U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/10/12 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, October 12, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Assistant Secretary Holbrooke: Press Briefing on Bosnia, Resumption of Shuttle Mission .............................1 Secretary Christopher: Mtg. w/U.S. Delegation to Proximity Peace Talks on Bosnia; Amman Economic Conference; Opening of Proximity Peace Talks on Bosnia ........................1-4 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Proximity Peace Talks on Bosnia: Location, Media Access .....4-7 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Amman Economic Conference ...................................7 Implementation of Israeli-Palestinian Agreement .............7-8 Syrian-Israeli Track/Military Talks .........................8-14 COLOMBIA Guillermo Pallomari Case ....................................14
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1995, 1:04 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. As you know, after my briefing, roughly two o'clock, perhaps a little bit later, Dick Holbrooke will come down for an ON-THE-RECORD briefing on Bosnia. He will be leaving this afternoon for New York and then to Moscow on Sunday night. He will be spending Monday and Tuesday in Moscow. He will then resume his shuttle mission in the Balkans, and he'll be here to talk to you about that at roughly two o'clock, give or take five or ten minutes.
I have one announcement to make and then I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Secretary Christopher will travel to Amman, Jordan, on Saturday, October 28th, to lead the U.S. Delegation to the Amman Economic Conference. He will be staying in Amman from October 29 to October 30th, two days, for the opening of the conference and for meetings there.
I think you know that this particular conference is part of our strategy to support the peace process in the Middle East, and specifically the economic dimension of the peace process.
The United States hopes, very much, that this particular conference will encourage regional economic cooperation and development, and that it will demonstrate a fundamental lesson of peace in the Middle East, and that is the peace pays; that the future of the peoples in the Middle East, of all the peoples, the Israeli people, the Palestinians, the Jordanians and others -- their future is best secured through economic development, through public and private economic cooperation.
We hope very much that American businesses will play a large role in this conference and that they will continue to play an even larger role in terms of American private investment in the economic life of the Middle Eastern countries.
On Monday, October 30th, Secretary Christopher will depart Amman and return to Washington, and then he will travel the next morning, on October 3l, to "Site X" somewhere along the eastern seaboard of the United States to preside at the opening of the U.S.-sponsored Proximity Peace Talks.
This is an exceedingly important priority for the United States and for the Secretary personally. He has been chairing our delegations daily meetings this week on Bosnia, which includes Richard Holbrooke and a number of other officials.
On Thursday, October 26th, the Thursday before the conference starts, the Secretary will have a special one-day meeting of all of the U.S. Government people involved in this effort at a site, also undisclosed, outside of the State Department. He intends to have a day- long intensive preparation for our delegation to get ready for the opening of what promises to be very difficult, complicated and complex discussions with the parties. Following that, a one-day conference that the Secretary will hold -- and this is again without, this is a U.S. Government conference that he will chair -- he will be departing for the Middle East and come back and do the Bosnia talks.
Peace in the Middle East and peace in Bosnia are among the highest priorities that the American people have, that the Clinton Administration has, and Secretary Christopher felt that it was very important for him to be in both places. He has been able to work it out and is scheduled to be in both places and to accomplish what we hope will be progress on both peace in the Middle East and peace in the Balkans.
Q He's not going to Damascus or Jerusalem?
MR. BURNS: He will not be going to other countries or other cities in the Middle East on this particular trip. The Secretary remains determined that the United States will play an aggressive role in helping Syria and Israel find peace in the future. Of course, he would be most willing to return to the Middle East at some point if it was appropriate, if the parties felt it was necessary, and if there was some prospect that his presence there would make a difference.
Those have been the factors that he has set out in the past for trips to the Middle East.
I think had there not been a Bosnia conference, the intention would have been to have taken a longer trip through the Middle East, but it is just not possible, because it is very important that he be here for the opening of these Bosnia talks.
Q Maybe a couple of technical things, very technical. I think you said the next day he departs. Is it the 28th or the 27th that he goes to Amman? Who is the head of the delegation? Vice President Gore was to, but is that all out of date now, for the Amman delegation?
MR. BURNS: Okay, let me review the timetable again. I hope I didn't unnecessarily confuse you, but I know there are a lot of dates there.
Q The 26th is the all-day conference.
MR. BURNS: Yes. October 26th, Thursday October 26th, the Secretary will repair to a site close to Washington, but not in Washington, to have a one-day conference with his advisers, and with all the people who will make up our delegation to the Bosnia talks, to review our strategy for the talks, to review the framework and agenda for the talks, and to review some of the logistics, and how we plan to help these talks succeed.
Q Is this "Site X" or "Y"?
