U.S. Department of State 95/11/02 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, November 2, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Proximity Peace Talks in Dayton .........................1-32 --Foundation Documents/Draft Agreements to Parties ......1-2,10-12,30 General Framework for Peace; Agreement on Elections; Agreement on Constitutional Issues; Agreement on Military Forces/Paramilitary Forces in the Area .......1,5-10 --Stoltenberg/Galbraith Sent to Eastern Slavonia ........2 --Human Rights: A/S Shattuck to Return to Region ........2 --Robert Gallucci, Spec. Coord. for Implementation Issues ...............................................2,8,19-20 --Missing Christian Science Monitor Journalist ..........2-3 --Mtgs. Conducted by Gallucci/EU Negotiator Carl Bildt ..3 --Gens. Clark and Kerrick Mtg. w/Serbs/Bosnian-Serbs ....3 --Mtg. on Federation Issues: Displaced Persons ..........3 Joint Statement .........................................4 --Military Representatives ..............................6 --U.S./EU Position on Sanctions .........................13-15 --Secretary Christopher's Remarks re: Karadzic/Mladic ...15-18,25 --EU, UN, US Roles in Reconstruction Efforts ............18-19 --Cooperation w/War Crimes Tribunal .....................17,25-26 NATO Meetings w/Candidates for NATO Secretary General ........22-25 UNITED NATIONS Adoption of Resolution on U.S. Econ. Embargo on Cuba ....26-27 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Lapse of Waiver Authority for ME Peace Facilitation Act .27-28 COLOMBIA Assassination of Former Ambassador Hurtado ..............30-31 NIGERIA Due Process/Democratization/Human Rights Concerns .......32-33
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 1995, 1:29 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I'm sorry to be late. I just concluded a couple of phone conversations with Dick Holbrooke and other members of the U.S. delegation, and I wanted to report to you, as we had promised, the following information on the Proximity Peace Talks in Dayton, Ohio. This information is being given to you on behalf of all the delegations there.
First, earlier this morning, Carl Bildt, Dick Holbrooke, and Igor Ivanov -- the three co-sponsors of the Proximity Peace Talks -- presented some of the foundation documents, the draft agreements, to the three countries: Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia. These are agreements that, as you remember, were drafted by the United States, that had been worked with our European and Russian colleagues; and they comprise the agreements that we hope will ultimately represent the general peace agreement that will be reached and signed by all the parties.
The documents given to the parties this morning were the general framework for peace, the general peace agreement, that we hope will be signed by the parties at the end of this process: the Agreement on Elections, the Agreement on Constitutional Issues, and the Agreement on the Separation of Military Forces and Paramilitary Forces in the Area.
There are other draft agreements that we are working on that were not presented this morning that will be presented in the coming days. We're still discussing some of these other agreements with our European and Russian colleagues.
I expect that the parties will take now a day or two to look very intensively at these documents that were presented to them this morning. They are complex documents, some of them are quite long, and they represent significant documents for all of these countries because they represent the hard choices that will have to be made at the Dayton talks in order to reach an agreement.
Secondly, on the situation in eastern Slavonia, the U.N. Representative Thorvald Stoltenberg arrived in Dayton late last night. He will be departing Dayton, along with the U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, later today; and they have been sent to eastern Slavonia to re-energize the discussions and the negotiations concerning the future of eastern Slavonia. This was an agreement that we presented to you last evening in Dayton. There are copies of this statement that I read last evening available in the Press Office. We hope that within a week Ambassador Galbraith and Mr. Stoltenberg will return to Dayton.
Mr. Tudjman, the President of Croatia, will be leaving Dayton this evening. We expect he will return in about a week to Dayton; and at that point, after the negotiators and President Tudjman have returned, the discussions on eastern Slavonia will be resumed with President Milosevic and with the United States, the European Union, and Russia.
Third, on the issue of human rights, Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck joined the discussions this morning in Dayton. He flew in early this morning. He has been asked by Secretary Christopher to return to the region over the weekend. He intends to visit Banja Luka, Srebrenica, Sanski Most, and other areas where the United States believes there are credible allegations of significant human rights abuses over the course of the last three to four months.
During the day, Assistant Secretary Shattuck will be meeting with all of the delegations, including the Serb and Bosnian Serb delegation, to discuss the very great concern that the United States has about the human rights issues and about these allegations of human rights abuses.
Let me also note that Ambassador-at-Large Robert Gallucci is also in Dayton this morning. He, as some of you may know, is working on implementation issues; and he is going to be a Special Coordinator for Implementation Issues for the United States. These are all of the issues that will arise out of these discussions, if a peace agreement is reached. There will be many, many things that have to happen to implement a peace agreement; and he will coordinate that work for the United States Government. He has conducted a couple of meetings this morning with several of the delegations.
Let me also say that the case of David Rohde, the young Christian Science Monitor correspondent who's been missing since Sunday afternoon, was also raised this morning in Dayton. Assistant Secretary Shattuck and the United States Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, John Menzies, raised this issue for the Serbian and Bosnian Serb delegation.
In addition to that, our embassies in Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Zagreb have been asked to work on this issue full time.
There is an announcement from the United Nations this morning in the region that I think all of you saw. We hope very much that Mr. Rohde is alive and that he is well. We suspect he is being detained, and we hope very much that those who are detaining him will release him as soon as possible.
In addition to all of this, the European Union negotiator Carl Bildt conducted a series of private meetings this morning. Carl Bildt and Bob Gallucci co-chaired a meeting to work out a unified United States-European Union position on some of the implementation issues that we must plan for if there is to be a successful implementation of a peace agreement -- specifically, the provisioning of police and civilian authorities to run Bosnia-Herzegovina and to maintain public order there after the imposition of a peace agreement.
I can also say that Carl Bildt and Dick Holbrooke met early this morning to map out their strategy and tactics for the day, and they have now both engaged in a number of meetings.
General Wes Clark and General Don Kerrick, who are two of the American members of the U.S. delegation, met with a combined group of Serbs and Bosnian Serbs on a variety of issues.
Finally, I want to note that Dick Holbrooke and Chris Hill of the U.S. delegation, along with Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger and Mr. Michael Steiner of the German delegation, had a meeting this morning that lasted about three hours with President Tudjman; President Izetbegovic; and the President of the Bosnian Federation, Mr. Zubak.
Also present were Prime Minister Silajdzic, Foreign Minister Sacirbey, and Foreign Minister Granic of Croatia. The meeting was held in the B-52 room of the Hope Center. A lot of you probably don't realize that you were in the B-l7 room yesterday when the peace talks were convened. This was in the room alongside of the B-52 room. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Federation issues, and particularly the issue of displaced persons that the Federation has to be concerned with.
