U.S. Department of State 95/11/09 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, November 9, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT--Announcements/Statements START Treaty--9/28/95 Initialing of Joint Statement .......1-2 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Proximity Peace Talks: --Statement re: Request for Resumption of Natural Gas Deliveries ................................2-3,8-18,22 --Secretary Christopher's Participation in Talks/Media ....3-8,21-22 --President Tudjman's Arrival in Dayton ...................5 --Demands for Release of Two French Pilots ................5 --Croatian/Bosnian Federation Talks .......................5-6,25 --Kati Marton Discussion w/Mr. Milosevic re: David Rohde ..18-21 --War Crimes Tribunal: Indictments of Serb Officers .......23-24 Croatian Troops in Bosnia-Herzegovina .....................25-26 Secretary Perry/Minister Grachev Agreement ................32-33 KASHMIR Detention of Donald Hutchings .............................24-25 ISRAEL Investigation of Assassination of Prime Minister Rabin ....26 U.S. Law re: Financial Support to Terrorist Groups ........26-27 HAITI Privatization & Civil Service Reforms .....................27-28 NIGERIA Condemnation of Death Sentences Against Nine Prisoners ....28 MEXICO Economic Stability/Reform .................................28-29 LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS Middle East Peace Facilitation Act ........................29 Consideration of Assistant Secretary/Ambassadorial Appts. .29 Continuing Resolution .....................................30-31 TURKEY U.S. Support for Turkey's Membership in ECU ...............31-32
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1995. 1:39 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, and welcome to the State Department briefing. I want to apologize for getting out here so late today. I can assure you there was a very good reason for it. I was on the phone with Dick Holbrooke and Wolfgang Ischinger and Jacques Blot from Dayton. I do have some announcements to make based on those conversations, and that was the reason for my delay. I'm sorry if I kept you waiting.
What I'd like to do is make four separate announcements, and I hope you'll have the patience to bear with me while I do that. I think it's good just to get the information out. Then you'll have an opportunity, of course, to ask any questions that you'd like.
I'd like to start with some commentary on an article that appeared in The Washington Times this morning. I hesitated in thinking about whether I should do this, but I frankly thought that I had to do it, given the egregious nature of the conclusions reached on a front-page article in The Washington Times this morning. It's not my practice to try to go after individual newspapers; but this article concerned the START Treaty and the obligations that the United States has under the START Treaty, and this is a vital national interest that the United States has in trying to preserve a nuclear balance with Russia and in having some clarity about what our START Treaty commitments are.
There was a serious problem with this article. The front-page article in today's Washington Times misinterprets and mischaracterizes a recent action by START Treaty partners.
On September 28 in Geneva, representatives of the START parties initialed a joint Statement confirming their mutual understanding of certain existing Treaty provisions that relate to intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles that might be used as space launch vehicles.
Contrary to the characterization in The Washington Times this morning, the Joint Statement does not "relax" START Treaty provisions or allow the export of ICBMs or SLBMs for any purpose. In fact, the Joint Statement reaffirms a long-held United States interpretation of the START Treaty's provisions related to ICBMs and SLBMs used as space launch vehicles, and that is that any space launch vehicle that utilizes the first stage of an ICMB or an SLBM, as defined by the Treaty, is itself subject to all provisions of the Treaty.
The START Treaty has, from its inception, recognized the right of the parties to use ICBMs and SLBMs, or their first stages, in space launch vehicles. The Treaty provisions are also clear that those ICBMs and SLBMs remain subject to and accountable under the Treaty, and the Joint Statement that was signed on September 28 reinforces the START parties' understanding of that.
The START Treaty prohibits the transfer by any Treaty party of strategic offensive arms to a third state, and that's the pertinent point that I want to make about this morning's article. That prohibition remains. Moreover, the Russian Federation has become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime and, as a member, the Russian Federation must adhere to the rules that the MTCR has on the export of missile technology, as well as the START prohibitions.
Again, I am reluctant to have to start off the briefing with that particular announcement; but because it's such a vital concern to our Treaty commitments and to our understanding of those commitments with Russia, we wanted to set the record straight.
Secondly, I'd like to
Q Did somebody call the briefing, because I don't see the AP here.
Q I'm here.
MR. BURNS: Yes; George is right there (indicating). (Laughter) Thanks for thinking about the Associated Press, Roy. (Laughter)
Second, I'd like to issue a statement; it's a statement in my name as the Spokesman for the Proximity Peace Talks.
Alija Izetbegovic, the President of Bosnia- Herzegovina, and Slobodan Milosevic, the President of Serbia, have jointly requested the immediate resumption of unrestricted natural gas deliveries to both Bosnia- Herzegovina and Serbia-Montenegro on humanitarian grounds and as a confidence-building measure.
The United States is working with other Contact Group countries for action at the United Nations Sanctions Committee under the existing humanitarian exemption that would allow such deliveries for a two-month period. During this period, experts will examine the effects of this step in order to consider what actions would be appropriate after the initial two-month period and to consider other humanitarian measures which could be taken in the Balkan region.
In light of unseasonably cold weather and heavy snows, the Contact Group members have agreed to consider additional actions concerning the shipment of heating oil and liquefied natural gas during the winter months.
We can come back to this because I have two other announcements, but essentially the point to emphasize here is that both Bosnia and Serbia -- the Presidents of both countries -- have concluded that there is a humanitarian imperative for all the peoples of the region to have the ability to heat their homes, essentially, and to have fuel for cooking during a very hard winter. It's already snowed there; it's very cold. It's the fourth winter of the war. They both have requested this action, and I would expect that the United Nations Sanctions Committee would be meeting soon.
The mechanics are that the U.N. Sanctions Committee would issue a license to GAZPROM -- which is the Russian national gas company, the supplier of natural gas to the region -- to permit it to engage in the activities that I've just described.
I'll be glad to come back to this if you have any questions on it.
Third, let me just say, to follow on what the Secretary told some of you earlier this morning, Secretary Christopher will be traveling to Dayton tomorrow, to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He will be participating in the Bosnia Proximity Peace Talks.
He's going to have a busy day. He'll have meetings with a variety of the leaders on a variety of issues. He will be leaving early in the morning, probably around 8:00,
but I'll let you know later on this afternoon the specific time of departure. I'm a little bit unsure about the exact time of his return, and that's going to be dependent upon the meetings that he has tomorrow.
There is a possibility -- I think a strong possibility -- that there will be one media event during the day. It will be an open media event at the Hope Conference Center, and I'll let you know some specifics about that when that event firms up.
The Secretary will be taking a limited number of journalists on his plane, and I think we have room for about ten. There is a sign-up sheet that is posted now in the Press Room, and you're welcome to sign up if you'd like to accompany the Secretary to Dayton. That list closes at 4:00 this afternoon.
