Troops ............................ 4 Fighting in Bihac, Western/Central Bosnia, Sarajevo ...... 8-9 Allegations of Human Rights Abuses ....................... 8 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Secretary Christopher Mtg. w/ Syrian FM Farouk al Shara... 18-19,21 CHINA U.S.-China Summit in New York ............................ 20 U.S. One-China Policy .................................... 20-21 Report of Military Exercises in Taiwan ................... 21 MEXICO Visit of President Zedillo to U.S. ....................... 21 U.S.-Mexico Relations .................................... 22-23 COLOMBIA U.S.-Colombia Relations .................................. 23-25 JAPAN Review of Implementation of Status of Forces Agreement ... 24-25
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1995, 1:17 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I suppose you all want to talk about Bosnia, and I'm ready to do that. No? Okay. Let's talk about the Comoros Islands perhaps.
I'm ready to talk about any of these issues, so, George, we'll go right to you.
Q About Bosnia, what do you have?
MR. BURNS: Well, I know you have heard the President. Dick Holbrooke has also given a press conference in Zagreb. I don't know if there is going to be a transcript of that available, but I just had a long talk with him and he basically told me what he reviewed with your colleagues there. I'll be glad to fill any gaps.
I'll also be able to hand out to you at the end of the briefing some documents related to this agreement, including the cease-fire document, a copy of the signatures of those who signed for the Bosnian- Serbs, those who witnessed for the United States and the Serbian Government. That will come after the briefing.
As the President indicated to you this morning, today's agreement in Bosnia on a cease-fire and on the convening of proximity peace talks in the United States is a major step forward on the road to peace.
This agreement was produced by an intensive diplomatic initiative led by the United States, and of course assisted by our Contact Group partners. After all the progress of last month, of September -- the September 8 agreement on constitutional issues, the September l4 agreement on a withdrawal of heavy weapons from Sarajevo and a cease- fire there, and also the agreement last week in New York for expanded constitutional principles -- we in the Administration felt at that time that the cease-fire issue and the convening of discussions, negotiations, for a comprehensive peace were the next order for the parties.
That is why the President and Secretary Christopher sent Dick Holbrooke to the region directly following the New York talks last week for an intensive shuttle round during the past six days.
Our fundamental position during the past six days was that we would help to broker a cease-fire as long as that cease-fire was tied to a subsequent political process, and that is in effect the agreement that we have been able to reach with the parties today.
In our view, the Bosnian Government, the Bosnian-Serbs, the Serbian Government and others have come to the conclusion that the military situation on the ground was sufficiently ambiguous for them that it was in their self-interest, it came to be in their self-interest to stop the fighting.
All of these parties made clear throughout this process, during the past couple of days, that the active involvement of the United States was critical to the talks and that it was critical to the upcoming peace proximity talks.
Our European partners in the Contact Group and the Russian Government have made clear to us that they fully support the agreements reached today.
Secretary Christopher and Deputy Secretary Talbott have been telephoning their foreign ministerial colleagues in the Contact Group and in Italy. Dick Holbrooke is now in Zagreb and he is meeting with President Tudjman. He is briefing President Tudjman on this arrangement. Croatia is not a party to the agreement today, but certainly Croatia now will be fully expected to live up to all of the terms of this cease-fire because Croatian forces are active as part of the Federation military effort in western and central Bosnia.
Now the proximity peace talks that the United States has arranged will begin, as the President said, on October 25 at a single isolated site in the United States. These talks will not be held in Washington, D.C. or in the Washington area. We will be selecting a site in the next couple of days that will probably be on the east coast of the United States.
The talks will be convened under the auspices of the Contact Group. Throughout the talks Dick Holbrooke, Carl Bildt, the EU negotiator, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ivanov, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, will co-chair the talks.
I think it is fair to say that these discussions will look and feel like what you remember from Camp David. The only difference is they won't be at Camp David and they won't be in the Washington area. But it will be an isolated site where each of the three delegations -- and these will be the Heads of State of Serbia, of Croatia, and of Bosnia- Herzegovina -- each of them will have their own quarters on this site. The three co-chairs -- Holbrooke, Bildt and Ivanov -- will shuttle among the three parties, bringing suggestions, proposals, ideas to put forward, to move the substantive discussions along. And a very important point, these three leaders will come together at many, many points during these talks for face-to-face discussions.
I think that in some of the various briefings in Washington this morning we may have left you with the impression that that will not happen. That will definitely happen.
So in addition to the shuttling among the parties, the parties will come together when they are ready for face-to-face negotiations at these proximity peace talks.
When sufficient progress is made on the substance of these issues, on all of the issues -- territorial and constitutional -- that make up the peace negotiations, at some point, and with the agreement of the parties and the agreement of the sponsors, these talks will shift to France where there will be what will look and feel like a formal peace conference.
It is possible that there could be subsequent steps along the way after the meetings in France. There is no distinct and detailed road map now, but it is possible that there could be subsequent events that would finally allow the parties and the sponsors to consummate a final peace agreement.