As a result of that meeting, I would like to read for you a Joint Statement that was worked out and agreed to this morning by the Bosnian and Croatian delegations and by the heads of state of those two delegations. I'm reading this, the following statement, on their behalf.
"At a meeting hosted by the German and the U.S. delegations, the Presidents of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and the Bosnian Federation discussed Federation issues, including the problem of the return of displaced persons. As a first step and as a gesture of goodwill, they agree that 200 Bosniak families" -- these are mostly Moslem families -- "may immediately begin to return to the town of Jajce and 200 Croatian families may immediately begin to return to Bogojno. In one week, l00 Bosniak families"-- again, mainly Moslem -- "will begin to be settled in homes in Stolac and l00 Croatian families will begin to return to Travnik."
A copy of this statement -- thiss is a Bosnian Federation and Croatian statement -- will be available in the Press Office directly following the briefing.
We think this is a significant development in this respect. There are tens of thousands of displaced persons who have lost their homes by forcible means throughout this war and they await the return to their homes.
At the beginning of this discussion today, the delegations decided that as a gesture of goodwill on all sides they wanted to make it possible for several hundred of these families to begin to return to their homes immediately. That is a good sign. It indicates to us, and I think to the German delegation, that these countries have a seriousness of purpose on this issue. They have emphasized this particular issue at the very beginning of these talks, and we are very happy to report to you that they have made this limited progress this morning.
This meeting between all these delegations, hosted by the German and U.S. delegations, will be resumed this afternoon to continue the discussion of displaced families and displaced people.
Finally, let me just tell you that in terms of the atmospherics I understand that it's a nice autumn day there; that after the initial organizational meetings this morning that the U.S., EU, and Russia had, the proximity basis of these discussions began in full. Carl Bildt went in one direction to have a series of meetings; Dick Holbrooke went off in another direction. I've reported to you on a couple of those meetings.
Some of the delegates are taking advantage of the recreational facilities. Some of the Heads of State and Foreign Ministers took walks last night. The Officers' Club seems to be the restaurant of choice for most of the delegations. I know that Mr. Tudjman, President Milosevic, Secretary Christopher, President Izetbegovic, and Prime Minister Silajdzic have all commented favorably upon the Officers' Club. There are other dining facilities. We can give you reviews as they come in.
Anyway, that's what I have to offer. (Inaudible) has received mixed reviews. Some good and some mediocre.
Q You comment on Mr. Milosevic's favorite recreational activity is, but let me ask you about your statement about the separation of paramilitary and military forces. Is that just a general statement, or does the document enumerate which paramilitary forces you have in mind? Can you identify paramilitary forces?
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to go into the --
Q The document.
MR. BURNS: -- nature of the statement except, Barry, to say that all of these documents are draft documents that we hope will be negotiated at Dayton and that will comprise the documents that are agreed to as part of a larger peace agreement.
This document of Separation of Forces, in general, talks about the agreement that all sides will have when a peace agreement comes into effect for the disposition of the various military forces. That includes the regular military units of the participating countries. It also includes some of the paramilitary units that have been active.
Q Are they enumerated in the document? Or does it speak, as you just spoke --
MR. BURNS: It's quite specific.
Q -- of the need to separate forces?
MR. BURNS: It's quite specific.
Q So it identifies the paramilitary forces?
MR. BURNS: It identifies a number of them.
Q When it identifies them, does it identify who pulls the strings of these military forces?
Does it associate a particular country with a particular military force? Or does it just speak of them -- just identify them as "Joe Blow's Machine Gunners" and "Zolton's Somebody's whatever?" Or does it say "The Serbian control this or the Croatian control that?"
MR. BURNS: I don't want to go into anymore detail that I have, Barry.
Q We're going to pursue this because we're trying to see if the U.S. Government is prepared to move from the position that Milosevic has some influence with the perpetrators of these atrocities. You have no evidence yet of that, apparently, you say.
I'm trying to see if you're linking Milosevic to these paramilitary forces in the course of your negotiations? That's why I'm asking.
MR. BURNS: I understand the reason for your question. What I've just presented are some thoughts given by all the delegations, particularly by the co-sponsors. I've been asked not to go into the detail of the documents that have been delivered this morning or into the issues in any more detail than I have. So I'm just not able to do that.
Q Can you provide a list of the delegations -- the full list of all the delegations?
MR. BURNS: Let me look into that, Roy.
Q Specifically, who is representing the military on the side of the Serbs, the Bosnian Government and the Croats?
MR. BURNS: I'll look into it for you.
Q Is General Persic still --
MR. BURNS: I don't have that off the top of my head.
Q Is General Persic there for the Serbs?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I recognized Mr. Koljevic and Mr. Buha yesterday. I wouldn't have recognized the others. So I'll look into this issue and see what we can give you.
Q By the way, on the question of paramilitary there's really doubt about whether there are paramilitaries. On the Serbian side, at least, they were integrated into the Yugoslav Army and they take orders. Arkan himself says that he operates out of an army post and is an officer. So it's not paramilitary at all.
Why do you want to recognize this in a legal form when it isn't there in reality?
MR. BURNS: There are paramilitary units operating throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina and have been for some time. I think that's continued.
Q What are you referring to when you say "paramilitary?" If the leader of the most prominent group says himself that he's not a paramilitary but he's an officer in the army, then which groups are you referring to?
MR. BURNS: As I said in answer to Barry's question, I'm not going to go into the level of detail that you want me to go into. I'm not able to do that. I've been asked not to do that. These issues are being negotiated in private.
I can give you on a daily basis what I can give you but no more.
Q You said that there were four documents given to the three delegations. As I understood it, there were somewhere between 8 and 11, total, that were being worked on. You said that some of those were still being discussed with the Europeans.
Does that mean that there is dispute between the United States and the European delegations themselves about the wording, the intent, or something like that?
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't use the word "dispute." The fact is, as you know, the initial drafts of all of the documents were written here in the State Department and other places in the U.S. Government during the last couple of weeks.
On Friday evening -- last Friday evening and throughout last weekend -- the European delegations arrived. We went through each of the documents with them. They had a number of comments on them. In some cases they made suggestions, in some cases they said, "No, we don't agree with this or that provision." In some cases, they referred some of these issues to their capitals.
We now have reached agreement on these four. The others are being worked out. It doesn't necessarily mean there are disputes. It just means that these are complex documents, and we would like to have these as unified U.S., EU, and Russian documents when they're presented.
We didn't want to have a situation where each of the three co- sponsors was presenting the parties a different general peace agreement. We don't have that situation, fortunately, because of the care we've taken.