We'll be opening the Media Center at Wright-Patterson for those of you traveling with us and for those of you who will be going to Dayton by other means. The Media Center -- I think most of you know where that is on the Base. There will be support from the Wright-Patterson Public Affairs staff, as well as from Public Affairs here at the State Department, for you.
I will be available at several junctures during the day to provide some briefings -- at least, some outline briefings -- on what is happening.
But I do want to be frank in telling you, so that we don't have undue expectations, that the Secretary plans to follow the same guidelines that all other participants in these talks have followed since the opening ceremony on November l. Namely, he's going to be meeting and discussing a lot of issues with the leaders there. He will not be available for press opportunities during the day. There will be this one media event that I'll have some information on at a later point of time, and I will be available for briefings. But he is going to conduct himself in the manner that all other people at these talks have conducted themselves -- namely, that he won't be giving press conferences and he won't be talking On The Record, except for the possibility of this one media event.
Now, finally --
Q Nick, just a minute, to clarify some things. So he will not be doing three television interviews to the exclusion of the print press, the way that it happened in Dayton last week?
MR. BURNS: He will not be giving any interviews, television or written interviews.
Q Great, fine.
MR. BURNS: Now, finally --
Q He won't be speaking with Dick Holbrooke's wife, who apparently was given access to Mr. Milosevic?
MR. BURNS: We can go into that later, Sid, if you'd like to go into it. I'll be glad to talk about that, but let me just get my final statement out and then we can talk about anything you all want to talk about.
The final thing I'd like to tell you is that in my capacity as Spokesman for all the delegations there, I had conversations this morning with Wolfgang Ischinger, who is the German Ambassador leading the German delegation to these talks; with Ambassador Jacques Blot of France; and with Dick Holbrooke. I understood from them the following: that President Tudjman arrived back late last evening. He is now engaged in meetings in Dayton.
Secondly, that the Government of France continues to raise its very, very strong concerns about the fate of the two French pilots who were shot down over Bosnia several months ago. Ambassador Jacques Blot told me that he delivered a letter today from President Jacques Chirac to President Milosevic. This letter argues very strongly for immediate information about the welfare of these two pilots and where they may be being held.
I can also tell you that the United States strongly supports this request by President Chirac and Ambassador Jacques Blot for the help of President Milosevic to ascertain where these pilots are, what has happened to them, and to demand their immediate release.
I can also tell you that all of the other delegations to these talks -- from the European Union, Carl Bildt, and all the other delegations: the German, the French, and the Russians -- have made a similar request to President Milosevic that he use his influence to try to get to the bottom of this very unfortunate episode. This issue is being raised on a daily basis by the French Government, by the United States, and all the other Contact Group members. We will continue doing that until we have sufficient answers.
Finally, let me say on the issue of the Federation between Croatia and Bosnia, I know there's a lot of interest in this. I've seen lots of unnamed sources out of Dayton saying all sorts of things about it.
There is very intense work underway on this issue today. There has been, I think, for every day of this conference. It's been one of the issues where the parties have engaged very seriously. We're trying very hard to make progress; we're working very hard towards that objective.
I cannot confirm for you -- I'm unable to confirm for you some of the reports that we've seen out of Dayton this morning, but I can tell you that we'll continue to work hard towards that. I think this will be an issue that you'll hear more about tomorrow.
Q Nick, are you saying you can't confirm or deny that the agreement has been initialed?
MR. BURNS: Sid, what I would like to say is that I have nothing for you on that. I'm not in a position to confirm it; but I certainly understand your interest in it, and I'll keep you apprised as we proceed on this. And it certainly, obviously, is going to be an issue that I'm sure you'll be interested in tomorrow.
Q Can you be more explicit about the reasons behind the Secretary's visit?
MR. BURNS: Yes, I can. The Secretary decided before the convening of these talks, when he thought about how the United States should represent itself, that he would be visiting Dayton from time-to-time, when it was necessary, when our negotiators there thought he could make a difference, thought his participation would be important. So he has decided to visit Dayton tomorrow.
I think he'll spend the great part of the day and perhaps even into the early evening there. He is going to be engaging with all the heads of delegations there from the Balkan countries. He will be meeting of course with all of the Contact Group representatives who are there.
He will be looking at a variety of issues, George. Certainly the Federation issue will be a focus of his visit, but not an exclusive focus. There are many other issues that are on the table, that he believes he can discuss effectively with the leaders there and he intends to do that.
We have not yet established a specific schedule for him, apart from the fact that we are going to leave around eight and get home some time in the evening. But I think it is a fair bet that he will be having individual meetings with the heads of delegations, and then he will probably be having some group meetings as well.
Q You said yesterday there were no plans for him to go. Can you tell us anything about what has changed in the last 24 hours that made it important for him to go now?
MR. BURNS: I was simply unable to tell you yesterday that there were plans because I can tell you when the final decision was made. It was made about l0:20 this morning, about ten minutes before you saw the Secretary. That is when he made the final decision.
There have been a number of recommendations to him throughout the past couple of days as to when he should go to Dayton, and he decided this morning. He made the final decision this morning and he told you about it about ten minutes after he made the decision.
Q Is there anything you can point to that has changed?
MR. BURNS: Well, I think that the basis for going, the criteria that he and Dick Holbrooke are using is when can the Secretary most effectively engage. He had wanted to go back to Dayton at several junctures; before the convening of the talks, he had that plan. I think it's fair to say that all the issues are on the table, all the issues are being negotiated and being debated at Dayton. It's a good time for him to go down to take stock of the sessions and to have some specific discussions with the leaders on some of the important issues.
Q Nick, when you indicated that he might not be coming back at any set time, depending on if something happens or doesn't happen, what do you expect would happen or would not happen which would delay his return?
MR. BURNS: Well, I can tell you this: we are not anticipating a final agreement, a final peace agreement tomorrow. I think that's still some time in the distance. So I don't want to raise any expectations that somehow tomorrow is the day when the talks end.
The talks are at a very intensive stage. They certainly are going to go on for a number of days and perhaps beyond that, perhaps well beyond that. We just don't know.
Let's just describe this as a visit in mid-session, where the Secretary wants to take account of what has happened. He wants to use his presence there obviously to try to advise the parties to make progress on a number of issues.
He is not just going down to talk about the Federation or Eastern Slavonia or any of the agreements that have been put on the table. He is going to talk about a very broad range of these issues in a great number of meetings that he will be having over the course of the day.
Q Nick, on the meeting on the gas announcement, was that a direct meeting -- was that the meeting that he was referring to in direct talks between Milosevic and Izetbegovic? The agreement on the gas, the natural gas agreement?
MR. BURNS: This agreement was produced over the course of many days. Of course, there were direct meetings between President Izetbegovic and President Milosevic, but for the most part I think these were meetings in which Dick Holbrooke and the European delegates took part as well.
Q Who is paying for the gas to the Russians?
