U.S. Department of State 95/10/27 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, October 27, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Secretary Christopher's Trip to Amman and Damascus .......1-2,21-23 Proximity Peace Talks: --Secretary Christopher's Trip to Dayton for Opening .....2-3,8 -- Bilateral Meetings ...................................3,7-8 -- Address to Delegates .................................3 --Assistant Secretary Holbrooke: -- Press Briefing on 10/30 ..............................2 -- Press Briefings from State Department ................5 -- Press Access at Wright Patterson AFB .................3,6-8 Announcement re: Sri Lanka ...............................2-3 Latin American Journalists Welcome to Press Briefing .....1,9 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Proximity Peace Talks: --Serb/Bosnian-Serb Delegation ...........................9-10,12 --Negotiation of Peace Agreement .........................9-10 --Russian Co-Sponsorship/Diplomatic/Military Participation ........................................10-12 --War Crimes Tribunal/Human Rights Abuses/Atrocities .....10,13-15 -- Assistant Secretary Shattuck's Trip to Region ........16-18 --Milosevic, Izetbegovic, & Tudjman Participation ........13 --U.S. Congressional Support .............................18-21 IRAQ Report of Iraqi Kurdish Group Meetings in Iran ...........23 CANADA President Clinton/Secretary Christopher's Statements re: U.S.-Canada Relations ..............................23-26 SUDAN Reports of Sudanese Gov't./Rebel Force Negotiations ......26 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Report of Hassan Turabi's Role in Hamas Acceptance of Peace Talks ........................26 SLOVAKIA Demarche from U.S. to Slovak Gov't. ......................27-28
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1995, 1:08 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I'm looking around for our Latin American journalist guests. I don't see them, so I will not introduce them to you.
Next page. Let me talk a little bit about the Secretary's trip to Amman and Damascus, and then about the date and preparations.
As you know, the Secretary will be leaving -- today is his birthday, by the way. When I see him, I want to convey to him the unanimous --
Q We would tell him direct.
MR. BURNS: I know you would, Barry; but you'll see him shortly. I'd like to convey to him --
MR. BURNS: Barry, I'd like to be able to convey -- you're the Dean of this Corps -- I'd like to be able to convey, maybe on your behalf and everyone else's -- your best wishes to him. Is that okay? Can we have a show of hands? That's unanimous. Okay. The normal Friday vote.
Q You can say we voted 17-to-6 in favor of -- (Laughter)
Q (Multiple questions)
Q The reporters who aren't here agree.
MR. BURNS: Thank you, Barry. That's the way you usually run things here? (Laughter) This is a democratic process. At least from our side it's a democratic process.
The Secretary is leaving tomorrow morning. He'll be arriving in Amman very early on Sunday morning. He will be representing the United States, leading the U.S. delegation to this conference. He'll be speaking at it. He'll have a number of meetings.
He will have a press conference. He will be speaking directly to the American and international press and will be responding to questions from the press on Sunday afternoon.
On Monday morning -- very early on Monday morning -- he will travel from Amman to Damascus. He will be there to have a brief meeting with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, and then he'll be returning to Washington.
I'll be glad to respond to any questions that you may have about that particular trip. But let me just tell you a little bit about Dayton. I hope that at 11:00 a.m., Monday morning, Dick Holbrooke -- Assistant Secretary Dick Holbrooke -- will give an On-the-Record briefing here in the Press Room. The 11:00 a.m. time is necessary because Dick has to leave at noon for Dayton.
I will then have a normal briefing -- our normal briefing at 12:45.
On November 1, the Secretary will be traveling to Dayton to open up the Proximity Peace Talks. He will be taking members of the press with him on his aircraft. There's a sign-up sheet available in the Press Room that will be available directly after today's briefing, and that will close on Monday afternoon. So I would encourage you, if you are interested in coming with us to Dayton on Wednesday, to sign up this afternoon. Either talk to me or John Dinger about your interest.
That, I think, is all I wanted to say on Dayton, but I'll be glad to take any questions if you have questions on Dayton.
Q Just logistical footnotes on that.
MR. BURNS: Can I just do one more thing at the top here, Barry. I have an announcement, and I wanted to go through that and then let's get into all the questions.
This announcement pertains to the situation in Sri Lanka.
Over the past week, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam -- the LTTE -- has assaulted a string of villages in eastern Sri Lanka. These brutal attacks have resulted in the murder of over 100 innocent civilians.
The United States condemns in the strongest terms these massacres and calls on the LTTE to cease all such attacks immediately. We also urge the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to take all possible steps to protect civilians in the ongoing conflict and to cooperate fully with the relief agencies who are assisting persons displaced by the fighting.
The United States continues to support a negotiated political settlement to the longstanding conflict in Sri Lanka. We welcomed the Sri Lankan Government's August 3 announcement of wide-ranging proposals for constitutional reform. We believe this proposal constitutes a solid basis for a constructive dialogue on finding a peaceful solution to this tragic conflict.
Q If there are no questions on that statement, can we go back to Bosnia? The Secretary will make a presentation. Will he be specific in that presentation on U.S. views on the critical issues, or will he speak broadly of them?
MR. BURNS: Let me just run through the Wednesday events. The Secretary will be arriving in Dayton. He will have bilateral meetings with each of the three delegation leaders, each of the three Presidents -- President Izetbegovic, President Milosevic, and President Tudjman.
MR. BURNS: He has not. We've not set a specific time. I believe it will be sometime probably in the late morning, but we do not have a specific time. I would hope to have something for you on Monday in that regard.
Q Following the three bilateral meetings, the Secretary will then convene the Proximity Peace Talks. All of the delegations will be present for that session -- the three Balkan delegations and all the European delegations, as well, of course, as the United States delegation.
