U.S. Department of State 95/12/12 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, December 12, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT--Announcements French Pilots Liberated ................................1 Secretary Christopher's Schedule --Senate Meetings re: Bosnia ...........................1 --Paris Signing ........................................2 --Middle East Trip .....................................2 MEXICO Investigation of Former President Salinas ..............2 Salinas Welcomed in U.S.; Visa .........................2-3 U.S.-Canadian Contact re: Salinas ......................3 DEA or Treasury "Lookout" Posted for Salinas ...........4 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA NATO Non-Expansion Deal w/Russia for Cooperation .......4 Congressional Resolution on Troop Deployment ...........9-10 Resolution Used as Political Cover .....................10 Participation of Malaysian Troops ......................11 Non-NATO Countries Involvement .........................12 Mujahidin Forces .......................................12-13 MIDDLE EAST Secretary's Ideas for Israeli-Syrian Track .............5-7 Secretary's Agenda for the Region ......................7 Military Talks .........................................7-9 U.S. Short/Long-Range Objectives .......................7-8 Saudi Arabia/Qata GCC Disagreement .....................8 COLOMBIA Status of 1996 Drug Certification ......................11 BANGLADESH Administration's View of Political Situation ...........13 Possible Army Intervention in Political Process ........13-14 CHINA Trial of Wei Jingsheng .................................14 Trial's Effect on U.S. Relations .......................14-15 USG Raising Trial with PRC Officials ...................15 USG Offer of Asylum to Wei .............................15-16 NORTH KOREA Troop Movement Toward Border ...........................16-17 HAITI Lawsuit Filed by Toto Constant .........................16-17 Deportation of Constant ................................17
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1995, 1:15 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Yes, Jim.
Q Peres is doing a news conference at 2:30, so if some of us disappear, it's not you, it's him.
MR. BURNS: Jim has just pointed out that Prime Minister Peres is doing a press conference at 2:30. I would hope we'd all be out of here well before 2:30. I would expect we would, but it depends on how the briefing goes, but I will not take as any slight anybody's slinking out of the room in the back, Jim. And with that --
MR. BURNS: Slinking. And with that, welcome to the State Department briefing. I have a couple of things to say and then be glad to go to questions. First of all, as has been said by other people this morning, the United States Government is very pleased that the two French pilots -- the courageous pilots -- have been liberated. They have been freed; that they are relatively well.
Of course, one of them has a severe problem with his leg, and we're very, very happy that they will now be able to return to France and to their families.
The United States supported France every step of the way in this effort, and we're very pleased for the pilots, for their families, and for the French Government.
Secondly, Secretary Christopher has been following a busy schedule today. He met with Congressman Bob Livingston this morning. He'll be meeting with a group of Senators later on this afternoon about our hope that the Senate will vote positively tomorrow to support the Administration's deployment of American forces to Bosnia.
The Secretary attended the Joint Session of Congress this morning where Prime Minister Peres gave his very eloquent speech. As for tomorrow, the Secretary will be leaving Washington, Andrews Air Force Base, at around 7:00 a.m. tomorrow. We have a number of you coming with us. We're pleased about that.
We'll be flying all day; get into Paris around 8:00 in the evening. The Secretary will be briefed upon arrival by Ambassador Harriman and by Assistant Secretary Holbrooke who's preceding the Secretary to Paris.
Then on Thursday morning, the Secretary will be joining the President for the signing of the Dayton accords in Paris.
Following that, the Secretary will be leaving for Damascus; will be arriving in Damascus on Thursday evening. He'll have a meeting with President Assad on Friday morning. He then intends to depart for Jerusalem and will be in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon and Friday evening.
Then the schedule becomes a little bit fuzzy. We haven't pinned down the exact schedule after that, but there will be meetings with Chairman Arafat, with King Hussein in Jordan and with President Mubarak in Cairo.
At the present time, we expect to be in the Middle East at least through Monday evening, perhaps through Tuesday morning. As our schedule becomes more definite, I'll share that with all of you who are on the trip with us.
