U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/10/13 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, October 13, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Welcome to 1995-1996 White House Fellows ................1 Senator Sasser's Confirmation Hearings ..................12 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Status of Ceasefire/Fighting in Northwest ...............1-3,9 Banja Luka: Reports of Expulsions/Ethnic Cleansing ......3-9 Srebrenica: Numbers of Refugees/Missing .................10 Proximity Peace Talks: Location, Media ..................10-12 HONG KONG U.S. Support for Democratic Development .................12-13 CHINA U.S.-China Summit in New York ...........................13-14 Commerce Secretary Brown's Trip to Beijing ..............14-15 Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement ...15-16 CHINA/TAIWAN Military Exercises ......................................16 Report of U.S. Gov't. Blocking Dam Project ..............16 ARMS CONTROL Landmines Protocol/Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons ...17 CUBA President Castro's Visa Request .........................18 NORTH KOREA Nuclear Framework Agreement .............................18-19
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1995, 1:04 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
As you know, yesterday I announced that Secretary Christopher would be going to Amman for the Amman Economic Conference; and the sign-up sheet for that trip has been posted. It will be taken down on October l7 -- just to let you all know that.
I'd like to welcome the l995-l996 White House Fellows, who I believe are seated here, and here (indicating) -- is that right? Welcome. They are spending a day in the State Department. They have met with Deputy Secretary Talbott, and I think Jim Steinberg -- Director of Policy Planning -- and a number of others. I think all of you know that this is an outstanding group of professionals from across the United States. They spend one year in the Government working at the White House and other Federal agencies, and you're most welcome.
And with that, George? I'd be glad to go to your questions.
Q The Serbs, as I understand it, are accusing the Muslims of cease-fire violations and want NATO to retaliate. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen any Serb request for NATO retaliation. That's an ironic request, and I have not seen any official reference to it.
I can tell you that I think based on reporting from our Embassy in Sarajevo, and also based on reports from the United Nations, the cease- fire appears to have taken hold throughout most of Bosnia-Herzegovina. That's certainly true of Sarajevo and true for most regions of the country.However, there has been continued fighting in the northwest, around Sanski Most. When the cease-fire came into effect in the early morning hours of October l2, this is where the rival armies were in battle; and they, for the most part, have not stopped fighting. They continue to fight over that strategic town.
There have been various reports that some of that fighting in the northwest may have tapered off a bit, but that has been contradicted, frankly, by other reports. Consequently, the Secretary got on the phone early this morning with Assistant Secretary of State Dick Holbrooke, who is in New York City this morning, and they agreed that the United States had to make an effort today to try to convince the parties to cease and desist.
Dick Holbrooke has just been on the phone, just in the last couple of hours, with the Serbian Foreign Minister -- Minister Milutinovich -- to advise him that we believe the Serbian Government should use its influence with the Bosnian Serbs to try to end the fighting in the northwest. And our Ambassador in Sarajevo, John Menzies, called President Izetbegovic with the same message: that the Bosnian Government should stop its military activities in the northwest. Ambassador Peter Galbraith in Zagreb was in touch with the Croatian Minister of Defense with the same message.
I think Dick Holbrooke intends to try to reach President Izetbegovic directly this afternoon if he can do so.
The United States calls on all parties in Bosnia to stop the fighting. They can achieve far more at the negotiating table than they can on the battlefield. There is no reason for this fighting. Due to the ebb-and-flow nature of the military action on the ground over the last couple of weeks, there haven't been any significant territorial gains made in that part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but there has been a significant amount of bloodshed that has been caused by this fighting.
They have all agreed that there will be a cease-fire throughout the country. It is in place in most parts; it now needs to become comprehensive. And we feel strongly about this, as do all of our partners in the Contact Group -- the Russians, the European Union, and the other European members of the Contact Group. That is the line that we will continue to take and the arguments that we will continue to use with the parties.
Q Yes. Nick, the Bosnian Serbs, I believe, have threatened to break the cease-fire accord -- they say there is an offensive in progress by the Muslims. The Muslims have threatened to break the accord over the refugee matter in that particular area of Sanski Most. But Muslims have signed on the dotted line to this cease-fire. Why won't they live up to it?
