U.S. Department of State 95/12/15 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, December 15, 1995 Briefer: Glyn Davies DEPARTMENT Welcome to Russian Federation Press Officials ..........1 Secretary Christopher's Trip to the Middle East ........1 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Reports of Arrest Warrants for Bosnian-Croats ..........1-2 Karadzic Decree to End War .............................2-3 Report of Tuzla Blizzard ...............................11-12 INDIA Report of Plans to Explode Nuclear Device ..............3 NORTH KOREA Signing of KEDO Agreement on Light Water Reactors ......3-4 EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC REGION Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty .......4-6 COLOMBIA Investigation of President Samper's Political Campaign .6-9 Certification of Colombia ..............................7 TURKEY Proposed Sale of U.S. ATACM Missiles ....................9-10 CHINA U.S. Contacts re: Wei Jingsheng Sentencing .............10-11 Prospects for World Trade Organization Membership ......10-11
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1995, 1:23 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. First up today, I want to welcome some honored guests, two gentlemen from the Government of the Russian Federation. First, Mikhail Sobolev -- I hope I've pronounced that reasonably correctly -- who is the Deputy Director for Press and Information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow. With him is Vladimir Derbenev -- I think that's right -- Press Counselor at the Embassy here in Washington. So welcome to you. It's good to have you here to see how we do it in Washington.
The Secretary of State is today, right now in fact, in Israel. He just got back from a visit to Damascus where he had an excellent meeting with President Assad. I know there is already stuff bubbling across the wires by way of specifics about his meetings there. He's answered a couple of questions of the Press so you've got that.
With that, I will go to your questions.
Q Does this mean that the Secretary will not go back to Damascus before coming back to Washington?
MR. DAVIES: Tomorrow is pretty well set. He's going to perform a hat trick tomorrow, as a matter of fact, and pay calls on three interlocutors. He'll be going, I think first, to Aqaba to talk to King Hussein. Then, he'll go to see Chairman Arafat in Jericho. After that, back to Jerusalem where he'll meet with Prime Minister Peres.
Beyond that, he'll do what makes sense in light of those meetings by way of further travel.
Q Moving onto Bosnia. There were arrest warrants issued today by the Bosnian Government for 82 Bosnian Croats. Mr. Tudjman says that is action contrary to the Dayton accord. Do you have anything on that at all?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on that. Were those based on press items that have just come in?
Q Yeah, that moved on the wire in the last couple of hours.
MR. DAVIES: Okay. I don't have anything on that. Obviously now Dayton is signed in Paris. So the clock is ticking on various aspects of the accord. They include the human rights aspects, the arms control aspects, elections, all the rest of it. So we look to the signatories of the Dayton agreement to follow through on their undertakings.
Q This would indicate, though, that we already have a disagreement among the signatories as to what is proper under the accord and what isn't. Tudjman says these arrest warrants are not proper.
MR. DAVIES: We'll have to look into that, and perhaps we can get you something a bit more specific. I just don't have anything on that for you.
Q And Karadzic issued a decree today ending the state of war. Do his decrees have any authority?
MR. DAVIES: They don't have any bearing on the situation. He wasn't at Paris. He didn't sign the Dayton agreement in Paris. We take note of that.
I suppose, generally in the context of what's occurring there, that's not a negative development. It's not an important development either, from our standpoint.
Q The downside of that is that he excluded the suburbs of Sarajevo from that decree.
MR. DAVIES: Again, the decree itself is not of great moment to us. What's important right now is Dayton and the provisions of the Dayton accord. That's what we're concerned about and that's what we're going to hold the parties who signed the Dayton accord to.
Q About that, do you have any further reaction, enlightenment about what was meant when the suburbs of Sarajevo were excepted. This continues to be at least a rebellious populous amongst the Bosnian Serbs there. Have you got anything at all?
MR. DAVIES: What's important here is what's in the Dayton accords which is a big, thick, specific targeted agreement that covers the issue of territory; that covers what is to become of those parts of Sarajevo. Declarations by persons who haven't signed the Dayton accord are of very little importance at this stage.
No, I'm not going to respond to that particular point.
Q Can I get on another subject?
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q India. Is India about to explode a nuclear device?
MR. DAVIES: We've seen the reports in the press that, in fact, there might be preparations underway. Obviously, as a matter of policy, we're not going to comment on intelligence questions and the specifics of some of those reports fall under that category.
We are concerned that if there were to be an explosive test by India, it would be a dramatic departure from India's own long-standing position against testing.
We're opposed to testing, in fact, in any non-nuclear state, including India. India is not, formally speaking, according to the NPT, a nuclear state. Any such tests would be a setback to disarmament efforts internationally -- disarmament efforts which India itself has championed.
Q Is your concern based on anything other than press reports?