He will address -- Barry, in answer to your question -- he'll address the delegates, I think, with a fairly comprehensive statement of United States views on the importance of reaching a political agreement at Dayton and what we hope will happen thereafter, to secure a permanent peace in Bosnia. I think it will be an important statement that will give you all the details you'll need on how the United States Government is approaching these talks.
Q Nick, are other people going to make statements or will they break up after that and go into their respective rooms for the Proximity Talks to begin?
MR. BURNS: What will be open to the press will be the Secretary's opening statement. After the press leaves, then there will be, of course, an ensuing discussion and some statements by the participating delegations; but that will be in private. That will, in effect, be when the private discussions begin.
The Secretary will be in Dayton, I would think, for several hours in the afternoon. He has not yet decided whether he would spend the night there or whether he would return to Washington. Both options are under consideration, and we'll let you know when he makes a decision on that.
Q About Dayton, do you have any plans to pipe it back here -- his opening address?
MR. BURNS: As much as you love -- you've been to Dayton?
Q Yeah, I have.
MR. BURNS: We'll look into that, Jim. I think if we can do that technologically, we'll try to do that.
Q Can you be as free as you can on --
MR. BURNS: I just want to note, John is saying we're going to look into the possibility of doing that for you.
Q You're making some arrangements for transmitting news. So far as public access or making statements or whatever, what is available -- the Secretary's statement? Is that it? Or will there be some briefing there, for instance, after he sees, or Holbrooke sees these other folks?
MR. BURNS: For those who will be traveling with the Secretary, of course, you'll have access to him on the aircraft.
Q Going back, you know he's going to talk to the press?
MR. BURNS: No. Access at some point. I don't know at which point he'll talk to the press.
Q Oh, I have it.
MR. BURNS: The purpose in bringing press on the plane would be to make the Secretary available to you on the aircraft. Secondly, you'll have his opening remarks which will be quite extensive -- these are not 60-second opening remarks -- to the delegates and to the people negotiating there.
And, third, it wouldn't surprise me if there are other media events -- I mean, interviews -- given afterwards.
MR. BURNS: I haven't set anything specifically in that regard.
Q When does the curtain come down so far as -- let's call it a "Press Room" for want a better name. When does it close?
MR. BURNS: The curtain will come down, I think, late afternoon, early evening of November 1.
After that, as we have discussed before, the participants in this conference, including Dick Holbrooke, will not be speaking to the press. There will be no press events from Dayton.
Q Dick and I, in fact, just about 30 minutes ago, reviewed this procedure. I'll be glad to go over it again with you.
Starting on Thursday, Dick will be calling in to me and to others in the Department several times during the day. During my Thursday briefing, I will have a statement to make about what happened Thursday morning at the talks. If it's necessary some days to make two statements or three, I'll do that, if that's necessary. It may not be necessary for me to do that.
I will be briefing on a daily basis, including I'll have things over the weekend, if necessary, especially to keeep the wires and the news -- well, all of you -- informed on what's going on.
We don't expect to deviate from this particular arrangement. We think it's the best way to conduct these negotiations.
It is entirely possible -- in fact, I would expect that the Secretary would go back down to Dayton. It is possible the Secretary might want to make a statement to the press when he does that. It's not guaranteed, but it's possible.
It's also possible that Dick Holbrooke at certain points in these talks may return to Washington to report to people here directly. It's possible he could have something to say when he does that. But we're not planning to brief out of Dayton. There will be no On-the-Record statements from Dayton.
All of the participants have taken a pledge that they will not speak to the media from Dayton.
I can also tell you that we'll have media access to Wright- Patterson on Monday and on Wednesday. After that, there will be no media access.
I know that some of you are concerned that perhaps some journalists will be in the delegations of some of the participating countries. We've made it positively clear and absolutely clear to all the delegations that this cannot happen. If we find out that anyone is trying to report from within Dayton -- Wright-Patterson -- we will obviously put a stop to that because that violates the agreed procedures for all delegations.
Q You will enforce it, then?
MR. BURNS: We will absolutely enforce it, Bill.
Q This will be exclusively -- then, everything from Dayton will exclusively come through you here in this room?
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q You said it's open Monday -- Wednesday. I mean, it's open Monday through Wednesday, is what you mean?
MR. BURNS: Well, actually not.
MR. BURNS: Let me just review this so there's no mistake. Dave Leavy, from our Press Office, will be in Dayton. He'll be there starting this evening. If any of you have questions about logistics and about press operations, you can call Dave directly at Dayton at the Air Force base. We'll make his number available to all of you.
We have distributed last night and also again today a set of instructions for how you can register yourself, how you can set up technically for Dayton.
On Monday, at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00, he's going to take four waves of journalists through the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. You will have access to the exterior of all the buildings and the grounds. You'll have access to the conference hall inside, the interior.
We are not going to be giving the press access to the interior of the housing that the delegations will be staying in. That's four waves on Monday.
Tuesday, the press will not have access to Wright-Patterson until the delegations begin to arrive, and then you will have access to the leaders as they arrive by aircraft -- I would imagine now there will not be a Moscow meeting on Tuesday, October 31, I would imagine afternoon, early evening.
Then, again, on Wednesday, when Secretary Christopher arrives, you will be able to cover his arrival at the base. Some of you will be with him on the aircraft. Then you'll be able to cover the opening of the conference itself. So that's basically what we've set up.
When the Wednesday events conclude, then the veil will drop and our press blackout will commence and all further comments will be from this podium here.
Q Two further logistical questions. Are there going to be statements at the airport on the arrivals?
MR. BURNS: By?
Q The visiting delegations.
Q Or by the Secretary.
MR. BURNS: Or by the Secretary?
Q Well, the Secretary's Wednesday, but --
MR. BURNS: We have not decided, first, that the Secretary will be making an airport statement, and on the others I simply don't know. I think that's something I'll have to discuss with Dick Holbrooke.
