U.S. Department of State 95/11/28 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, November 28, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT -- Announcement Secretary's Congressional Testimony Schedule...............1 OECD -- Announcement Czech Republic Invited to Join.............................1 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Congressional Support of Troop Deployment..................2 Security Guarantees to IFOR................................17-18 Deployment of IFOR.........................................18 Adherence to Annex 1 (a) of Agreement......................19 MIDDLE EAST Dennis Ross's Travel to the Region ........................3,7 Israeli and Syrian ForMins Remarks re: MEPP ...............3-5 Secretary's Travel to Region ..............................5 Hizbollah Attacks on Israel ...............................5-6 Hizbollah-Syrian Connection ...............................6 Syria's Actions re: MEPP ..................................7 MEPP Military Talks - Status ..............................8-10 Linking Syrian and Palestinian Tracks .....................10 Private Israeli-Syrian Contacts ...........................10-12 Syrian Officials Don't Denounce Terrorism .................12-13 Reopening Direct Israeli-Syrian Negotiations ..............19-21 HAITI Request from Haitian Gov't. for FRAPH Documents ...........11-16 UNITED NATIONS Assessed Contributions Paid Under Continuing Resolution ...21-22
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1995, 1:15 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome back, Carol.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have two quick announcements.
First, Secretary Christopher, along with Secretary Perry and General Shalikashvili, will be testifying this week, this Thursday, before the House International Relations Committee at l0:00 a.m. and the House Committee on National Security at 2:00 p.m. That testimony will be on Bosnia.
On Friday, they intend to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at l0:00, and we are still trying to schedule a session with the Senate Arms Services Committee. It is unclear when that will be held. So this Thursday and Friday, at least three sessions with the House and Senate on Bosnia.
Secondly, I would like to make a short announcement about the Czech Republic. Today in Paris, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD, will invite the Czech Republic to become its 26th member.
This invitation is a milestone in that it marks the first time that a formerly Communist country has been asked to join a core institution of the Western democracies. It represents an important step forward in the process of bringing the Central European countries into the community of democratic and free-market countries.
Accession to the OECD also represents the culmination of a remarkable effort by the Czech government over the last several years to liberalize its economy. It signifies that the OECD is fully satisfied with the willingness and ability of the Czech Republic to meet all of its standards of membership. The United States is very pleased to welcome the Czech Republic to the OECD.
Q Is it a grouping of AID donor countries?
MR. BURNS: No, it's not. The OECD is a grouping of Western free- market economies, and it's an organization that is almost solely economic in nature.
The standard for membership for all new countries, of those countries that were formerly a part of the Soviet Union, is that they would have achieved a market economy. The Czech republic is the first country that has been judged by the OECD to have achieved a level of free-market economic development to that standard.
Q Nick, what does the Administration want from Congress so far as the troops are concerned? Do they want a -- you say you don't need their authority, but do you want a resolution of support, or is it sufficient that they don't get in the way?
MR. BURNS: I think the President was clear about this, Barry, last night in his speech, but also in his letter to Speaker Gingrich a couple of weeks ago when he said we desire an expression of support from the United States Congress.
I think everybody believes that we will be better off, the nation will be more united if the Congress would support the intention of the President to deploy American troops as part of a NATO effort. That is the very clear intention of the Administration.
Q You don't need that, legally, is your position, constitutionally.
MR. BURNS: The President has noted many times, including, I think, most notably in the letter to Speaker Gingrich, and I mention that letter because it was a comprehensive account of the strategy and the tactics that he believes, and others believe -- that the President obviously retains his prerogatives under the Constitution as Commander- in-Chief.
That was a good briefing. The shortest briefing in history. (Laughter.)
Q Can we go to another subject?
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q Is Dennis Ross making any plans to go to Damascus?
MR. BURNS: Dennis intends to -- Dennis Ross, Ambassador Dennis Ross -- intends to visit Israel and Syria next week to consult on a number of issues pertaining to the peace process. As you remember, about ten days ago he made a trip to Israel. He was in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. He conferred with the Israeli Government shortly after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. So he intends to go back next week.
Secretary Christopher has encouraged him to do so. The Secretary has kept fully abreast of the developments in the area of late, and we certainly welcome the recent statements by the new Israeli Foreign Minister, Minister Barak, and the Syrian Foreign Minister about their intention to advance the peace process. We hope there will be detailed follow-up talks between Israel and Syria in the near future.