MR. DAVIES: We've taken note of the press reports. We're concerned, obviously, by any signs that any power might be testing nuclear weapons. I would confine myself simply to saying that we've seen the press reports. I'm not going to say that we know that India is about to do anything, or that we don't know that India is about to do anything; just that any activity by any non-nuclear state to explode a nuclear device is a matter of concern to us.
Q Would an explosion by India encourage Pakistan to follow suit?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to speculate about any tests by India or any other country. There's been no nuclear test up to now, so I'm not going to get into how we might react if there is going to be a test.
Q Two signings today. One up in New York for the KEDO. Do you have any reaction to that?
MR. DAVIES: There was a statement issued out of New York that talked a bit about the signing of the KEDO agreement. That's obviously a very positive step.
Let me see if I've got anything, in fact, specifically that I might be able to point to. The statement, which we can get you, of course goes into the fact that KEDO and the DPRK concluded in New York this agreement on the supply of light-water reactors to the DPRK.
We think that both delegations to these talks conducted themselves very professionally and constructively throughout the negotiations. We think that the agreement is an important one and marks an important step toward the full implementation of the agreed framework.
There's more detail that you can look at if you want to get a copy of the announcement which we've got in the Press Office.
Q Do you have anything on the ASEAN signing of the nuclear free zone? Is the United States any closer to being prepared to sign the Protocols for the ASEAN --
MR. DAVIES: It's what is known as SEANWFZ, the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. What we call SEANWFZ. We take note of the signature -- I guess it was in Bangkok -- by the 10 Southeast Asian nations of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty.
We understand the Treaty will include a Protocol that will be open to signature by the five nuclear weapon states.
We've said on a couple of occasions that we're prepared to consider positively a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty provided it conforms to our criteria for supporting such zones.
What we've explained to the ASEAN states is that the latest text of the treaty and the Protocol provided to us doesn't quite meet all of our fundamental concerns. Of course, those concerns must be addressed if ASEAN wishes the U.S. to give serious consideration to signing the Protocol.
Q Would the United States be prepared to sign if China did not? Is there any concern about that?
MR. DAVIES: I would not set up any kind of quid pro quo like that.
One of the significant issues that remains preventing us from supporting the treat at this point, of course, is the inclusion of what are called exclusive economic zones and continental shelves in the zone, which we believe is inconsistent with internationally recognized high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight.
To the extent that the treaty imposes security obligations on non- treaty parties without their consent in areas where these high seas freedoms exist, we find that the treaty is inconsistent with the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention and sets an unfortunate precedent.
Q May we ask about Colombia?
MR. DAVIES: Anything else on this?
Q Can we stay on Southeast Asia? What you're saying is that as you interpret it, the Treaty, or whatever it is, the Accord, would prevent American nuclear ships from entering the area of continental shelves in Southeast Asia?
MR. DAVIES: The general point, Jim, is that it would impose on us -- we haven't signed the Treaty -- without our consent, obviously, a security obligation in essence. Extending this Treaty zone to the exclusive economic zones and continental shelf could also be a source of conflict due to uncertainty over competing territorial claims.
In addition to that, another concern involves the precise nature of the legally binding negative security assurances, which the Protocol parties are expected to provide.
So what we'd like to see in the Protocol language is clarity that states should not be able to receive the benefits of the Treaty without themselves joining it -- accepting its obligations and acting in accordance with international law. Basically, it imposes these obligations on us without our being a party to the Treaty.
Q But why would the United States be bound by these obligations?
MR. DAVIES: According to our reading of the Treaty, as I understand it -- and this is a complicated issue -- it's inconsistent essentially with the international law that's in existence now on freedom of navigation and overflight.
This is not something that I'm an expert on. I'd be more than happy to kind of look into the exact whys and wherefores of why we believe that that's inconsistent. But we see legal inconsistencies with the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, and we see a precedent that is troubling to us. I can perhaps get you a little bit more on the precise nature of what's troubling about that precedent and why it is that we have this concern. But that's the general tension we see between what they've done and what we've already signed up to in the U.N. Law of the Sea.
I'm not an international legal expert, so I can't do much better at this stage.
Q Yes, but you could get a fine reading on it.
MR. DAVIES: Sure, of course.
Q I understand you might have a statement regarding the investigation of President Samper.
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any statement. Do you have a question?
Q Well, if we could get a reaction on it, that would be great.
MR. DAVIES: This is our reaction to --
Q To the results of --
MR. DAVIES: -- the activity that occurred last night in Colombia.
What we understand is that the Accusations Committee of the Colombian House of Representatives claims that now there are not sufficient grounds based on information available to begin a formal inquest of the alleged infiltration of drug money into President Samper's political campaign.
We've consistently urged the Government of Colombia to undertake a full and public investigation of the charges. We also note that Colombia's Prosecutor General continues his work -- his office continues its work. It's conducting a criminal investigation of the charges.