Q Are there going to be photo ops at the bilateral meetings Wednesday preceding the convening of the --
MR. BURNS: At this point we're not planning any photo ops for the bilaterals. We want those to be entirely private meetings.
Q Well, the problem is if there are no arrival statements and no photo ops, the only voice we'll have is Warren Christopher. (Laughter) Not that that --
MR. BURNS: Hey, Judd, that's a good idea. (Laughter) Thank you. I hadn't thought of it along those lines, though, but that's a good idea. Thanks. I'll pass that on.
Q I think it's (inaudible). That was --
MR. BURNS: No, actually, I just don't know if Milosevic, Tudjman, Izetbegovic, Carl Bildt will be making statements at Wright-Patterson. That's an open question in my mind that we need to look into. I can't make a commitment that they will --
Q No, I understand.
MR. BURNS: Because I think that Dick Holbrooke will have to talk to them about that. It's a question that frankly we hadn't decided on yet.
Q Well, you can't speak for them, but are you opposed to that?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to speak to the question until I have a conversation with Dick on this.
Q What time is the Secretary's opening statement?
MR. BURNS: It will be some time mid to late morning. I don't have an exact arrival time for the Secretary yet. I don't have an exact arrival time on Wednesday. I'll get that to you as soon as I have it.
Q Nick, one last tag, and I thought that was the question. The time of the Secretary's statement, opening the conference, after his three little meetings.
MR. BURNS: I don't have that yet.
Q Still not --
MR. BURNS: Still to be determined. We'll get it to you as soon as we have it.
Q Can we go to substance?
MR. BURNS: Be glad to.
Q How does Holbrooke -- how does the Secretary feel about negotiating with Milosevic? Do they have any qualms about negotiating? I'm asking, for those of us who haven't had access to Holbrooke, who has expressed himself on this point.
(A group was escorted into the briefing room.)
MR. BURNS: Barry, let me get into that, but let me first say -- I can now officially welcome a group of journalists from Latin America who are here under a program sponsored by USIA. I believe it's a program that centers on investigative journalism, and I just wanted to welcome you. You're most welcome. We're just in the middle of a briefing. We're now talking about Bosnia.
Barry, it's an important question. I think I can summarize the attitude of most of our senior people in this government that in any negotiation, but certainly in a negotiation that attempts to stop a war completely and forge a peace, you sometimes have to negotiate with people that you would not ordinarily call your friends.
You sometimes have to negotiate with people who have been responsible for starting the war -- and you have to negotiate sometimes with adversaries to conclude a peace. Specifically at the end of wars, when you do have peace conferences, that is almost always the case.
So we are in a position where we put a very high emphasis on reaching peace, and to do that we've invited Minister Milosevic here.
Q Nick, to what extent, though, do you believe -- does the United States believe that a peace agreement is possible without the direct involvement of Karadzic and Mladic, even though Milosevic has this signed document, saying that he represents their views?
MR. BURNS: I believe reaching a peace agreement is entirely possible without the participation of Karadzic and Mladic. They are not welcome in the United States. They are indicted war criminals by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal. They will not come here because of that fact. We do not want to deal with them directly, and we don't have to.
The fact is that they have, in effect, turned over their role in these negotiations to President Milosevic. There is a joint Serb- Bosnian Serb delegation which he leads. Some of the people in that delegation will be Bosnian Serbs. Mr. Koljevich and Mr. Buha are two of them.
But the other two -- Karadzic and Mladic -- will not be here, and it's certainly possible to negotiate a peace agreement with Milosevic. Let me just add to the comments and lead back to Barry's question and say it is not possible to negotiate a peace without Milosevic. Someone must speak on behalf of both Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs -- someone authoritative -- and it's not going to be the indicted war criminals, but it will be the President of Serbia.
That is why all of this talk here in the United States is a little bit puzzling. How can you arrive at a peace that is negotiated among the parties if the parties are not present at the peace table. We didn't elect these people. We didn't draw up the perfect guest list. We have to deal with reality and the situation as it stands, and the reality is that Milosevic is the head of the Serbian-Bosnian Serb delegation.
Q Nick, can I turn Carol's question around and paraphrase what President Tudjman said in an interview, I think, in New York yesterday, that no peace is possible as long as Karadzic remains in power. Does the United States think that there could be peace as long as he and Mladic remain in power?
MR. BURNS: I think there are separate questions that are at work here. The first question is how do you arrive at a peace agreement, and I think it's our strongly held view that that has to happen at the negotiating table. There will be compromises made at that negotiating table. There will be hard issues that are fought over there, but we hope very much that perhaps in a couple of weeks -- perhaps over a longer period of time -- there will be a peace agreement.
A separate issue, but not entirely separate -- but a separate issue is the indictment and prosecution of war criminals. There is a process underway for that, and that is the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal.
So I would just point you to both of those statements as a pretty good indication of how we look at that particular question, Jim.
Q Nick, what is the effect of President Yeltsin's absence from this meeting or this meeting not taking place -- does it set back the peace process or not?
MR. BURNS: First, it's very unfortunate that President Yeltsin has fallen ill. I think you know that President Clinton has sent him a message, hoping that he'll have a full and speedy recovery.
Second, it's imperative that the Russian Government be part of the diplomatic effort, which it is. It's a co-sponsor of the Dayton peace talks.
We believed it was very important that President Yeltsin decided to invite the three Presidents to Moscow on October 31 -- important because it was a dramatic demonstration of the unity that the United States and Russia feel -- unity together -- on the diplomatic end of this peace process.
We're hoping through the talks that Secretary Perry and Defense Minister Grachev are having, to have a similar unity of views on the military side: what would happen, what kind of participation would Russia have in the implementation force or, associated with it, after the peace agreement is signed.