MR. BURNS: All the parties have committed to a cease-fire, and all the parties should live up to it. The Bosnian Serbs should have concluded some time ago that the tide of the war had turned against them, that it is not in their self-interest to continue fighting, because if you look at the forces arrayed against them -- the combined forces in the Federation of Croatia and Bosnia -- they had begun over the last couple of months to make serious and rather dramatic inroads into Bosnian Serb-held territory throughout the lasts couple of months.
So any threat to break the cease-fire and resume fighting would seem to us to argue against the self-interests of the Bosnian Serbs.
We're going to counsel all of the parties to stop this fighting. What they ought to be concentrating on now is the Proximity Peace Talks that will begin here at Site X somewhere in the United States on October 3l. That's where they can achieve a resolution of the problems that are causing this fighting.
Q (Inaudible) the Muslims are the principal aggressor here. Do you see it that way, and is it not up to the --
MR. BURNS: It depends when you take the snapshot, when you try to capture a moment in time, because the Bosnian Serbs were aggressors for well over three years. And just last week the Bosnian Serbs launched their own counteroffensive out of Banja Luka and into western and northwest Bosnia.
It's certainly true that earlier this week the Bosnian Government counterattacked as well and was able to take the town of Sanski Most just hours before the cease-fire went into place.
So I think that one can say quite objectively that both the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serbs have initiated fighting over the last couple of days, and we think it's in both of their interests to stop that kind of action.
Q Does the U.S. Government have any evidence to back up reports that the Serbs have reopened their concentration camps in certain areas?
MR. BURNS: That's a question that we've tried to look into quite carefully. We do not have U.S. Government officials in Banja Luka -- which, Jim, I believe, is the area that you're talking about, where these reports come from.
There are officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees who have been in Banja Luka and around Banja Luka over the past couple of days.
We have received some information from these international civil servants. Most of the information we have are from press accounts and accounts from refugees who've reached the town of Zenica from Banja Luka, and these are Moslem refugees and Croatian refugees who have been expelled.
It is unclear to us if they've reopened concentration camps. We would be very naive, indeed, to believe what the Bosnian Serbs are saying in public since we know what happened in mid-July around Srebrenica when six- to eight-thousand men disappeared and remain unaccounted for, and when 43,000 people were driven from Srebrenica to Tuzla. We know what happened then. We know what the Bosnian Serb military is capable of, and they're capable of the most base brutalities. It seems to us that the reports coming out of Banja Luka are credible.
We have called upon the Serbian Government, as Dick Holbrooke told you yesterday, to use its influence with the Bosnian Serb military leadership, and with even rogue elements like Arkan -- so-called "Mr. Arkan" -- to stop their brutalization of the Croatian and Moslem populations of Banja Luka.
Just this morning, Dick Holbrooke sent a message to President Milosevic with a very stern warning that this type of action must stop. This message obviously condemned what we think has gone on, and called on the Serbian Government to use its influence with the Bosnian Serbs to have these actions stop.
Let me try to give you a dimension of the problem as we see it.
We believe that in the past month or so, 40,000 new refugees from Sanski Most and Mrkonjic Grad have gone into Banja Luka, adding to the l20,000 Bosnian and Krajina Serb refugees already in the area.
In addition to that, since mid-August, it appears that 22,000 Croats and Muslims have been expelled from Banja Luka; and since October 4, we believe roughly 4,000 people have been expelled from Banja Luka.
Now, those figures are notional because there's not been a scientific accounting of the number of refugees who have been driven from their homes, nor do we know how many people have been summarily executed by the Bosnian Serbs over the last couple of days. But we're looking at atrocities of a major magnitude.
If you look at these numbers -- and it breaks down to two categories -- the vast majority of these people are victim of the so- called "ethnic cleansing." They are being removed from Banja Luka because the Bosnian Serbs would like Banja Luka to be a totally Bosnian Serb town as they look towards peace negotiations, and they are being expelled to areas held by the Bosnian Government.