MR. BURNS: No, this is "Site Y".
Q "Site Y."
MR. BURNS: This is "Site Y." (Laughter.) This will not be -- he will not be repairing to "Site X", he will be repairing to "Site Y."
Q For the record, we do not want the transcript to show --
MR. BURNS: Let us duly note that Reporter "A" asked about "Site Y." (Laughter.) This will be a place close to the State Department where he can get away from the phones, get away from the business, and sit down for six or seven hours with Dick Holbrooke, with a number of other people here from the Department and other agencies, and review, in all of its dimensions, the Proximity Peace Talks. That is Thursday, October 26th.
The 27th of October, the Secretary will be in the Department. On the 28th, Saturday, he will depart for Amman. We fly overnight, arriving in Amman, Sunday the 29th. The conference begins that day. The Secretary will lead the U.S. Delegation. He will be the Delegation leader. He will represent the United States at the opening of the Amman Economic Conference.
He will have bilateral meetings on the 29th and the 30th, and then I would expect sometime probably in the early afternoon perhaps of the 30th, he would depart for Washington, arriving in Washington sometime late in the evening probably of the 30th, and then on Tuesday morning, October 3l, he will depart Washington for "Site X" for the undisclosed and actually the unfound site where the United States will host the Proximity Peace Talks.
On that score let me just say that Assistant Secretary of State Pat Kennedy is continuing his efforts to discover the best possible place where we can host these talks. He has been charged with that mission by the Secretary. He is doing that today and will be doing that tomorrow. I expect he will make some recommendations to the Secretary over the weekend.
Q Well, now, if the Secretary won't go to the souk, will the souk come to him? Will you have in Amman the people that he would normally see if he had the time? Would you have specifically the Syrian Foreign Minister there or the Syrian President, though I doubt it? Will you have an Israeli representative -- someone on Peres's level, perhaps? In other words, will he do his Middle East diplomacy there or will he have, you know, an hour chat with some banker from Morocco or something?
MR. BURNS: Well, he is going to spend a lot of time on the 29th and 30th concentrating on the economic dimension of the peace process, which is important. In addition to that, I would expect that the Secretary would meet His Majesty, King Hussein, and if there are other colleagues in Amman, who would be interested in talking about issues beyond the economic dimension of the peace process, I am sure that will be possible. But right now, I am not aware of plans for a mini-summit on other issues.
Q No affiliation (?) the bank, as far as we know?
MR. BURNS: Well, I don't know who will be representing Syria at this conference. We'll just have to see.
Q Syria said they are not coming.
Q If I could just, Nick, when the Secretary presides at the opening of the Proximity Talks, will this be a speech that you will allow to be covered, or are you going to intend to close it off, as you are everything else?
MR. BURNS: We'll make that decision, I think, probably some time next week or early in the following week. For the most part, these Proximity Peace Talks will not be open to the American or international press corps. That is their intention. That is the reason why we are searching for "Site X" and not having the talks here in the State Department.
Whether or not the press will cover the opening of the conference is a very good question. We haven't made a decision yet, but we will make one and we will certainly communicate that to you.
Q Nick, what's the value in having peace talks if they are so totally under wraps and people don't see and hear at least the beginning of the process?
MR. BURNS: Well, as I said, we will make a decision about the beginning of the process. The larger answer to your question, I think, is we think the best way to succeed is to free the participants from the need to comment publicly on a daily or hourly basis or every time they get out of a car or leave a hotel, had the talks been in a city, about how they are doing.
We think that the Camp David talks, in the Carter Administration, succeeded largely because they created an environment that was conducive to private negotiations without regard, for the most part, to how they had to characterize their positions publicly.
That's the intention that we have here and we are going to stick to that.
Q Nick, I would suggest Camp David, and this isn't Camp David.
Q Will the delegations have access to telephones and be able to call --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Aren't these delegations going to have access to telephones and they will be able to be called?
MR. BURNS: I know that all the parties, the Croatians, the Bosnians, the Serbs, Bosnian-Serbs, have agreed with Dick Holbrooke -- and Dick will be here in just an hour to talk to you about this, and I am sure he will be glad to talk to you about it -- that they want to have an environment that will free them from the obligation of calling reporters or having press conferences or having photo ops. They want it that way. We want it that way, and our co-sponsors, the Russians and the European Union, want it that way. We are doing this intentionally so that we can succeed.
At some point, of course, whether it's here in the United States -- I would imagine it would be; certainly in France where the peace agreement would be signed -- at some point this will become a very public event where there would be press conferences and speeches.