MR. BURNS: Well, the parties. Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia- Herzegovina will pay for as much gas as they can afford, as they can import.
The outlines of this arrangement are as follows. As you know, under the existing sanctions regime, the importation of this kind of gas into Serbia-Montenegro is not allowed. As you also know, the provision of this kind of gas into Bosnia-Herzegovina has been haphazard, especially in recent weeks.
You have seen the press reports that there are not -- most of the homes in Sarajevo are not supplied with natural gas on a daily basis. It's kind of on an odd basis: one day on and one day off. In winter time those are really insufferable conditions that have caused great hardship for average people.
So the two leaders got together and decided that on a humanitarian basis, for the sake of their own citizens in both countries, they wanted to request the U.N. Sanctions Committee to issue an exemption -- exception, excuse me -- to GAZPROM. If the U.N. Sanctions Committee acts positively -- which we expect it will -- it will issue a license to GAZPROM to extend the friendship pipeline, gas pipeline, from Hungary into Serbia. This will supply as much natural gas as Serbia can afford. Serbia will have to pay for this.
It will also, we hope, regularize the flow of gas within the existing pipeline in Sarajevo and throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. It's a humanitarian gesture on the part of the two presidents, and the United States is supporting this on a humanitarian basis.
I do want to draw attention to the fact that this is for a two- month period. If it is necessary and desirable to extend that, then of course that decision would have to be reviewed before the expiration of the two-month period.
Q Nick, wasn't it going to be that there would be no suspension, even temporary suspension, of sanctions against Serbia until there was a final peace agreement; that indeed the U. S. proposal that had been put forward by Assistant Secretary Holbrooke had gotten beaten back a couple of weeks ago; and that it was the position of the U.S. Government that it would not be fair to reward President Milosevic with some kind of sanctions relief in the absence of a final peace agreement?
MR. BURNS: I can't speak to the bureaucratic part of the question, but I can certainly speak to the substantive part of it, Elaine.
Our position has been all along that the United States -- and, indeed, this is the position of the European Union and other countries in Europe -- the United States would support suspension of sanctions upon agreement and lift the sanctions upon implementation of the agreement.
These two presidents came to the Contact Group countries at Dayton -- President Izetbegovic and President Milosevic -- and asked for an exception to the sanctions regime so that the citizens of both countries could have for home heating use and home cooking use a consistent supply of energy during the fourth winter of the war.
We considered this request. We have discussed it with all the Contract Group countries. At least some of those countries, I know, are still checking with their home governments -- I think that is the position of one of the Contact Group countries. But the United States believes that it's very important to support this.
I think it is important to note that the Bosnian Government supports this, that the Bosnian Government believes this will help the citizens of its own country, as well, of course, as help the citizens of Serbia.
Q So, just to follow up, there is a partial suspension of sanctions on Serbia before a final agreement?
MR. BURNS: I would not describe it like that, because the vast majority of the sanctions remain in place. We are making an exception on a humanitarian basis for a two-month period to allow people to have a warmer winter, to get through the winter more easily than they otherwise would have.
But it is limited. It is limited to the natural gas deliveries and also the heating oil and liquefied natural gas that I mentioned. It does not pertain to the vast majority of sanctions for goods; that still remains in place.
Q Nick, can you explain how this is going to help the Bosnians who are not covered by this embargo?
MR. BURNS: Well, the Bosnian Government is supporting it, I think for the following reason. I think the Bosnian people and the Bosnian Government are the first to understand the hardships of this war, the personal hardships of this war. The flow of gas into Bosnia- Herzegovina, especially since the resumption of gas into Sarajevo in late September, has been irregular.
There has been some siphoning. There have been irregularities in the pipeline itself. I think the feeling is that this is not only a good thing and the proper and right thing to do on a humanitarian basis, but it might help and we hope it will help to provide for a more regular and certain flow of natural gas for consumers in Bosnia- Herzegovina.
If the Serbian people have enough gas to heat their homes this winter, then there won't be the incentive by individuals to try to siphon gas at any point along the pipeline as it comes into the region from Hungary. This is the Russian natural gas pipeline, the so-called "Friendship Pipeline."
So I think, Norm, those are the two basic reasons, as I understand it, for the Bosnian Government agreement.
Q Can I ask how soon the gas could be flowing? And also, apart from the incentive the Serbs have, what safeguards will there be that the Serbs don't do as they have in the past and cut off the supply?
MR. BURNS: Right. Both good questions. The answer to the first question is the U.N. Sanctions Committee will be meeting this afternoon to look into this. As I said, again, the procedure would be for GAZPROM, the Russian natural gas company, to request an exception to the existing sanctions. The Sanctions Committee would have to positively agree to that request, issue a license to GAZPROM to resume the flow of natural gas into Serbia-Montenegro. That's the answer to the first question.
On the second question, the United Nations will be establishing a monitoring mechanism. This would be the sanctions committee of the United Nations. I don't believe that we are aware of all of the details of how they would do this. But we certainly believe that it should be sufficient to do the job so we can be assured that this humanitarian exception is being carried out in a regular way, in a way that's consistent with the purpose of this agreement today.
Q Could it be a matter of days that the gas is flowing?
MR. BURNS: We would hope that it would be very quick because, as I mentioned before, there's already been a snowfall in the Balkans; there's already very cold weather. Average people are under great personal hardship. It's commendable that both President Izetbegovic and President Milosevic have not only recognized that -- they surely recognized it -- but have taken this step and have requested this step on the part of the international community to do something about it.
Q Nick, what has President Milosevic done to merit this sanctions relief?
MR. BURNS: I don't think that's the pertinent question to ask. I don't think that's the way the United States Government looks at it.
We see this as a humanitarian gesture for average people, for the people who live in Serbia-Montenegro and for the people who live in Bosnia-Herzegovina; the people who have been victimized by this war. Two hundred and fifty thousand of their brethren have been killed over four years; tens of thousands have been forced from their homes. Those who have their own homes don't have adequate heating supply in a very cold winter.
I see the motive, Elaine, for the United States agreeing to this as a humanitarian motive. It's the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do under very harsh conditions.
Q The Serbian people have been victimized by this, and they have had 250,000 victims? That doesn't parse.
MR. BURNS: You know our position on the war, Roy. We're not neutral on the causes of the war or who may be responsible. We've always believed that the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian people have been the victims in this war. We've always believed that the Bosnian Serbs have been the aggressors.
I don't think it's a stretch to say, however, that certainly the citizens of Serbia have also been victimized by the fact that there is a war, even if there has been support for that war at certain times, and especially at the beginning, from Belgrade.
It's also not a stretch to say that many Bosnian Serb civilians have been victimized. There were certainly Bosnian Serb civilians who were victimized in the Krajina region in August. On a humanitarian basis, we've got to have a fairly broad definition of what "human suffering" is. That was the motivation to look at this -- at this question -- to make the decision that we did.