We saw the same type of activity occur when the Croatian army went into the Krajina, where tens of thousands of Serbian residents of the Krajina were expelled; and most of them, as I've just said, fled towards Banja Luka. So we're looking at mass movements of populations as these countries get ready, unfortunately, to battle at the negotiating table.
That's a very serious set of activities that requires, I think, the sternest possible reprimand from the international community and the greatest possible investigation by the international community.
But what is deeply troubling are the additional reports that, along with this mass movement of population, there have been executions, reprisals for supposed past transgressions by the Moslem and Croatian populations, and there have been disappearances of many hundreds of people, we think, over the last week or so from Banja Luka.
We don't have U.S. Government officials there, so what I've told you -- at least the numbers -- are notional numbers, but we believe these are credible reports.
Q Nick, what did Holbrooke say to Milosevic in terms of this warning? I mean, did he threaten him with any kind of action if this didn't stop?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to go into the specifics of what we said, Carol, for obvious reasons. It's a private, diplomatic communication. But I'll be glad to say that I think at this point the Serbian Government's posture has been that it is against this type of activity. It has said it's against the ethnic cleansing. It has said that it is against the atrocities that have been committed.
So at this point we would like to believe that the Serbian Government would use the influence that it clearly has with the Bosnian Serbs to both investigate these allegations and to try to do something to stop them completely.
We are willing to work with the Serbian Government and with all other authorities in the area, including the Bosnian Serbs, to try to get these activities stopped. There will come a time when we perhaps have to consider other options and consider perhaps a different kind of communication to them. But they remain, I think, options for the future.
Q Are you talking about military action? Is that what you're --
MR. BURNS: I'm not talking solely about military action or even specifically about it. But I'm not ruling anything out, and we at this point are not ruling -- we're not ruling anything out. At this point I think we're going to concentrate on diplomatic discourse, at least for the next couple of days.
Q Nick, what sort of military action could possibly stop that sort of activity in an urban environment other than a commando raid?
MR. BURNS: I think it's true to say that any attempt to relieve the suffering by an outside military attack on Banja Luka could not succeed right now, because Banja Luka is a city in chaos. It's a city of shifting populations where the different ethnic groups are mixed up and some people have lost their homes and some people are rushing in to take their homes of the refugees that have been forced to flee. Other people are disappearing. There have been executions, we know.
So I don't think it's a situation where military force can be used effectively. But certainly the people who are committing these crimes have to understand that the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal is going to look into these activities; that they will be held accountable for these actions.
The people who should take this message most seriously are the leaders of the Bosnian Serb military -- Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic. They are indicted war criminals for brutalities that we believe they committed several years ago. Those indictments may now be buttressed by further information from some of the refugees who are fleeing Banja Luka.
Q (Multiple questions)
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, Sid. Let's go back to Sid, David, then we'll go to you.
Q But they are indictments that will probably never be enforced, so what type of leverage do you have other than threatening them with indictments that will never be served, because they'll never leave the greater Srpska.
MR. BURNS: It is true that the United Nations does not have the capability now to march into Pale and arrest them and bring them to justice in Geneva or The Hague or elsewhere. It is also true that Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic are not free to travel anywhere in the world outside of the Balkans at this moment or any time in the future as long as these indictments are valid and are current by the War Criminals Tribunal.
I think that is leverage as these people look to their personal futures. I think there's also leverage here that the international community has with others in the region who may have influence on these activities.
Q Nick, two specific questions. Number one, in Mr. Holbrooke's letter or in any other communications with the Serb Government, has the possibility been raised that the Serb Government ought to be investigating and perhaps bringing charges against a man who is, after all, not a Bosnian Serb but a Serb-Serb -- the man who calls himself Arkan. He's a citizen of the country that Mr. Milosevic is President of.
Secondly, you say that the reports out of Banja Luka seem credible to you. I want to make sure I understand which reports you are referring to. Do you regard as credible any reports that you may have seen of large-scale executions, large numbers of people being executed?