It may happen that at the end of the events in the United States it would be public, but we're going to consciously create an environment that is most conducive to success. Therefore, we will not be setting up a press center within the confines of Site X. There will be no accommodations for the press there, and I think Ambassador Holbrooke will tell you when he gets here, there is no intention to give a daily brief.
I think what will happen is we here in the Department will be in communication with Dick Holbrooke and his team, and we'll be very glad to give you, every day at this briefing, an update on what has happened, who has met with whom, how the talks are going -- that kind of thing. We'll do that at this briefing.
We understand our obligation to report to the American press and to the American people, but that will be done in Washington, not at the site.
Q Camp David did have a press center, and it had daily briefings -- in fact, twice a day, I think, if I remember right --
MR. BURNS: That will be done here.
Q And, of course, there were events surrounding. For instance, the President took Sadat and Begin to Gettysburg and --
MR. BURNS: Sure, I remember that.
Q -- that was a very nice story, and went to a little town there, and the White House was glad to publicize that. They didn't publicize the fact that a couple of times Sadat and Begin were packed up and ready to go home, but there was a press center. And it would just make it easier. I mean, it's the old story, you know. We are going to write stories once or twice a day --
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q -- and if the U.S. Government wants to have a say and get its views reported, fine, you set up a situation, and we will be happy to listen to what you have to say. And, if you want to operate in secrecy, we will have to do the best we can, and it won't always be with U.S. sources, unfortunately.
MR. BURNS: Understood, Barry.
Q And these sources are not, you know, what you call practiced democratic sources. (Laughter) But they probably enjoy the arrangements.
MR. BURNS: Understood. We're doing it for good reason. We'll try our best to keep you in touch with events, but we are determined to make this as easy as possible for the participants. When we get closer to the events, we'll certainly describe for you what we can do to accommodate your interests and how we'll do that in some detail. We'll be glad to go through that with you.
Q Go back to Amman. Apparently, the Palestinians are threatening to boycott the economic summit if the Israelis don't fully implement the West Bank Accord. Have you heard anything about that?
MR. BURNS: I have not heard that -- certainly not through official channels -- and we think there's every reason for this conference to be a success. The Palestinians have a stake in the conference. The Israelis do, and other peoples do. We would fully expect full participation at this conference.
I say that, really, in isolation of the problem to which it is apparently linked, which is implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement. That is a process that really has to be worked out, obviously, by the two parties, and we have every reason to think that they will work out their problems.
Q To what degree does the U.S. think there's a problem with implementation of that agreement?
MR. BURNS: We're following it closely, because we have a stake in it, and we had a stake in bringing it about, and we're in touch with Israel and the Palestinians on and a daily basis about it. We've chosen not to take sides publicly, not to try to comment in any level of detail about the problems, because we think it's important that they work them out without the public interference of any third country like the United States.
Q Nick, is this the kind of problem that you all foresee being brought to this working group that was established after the signing of the Oslo-B?
MR. BURNS: That again is a decision that Israel and the Palestinians would make. At this point we're not going to unilaterally make a suggestion that they repair to a working group. There is a working group in existence to help in the implementation, but I don't believe that has been exercised yet.
Q Neither side has requested (inaudible)?
MR. BURNS: I can check on that. Let me check. I don't believe so, but let me check.
Q Do you agree that the fact that the Secretary is not making a larger swing through the Middle East -- specifically, going to Damascus and Jerusalem -- that this is the clearest sign yet that this track is in the cellar.
MR. BURNS: No. I wouldn't agree, for the following reason. I think had there not been scheduled for October 31 or sometime that week the Bosnian talks, I think the Secretary would have made a longer trip through the Middle East.
The fact is as Secretary he's responsible for global issues, and we have two major priorities now that need to be worked on, and he'll do both. That does not mean that he is not determined and committed to keep working on the problems of the Syrian-Israeli track. He spent a lot of time with Minister Shara last week.
Dennis Ross is in touch every day with the Syrians and the Israelis, and I think our perspective here, Carol, is that this is a very tough track. The problems are extremely difficult. It's true that we have not made as much progress as we had hoped when we were last in the Middle East and Damascus and Jerusalem in mid-June.
But the Secretary is determined that the United States will continue to play an active role. Someone asked the other day whether it was time to give up. On the contrary, it's time to start again to try to achieve momentum on this track.
If we learn anything from the Israeli-Palestinian track, it is that you've got to have patience. You've got to work problems day by day, and sometimes they take months, even years to work out.
But since we've had so much -- since the Israelis and Palestinians have had so much success together, we believe that ultimately -- whenever "ultimately" is -- the Syrians and Israelis can have comparable success. It's certainly not a time for the United States to give up. It's a time for the United States to stay focused on this problem, and the Secretary will do that.