The fact that the meeting was agreed to -- that the three Presidents intended to go there, and the Russians wanted to have the meeting -- was a very important fact, which, as Foreign Minister Kozyrev said just a couple of hours ago in Moscow, has already accomplished part of the purpose of that meeting.
We're disappointed that the meeting will not take place. We've decided, of course, to go ahead with our own talks here on November 1. So I don't think that the cancellation of the meeting, the postponement of the meeting, will have a fundamental effect, because I already think some of the positive aspects have been felt by the parties. We certainly assume and are planning for Russia to maintain its very intensive involvement on the diplomatic side through the presence of Igor Ivanov, who will be in Dayton throughout the peace talks.
Q Are you optimistic, Nick, that the talks between Grachev and Perry will yield an agreement this weekend? There was some progress reported; also a gap. Have you anything -- are you optimistic about that?
MR. BURNS: That's really in Secretary Perry's hands and those of Minister Grachev right now, and they're out at Fort Riley to view the Partnership for Peace exercise in which the Russian Federation military is participating. They're continuing their talks. They did as they went out to Fort Riley, and they'll continue them as they go on to another base in Missouri tomorrow.
It's hard to say whether or not we're going to have an agreement with the Russian Federation. We'd like to have an agreement. That's our very strongly held view, that our ability to implement the peace will be stronger if the Russian Federation is part of that process -- part of that military process to complement its diplomatic activities.
But if we're not able to get an agreement, of course, then we'll just have to march on from there and plan what we're planning, which is a NATO-led peace implementation force. We very much hope to have an agreement.
Q Can we go back to Milosevic?
Q Could I ask one more question about the Russians? The other day you used the phrase I don't think I recall you using before. You described the Russians as co-chairmen of the Proximity Talks.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Are there only two co-chairmen, or are --
MR. BURNS: There are three. I meant to use that phrase, and I'm glad you raised it. There are three co-chairs of these talks -- the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union -- Dick Holbrooke, Igor Ivanov and Carl Bildt -- and, as you know, during Holbrooke's last shuttle to the region, he took Bildt and Ivanov on his plane, and they meet these leaders together as a triumvirate to establish the precedent for the Dayton peace talks, and the practice of working together.
Dick will be working through this weekend with a number of these people on the phone and some of them here in Washington, and he'll be seeing Mr. Ivanov when he arrives early next week.
Q Can I follow on that, please, Nick? When you're at Dayton -- the question is who is going to be going back and forth to the various groups -- do the three that you've just spoken of go together? Does Holbrooke go alone? What is the exact role in the negotiating process of the other two?
MR. BURNS: That's a question you should direct to Dick on Monday morning. I'm sure he'll work out some kind of an arrangement with his colleagues.
Q So far as Milosevic and the Bosnian Serbs, you've made clear that using Milosevic -- even though there will be some Bosnian Serbs there -- the main thing is Milosevic can speak for them, and you're happy with that arrangement.
Now, so far as implementing, the people you're excluding on war criminal grounds are people who have obviously had a lot to do with the fighting in Bosnia. How does the State Department feel about Milosevic being able to implement any agreement, specifically restraining people that you think are war criminals.
MR. BURNS: Let me just remind you that Milosevic, Karadzic, Mladic signed an agreement, which I believe was witnessed by a church authority in Belgrade, to the effect that Milosevic would represent the Bosnian Serbs.
This was signed, Barry, before the Sarajevo cease-fire was successfully negotiated, and I think that the Sarajevo cease-fire is a fairly good precedent, to answer your question. The fact is that was negotiated with Milosevic.
But you're right -- to implement it, it had to have the active cooperation of the Bosnian Serb military authorities, namely General Ratko Mladic. It was and has been successfully implemented. So much so that I believe today, for the first time in several years, there has now been a significant civilian convoy into Sarajevo. Life there is beginning to return to normal.
We would hope that the precedent -- the successful precedential value of Sarajevo -- will, of course, carry over into implementing any peace agreement that is reached at Dayton, Ohio.
Q Do you have the clear understanding of the three Presidents that they will stay in Dayton for the duration of the talks, or have you heard from perhaps President Izetbegovic that he plans to leave and leave his Foreign Minister in charge of the delegation at some point?
MR. BURNS: We have a clear understanding from President Milosevic and President Izetbegovic that they will stay for the duration of the Dayton talks. President Tudjman has indicated that because of some events in Croatia, he may stay only for the first couple of days, turn the Croatian chair over to Foreign Minister Granic and go back to Zagreb. But he also may return at some point.
So I think we can see that Izetbegovic and Milosevic will stay. Tudjman may not. But all delegations will be represented at all times.
Q A Milosevic follow-up, if I could, Nick, to Barry's question and to the others. This man is accused. He is not indicted. He is, therefore, not yet a suspected war criminal, is that correct?
MR. BURNS: It is correct that he has not been indicted by the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal.
Q Is he likely -- is he under review that he might be indicted?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. That is a decision that can't be made by the United States. It can only be made by Judge Goldstone and his colleagues on the War Crimes Tribunal.
Q But you're not expecting he'd be indicted while he's in the U.S.?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that will be the case. I wouldn't lead you in that direction. But, again, the War Crimes Tribunal is an independent organization. It doesn't take its instructions from Washington, D.C., or from Paris or from any place else.
These are independent jurists and lawyers. In fact, I think we've sent over 20 people from the U.S. Government to be part of this. We've helped to fund it. We've been the leading financier, funder, of the War Crimes Tribunal. It's an ongoing concern, and it's independent. So I think you'd have to go to them for an answer to that question, but I wouldn't suspect that that would happen while Milosevic is here.
Q Are you sure he hasn't been indicted? I thought they were --
MR. BURNS: No. Milosevic has not been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal.
