U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/10/20 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, October 20, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Secretary Christopher's Trip to New York ................1 --Mtgs. w/PM Rabin, FM Shara, FM Kozyrev, FM Qian Qichen ...............................................1,3,5 --Media Coverage ........................................1,3-8 NATO Secretary Christopher's Statement re: Resignation of Secretary General Willy Claes ..........1-2,23-24 ARMS CONTROL/NON-PROLIFERATION Joint Statement: Signing of Protocols to Treaty of Rarotonga ...................................2,28 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Human Rights Abuses/Atrocities: --Banja Luka, Srebrenica, Zepa ..........................9-10,12 --Review of Assistant Secretary Shattuck's Trip to Region ..............................................9-10,19-21, 26-27 --Allegations Against Bosnian Serb Military/ Paramilitary Units/Mr. Arkan ........................10-13 --War Crimes Tribunal ...................................14,27-28 Possible Deployment of U.S. Military Forces .............15-19,22-23 --Letter from President Clinton to Senator Byrd .........16-18,22 Proximity Peace Talks: Serb Joint Delegation ............22 NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES GEORGIA--U.S. Relationship/Support of Shevardnadze ......23 CHINA Remark by Chinese FM Spokesman re: Taiwan ...............24-26
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1995, 1:24 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have a couple of announcements to make. First, the Secretary will be traveling to New York City tomorrow. He'll be leaving in the early afternoon. He will be having a couple of bilateral meetings while he's in New York. He'll be seeing the Israeli Prime Minister, Prime Minister Rabin; the Syrian Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Shara; the Russian Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Kozyrev. He'll also be seeing the Chinese Vice Premier and Foreign Minister, Qian Qichen. All of these meetings at this point will be private meetings. They will not be open to the press.
The meetings with Foreign Minister Kozyrev and Foreign Minister Qian are designed to review the agenda for the President's meetings with President Yeltsin and President Jiang Zemin on Monday and Tuesday of next week. The meetings with Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Shara are designed to review a number of the issues concerning the Middle East peace process.
I have a statement I'd like to read from Secretary Christopher. It's a statement in his name.
"I learned with great regret this morning of the resignation of NATO Secretary General Willy Claes.
He assumed his duties as Secretary General at a critical moment in the history of the Alliance, and he carried them out with distinction and dedication under very demanding circumstances. Today, he made a difficult personal decision for the larger good of the Alliance.
"With great determination, Willy Claes helped to shape NATO's robust actions in Bosnia and to plan its future role in a peace settlement. His personal dedication to a peaceful solution to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia has been instrumental in giving that troubled region its best chance for a peaceful future since the war began.
"With great skill, Willy Claes has also helped to adapt NATO to new security challenges in an undivided Europe. Under his leadership, the Alliance turned the Partnership for Peace into an effective pillar of a stable and secure Europe, launched the process that will lead to the admission of new allies and opened the way to an important new relationship with Russia.
"We will be undertaking immediate consultations with our allies to identify a successor to Mr. Claes. I have every confidence that the next Secretary General will build on Willy Claes' achievements as the Alliance continues to meet the critical challenges it faces."
Along that line, the Secretary telephoned Willy Claes this morning. They had a good conversation. The Secretary expressed many of the same sentiments that are in this statement.
The Secretary also will began this morning a series of consultations with his colleagues in European capitals about the subject of a successor to Mr. Claes.
Finally, today, earlier this morning, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France issued the following statement: The Governments of the French Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America believe that internationally recognized nuclear weapon free zones, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the states of the region concerned, can contribute to international peace and security.
The 1995 review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Extension Conference recognized this fact and encouraged the creation of such zones as a matter of priority.
The Conference also recognized that the cooperation of all the nuclear weapon states and their respect and support for the relevant protocols are necessary for the maximum effectiveness of such nuclear weapon free zones and the relevant protocols.
In this regard, we are jointly announcing today our intention to sign the relevant protocols to the Treaty of Rarotonga in the first half of 1996.
The full text of the joint statement on this -- the statement made by the United States and the Fact Sheet -- are available to you in the Press Office.
Q Nick, I want to go back to this schedule you gave us. Could we have the sequence, basically -- you know, the four people he's going to see? How does this all work out, please?
MR. BURNS: We don't have, at least for some of these meetings yet, specific times. We do have agreements to meet. I think, in general, he'll be seeing Kozyrev and Rabin first and then Qian Qichen and Shara during the latter part of the visit. I don't believe we have scheduled times yet.
Our intention, of course, would be to have a meeting with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen either late on Monday, after the Hyde Park events, or early on Tuesday. The President's meeting with Jiang Zemin is, I think, mid-afternoon on Tuesday.
Q I'm sorry. You've been so fast. I wasn't catching all of it. The Chinese is not Saturday?
MR. BURNS: No, it's not Saturday. The first two meetings will be Foreign Minister Kozyrev and Prime Minister Rabin. Towards Monday and Tuesday -- but we don't have times yet -- will be Foreign Minister Shara and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen.
Q Will he see Rabin before dark or not?
MR. BURNS: I actually don't know what the specific time is.
Q It must be terribly urgent if the Prime Minister of Israel will see him during the Sabbath. It would also be the end of his political career, possibly. So could you tell us what time he's going to see him?
MR. BURNS: No, I can't tell you.
Q Unless you want to call it a social event.
MR. BURNS: Do I want to call it a social?
Q If they're just going to have a sandwich, I guess. But he's working -- it's a working meeting, isn't it?
MR. BURNS: It's a private meeting. It's not the kind of bilateral that you imagine seeing --
Q But more important than all this logistical give and take, you've got here four events that normally reporters from the State Department would travel 10,000 miles to cover, and here it is right in front of them in New York. How can you suddenly exclude from public coverage meetings with the Russian Foreign Minister, the Chinese Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister of Israel, and the Syrian Foreign Minister?