Q Do you have anything on the NBC report concerning President Salinas -- former President Salinas of Mexico and the suggestion that a lookout has been ordered in case he tries to enter the United States?
MR. BURNS: George, I can tell you categorically, there is no United States Government investigation of the former President of Mexico, Carlos Salinas. I know that there have been some media reports on this, and there has been some inaccurate reporting that the DEA is investigating him for drug offenses.
Those reports are inaccurate. They have no foundation. Of course, you are aware that there are some investigations pertaining to his brother, Raoul Salinas. Those are well known. We've commented upon them in the past, but there are no U.S. Government investigations of the former President of Mexico, Carlos Salinas.
Q Is former President Salinas welcome in the U.S.?
MR. BURNS: Former President Salinas has been in the U.S. many times since he left office. He's been up in Boston. He's been other places. I don't believe he's in the United States now, but, if he wishes to come to the United States, we'll, of course, consider that request very seriously.
Q How about the question of the lookout?
MR. BURNS: George, I'm not aware of any U.S. Government effort pertaining to President Salinas, and I checked on this just before coming out here. In fact, that's one of the reasons I was a couple minutes late coming out.
Q Are you implying that the request could be denied?
MR. BURNS: Which request?
Q You said if he wishes to come to the United States -- President Salinas, former President Salinas -- we'll, of course, consider that request very seriously. That's not a very positive --
MR. BURNS: It's not meant to be negative at all. I'm not aware of the type of visa that President Salinas has. He could have a multiple- entry, long-term visa, in which case he is free to come to the United States. There'd be no reason for us to alter that visa in any way that I know of.
Q I have a question on Bosnia.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q On Salinas -- one more.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Any contact -- given that Mr. Salinas' prime residence appears to be Canada -- any contact between the American and Canadian Government in any aspect of this?
MR. BURNS: Henry, I'm not aware of any contact between the United States Government and the Canadian Government about President Salinas. Again, I think it's important to clear the air here. He is not under investigation by any branch of the United States Government.
He is a Mexican citizen. He is a frequent visitor to the United States, and he's a friend of many people in the United States.
Q I have talked to the people who did this report, and they say that he has been put on a list that the Treasury Department has -- something called the TCS computer -- and that he's on a lookout for drug-related involvement.
MR. BURNS: Betsy, what I can tell you is that we're not aware. We've checked with the relevant agencies. We're not aware that he's on any list; that he's under investigation of any kind. I'll be glad to check with Treasury once again, since you've raised this specifically, but we did check on this this morning, and we at the State Department are not aware of any activity by any government agency pertaining to Mr. Salinas.
Q Including DEA, Treasury, INS --
MR. BURNS: Including DEA. Specifically DEA, and I'll check once again with the Treasury Department because Betsy's asked this question.
Q On Bosnia, you may have addressed this previously, but, if you did, I wasn't here. Peter Rodman has written an article for "The National Review," in which -- Peter Rodman, former National Security Council official -- in which he alleges that the United States has made a deal with Russia, that in return for Russia's cooperation in Bosnia, we will put off indefinitely, for the foreseeable future, is what he says, NATO expansion. Have you made any comment on that article?
MR. BURNS: That is absolutely preposterous and without foundation, and I would challenge anyone who would like to put that view forward today to a debate about it. Secretary Christopher was asked about this a week ago Sunday in Madrid when he appeared on the Brinkley program, and he said very clearly, there is nothing to it, and I think he used the word "preposterous."
The fact is that the United States and our NATO allies reaffirmed a week ago today in Brussels the goal -- the strategic goal of NATO enlargement that is going forward. In fact, we've entered a new phase or a second phase on the process of NATO enlargement. Throughout 1996 we'll be having an intensive dialogue with prospective new members of NATO about the condition, responsibilities and rights of NATO membership for these new countries.
We are absolutely committed to the goal of NATO enlargement. The Russian Government knows that. We're also committed to the goal of a Russia-NATO relationship that would proceed on a separate track but at about the same speed as the process of NATO enlargement.