This agreement, again, was put together over the last six days. Dick Holbrooke was in Sarajevo and Belgrade yesterday. He was working this issue then. During the evening, he had several conversations with Secretary Christopher and Strobe Talbott, and one of those conversations was at 4:00 a.m. He went back to Sarajevo again for talks. This morning he had several hours of discussions with President Izetbegovic.
As I said, he is now in Zagreb. He is reviewing point by point the cease-fire agreement and our proposals and suggestions for proximity talks with President Tudjman. I do want to reiterate that we fully expect, and we don't believe it will be a problem, that the Croatian Government, which is not a signatory to this agreement today, will be a full participant in the agreement to stop all offensive military actions in Bosnia as of one minute past midnight on October l0.
I would then expect between October l0 and October 25 that the United States peace delegation -- the U. S. negotiating team -- would conduct another shuttle round in order to further define and sharpen the issues among the parties to have the parties agree on a detailed and definite agenda for the talks and negotiations that will begin on October 25.
And again, just to remind, at the end of this briefing I intend to make available a couple of documents. One will be a very short document from the State Department just reiterating what has happened today.
The second will be the text of the cease-fire agreement. It is an eight-point agreement that was consumated this morning. I will attach to that the signature page, and on the signature page you will find the signatures of President Izetbegovic, who signed for Bosnia and the Federation, of Mr. Karadzic, Mr. Krajisnik, and General Mladic, who signed for the Bosnian-Serbs, and the witness signatures of President Milosevic and of Ambassador John Menzies, the American Ambassador in Bosnia.
Q Nick, what does the pull-out of the 9,000 U. N. troops from the former Yugoslavia mean for the ultimate military peace-keeping plans?
MR. BURNS: I don't think it is going to have much of an effect at all. There are tens of thousands of United Nations troops throughout Bosnia.
We have been notified by the United Nations and some of the member countries that these withdrawals would occur. I don't believe it will significantly weaken the ability of the United Nations to police the cease-fire, which the United Nations will do for sixty days after October l0. We fully expect that the United Nations will remain in Bosnia throughout this period of a cease-fire and the period where the negotiations for peace will take place here in the United States and in France.
Q What's the impediment with the Croatians, or impediments? And you say we expect that they will conform. Even though they may not sign, we expect that they will conform and become non-offensive militarily?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to leave any misunderstanding, and perhaps I am responsible for this, that somehow there is an impediment with the Croatians. I don't believe there is.
This was an agreement that was intentionally worked out only between Bosnia -- the Bosnian Government -- and the joint Serb-Bosnian Serb delegation in the shuttling.
The Croatian Government has been aware of this, but they were not party to it. The two warring parties inside Bosnia-Herzegovina are the ones who are primarily responsible for ceasing offensive operations.
Now, it is absolutely true that Croatia has troops as part of the Federation forces inside the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for Croatia to stand by this agreement and to honor all aspects of it; and that is why Dick Holbrooke is in Zagreb right now.
Q Do they want to?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Does Croatia wish to?
MR. BURNS: Well, I think we will certainly know more at the end of the meeting that Dick Holbrooke is having with President Tudjman, but we do not anticipate any problems. We have not been told by the Croatian Government that there will be any problems, and we certainly would not expect that to happen.
Let me just note one point, too. I want to get back to the cease- fire for a moment.
The cease-fire will last for sixty days, or until the completion of the proximity peace talks and the peace conference, whichever is later, which is another detail that I think we needed to clarify this morning for you. It's intended to be sixty days; but should the peace discussions in the United States or France extend beyond sixty days, then the cease-fire would extend beyond those sixty days with those discussions.
Q Did you mean to say -- is Milosevic coming here?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q When you were talking about the principals who would be coming to the peace talks -- ?
MR. BURNS: We expect that the three Presidents will come. As we have said before, President Milosevic is the Chair of the joint Serb- Bosnian Serb delegation; and it was always anticipated that he would take part in peace discussions.
So we would anticipate that he would come. You know, I think it is probably best to let the official announcements come from each of the capitals, but we would anticipate that these discussions would include the three heads of state of the three principal actors with whom we have been meeting since September 8 in all the multilateral discussions that we have had.
Q So is it your intention to keep this location secret? Is that it?
MR. BURNS: No, not at all. No. You know, we are still looking for the best location. Once we find the best spot, we'll let you know about it. There is no intention to keep this a secret at all. We just haven't determined what the best place is.
We are looking for a site and we would be glad to take suggestions from all of you.
Q Boston. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: Boston would be a great place. Unfortunately the World Series may not be in Boston, so Cleveland might be better.
We are looking for a site where we would be able to house the three delegations from the region, plus the Contact Group delegations that will be there, and all of the aides for all of those leaders who will be there, that will be big enough so that there will be a place for them to walk and exercise, because they may be there for a couple of weeks, or they may be there for longer than that.
We have not set a date. We have not set a time, a duration of these talks. You know, it could be a couple of days, it could be a couple of weeks. So we are looking for
that kind of a site that will afford them some privacy, and also some room.
Q When you say "Camp David style," that evokes memories of the two-week news blackout that was in effect while the parties were there in September of '78. Is there a news blackout contemplated this time?