MR. BURNS: What is credible -- to take your second question first -- are what we believe are reports, first and foremost, of people being expelled from their homes and forced to leave the Banja Luka region for areas controlled by the Bosnian Government.
What appears to us also to be credible are the reports of detention of people of all ages, disappearances of large groups of boys and men, and rapes of young girls and women. We would be naive in the extreme to disregard these reports. There were so many of them during the last week from varied sources. We would be naive to disregard them, knowing what happened in Srebrenica just three months ago.
That's been documented by thousands of people who were the victims of Bosnian Serb aggression. So while we don't have a complete accounting, David, of what's going on, we certainly conclude that there's a major problem.
The problem in defining exactly how many people may have been killed in the last week by the Bosnian Serbs is a large one, because we don't have people on the ground. The UNHCR and the Red Cross are delivering humanitarian goods, but they do not have as a mission right now to try to survey the city to find out what has happened.
Most of the reports of murder come from refugees who have fled Banja Luka and have gone to Zenica, and they have been interviewed there by the press and by the United Nations. We're getting most of our information in that respect from the United Nations.
Q Nick, you used the phrase --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me. Let me just -- I'm sorry, I forgot the first part of David's question.
It is entirely appropriate for the United States to direct its attention this week to the Serbian Government in Belgrade, which undoubtedly has influence on the actions of the Bosnian Serbs -- has had influence in the past, does have influence, and will have influence in the future.
They have a joint negotiating team for the peace talks that we're going to be sponsoring in just a couple of weeks. We believe there is influence there. You referred to this criminal who calls himself "Arkan." We do know, and the United Nations knows, a lot about his past activities, and there are too many press reports that place him in Banja Luka over the last couple of weeks, and too many press reports that designate him -- these are refugees now -- who designate him as one of the people leading these activities.
Are we concerned about the fact that he may have a house in Belgrade and is a citizen of that country? Yes. And it's up to the government of that country to make sure that it uses all of its influence to stop these activities, because I think there's influence from Belgrade.
But I think first and foremost, international pressure has to be directed, and the memory of what has happened has to be directed at Mladic and Karadzic, because they are directly responsible for the 80,000-odd people that they have in the field that constitute the Bosnian Serb army.
Q There are two issues we've been discussing here, one having to do with the cease-fire and violations of that, and then the atrocity issue. You seem to be dismissing or at least putting the onus on the Serbs for violating the cease-fire. Are you seeming to let the Muslims take a slide on this because you're more concerned about the atrocities and you just lay most of the blame for the whole war on the Serbs?
MR. BURNS: In general, our view of the Bosnian war has been that the Bosnian Serbs are primarily and in many cases almost wholly responsible for much of the suffering, but most particularly for the human rights abuses that have occurred consistently for the last four years. That has been documented, and it's no mistake that almost all the people who have been indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal are Bosnian Serbs.
Having said that, we are disappointed in both the Bosnian Serbs and in the Bosnian Government for the continuation of fighting in the northwest, and we have made our displeasure and our opposition to the continued fighting known to both the Bosnian Government and to the Bosnian Serbs.
There have been times when one has been the clear aggressor, and there have been times when the other has. In explaining what we have done this morning, I noted that there's been one phone call to President Izetbegovic and there will be another in the next couple of hours. So we're not simply turning our glance away from Sarajevo. We're not winking at this. We don't think it's helpful to us or to the Contact Group efforts to have this fighting continue.
Should the fighting continue in the northwest or elsewhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina, we'll continue to let the parties know that we don't think this is the right way to proceed. This will not deter us, however, from proceeding with the diplomatic track. That's very important.
It's very important that we not allow any of this fighting to deter us from convening the peace talks here on October 31.
Q You used the figure in the incident in Srebrenica in July of six to eight thousand people missing. That's substantially higher than the numbers that were being used at the time, which were, I recall, two to three thousand.
Is that new figure the agreed consensus figure of international agencies?
MR. BURNS: You're referring here to Srebrenica.