Q Nick --
MR. BURNS: Did you want to respond?
Q I was just going to say that, you know, rhetorically, I understand that you're keeping engaged. But if there was any real hope of achieving anything in the near future, he'd be going out there. He'd either have gone by now, or he would have a date certain by which he would go back. It just seems despite the fact that, you know, you stand up there publicly and keep asserting U.S. determination -- I mean, the U.S. can be determined as it wants, but if the parties aren't ready, then obviously nothing will happen.
MR. BURNS: The fact that the U.S. is determined does make a difference and can make a difference in this part of the world, and I think we've shown that over the course of a number of Administrations.
I don't believe there's any imminent progress, dramatic breakthroughs, that will be made on this track next week or the week after or the week after that. It's a long-range process. It's something that we've got to stay focused on.
If the Secretary felt that by going to Damascus tomorrow, he could help the Israelis and Syrians achieve an agreement, of course he would go. This is a long-range process. We've got to help the parties work through a number of differences, and we'll do that.
He will go back to the Middle East after Amman whenever it's necessary and whenever we feel that by going there -- whenever he feels that by going there he can make a positive difference, he won't hesitate to do that.
Q Nick, you said the problem was -- go ahead, I'm sorry.
Q Can I ask, from a slightly different standpoint, the question that Carol's asking? You've not referred specifically to going back to Syria. President Assad has not kept his word -- the word that he gave to Secretary Christopher to have two levels of military talks. He did not send people here for the second set of talks. Is the Secretary prepared to go back to Syria and discuss this before President Assad sends that military delegation to Washington?
MR. BURNS: There have been problems in the implementation of some of the understandings that we had in mid-June when the Secretary was last in the Middle East. The Secretary will go back to the Middle East when it will be fruitful for him to do so.
Q Will he go back to Syria?
MR. BURNS: I think if the Secretary makes a trip through the Middle East, through a number of countries, Syria would be one of the countries on the list. But he'll go there and he'll make that trip when we think it has a fair chance of being productive. That's usually the standard that you have in these type of affairs.
Meanwhile, the Secretary will be in Amman. He'll have a number of discussions beyond the business discussions with companies from Morocco and elsewhere, with other regional leaders on some of these political issues pertaining to the negotiations.
There is the telephone that was used to very great effect by the Secretary and Dennis Ross at the end of the last round of the Israeli- Palestinian talks, and there are meetings in Washington, like the meetings that were held last week with Syrian Foreign Minister Shara.
So it's not as if by not going on a full-fledged swing through the Middle East, our diplomacy is moribund. On the contrary, Dennis Ross is working it hour by hour, and the Secretary pays attention to these issues on a daily basis. He had a long discussion on the Middle East with his advisers yesterday.
Q Nick, after the Amman summit, will Dennis be going -- staying on and going around the region in place of the Secretary?
MR. BURNS: I don't know what Dennis' specific plans are, but I will look into that for you and try to get you an answer.
Q Dennis or Mark (inaudible) -- Mark Parris, anybody -- will anybody be going on to (inaudible) --
MR. BURNS: That's a fair question. Let's try to get you an answer to it.
Q Nick, you described this as a long-term process, and I think "process" by definition includes as part of its meaning "movement." Has there been any movement since Assad backed out of the second round of military-to-military talks that would then uphold your definition of "process" here?
MR. BURNS: There's certainly a process. Now, on movement, we certainly have not seen since June the kind of movement for which we had hoped. The Secretary felt that after his meetings last week with Minister Shara, that they have been good meetings; that they'd helped to clarify a number of the differences between the Israelis and the Syrians and had helped to clarify for us what obstacles lay in front of an agreement in the future.
But I can't point to any dramatic progress that was made in the talks last week, and we'll continue to look for that. We'll keep focused on that.
Q Do those two days of talks reverse the interest the State Department had in having military talks? Have you concluded that they aren't necessary, or would you still like to have them?
MR. BURNS: No, I don't believe we've concluded that. I know that we still think that military discussions would be useful and probably necessary ultimately for a resolution of the problems on the Golan and other problems between Israel and Syria.
Q And, listen, when you said the -- I can't think of a more difficult area than Israel, than the West Bank, and yet the two sides have come to some agreement. You said the issues are difficult -- the problems are very difficult. Are the players very difficult, or are the problems very difficult? What's difficult? Where's the difficulty -- the issues really or, you know, the attitudes of the two sides?