So I wouldn't describe it as "disputes." They're so complex and there are so many issues, Steve, it's hard to give a general answer more than I have to that question.
Q (Inaudible) over this morning, were those agreed to right away, or was there some discussion/rewriting of those four between Friday and this morning?
MR. BURNS: All the documents have been chewed over. On all of them, we've received suggestions from our European and Russian allies -- all of them.
Q Nick, I have elections, constitutional issues, and separation of forces. What's the fourth one there?
MR. BURNS: The general framework for peace. The general peace agreement.
Q Are these part of the general peace agreement?
MR. BURNS: Here's what we envisage. We envisage a package of agreements that will constitute the final peace agreement. One document will be, if you will, the overall macro-document, and that will be signed by the parties.
The other documents will be technical documents describing how some of the issues, like elections and constitutional issues will be worked out. So there are four, Ron, starting with the general framework for peace that I talked about this morning.
Q You distinguish between people like Bob Gallucci who are working on implementation. But when you present a document of the separation of military and paramilitary forces, does that document describe how they're to be separated, the role -- of course, most specifically -- that American troops might play? Or does it state a role for American troops in separating paramilitary forces?
MR. BURNS: I'm just not going to go into the details of the document, Barry. But I can tell you this: We have a working group established in each of these issue areas. After Dick and Carl Bildt and Ivanov presented the documents, the experts in each area -- American/ European/Russian -- are going to be meeting in a proximity basis with the delegations to go through these documents in detail.
For instance, Roberts Owen is our expert on constitutional issues. He has played a big role in the draft of the new constitution. Chris Hill has been working on, as I said, the Federation issues. We have other experts -- Jack Sekulic, for instance, of our delegation on election issues. So all these people will be meeting throughout the day and I think in the next couple of days with these delegations.
Q I think ultimately you're going to be asked -- if you don't want to be asked by the press, I can understand that. But I think the U.S. Government is going to have to explain to Congress what role American troops will have. It's tough enough dealing with established governments, however ugly their records might be, and using American troops to separate paramilitary forces.
If you can't say now that American troops are envisioned having a role in separating paramilitary forces, I guess it'll keep coming back. You can't say that.
MR. BURNS: Barry, let me separate the two for you. What I don't want to do is begin to describe in any level of detail what is in these documents because they're going to be negotiated privately. But I think you know very well that the United States believes that if there is a peace agreement, the United States in NATO should be there to help implement it through the deployment of American military forces. We believe it's in the national interest and we're making provisions. We're planning. Our troops are training for that eventuality, if it occurs, if there is a peace agreement.
There's no question about that in any of our minds.
Q Nick, as I understand it, these various working groups and the leaders meet in a room with the various mediators and sit down and talk, which leads me to the question: How are these so-call Proximity Talks different from any generic negotiations in which people sit down in the same room at the same table and negotiate?
MR. BURNS: In two respects. A classical definition of a "peace conference" -- maybe it's too conventional -- is Versailles. You've got parties sitting around a huge table and they sit there and they hammer out an agreement day after day. All the members of the delegations are in the room at the same time.
That's what happened yesterday in the convening of these talks in Dayton. Yesterday's picture is not at all what is happening today or is likely to happen for the majority of these talks.
What happened today is that Dick Holbrooke and Wolfgang Ischinger went into the B-52 Room to discuss certain issues with some of the parties. Carl Bildt went in a different direction to discuss other issues. Ivanov was in a separate place.
Some of these meetings were held in the Serb offices; some were held in the Muslim offices. So we're talking about 10/15/20 meetings occurring at one time; not one meeting.
The other way that it's different is that for the most part the co- sponsors are present in these meetings but not always. There have already been today a couple of meetings where the parties have met directly without the co-sponsors. That's a very good thing.
Q Did Presidents Tudjman and Izetbegovic meet face to face today?
MR. BURNS: I can't confirm that. I know that they met with Dick Holbrooke and Wolfgang Ischinger on the Federation issues. I can't confirm that they met face to face. I actually don't know if they did.
Q Isn't it unusual in peace negotiations, on the first day, for the United States to hand out -- in a sense it sounds like a finished agreement?
When you look at the Middle East talks, for example, there's always been a case of the parties negotiating among each other or with each other to work out drafts, and then the U.S. coming in with some suggestions maybe late in the process just to break the deal, to make the deal.
Here, you're starting off in a completely different direction. Can you explain the philosophy?
MR. BURNS: All negotiations are different. These negotiations are quite different than the approach we took on the Israeli-Palestinian track or the approach that we're taking on the Syrian-Israeli track.
Here, for a variety of reasons, but namely because of the huge differences among these delegations, the complexity of the issues, the fact that they have failed many times to reach agreement in previous peace meetings, the United States, the European Union, and Russia have decided to play a very aggressive, opportunistic role in these negotiations.
We are presenting the core documents for these delegations to negotiate, to discuss and, hopefully, to reach agreement over. That is the posture that we've decided to take, and we'll continue that throughout these talks. We think it's the best way to produce a peace agreement, and that's our ultimate objective here.
Q But the pressure -- it sounds like you're pressuring --
MR. BURNS: There is a little bit of pressure. If we didn't want to have pressure, we would have had a nice meeting in Geneva or Vienna or New York, and one could have dined at nice restaurants every night and had press conferences a couple of times a day and they could have gone back to their countries if they wanted to.
There is a little bit of pressure here. We have created an artificial environment at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. We've asked, with the exception of President Tudjman, the parties not to leave. We are putting before them draft agreements that we hope that they will agree upon and sign. There's certainly pressure here. There ought to be pressure. After four years of warfare, a quarter of a million people dead, the United States and our partners have every reason to put pressure on these parties to compromise with each other, to discuss these issues together and to reach agreement.
I think everyone understands this -- everyone who is participating, including these three delegations from the Balkans, that this is what it is.
Q Just to follow up. As late as six months ago, it was the position of the United States Government not to pressure the Bosnian Government. The position was, we will never pressure the Bosnian Government.
MR. BURNS: I was responding here to Roy's question about the environment that's being created. Ultimately, the environment is one where we are suggesting draft agreements. We're creating an environment that is induced -- not to have these delegations think about the issues for a year or two but to have them look 24 hours a day -- hopefully, just over a couple of weeks -- at all these draft agreements and to agree that they want to finish and develop a final agreement. So call it what you will. Ultimately, however, we cannot pressure any of the delegations or force any of the delegations in signing these agreements or into culminating the discussions into a peace treaty. They have to make that decision. That's the decision they'll make based on their own national interests, and we understand that, too.
There is no guarantee, Elaine, that these talks are going to be successful. We can't produce an agreement. They've got to do it.