Dennis, as you know, has been fully involved all along the way. He will be going back to have consultations with both countries about the status of the Syrian-Israeli track, and of our obvious intention to be helpful if we can.
Q Do you welcome the tone of those statements? What about the content of the statements, which we can go over if you want me to be specific?
MR. BURNS: We welcome --
Q Mr. Shara says, you know, peace, yes, peace -- with full withdrawal we want peace.
MR. BURNS: We certainly welcome, Barry, the tone and we welcome the content of the statements that have been made by both the Syrian Government and the Israeli Government about their desire to move forward in negotiations on the Syrian-Israeli track.
Q Well, the Syrian statement, as far as content is concerned, says there must be full Israeli withdrawal. I wonder if you welcome and endorse that. And also speaks -- I don't know that I've heard this in a while, but what the heck, you know, pile on if you can --speaks of something about Palestinian legitimate rights as another precondition. I only knew of full withdrawal until I saw that.
Do you welcome the notion that peace is possible only with full withdrawal? And do you have any idea what he is talking about, about Palestinian rights, and do you welcome that?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I am usually very careful in describing our policy on the Middle East for obvious reasons. When I said we welcome the content as well as the tone, the content, the substantive content, of remarks from both governments is that they wanted to advance the peace process, that they were inclined to deal with each other in the peace process.
That is substantive and that is good. I specifically did not endorse any of the specific comments that were made about the relative - - the various positions of the two parties, and I am not in a position to do that. You would not expect me to do that.
Q I just wondered.
Q Could you broaden your comments a little bit and sort of give us a sense of whether the Secretary feels that there is substantive change in tone, and the little hints of messages that you are getting from the two sides, that they may be ready to pick up speed in their dealings? I mean, is a peace agreement possible this year?
MR. BURNS: I think it is probably too early to judge that, Carol. The fact is that the Israeli Foreign Minister has just taken office, just in the last couple of days. He is new in his job. We have to give him some time to acclimate himself to the job, and I think we have to be fair to the Israeli Government to give them some time to orient themselves after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin.
We are encouraged by the fact that the tone of these comments and the expressed wish of the comments to move forward in the peace process is obviously positive. We are willing to play the role that we have always played, which is to be helpful in this regard.
That is why the Secretary has decided to send Dennis back. It is really too early to say whether we think this is a fundamental turning point in the peace process or where we think this is going to lead.
We have said many times that we would very much like to have the parties agree to forge an agreement on the Syrian-Israeli track some time in 1996. We certainly don't think that the opportunity for that has passed, and we remain engaged and will remain engaged and the Secretary is quite interested in this; but I really do think it is a little bit too early to predict ultimate success here, because the issues they are dealing with, as we saw quite evidently over the summer, are very, very difficult issues, and there certainly are differences, very important differences between Syria and Israel and the issue of the Golan Heights.
Q Nick, just to complete the circle on travel, both parties are saying that the Secretary is going to return to the region about December l3th or so. Can you comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I just -- I have been with the Secretary in a couple of meetings this morning, and I can tell you we have no plans right now to return to the Middle East.
Certainly the Secretary is always ready to return when he believes that his presence there in the region can make a difference. But Sid, I would point you to the Secretary's obligations on Bosnia. As you know, the Secretary has a major responsibility to testify this week. We don't know when the House and Senate will schedule their vote of support for the Administration on Bosnia, but it is likely to be some time in the next two weeks, and the Secretary will want to be here for that vote.
He will be in Madrid over the weekend. He will be in Brussels next week. There is a possibility that the Secretary could also attend the London Conference. No decisions have been made on that. And there is the possibility, of course, or a very strong expectation that there will be a Paris peace conference some time in the days following Prime Minister Peres' visit to Washington on December llth.
So the Secretary has a very, very busy schedule of Bosnia-related events. He is Secretary of State. He does have global responsibilities. He is keeping very closely involved in this process. I just wouldn't lead you in the direction of a trip some time in the next ten days to the Middle East. I think his plate is full with Bosnia.
In that regard, while we're on the subject, let me just tell you that the Secretary was called around 4:00 a.m. by Ambassador Ross this morning about the Katyusha rocket attacks into northern Israel. Shortly after their phone call, the Secretary called Syrian Foreign Minister Shara and had a good conversation with him.
I think you know the facts. The facts are, as we appreciate them, that Hizbollah launched several volleys of Katyusha rockets into Israel this morning. This is clearly an effort to undermine the search for peace in the Middle East.