If you open Armenia, fine, but this is the stuff that the public hears about. Perhaps he doesn't want to steal the President's thunder, but it's a different day. The President isn't even in town.
I wish you would consider either a briefing or more positively some sort of a photo-op. We don't all watch "Larry King Live," and some of us have to get our news from the players, on the spot; not on television.
MR. BURNS: Barry, it's always enlivening to start the questions with you. It's got me going, and I'm ready.
Q It is just simply wrong to have a meeting with Kozyrev and Rabin off the record. It is just wrong.
MR. BURNS: Barry, wait a minute. Wait a minute.
Q Honestly. It's not your doing but I'm saying it's wrong.
MR. BURNS: Can I respond?
MR. BURNS: We always reserve the right to have any meeting be a private meeting and not have a meeting open to the press. That's a tradition in diplomacy that goes back probably several thousand years. There's nothing new in this.
Q We're talking about an opportunity to ask a few questions and/or an account of what transpired afterward. That is rather routine.
MR. BURNS: An account of what transpired afterward is something that I can probably do for some of these meetings but maybe not for all of them.
Q The two Saturday are immediately ahead. And those of us who are going up Saturday, obviously, are very interested in getting some account of the meeting with Kozyrev and Rabin. They're kind of significant figures right now.
MR. BURNS: Okay, let me just say my piece.
MR. BURNS: You can either object or you can agree or disagree.
We are under no obligation to either open all meetings or some meetings or any meetings to the Press Corps or to report on them afterwards. We generally do that. We generally open, I would say, the majority of the Secretary's meetings to some kind of press coverage. We generally brief afterwards but not always. Sometimes it's in our interest or it's in the interest of the other governments to keep some of these meetings entirely private, whereby we do not comment before or afterwards on the substance of the meetings. That's point number one.
Point number two is that certainly two of these meetings -- the meetings with Kozyrev and Qian Qichen -- are designed not as a normal bilateral event but simply taking advantage of the presence of these two people to review for the President's meetings. Therefore, the Secretary of State really has no interest in responding to questions from the public or the press because the focus properly should be on the President's meetings.
Q Maybe I shouldn't leap on these events specifically or particularly. But the gap between public coverage and arranged television -- having a Democratic Senator interview the Democratic Secretary of State about the kind of the job he's doing is not the kind of direct journalism that the public benefits from. They benefit from having neutral reporters ask public officials about current events.
MR. BURNS: Barry, Barry --
Q We don't want to watch him on the "Letterman Show." We want to interview a man who is seeing Kozyrev, who is hanging by his fingernails now as the Foreign Minister of Russia.
Now, please stop putting people -- I mean, not you, but the State Department. You're distancing the public figures from the press and arranging cozy, little TV entertainment operations. It isn't the way it should be done. It's in your interest, perhaps, but it isn't in the public's interest.
MR. BURNS: Do you have anything else you would like to say about this?
Q No. Maybe someone else agrees with me on that, though.
MR. BURNS: I want to respond, and then I'll be glad to entertain other reflections upon the way we manage the press.
Let me just remind you, Barry, that the Secretary had -- what? -- he had probably 10 hours of televised hearings that were not cozy little chats on Bosnia this week where he faced very direct questioning and criticism about United States policy on Bosnia.
The Secretary has not been hiding this week. He's been out in public, in the full glare of the public spotlight all week.
Q On Bosnia.
MR. BURNS: He regularly presents himself to the American Press Corps in the great majority of meetings that he has. He has every right to have meetings with his counterparts and to keep some of those meetings private, because his overriding goal is not to make comments to the press and not to get in the newspapers.
His overriding goal in the Middle East is to make peace and to see if we can have progress. These individuals believe, by the way -- his counterparts -- that is sometimes the best way to conduct diplomatic meetings.
I think it is groundless to criticize the Secretary for hiding. He's not hiding. He's been out talking about Bosnia all week. Furthermore -- just so you know this; you've mentioned the "Larry King Show" -- the "Larry King Show" invited the Secretary and took the initiative to invite the Secretary to appear. The Secretary thought it was a very good opportunity to speak, beyond the Congress, to the American people, the millions of Americans who watch that show.
The Secretary did not select the host of that show. In fact, we thought the show originally was going to be hosted by the normal host. I really, frankly, don't agree with any of the criticism you've delivered this morning.
Q He's testifying on Bosnia. You want to get into this --
MR. BURNS: Listen, I'm willing to take any questions. Steve, would you like to comment?
Q We're trying to cover the news. We're requesting to see the Secretary of State. All right? Think of us as sort of "Larry Kings" with pencils and paper. Okay?
Could you possibly arrange -- not on Bosnia. We heard about Bosnia all week. It's coming out of our ears. We're asking about Rabin and Kozyrev. I don't know if I'm alone in this. Perhaps I am.
MR. BURNS: I don't think so. I think those are going to private meetings. That's the way that these meetings have been set up. That's the best way to proceed.
Let me just re-enforce a point. There is no constitutional right to look into every meeting by the American Press Corps. We do a pretty good job of providing you access.
Q We're not talking about a constitutional right. We're not talking about hiding, and we're not talking about ending wars and God's work and all that kind of stuff.
MR. BURNS: Well, we're doing it.
Q I know, and you're doing a masterful job.
MR. BURNS: Thank you. Let's put that on the record.
Q We want access to him. He is not available. When he goes up to the U.N. and see major figures like that, at the very least, we need a briefing and an account of happened and a photo-op with a couple of questions. It's the routine way to do this.
There are exceptional private meetings. But this is four meetings that are all being called "private." That's more than the usual.