There is an unacceptable level of human suffering in the harsh wintry conditions throughout that region.
At the request of these two governments, including the Bosnian Government, we've made a decision to try to be helpful to alleviate some of that suffering.
Q Aren't you saying that the Serbs have been stealing the gas, and now you're trying to regularize it so that --
MR. BURNS: I can tell you, as someone who used to work full-time on the former Soviet Union, since the breakup of the former Soviet Union there has been siphoning of gas in every part of that pipeline throughout a 5,000 to 6,000 mile area. It's not just happening in the Balkans. It's happening everywhere. It's a product of the fact that GAZPROM, which is the major supplier of gas in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, is not always paid on time by its consumers.
GAZPROM takes initiatives sometimes to shut off gas, and a lot of times people siphon gas for their own purposes. It is an undeniable fact of modern life in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe.
In this case, in a situation where these people have had to live under four years of war, we are now just trying to act on a humanitarian basis to make their lives easier this winter.
Q Speaking of people freezing in the cold, in Banja Luka the other day the U.N. High Commission reported that people, during this conference, have been turned out of their houses and left to sleep in the snow. I wonder whether Milosevic or anybody else at Dayton has agreed to do something about it, because they've been ethnically cleansed homes by Bosnian Serbs.
MR. BURNS: Roy, today's agreement certainly does not mean that we condone, or anybody condones, the forcible expulsion of people from their homes. In fact, the United States has spoken out forcefully about this and consistently about this.
Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck is in central Bosnia today trying to get into Banja Luka to look into that particular question. So we're not only talking about this, Roy, we're doing something about it.
I think you have to separate those terrible events from the situation as it exists in the natural gas side for consumers. The fact is that many, many terrible things have happened. The fact is that we can do some good for people this winter. We ought to take the opportunity to do that.
Q So, Nick, Milosevic is being rewarded with some limited exceptional sanctions relief to relieve the suffering of his people?
MR. BURNS: The people of Serbia-Montenegro and the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina are going to have a chance to have a better life, an easier daily life this winter because of the actions that the Bosnian Government, as well as the Serbian Government, have requested of the international community. That is the motivation here. That's my headline. It's my bumper sticker. I wouldn't agree with your characterization of it.
Q Is that a "yes?" The New York Times doesn't want to get a headline wrong like we were accused of doing yesterday.
MR. BURNS: That's a good motivation.
MR. BURNS: I don't want to say (Laughter) I don't want to say yes or no. I want to give you the best answer I can give you. "Yes or no" are fairly cryptic.
I think I've tried to state this --
Q It's clear, I think -- yes or no?
MR. BURNS: I don't agree with the premise of your question. So I just choose to characterize it in a different way. This is a humanitarian gesture for people -- Serbs and Bosnians. It's a good thing to do. It's the right thing to do.
I'll bet if you ask the American public, "Does this make sense?" The average person would say, "Absolutely, it does."
Q A follow-up, then. Why wouldn't we make the same humanitarian gesture to reward another leader who has been characterized as a thug and a dictator, Saddam Hussein?
MR. BURNS: Actually, the United States was quite willing in the United Nations, at several junctures over the last six months, to vote for a humanitarian provision of oil and gas and basic humanitarian necessities for the people of Iraq. That deal and that offer was turned down by the Government of Iraq. But we have been absolutely willing to do that for Iraq, but Iraq won't agree to it. So I think the blame there lies on the regime in Baghdad.
Q Go ahead.
MR. BURNS: Are you sure?
Q Would be correct to have a sub-headline, or would this be too cynical, that would read that Serbia is getting gas to guarantee that the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina get gas?
MR. BURNS: I agree with part of it. I can't write your headlines. Okay? I never write headlines.
I think this agreement will benefit people. It will benefit people on both sides of this conflict. There's obviously an incentive for President Izetbegovic and Prime Minister Silajdzic and the Bosnian Government.
The incentive is that their people get a more assured, more regular flow of natural gas. The incentive for President Milosevic is that his people get natural gas. It's a good deal for people on both sides, Sid.
Q Didn't you say it came from both Presidents? I just want to be absolutely clear. One of the Presidents did not come first and ask for this sanctions relief, and the other one said, okay, if we get it, too?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me? Is there a question?
Q Yeah. The question is -- you say both Presidents came at the same time and asked for this sanctions relief.
MR. BURNS: I didn't say "at the same time." I think I said they both requested it. They came to the Contact Group parties and requested it.
Q Okay, so they came at separate times. My question is, did one President -- did the Bosnian President ask for it and the Serbian President responded, "Yes, if we get it, too."?
MR. BURNS: One of them -- certainly, I mean logically -- would have had to come first.
Q At the beginning, you said it was --
MR. BURNS: In terms of just initiating a discussion -- that's what you're really referring to -- I don't know the answer to that question. I wasn't present during these talks.
Q You said one came first. Who came first?
MR. BURNS: I'm saying it is logical to assume that before this was ever discussed, somebody probably raised it first. That's logical. I agree with you. I don't know the answer to the question of which of the two leaders came first.
Q Nick, you said one of the Contact Group members wasn't so sure about this idea. Can you say which one?
MR. BURNS: I don't really want to, for reasons of confidentially - - here's the problem. I'm not trying to hide anything here.
This statement and this agreement were worked out through tens of hours of discussions. Some of the representatives -- some of our European colleagues, of course, have to contact their capitals to describe what it is and to seek authorization to support it. All of them but one have been able to do that.
I think primarily for just happenstance, one of the representatives have not been able to get in touch with his home government. He needs a couple of hours this afternoon to do this, and we're confident that that country will join the consensus.
If there's a problem on this tomorrow and there's not unity, I will certainly let you know that. But I firmly expect that after a couple of phone calls today, there will be unity in the Contact Group.
Nonetheless, the United States is supporting it. Four of the five Contact Group members are firmly on board. The fifth will be on board within a couple of hours. The U.N. Sanctions Committee will be meeting this afternoon to look into this.
Q Nick, if it takes tens of hours of discussions to work out an agreement to make it so people don't freeze, how long do you think it's going to be to finish a constitution?
MR. BURNS: I'll tell you. It's been what? -- nine days of discussions so far, and there certainly have been hundreds of hours of discussions on all the others issues.
So, you're right, Norm, it's going to take a long time. It's going to take a lot of effort. This is not easy. That's why I just don't want to build expectations that tomorrow is the day. That's why the Secretary is going to Dayton. Tomorrow is not the day that all these problems are going to be resolved. This will extend beyond tomorrow.
Q What about tomorrow?
Q The Russian Government, when gas is initially turned over to Sarajevo -- when certain indemnities and certain payment guarantees -- are they asking for the same type of arrangement now?