MR. BURNS: The two figures that I think are most generally used are numbers of refugees and numbers of missing people. It's, I think, commonly accepted there are around forty-three, forty-four thousand refugees caused by the fall of, the brutalization of Srebrenica in mid- July.
I believe it's also commonly accepted by the United Nations and others that six to eight thousand men and boys remain unaccounted for. You remember the events of July 9, 10, 11, 12, where, when the Bosnian Serbs came into the town, they separated the men from the women. Many thousands of men were herded into a football stadium. Others were taken into warehouses. Many thousands of them were never heard from again.
There's no factual evidence -- but we can only conclude that they are missing because they've been killed.
Q Has any outside observer been to that suspected mass gravesite near the football stadium?
MR. BURNS: I believe that in the weeks following that, the Red Cross, the UNHCR and other U.N. officials were able to get there. But I think by the time they got there, the Bosnian Serbs had tried to cover up their crimes. In recent weeks, as you know, as the fighting surged back and forth, the Bosnian Government and Croatian Government claimed that they had uncovered some of the graves of people murdered during the sack of Srebrenica.
Q Have you come any closer to closure on Site X?
MR. BURNS: We have not. The Secretary will be meeting in two hours with the group that he's been meeting with every day this week on Bosnia, and part of the discussion will center on Pat Kennedy's -- Assistant Secretary Pat Kennedy's initial views of which of the sites makes the most sense. He has been solely working on this for the last 48 hours.
The Secretary wants to make a decision on Site X very soon, and as soon as he does, I think we'll let you know what it is.
Q Apropos of the conversations about media access and what-not. How are you going to deal with journalists who may come as official members of the delegation -- the negotiating delegation?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe we've been given by any of the delegations, delegation lists yet. I can check on that to make sure that that is absolutely the case, but I think it's the case.
Journalists cannot be part of official delegations. You're either government officials or you're journalists. You can't be both. They have pledged to Dick Holbrooke, each of the three leaders, that they will not hold press conferences; that they will not deal with the press, speak to the press, throughout these discussions.
There will, in effect, be a press blackout at the site itself. However, we are mindful of the need to communicate with you, and so we will be holding daily or perhaps even two or three times a day, updates on what is happening there. But that will take place here in Washington. It will not take place at Site X.
Q When you say -- you know, you draw a nice neat line of journalists versus officials. That's our tradition, but it's not necessarily the tradition of the Balkans, so --
MR. BURNS: There's a very clear line here, and if we come to believe that some of the officials are actually members of the press and are reporting from inside the compound or Site X about what is happening, then I think we'll make it very clear to whatever delegation is responsible for this, that that cannot happen. That is in essence a violation of the ground rules.
I think Dick reviewed with you yesterday the ground rules. No press. No appearances on the "Today Show" or "MacNeil/Lehrer" during these discussions. No threats to leave because you're unhappy with the way the discussions are going, and you have to stay until we get an agreement. Those are the basic ground rules -- (laughter) -- and we expect that they will -- (laughter) -- it sounds like the O.J. Simpson jury -- (laughter) -- but those are the --
Q Worse than?
MR. BURNS: Worse than? No, not worse than. Those are the basic ground rules, and they have been accepted personally by the three presidents who will lead the three delegations here. We take that seriously. It would defeat all of our purposes of flying all around the East Coast of the United States in search of Site X if we had official reporting going on from within inside X. We might as well have the conference here in the State Department if that's what the ground rules are going to be.
The reason why we're not having it in the Dean Acheson Auditorium is because we want an environment where they don't have to worry about commenting to the press every day about who's up and who's down and what compromises have been made today and which have not. We take that very seriously.
Q Will leaks be referred to the War Crimes Tribunal?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Absolutely. Any leaks will be referred to The Hague.
Q On another subject: Has anybody called to your attention Senator Sasser's testimony yesterday? Apparently there's been some handwringing in Hong Kong because he said that the Chinese have indicated they're not going to abide by the democratic elections of the legislative council in Hong Kong; and clearly by the covenant of 1984, they're not required to. That's more or less a direct quote.