MR. BURNS: We disagree. We disagree. Steve, you're next.
Q I would add my voice to this disagreement. Here you have the Secretary of State meeting with people who are crucial and central to major relationships that the United States has and in advance of two summits with two leaders who are critical to U.S. foreign policy --
MR. BURNS: I think there are four --
Q As I understand it, there won't even be press conferences by the principals after these sessions, and we're not even being allowed to ask the Secretary of State -- not you, as good as you are -- what one hopes to accomplish in these meetings, which are very important, which are summit meetings. It is a complete non-event as far as reporters are concerned, and I join Barry in his avid and strong protest about this.
MR. BURNS: Any other comments? We can --
Q (Multiple comments)
MR. BURNS: Let's canvass the whole room. Can we have a show of hands? Let's have a show of hands. Who is not in favor of the way that we plan to proceed this weekend?
Q Who is not in favor?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Not in favor. (Show of hands) Okay, who's in favor? (Show of hands) (Laughter)
(TO STAFF) I would hope you'd raise your hands -- Nanda. (Laughter)
Okay, it's 4 against 400. Let's end the debate. Thank you. Bill.
Q I also concur with Barry --
MR. BURNS: It's 4 against 401. Okay. (Laughter)
Q -- and Steve in this, and I would say, are you going to ask that these Foreign Ministers not have press conferences? Are we going to get our news from these other countries?
MR. BURNS: We haven't asked anybody not to have a press conference, Bill. Sometimes diplomacy, to be successful, needs to be conducted privately. That is an ancient tradition. It was not invented this week by the State Department.
Q What I'm asking -- may I follow -- are the other countries going to have press conferences, photo ops? Are we going to get our news from them rather than from the United States Government?
MR. BURNS: You'll have to ask those governments.
Q Having endorsed Barry and Steve's protests, may I ask a question on Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: Certainly.
Q What is our best understanding of what is happening in the Banja Luka area? Are we talking about hundreds in two particular instances? Are we talking about thousands, as several other people were quoted, not on the record, as saying? What is the relationship as we best understand it between Arkan and Milosevic? Do we think Milosevic has some ability to control the situation, for good or for bad?
MR. BURNS: Let me say first of all that the United States is gravely concerned by the persistent and, we think, credible allegations of brutalities and human rights violations surrounding the events in Banja Luka over the last couple of weeks.
Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck was asked by Secretary Christopher over the last weekend to travel to the region. He spent Monday through yesterday morning in the region.
He was in Zenica where he interviewed refugees. He was in Kakanj. He went to central Bosnia, and then went to Knin in the Krajina and other areas of the Krajina region. He interviewed refugees who recently left Bosanski Novi, Sanski Most, Dubica, Prijedor, Banja Luka and other towns that are being held by the Serbs in northern Bosnia.
He also talked to sources, people, in the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross; and, since he left the area, he has been in Geneva talking to U.N. officials in Geneva.
According to United Nations sources, roughly 6,200 people have fled from Banja Luka to Zenica, and an estimated two to three thousand relatives of these people are missing, and their lives must be considered to be at great risk.
John Shattuck's discussions indicate that there has been a systematic pattern of ethnic cleansing, of beatings, of rape, of murder and of severe mistreatment of Muslims and Croatians, including the elderly and the infirm.
There is evidence of a broad and clear pattern of mass expulsions of Muslims and some Croats between October 6 and October 12 of this year. Starting in mid-September but intensifying between October 6 and 12, we believe, based on the evidence and the testimony that has been put forward by the refugees, that many thousands of people were systematically forced from their homes at gunpoint by paramilitary units, by local police and in some instances by Bosnian Serb army officials or soldiers.
We have unconfirmed but credible reports of mass killings by paramilitary groups in Bosanski Novi and Sanski Most. As Assistant Secretary Shattuck said in his press conference in Zagreb yesterday, there is evidence -- certainly lots of testimony and varied testimony -- that 100 persons were believed to have been killed in Bosanski Novi and in Sanski Most. There are rough estimates of several hundred men who were allegedly killed at a cement factory there.
Based on what he was able to glean from his conversations with 25 refugees and from talking to the U.N. officials who have interviewed many, many more than that, we believe there are a large number of Muslims and Croatians who have been put into forced labor camps.
We know that Muslim men -- these are civilians -- who have been driven from their homes have been made to dig trenches at the front lines west of Banja Luka and are doing other sorts of forced labor.
According to most of these refugee accounts, the majority of these brutalities appear to have been conducted by paramilitary groups loyal to the Bosnian Serb army, and certainly the criminal Arkan and his paramilitary units have been active in nighttime raids on private residences.
As John Shattuck also said yesterday, for the last few months many Muslims in Banja Luka and some of these other towns in northern Bosnia were forced to wear white arm bands and had white ribbons affixed to their homes or white lines painted on their homes.
This, we believe, is a systematic record of abuse, of brutality and of killings which must be condemned by the international community. It is condemned by the United States, and we will work very hard, drawing upon the evidence made available by the United Nations and now by the United States to make sure that those who are responsible for this are brought to justice through the deliberations of the War Crimes Tribunal.
Q What about Milosevic's role? How much control does he or does he not have over Arkan, and do you think this is an attempt to destroy the peace talks before they begin?
MR. BURNS: Let me take the second part of it first, and I will get to the first part.
On the second part: I think this type of behavior, this brutal action, is consistent with what transpired in and around Srebrenica and Zepa in mid-July, and it is consistent with the brutal nature of the Bosnian Serb military and paramilitary units during the last four years.
We would be naive to believe otherwise. They have created a record for themselves which is reprehensible, and we have to assume that the standard operating procedure, which includes all of these sordid acts, is continuing. Whether it is an attempt to end the peace process or break it down, we can't say, because we have not, of course, had any access to the people who have perpetrated these crimes.