Q No, no. Not Milosevic. Karadzic and Mladic.
MR. BURNS: Karadzic and Mladic have been indicted. I thought Bill's question pertained to Milosevic. But I would like to repeat a point that I think is very important. I know that there are some purists who perhaps stand far away from the negotiations and maybe some who would like to toss stones at the negotiations -- who believe that somehow it's possible to have peace in Bosnia without the Bosnian Serbs and the Serbs.
There won't be peace until the Bosnian Serbs, the Serbs, sit down with the Bosnian Government and the Croatian Government and negotiate a peace arrangement. It won't happen. It is a fantasy to think that it will. The people who believe this are completely separated from reality.
The fact is that, like it or not, you deal with people who have made war to make peace, and I think as Americans we can look at the past four years of war and pin the blame for that war squarely on the Serbs - - squarely on the Bosnian Serbs, and the allegations of human rights abuses squarely and directly on the Bosnian Serbs.
We don't like negotiating with some of these people -- the Bosnian Serb side -- but it's going to be absolutely necessary for them to be there to make the peace. I'm not talking about Karadzic and Mladic. I'm talking about some others.
That's an important point to remember. You can't make peace without the people who have made the war.
Q But not Karadzic or Mladic.
Q The dividing line then is being indicted as a war criminal? Is that the --
MR. BURNS: That is absolutely the dividing line right now, because Karadzic and Mladic are not welcome in this country, and we would be under certain obligations to the War Crimes Tribunal, should they visit this country. So they're not coming to this country. They've not been invited, and they will not come. We will not be negotiating peace with them.
But we will be negotiating peace with Milosevic and Koljevich and Buha and the others, and it's absolutely necessary to make the peace. Right now for the United States, peace is the highest objective.
Q What is your judgment at this point in terms of Milosevic's cooperation and facilitating and trying to (a) identify the magnitude of the atrocities or the killings in northwestern Bosnia; and (b) trying to determine whether there are still people alive who were being held in detention and may be in danger of being killed unless there is prompt intervention? What tangible steps has he taken in response to repeated appeals from the U.S. that he intervene in that situation?
MR. BURNS: Let me just begin by saying that the best and most effective way to end the human rights abuses, to end the summary executions and the forced expulsions that are occurring and have occurred in Banja Luka is to have peace talks to stop the war completely and to have a peace.
That's another answer to those who say don't invite Milosevic to the United States. Don't give him a visa to come here. The best way to stop the atrocities is to have him come here to negotiate a peace.
Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck was sent to Belgrade by Secretary Christopher this week, and two days ago he met with Milosevic. He was given a commitment by President Milosevic that the international community -- and that means the Red Cross, the United Nations, the United States Government, in the person of Mr. Shattuck, and the press, the international press corps -- would be allowed into Banja Luka.
Dick Holbrooke and I just talked to John Shattuck at 12:30, and John has told us -- John's in Zagreb --that he will be going into Banja Luka this weekend; that the press will be going into Banja Luka; that Shattuck is facilitating the travel of American journalists into Banja Luka and into Sanski Most; and that the ICRC and the U.N. will also be going in.
We have a firm commitment to Milosevic, and now this commitment is, we think, being met by deed, because they're talking about specific transport and specific routes -- we are -- with the Bosnian Serbs in order to get into Banja Luka.
The purpose of having John Shattuck go into Banja Luka, along with the others -- along with the press -- is to look at the places where the refugees in Zenica say the tortures, the rapes and the summary executions, as well as the forced expulsions, took place during the last three weeks.
Assistant Secretary Shattuck is to conduct a comprehensive survey of that area, as much as he can, given the security situation that is quite dangerous, and he is to report back to Secretary Christopher and Dick Holbrooke, which he will do, I'm sure, sometime over the weekend or early next week.
We have encouraged the international press corps to look independently into these allegations, as we have the ICRC. Any information that we develop as a result of Mr. Shattuck's trip there will be turned over to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal. I think that's an important point.
Let me just go a little bit further and tell you a little bit more about what he's been doing. Shattuck has also met with Croatian Government officials, and he has told them that we do have some concerns about the upcoming Croatian elections, namely we believe that all citizens of Croatia -- and that includes the Krajina Serbs, the hundreds of thousands of Krajina Serbs -- who lost their homes, were driven out of their homes by the Croatian military offensive in August -- all of them should be allowed, we believe, to vote in the upcoming Croatian elections, and we are concerned that the Croatian Government will limit the right of some of these people to vote in those elections.
So he's been in both places. He's looking into both violations of human rights in the Krajina region, as well as in Banja Luka.
At John Shattuck's encouragement when he was in Belgrade, he put Serbian officials in touch with the ICRC and the U.N.. He has also put some of the humanitarian agencies -- other humanitarian agencies, private -- in touch with the government in Belgrade.
So he's done quite a lot of work over the last couple of days, and he'll stay in the region. The Secretary has asked him to stay in the region to pursue these allegations of human rights abuses.
Q Was he due to come back and then, his stay has been extended now?
MR. BURNS: I heard some reports on radio this morning that he would be coming back to the United States. He will not be coming back to the United States. He was not able to get into Banja Luka yesterday because of fog and low cloud cover. He was going to go in by aircraft. He is now trying to get in. I don't want to say when he's going to go in there or how, for obvious reasons.
Q Are there any concerns that, indeed, finding that these atrocities have taken place will jeopardize the peace talks coming up next week?
MR. BURNS: I think Mr. Milosevic has answered that question. He has agreed to give the international community unfettered, he says, access to these sites. He will be at Dayton, Ohio, because it's in his interest to be in Dayton, Ohio, starting next Tuesday afternoon.
I think a much more important point is that we have an obligation to pursue allegations of human rights abuses, wherever they may lead and whenever they occur. The fact that these abuses occurred during the last three weeks may be an inconvenience for some people, but it's not for us.