As I said, the Secretary was directly in touch with the Syrian Foreign Minister. We have also been in touch with the Israelis and the Lebanese Government to urge that all three do everything possible to calm the situation.
We've seen reports that a leader of Hizbollah was killed in retaliatory raids against Hizbollah by the Israeli defense forces this morning.
Q Could Hizbollah have done this without Syria's approval or acquiescence? Does Hizbollah operate without Syria's -- every time Hizbollah attacks, you ask Syria to do something about that. Hizbollah operates with the acquiescence of Syria, doesn't it?
MR. BURNS: Hizbollah has made its opposition to the peace process very clear, on it's own, Barry. We believe that Syria, while it does not control Hizbollah, certainly has some influence over Hizbollah. We've made clear to all parties that it's important to exercise restraint. The Syrians have replied that they would do all they could to ensure that restraint is exercised.
I can tell you, based on conversations I've had with the Secretary and Dennis Ross just over the last 45 minutes, that we are continuing to work today, and both of them will be engaged today, in the effort to make sure that these attacks are fully stopped.
Just in the last couple of hours we have not received any reports of continued attacks, but it's obviously a very tense situation. The United States will be acting this afternoon to try to make sure that we can end this incident and, hopefully, put it behind the parties.
Q But surely you don't see an Hizbollah attack as part of some grand Syrian strategy? Sort of a warning shot that unless you give up the Golan Heights, you can expect to have continued attacks? That's too medieval for you?
MR. BURNS: It probably is a little too Byzantine for me -- Byzantine.
Q "Byzantine" would be the right word.
MR. BURNS: It's the right regional context as well.
Q (Inaudible) Hizbollah, then isn't it just -- we'll go to logic now. Maybe Jesuitical. I don't know. But if Syria has influence over Hizbollah, isn't Syria partly culpable to the Hizbollah attack, for not using its influence?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I think we have to state the facts as we see them. The fact is that Hizbollah has acted, obviously, in many respects over the years, independently. We do believe that Syria has some influence.
We have been directly in contact with the senior levels of the Syrian Government this morning, and Syria has pledged to do all it can to call on the parties to exercise restraint. That's where I want to leave this today.
Q In your formula for Middle East peace, which weighs more -- the positive words or the negative actions of Syria?
MR. BURNS: Sid, ultimately, the actions of all parties concerned are most important in moving forward towards peace or marching away from peace. We're going to count, hopefully, on the positive actions of Syria and Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Lebanon, and all the other parties involved in the various tracks to make peace.
The statements, and as you know -- and I think you and Barry have both covered the Middle East -- you know this -- statements are important. Sometimes public statements can send useful signals. Sometimes it's a way to mark an inclination of the government to be receptive, to move along in the peace process. So we do think it's significant that both Israel and Syria have pledged to at least talk about peace.
Remember where we were in the Secretary's last full trip to the Middle East in June. We thought we were on the verge of some movement. That did not transpire over the summer. It's certainly now, in light of all of that, positive to see these statements coming from both governments. We'll be working with both governments for progress.
Q Do Syria and Israel need the U.S.'s help to find their way to peace?
MR. BURNS: We certainly would support any kind of direct contacts or direct talks that they wanted to make. But I think both countries have made clear to Secretary Christopher in the past and continue to make clear, they think the role of the United States here is an important one; that his personal role is important. They're certainly asking him and Ambassador Ross to stay fully engaged. I can tell you that both of these men will stay fully engaged in this process.
Q Is Dennis (Ross) going at the request of these two governments?
MR. BURNS: Dennis is going at the request of the Secretary. Dennis came back from his last trip, reported to the Secretary on his discussions with the Israeli Government, and the Secretary decided that the time was right for Dennis to return to the area.
Q It's his decision, and it isn't at the request of the --
MR. BURNS: It's a decision by the Secretary of State.
Q Can I ask you one procedural thing? Way back in the dim history of the Middle East, like six months ago, the big issue was whether these military talks would be resumed. You have a new administration in Israel now, possibly a more conciliatory one than the previous one.
Do you have to go back to military talks, or can you walk beyond them now? That was a procedural waystation, a way to maybe accomplish something where other areas were blocked.
Is the path now clear enough that the U.S. is not pushing to resume those talks? Or would you still like to get back to military commanders?
MR. BURNS: That was a decision that we made with the parties back in June. As you know, the talks did not transpire as we had thought they would throughout the summer.