Q But do you see no difference even in nuance from the articulation of the attitude towards the Bosnian Muslims as the aggrieved party and the victim up until a few months ago, and the way that now they are equated with the other two parties in terms of the agreement?
MR. BURNS: I'm very happy to characterize our position today, November 2, as the following: The party responsible for this war, for the large number of people who died and for the great, great majority of human rights abuses is the Bosnian Serbs party -- the Bosnian Serb military and the Bosnian Serb civilian authorities.
The aggrieved party, the victim, if you will -- the way you put it, is the Bosnian Government and, specifically, the Muslim and Croatian civilian populations; people who have been bombed, people who have had their towns overrun, people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes.
That has always been the way that the United States has viewed this conflict. It's still the way we view it on November 2. It will be the way we view it a month from now.
Nonetheless, working very closely with the Bosnian Government and the other two, we have agreed with them to create this kind of environment, and they have agreed to do this -- we didn't force them to come to the United States -- to produce more rapidly and more efficiently and more effectively a peace agreement.
Dick Holbrooke felt that after five shuttle missions, between August and October, that that kind of diplomatic track had outlived its usefulness, where you shuttle by aircraft among three capitals. He felt -- and the heads of the delegations all agreed with him on his last shuttle mission -- that you needed to create a different kind of environment, a pressurized kind of environment for all parties.
Q Can I take you back two or three minutes. You made a reference to already this morning there had been several meetings between the two parties directly, and that's a good thing.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Can you elaborate on that and tell us which parties and whether it was at the head-of-mission level?
MR. BURNS: Charlie, I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have even dangled that out there because I have a very limited role here. I'm simply conveying information that the co-sponsors and the other delegations have asked me to convey. I'm not at liberty to report on all the movements. I don't have permission of the people who did this to report that they met. So I can't do that.
Q On an unrelated subject on this same overall issue. Has President Milosevic in any of his conversations with American officials raised the issue of sanctions relief for Serbia?
MR. BURNS: He has raised that issue consistently with us throughout the five shuttle missions all the way up to his arrival here and since his arrival.
Q And did it come up yesterday in his meeting with the Secretary? And, if so, could you please share with us the Secretary's response?
MR. BURNS: That issue did come up in the meeting that Secretary Christopher had with President Milosevic yesterday morning. I'm not at liberty to go into the details or even really describe in a general way those meetings, because those meetings do fall under what we consider to be the meetings that should be taking place behind a veil of privacy.
Q I think they were before the curtain came down at the convening of the talks, and you did a readout yesterday, and it was our error in not asking this question yesterday before the veil came down.
MR. BURNS: I probably wouldn't have been able to answer it anyway. We have decided that we're just not -- a lot of what was started in those three bilateral meetings yesterday morning by the Secretary are issues that have carried over into today and that will extend through the life of these peace talks. So I just don't want to get into the nature of the conversation yesterday. But I can tell you that that issue was discussed between the two men.
Q Would you deny that there is ongoing consideration of the suspension of many, if not most, of the economic sanctions if President Milosevic shows some good will on his part during these talks?
MR. BURNS: As you know, we've articulated -- in fact, I articulated along with Carl Bildt on Sunday -- the United States and the EU position on this. Dick Holbrooke has talked about it. I'm not aware of any change in the U.S. position.
Q During the course of the next few weeks, before there is a peace accord, is it still the position of the -- is it the position of the United States Government that there could be some sanctions relief considered for the Serbs?
MR. BURNS: In general, yes. We've talked about that since the imposition of the sanctions, that there would be times and conditions that could be created that would allow the United States to support a partial suspension of the sanctions.
We've talked -- and I was on the record on Sunday with Mr. Bildt -- about what that position is and it hasn't changed and I'm not aware of any change in the U.S. Government over the course of the last couple of weeks on this issue. It's been debated, and there's even been some press commentary on the debate.
Q (Inaudible) temporary relief.
MR. BURNS: Pardon?
Q Expressions of good will by Milosevic or some --
MR. BURNS: Our position has been --
Q Is he in touch, or what?
MR. BURNS: Our position has been that if there's a peace agreement, then there could be a partial suspension. And if there is implementation of a peace agreement, there could be lift. That's been our position.
Q Maybe I misunderstood. But I thought you were acknowledging to Elaine here that before there is an agreement reached -- I understand Holbrooke has laid out --
MR. BURNS: I misunderstood the question.
Q I misunderstood you.
MR. BURNS: So let's roll it all the way back. I misunderstood the question, Elaine.
Q I think Barry and I understood your answer to be that in the course of the talks, if there is concrete progress short of a peace agreement, could there be some partial lifting of sanctions?
MR. BURNS: No, no. I'm sorry I misunderstood the question, but it was an honest misunderstanding.
Let's review the issue. The position of the United States is that upon agreement there can be suspension of sanctions; upon implementation, there can be lift. This was the position that I took on Sunday in my press conference with Carl Bildt. He agrees with that. This is the EU-United States position which is unified.
I'm not aware of any change in the U.S. Government position. In fact, I'm quite sure there hasn't been a change in the U.S. Government position on that.
Q Was this statement of the U.S. Government position relayed to President Milosevic yesterday?
MR. BURNS: All I'm going to say on that is that the issue of sanctions did come up. I'm not going to characterize it any further.
Q Nick, there's also a third part that the Secretary is on the record as saying to sanctions relief, which is that "outer wall of sanctions will be retained." He didn't explain exactly why but other U.S. officials have mentioned the handing over of Karadzic and Mladic. Is that still the U.S. position?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary has spoken in the past -- in fact, as recently as last week -- about the need to retain, at some point, an outer wall of sanctions; yes.
Q With those conditions attached to it?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to agree that those are the specific conditions attached to it, no.
Q Can you elaborate on that point about Mladic and Karadzic? Last night, I guess, in an interview he said that he couldn't see NATO forces going in there if Mladic and Karadzic stay in power. But there is a kind of implication to that, that the Serbian Assembly in Pale, or wherever they are, have a veto on NATO's coming in to implement the peace agreement?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary's position, which is also the position of the rest of the government, is that those two individuals are indicted war criminals.
As we look at the terrain in Bosnia, as we look at the future makeup of a Bosnian state after an agreement, we can't conceive of those two individuals playing a role -- I think the Secretary put it best, a "command role," or be in positions of authority -- after an agreement is reached and once NATO and U.S. troops are willing to come in once there is peace to implement a peace agreement. We can't conceive of that because they are indicted war criminals. The Secretary said that very plainly last night. That's certainly the view of the rest of the leadership here in our government.