MR. BURNS: I believe it was GAZPROM, which is a Russian company --
Q I'm sorry, GAZPROM.
MR. BURNS: -- that asked for that in late September. Sid, I don't know the answer to that question. I know that GAZPROM has been contacted as part of this, and I know that there is an agreement that the gas will be provided. I don't know the details of that agreement at this particular stage. That was absolutely what was asked for, as you remember, in September.
Q Could I ask --
Q Are they more willing, because perhaps Serbia is getting a lot of gas this time, to do without --
MR. BURNS: Let me just remind you that GAZPROM and the Russian Government, working on this problem in September, were willing and have followed through on the commitment to extend gas supplies to Sarajevo -- to the Bosnian people, to Muslims and Croats in Sarajevo. So I think the Russian Government has had a very fair and balanced perspective on this.
I think GAZPROM has done, as a semi-private company, what it should do to protect its own interests.
Q Anymore on Russian gas?
Q Yes, one more on Russian gas. Presumably, your average Serbian householder is not able to divert gas from an international pipeline into his domestic stove.
MR. BURNS: You know what? You'd be surprised. (Laughter) You would be surprised.
Q Who exactly has been doing this in Serbia --
MR. BURNS: I haven't taken any names.
Q Was the Serbian Government involved?
MR. BURNS: My appreciation of this problem goes back to the early Nineties, as I say, when I had a different job. This problem is pervasive and widespread throughout Central and Eastern Europe in the former Soviet Union. It is not limited to the Serbs or to the Bosnians. It includes almost everybody who is a customer of the largest gas company in the world, which is GAZPROM.
Gas, like any other fuel, is fungible. How do you assure that it's not diverted to purposes for --
MR. BURNS: Say, for industrial use?
Q Industrial or military use?
MR. BURNS: Of course, this is not covered. The type of fuel that's being provided under this agreement is not the type of fuel that runs factories, that can be used for industrial purposes. Those types of fuel are still proscribed for delivery to Serbia-Montenegro under the current sanctions regime. There has been no exception for that. This is a humanitarian exception.
Roy, the challenge will be for the United Nations Sanctions Committee to create a monitoring regime that is effective, that guards against the problem that you have enunciated, which is a logical problem for us all to consider. We'll be working on that with the United Nations.
Q Even North Korea was able to divert once some of the fuel that wasn't supposed to be able to be diverted to industrial uses.
MR. BURNS: That is true. This is a problem that I think you're correct to identify as a problem. That's why there will be a monitoring mechanism established by the United Nations and put in place.
What I can't tell you now is what the mechanism is, how many people, how much money, where are the monitors going to be. The U.N. has to decide that over the course of the next couple of days.
Q It's been reported in a major newspaper here today that Dick Holbrooke's wife, who is apparently some kind of journalist, has been given access to Slobodan Milosevic three times. Can you explain how that fits in with your commitment to keep the press out?
MR. BURNS: Kati Marton is not a working journalist. She's not filing reports from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. She is married to Dick Holbrooke. She did visit him for a couple of days over the last weekend. In the course of visiting him, on some of the social occasions that were provided by Dick -- the dinners that were held and other delegations -- she met the heads of delegations of the countries there, including Mr. Milosevic.
She is president of an organization whose objective is to protect journalistic freedoms around the world. She raised, as a private citizen, some concern she had over David Rohde.
I actually think that it's good she did that. It was good for President Milosevic to hear from a private citizen, someone who is not a U.S. Government official, that someone who does represent journalists interest, great concern over the unjustifiable detention of David Rohde. The fact that she did that, I think, is commendable.
I can assure you that she was not there to file reports; that she did not file any reports. I have seen nothing under her by-line or anything else from her participation there that would constitute a press report on the events in Dayton.
We have made a fundamental commitment to you that we will not let that happen. We won't let other delegations bring journalists, who may be listed as officials, in to Dayton. You'll be interested to know that the day before the talks started, one of the delegations, which will go unnamed, did try to bring its own camera crew into Wright-Patterson; did try to set up its own broadcast facility from one of the dorms in the quadrangle. We found
out about it and we asked those people to leave, and they were sent to a Motel Six outside the base where they remain.
I understand what your concern is. If our delegation allowed a journalist in in another guise, and if that person was allowed to report from Wright-Patterson, it would be unfair to all of you who are not there. That has not happened in this case.
She is married to Dick Holbrooke. She was there for a couple of days. I think it's commendable that she said what she did to President Milosevic.
Q Just a follow-up. So the contents of her interview with Mr. Milosevic will never appear in print?
MR. BURNS: It was not an interview. I believe they were at dinner together along with Carl Bildt and Dick Holbrooke and President Izetbegovic. When you have dinner, in a social occasion, you engage in conversation. She, as a private citizen -- I don't want to speak for her because I haven't had a conversation with her about this. But I assume as a private citizen, she felt this was an important enough issue for her to raise, and I commend her for it.
Q The contents of -- what Mr. Milosevic said to her, you guarantee will never appear in print anywhere? You have an agreement with her?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I can't guarantee that. I don't have any right to ask someone in her position to make that kind of a pledge to us. But I can guarantee you this: She didn't file any press reports. If she goes back for any reason, she won't be filing press reports. She's not a stringer for the New York Times or the Washington Post or Time Magazine or Newsweek, or a wire service.
Q What's to prevent her from writing a story for the New Yorker, for Time Magazine? Come on, Nick.
MR. BURNS: When you are a senior official in this government, people far above my own level, it sometimes happens that spouses end up at social occasions with their spouses who are government officials.
Do you want us to restrict the freedom of speech of those people when they meet world leaders? I don't think you do, especially someone who is as respected as she is and who heads an organization, frankly, that acts on all of your behalf to protect journalists around the world.
We had an unjustifiable arrest and detention of a young Christian Science Monitor correspondent, for political
reasons, because he unearthed the war crimes at Srebrenica and Zepa. We were concerned about it, and she knew we were concerned about it. But she was concerned about it because of her work in protecting journalists.
I have nothing more to say on this. But I just have to say once again, I think it's commendable what she did.
Q Let me just say, everyone in this room (inaudible) the work of the Committee to protect journalists. There's no question about that. The issue is favoritism for the wife of a government official and whether she, in some fashion, will use that in future press reports.
MR. BURNS: She was shown no favoritism. The fact is, she's married to Dick Holbrooke. The fact is, she's entitled to speak to him; she's entitled to visit him if she wants to. She visited him at the peace talks. There was nothing inappropriate about that at all -- at all. She wasn't there at government expense. I can assure you everything was on the up and up. She simply took advantage of a social occasion to do what any average American would do: Say to a leader of another country, "You're holding one of our citizens unjustifiably."
Q If she was the Washington Bureau Chief for AP --
MR. BURNS: But she isn't the Washington Bureau Chief for AP, Sid. She's a private person. I really can't take the conversation any further than I've taken it. I'm amazed, frankly, at the objections that are being put forth here. I am amazed.