MR. BURNS: You know, that's a good suggestion, George. (Laughter) We hadn't really thought of that, but now that you raise it, that's probably the best way to insure that these talks are successful.
We have spent all of our time -- Secretary Christopher and Dick Holbrooke have -- thinking about this cease-fire agreement. We have not given a great deal of time to thinking about all the ground rules that will pertain to all of us surrounding these talks. We will do that in the next couple of days, and as we define this further, we'll let you know about it.
But, thank you. I want to duly note George's suggestion for a news blackout. (Laughter) That was good.
Q Do you anticipate there will be Bosnian Serbs in the joint delegation, and, if so, do you have any idea who?
MR. BURNS: I would anticipate that there would certainly be Bosnian Serbs as part of the joint delegation. There were two Bosnian Serb officials in New York last week at the meetings at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations -- the Vice President and the Foreign Minister. I would certainly anticipate that.
I would not anticipate, however, that two very prominent leaders of the Bosnian Serbs would be present for these negotiations.
Q You're not giving them immunity.
MR. BURNS: I just wouldn't anticipate for a variety of well known reasons that they would participate. But it's up to them to decide, to make that announcement, not me.
Q Can you bring us up to date on the situation on the ground? There are reports that Croatia has sent additional troops in. What are the Bosnian forces doing, and what are the Bosnian Serb forces doing?
MR. BURNS: The United States is concerned about the recent increase in the fighting throughout Bosnia: in the Bihac pocket, the Bihac region, in western and central Bosnia, and just two days ago in Sarajevo within the 20-kilometer exclusion zone itself.
We have made clear to the Serbian Government, to the Bosnian Serb leadership, to the Bosnian Government leadership and to the Croatian Government that the recent increase in fighting is against their self- interest. It will accomplish nothing in any kind of broad sense on the ground except to cause further bloodshed.
The ground that was taken the last couple of weeks in the dramatic Bosnian-Croatian offensive is now being taken back in some respects by the Bosnian Serb counter- offensive. This just speaks to our fundamental view that a military solution is unattainable. We were encouraged in one very important respect by the signing of the cease- fire agreement because it implicitly acknowledges that a military solution is not possible.
So we're concerned by the fighting. We're also concerned by the allegations of human rights abuses that are being uncovered now that some of the territory previously occupied by the Bosnian Serbs has been liberated by the Bosnian Government. These are atrocities that surrounded the fall of Srebrenica and the allegations of mass executions of young Bosnian soldiers by the Bosnian Serbs.
In addition to that, as we discussed yesterday, we're very concerned by reports of allegations of Croatian atrocities when the Croatian troops moved into the Krajina region. Assistant Secretary Shattuck visited the Krajina last weekend to look into those directly. The United Nations is investigating those allegations.
We believe that all of these allegations must be fully investigated, and those responsible for them must be held accountable for them.
Q Are the Croatians moving additional troops into Bosnia, and, if so, where and are you trying to stop that, or do you want to countenance that to prevent the Serbs from recapturing a large portion of western Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: We have seen reports, and we are following up directly with the Croatian Government --
reports that a limited number -- I think 100-200 soldiers crossed the border in the last 24 hours into western Bosnia. This is an issue that, as I said, has been and will continue to be directly raised with the Croatians.
Let me just bring you back to Step No. 4 -- Article 4 of the cease- fire agreement that you will be looking at in a couple of minutes -- because I think it's relevant, Roy, to your question. Pursuant to the cease-fire, on the effective date that all parties will immediately insure that all military commanders issue and compel compliance with clear orders that preclude the following:
A. All offensive military operations.
B. Patrol and reconnaissance activities forward of friendly positions.
C. All offensive weapons firings, including sniper firing.
D. The laying of additional mines.
E. The creation of additional barriers or obstacles.
I think this wording -- and you'll read this in Article 4, paragraph 4 -- is sufficiently comprehensive that it's going to preclude all the types of military activities that we have witnessed over the last couple of months: the small-scale arms fire, the large-scale mortar shelling, and the offensive movements of troops all throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina.
So certainly we're calling upon the Croatian Government, as well as the others, to honor the letter as well as the spirit of that paragraph.
Q Nick, would you expect President Clinton to meet with the three Presidents in advance of their talks or to take a direct role in the negotiations? Because that was what former President Carter did.
MR. BURNS: I think that our concept for this is a little bit different than Camp David. Our view is that Dick Holbrooke, Carl Bildt and Deputy Minister Ivanov will be the main negotiators, intermediaries among the parties.
Whether or not a more senior official opens the conference or concludes the conference here in the United States is an issue that we need to consider and look at.
Any announcement, of course, would come -- if the President's involved, it would come from the White House, but I wouldn't lead you in that direction.
Q You would not.
MR. BURNS: I would not lead you in that direction at this point, no.
Q What are some of the pitfalls you see over the next 60 days? These cease-fire agreements have fallen apart in the past. And what kind of measures or special measures will the U.N. have in place to enforce this cease-fire?