Both of these objectives were outlined by NATO leaders at the January 1994 Brussels summit. They have both been reaffirmed as recently as a week ago today, and for anyone, much less Mr. Rodman, to assert that somehow there was a deal with Russia, that Russia would participate in IFOR and in return would get a stalling of the NATO effort, is absolutely preposterous.
There's nothing to it, and I would just love to have this debate. If he wants to come down here when I get back, we'll have this debate. But I think that a retraction is in order. This is a very serious matter pertaining to one of the foundations of American policy in Europe, and for this to be asserted by a former government official in a prestigious journal is just simply, simply incorrect.
Q Are you going to put a lookout for Rodman? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: We can't do that. He's an American citizen. We'd never do that, George. But perhaps we can call him on the phone and challenge him to a debate. I'd love to have it. I'd love to that debate.
Q You mentioned, at the beginning, the Middle East. Before we leave that behind, is Secretary Christopher taking a basket of ideas -- I guess that's the newest phrase -- is he taking new ideas with him to Damascus, or is he just going there to listen and take those ideas on -- what is his agenda there?
MR. BURNS: Jim, let me just step back and give you what I think our perspective on the Israeli-Syrian track as we prepare to visit Damascus and Jerusalem and Cairo and Amman and either Jericho or Gaza in the next four or five days.
First of all, I think it's apparent to the United States as a result of the conversations that the President has had with Prime Minister Peres and the Secretary and President Assad, and that the Secretary has had with Foreign Minister Shara and others.
First, that both Israel and Syria want to move forward on peace negotiations.
Second, that both have indicated to us a great seriousness of purpose about these negotiations and renewed energy. The atmosphere, as President Clinton said yesterday, is clearly better now than it was at any time during the last six months.
There are differences that remain on very important issues, and we expect these negotiations that will be revitalized during the next week -- we expect they will be very difficult negotiations.
The Secretary intends on his trip to do the following. He intends to renew the dialogue and to revitalize it; to see how much progress can be made in the coming months, and his goal is to have thorough and comprehensive discussions with all the parties, but particularly with the Syrian and Israeli leadership about these issues.
He'll be going on, as I said, to Amman to visit King Hussein, to talk about King Hussein's view of this part of the peace process. He'll also be talking to King Hussein about how we can follow up on the Amman Economic Summit to build greater support for regional economic growth and stability.
He'll be having discussions with Chairman Arafat, either in Jericho or Gaza -- we're not quite sure yet -- about the implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement. It's going quite well. You saw that the Israeli forces have withdrawn now from the largest city in the West Bank -- Nablus. They withdrew from Tulkarm over the weekend -- another northern town -- and they, of course, withdrew from Jenin a couple of weeks back.
There will be discussions on that track -- the Israeli-Palestinian track -- as well as on the issue of economic development in the West Bank and in Gaza. Of course, the United States is very much interested in that, and Secretary Christopher has a great personal interest in that.
We'll also be visiting Cairo, where the Secretary will have discussions with President Mubarak about all aspects of these issues, because we find that Egypt is one of our most important partners in this peace process.
So I think, Jim, we go with a certain degree of hope that it is now possible to revitalize the Israeli-Syrian track; that there is renewed energy, renewed purpose, but these are going to be difficult negotiations, and I think that we all have to continue to remind ourselves of that.
As you remember, back in last March and June, when the Secretary was in the Middle East, there was a sense of hope then that there might be progress in 1996 on the Israel-Syria issues, and that hope was not realized.
So as we enter this process of a renewed set of discussions, I think we've got to be mindful of how difficult these issues are.
Q Is he taking with him a set of new ideas, or any mix of the old ideas --
MR. BURNS: We're an active player in the peace process. We're not a passive player. When it's appropriate and when we feel we can make a difference, we, of course, suggest our own ideas. We haven't changed -- Dennis Ross has been in the region twice since the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. He'll be, of course, accompanying the Secretary. I think both the Secretary and Dennis Ross believes that we have something to offer, and we will be offering it.
What I cannot do, and I'm not willing to do and what Dennis will not be willing to do along the way, is to get into the specific discussions on these issues because we really have to have those discussions privately and confidentially with the various countries.