Shattuck has been in the region three times in the last month, twice in the last two weeks, specifically to look into these allegations.
Q Nick, on your concerns about the Croatian elections, what does this tell you about the Croatian Government's willingness and ability to reach out beyond the forces of war and reconcile its people, especially on the verge of peace talks?
MR. BURNS: It tells us, I think, what we already know and which I'm sure you already know. This is a major challenge. It's going to be a major challenge to have successful peace talks at Dayton. A lot of people think that Secretary Christopher and Dick Holbrooke are going to have an easy time of it over a couple of days.
I think, especially based on the briefing that the Secretary has given yesterday -- the Secretary went outside of Washington to a U.S. Government facility and received a five to six hour briefing on the peace process -- I think the major thought that I bring away from that particular briefing is how difficult these negotiations are going to be, in part because of the question you just raised. We are facing major challenges, as are the parties, to put back together some semblance of civil life in these countries after four years of warfare.
Q Nick, can I try on the congressional question? Does Congress -- do --
Q Could I just -- for one second. East Slavonia -- will East Slavonia take part in the Croatian elections? Did Shattuck raise the issue?
MR. BURNS: John Shattuck made the point -- and I know that our Embassy in Zagreb is following up on this --- that all people who were citizens of Croatia, even those who may have been displaced by the war - - and there are many thousands of people who have been over the last four years -- all of those people should, in our view, be able to take part in these elections.
Regarding Eastern Slavonia, this is a very important question that is on the agenda for Dayton. There is a diplomatic channel, mechanism, available now to the Serbs and to the Croatians to resolve this problem. And I just want to say again, there can be no excuse and no reason to try to resolve that problem through military force, because there is a diplomatic channel available to resolve it.
Q I'm trying to figure out how you're going to resolve your problem with Congress. Where do you stand now? Where does the Administration stand now? Do you need authorization of Congress, or will you simply welcome an expression of support to send troops?
MR. BURNS: The President said in his letter to Senator Byrd a week ago today that he would welcome an expression of support from the United States Congress.
Q So you don't need congressional authorization?
MR. BURNS: We very much hope that the Congress will support the deployment of American military forces as part of a NATO operation. American forces would be under American leadership and American command to Bosnia in order to insure the peace agreement. The reason for that is very simple: We think the United States has a vital national interest in limiting this war and stopping it and insuring it does not spread to our allies in Western Europe.
We believe that only NATO can resolve the problems that will be associated with implementing the peace, and NATO will be ineffective and perhaps prevented from doing so without the participation and leadership of the United States. That's the argument that the Administration is putting before Congress and the American people.
I think, Barry, that last week you saw the two Secretaries -- Christopher and Perry -- go up to Capitol Hill, testify four times. That was the beginning of the Administration's campaign, its attempt, to convince the Congress to support us. We'll continue to make that effort; indeed, the Secretary has met and talked to a lot of people in the Congress this week about this very issue.
Q I understand, but you have not -- I know you welcome support. You haven't responded to whether the Administration needs authorization from Congress. You don't think so, evidently -- the Administration.
MR. BURNS: I know that in the President's letter, if you look at the language in the letter to Senator Byrd and also in the Secretary's comments on Capitol Hill, the President retains his constitutional authorities as Commander-in-Chief. I think all of our answers to this question are either prefaced with that or they're followed up with that. In this case I'm following up with that particular point. It's an important point.
Q It's an important point, so fine. So you don't need -- the President has the authority under the Constitution. He doesn't need it -- he doesn't need to have that -- I'm trying to think of the word -- need to have that expressed, let's say, by Congress in each instance, right?
MR. BURNS: The President clearly and the Secretary clearly wish that Congress will choose to support this action.
Q I understand. But he has intrinsic power or constitutional authority without having to lay out specifics for any particular situation. The fact that the Constitution makes the President the Commander-in-Chief means he can send American troops to Bosnia under a well-planned arrangement in no emergency circumstance and needn't have congressional authority to do that, but he'd like them to say it's okay.
MR. BURNS: The best way to describe this situation, Barry, is to say that, of course, the President retains his constitutional prerogatives. Point one.
Point two: We think it's important that the Congress express itself on this issue. Congress has a right and an obligation to do that. The Secretary and others are willing to do whatever it takes to convince the Congress that this is the right thing to do. It's in our national interest to do that -- whatever it takes in terms of going up to Capitol Hill -- briefing, having special meetings, having phone conversations.
We hope that at the end of the day, once a peace agreement is signed and once then the United States and the American people specifically face the question -- "Will we be part of the effort to enforce the peace, to keep the peace? -- we hope that the answer from Congress will be yes.
Q All right. You're following the course set by friendly senators, like Senator Byrd, for instance. Send them a letter and ask them to support you, and you think that will be enough to carry the day. Is that the calculation, that you can make a case for the need to send troops, and you think you needn't ask Congress for anything beyond that -- authorizing. You feel that that will persuade and Congress will give you some expression of support. Do I understand correctly?
MR. BURNS: What we hope to happen, Barry, is that we will continue to make the case to the American people and to Congress of why it's necessary for the United States to deploy military forces to Bosnia in the event of a peace agreement and only after a peace agreement is signed.
We would hope that by the time that point is reached, if it is reached, the Congress will have concluded -- at least, the majority of Congress will have concluded -- that it is in our interest to do this. And that, therefore, an expression of their support, whether it's a resolution, whatever, would be an important way to signal unity in this country as our young people would go off to Bosnia to protect the peace.
We think there is every reason to do this. We can't believe, actually, and it's just hard to imagine, that after stopping the war in eastern Bosnia, after bringing a cease-fire to Sarajevo, after having negotiated a peace agreement and having been the main party as a catalyst towards that peace agreement, the United States would then elect to walk away from our self interest and our obligation to see the peace ensured. That's the basic argument that the Administration will continue to make to the American people.