Q If I might follow --
MR. BURNS: Maybe I'll be further amazed, Bill. (Laughter) Try me.
Q Sid might be as well. Has she been apprised -- has Mrs. Holbrooke been apprised of the requirements of the press in this blackout? Or will she be apprised --
MR. BURNS: Her husband was the author of the rules and regulations pertaining to press arrangements. Dick Holbrooke was the one who felt most strongly that we should establish the rules and procedures that we have for an effective press blackout. He felt it was in his interest as a negotiator to do this. So, of course, she's been apprised of it. She did nothing to contravene that.
Q Let me follow just a little further. Then, I take it that under those rules, Nick, she would not be able to publish any information that she gains by social contact with the delegates?
MR. BURNS: Listen, you're asking me to basically muzzle her to the following extent. I don't expect she'll run out and write a piece for the United Press International next week on her conversations with President Milosevic. But if 30 years from now, she decides to write a book about her life and she wants to include this, I am surely not going to tell her today that she can't do that.
Q Nick, my question -- I've been waiting to ask you -- is about tomorrow --
Q Just one more issue. (Inaudible) raise this? One of the issues may be that she is a former correspondent for an American television network. She has had access to the negotiators and the negotiations. She is in a position to be able to pass that information on either to her former employer or to other journalists. She is not bound by the news blackout.
It is an issue of, to what extent a news blackout actually works.
MR. BURNS: I would like to emphasize one of the words -- an adjective that you used -- "former," and she is a former employee. She is not a current employee, as far as I know, of any major -- or any American news or international or foreign news organization. She does not report. She does not write. I haven't seen her by-line as a reporter. She is a writer.
I think we ought to be a little bit broadminded here. She happens to be the wife of the senior negotiator on the American side. She wanted to visit him. It was entirely appropriate for her to do that. She's a very responsible person. I don't think you have to fear that she's going to go out and scoop you tomorrow.
If she does, then we can have another conversation about it. Okay? I bet she won't do it. I bet she won't do it.
Q About tomorrow, are you the only fellow that's going to speak? Are you going to have --
MR. BURNS: There's a very strong possibility of an event that the media will be invited to cover where people will speak; among them, Secretary Christopher. But I'll be dealing with the questions and answers from the press. I'll be briefing you as much as I can.
Q No photo-op, no Holbrooke tomorrow?
MR. BURNS: There might be a photo-op. There might be a media event open to the networks and the print media. If we can arrange it, and I'll try to get you some details on that as soon as I can. That's going to happen tomorrow.
I know that last time, there was some misunderstandings about the types of media activities that we undertook on November 1. I want to be very clear today that the Secretary will not be available for interviews from anybody because he's going to be a participant in these talks and he wants to follow the guidelines that he and Kati Marton and everyone else is respecting.
Charlie. Let me just go to Charlie. I can answer other questions.
Q Nick, I'd like to try again on how this agreement came about in terms of the natural gas supply for both the Serbs and the Bosnian Muslims. It's not that I -- well, my question is, with all the telephone calls you get from Mr. Holbrooke and from Mr. Ischinger and Lord knows who else on whatever day, it's difficult enough for us to try and piece things together.
But since you are our pipeline, if you don't know now, can you attempt to find out and let us know --
MR. BURNS: Yes. The answer is yes.
Q -- the answer as to exactly how this came about, and whether it is, because one came first and the other said, and which one came first.
MR. BURNS: I think Sid has asked a question, but I have given you a straight answer. I don't know because I wasn't there.
Q Will you look into it further?
MR. BURNS: And I didn't ask.
Q Will you look into it further?
MR. BURNS: I will look into this further and maybe tomorrow when we are all together at Wright-Patterson whiling away the hours, we will talk about this, if I have something to say about it, Roy.
Q Ask Connie, she's got something.
Q Today the Tribunal --
MR. BURNS: I'll come back in just a minute.
Q -- the Tribunal in The Hague has indicted three army officers, senior officers, in the army that does respond to Mr. Milosevic's direction.
Has anyone asked him at the talks if he will comply with their indictment and turn them over?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We saw the statement from the War Crimes Tribunal this morning that three officers, Serb officers, have been indicted. I think you know their names. I can attempt to pronounce them, if you would like me to. We can do that maybe on background to avoid further embarrassment. (Laughter.)
I can assure you that none of these individuals, and we have checked, is in Dayton, Ohio, as members of the Serb, Bosnian Serb, delegation, fortunately for everybody concerned.
Their indictments are based on alleged crimes committed in Vukovar in November 1991. There was an incident in which the Yugoslav, the so- called Yugoslav People's Army, the JNA, detained several hundred Croatians and executed, very deliberately, we believe, 26l people who were, in effect, prisoners of that war.
The three JNA officers, we believe, were not members of the high command, but they have now been indicted. Our view on this, Charlie, is that we support the War Crimes Tribunal in these indictments. The War Crimes Tribunal should now attempt to work with other countries to detain these people and to bring them forward for prosecution.
There have now been 46 people indicted, with the addition of these three today. All of them should be found -- and that may take some time in some cases -- but all of them should be found, detained, and brought forward for prosecution by the Tribunal.
Judge Goldstone is going to be here on the l5th and l6th of November in Washington. I believe that Secretary Christopher will be in Japan during that time, but Strobe Talbott will be here, and Strobe Talbott will be seeing him, as well as a number of other senior people - - John Shattuck who will be back from Bosnia at that point.
Q Apparently there is news today out of India --
Q (Multiple voices.)
MR. BURNS: I have just heard -- I have just seen the press reports of the statement out of The Hague this morning. I don't know if any of the delegations at Dayton, including our own delegation, have made a request to President Milosevic now to actively cooperate with the Tribunal and turn these people over.
Q It would be natural, the natural thing to do.
MR. BURNS: We call on all parties to the conflict, as well as all members states of the United Nations, to work with the War Crimes Tribunal. If that means working to help detain people and turn them over for prosecution, yes, of course, that is something that we would support.
Q But did you request, or in fact require, that Mr. Milosevic and the other participants in Dayton sign some kind of statement as part of these negotiations that they will cooperate?
MR. BURNS: The United States believes that a peace agreement should include a commitment by all parties to work with the War Crimes Tribunal and to be committed to helping the War Crimes Tribunal carry out its work.
We said that before the talks convened. I remember Dick Holbrooke said that when he briefed you from this podium one day. That is still our position.
Q Apparently these is news out of India today regarding Hutchings being held in Kashmir. I understand contact has been re- established.
MR. BURNS: I'll go back to it.
I have not heard anything officially and I have not seen press reports concerning Donald Hutchings, but I am glad you raised his case because we can't forget him. The United States Government has not forgotten him. He is an American citizen who has been detained for many, many months in very harsh conditions now, exceedingly harsh conditions.