Q Recognizing the privacy that's needed, is the goal to get back to where -- you mentioned March and June -- to get back to where the process was late spring/early summer, that is, revive the military talks? Is there some short-range goal in the process here?
MR. BURNS: We're not trying to replicate, Judd, in all of its dimensions the talks as they existed, say, when the Secretary left Damascus and Jerusalem in mid-June. It's a new phase. It's a renewed peace process. The conditions are quite different. There's been a very tragic event in the meantime -- the death of the Israeli Prime Minister.
There's a renewed sense of purpose in Israel itself which Prime Minister Peres talked about to the Congress this morning. So I think it's a different time.
Our objective over the long haul here, of course, is a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. That has been the objective of many, many American administrations going back into the 1960s, and that remains of this objective of this Administration and, I think, of our partners in the Middle East as well.
Q So it's possible that the process could go forward without renewing those military talks that had been aborted during the summer?
MR. BURNS: I understand. It's a good question. I understand why you're asking it. I think what we've got to do first is the Secretary has to move through his discussions in Damascus, Jerusalem, Amman, Cairo, and Jericho. He has to kind of get a sense of what the parameters of these discussions can be, of how much movement can be made; how much progress can be made in the coming weeks before we start talking specifically about what our benchmarks are.
Q As you know, Saudi Arabia and Qatar had, or are still having a disagreement over the selection of a new Secretary General for the GCC. Do you have any comment?
MR. BURNS: My only comment would be that the United States is a very strong supporter of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Secretary Christopher tries, whenever he can, to meet with the GCC representatives. He did in Jeddah in March, as you remember. The GCC and the United States have worked well together.
The last thing we want to do, though, is get involved in the debate about who should be the next leader of the GCC. We'll leave that for the participant states.
Q Are there any contacts with the parties -- with either Saudi Arabia or Qatar?
MR. BURNS: About this issue?
MR. BURNS: I just don't know. It may be that we have; it may be that we have not. I just don't know. We are in regular touch with each of the member governments, of course, as you would expect. We have good relations with all the GCC members.
Q Could you take the question?
MR. BURNS: I'll look into it, but I can assure you that the last thing we would want to do from this podium would be to put our oar in the water in this debate about who should be the new head of the GCC.
Q Nick, to go back to Israel and Syria and the U.S. efforts to play a role in that. Last June, in Damascus, President Assad gave his word to Secretary Christopher that there are to be a certain set of events which didn't happen.
Notwithstanding the effort to try and move things along, what would lead you to think that the Secretary should believe anything he hears this time from President Assad if he didn't keep his word last time?
MR. BURNS: I don't subscribe to any part of the question, with all due respect, Charlie. The United States doesn't look upon the events of the past six months in the same way that you do.
The fact is that these countries are engaged in very difficult negotiations. In one way or another they've been at this for the past 28/29 years. It's difficult and it's complicated, so we're not going to make any judgments about what happened over the last six months.
What we are going to do is proceed forward with renewed emphasis on the importance of building a revitalized peace process. We're not going to try to keep score about what happened or what didn't happen last summer. It's a new era. I think you've seen that in the comments that Prime Minister Peres has made to the Congress and that he made to the press yesterday at the Old Executive Office Building.
Q That the new era -- or doubting that there is a new era. But is it not true that last June President Assad told Secretary Christopher that there would be two sets of military meetings, the second of which did not take place?
MR. BURNS: When the Secretary left for the Middle East last June, we thought that we had worked out a series of events that would move the discussion forward. That discussion was not moved forward for a variety of reasons. I'm not going to point the finger at any one person or any one country.
The fact is that all of us are in this together, including the United States, as a helpful partner. All of us bear responsibility for the fact that the peace process did not move, as well as bearing responsibility for hoping that it will move in the future.
Q Bosnia. On the Bosnia votes, there are going to be two or three different resolutions voted on in the House and Senate, I think. At least one of them is a non-binding resolution that just expresses a lack of confidence in President Clinton's decision to send troops to Bosnia.
I wonder, how do you think that resolution, which I understand is likely to pass -- what effect do you think that will have on the confidence of the NATO allies and others in the region as you start this deployment, which is supposed to last a year? Already there are some people who are wondering whether the United States will stay.