Q Can you explain a little more carefully, Nick -- because there are some key U.S. policy decisions that are coming up, and the biggest one, obviously, is the deployment of American troops -- can you say, specifically, that American troops would not go to Bosnia if Karadzic and Mladic remain in power?
MR. BURNS: I want to be true to what the Secretary said last night. He was asked the question of whether we could live with the scenario, in effect, where these two would remain power and American troops would be deployed to help implement a peace agreement. He said he could not foresee that scenario. Because we think that if a peace agreement is reached, if it is a just and true peace agreement -- which we expect it to be -- and if the new state is to be established, we can't believe and we could not support indicted war criminals who would be among the leading officials of that new state. That's exactly what he said last night.
In answer to the question of whether or not American troops could be deployed in that type of situation, I think that speaks for itself.
Q Nick, does he mean, then, that any agreement, in his conceptual framework of an agreement, would exclude Mladic and Karadzic from being in any sort of position of power? Is that what you're saying?
MR. BURNS: Exclusion from positions of power could occur in a number of ways, not necessarily solely through the terms of a peace agreement. This is a decision that the people on the ground, the people of the area -- the Bosnians and the Bosnian Serbs and the Serbs -- are going to have to work out. They're going to have to work that out for themselves.
But our position is very clear. When we think of a peace agreement and we think of the environment to be created after a peace agreement, we don't think there is a place for these two individuals in a future government, and that's what the Secretary said last night.
Q Does he conceive of an agreement that has a place for these two people? Will the United States support an agreement if these two guys are not ousted in whatever fashion?
MR. BURNS: Steve, I'm just trying to be -- I'm not a lawyer, but I guess I'm trying to be lawyerly and careful in not committing the United States ahead of time to A, B, and C in a peace agreement, a peace agreement that hasn't even been discussed in much detail yet and hasn't been written in final.
But I'm not trying by saying that to avoid the question. Let me just restate it again: We don't believe that these two individuals should be among the leaders of the new state that emerges from this peace agreement.
Q Nick, has any U.S. official told Milosevic that if he could turn over the two indicted war criminals to the War Crimes Tribunal that the United States would be willing to push for a partial suspension of sanctions?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any discussions along those lines at all.
But let me just restate, in general, our position on these two individuals and other war criminals. Secretary Christopher said at his Senate testimony -- Senate Foreign Relations testimony a couple of weeks ago and he has restated it and I'll be glad to restate it again it again today -- the position of the U.S. Government -- unified position of the U.S. Government, which the Pentagon and the White House shares -- and that is, as we look at the mission of a NATO Implementation Force, we don't believe it will be a primary duty of that force to seek out war criminals. Their primary duty is going to be separation of forces.
But should our military forces come across war criminals -- people we know to be war criminals -- they would have an obligation to detain those people and turn them over to the proper international authorities. That was the position that Secretary Christopher articulated a number of weeks ago. It's still our position, and it's a unified U.S. Government position.
Q Nick, you've stated at least four times, certainly to my satisfaction, how you don't think it's conceivable/believable that these two indicted war criminals could be in authority after a settlement. But could you just finish the thought: What are the implications for the intervention of American troops?
MR. BURNS: The implications are that we are not going to deploy American troops until there is a peace agreement, number one; until there is a situation of peace on the ground. We're not going to put American troops into a situation of war. It's going to be a situation of peace. The mandate of the NATO forces will be to separate the powers and maintain the peace.
Q What I meant is, suppose Mr. Milosevic does the inconceivable and doesn't either agree to or doesn't remove these two indicted individuals? You have a monumental agreement. You have a lot of problems resolved -- and don't tell me this is hypothetical -- you have dozens of issues. You've resolved most of them.
You mean the United States will then -- what? -- sign the agreement? The answer is we will approve the agreement or won't approve the agreement unless these two guys are out of power?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I don't want to hung up on our signature. We wouldn't sign; we probably witness.
Q That was badly stated. You know what I mean. Support the agreement.
MR. BURNS: But in any case, on the day that the peace agreement is signed, should X and Y have happened before we're able to deploy? All I can say is this. When we deploy, we want it to be to preserve a peace that has been agreed to. When we deploy, we do not believe that these two individuals should be in positions of power or command positions, as Secretary Christopher put it last night.
Q Nick, can I take you back to the Gallucci-Bildt initiative? You said that they're working on a plan under which police and civilian authorities will maintain public order in Bosnia. I realize you can't give details. But is the implication here that the responsibility of maintaining public order -- law and order -- will not be left exclusively to local authorities; that this is going to have to be an item that is agreed on by everybody with respect to all of Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: That hasn't been agreed yet, and it hasn't been fully developed as a concept. We're just at the beginning of that.
Certainly, one of the great challenges of the new country is to maintain a civil society, to maintain law and order -- to impose a sense of law and order -- and certainly to police the streets.
We would like to be helpful, "we," in the international community - - the United Nations, the United States, the European Union -- to the future state in carrying out those functions. That has to be carried out, I would think. All parties share this belief, primarily by local authorities. But they can receive training, they can receive assistance, much in the way that we've helped the people of Haiti to meet this challenge over the course of the last 14 months. That's what they're working on. They're in a very early stage of planning for this.
Q But presumably that would not include -- you said before that NATO forces would not be involved in that particular mission?
MR. BURNS: No. It's very clear to all of us in the U.S. Government that as we look at NATO's role, it's not going to be a police role. It's not going to be a society-building role. It's going to be a role to separate forces and to protect borders.
Other people will have to carry out all the other functions that go with peace. The United Nations, we think, the European Union will take the lead. The United States will be very active in this regard.
Q The European Union --
MR. BURNS: The European Union has already said it wants to take the lead in the reconstruction efforts. The United Nations, I think, would take the lead in a number of other areas. The United States will be very active to support all of these efforts.
Q Nick, do I understand correctly that Ambassador Gallucci will be taking a negotiating role? At times, working with Mr. Bildt; I take it with Mr. Holbrooke? Is that correct?
MR. BURNS: Let me just make clear, first of all, since we're talking about Bob Gallucci, that he retains his title as Ambassador-at- Large. He retains his title and his responsibilities as Chair of KEDO. He retains responsibility within the United States Government for the North Korean nuclear problem.
Alongside those duties, the Secretary of State has asked him to begin to plan for the post-agreement phase in Bosnia and to supervise and coordinate all of the efforts -- some of the efforts that we've just been talking about -- that have to do with implementation of an agreement and coordinate within the U.S. Government.
He will not be at Dayton full time negotiating. From time to time, he'll go down there to talk with Bildt, to talk with some of the parties about the need to plan for the implementation of a peace agreement and all the activities that will be required to support it.