I think, Barry, it's best just to let this process go forward and see what emerges from the process and let Ambassador Ross take his trip and come back and report to the Secretary and we will take it from there.
Q You mean he doesn't have any ideas as he goes out there?
MR. BURNS: He's got lots of ideas, but I'm just inclined to share all of them with you.
Q Does he have an idea of resuming the military talks? Is that one of the ideas?
MR. BURNS: We always have ideas. And when it's helpful, we let the parties know what the ideas area, but we seldom advance those ideas in public before we talk to the parties about them.
Q We have suspended talks. Is it okay with the U.S. if those talks are just phased out?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to make that comment, Barry. We felt at the time it was important to do that. There has been a great rupture, and the rupture was the assassination of the Prime Minister. Now, there's the formation of a new government. I think we've got to let that government decide where it wants to go in this process. I don't think it would be helpful for me to say that we should continue that agreement, that we should not continue the agreement.
Let's let Ambassador Ross have some private discussions. Let Secretary Christopher and him decide how at least we want to help the parties move forward. More importantly, let the parties decide how they want to interact in the future. That's the most important element of these conversations.
Q Nick, it seems to me that that's an important sign that you're sending, that the impediment that seems to have held up talks in the last six months may now be set aside --
MR. BURNS: I very clearly did not set it aside and I very clearly, with all due respect, Carol, just advised Barry that I thought it would be inappropriate and unhelpful for me at this time to say, "Yes, they should go forward; no, they shouldn't go forward." That's really up to Israel and Syria to decide. Let's let those talks take place. Let's let Ambassador Ross take his trip to region -- to Syria and Israel -- and then we'll see where we are.
Q We're not dealing with a whole new cast of characters. The new Prime Minister was the Foreign Minister and played a critical role in where the peace talks have come in the last couple of years.
Just by leaving the door open to a possible new formulation, it seems that all bets are off.
MR. BURNS: But I'm not leaving the door open. I'm not leaving it open, I'm not closing it. I'm being very careful, very cautious, very neutral today. I'm just saying, I don't have a comment on Barry's question.
I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment, so therefore I haven't really moved the ball forward and I haven't moved it back. The ball is exactly where it was.
The most important thing is that the United States should not be in the position of giving public advice to the parties before Dennis Ross has made his trip to the region. I've quite consciously not tried to give public advice this morning.
Q You haven't, but you have moved the ball because you have said there's a new government in Israel, let the parties decide (Inaudible) but let them decide anew
where to go from here. So the U.S. clearly is not insisting that the Syrians fulfill the promise made to the last Israeli Government, to engage in military talks; a promise conveyed by the U.S. Government.
MR. BURNS: Barry, the great thing about this is, there's lots going on behind the scenes. There are a lot of things that are being negotiated, of course, everyday in this relationship and any other relationship. I'm choosing not to go public with everything that we're saying in private.
In doing that, it's just not possible for you to extrapolate one way or another an answer to the question you've raised here. It's an appropriate question, but I'm choosing to defer the question. I'm not making a substantive or qualitative judgment on your question in any respect.
Q (Inaudible) you raised -- was about Shara's mixing, if that's the right word, the Syrian-Israeli dispute with the Palestinian issue. Is that something the United States -- does the United States think those two -- what do you call them -- fronts, two-tracks -- should be entwined again? Or would you rather Israel and Syria stay out of the Palestinian issue and proceed on their own front?
MR. BURNS: I also decline to comment on that, when you made the first suggestion.
Let me just say, the Israeli-Palestinian track has done quite well. There was the September 28 signing of the agreement on that track. And just in his first weeks in office, Prime Minister Peres has taken a number of important decisions, including the decision to redeploy all Israeli military forces from Jenin. So there is progress on that track, and I think we are satisfied that that track is moving along.
The Syrian-Israeli track is a separate track. It does not cross the other track. It's separate. The set of problems that the Syrians and Israelis are dealing with are quite different than the problems that the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government are dealing with on their tracks. So I think I'd prefer just to keep my comments specific to each of those tracks and not try to mix them.
Q There have been reports that there might be private Syria- Israeli contacts, and you, yourself, just referred to, you know, not everything's public that's going on. So does the United States -- is the United States aware of secret recent Israeli-Syrian contacts?
MR. BURNS: I've seen the same reports that you have. In fact, I heard them on the radio this morning, but I have nothing to offer to you on those reports today.
Q Let's try it a different way. There's very good reason to suspect that the United States or this Administration felt rather left out when they found out about the Israeli-PLO negotiations when they were pretty far along.