MR. BURNS: I was at the NATO meetings last Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn't detect any lack of confidence in the United States. In fact, what I saw in the room when General Joulwan made his presentation to the Foreign and Defense Ministers, and certainly when Secretary Christopher and Secretary Perry spoke, was respect for the United States; respect for our leadership role in the IFOR deployment; respect for the fact that we led the effort to turn this situation around since last July when we led the NATO bombing campaign in September. We led the diplomatic effort. We produced the peace agreement at Dayton.
I think we have in Europe right now a great deal of confidence in the commitment of the Clinton Administration to see this mission through to the end. That means to keep our troops on the ground for roughly a year. We'll be true to our commitments to our NATO allies, as well as to the parties. I, frankly, just would take issue with the basis of your question.
Q What do you think the purpose of that resolution is?
MR. BURNS: What we're looking for in our discussions with the Senate is a supportive resolution -- a resolution that would clearly have the United States speak with one voice, on a bipartisan basis, and that would also show all of our young men and women, who are being deployed now and in the next few weeks, that the American people are behind them.
It's very important that after the signing of the peace agreement, two days from now in Paris, the American people join together and support the soldiers.
If the Senate can take action tomorrow that would express that degree of confidence in our troops as well as in the Administration, then that would be a beneficial resolution from the point of view of this Administration.
Q Do you think the non-binding resolution is simply an attempt to take political cover in case the mission goes badly?
MR. BURNS: I would say that Senator Dole and Senator McCain have shown great leadership over the last couple of weeks. It hasn't been easy for them politically, certainly. They've shown leadership. I think they are trying to work out a bipartisan consensus. We are trying to work with them, and we have great respect for what they've been doing.
Q What about the others?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any particular comments on the others.
Q Could you please comment on Colombia's status towards the 1996 drug certification. Ambassador Frechette made some comments this morning on NPR, talking about the difficulty that Colombia would have in the upcoming certification process?
MR. BURNS: I didn't hear the Ambassador's remarks -- Ambassador Frechette's remarks. This is the number one issue: the issue of narcotics between the United States and Colombia. We've had an up and down discussion with the Colombian Government throughout the past year since we made our last determination in March. The next determination will not come until then, so I don't want to predict what it will be.
But I can predict that we will keep this issue at the forefront of our relationship. We are looking for a commitment from the Colombian Government that it will join us in the fight against international narcotics trafficking. That's just as much in Colombia's interest as in ours.
Q Malaysia seems interested to send its troops to Bosnia. I'm just wondering, where would they be positioned when they get to Bosnia? And under whose command? Is there an exit strategy for these non-NATO forces should something go wrong with the peace process?
MR. BURNS: One of the things that we've been very pleased to see over the last few weeks is that a great number of non-NATO countries in Asia -- Muslim countries as well as European countries -- Central European countries -- have come forward and have volunteered troops to work with IFOR.
As these countries come forward with commitments that they will put a certain number of troops in the field, IFOR is working out sectors that they will be deployed in and the supportive relationships that they'll have with NATO members.
I don't believe we've finished our discussions with the Malaysian Government on that, but we certainly welcome the participation of Malaysia in this effort. Malaysia has been a leader in the Organization of the Islamic Conference on this issue, and we respect that and certainly want to continue to work with Malaysia.
The second thing I would say is that, as we look at the challenge to bring peace to Bosnia and to sustain the Dayton accords, the military side is just one side of the equation. The other side of the equation is the civilian side.
That mission is going to go on for a number of years. Not just a year, as is the case on the military side.
It is perhaps a more challenging mission than the military mission because Bosnia, which is a ravaged economy and landscape, needs to be rebuilt with international aid. Two million refugees need to be returned to their homes or they need to be compensated for the loss of their homes.
An international police force and a local police force have to be trained and deployed in the area. Human rights have to be respected. There are arms control provisions. All of this will take place under the coordination of former Prime Minister Carl Bildt.