This will not end the peace process. The United States and our partners will not be deterred by these actions. In fact, the way to stop these actions permanently is to achieve a full and comprehensive peace, and that's what the United States intends to do.
Andrea, in answer to your first question, we have no direct evidence or any evidence of a relationship between Milosevic and Arkan. We do know, however, that the Serbian Government has influence on the Bosnian Serb military, and we assume that the Serbian Government has influence on at least some of these paramilitary units.
Q Did Holbrooke appeal to Milosevic yesterday to restrain Arkan?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me.
Q Isn't Arkan responding directly --
MR. BURNS: Let me just complete my thought here. I can't tell you what the relationship is between Milosevic and Arkan personally. That's what I said. I also was just going on to say we assume that the Serbian Government, however, does have influence not only over the Bosnian Serb military leadership but also over some, if not many, of these paramilitary units. That is why Dick Holbrooke raised the issue specifically of these paramilitary units with Milosevic directly two days ago, and Dick Holbrooke raised specifically the actions of this man Arkan with Milosevic.
In general, what President Milosevic has said in return to Dick Holbrooke but also to Rudy Perina, our Charge d'Affaires there, for the last week -- he has said that he does not support these efforts, and that if he uncovers evidence that they are occurring, he will try to use his influence to stop him.
We are taking him at his word. We believe that there are too many credible reports of these incidents to ignore them, and we would call upon the Serbian Government to use its influence to help stop these abuses.
Q Could you go back to two to three thousand -- you call them people -- are these the draft-age Muslims?
MR. BURNS: Again, the information that we have is general. It has been pieced together. But it appears that of the 6,200 people in Zenica who are refugees from Banja Luka, they are missing as families -- roughly two to three thousand people from their families -- and these are in the great majority men -- young boys and men. This does fit the pattern that was established so sordidly by the Bosnian Serbs in Srebrenica.
Q Can I ask you, because relationships are in the vocabulary now when you talk about terrorism or brutality -- there's a relationship between a government which you deal with, with brutal crimes. If there is a relationship and yet at the same time you're taking Milosevic at his word that he knows nothing about it and would stop it if he ever heard about such a terrible thing, doesn't the relationship and the fact that these units went out and killed all these people imply or suggest any blame should be attached to Milosevic? If there's a relationship and it wasn't used to prevent this, is there some at least moral fault here?
MR. BURNS: The moral fault and the blame has to be centered on the people who have carried out these crimes, first and foremost.
Secondly, and in addition to that, certainly responsibility -- moral or political or otherwise -- has to be attached to people who support these paramilitary units.
We know that the Bosnian Serb military supports and acts in concert with these military units, and that is why, based on just the record in the past, there are two indicted war criminals who lead the Bosnian Serb military.
We also know that the Serbian Government has had influence and has supported in the past the Bosnian Serbs in general, and so we assume that there is influence there.
What I cannot tell you, based on the evidence that either Mr. Shattuck brings back or other evidence that we have -- I cannot tell you whether or not there is a direct command and control relationship between Serbs and Bosnian Serb paramilitary units.
It's an important question, and I understand why they're asking that question, but we have no independent evidence on that particular question. By the way, we have looked through many sources to try to uncover the answers to those questions.
Q Nick, as your Embassy in Belgrade can no doubt tell you, and, as I have said before here, Arkan, as he calls himself, has a business and a home in Belgrade and has openly recruited his paramilitary personnel through publications in Belgrade. He's a citizen of Serbia. He operates relatively openly in the state that Mr. Milosevic is in charge of.
I think the question has to be asked, you said before in recent weeks that Mr. Milosevic wants peace and is starting to cooperate to try and achieve peace. If so, why doesn't he rein in Arkan, and can't you tell him that if he does not do so, you can't sit at a table with him?
MR. BURNS: David, first of all, I have heard what you've said before, and I haven't asked our Charge exactly where Arkan lives. Perhaps we know; perhaps we don't know. We can look into that.
The fact is that we are concerned about his activities, gravely concerned. We have raised them directly with Milosevic, and we will continue to do so. I cannot stand here and tell you that we have direct evidence of a relationship between Milosevic and Arkan if that information is not available to me through any source, and we have looked at many sources.
That does not mean that the relationship does not exist. It means that we have no direct evidence of a relationship, and I have to be somewhat responsible in what I say from this podium about subjects like that.
We believe very strongly that the best way to deal with this whole set of problems is to end the fighting -- a comprehensive peace agreement, a comprehensive cease-fire -- and that is exactly what the United States has done over the last three months.
We were the ones who led the way at the London Conference to stiffen the backs of the international community to, in essence, strike back against Bosnian Serb atrocities against the safehavens. The United States led the NATO air campaign in early September against the Bosnian Serbs. We intimidated them through the use of force to agree to a cease- fire around Sarajevo and now a country-wide cease-fire. The United States has led the diplomatic effort to stop the fighting.
The most effective avenue that we can pursue right now is to achieve in Dayton, Ohio, a comprehensive peace agreement that will end all fighting and all human rights abuses and bring the people responsible for them to trial and to justice.
We have been independently pursuing this question of human rights abuses, and that is why the Secretary of State sent John Shattuck to the region. We are a firm supporter of the War Crimes Tribunal financially. We supply evidence to the War Crimes Tribunal. We have detailed officials from the United States Government to work on the War Crimes Tribunal, and, as I say, we have raised these issues directly with the governments involved -- the Serbian Government -- and with the Bosnian Serb authorities as well.
Q If I could just finish the point briefly. This paramilitary - - your Embassy may have more information on this than the press does, but certainly many of its members are not Bosnian Serbs. They're Serbs. They're from Belgrade. They are citizens of Mr. Milosevic's state.