MR. BURNS: I'm familiar with Senator Sasser's testimony. I think he had a very successful day on Capitol Hill. He was treated quite nicely by Senator Helms and a number of the other Senators, and we certainly hope that he will be confirmed quickly so that he can assume his responsibilities as United States Ambassador in Beijing.
I did check this particular issue, George, about Hong Kong, because we knew there was some press commentary on it. Let me just quote from what something that Senator Sasser said yesterday in his confirmation hearings.
He said, "I would urge the Chinese authorities when 1997 rolls around to respect the freely elected legislative council in Hong Kong." That's a very clear statement, and his statement is consistent with our longstanding policy, which is to support democratic development in Hong Kong -- as, of course, we do elsewhere in the world -- and the September elections, we believe, were an important step in the continuing development of Hong Kong's political institutions.
As I think I believe we said last week -- when we commented on the elections, and as we have told the Chinese Government in Beijing directly -- we hope that China will permit those elected in the legislature to serve their full terms -- that's beyond 1997. We believe that this would help promote a smooth transition for Hong Kong after 1997, and it would promote some confidence in the future for the people of Hong Kong.
Any attempt made to abrogate the terms of people were freely elected in the last couple of weeks would not be consistent, we believe, with China's obligations as 1997 comes closer.
Q How do you explain the other statement that they would not be required to abide by the outcome of the elections, according to the covenant of 1984?
MR. BURNS: That may be a legalistic reading and a proper reading of the 1984 agreement, but it certainly is not consistent with the expectations that the international community has about China's role in Hong Kong once 1997 does come. I mean, the fact is that there have been elections, and the people of Hong Kong have freely chosen a number of people to represent them on the legislative council. It would be contrary to every expectation and every decent international standard if the Chinese were to come into Hong Kong in 1997 and kick those people out of the legislative council.
Q Nick, is Hong Kong going to be on the President's agenda when he meets with Jiang Zemin?
MR. BURNS: I don't know what all the agenda items will be, and it's always difficult to predict what actually will take place when two presidents get together. It's a fairly broad agenda. We have had a deep freeze in our relations with China over the summer. I think there's been a thaw, and we've come out of that. The Secretary has had two very good meetings with Foreign Minister Qian.
I believe the overriding purpose of the summit will be to continue to define the parameters of the relationship; to define how China and the United States can work together in the next century on economic development, on trade; certainly on some of the security issues in the Pacific.
How we can forge a common agenda and how we can prepare for positive forward movement in the relationship -- that is really, I think, the crux of the issue as they prepare to meet in New York next week -- or the week after next, excuse me.
Taiwan will obviously be on the agenda. I think both sides will have it there. But we hope very much that Taiwan will not dominate this meeting -- it shouldn't -- because we've had enough meetings over the summer and the early autumn in which Taiwan has been a dominant issue. We think we've clearly expressed U.S. policy on China -- the one-China policy -- and we've clearly articulated our views regarding the visa question. So there's really no need for that issue to take up too much time in New York.
Still on China?
Q China. Will Mr. Sasser accompany Mr. Clinton or the Secretary of State to go to New York City to meet with President Jiang? And my second question is that Secretary Ron Brown is going to China this Sunday, and will he discuss with the Chinese officials regarding the detail or the agenda of the forthcoming summit?
MR. BURNS: Senator Sasser will accompany President Clinton and Secretary Christopher to the summit in New York if he is confirmed before then by the Senate. If he's not confirmed, then he would not accompany them.
On the second question, Secretary Brown will be in Beijing starting on Sunday. He had a very successful trip to China last year -- you all saw an interesting article in The Washington Post about that this morning -- and he's going back to follow up on the contracts that were negotiated with the Chinese at that time.
I'm sure that he will review the economic agenda for the upcoming summit meeting when he is in Beijing. Yes, I'm sure about that.
Q Nick, are you suggesting that you subscribe to the thrust of that article, which is to say that the Commerce Secretary boasted of getting a whole lot of deals in China and in fact most of them haven't come to fruition?