MR. BURNS: I'm glad you asked that, because I think it's a particularly relevant question pertaining to military activities. The United Nations will continue to have authority on the ground to police the cease-fire, to police the heavy weapons withdrawal and cease-fire within the 20-kilometer zone around Sarajevo itself that was negotiated a couple of weeks back. NATO will continue to have the right and the duty and the obligation to proceed with its "Deny Flight" operations. You saw a dramatic demonstration of that yesterday when NATO did not hesitate to fire three Harm missiles at SAM-6 radar sites when the NATO planes, the F-18s, were illuminated. So NATO and the U.N. will continue their military responsibilities and duties.
If there are any violations of either the Sarajevo agreement or today's agreement, then NATO and the United Nations will be responsible for enforcing the rules of the road that have been agreed upon. I think that's a very important point.
I do want to go back to this point, however. This is a 60-day cease-fire -- 60 days or a longer period if the negotiations in the United States or the negotiations in France continue beyond the 60 days.
Q Do you regard the U.N. on the ground and NATO in the air as already having the authority to enforce -- to take enforcement action against the Bosnians or the Croatians should they violate the cease-fire or any of these other agreements?
MR. BURNS: I think that on a remote, theoretical plane, of course, that would be possible. However, the most egregious violations that have warranted at least NATO military responses in the past have been exclusively Bosnian Serb.
Q There have been some at least minor ones in recent days by the others.
MR. BURNS: There have been minor ones, and what we --
Q Are you going to put them on notice that they'll be bombed or they'll be --
MR. BURNS: We haven't had to resort to that kind of direct threat with the Bosnian Government or the Croatian Government because these are friendly governments to the United States and our Contact Group partners, number one.
Number two, we have been told by the Bosnian Government that there will not be a repetition of the incident of 48 hours ago when a few missiles were fired out of Bosnian Government-controlled territory within the 20-kilometer zone around Sarajevo; that that will not happen, because that could lead to a provocation that might induce the Bosnian Serbs to counter-attack, and we don't want to see that happen.
We have put the Bosnian Serbs on warning that any violation of the cease-fires that have been negotiated will be met with appropriate response, and that continues throughout this cease-fire period.
Dick Holbrooke is now in Zagreb letting the Croatian Government know that all offensive activities -- all offensive activities -- must be stopped by one minute past midnight on Tuesday.
Q Nick, the Secretary had hoped, I believe, to have this kind of announcement last week at the U.N. when all of these people were together, and it didn't happen. What has changed in the week that has passed that allows a cease-fire announcement at this point? Is it just a matter of negotiating -- more time for negotiating, or has something happened on the ground?
MR. BURNS: Steve, I can honestly say without any equivocation at all on my part that that was not an objective of ours last week. We never believed that a cease-fire was possible last week.
What the Secretary did, however, in his Monday afternoon meeting with the three Foreign Ministers in New York and also in the Tuesday meeting that he had with the Contact Group and the Foreign Ministers was say to them, "Once you have agreed on the expanded constitutional principles, you should turn your attention to a cease-fire."
So the Secretary put the cease-fire on the table; and, when Dick Holbrooke left on his shuttle mission, the Secretary's instructions were, "Pursue a cease-fire."
But I can tell you, there was never any realistic expectation that there would be a cease-fire last week. Frankly, a lot of us felt that expecting a cease-fire this week was probably too much for the market to bear, and that's why we were very pleased that Dick Holbrooke was able to make the progress that he did.
I can tell you in my own discussions with Dick Holbrooke yesterday, he rated the chances of success -- and this is in a private conversation; this is not public spin -- at less than 50/50. But he had a six-hour meeting with President Milosevic last night, and he had a multi-hour meeting this morning, and we were able to get the agreement. It was not easy to reach.
Q I have a question about another issue.
MR. BURNS: Beyond Bosnia?
Q Yes. Different question.
MR. BURNS: Okay. What we normally do is we'll stay on Bosnia, and then when we're finished with that, we'll go to your question.
Q Do you have anything about the NATO aspects -- how NATO will get involved in upholding not a cease-fire so much as a final agreement, and where the Russians come in?
MR. BURNS: I think, as you know, Secretary Perry is in Williamsburg today. He is discussing with his NATO Defense Minister counterparts exactly that question: What plan should NATO now make for a peace implementation force that would be, of course, implemented by NATO in the event that these negotiations that we have agreed upon today succeed. And we very much hope they'll succeed.
In addition to that, I think you know as well that we've had a series of intensive contacts with the Russian Government. The President was on the phone with President Yeltsin last week on this issue, among others. Secretary Christopher raised it with Foreign Minister Kozyrev, and we expect that there will be a high-level meeting this weekend in Geneva with the Russian Government to pursue this specific issue.
Q Is the idea that the Russians would come under NATO command or that there would be a rotating command, or can you give any sense of that very basic question?
MR. BURNS: We know what this arrangement will not be. The Russian Government will not be under NATO command -- the Russian military forces will not be under NATO command, number one. They will not be integrated into the NATO operation, number two.
Number three, there is no possibility of the United States agreeing to a rotating command for a peace implementation force. What we are going to be discussing this weekend in Geneva when the Defense Ministers get together -- and Strobe Talbott will be at those talks with Secretary Perry -- is something else.