Can you sit down with a man, the citizens of whose country are being allowed to go on and do these things without putting real pressure on him by telling him, "We won't sit with you unless you clean this up."
MR. BURNS: David, if we had that standard, then there would be no peace. The fact is that we are no great friend of Mr. Milosevic and never have been, but we have an obligation to pursue peace. We ask ourselves what is the best and most effective mechanism to stop human rights abuses. It is important to talk about them. It is important to investigate them, as we have done, and to debate it, as we're doing right now.
It is much more important to achieve a peace that will stop them forever. That doesn't bring back the people who died in Srebrenica and Banja Luka, but it makes possible a situation where the sons and daughters of those people will not be executed by the Bosnian Serbs.
The fact is that at any peace conference, in a situation like this - - a brutal situation -- you don't sit down and negotiate peace with your best friends. You often sit down with people who are your enemies and sometimes with people whom you wouldn't want to have as your best friends. But that's the reality of this situation.
Q People in the field are reporting, as David has suggested, that there is a direct link between Milosevic and this paramilitary group, and that there is a real possibility that if these people aren't dead already, they will be in the next week, as you're preparing for a peace conference in Dayton.
Given that, how do you respond to people who believe that the United States Government is closing its eyes to this deliberately to keep the peace process on track while people's lives are at stake?
MR. BURNS: I think that's rubbish. That's how I respond to it. I'll be very glad to review everything that we've done in the past couple of weeks and months to stop the fighting. No country in the world has done more than the United States to stop the fighting, to energize the peace process, to bring the parties for the first time in four years closer to a peace agreement than they've ever been, and no country has done as much to expose these human rights abuses as we have in the last two weeks.
Those are the actions of a government that is concerned by this problem, that does not have its eyes closed, that is awake to these problems and wants to do something about them.
But in addition to talking about them, you need to act, and we are acting to stop the fighting once and for all. That is the most effective way to deal with this problem.
Q Nick, in difficult hearings this week, the Secretary was asked -- a lot of Senators registered concern about sending American troops in. The Secretary said or Secretary Perry or Shalikashvili -- but basically it was their consensus position that these people now want to have peace, and this was said to reassure Senators who were concerned about the risk American peacekeepers would face.
The answer was, well, you know, there has been a lot of fighting, but they have come to the point now where they want to sit down and negotiate a peace agreement. Okay? Or they're at least on the track toward peace. Doesn't what just happened sort of enhance or reinforce the Senators' concern? How could Americans -- how could this type of brutality be wiped away by a piece of paper? American troops will go into this kind of situation, correct? Aren't you faced with a problem now, defending the use of peacekeepers again if ethnic hatred is so fierce? You think a peace treaty would somehow change this kind of sentiment?
MR. BURNS: We can't do much about the ethnic rivalries in the history of the Balkans, but we can do something, Barry, and we've done it.
MR. BURNS: We have largely stopped the fighting of the Bosnian Serb military. We stopped the Bosnian Serb military offensive outside of Gorazde and eastern Bosnia. We stopped the shelling of Sarajevo. We did that; the United States did that. And now we would like to do something to stop the killing of innocent people in northern Bosnia.
The best way to do that is to end the fighting. That's just a preface to your question. There is a compelling reason why the United States should choose to deploy military forces to Bosnia, and it is that without the United States, this won't stop -- the killing won't stop, the war won't stop, and in fact the war may spread.
That is a vital national interest of the United States because we're a European power. Our allies in Europe will be affected by the continuation and expansion of this war. Without the United States NATO cannot be effective, and without NATO nothing good will happen. Nothing good happened until July through October of this year when the United States led the way towards the peace talks and led the way to stop the fighting.
That is the argument that Secretary Christopher and Secretary Perry and General Shalikashvili began to make this past week with the American people and the Congress. We are at the beginning of a great national debate on this issue.
President Clinton said this morning in reference to that debate, in a letter that he sent to Senator Byrd -- that I believe has just been read in the Senate floor -- that the Administration welcomes the support of the Congress. I think the quotation is that, "We welcome, encourage, and at the appropriate time would request an expression of support by the Congress promptly after a peace agreement is reached."
That's a very important step that the President has taken. Secretary Christopher recommended he take the step by sending this letter to Senator Byrd. I know that the Secretary feels very strongly about one thing: as we debate whether or not the United States should deploy troops to Bosnia sometime -- a month or two or three or four hence -- we've got to keep our minds open to the vital national interests that this country has.
We also have to keep our minds open not to undercut the United States Government and its allies as we begin a week from Tuesday the proximity peace talks in Dayton, Ohio. We would not want to see an atmosphere created in this country that would lead others in the region to believe that the United States will not fulfill its commitments.
Barry, we're confident at the end of the day, if we are able to help these countries negotiate a comprehensive peace treaty -- reprehensible though some of these people involved may be -- that the introduction of American and NATO troops can stop the fighting, can separate the armies, can preserve the territorial integrity of Bosnia- Herzegovina and can do something very great, not only for that region but for the rest of the world, to stop the war.
That is our strategic objective here. We would like the American people and the Congress to keep an open mind. We believe at the end of the day that if we are successful in achieving a peace agreement, Congress will not walk away and would not want the United States Government to walk away from our vital interest in supporting NATO.
There is a very simple way of looking at this: there can be no peace without NATO.
Q Nick, were you implying in that statement that not only could the United States and NATO enforce a peace but also prevent atrocities, to go after paramilitary groups and put them out of business?
MR. BURNS: This question was spoken to directly by Secretary Christopher during the hearings this week. It will not be the mission of a NATO military force to go looking for all of those people who are responsible for these terrible crimes over the last four years. It will be the responsibility of this force to separate armies and to maintain a peace.