Q A follow-up to Barry. Barry, you finished? Okay. During the peace process, as the details become available, will the Administration go to the Congress and brief them, keep them advised on a day-to-day or, at least, weekly basis so that they, let's say, are able to make an informed decision at the time that a peace treaty may come?
MR. BURNS: When significant things happen during the course of the Dayton negotiations, of course, we'll keep the Congressional leadership apprised of them and fully informed. I don't know, Bill, if it's going to be day-to-day. I'm not sure how much we'll have to say day to day.
It's likely that the first couple of days will be spent studying the documents that the United States would have given the parties. As you know, when the talks convene on Wednesday, the United States will present to the parties draft outlines of agreements in each of the major areas -- a draft peace agreement, agreements on constitutional issues, on elections, on separation of forces, on refugees, on reconstruction. All of that's going to happen. That's the work the Secretary reviewed yesterday and that Dick Holbrooke will put the finishing touches on this weekend.
Q Nick, can I ask about the Amman trip? What has changed since 10 days ago, a week ago, when the Secretary was not planning to go to Damascus? Was there some signal, some hint, nod, wink, or whatever, from Damascus that it might be worthwhile?
MR. BURNS: I think two things changed. First, the Dayton conference was put off one day, which didn't demand absolutely that the Secretary rush back to Washington to be here in the early to mid- afternoon of Monday, October 30.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the Secretary has had a few meetings with Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Peres in September and October here in the United States. He's had a chance to talk to them about their perspective on the Syrian-Israeli track. He hasn't seen President Assad since, I believe, June 14, or 15th. That's a long time.
As he reflected on it, he thought it was worth his while to travel to Damascus for a couple of hours to have a general exchange of views with President Assad. I am not aware of anything that would lead me to conclude that there's anything more to it than that, or that, frankly, there will be any dramatic announcements out of Damascus on Monday. I don't believe there will be.
This is a general exchange of views which the Secretary believes is necessary as part of our continuing effort to maintain some sense of forward movement in the Syrian-Israeli negotiations.
Q And he doesn't plan to go onto Jerusalem, in any case?
MR. BURNS: No, he doesn't. He'll be returning here on the evening of Monday, October 30, because then he has to use all of Tuesday to prepare for the Dayton talks.
Q But he sent Ross (Dennis) to Jerusalem, and then there will be an announcement, right?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any plans for Dennis to do that.
Q You don't know if Dennis is going to Jerusalem?
MR. BURNS: I can check into it.
Q If Jim's question were asked and if he substituted Israel for Syria, would you give the same answer? Has there been a wink, has there been an expression, has there been something from Rabin and Peres and Beilin, who says, "Pull out of Lebanon?" Have you heard anything from the Israelis lately that has caused the Secretary to feel it may be productive now to talk to the Syrians; that you've gotten something from the Israelis that might interest the Syrians?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing for you on that.
Q Is the answer no?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of anything, Barry. I'm not aware of anything.
Q On Amman.
MR. BURNS: Yes, on Amman.
Q Does the Secretary know which bilateral meetings he plans to have?
MR. BURNS: We'll be putting out a schedule shortly of the Secretary's activities in Amman. It's not all nailed down yet, so I prefer not to go into --
Q I mean, will he meet Kozyrev, for instance?
MR. BURNS: -- a partial -- if Kozyrev is there, of course, he'll see Kozyrev. I don't know if he'll see him in a bilateral setting, but I'm sure they'll spend some time together and talk, at least, on the margins of some of these meetings. They always do.
But I'm not pointing the way towards a specific bilateral with Kozyrev or anyone else. This is a multilateral setting. Before, during, and after these meetings, there's a chance to talk to colleagues which, of course, the Secretary will take opportunity of.
Q In the same area -- the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Some of the Turkish press reported that the two main Iraqi Kurdish groups, who are discussing inside Iran, do you have any reservation for the Iranian involvement, playing a mediation between the Iraqi Kurdish groups?
MR. BURNS: It's up to the Kurdish groups to decide who they're going to meet and who they're going to talk to. It's not up to the United States to decide that for them.
I think you know our general position, that Iran has been a very unhelpful country in international affairs, from all perspectives. We don't see, ourselves, any value to political discourse with the Iranian Government.
Q There are some expressions of discontent from the Quebec Provincial Government over statements from high U.S. officials -- the Secretary of State and the President -- that seem to endorse the idea of a united Canada. Any response? The accusation being of -- that this may be meddling of Canadian affairs?
MR. BURNS: My only comment on that, Judd, would be to say that both the President and the Secretary of State have commented on the importance of a good, strong United States relationship with Canada.
We certainly believe that we've been lucky to have lived next door to a united Canada in the past. The Secretary said as much when Foreign Minister Quellet was here -- "a strong Canada."
Let me just quote the President, in his recent statement: "Now the Canadian people and the people of Quebec will have to cast their votes as their likes guide them, but Canada has been a great model for the rest of the world and has been a great partner for the United States, and I hope that can continue."
The Secretary said, when Foreign Minister Quellet was here, that there have been enormous advantages to the United States in living beside and having as our closest friend and trade partner, Canada, and we value that relationship very, very much.
Q On Sudan?
Q Let me follow up on that. So you reject any accusations by the Provincial Government that this meddling or interfering with --
MR. BURNS: We're not meddling. We're simply stating United States policy, and we're stating our very strong belief that Canada has been a very good partner for the United States. It's the largest trading relationship in the world. It's the country that in many ways is closest to us. It's an extremely important relationship that all of us in Washington hold in the highest regard.
We're not going to involve ourselves in the referendum. We're watching that referendum with great interest, of course, as you would expect. I think our statements, I think the President's statements, and the Secretary's statements speak for themselves.