It is a NATO implementation force, and options to be discussed on how Russia can cooperate with that NATO effort. So I think the proper sequencing would be Russia and NATO -- not Russia in NATO.
Q (Inaudible) if NATO would be defending -- would be posted in the Bosnian Government side -- the Bosnian Government entity rather, or do you anticipate that NATO would also be on the Bosnian Serb side?
MR. BURNS: That question hasn't been answered. We need to see the shape of the peace before we can define the shape of the peace implementation mission. So it's not possible to answer that question right now, Roy.
But NATO is making contingency plans, trying to think through what kind of force would be required, what numbers of troops would be required, where those troops would come from; thinking through options for roles, and we're thinking through very carefully within our government and now talking to the Russians about what role the Russians and others outside NATO could play to help enforce a peace.
But I don't think there's anybody on the Russian side or the American side who thinks that they can be mixed. These have to be distinct elements within one overall effort.
Q But could you have the Western countries on the one side -- the NATO countries on the one side and the Russians on the other side of the line? Is that a possible outcome?
MR. BURNS: Say that again.
Q Could you have the NATO countries on one side of the internal demarcation line and the Russians, perhaps, on the other side of the internal demarcation line?
MR. BURNS: We're just not at that level of specificity yet. We haven't gotten into that level of detail, because we're not sure where the lines are going to be. We don't know what the peace will look like when it is concluded, if it's concluded, at this peace conference.
Q Nick, at this peace conference, the Serbian butcher, General Mladic, is he coming for -- to the United States? If he comes, does the U.S., blame him as a war criminal? What are you planning to do with him?
MR. BURNS: I don't expect that he will make an appearance here in the United States. He and Mr. Karadzic are indicted war criminals by the International War Crimes Tribunal, and I think you know the rules of engagement inside the War Crimes Tribunal. Member states do have an obligation to let the War Crimes Tribunal know when there has been a sighting.
I'd just remind you when totally by surprise several weeks ago Messrs. Karadzic and Mladic walked through the door of President Milosevic's office and sat down with Dick Holbrooke -- we were unaware that they would do that -- the United States reported to the War Crimes Tribunal following that meeting that there had been this encounter, as we were obligated to do so under the terms of the War Crimes Tribunal.
I do not expect that either gentleman would be in the United States for this meeting.
Q Did you report -- did he report again after this latest meeting in Belgrade that he saw them again?
MR. BURNS: Dick did not see them in Belgrade. No. When Dick was in Belgrade for six hours of talks with President Milosevic, he did not meet or see either Karadzic or Mladic. Their signatures, which you will see on the page that I'm going to pass out, were obtained by President Milosevic -- I assume in Belgrade, I don't know for sure -- but there was no contact between the American delegation and those two members. There was contact, however, between the American delegation and other Bosnian Serb officials who we have seen in the past and whom I'm sure we'll see in the future.
Q New subject.
MR. BURNS: David.
Q What exactly do the Bosnians require be done about Gorazde for them to honor the cease-fire?
MR. BURNS: The Bosnian Government has asked -- and you'll see this, it's actually paragraph 7 -- that at one minute past midnight on October 10, all parties will provide for free passage and unimpeded road access between Sarajevo and Gorazde along two primary routes -- and they name the two routes in parenthesis -- for all non-military and UNPROFOR traffic. So not just for local military traffic but for civilian traffic as well.
I should point, I think, as the President and Sandy Vershbow pointed out this morning, that the Bosnian Government has conditioned the beginning of this cease-fire on a very important issue for them, and that is that full gas and electricity -- utility services -- will have been restored in the city of Sarajevo by the time that the cease-fire is due to go into effect.
That is why Ambassador Holbrooke decided we would have five days between today and the imposition of the cease-fire. We need to work on that particular aspect of this agreement -- turning on the gas and electricity in Sarajevo -- and we need to get the word out to all the various warring factions and the local militias within Bosnia- Herzegovina that there is a cease-fire to be effected.
Q Is it fair to assume that the U.N. forces on the ground are going to have to redeploy in order to -- onto the road to Gorazde, for example, in order to monitor the cease-fire and the other terms?
MR. BURNS: That is something that would seem logical, but I can't speak for the United Nations. I'm not a military person on the ground. It's something, I think, that should be addressed to them. But it would seem obvious that if new facts are going to be created on the ground as a result of the cease-fire agreement -- namely, two roads being open -- that would have to be monitored by the United Nations.
Q Are there any American personnel at all involved in the U.N. force or in assisting the U.N. force on the ground as it now stands, and is it contemplated that any would be going?
MR. BURNS: No. I don't believe there are any United States military forces on the ground who have been or will be a part of this effort.
Q Any U.S. -- not military necessarily, anybody?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. I don't believe there are any U.S. Government officials who are now or will be part of the effort to implement and police this cease-fire on the ground. As you know, we have troops in Macedonia, and we have some medical personnel in Croatia. They're part of a field hospital there.
I'm only aware of those two military contingents in the Balkans -- American military contingents.
Q What about the (inaudible) Sarajevo -- experts going over?