If in the process of performing that mission our forces encounter people who we think guilty of war crimes, then of course we'll detain them and turn them over to the proper international authorities. That's what Secretary Christopher said this week, and that's how we understand our obligations in this particular mission.
Q There's something in the letter you just cited that was not expressed by the witnesses at the hearing -- the Secretary or Secretary Perry. They would only go so far as to say "would welcome support from Congress." They didn't say, "would at the appropriate time request an expression of support."
MR. BURNS: Right.
Q Is the President now saying he wants a resolution from Congress before he sends troops?
MR. BURNS: Let me be clear about this, because I want to --
Q I'm not saying that he needs to have it. I'm saying will he seek one?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher -- this is answering your question -- Secretary Christopher's remarks this week, particularly in the very first hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday morning, were the following: that Congress has a right to ask questions; that Congress has the power of the purse; that the Secretary and others in the Administration are willing to answer those questions and discuss these issues with them full time for the next couple of weeks and months, if that's necessary.
The Secretary noted the fact that the President does have constitutional authority -- very clear constitutional authority to deploy American troops. He noted, when he talked about the fact that the President would not want to be bound by certain resolutions, that he was not trying to polarize the situation.
Since that particular exchange on Tuesday morning, the Secretary has recommended to the President that we in effect not only welcome an expression of support from the Congress, but we request one. Let me just draw you to the language in the President's letter.
Q In the meeting the night before last, I guess, at the White House?
MR. BURNS: This has been an issue that's been discussed by the Secretary with the President and Secretary Perry and Tony Lake and others. Certainly the President believes that he maintains constitutional authorities of the Presidency. But the language is he'd "welcome, encourage and at the appropriate time request an expression of support by Congress promptly after a peace agreement is reached."
I think that's an important point. We think it's important as we look towards that question that we also focus the country on the need to make the peace first before this issue can be addressed -- this issue of deployment of troops.
Q If Congress said no, would he send them anyway?
MR. BURNS: That is not a question that I can answer for you. That's a question that only the President, at that time, considering all the facts and judgments at his disposal, could make. I can't make that judgment right now.
Q When this came up a week ago, the Secretary took that position -- the very position the President took today. He took it on MacNeil/Lehrer when he was pressed by Lehrer, when he said, "We will consult." Lehrer said, "You always consult. Will you request congressional authority?", and he said yes.
So it's been the Secretary's position. It just hasn't been the Administration's position until today.
MR. BURNS: The Secretary has long felt that it's important --
Q He's long taken the view that Congress --
MR. BURNS: -- to have congressional support for this.
Q More than long, but they require it.
MR. BURNS: He has also felt that the President --
Q But he didn't testify that because that wasn't the position - - the consensus position then.
MR. BURNS: No, on Tuesday morning the Secretary said that the President ultimately would not be bound, and the Secretary then explained I believe that afternoon what he meant by that. There could be situations where America, as he said -- where American citizens could be in grave danger and where everyone in this country would want the President to have the authority to deploy forces.
Q That's a War Powers thing. This is not an emergency. Look, one quick question -- what form will this take? Are you looking just for a resolution which has no force of law, or are you looking for something that is actually an approval in a legislative way?
MR. BURNS: I think that's something that's not clear.
Q There's a very ambiguous word there -- intentionally ambiguous, I'm sure.
MR. BURNS: If something is not clear now, it will become more clear as we face this situation.
By the way, we hope that we face this situation where we have a debate with the Congress, because that will mean that we've been successful in the peace talks.
Q A couple of loose ends. One is Shattuck -- is he en route back to Washington? Is he back here already? Is he still in Europe?
MR. BURNS: He's en route back to Washington from Geneva. He arrives sometime late this afternoon.
Q And, secondly, going back to the problems that have happened recently in the Banja Luka area, it's been reported, and I just wonder if the Administration has any reason to think it's true, that Mr. Karadzic -- Dr. Karadzic was seen in that area in the time frame that some of these incidents took place? Does the Administration have any -- can you confirm that?
MR. BURNS: I've seen the press reports. We cannot confirm that. We don't have anybody in Banja Luka. There are no American Government officials there, and Mr. Shattuck was not able to visit Banja Luka itself because of the fighting. It was too dangerous.
Q Do you know anything about where the 2,000 to 3,000 missing - - anything at all -- in the Banja Luka area?
MR. BURNS: We do not. That's the more significant question that emerges from John Shattuck's trip: what happened to these people? Where are they? We think we know what happened to the 6,000 to 8,000 men and boys who are permanently, we think, missing from Srebrenica. We think they were killed.
We fear for the fate of the people who were detained, the men and boys who were detained in Banja Luka.
Q Can you tell us, is there any evidence other than the testimony of refugees that these atrocities have occurred? I ask, obviously, because in the case of Srebrenica there was aerial photography that tended to corroborate the massacre.
MR. BURNS: We, last night and this morning, looked into that particular question. We're not aware in the U.S. Government, in the State Department, of any such information from aerial photography or any other means.
Almost all of this information, if not all, David, has been produced by the United Nations and by Assistant Secretary Shattuck and by the International Committee of the Red Cross based upon conversations with hundreds, if not thousands, of these refugees.
Q Can I just ask in the same connection. The cement factory, do you know the name of it? If there was a massacre there, did it occur under a roof?
MR. BURNS: That's a good question. I don't know the answer to that question. We have a transcript of Assistant Secretary Shattuck's testimony yesterday. I don't know if he named the cement factory. We can look into it.
MR. BURNS: He did not.
Q Can you release that transcript?
MR. BURNS: We certainly can. It was released publicly by our Embassy in Zagreb. I can provide copies to all of you. It's much more detailed than the information I've given you. I've drawn from that to present the information I did today.