Q I would follow up just to ask, doesn't this pretty much put the top negotiators -- the two top negotiators from this Department -- on the job and even further emphasize the importance of these talks in Dayton?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if they're the two top negotiators, but they're two of the most creative and two of the best diplomats that the United States has: Dick Holbrooke and Bob Gallucci. No question about it. I think it does give an indication of the high priority that we are now placing on the Bosnia Proximity Peace Talks.
Q Nick, is the U.S. Government monitoring the telephone conversations of any of the delegations in any way?
MR. BURNS: Elaine, do you really expect me to comment on that question? I can't --
Q I actually happen to be reading Jimmy Carter's memoirs on Camp David this morning.
MR. BURNS: I read them, too.
Q And the Israelis and the Egyptians thought their telephone phones were tapped?
MR. BURNS: Well, that's history. I can't do anything about history. I was in Graduate School, Elaine.
Q You said these are Camp David-like talks, Nick, right from this podium?
MR. BURNS: They're Camp David-like. I think a lot of us believe that these -- and this may sound highly parochial, but allow me that just for a moment -- that these are perhaps even more challenging and complex because you have nine delegations, not three.
Putting that point aside, I have no comment on your question, Elaine.
Q So it is conceivable that --
MR. BURNS: I have no comment whatsoever. Would you expect me to comment to that, Barry?
Q No, no. There's a boilerplate response which you're not reaching for.
You don't comment on intelligence matters or you don't comment?
MR. BURNS: I can say I don't comment on intelligence matters, true. Elaine has now crossed the line into intelligence matters. I could say I have nothing for you; I can say I have no comment. You can put all of those on the record. I have nothing for you. I have no comment, and I never comment upon intelligence issues.
Your question clearly, Elaine, has gone over that line. I don't blame you for asking it, but I can't answer it.
Q May I go over the line once more? Is the U.S. Government monitoring the conversations in the living quarters or the work space of any of the delegations in any way?
MR. BURNS: Elaine, that's a question out of Grisham or Clancy, and I just can't get into that.
MR. BURNS: Call it what you will. Call it what you will. I have no comment on that, none whatsoever.
Q Can I go back to Karadzic and Milosevic.
MR. BURNS: We've got a lot of questions here.
Q She can't get a question in.
MR. BURNS: I think we should defer. And then, Roy, you and Barry will have a chance.
Q A little off the subject. Secretary Christopher begins talks today with Canada for the NATO Secretary General job. I'm wondering, why has the U.S. invited Mr. Lubbers and Mr. Ellemann-Jensen over here? And what is the U.S. position --
MR. BURNS: It's a very good question, and we can retreat there for a while before we go back into Bosnia.
Let me just say, I was a little bit puzzled by some of the press reports; not by the press reports, but by some of the unnamed comments from some of our European colleagues out of Brussels and Paris this morning. Some people over there are shocked that the United States would deign to break precedence and actually interview people for the job of NATO Secretary General.
I find their comments -- unnamed people; unnamed French diplomats and other diplomats -- to be rather bizarre. Let's put it this way: The United States is the leading power in NATO. The United States provides the backbone of NATO's military strength. We have a direct and great interest in who becomes the next NATO Secretary General.
Some of the European countries have spoken out publicly, and they've anointed a certain candidate. We have great respect for that individual. He's having lunch with the Secretary right now -- former Prime Minister Rudd Lubbers of The Netherlands.
The Secretary had not overlapped with him. Prime Minister Lubbers has been out of office since the Secretary came in. The Secretary wanted to meet him because a lot of people have said that he would be a good candidate to be NATO Secretary General.
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, the former Foreign Minister of Denmark, has also been talked about as a prospective candidate. The Secretary will have breakfast with him tomorrow morning.
It's entirely appropriate for the United States to get to know these people, and for Secretary Christopher to do that.
Let me just tell you where we are. We have not decided who should be the American choice for the next NATO Secretary General. It's a very important issue, in part, because of the high priority that the Bosnian operation will have for NATO just over the horizon; perhaps in a couple of months. So we want to take some care.
There has to be a NATO consensus on this issue. The United States is the leading member of NATO. We will participate in that consensus. When we have decided as a government who we favor, we'll let the Europeans know that and we'll do it privately. We won't do it publicly. We'll go to them privately, and then we'll work it out.
Q To follow up. Are there other candidates the State Department sees than these two?
MR. BURNS: Certainly, these two gentlemen have been talked about as prospective candidates. We have enormous respect for both of them.
I think the United States, prior to this Administration, worked well with both of them when they were in office. There are other people who have been talked about, yes, but I can't go into those people.
Q Are there other job interviews, as the White House called them, upcoming?
MR. BURNS: Did the White House say they were job interviews? (Laughter)
Q They did. Mike McCurry did.
MR. BURNS: If Mike said that, then I agree with it.
Q Anybody else?
MR. BURNS: I think that there are going to be other meetings here in town for Mr. Lubbers and for Ellemann-Jensen. Secretary Christopher wanted them to get around to meet some of the other senior officials here in Washington.
Q Nick, do I detect a note of annoyance in your voice about the Europeans going public with what they felt was a fait accompli?
MR. BURNS: We found it a little surprising. Normally, NATO works on a confidential, private basis to sort out these major issues in private. Normally, the leading member of NATO tries to adhere to the ground rules. And then to be attacked this morning for having violated the sacrosanct generations-held ground rules that you don't interview people, we found it a little bit odd, considering everything that's taken place over the last week. We thought it was appropriate to let you know how odd we felt that was.
Q Will this -- adhering to the annoyance in your voice, in the attitude -- go against Mr. Lubber's candidacy?
MR. BURNS: Not at all. We have great respect for him. He was, I think, three times elected as Prime Minister of The Netherlands. He's been a leading official in Europe. He's a noted thinker on a lot of the strategic issues that a NATO Secretary General will have to deal with.
Mr. Ellemann-Jensen was a very good partner of the United States when he was Danish Foreign Minister. We have great respect for both of them. We have not made our decision, but we really think it makes sense to talk to them both before we do make our decision.
Q And others as well; yes?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q And others --
MR. BURNS: And others as well. Absolutely, Barry. Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q The invitation to Ellemann-Jensen came just one or two hours before he was expected to announce his resignation from the candidacy. Was there any timing here? Was there an intervention to stop him from pulling out?
MR. BURNS: I simply am unaware of the facts as you describe them. All I know is that Secretary Christopher, when he was reviewing this particular issue, told our European Bureau that he really wanted to meet both these gentlemen for a variety of reasons. There will be broad- gauged discussions today. The Secretary is looking forward to the lunch that he's now completed with Mr. Lubbers.