MR. BURNS: I don't know, Sid, if American Government experts will be involved in that. I do know that Ambassador Menzies has been directly involved in helping to negotiate this provision and will be monitoring it. I don't know if the Bosnian Government has asked for our assistance.
There's another positive aspect to this, and that is as a result of Prime Minister Silajdzic's trip to Moscow over the weekend, the Russian Government has said that it will be helpful in trying to help restore gas services to Sarajevo. This is the Russian gas company -- GAZPROM.
Q Nick, if I could follow up --
MR. BURNS: Let's go here first.
Q One question on the proximity talks. Do you hope that they will result in an initial peace agreement that would be formally signed in Paris later on, or what exactly do you expect the three Presidents --
MR. BURNS: We haven't worked out the exact transitional details, but I think our expectation is that these proximity peace talks are designed to make substantial progress towards a peace agreement. The heavy diplomatic work, the back and forth, the negotiations, would be centered on these talks. Then, of course, it will be necessary to convene in a more formal setting, certainly with higher level officials from the Contact Group side, at some kind of peace conference in France, and we'll be working out those details with the French Government.
Q Why does this all have to be -- why couldn't this have been done all in Paris or a European site? Why do they have to all be brought here?
MR. BURNS: We discussed this issue with our Contact Group partners and with the parties. I can tell you that the parties were determined that the United States continue
to play a central role. We thought that there might have to be several stages to the effort to make peace; that it might be just too difficult to convene some kind of grand, formal international conference and expect all of these difficult territorial and constitutional issues to be worked out at such a conference.
Therefore, we worked out a two-stage approach, whereby you would have very private, isolated, private talks in the United States, and then you'd have the convening of a formal peace conference, perhaps at a higher level, at some point later on.
We think that having the private talks in a secluded, isolated area will give us the opportunity to make better progress than if we were at some larger and more formal setting.
Q Nick, I wanted to follow up some of David's thinking and questioning. One, a little detail. Did the Muslims decide that Banja Luka could remain militarized? Did they drop that demand? And what about the other demands they made?
MR. BURNS: I think the answers to all those questions will be found in the document that I'll hand out afterwards. The only conditions that are offered here are the gas and electricity, the opening of the roads, and, of course, the cessation of all military activities. But you'll see it in writing, and these are the conditions to which the two parties have agreed.
Q Then, second, he was talking about the U.N. taking a peacekeeping role once again, as they have in other, I think, cease-fire times. Nick, will it be evaluated, or what if the U.N. can handle the peacekeeping role? What if the weather is such this winter that the cease-fire remains -- or the situation remains stable, will it be possible that NATO would not be required until spring or at all?
MR. BURNS: We just don't know what the timetable will be for the talks in the United States, the subsequent talks in France, and then when peace finally breaks out completely, the peace implementation force. We just don't know what the timetable will be. We'll have to take this one week at a time.
Q Then it is possible that NATO wouldn't even be needed, is it not?
MR. BURNS: Highly unlikely. I think the three parties have made clear that the achievement of a
comprehensive peace agreement will be in part dependent upon the commitment of the international community to deploy military forces to help implement the peace agreement.
Q Nick, speaking of comprehensive peaces, the Syrian Foreign Minister is here today, and how is that -- what's going into that, and are they probably still going on? What would you all like to see? What can you say about it?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher is having lunch right now with Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara. I believe that the agenda for these talks will center around the peace process, the Israeli-Syrian track. There will be some discussion, I think, of regional developments, and the bilateral relations between the United States and Syria.
What the Secretary would like to do is explore with the Minister how we can move the Israeli-Syrian track forward. We've not changed our views on the essential underpinnings of that track since the Secretary's last visit to the region in mid-June.
We continue to feel that moving ahead on the security arrangements is important. We believe for a long time that security experts should be involved in the discussions, and what is most important is to find ways to overcome the obvious differences that exist between Israel and Syria on the substance of these central security issues.
So that's what Secretary Christopher wanted to do with his lunch. We'll look for ways to bring both the substance and the procedure on the Israeli-Syrian track together to make progress.
Q What are your expectations, though? I'm sure you had preliminary conversations with Shara, so what do you expect?
MR. BURNS: Our expectations are that this is going to be very difficult, because, as you know, when the Secretary was in Damascus last, we felt that we had an agreement on a sequence of steps that would help the parties discuss the security issues. We have not been able to organize that sequence of steps beyond the first step. You have seen some of the remarks that have been made by the Syrian Government, by the Minister in his U.N. General Assembly speech. We've seen reporting from the Syrian Government press, and so forth.
So this is going to be difficult. The Secretary understands that these things in the Middle East, as in the Balkans, sometimes require an enormous amount of time,
patience, energy. He's been to the region 13 times. He is absolutely willing to go back when it will be useful for him to go back and when the parties think he should. He has no plans to go back, not prior to the Amman Economic Summit, which I believe he will help to open on October 30.
Q Nick, you have said that the security issue is still at the forefront. What is it you want done? The two military leaders over there to get back together again and work on it? Is that a requirement before the Secretary will return to the issue between Israel and Syria?