We are working with the Indian Government every day to do whatever we can to get him released. It's a very difficult situation for his family, as you can imagine.
Q He is reportedly ill. Today, AP is reporting that there have been three radio contacts with the group. He is reportedly ill.
MR. BURNS: I have not seen that AP report. I will now attempt to look for it. His case is of great concern to us. We are working continuously with the Indian Government, as well as with the countries of the other hostages, the U.K. in particular, to do whatever we can to help the Indian Government end this hostage-taking and bring those four people out.
Q What would that be? What kind of help would that be?
MR. BURNS: All sorts of cooperation. Any type of cooperation that the Indian Government needs it will get from this government.
Q Nick, on the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: Yes, and then I assure you we will go to the Middle East.
Q President Izetbegovic has said that the Croatian army needs to be out of Bosnia-Herzegovina within 30 days of a peace accord. Does the United States support that position? Would the United States deploy a NATO implementation force if Croatian troops remain in Bosnia- Herzegovina?
Just a process question, can there be a separate Federation agreement announced in Dayton, separate from a total package?
MR. BURNS: Three questions. On the third question, it is highly desirable that there would be an agreement to strengthen the Federation. It would not be separate from the talks, because we think that the strength of the Federation is a very important ingredient in the ability of the parties to move forward to an overall peace agreement. That was your third question.
The second question, if you will remind me -- I'm sorry.
Q Would the United States deploy -- ?
MR. BURNS: I can't imagine that the United States would now lay down any new conditions, explicit conditions, on the deployment of our own military forces pertaining to that particular question.
On number one, this is certainly an issue between Bosnia and Croatia that has got to be worked out within the Federation. The United States, I don't believe, is intervening on behalf of either side on that question.
We hope that this question and others like it will be resolved.
Q Nick, finally on the Middle East --
MR. BURNS: Yes. If there are any Bosnia questions, we can go back.
Q The Israeli Government has indicated today that the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin might have been a conspiracy, not simply a lone assassin. There has been a crack-down on some of the Jewish extremists groups, including this (inaudible) of which Amir was a part, which is an off-shoot of Kach.
I am wondering if the United States, in coordination with the efforts of the Israeli Government, is also monitoring and perhaps taking action against the groups working together with them here in the United States, and particularly the financing which has occurred largely from the United States?
MR. BURNS: I understand that Israel has not requested United States assistance with its investigation into the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin.
Of course, the Israeli Government knows that if it requests our specific assistance, we will give it, due to our very close friendship with Israel.
As for financial support, as for regulations here in the United States, financial support to terrorist groups that may emanate from United States sources, sources on our soil, could be a violation of U. S. law. An Executive Order signed on January 23rd of this year, January 23, l995, by President Clinton blocks the assets in the United States of terrorist organizations that threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process.
The order designated twelve groups, specifically including the Kach group and the Kahane Chai, two Israeli organizations -- excuse me, American organizations -- supporting certain elements in Israel.
The Treasury Department is enforcing this Executive Order and I would refer any specific questions there.
MR. BURNS: Yes, we can.
Q Has there been some sort of aid suspension because they have privatized swiftly enough?
MR. BURNS: Well, it is a complicated issue. There is ongoing United States economic assistance to Haiti which includes assistance to train and deploy a new police force, to revamp the Haitian judicial system, to complete the presidential elections process, to strengthen democratic institutions, as well as to support a variety of health care and feeding programs. There is an education program. There is an environment program. This assistance, as you probably know, is part of the wider international support for the Haitian people.
As reported today in The Washington Post, there remains about $4.5 million in balance of payments support from our Fiscal Year l995 program, which has not yet been disbursed.
This is the final tranche of a total of $45 million which the United States agreed Haiti would receive from us as part of our FY '95 assistance program.
An agreement negotiated with the Haitian Government last April established several conditions which had to be met before these funds could be disbursed. These conditions included financial sector reforms, civil service reforms, and plans for privatization of state monopolies.
These provisions originated with the Haitian Government's own program that was presented to the international community more than a year ago. Along with other reform measures supported by the U.S., they are all designed to help Haiti move from dependence on foreign resources towards independence.
To date, two of these conditions have not been met, the conditions on privatization and the conditions on civil service reform. As a result, assistance funds for those programs remain undisbursed. So they are being held by the United States Government until sufficient reforms are made in those sectors.
We are encouraging the Haitian Government to fulfill its commitments to the international community to meet these conditions, to make the necessary reforms in both of these areas so that we can be forthcoming with the remaining undisbursed funds from our FY '95 account.
MR. BURNS: Nigeria, yes.
Q Do you have a statement on the military rulers' decision to confirm the hanging of nine members of the opposition?
MR. BURNS: I do. I would refer you here to the statement just released today by Mike McCurry. The United States is appalled that the Provisional Ruling Council in Nigeria has confirmed death sentences, which we believe are handed by a faulty and illegitimate judicial process.
The United States condemns the death sentences. These sentences were reached outside of the regular court system and without consideration for due process or the rights of the accused.
The accused did not have access to counsel outside of the court room, and they were held without charge for several months.
We have repeatedly urged the government of Nigeria not to carry out the executions. We call on the government of Nigeria to vacate the sentences against all nine prisoners and insure that the accused are afforded fair trials with appeals in an independent judicial process consistent with international standards of due process and international law.
Q Mexico: Nick, the Mexican financial situation -- currency situation -- is suffering. Based on rumors that the Mexican military is leaning on Zedillo to resign, these allegations are coming from Mr. Carlos Salinas de Gortari, up in Massachusetts. Can you deny or confirm that the Mexican military is unhappy or pressuring Mr. Zedillo to get out?
MR. BURNS: I just can't speak to that question. (Laughter) I don't speak on behalf of the Mexican military, and I won't. I don't know what they're thinking on this question, if anything, so I don't want to get into it.
Q Is that the answer?
Q I take it that the United States Government does not share a concern that there is trouble in Mexico City.
MR. BURNS: That's a different question. We have, as everybody knows, a very close, supportive relationship with Mexico. Mexico as our neighbor is an exceedingly important country to us.
Under President Zedillo's leadership, Mexico has come back from the financial abyss. Certainly there are remaining problems there -- as there are problems in our country and other countries -- with economic stability and economic reform, but Mexico under President Zedillo's leadership is certainly a much more stable place than it was late last year. We commend President Zedillo for his leadership. The President has a good visit with him on October l0, in which I think we expressed our very strong support for the economic reform and stabilization measures that President Zedillo has put in place, and Mexico can count on the support of the United States.
Q I have a question about Jesse Helms --
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q -- and the status of discussions between the Administration's Congressional leaders over the budget and the impact of the stalemate on the Ambassadors -- on the ability of the State Department to conduct diplomacy.