Q (Inaudible) besides Mr. Ellemann-Jensen?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe there's any mealtime schedule.
Q No coffee breaks.
MR. BURNS: But I'm going to let you know if it happens. I'll let you know. I'll let you know if there are any further meetings. I'm sure our European colleagues will be interested, and we'll just do this publicly.
Q Did Lubbers just get into town this morning?
MR. BURNS: I don't know when he arrived. I don't know when he arrived.
Q Can I go back to Karadzic and Mladic for a second? I'm not clear whether the outer wall of sanctions -- the suspension or removal of it -- is in some way connected with the willingness of Milosevic and others to turn over war criminals to the Tribunal. Could you just clarify that?
MR. BURNS: Roy, all I can say on that is something that we discussed on Monday -- perhaps Tuesday -- and that is, we believe that as a result of a peace agreement, and perhaps even as part of a peace agreement, to be more specific, the parties should commit to full cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal -- all parties. That includes the Serbs and the Bosnian Serbs. That's a fundamental issue for the United States as we go into these talks.
Q A question of local police. Obviously, a lot of the crimes, or the allegations of crimes, have been committed by local police, local authorities, in the Bosnian Serb territories. The Police Chief of Prijedor then became the Interior Minister of the Serbian republic. He's the guy who was running Omar's camp.
Is there some thought here that people like that must be removed from power and cannot be allowed to keep their positions after a peace agreement?
MR. BURNS: The United States cannot sit as a judge from a great distance and choose the people with whom we're not going to work.
But what we can do is this. We're fully committed to the War Crimes Tribunal. If people are indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal, and they're significant people and they're holding significant jobs, we're obviously not going to favor that they retain those jobs. Certainly, not in a post-agreement environment where we're going to try to help build up and secure a new state.
Q I thought you would have some bidding process so that you don't have to have everybody necessarily indicted, but you don't want to have somebody come in who is likely to be indicted.
MR. BURNS: I think one of the ways that we can deal with this issue is to listen to the War Crimes Tribunal. I think there was a statement out of The Hague the other day that they are looking now into the terrible brutalities concerning the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa and that they expect further indictments to flow out of that. When those indictments come, the United States will honor them in all respects -- in all legal and moral and political respects -- and we won't deal with the people who are indicted. That's one way.
The other is that as the Dayton talks proceed, I'm sure that some of the parties -- particularly the Bosnian Government -- is going to make clear that there are certain people that it thinks it cannot deal with, and that's going to be an element in all of this.
Tom -- and, Sid, I'll go back to you.
Q Is it alright if we start dancing off?
MR. BURNS: A filing break? Sure, yes, Barry -- sure.
Q Uzbekistan joined Israel this morning in supporting the U.S. position on the Cuban trade embargo --
MR. BURNS: Yes it did.
Q -- in the General Assembly. Do you see the tide turning in your favor on this issue?
MR. BURNS: I believe the vote was 117 to 3, so we did one better than last year -- the 3, I think, being the United States, Israel, and Uzbekistan. We're very pleased that Uzbekistan joined the United States and Israel this morning.
We have an improving relationship with Tashkent, with President Karimov and with his government. It's not a perfect relationship, but it's an improving relationship.
I do want to say a few words about the events this morning at the United Nations.
The United States deeply regrets the adoption by the General Assembly of the resolution on the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba. We have consistently taken the position that this is a bilateral issue, not properly considered by a multilateral body such as the United Nations. The United States has the sovereign right to determine its bilateral trading relationships in a manner consistent with its foreign policy objectives.
What is conspicuously and interestingly missing from the unbalanced resolution adopted today is any statement on the urgent need to improve the human rights situation in Cuba, to provide for meaningful change in Cuba, or to speak about those people who are languishing in Cuban jails because of what they've said or what they've done. The fact is that opponents of the Castro regime have been denied their civil liberties and have been imprisoned for speaking out against the Castro regime.
Despite what the Cuban Government would have the international community believe, Cuba's problems are not caused by the embargo; they're caused by the result of a failed system that has been imposed on the Cuban people against their will for the last 35 years.
So we do have an opinion on what happened this morning. Despite the fact that there were just 3 votes on our side and we were one of the votes, we are confident that we have the right position.
Q Nick -- could you wait for just a second?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Given what's happened with the peace facilitation act, are U.S. officials allowed now under law to continue relations with the PLO?
MR. BURNS: Thank you for asking because I'm glad to address this issue, Sid. I have a general comment; then I'll go right to the heart of your question.
First, the lapse of the waiver authority for the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act is very regrettable. It undercuts the United States role in the peace process and our credibility; and the longer this situation goes on the greater the adverse impact, we believe, on the peace process.
Support for the peace process has consistently been a bipartisan strength in U.S. foreign policy. Congress and the Administration for decades have cooperated on the peace process, and we believe that we've got to return that sense of bipartisanship on the Middle East peace process.
Now, you've asked a specific question. We believe that the area in which the lapse of authority will have an immediate practical effect is the office of the PLO in Washington. The office will now be obliged to cease operations. We have informed the PLO office that it must cease operations in accordance with the United States law.
Let me also say that we're working hard to try to gain Congress' agreement that the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act should not lapse but that its provisions should continue; that United States aid should continue; and that the PLO office should be allowed to remain open. We're working very hard today. We're hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the Congress, and we're working towards that as we speak.
Q You talked about the office. That means they no longer have whatever sort of diplomatic status they've had. Will they be required, as the law says, to leave the United States? Will the dialogue between the U.S. and the PLO now be cut, as the law requires?
MR. BURNS: Let me make very clear what will not happen, and then I'll go to what I think must happen again.
What will not happen is for the United States to cease its diplomatic dialogue with the Palestinian Authority or the Palestine Liberation Organization. We'll continue, and we can continue under the law, our very active relationship with Chairman Arafat in Gaza and in Jericho and with the PLO worldwide. We'll continue that. That will not be affected.
In addition, the money that has already been obligated to support economic reform and reconstruction in the West Bank and Gaza can be spent if it's in the pipeline, and there's a considerable amount of money in the pipeline. What I believe is not possible is for us to initiate any new efforts in that regard until this problem is resolved. We hope very much it will be resolved.
Q Any expulsion of the --
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that the United States is required to expel anyone. I'm only aware that the United States is obliged to ask the Palestine Liberation Organization to close its offices in Washington.
Let me just repeat, for everyone who has not followed this issue as closely as perhaps Sid has, the United States Government, the Administration, opposed the actions by Congress the other night to link this issue with consolidation issues in the State Department. We don't want to close the office; we don't support it. We don't want to cease United States aid to the Palestinian people, because it's in our national interest to continue it, and we're going to work with the Congress to try to improve this situation so that this bureaucratic problem can be resolved very shortly.