Here, I think the Muslim countries -- particularly, Malaysia, as a leader -- need to play a very active role in supporting us on the civilian, not just on the military side.
Tomorrow, Dick Holbrooke will be in Paris during the day. He'll have a meeting with the OIC Contact Group. This is one of the points that he'll be making, that their involvement in both the civilian as well as the military sides is most welcome.
Q How many other countries -- non-NATO countries -- are involved?
MR. BURNS: How many?
Q How many and who are they?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the latest count. There are a great number of non-NATO countries participating. We can get you a specific number and a list of those countries after the briefing. I know we do have that information.
Q (Inaudible) the report about Richard Holbrooke wanting the Muslim Government out of Bosnia when the NATO forces are deployed?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me. I didn't quite understand the question.
Q They said something about the Muslim Mujahidin getting out - -
MR. BURNS: The Mujahidin.
MR. BURNS: That's absolutely accurate. The fact is that there are between 700 or 800 -- or 2,000 or 3,000 Mujahidin forces in Bosnia. They've been helping the Bosnian Government over the last couple of years. There's no longer any reason for them to stay. The Dayton accords clearly spell out the need for them to leave.
One of the missions that Dick Holbrooke had over the weekend was to elicit a firm commitment from the Bosnian Government that the Mujahidin would leave. President Izetbegovic gave that commitment publicly. He said that the Iranians and Algerians and Afghanis and others would be leaving. It's a very good sign because however helpful they may have been in the past, they will not be helpful in the future.
The agenda that a number of these forces had, frankly, is a radical agenda which is inconsistent with the agenda that IFOR has.
Q Nick, on Bangladesh. The current situation in Bangladesh is politically in shambles. The parliament dissolved -- the Prime Minister is under tremendous pressure from the opposition to resign.
On top of it, the Bangladesh army hierarchy is getting ready to take over, ending democracy in Bangladesh for a long time. What is your view of that, and what are the United States and the Clinton Administration views on this situation in Bangladesh?
MR. BURNS: The United States continues to urge both the government and the opposition to initiate a political dialogue aimed at finding a resolution that will permit free, fair, and fully contested elections which is one of the major issues that is at play, as you know very well, in Bangladesh.
We know it's a quite difficult situation pertaining to perspective strikes and protests, and so forth. We very much hope that the government and the opposition will not resort to violence but will resort to political dialogue in an effort to find some kind of solution to the political and economic and social problems of the country.
Q On the question of the army's intervention?
MR. BURNS: Do you have a specific question?
Q If there is a move by the army in the hierarchy to stage a coup d'etat if the situation worsens further, what would be the stand of the United States in this regard?
MR. BURNS: The United States would not support any such effort. We have a relationship with the current government. We believe the current government must be allowed to engage in efforts to resolve the very serious problems of the country.
Q Do you have an update beyond what you said yesterday concerning Mr. Wei in the imminent trial?
MR. BURNS: I would just like to say a couple of things about that. I really want to reaffirm in the strongest possible terms the opposition of the United States to the incarceration of Mr. Wei -- our opposition to bringing him to trial.
The fact is that he was detained and has been detained repeatedly by the Chinese Government for the peaceful expression of his political views. In our view he ought to be released immediately. There is no justification for detaining him or for bringing him to trial.
Secondly, we had understood from the Government in Beijing that the trial that will start tomorrow would be open to the international press corps and to diplomatic observers. But our Embassy in Beijing has checked very thoroughly this morning, and after repeated requests by the international journalists present -- foreign journalists present in Beijing -- and by foreign embassies, no foreigners, as far as we can tell, will be present for the opening of this trial. That is a pity, because, if he's going to be brought to trial -- and we think that's unjustified -- there ought to be room for the international community to observe this trial and to make sure that the rights that he clearly has under international law are being respected.
I'd also like to say, George, that we have raised the case of Mr. Wei Jingsheng at several junctures with the Chinese Government. President Clinton raised this in his meeting with President Jiang Zemin in October in New York, and we will continue to raise this case, because we think he is a champion of human rights. He's a respected person around the world, and we think we have an obligation to speak up about his case.