MR. BURNS: No. I was just paying due attention to one of our major newspapers, and it's good to see that they're interested in China. They had a long article this morning. I don't agree with the thrust of the article. I don't think it's realistic, if you understand how these things work, to assume that you go to China one year; the two countries commit to $6 billion worth of economic deals, much of which is in the private sector -- at least in our country -- and they'll assume that you'll go back sometime later, many months later, and all of those deals will be perfectly tied up and completed and all the money will have passed back and forth between the two countries.
That's not how it works. The fact is that China is still in some respects -- well, many respects -- a planned economy, even though they've had a healthy, a major dose of reform over the last ten years. They have a five-year plan, and they phase in a number of these contracts as they go along, and that is well-known to some of the American companies that sign these contracts.
So that somehow they don't create a scorecard where you've got to have 100 percent a year later is, I think, very unrealistic. The fact is that Secretary Brown, working on behalf of the President, has been a very aggressive and successful advocate of our policy of expanding our commercial ties with China and of trying to close our trade deficit with China. He's done a very good job. I think if you talk to a number of the major -- the CEOs of our major corporations, as we have done, on China just in the last couple of weeks, they say that this Administration has paid more attention to them and paid more attention to the goal of expanding our commercial ties than previous administrations have done. I think we've got a pretty good record in that regard.
Q But, Nick, many of them are also saying that the Chinese are continuing to produce in numbers illegal tapes -- in large numbers -- and that they are not abiding by the agreement that Mickey Kantor got.
MR. BURNS: This is a difficult issue. This is the intellectual property rights issue, and, when the agreement was signed late last winter when Charlene Barshefsky went to Beijing and had this agreement signed, we believed then that the Chinese would implement this agreement.
Since then, the Chinese have taken a series of very tough-minded measures to enforce the Intellectual Property Rights Agreement. They have raided a number of factories and retail markets. They've resolved a certain number of IPR cases in Chinese courts -- and they publicized this. I think you've seen examples of this.
They've also seized and destroyed over 1 million pirated CDs, and they have announced recently that they're taking steps to prevent Chinese ministries, Chinese governmental ministries, from using pirated software.
Nonetheless, despite those very good steps, much more can be done, and we would call upon the Chinese Government to fully enforce the Intellectual Property Rights Agreement. Piracy remains an extremely serious problem in China. While we've seen some Chinese Government action at the retail level against pirates, there has been no significant overall drop in the rate of piracy on intellectual property rights issues.
Since we are a country that has a certain comparative advantage when it comes to software and advanced technology, we have a direct interest in seeing a greater level of performance by the Chinese Government and Chinese people on this question.
Q Recently, Taiwanese Government called off a military exercise around the national holiday period, and --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me -- called off, did you say?
Q Called off. And they said they would do a stationary military exhibition. And during the same time the Chinese is going to conduct another military exercise, but they're moving north instead of near the Taiwan area. So do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any particular comment. I'm not sure where these exercises are. All countries train their militaries and have training exercises, and in order to keep a military fit, you've got to have training exercises. Some training exercises are different than others.
The ones that were close to Taiwan clearly had a political significance attached to them. I don't know if the ones you're referring to have that same significance attached to them.
Q Any more on China?
Q Yes. Two more questions on China. There's an article in The Wall Street Journal this morning, saying that the U.S. Government is trying to block or at least hinder U.S. companies getting involved in a major dam project in China. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything for you on that this morning, but it's a good question. I'll be glad to look into it for you.
Q A second question: China seems to be one of the prime countries responsible for the failure of the U.N. Landmine Convention or Conference. Is that something that you're going to follow up with the Chinese Government?
MR. BURNS: Yes. This is an interesting issue. Let me just spend a minute on this. As you know, Secretary Christopher has identified landmines and the problems of millions of landmines present around the world from all of the conflicts of the last 30 to 40 years as a global problem.
We have spoken about this at the United Nations. We have launched on our own an international effort to try to stem the production and export of landmines and to help countries like Cambodia and Egypt and other countries that are afflicted by landmines -- help them to deal with their problems.