Q Just one more, Nick. The law requires that you notify the PLO as of midnight, October 3l, that they had to close their office, but you waited a couple of days to do that. Why was that?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I was out of town yesterday on November l. I don't know if we waited -- I don't know if we waited at all. I can just tell you that we have asked. I don't know at what minute or hour on November l that we asked the PLO to close its offices -- as we are required to do by U.S. law.
Q The PLO says as of close of business last night they had not been notified.
MR. BURNS: That's not my information, and there may be some misunderstanding here. My information is that we've communicated this to the PLO.
Q When does the office have to close?
MR. BURNS: I believe the law states that this takes effect as of one minute past midnight, November l.
Q So the office is, in effect, closed now?
MR. BURNS: That is what U.S. law requires. I don't know if the office is actually closed, however.
Q The office, as it now exists, can no longer exist. They can go back to what they were before though. Isn't that correct? I mean they won't be officially --
MR. BURNS: Sid, I think the way I understand this law is that the office has to close. I don't know if people can revert to any prior roles. But, again, let me just put the emphasis on the Administration's inclination to resolve this issue amicably with the Congress to put this behind us.
Clearly, the United States ought to have a relationship with the Palestinian Authority which is making peace with Israel. The Palestinian people must live with the Israeli people, and alongside them forever -- in the future. It's clearly in our interest to have a relationship with them. That's our point of view.
We have a difference of view with the Congress. We want to work it out.
Q You'll keep on working to (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: First, any more on the PLO? Betsy, did you have one?
Q On Bosnia. You said that you presented four documents and there would be a number more to come.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Can you give us some idea what the other documents will be about?
MR. BURNS: I can't give you a complete list because this is a work in progress. There may be other documents that are coming, but certainly a document on territorial issues that has to do with the territorial breakdown of authority in a future state -- and that has to do with the Map, of course -- and certainly a document on reconstruction and refugees will be forthcoming.
These are some of the issues that Bob Gallucci -- the reconstruction issues -- that he is working on with Carl Bildt; and that's a good example of a European Union-United States meeting to work on a document, to agree on a document, before it's turned over to the parties for negotiation.
Q Nick, any reaction on the assassination of a former Colombian Ambassador to Washington in the streets of Bogota this morning?
MR. BURNS: We just saw, before coming into the briefing today, a press report that former Ambassador Hurtado has been assassinated in Bogota. We regret this very much and extend our sympathies to his family. He was a respected person in this country, and it is very regrettable that the violence in Colombia continues.
We hope very much that the Colombian Government and Colombian people can find a way to resolve any differences in Colombian society peacefully. We certainly speak out very forcefully and condemn all acts of terrorism, including this assassination -- this very unfortunate assassination this morning.
Q Well, Nick, if I could follow on that one. I understand that Mr. Alvaro Gomez Hurtado was the owner of the 24-hour TV news network in South America and that he was very much an untouchable and against the Cali cartel. And in view of the dozens of untouchables that have been murdered in Colombia allegedly by the cartel -- a number of leading Mexicans who have been murdered by affiliates of the Cali cartel -- how will the United States Government react to further protect the anti- cartel free press abroad and here in Washington?
MR. BURNS: The United States Government has a responsibility in the United States to make sure that our laws are adhered to and that criminals go to jail, and that terrorist acts are not committed. On the soil of Colombia -- that is the responsibility of the Colombian Government. We're working with the Colombian Government in the fight against the narcotics traffickers, and we very much would like the cooperation of the Colombian Government on all of these issues.
We condemn this assassination this morning. It's a most unfortunate action.
Q Do you see any increased threats to journalists working in this country that are fighting the cartel?
MR. BURNS: I can't point you in that direction, Bill, and I very much hope that is not the case. Anyone who is planning any kind of violent act on our territory has to think about the consequences. Our Government -- our Federal Government, our state governments, our local governments -- are committed to hunt down people who commit crimes against American people or visitors to the United States. That's an obligation, I think, that all governments at every level take seriously.
Q Nick, you said that you hope to bring the negotiations to an end within a few weeks. Is it the aim then of the Government to bring the people who are negotiating back home by Thanksgiving -- to have an agreement, to bring the negotiating troops back home?
MR. BURNS: We're willing to reach an agreement. We're willing to have the parties reach an agreement as soon as possible. Whether that takes a week or a month, we're going to stay there. Dick Holbrooke has camped out. He's got books to read. He's got a suitcase full of clothes, and he'll stay until we get results.
It's hard to say at this point, Lee, what's going to happen. It's hard to say how many weeks this is going to take.
I think, given the complexity of the issues, given the importance of the issues, these are going to be hard-fought negotiations; and we certainly do not expect them to conclude by, say, tonight or tomorrow.
Q Is it your aim that everyone will go home with a new peace and hopeful future for Bosnia by Thanksgiving?
MR. BURNS: There may be an element of self-interest in that question. There is for me as well (laughter). But we have not set a time limit on these negotiations. Secretary Christopher did not tell the three leaders you must be out of here by -- whatever Thanksgiving Day is, November 25 or 24. We simply said, we're here to help you make progress, and we'll stay as long as it takes.
Q I have a question on Nigeria. On Monday you issued a statement of concern about the sentence for Ken Saro-Wiwa. Has there been any reaction by the Nigerian Government, and is there anything more that the Administration is doing to try to influence the sentence?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any reaction by the Nigerian Government. We're concerned by the lack of due process in Nigeria, particularly concerning the trials of the former President -- Mr. Obasanjo -- and by other former senior members of the government.
We're concerned by the very slow and languid pace of democratization there. There is too long a time period between now and a transition to civilian rule -- I believe it's three years -- and we did speak out the other day, quite vigorously, about the trial and detention of Mr. Saro-Wiwa. We're concerned about the situation.
We make these concerns known every day to the Nigerian Government, and we do so again today.
Q Do you know if there's any date set for the sentence to be carried out, and is there a time frame that the Administration is concerned about -- perhaps stepping up your concerns?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if a date has been set -- no. It's something I can look into and see if we have an answer for you.
Q Is there any consideration of sanctions or anything like that?
MR. BURNS: That is always an option for the United States. It's something we've not decided to do yet. But our concern is growing about the situation in Nigeria and about the great reluctance of the government there to commit itself to decency, to international standards of human rights, to international standards of jurisprudence, and to any reasonable notion of democratization.
We remain concerned about that, and we'll continue expressing that to the Nigerian Government.
Q Thank you, Nick.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:33 p.m.)
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