Q What happens to U.S. policy if it splits up?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to deal on a hypothetical basis. It's just not fruitful for me to do that.
This referendum is Monday. We're going to wait for the referendum, and we'll see what happens.
Q Let me another way -- slightly hypothetical. You quoted the President saying that Canada is a model for the rest of the world. As we enter the Bosnia peace talks, is there an unfortunate lesson to be learned from this?
MR. BURNS: From Bosnia or --
Q Well, I mean Canada is a multi-ethnic state that one often cites along with several others -- Belgium, Switzerland, etc. -- that might be a model for how one patches together a successful Bosnian nation-state.
MR. BURNS: Canada is a multi-ethnic country.
Q But it's also one that's --
MR. BURNS: And what has been, I think, most praiseworthy in watching the Canadians over the last couple of weeks is the fact that this has been a very civil debate within Canada, carried out peacefully.
You saw the demonstration the other day in Quebec, and now you see today another demonstration for unity. It was carried live, in fact, by CNN just before I came out here. I think all Canadians, of whatever views, have acquitted themselves well, peacefully, in a very civil way. That's speaks very well for Canada and for the Canadian people.
Q Is this government concerned that this may actually come to pass?
MR. BURNS: Is our government?
MR. BURNS: We're simply going to withhold comment on that. We're not going to make any predictions. We're not involved in this. This is a Canadian affair. Let the people of Quebec vote. We'll wait for the results.
But I think our views are well known. I purposefully quoted President Clinton, specifically, because I think that's an important quote.
I would draw you back to the Secretary's remarks upstairs in the Treaty Room when Foreign Minister Quellet was here. He made some important points in what he said.
Q Nick, on Sudan --
Q Is there planning going on in case this were to come to pass?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any planning. I just can't answer that question, really. I don't work on the Canadian Desk. I don't work for the European Bureau.
We're in the position here, as we should, of staying outside the fray, waiting for the referendum to occur. We'll have, I'm sure, something to say once the ballot boxes are closed and once the votes have been counted in the referendum and the results have been announced, then you'll see some kind of statement from the United States Government.
Q On Sudan, Nick. There apparently have been brought into place negotiations between the Sudanese Government and all the rebel forces in the south, including the forces of John Garang? Do you have any comments on that? Does the State Department see this as a positive development in the Sudanese situation?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any specific comment on that. We have a relationship with Sudan. We have a very fine American Ambassador there, Tim Carney, outstanding Foreign Service professional. We are trying to get to the point in our relationship with Sudan where we can bring a sense of stability to it and where we hope the Sudanese can do some things that would make the relationship more profitable.
I should just note that Ambassador Carney is here in Washington and has participated in the Secretary's off-site yesterday -- not because Sudan is involved in the Bosnian situation, but because Ambassador Carney was one of the leading Americans in the effort to bring elections to Cambodia when he had a different job. He is sharing some of his lessons learned from the Cambodian experience with Dick Holbrooke's negotiating team, because we and the parties will face the question of elections at the Dayton peace talks.
It's ironic that you ask the question because Ambassador Carney is here. He has had a good beginning in Khartoum, at least in the sense that he has put forward to the Sudanese Government a very clear view of what it's going to take for the United States and Sudan to have a better relationship. Clearly, we need to better the relationship. And we're waiting for some actions by the Sudanese Government for that to happen.
Q There's also a story -- to follow-up -- that Hassan Turabi has played a role in trying to convince the Hamas to accept the Mideast Peace Talks. Do you have any information with regard to Turabi's role?
MR. BURNS: I do not.
Q There was, of course, a statement today by Sheik Yassin supporting the peace process which, I guess, would play an important role?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything on Mr. Turabi's role; no.
Q Nick, do you have anything today on the U.S. going to Slovakia about its political problems?
MR. BURNS: Ron, I do. Carol, if you'll bear with us. This is an important issue for many Americans, and it is clearly for Ron and others.
Q I asked you two days ago.
MR. BURNS: The United States Ambassador to Slovakia, Theodore Russell, carried out today a demarche to the Slovak Government. Our diplomatic communication via demarche expressed the United States concurrence with the recent declarations of the European Union expressing its concerns about current tensions in Slovakia.
Here are the major points made by Ambassador Russell this morning: The United States Government is concerned that actions may be taking place against the President of the Republic of Slovakia which could have a negative affect on the democratic process in Slovakia.
The United States urges that all efforts be undertaken to re- establish cooperation among the constitutionally-established institutions of the state of Slovakia.
The United States Government believes that Slovakia should put even greater emphasis on the toleration of diverse opinions, on full support for constitutional rights, and on the operation of the government in a transparent manner, especially to the news media.
As President Clinton emphasized in his recent meeting on October 21 with President Kovac: Progress and democratic and free market transformation in Slovakia is the basis of United States Government support and the key to acceptance of Slovakia into the transatlantic community. This is the clear policy of the United States Government and our partners in Europe, as recently expressed by the European Union. It applies equally to all countries wishing to become members of NATO and other Western institutions.
It applies equally to all countries wishing to become members of NATO and other Western institutions.
Slovakia's membership in the OSCE carries with it similar obligations and responsibilities. We urge Slovakia to strengthen its effort to conform to these criteria in the OSCE and we urge it to make a more concerted attempt to establish a firm road towards democracy.
Q Do you have some background on exactly what it was that Meciar did that stirred these protests?
MR. BURNS: There have been a series of actions that have concerned the United States and most of the European countries -- certainly, those in the European Union.
Some of those activities have to do with restricted rights for journalists to cover events freely in Slovakia. We think that's an important part of any democracy. We urge Slovakia to consider the expressions made today by the United States and two days ago by the European Union.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:04 p.m.)
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