MR. BURNS: I can't really answer that question because the Secretary's lunch is continuing. They're obviously discussing this issue and other issues, and I'm just not in a position to give you a good answer to that question. We'll have to see what transpires in the meeting, what is the result of it and what are the results of subsequent discussions that we'll surely have with the Syrians and the Israelis.
Q You say when the parties think that the Secretary should return -- that would be one factor in his --
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q I assume they will be discussing the possibility of him shuttling again between Israel and Syria.
MR. BURNS: At some point that will be discussed. I'm not sure it will even be a major issue today. Today we have to look into the -- I mean, the Secretary intended to look into the substance of the differences between Israel and Syria on the security issues. We don't believe that there will be a shuttle mission beginning tomorrow or next week, and the next opportunity for some discussions in the region will probably take place October 30 and maybe the first couple of days in November. But we've not made any detailed plans. We've not made any commitments even to have those discussions.
Q Nick, on the subject of the Amman meeting, have you heard plans for Vice President Gore to lead the U.S. delegation to that?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe the Vice President's office has announced any such trip. I'm unaware that he has. We can check on that for you.
Q You hadn't heard that yourself?
MR. BURNS: You always hear rumblings of various things, but I'm not aware of any announcements.
Still on the Middle East. Okay.
Q Did the Secretary meet with the Israeli Ambassador today or yesterday in preparation for these?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary often meets with the Israeli Ambassador, the Syrian Ambassador. I have nothing to announce about appointments he may have had, though. Just nothing on that.
Q On China. Your Chinese counterpart said earlier today that the U.S. did not agree to a State visit by the Chinese President because of a lack of political will to make such a visit successful. Do you have any comment on that? Are you at all concerned about the implied Chinese bitterness that could make the New York summit less successful?
MR. BURNS: Oh, the Chinese shouldn't be bitter. We've turned a positive corner in the relationship. We're now working on the real issues in the relationship. The Secretary feels he had a very productive meeting with Foreign Minister Qian. We're not bitter. They shouldn't be bitter. We have come out of the deep freeze of the past summer. The Taiwan issue is receding, in terms of the time it takes to talk about that issue in our conversations. We arrived mutually, by mutual agreement, on a New York meeting. The Chinese Government agreed to that. That's what they wanted at the end of the day, and it's what we wanted at the end of the day.
State visits are few and far between in this Administration. They are held when it is appropriate to hold them.
Q Nick, you are saying that the Taiwan issue is receding, but that doesn't square with what the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said. He was saying that China is still not happy with what the U.S. has said about future visits by Taiwanese leaders.
MR. BURNS: I said, and I will say again, reiterate, that when we get together with the Chinese leadership, the amount of time taken up by the Taiwan issue has been decreasing dramatically since August 1 -- the August 1 meeting in Brunei. So at last week's meeting it was perhaps four or five minutes in New York during their nearly two-hour meeting. That's a positive sign.
The issue of Taiwan will always be part of the U.S.-China relationship. It will always be discussed by the two countries. Our position hasn't changed. China's position hasn't changed. China is very well aware of what our position is.
So we are not too worried about this. We think we have turned the corner. We think we can now get on to the really important issues that lie between the United States and China, those in which we agree and those in which we don't agree.
Q Speaking of Taiwan, do you have any comment on the large- scale military exercises that began in Taiwan earlier today?
MR. BURNS: No, I do not.
Q Could you look into that?
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to look into whether -- the facts of these exercises. I'm not sure we will want to comment on them, however.
Q On the Syria briefing, you noted that the Syrian press did have some editorials this morning. I'm assuming you saw them. Is that sort of rhetoric a positive sign, coming on the same day that the Syrian Foreign Minister is meeting with the Secretary of State, given the state of play and where they are?
MR. BURNS: Well, it is what it is, and we recognize it as such, and we have obviously noted the editorials, and we will move on from there.
Q It is what it is. Well, what is it? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: It is what it is. This is the Middle East. It is not unusual to hear these types of statements from the press there, not unusual. We have heard it before. Maybe we will hear it in the future. What really matters is what happens in negotiations, and the negotiations are taking place on the seventh floor today. That's what really matters.
Q (Inaudible) the United States has commented on the Syrian Government press in similar circumstances. You don't have anything at all to say about it?
MR. BURNS: No, this is not one of those days.
Q Can we move to Mexico for a minute?
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q Has the U.S. made any decision as to whether President Clinton will go to Mexico for an official visit?
MR. BURNS: Well, President Zedillo will be here next Tuesday for a State visit. We are looking forward to that. It's a very important visit. The White House would, of course, make any announcement about the President's travel. I have nothing to announce on that.
Q What would be the considerations for deciding whether he would go or not? In other words, what would you take into account, deciding on whether President Clinton would go to Mexico or not?
MR. BURNS: Well, those decisions are made by the President and his advisers based on a number of factors -- his schedule and so forth. But let me just speak to the broader relationship.
We feel that with the State visit just around the corner early next week, that U.S.-Mexican relations are in excellent shape. The President and the Secretary believe that they have a very, very good, close productive relationship with President Zedillo himself. The fact that the United States stood by Mexico during Mexico's economic crisis I think has been borne out to have been a very wise move, because Mexico's economy has rebounded.