MR. BURNS: If six months is history, that's ancient history, Barry.
Q That was a year ago.
MR. BURNS: It's two years ago.
Q No, but apparently there was --
MR. BURNS: Two years ago.
Q I know, but there's a theory that that's an object lesson for this Administration. It doesn't want to wake up in Santa Barbara Christmas week and have an Israeli emissary come and tell the Secretary of State about, you know, a virtual Syrian-Israeli deal. So as a result you're jumping in early with both feet as often as you can, so that you know what's going on and can share in the glory and have a constructive role, of course.
Is there some feeling in the Administration --
MR. BURNS: I haven't figured out yet if that's a generous interpretation or --
Q Oh, no, no, it's not a generous interpretation.
MR. BURNS: Okay.
Q Is the Administration --
MR. BURNS: I just wanted to make sure.
Q -- trying to make sure it isn't blindsided again in the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: Barry, first of all, what happened in 1993 was a long time ago, but it was very positive. It led to the September '93 agreement on the White House lawn with President Clinton present when Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat shook hands; and it led to the progress that we saw on September 28, again in the White House, here in the capital of the United States, in Washington, D.C., when the United States was fully involved in the process.
The parties -- Israel and Syria -- have chosen to have the United States play a very important role on the Israel-Syrian track, which, as I said before, is a very different track than the Israeli-Palestinian track.
Our interest here is peace. Our interest here is to see a reconciliation between Syria and Israel; a full peace agreement between Syria and Israel at some point in the future. They've got to make the decision as to when that happens, both of them. They will find a good and constructive partner in the United States, and I think we are fully engaged in that process, and there's no reason to believe that we won't be fully engaged in the coming months.
Q Nick, at the European Union and Mediterranean meeting, some of the Syrian officials -- they don't want to denounce terrorism. Isn't that giving you some hint of Syrian supported terrorism?
MR. BURNS: I'm just not aware of what the Syrians have said or have not said at Barcelona on that issue.
Q There are press on what they said. They said there's a distinction -- that they would like to see a distinction drawn in condemning terrorism, between terrorism and acts of -- I forget how it's phrased exactly -- but meaning acts of, you know, what's usually called guerrilla attacks or retaliatory attacks for seized -- for occupation of territory.
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen those press reports.
Q Well, it's in the clips. The Financial Times has one, for instance.
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen it.
Q Could we go to Haiti?
MR. BURNS: By the way, this is very positive. We haven't discussed Bosnia yet. I'm very satisfied --
Q Well --
MR. BURNS: We can do that later. But Haiti, yes.
Q Can we do Haiti?
MR. BURNS: Bill, you have a question on Haiti?
Q No, on Bosnia.
MR. BURNS: I thought someone had a question on Haiti.
Judd. Judd has a question on Haiti.
Q George, did you want --
MR. BURNS: George.
Q Haiti -- the reports that the U.S. has some documents which were seized at the time of the intervention a year ago, and the Haitians think those documents belong to them. Can you shed some light on this?
MR. BURNS: Yes, let me shed some light. Let me give you some background and give you our position. The background is that way back in September 1994, during our initial military operations in Haiti, members of the 10th Mountain Division, United States Army, as part of the multinational force, sent to provide security in Haiti, seized documents, some photographs, some tapes from the FRAPH Headquarters in Port-au-Prince, and these items were forwarded through U.S. military command channels and are now being held by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
We received a request from the Haitian Government for these documents -- photos and tapes -- and that request was made on October 31 of this year. I can't comment on the contents of the documents or the precise status of the DoD review of them. I'll refer you to Mike Doubleday who is in the office today and is briefing on them.
But I will say this: We have a good relationship with the Haitian Government. The fact that the Haitian Government has made a formal request is important to us. We owe them a response. The ball is in our court, and we plan to get back to the Haitian Government as quickly as possible, so that we can end this misunderstanding.
Q Nick, isn't it sort of a question -- at least the Haitians are framing it in terms of sovereignty. They're Haitian documents. They want them back. What right does the United States have to hold onto them?
MR. BURNS: I don't think anyone's disputing the fact that in September 1994 the U.S. military was deployed to end the thuggery of Francois and Cedras, and I don't think anyone is arguing the fact that the military came in and seized FRAPH documents.
FRAPH was an illegitimate organization which terrorized the people of Haiti. I don't think anyone has sympathy for FRAPH. At this point, though, the Haitian Government has come forward and said he would like the documents back. We've heard that request, and, as I said, I want to emphasize this -- we have a very good relationship with President Aristide and the Haitian Government.