Q Is there any way -- is there any consideration of retaliation by NATO? I don't know if you have a legal basis. I just don't know.
MR. BURNS: We never rule in or out military action.
Q Well --
MR. BURNS: It's a statement of fact. It's a statement of our position. I think at the present time we believe that the best and most effective thing the United States can do is to end the war. That's why we're convening a peace conference in Dayton, Ohio.
Q Is that position consistent with your obligations under the Genocide Convention?
MR. BURNS: It is absolutely consistent with our obligations under the Genocide Convention. The Genocide Convention talks about nations -- in this case, the United States -- having responsibility to act when crimes are perpetrated on a nation's soil, to be legalistic about it. That's what the Genocide Convention says.
Q You mean to say on American soil?
MR. BURNS: On American soil. We have an obligation to act if we think that anybody on American soil is engaged in genocidal activities.
Just speaking legalistically now, we do not have an obligation under international law to act militarily, by force, if there are genocidal activities occurring outside our national territory.
That is not being offered here as an excuse or an explanation. That's a minor theological point of international law. The fact is, we've done more to expose these human rights abuses than any country over the last two weeks, and we are doing more than anyone else to stop them through our peace conference.
Q The idea of a Serb delegation with Bosnia, it's a joint delegation?
MR. BURNS: Yes, it is.
Q But so far no Bosnian Serbs are in it; is that correct?
MR. BURNS: No. The Bosnian Serbs have always participated. They participated in the meeting with Secretary Christopher in New York. I believe there will be Bosnian Serbs in Ohio.
Q Will they be eligible to come to the United States?
MR. BURNS: They certainly will if they are not indicted war criminals. So, therefore --
Q Only two guys can't come, right?
MR. BURNS: -- Mladic and Karadzic are not welcome in the United States. We would have an obligation, of course, to take action if they did come to this country.
I believe the Vice President and the Foreign Minister -- Koljevic and Buha -- have participated in most of the meetings with Dick Holbrooke, in the Secretary's meeting in New York, and I believe they will be present on October 31 when the peace talks begin.
Q Will the Administration ask for Congress' advice without intending to follow that advice?
MR. BURNS: I think the President has spoken today in his letter to Senator Byrd. I can't improve upon that.
We can't really anticipate all the permutations of this until we reach the point where the Administration and the Congress have to agree on the deployment of American troops.
Q Nick, you spoke to Fox this morning and alluded to Vietnam and the lessons learned. Is one of the lessons that will guide the Clinton Administration in this troop deployment that there has to be a base with popular support, with approval -- not necessarily the approval of Congress but the concurrence of Congress in that the Congress represents the popular base, the electoral base in the country? Would you agree with that?
MR. BURNS: I was asked to comment this morning. I just want to make a note of that. I didn't offer it voluntarily.
Most Americans can conclude that the problem in Vietnam was that our commitment was not commensurate with our interests; that the mission of our military force was not clearly defined, and that we did not have an exit strategy.
What Secretary Christopher, Secretary Perry, and General Shali presented this week was a very clearly defined mission for the NATO military force, and it was a very clearly defined exit strategy for that force -- roughly one year. They also, I think, provided a persuasive case for why the events in Bosnia are of vital interest to the American people. That was not the case during Vietnam, at any point during the Vietnam war, in my opinion.
Q Can we ask something else? Shevardnadze: What is the State Department's idea of the situation in Georgia that keeps Mr. Shevardnadze from --
MR. BURNS: We support Chairman Shevardnadze. We support him fully. We have a close relationship with his government. He faces a number of very severe internal challenges within Georgia, both from rival factions in the political system there and some even armed paramilitary groups.
Georgia is a country that since 1991, Barry, you know very well, as well as I, has had to really deal with three civil wars concurrently in 1993, and at least the residues of that today. He faces tremendous challenges, and we have admiration for his courage and persistence in proceeding forward with reform in a very difficult environment, indeed.
Q Back on Willy Claes. Does the United States have a favored successor for him?
MR. BURNS: No, we do not. The Secretary got together with his advisors this morning and began to look over a list of people who might put themselves forward or be asked to put themselves forward. He has not decided and the Administration has not decided on who the United States might favor. But he has begun this morning, through several telephone calls with his colleagues, the beginning of a dialogue with them about our hope that NATO will act quickly and decisively in selecting a new Secretary General.
The Deputy Secretary General, Sergio Silvio Balanzino, will be the Acting Secretary General until a new Secretary General is chosen and confirmed by the North Atlantic Council.
Q "Colleagues" are other Foreign Ministers?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q By colleagues, you mean --
MR. BURNS: Other Foreign Ministers. That's right.
Q Is there any plan in New York to have a special meeting with NATO Ministers to discuss this issue?
MR. BURNS: There are no current plans for one. I think by the end of the day he will have contacted a number of his colleagues. He'll continue that, as will our Ambassadors in the field over the next couple of days -- talking through the merits of some of the people who could be candidates for this position.
Q Nick, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman said that China would take Taiwan by force if pushed. Is that kind of statement helpful to the success of the summit?
MR. BURNS: No, it's not. It's not helpful to the general situation. Certainly, it's not going to change our focus of the summit. However, our focus of the summit is to engage at the leadership level to determine the best possible agenda for the United States and China so that we can move forward together.
As you know, the long-standing position of the United States concerning the future of Taiwan is that this is a matter for the Chinese people themselves, on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, to resolve. We have an abiding interest that any resolution of disputes be peaceful. That's an important word -- "peaceful."
The Taiwan Relations Act states that "It's the policy of the United States to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States."
This is a well-known U.S. position -- well known to all of you -- and it has not changed.