Q Nick, the fact is that the Chinese appear to be ignoring these calls by the United States. What does that say about the present state of the relationship between the U.S. and China?
MR. BURNS: Human rights will continue to be a very important part of our agenda with the Chinese Government. We will continue to keep human rights at the center of this relationship. The Chinese Government knows that and should expect that.
I think the Chinese Government has got to listen to international public opinion. It's important for China, China's long-term future, its relations with the United States and other countries, and we have to be concerned with the individual rights of people. That's the basis of our own constitution and our own birth as a nation, and certainly Mr. Wei, who is among the most respected champions of human rights, ought to have countries outside China speaking up for him and speaking up for his own human rights, and we're doing that today, and we'll continue to do that.
Q But moral suasion is as far as the U.S. will go, right?
MR. BURNS: Judd, raising this issue privately is an important step in a relationship. Keeping it at the top of an agenda is important, and raising it publicly in sessions like this one is also important. Human rights will continue to be at the center of this relationship, and we'll keep it there, and we'll use every avenue we can to try to convince the Chinese Government that Mr. Wei should be released.
Q When you've raised it with the Chinese officials, including the President, what has been their response?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to go into the specific diplomatic conversations that we've had, Jim. I know you'll respect that. We have a disagreement, though, I can generally say in the case of Mr. Wei and in certain other cases. The Chinese Government, I think, commented this morning, the Foreign Ministry, that it felt it had a right to bring him to trial. We contest that. We disagree with it, and we'll continue to maintain that position.
Q I believe the Germans have offered Mr. Wei asylum in the past. Has the United States made that offer?
MR. BURNS: Individuals have to request asylum. It's not normal for us to offer asylum if we don't know in advance that the person is requesting it. I'm not aware that Mr. Wei has asked for asylum. I think he is a Chinese citizen and wishes, I believe, to remain in China.
Of course, we'll have to see what develops in this particular trial. I don't want to close any avenues for the future, but I'm just not aware that there's been any application or any request -- oral request or other.
Q North Korea. There was a report this morning that a number of troops and aircraft have moved closer to the border. I was wondering if you had any comment about that.
MR. BURNS: No specific comment. I saw the press reports, I think, as you did. We normally wouldn't comment in detail on matters like this. There has been, as you know, a forward deployment of large numbers of North Korean troops for a long time. It's a fact of life on the Korean peninsula.
We do not believe that the military situation on the peninsula has changed significantly over the past few weeks, but I can assure you that through every means at our disposal, we watch that situation very carefully. If there is anything untoward or anything that was dramatically different, we would, of course, bring that to the attention of the North Koreans as well as to our ally with whom we have a defense relationship -- the Republic of Korea.
Q Nick, on Haiti. You're aware of a lawsuit being filed by Mr. Toto Constant against the State Department for his incarceration, I believe?
MR. BURNS: Ron, I've seen the reports, and I think that the reports are serious enough that it warrants me taking you through a little bit of the background of this.
As of this morning, the Department of State has not received any complaint or any other formal notice of Mr. Constant's intention to sue the United States Government or the Department of State.
He was taken into custody on May 10, 1995, by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. An immigration judge ordered his deportation to Haiti on September 1 of this year. He has appealed that order, and he has remained in custody in Maryland pending consideration of the appeal by the Board of Immigration Appeals.
Our decision to institute deportation proceedings against him and to detain him was based on a March 29, 1995, determination by the Department of State that he was deportable from the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, because his continued presence and activities in the United States would "have a potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequence for the United States," and that it would compromise a compelling foreign policy interest that we have, and that is stability in Haiti.
We stand by the Secretary's determination, the Department of State's determination that was made in March. But as for any lawsuit, I can't comment on it, because we're not aware that any lawsuit has been brought against the Department of State.
Q His attorney said yesterday that he's going to drop his attempts to prevent his deportation, which presumably would lead to his actual deportation. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BURNS: We're not aware that he has volunteered to return to Haiti. I don't believe that's ever been communicated to the United States Government; and, if his attorney does want to communicate that to us, of course, there are avenues to do that.
Thank you very much.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:48 p.m.)
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