We want to be receptive. The ball's in our court. We certainly owe them a response, and we're working on it.
Q Is there any fear that these documents would incite more vigilante violence in Haiti against former FRAPH members, and that's the reason that the United States is holding up --
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't lead you in that direction, no.
Q Then what's the problem? I mean, if they're theirs, you've acknowledged they're theirs, they're a legitimate government, you support the government -- why do you think that you should keep them?
MR. BURNS: These are FRAPH documents, and we held them -- for what? -- for 14 months -- 13, 14 months -- and we've just, in the last month had a request for their return. We are looking at that request. That request is in the purview of the Pentagon, so I can't give you a detailed answer as to where the documents are, how many documents there are, how many tapes, how many photographs, but I can tell you this: I think this is important. We do owe them a response. We're going to give them a response.
Q The question is why? Not what, where or when, it's why. Why couldn't you just turn them over? I mean, why is there even a debate about this?
MR. BURNS: I think you may be presuming more than you should. This was a military operation to do away with FRAPH and to restore the democratically elected President of Haiti to power, which the United States accomplished, and which has since been continued. The mission has been continued by the United Nations.
It was a success. It was the right thing to do. In the course of that operation, our military came into possession, probably, of these items and many more items pertaining to the FRAPH organization. I can't tell you specifically why these documents were held from September '94 until today, but I can tell you that now that the Haitian Government has asked for them back, we're looking at that request very seriously.
Q You seem to be drawing a distinction between these documents belonging to FRAPH or belonging to the Haitian Government. Do you mean to do that?
MR. BURNS: I'm just saying that there was an illegitimate government in place in September 1994. It was removed from power, and a legitimate government came in and took its place. These documents belonged at the time to the illegitimate organization that no longer exists.
Now the government that clearly has sovereignty -- the Haitian Government -- has asked for them back. It's a legitimate request. We're looking at it. We're going to get them an answer.
Q There's no question that these documents are not the current Haitian Government's, is there?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I think I've given you a pretty clear answer. We've got a request. We're looking at it. It's under review. And I'm going to have to refer you to the Pentagon, which is in possession of these documents. These documents are not here in Foggy Bottom.
I haven't seen the documents. I don't know where they are. I don't where they're being held. I don't know how many there are.
Q Isn't there disagreement between the State Department and the Pentagon as to whether or not these documents should be continued to be held or just, you know, handed over?
MR. BURNS: What I would just tell you, Carol, is this is a relatively recent request. We've had a lot of business with the Haitian Government over the last couple of weeks. I can tell you that the senior people in this Department -- the Department of State -- as well as senior people in the Department of Defense are very well aware of the request now, and they're working on it. There's a review underway of what the appropriate action should be, and I'm sure that the United States Government will come to the appropriate decision. I'm sure that we'll be able to resolve this with the Haitian Government.
Q You're not saying it's up to the Pentagon whether these documents go back or not, are you?
MR. BURNS: It's a U.S. Government decision, but the documents are currently in the possession of the Pentagon, because the 10th Mountain Division took possession of the documents in September 1994.
Q They may be sitting at the Pentagon, but the U.S. Government is in possession of them. It's not up to the Pentagon to decide what this government should do.
MR. BURNS: The Pentagon clearly has an important role to play here, but the Department of State has a voice and the White House has a voice, and we have a collegial Administration. We usually work issues like this out, and I'm sure we'll work this one out.
Q After you work it out with the Pentagon, is part of the issue with the Haitian Government an orderly process by which these documents would be returned and a guarantee that they remain in the hands of the government for judicial purposes?
MR. BURNS: I just don't know if that's part of the Haitian Government request. I don't know what the specific request was beyond the request made to ask the U.S. Government to turn these documents back to the Government of Haiti. I don't know if there were specific conditions applied by the Government of Haiti.
Q No. My question is actually directed at the conditions the U.S. Government is trying to impose upon their return.
MR. BURNS: Oh, I don't know anything about that. I don't know if there will be conditions. I can't predict what our response is going to be. All I can tell you is there's a review underway. We're going to get back to the Haitians and very speedily, and, when we do, we'll talk about it.
Q Could you volunteer it when you do come up with a decision?
MR. BURNS: I'll even volunteer it. I'll come out and even make an announcement that we've done it. You won't even have to ask.
Q Before the snows come?