Q During the summit, would you push for the idea of a peaceful solution to the Taiwan problem?
MR. BURNS: We have stood consistently since the adoption of the Taiwan Relations Act for a peaceful resolution of all disputes between China and Taiwan. There is no reason for us to change that position. And, if asked, we will certainly reaffirm that position.
Q Does this get said any place but at this briefing?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I don't know who else you're asking about.
Q I often ask that question. You make a statement, like with Syria. You made a public statement. The question is, do our diplomats tell the Syrians that as well?
MR. BURNS: In the case of Syria, yes.
Q In this case, do you tell -- what about the Chinese? Do the Chinese have to read a transcript of this briefing to know how you feel about their remarks? Or does whoever is in the Embassy in Beijing tell the Foreign Minister that we didn't think what they said was helpful, etc., etc., we want a peaceful resolution, etc.? Is this being communicated to them?
MR. BURNS: First of all, to be comprehensive here at the end of the week, what we said on Syria was raised with the Syrian Government.
MR. BURNS: I assume that what is said publicly here at the podium - - I'm speaking on behalf of the Secretary here -- is going to be the refrain that American diplomats will have in all relevant conversations with Chinese diplomats. I would assume that. I'll even be glad to look into it and give you a date and time and a venue for when that occurs.
Q We have some big meetings coming up. I wonder if the President --
MR. BURNS: I think that's legitimate, Barry.
Q By the way, we don't think what you're saying is --
MR. BURNS: I'm glad we're ending on a positive note, in this particular --
Q You always tiptoe around the Chinese.
Q Let's not spoil the mood. May I raise -- sort of go back to Barry's point at the beginning and ask you about Assistant Secretary Shattuck's return here.
He did hold a news conference in Zagreb, but not too many news organizations were there, unfortunately.
MR. BURNS: But they were welcome.
MR. BURNS: We made no attempt to dissuade anyone from coming. He was in Zagreb.
Q Indeed. Do you have any objection to Secretary Shattuck speaking to journalists this afternoon?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Shattuck spoke publicly yesterday; I believe on camera.
MR. BURNS: No, not on camera?
MR. BURNS: Well, he spoke on the record. It was a quite lengthy discourse. I don't know what time he's arriving back, but I think my remarks today represent what the Administration wants to say today about this issue.
We took great care in thinking about what we should say today. We mean every word of it. It is meant to be a signal to people in Belgrade and in Pale and elsewhere, in Banja Luka, that we have grave concerns, that we will act to bring to justice those people who have committed these crimes. I think my remarks today will be what you hear from the U.S. Government today on this issue.
Q I'm only asking because he was the man who interviewed refugees and kind of has a first-hand view. Obviously, there's something to be said for that.
Is he under instructions not to talk to the press this afternoon?
MR. BURNS: I am under instructions to present the U.S. Government's view today, and it has been carefully considered. This will be the U.S. Government's view today.
I'm sure that at some point in the future Assistant Secretary Shattuck will be available to talk to you.
I think -- just to put a cap on this and try to end it on a positive note; we may or may not do that -- that we have been forthcoming with you on this issue in providing as much detail -- he did yesterday and I did today -- as we have on this issue. I've tried to give you a very clear sense of how our leadership looks at this particular issue.
Q What happens with the information that he has gathered? Is that --
MR. BURNS: That he is --
Q That Assistant Secretary Shattuck has gathered from interviewing refugees?
MR. BURNS: He traveled to Geneva. I'm sorry, Laura. I didn't mean to cut you off.
Q I just wondered, is he under obligations -- is the Secretary under an obligation to present that to anybody? Where will that information then go?
MR. BURNS: Yes, in two respects. He went from Zagreb to Geneva yesterday. He had meetings with UNHCR and I believe other U.N. officials. All of this information will be given to the War Crimes Tribunal. It will be given to them because we think it represents a mass of evidence not only about what happened in Banja Luka but it also corroborates, in effect, the evidence from Srebrenica and Zepa that the Bosnian Serb paramilitary and military have been engaged in consistently brutal actions against Muslim and Croatian civilians. So we're going to give this information to the War Crimes Tribunal.
Q The people who authorized -- you say, they should be brought to justice, the perpetrators. You know, Nuremberg didn't work that way. The people who took poor victims out in the fields and killed them, I don't believe were tried at Nuremberg -- the German high officials who had organized the Holocaust.
MR. BURNS: Some were and some were not.
Q What I'm saying is, you don't expect to bring to justice individual gunmen. The question is, if you link Milosevic to this, will you try to get him indicted?
MR. BURNS: Wait a minute, Barry. The War Crimes Tribunal has indicted not just the leadership -- Mladic and Karadzic -- it's indicted all sorts of junior and middle-ranking people who we believe directly executed people and committed war crimes. So we're going after those people.
Q There are a lot of people involved in this type of killing.
MR. BURNS: There are.
Q The main thing is, you will go for the leadership; right?
MR. BURNS: We've gone for the leadership.
Q In this case?
MR. BURNS: The United Nations has gone for Mladic and Karadzic.
Q The notion that Milosevic -- if it turns out Milosevic is responsible for this in any way, you won't hesitate to indict him even though he's participating in your peace talks; right?
MR. BURNS: We fully support the activities of the War Crimes Tribunal. Those activities should lead wherever the information and the evidence leads them.
Q Nick, one more thing on the South Pacific free nuclear zone.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Does the United States have assurances from France that its tests are over in the South Pacific?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. We're talking about an agreement that we think will be -- the adherence to the Rarotonga Treaty will be done in the first couple of months of 1996. I don't believe we have assurances that there will be no more tests. But we do have assurances that by 1996 the nuclear weapons-free zone in the South Pacific will be in effect. That's a good thing; a good step forward.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:20 p.m.)
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