We are cooperating on counter-narcotics efforts. We have very good cooperation on some of the immigration issues now, the border issues. We are looking forward to this visit. We have excellent relations with the Zedillo Government.
Q Isn't it a fact that President Clinton now has been the only President since Ford, I believe, that hasn't gone to Mexico? What message do you think that is sending to the Mexicans?
MR. BURNS: I think President Clinton has sent a message because of his championing of NAFTA, because of his public and strong support of the Mexican Government at a time of severe economic crisis, that he understands the importance of Mexico to the United States, and of the United States to Mexico. And President Clinton, I think, to be fair, has as good a record as any of his predecessors in paying attention to Mexico, in bringing this relationship into full view as a priority for our foreign policy.
He has spent, personally, a lot of time on this issue, as has Secretary Christopher. So I don't believe you should read anything into the fact that there hasn't been a visit yet. I think the State visit this week is meant to dramatize the importance of this relationship, and the good health of the relationship.
Q Thank you. How is the relations between Colombia and the United States in this time?
MR. BURNS: Well, not so great, actually. The relations are strained. Relations are strained. And relations are strained because some members of the Government and some members of the Colombian Congress have made some very unwise public statements over the last couple of weeks, some unfounded allegations about the activities of the United States concerning Colombia. And I believe you have seen us speak somewhat sharply in opposition to some of those allegations that have been made.
We are not pleased by the consistent litany of complaints made by certain members of the Colombian establishment about activities of the U. S. Government.
It is not conducive to good relations to have people affiliated with the Government or with the Congress of Colombia leak information to the press which is absolutely untrue. And that's why we have issued from this building some very sharp and clear statements.
We are looking for good cooperation with the Colombian Government. We have a common cause, and that is to fight the scourge of narcotics trafficking, and Colombia has a major problem with narcotics trafficking, and we have a major problem with narcotics consumption.
There ought to be common ground between the United States and Colombia, but the Government of Colombia has to make this effort a priority. And it has to conduct a relationship that is mature and professional. If there are differences between us, they should be aired in private. They should not be aired in public, as has been the case in the last couple of weeks.
Q Nick, is the State Department waiting or expecting a signed statement from the Colombian Government?
MR. BURNS: We are waiting for positive signs and constructive signs.
Q What kind of signs?
MR. BURNS: Of mature, professional behavior on the part of some people in the Colombian establishment, and they know who they are. We have been talking to them.
Q Does the State Department believe what the Government is doing now in its effort in the drugs war? Does the State Department believe what the Government is doing now about the drugs war?
MR. BURNS: We believe that the Colombian Government has to make a consistent effort to fight narcotics trafficking. There have been some successes in the past several months, and there have been some failures. And we would like to see more successes. We would like to see a better degree of cooperation. But I think beyond that, it is really the spirit of the relationship, it's the tone of the relationship, it's some of the unwarranted allegations that have come out of the Colombian Government and parliamentary circles that are quite disturbing to us.
Q Are there elements, Nick, in the Colombian Government that are impeding the international counter-cocaine effort?
MR. BURNS: There are some elements in the Colombian government that are helping to fight narcotics trafficking, and there are some that perhaps haven't made up their mind, and we would like to see a greater degree of cooperation.
Q I'm sorry. The question is about this issue is, is the government or the State Department going to have a signed statement today about the declaration of what the Congressman did yesterday?
MR. BURNS: It's very possible we'll have a formal statement on this. I'm just trying to give you some preliminary thoughts in anticipation of that statement, which we are looking over very carefully.
Q As you know, the Japanese have now asked for a renegotiation of SOFA in the meetings in Tokyo. Is the United States position now that we are open to negotiations on certain aspects of the SOFA agreement?
MR. BURNS: That is not my understanding of what the Japanese had asked for or what is happening. Ambassador Mondale and Foreign Minister Kono have agreed and have established a working group which has been meeting to review the implementation of the Status of Forces Agreement.
I am not aware that the Government of Japan has asked for a reordering of the Status of Forces Agreement or a renegotiation of it. I do want to say that contrary to some of the speculation, the Japanese Government has not requested a decrease in the number of American military personnel stationed in Japan.
We are talking about reviewing the implementation of the SOFA, the Status of Forces Agreement, because of the brutal attack on the young Japanese girl in Okinawa. And we are certainly willing to talk about consolidation of our military facilities, but that does not mean that we are going to talk about a decrease in the number of our personnel and the Japanese Government has not requested that.
So the key words are, "reviewing the implementation of the agreement." We are not renegotiating it.
Q Do you have a read-out on the U.S.-Japan ad hoc committee meeting which was held today in Tokyo?
MR. BURNS: I do not.
Q A last question, please, if I may. (Inaudible) excuses, the Colombian Government about the charges of the Minister Interior?
MR. BURNS: Well, I have just responded to that, I thought, with my rather lengthy remarks on the Colombian Government. You may see a statement from us a little later on.
Q All right. Thank you.
The briefing concluded at 2:09 p.m.)
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