MR. BURNS: Let me just say two things about issues that are before the Congress.
First is the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act. We understand that there was not positive action -- not positive action -- last night, as we had expected by the Congress. We remain hopeful that the Congress will work quickly, act quickly, to extend the ability of the United States Government to provide economic assistance to the Palestinian people -- assistance which is supported by the Israeli Government.
On the question of the action by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to suspend consideration of Ambassadorial appointments, Assistant Secretarial appointments, it's a very grave situation. Frankly, it's a situation where the impact on our national interest is completely disproportionate to the issue that's being debated, which is an issue of State Department consolidation. We'd like to see these issues separated.
We're willing to have a continuing dialogue with the Congress and with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the issue of consolidation. Congress has a right to assert this is an issue that it wants to discuss with us. But to tie that issue with the nominations of three Assistant Secretaries for International Organization Affairs, for Oceans and Environmental Affairs, and for the Director General of the Foreign Service Personnel System -- to tie it to the Ambassadorial nominations for l6 Ambassadors overseas -- is really unwarranted and is hurting the United States national interest.
I understand that not only is the Ambassadorship of Sandy Kristoff as our APEC Coordinator being suspended but also our Ambassadors to the People's Republic of China, to Malaysia, to Indonesia, and to Thailand are all being held up -- and this on the verge of a week, when the President and the Secretary are going to travel to Japan for an APEC Leaders Conference and for a state visit to Japan.
We're going to have meetings with all the leaders of these Asian countries without the benefit of high-level Ambassadorial advice from distinguished Americans, some of whom are Foreign Service Officers, and are being held up for political reasons.
So there's an absolute negative impact of the Senate action on the ability of the United States to carry out its foreign policy effectively around the world, particularly in Asia, at a time of great importance in United States relations as a Pacific power in Asia.
We call upon the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to separate these two issues -- allow the l6 Ambassadorial nominations, the 3 Assistant Secretary nominations, the 2 Ambassador-at-Large nominations to go forward -- and we will gladly discuss the issue of consolidation.
Q Nick, a follow-up on that. If Congress does not given a clean debt-limit bill and the Government has to at least partially shut down, what contingency plans does the State Department have? What will be affected? What will remain in operation?
MR. BURNS: Let me just precede answering that by saying -- let me just make one more comment. I don't want there to be any misunderstanding from what I just said.
I'm not saying that if these Ambassadorial nominations go through that we're prepared to make every compromise that is being desired on the consolidation issue. We're prepared to discuss it. It's our obligation to discuss issues of concern to the Senate.
I'm making no comment on the nature of the discussion on consolidation issues, but I do think it's in the interest to separate them.
Now, this is a very serious issue that pertains to the continuing resolution. I know that Leon Panetta and Secretary Rubin had a press conference just a couple of hours ago at the White House about this. The State Department has submitted a plan to OMB for a barebones operation, if in fact the Government is shut down.
I don't think the American people want all of our embassies and consulates shut down, but what's going to happen? The practical effect will be that if there isn't a continuing resolution, if in fact the Congress denies the funds to the Administration that would allow us to keep the Government going, the Department of State is going to be run on a shoestring and there are going to be very few people here. In fact, I'm not even sure we're going to have technicians available to run these briefings and turn the lights on and turn the cameras on. So we're going to have to meet in the dark to do our press briefings (laughter), and there won't be transcripts so you won't be able to hold me to what I said the next day. (Laughter)
But, more importantly, when American citizens are traveling in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, in Europe, and elsewhere, there's going to be a limited ability of our embassies and consulates to respond, because by law they will not be able to keep our employees at work. We'll be down to essential personnel, and in most embassies it's going to be single digits -- a handful of people.
If we run into problems of a significant nature, we're going to be in trouble and the American people are going to be in trouble. We've got the Dayton Peace Talks going; we've got KEDO talks going; we've got the Middle East peace process that we hope to continue; we've got an APEC Conference, and a state visit to Japan -- not a good time to shut down the U.S. Government or the State Department.
So we very much hope that the Congress will cooperate with the Administration to make it possible for those of us in Government service to come to work next week.
Q After the Turkish Parliament changed Article 8 of the Turkish Penal Code, Turkish justice system released more than l00 prisoners, which they only give for the freedom of speech. After these events, how do you ever weigh the Turkish entrance for the European Customs Union?
MR. BURNS: The United States has consistently supported, and still supports very strongly Turkey's membership in the European Customs Union. We believe that Turkey, as a significant power in Europe, must be anchored in Europe and in European institutions. Both the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration have consistently supported Turkey's membership in a number of institutions, including the Customs Union.
So I think that's just a very clear enunciation of our policy.
Q On Cuba?
Q May I ask you, please? First of all, the NATO agreement yesterday leaves me, at least, very perplexed. I cannot figure out whether the Russian general, or the Russian commander, really reports to the Americans or he has some other chain of command to his own people. Secondly, it looks like they put half the agreement until later, which is the question of political direction.
MR. BURNS: Let me just very briefly speak to this because it's late in the briefing and I know some people want to leave. I'll be glad to go into this ON BACKGROUND afterwards.
Let me just get it out very quickly, and then I'll be glad to stand behind in answering further questions.
The agreement reached between Secretary Perry and Minister Grachev is a very important agreement because it allows us to fulfill our objective of including Russia in the effort to implement a peace agreement, if reached, in Bosnia. The plan preserves unity of command, does not require Russian forces to be placed under NATO command, and does not include any dual-key provisions. The United States will agree to no dual-key provisions.
The essential elements are four:
-- The Russian contingent will be under the operational control of General Joulwan, who will be the Supreme Commander of this organization. That takes place through a Russian deputy, probably Colonel General Shetsov.
-- Two, the Russian forces will remain under the national command of Russia.
-- Three, the Russian brigade, which will be two or three battalions, will be in the geographic area of responsibility of an American division and under the tactical control of a U.S. division commander. Tactical control is defined as a detailed, and usually local, direction for control of movements and maneuvers.
-- General Joulwan and Colonel General Shetsov have also agreed on common principles which will guide further planning to answer some of the remaining questions about this.
I know it sounds confusing. I have some very good press guidance from the Pentagon, which to me is very clear. If I can't answer any further questions after we turn off the lights I would refer you to my colleague, Mike Doubleday, at the Pentagon.
Q A question of general interest, which is: What happens if the Russian commander says no to an order from, I guess, at the tactical level by his American commander?
MR. BURNS: I can't conceive of that happening. These will be disciplined troops. They know what they're getting into; they know what their commitments are.
Let's just remember this essential point, and let's close the briefing, that the NATO forces will provide the core military functions for implementation. Russia and the United States have agreed that there will be a special operations jointly of Russian and American troops -- and this is what we're talking about here -- for other ancillary and support services to that core operation.
Thanks very much.
(The briefing concluded at 2:46 p.m.)
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