MR. BURNS: I don't know when the snows are coming.
MR. BURNS: Yes. Now that's a better formula.
Q Quick follow-up question. Can you give us any idea what these documents and photographs are of?
MR. BURNS: No, I can't. I am not an expert on these documents. I've never seen the documents. I don't know where they're being held. I don't know what they represent. I don't know how many of them there are.
Q Are there photographs?
MR. BURNS: No, I just don't know anything about them.
Q Bosnia. All right. Nick, concerning the security guarantees to IFOR, the President last night mentioned that all three major signatories of the Dayton agreement had guaranteed -- sent letters of guaranteeing protection for IFOR forces. Do you have any specific information as to whether, for example, the Bosnian Muslim Government would step in and protect IFOR from, say, raiding bands or snipers or something like that? Is this what they have in mind?
And, secondly, back to my question of yesterday, is -- why does not IFOR, NATO, look and see if there's conformity to the military annex of this treaty before deploying, looking before leaping into the situation?
MR. BURNS: Bill, our troops will protect themselves, and the President said last night that they will be fully empowered to protect themselves. They will be operating under extremely robust and aggressive rules of engagement, quite different from the rules of engagement that our troops operate under in Haiti or in Lebanon in the early 1980s.
So I think the American people can be assured that our troops, which will be under American leadership, will be fully empowered to protect themselves in every eventuality. That's first.
Second, the President did say last night that he had received letters from the three Presidents -- President Milosevic, President Izetbegovic and President Tudjman -- saying that they would do their utmost to insure that the conditions were appropriate for a safe deployment of NATO forces, and we expect that to be the case. Those are commitments made in writing. They were made as part of the Dayton peace process.
I think that those letters have even made public, so you can see exactly what was said in those letters. They've been made available to all members of Congress.
It's an important commitment. Because what distinguishes this operation from Vietnam or Korea or Somalia or Lebanon over the past several decades is that these parties have agreed to peace; there is a peace agreement in place; there is a cease-fire that has preceded the peace agreement and that continues through the peace agreement.
Our soldiers will be going in with an essential and clear military mission. And that is, once the Paris peace agreement is signed, the clock starts. The warring parties -- previously warring parties, the troops that are in place -- Bosnian Government or Bosnian Serb -- have an obligation within 30 days to move back -- to create, in effect, a demilitarized zone; to have that zone patrolled by NATO forces. They will move back. They are committed to move back.
The statements from Pale this morning, on CNN, by Mr. Karadzic are welcomed statements -- welcome, in the sense that we would fully expect that this would be his orientation and that of General Mladic, and that is that the troops would be welcome in all parts of the region and they would be allowed to carry out their mission.
But as President Clinton said last night, everyone in that region should be forewarned -- our troops will take whatever precautions they need to take to protect themselves and to fulfill the military mission that is clearly laid out in the NATO operational plan.
On the last part of your question, the President said very clearly last night, he needs to be briefed on the NATO plan. He needs to approve that plan. At some point thereafter, he will make the decision to deploy troops, but until he's had a chance to approve the NATO military plan.
Q And which comes first -- the pullback to barracks, getting out of the way of the indigenous troops or the deployment, or are they going to be simultaneous?
MR. BURNS: It's simultaneous. The clock starts in Paris on some day in mid-December, when the signatures are applied to the treaty. At that point, I think we've been very clear that NATO would deploy within a matter of days and build up to a full-force contingent at some point thereafter in the future. But I believe the military has talked about 96 hours.
The clock starts for the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Government and the Croatian military. They will pull back from the areas clearly delineated for them in the military annex and in the very detailed maps that will soon be presented to all the parties by the United States. It will be clear what their own obligations are. It will be clear where they have to go and what the role of the NATO forces will be.
Q Nick, why, again, doesn't NATO require performance on this treaty as a requisite to deployment apriori?
MR. BURNS: Bill, what you mean by "performance."
Q Performance on Annex 1(a) to see that that is being abided and the troops are withdrawn before the deployment begins?
MR. BURNS: They've committed to withdraw the troops. They will withdraw the troops one way or the other. They will withdraw them voluntarily. If they do not withdraw them voluntarily, they will be made to withdraw them by the NATO forces.
The fact is, once the treaty is signed NATO has an obligation to insert itself very quickly, and will do so within a number of days.