Those of you who were with the Secretary in Phnom Penh remember that he visited the Landmine Action Center in Phnom Penh and talked to some of the U.S. military officers who are helping the Cambodian military deal with this problem. It causes every single day, amputations and deaths of people all over the world.
The Convention on Conventional Weapons Review Conference in Vienna has been meeting for the past three weeks to try to strengthen the Landmines Protocol and to create a new Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons. The objective of the United States has been to strengthen the restrictions on anti-personnel landmines.
Now, some progress was made over the last three weeks. In particular, I believe the Conference concluded its work on blinding lasers and made some progress towards expanding the scope of the Landmines Protocol. But, unfortunately, a couple of major countries -- significant countries -- have decided that they cannot go along with the consensus, I think, in the rest of the international community, that we ought to have tougher restrictions on landmines. And China and Russia are two of the countries that are right now blocking progress.
We're disappointed at that. We're disappointed that the Conference has been suspended.
I understand that when they resumed their work today, they decided that they would have a meeting between January l5 and l9 of l996 and that they would meet again in the spring of l996 to resume their work.
We have tabled some specific proposals. We'd like to call upon the Chinese and Russian Governments to entertain those proposals seriously. We think this is a global problem for which China and Russia, as well as the United States, have responsibility because of our actions in the past, and that all of us in the international community have to work together to deal with the problem.
If we don't deal with it, we'll continue to see thousands of people every year and allow these thousands of people -- our young kids -- blown up by landmines; and certainly many of them lose arms and legs, become amputees by landmines all over the world.
So it's a serious problem, and we hope very much we'll get a greater degree of cooperation in the future.
Q Do you have a decision yet on the Castro visa?
MR. BURNS: We are studying the visa application. (Laughter) And, you know, I was once a Consular Officer; and this is very tricky business, very difficult business. It's a long application; you have to look at it very carefully.
When we finish studying the application, then I'm sure that we'll be in a position to recommend a course of action. Here at the State Department there are some senior people here, and I would expect this would not happen for a number of days.
Q He might even want to take part in the Million Man March. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: I'm afraid that we're going to have to disappoint him about the Million Man March. He's not going to be able to take part in that particular march.
Q You would expect a decision before the 22nd?
MR. BURNS: I would expect a decision one way or another before the 22nd of October, yes.
Q If I might take us back to the Western Pacific, specifically, Nick, in the course of the last few weeks, the question has been posed: "What's going on in North Korea?" in several quarters in this Government; and the answer, basically, has been "Oh, well, don't worry. The Nuclear Treaty is holding. The nuclear freeze is still on."
There was a report on NPR last night that a North Korean military officer, a defector to the South, has revealed aggressive military preparations by the North Koreans; and I believe he said that the North Koreans had considered attacking U.S. troops but were concerned about the public reaction to that. Can you tell us: Is that valid information? What's going on in North Korea?
MR. BURNS: That sounds like a fantastic and improbable story.
I think there are two things here, Bill, just very quickly.
Number one, what really concerns the United States -- what is of real vital interest to us -- is the North Korean nuclear program. It's been frozen. It remains frozen. We are confident that the North Koreans continue to abide by the terms of the Agreed Framework.
Now, on your other question about what's going on in North Korea, we really don't know politically. I mean it's a closed society; it is a fairly turbulent place. We simply don't know at this point, with any degree of confidence, the answer to the question of what titles people will have and who will be up and who will be down in the Politburo. But what's of most significance is if they're abiding by the terms of the Agreed Framework, and we believe they are.
Q Is there by the same (inaudible) defector? Does he exist in the face of this?
MR. BURNS: I have no idea. I've never heard of this person; I've never heard of the story. It sounds like a fantastic story -- fantastic in the sense of too incredible to be true, fortunately.
Q There are pressures in North Korea right now for some kind of change, I understand; is that correct? Economic pressures.
MR. BURNS: We hope that some day the North Korean people will have change -- democratic, political, and economic change. I don't know when that day will come.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at l:49 p.m.)
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