MR. BURNS: The issues are clearly difficult. I think you have a better appreciation of that than most people. The two countries -- Syria and Israel -- are talking about their future security and how their future security can best be insured, through resolution of a very difficult problem, and that is the Golan Heights.
So the problems are inherently difficult -- that is true. Any time you get into negotiations, personalities do factor, and sometimes they factor positively and sometimes they factor negatively. I think the Secretary feels that he has a good relationship with the negotiators and his counterparts both in Israel and in Syria; that he is able to talk to them openly; that he's able to make constructive suggestions to them.
I don't think there's an intrinsic problem on the personality side, but I think that the problems are difficult for historical reasons and for reasons having to do with perhaps differing conceptions of the national security interests of both countries.
Q Nick, one of the levers of persuasion that the Administration has been using on the Syrians particularly has been that there is a window of opportunity which is closing. How close to closed is that window right now?
MR. BURNS: The window's not closed. It's not closed. It was clearly open March, April, May and June -- throughout the summer. There will come a time in 1996 -- and the Secretary has said this many times -- when both the United States and Israel will begin to conduct in our democracies very long political campaigns. In such an environment it is sometimes difficult for the heads of state or at least the heads of government in countries like that to spend as much time as they would like on some of these very time-consuming problems like Middle East peace.
So we certainly hope that in the coming months, where the window will remain open, both Syria and Israel will try their very best and try very hard to make progress on these issues.
Q Well, you may have been so involved with Bosnia and the Middle East you have not noticed that there is in fact a Presidential campaign already operating in this country. Do you think that campaign or the beginnings of that campaign are beginning to affect the diplomacy or the ability of the United States to now conduct diplomatic mediating effects?
MR. BURNS: No. You're the ones who have lived here through election years in Washington. If you look at most election years, they sometimes become very complicated, and they sometimes can limit an Administration's ability to pursue to the fullest extent our foreign policy.
But that's not the case right now. Just in the last couple of weeks, the United States has brokered an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. We have led now the effort to broker a cease-fire which took place last evening -- which went into effect last evening, not fully -- and we can talk about that -- and we now are going to be hosting peace talks.
We have a very active relationship with the Russian Government, with the Chinese Government. The President will be meeting with both leaders the week after next, so this is a foreign policy that is active, that is moving forward and is highly successful at the moment. There's nothing that I can think that would point to any kind of impediments on this Administration in the conduct of its foreign policy.
In fact, I think the President and Secretary feel that we've got to continue to put a lot of muscle into these foreign policy problems, because they're so important to the future of our country, and we're doing well. We are moving forward on some of the most intractable problems that we have.
Q Following up on Barry's comment about the elections next year, shouldn't --
MR. BURNS: Which elections?
Q The United States --
MR. BURNS: And Israel.
Q -- and the Israeli elections. Shouldn't President Assad conclude from that, that the longer he waits and the closer both other countries get to the elections, the more anxious they will be to get a deal, and the more they will sweeten the pot for them?
MR. BURNS: No, I don't believe that's the case at all. I think that if you look at the environment in Israel, the Israeli Government is going to make decisions based on its own conception of its own national security interests, and I don't believe that's the case at all.
Q Nick, does the Administration think that Syria has a point when they say that an Israeli early warning station on the Golan Heights would violate their sovereignty?
MR. BURNS: I think we are an intermediary between Syria and Israel, and to be a constructive intermediary I think -- with all due respect, it's a very good question -- with all due respect I think we'll keep our views on that issue private for the parties.
Q But you do have views on the issue?
MR. BURNS: We have views on all of these issues, yes, and we put those views forward to both Syria and Israel. Our ability to be helpful to them and to be an effective intermediary is based upon our credibility and the fact that we will keep negotiations private.
Q We're considering breaking off, if we could. I don't know if there are some questions.
Q Yes, questions on another issue. Guillermo Pallomari. There have been press reports that he might be allowed to testify in cases where narco-traffickers are being tried in Colombia. Is there any truth to that?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything for you. That's really a matter for the Justice Department, not for the State Department. Any questions --
Q One more question. Not a follow-up, but it's the same subject. What's your take on these publications in Colombia that have said that Pallomari has already given substantial information to the U.S. authorities, and the Justice Department seems to feel that there's absolutely no truth to that. But I want to hear what you have to say about it.
MR. BURNS: He came to this country on his own initiative. It is true that he has had a number of conversations with officials in Washington from several government agencies, but at this point I have nothing to say on the nature of those conversations.
Q If I could follow. Does the State Department believe that Mr. Pallomari has veracity -- is a good witness?
MR. BURNS: That's another question. I'm just not willing to comment on any aspect of the Pallomari case.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:34 p.m.)
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