Q NATO, you say, will enforce as it deploys, if there is not conformity to --
MR. BURNS: The military annex is very clear, Bill. The military annex calls for the voluntary pullback of all the factions to the designated lines that are proscribed in great detail in the military annex. If the parties do not comply, the NATO forces will be fully equipped and fully empowered to enforce that compliance, but we don't believe that will be a problem.
We believe, certainly based on the statements we've heard from Mr. Karadzic and others, that there will be no problem with that.
Q Can I go back to the Ross mission and ask you something I should have a long time ago? Is Dennis trying to reopen direct negotiations between Israel and Syria?
MR. BURNS: Dennis Ross is going to the area to consult with both governments on the Israeli-Syrian track on what the parties intend to do to push that track forward and what the United States can do to be helpful.
I have not talked to Dennis about his specific ideas that he may or may not be bringing with him to those discussions.
Q Maybe it's too narrow a question because it relates to the Ross trip. Does the United States want Israel and Syria to resume direct negotiations?
MR. BURNS: The United States wants Israel and Syria to make peace -- however they can make peace -- however that can be attained, Barry, through whatever tactics, whatever kind of meetings, it's fine with us as long as the movement is in forward direction. We hope that will be the case.
Q You objected before when it was suggested that you've gotten off the military talks. You've gotten off direct negotiations just now?
MR. BURNS: No, I haven't.
Q Well we just had Proximity Talks, for instance. It seems to have worked very well. Camp David was Proximity Talks -- really Proximity Talks.
MR. BURNS: Dayton were Proximity Talks, and they went very well.
Q I hope I said Dayton. But Camp David certainly was.
MR. BURNS: Bosnia is apples and oranges compared to the Middle East.
Q What I'm saying is, we have had now two experiences of successful Proximity Talks. Dayton was mostly Proximity. They got together a little bit. Camp David, they never saw each other -- the leaders -- until the agreement.
You're leaving the door open to some other approach other than direct negotiations. Do you intend to?
MR. BURNS: I'm actually being very careful today not to try to obligate Ambassador Ross or Secretary Christopher to do this or that, or to prescribe any particular tactical solution as a way to move these parties forward.
The fact is, you know, whatever it takes to get the talks going is certainly going to be --
Q To get the talks going or whatever it takes to get peace?
MR. BURNS: To get the talks going and to get peace is fine with us, Barry, but I'm not here to prescribe any particular course of action for the parties. I wouldn't do that in public in advance of Dennis Ross's trip.
Q The United States has always taken the position that peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors requires
direct negotiations between the parties. And in fact that is what the U.S. sponsored or pursued on this track, not successfully. And I'm just asking you if that is still the policy. Do you want Israel and Syria talking head-to-head, or do you want someone like Dennis Ross, or do you want to set up the -- I don't know what -- the Toledo, Ohio, proximity talks?
The question is -- I know you don't want to tie it down, but you know what I'm asking you and it takes just a general statement that you are not willing to do it, so it strikes me that the mechanism for pursuing peace is now open to consideration.
MR. BURNS: No, Barry. I'm just -- I'm trying not to say anything today that would commit the United States, Dennis Ross, Secretary Christopher, to a particular course of action in their conversations with the Syrians and Israelis.
You know, at the end of the day, if any two parties in any set of negotiations any where in the world are going to make peace, they have to talk to each other.
Now you said yourself that Sadat and Begin did that at Camp David, even though they didn't meet on a proximity basis throughout the thirteen days at Camp David.
Just last week, during the preceding twenty-one days, the parties had -- there were certainly a lot of proximity talks, but there were a lot of direct negotiations, as well.
I can't predict what is going to happen on the Syrian-Israeli track. I think given the fact that the Israeli Government has just been formed, we have got to give them a little time to work out their course of action, give Ambassador Ross a chance to visit the region, have a good set of talks. When he comes back, we will brief you as we normally do, in as much detail as we normally offer, on what he accomplished there.
Q Or failed to accomplish.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q On the United Nations --
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Under the continuing resolution, can you tell us how much money has been paid to the U.N. for assessed contributions for the agencies, U.N., as well as peacekeeping?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I think you asked that question yesterday, and what I can tell you is that the second and third continuing resolutions provide a total of $6l million for the regular budgets for international organizations, and $34 million for United States peacekeeping assessments.
Payments to international organizations experiencing serious cash flow problems are expected to be made shortly. We also plan to release the $34 million for peacekeeping in the very near future.
Under the first continuing resolution, we made $l76 million available to the United Nations regular budget for peacekeeping and the war crimes tribunals.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at l:57 p.m.)
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