We understand that should that process uncover additional evidence the Colombian Congress has the authority to re-address its decision. So we are watching what's occurring down there, and we continue to urge the Government of Colombia to undertake a full and public investigation of these charges, which we think are very serious.
Q That sounds very skeptical.
MR. DAVIES: Skeptical of?
Q Of the congressional decision or appraisal that there's insufficient grounds for an investigation.
MR. DAVIES: I think what I'll do at this stage is just confine myself to saying that we've been urging the Colombians to undertake a full and public investigation. There is still an investigation that's being conducted by the Colombian Prosecutor General. He is continuing his criminal investigation, and we're watching events that occur in Colombia, obviously, with some interest.
Q Follow-up on Colombia.
MR. DAVIES: Let him go first, Bill, then you can.
Q Thank you. After the decision in Colombia to investigate President Samper, is the U.S. giving the certification to Colombia?
MR. DAVIES: The whole certification process, I think as I said the other day, is still in the future. As I understand it, when we go to make that decision, which is still some months off, we look at the situation as it exists then, and then we make our determination about certification or decertification.
I'm not going to comment at this stage on where we are in our internal deliberations on the question of Colombia certification or decertification. We're still, obviously, watching events there. We're watching them in light of our process of certification, but I'm not going to characterize where we stand at this stage on that process.
Q How are relations between U.S. and Colombia after the result of the investigation of President Samper?
MR. DAVIES: We have a relationship with Colombia that covers a broad array of issues, not simply the issue of narcotics. This hasn't dealt any kind of a really bad blow, I don't think, to our relations. Certainly not at this stage.
But, as I said, we're concerned by what's occurring, and we're watching it, and we hope that the Colombian Prosecutor General's office is able to continue with the work. That's about all I'm going to say.
Q According to the last bill in the Colombia Congress, no person who receives money from the drug cartel will be accused of any crime unless the drug trafficking who gives them the money is no sentence. That means the investigation against a member of the Congress accused of drug crimes would be without any pains. Any comments about that?
MR. DAVIES: I won't comment on the specifics of what they've done. I'm simply going to confine myself to what I've said up to now, that we're very interested, obviously, in what's going on down there, and that we're for the most part interested to see that the Government of Colombia continues its full and public investigation of what appear to be serious charges.
Q Last night the commission in Colombia -- the decision is political decision -- but does the U.S. Government believe the decision from the commission, this investigation of President Samper, is credible?
MR. DAVIES: I'll just repeat what I've said, which is that we've taken note of what's occurred. The Colombian House's Accusations Committee claims that there are not sufficient grounds to begin a formal inquest. There is still, on the part of the Colombia Prosecutor General, an investigation that's going on. We, the United States, remain very interested in developments in Colombia and remain very interested to see that there is an investigation carried out and completed of the serious charges that exist down there.
Q Regarding the Valdivieso investigation, I guess some people are saying that because of the decision, he might have lost some political value or power regarding his investigation. What do you think -- how do you see that?
MR. DAVIES: We hope he hasn't lost any power. We hope he's able to continue his work, obviously. I think that's what I've been trying to say. We're interested in this process, we're watching it, and we hope that the process is able to continue. But I can't handicap for you what's happening in the Colombian political system and who's up and who's down. I'm afraid I'm about as prepared to do that as I am to get into SEANWFZ details. So I can't help you there.
Q The United States holds Guillermo Pallomari, or we offer him sanctuary here -- he was one of the primary witnesses in this investigation in Colombia. Mr. Pallomari apparently has the paper, has the documents, as to where the money went all over the world, especially in Colombia. My question is, doesn't the United States Government know if these accusations against Samper have a paper trail, have hard evidence basis?
MR. DAVIES: Bill, it's up to the Colombians to sort this out. It's up to their system to work this out. We're concerned, obviously, that they do it, because we're talking about a subject that's of interest to us -- the whole subject of narco-trafficking and the influence of the narco-traffickers. But it's up to the Colombians to follow through on this process that they've begun. We're not part of the prosecutorial team down there.
Q Does our concern about this and our interest about this reflect a positive knowledge that we may or may not have from Mr. Pallomari?
MR. DAVIES: Our concern reflects our general concern that we believe it's important to do everything possible to fight narco- trafficking around the world and those who engage in narco-trafficking. That's the basis of our concern.
Q On another subject. Is the Turkish tactical missile sale now a done deal?
MR. DAVIES: My understanding is that there may have been some congressional notification already on the sale of ATACM missiles to Turkey. Our view is that Turkey has a need for this missile. Turkey, to the United States, is a very important country. It's in a tough neighborhood, an unstable area, and it needs to continue to improve its defense capabilities.
The ATACM is a weapon that we believe Turkey needs in order to counter the very real missile threat that that country faces from other countries in the region, such as Iraq and Iran. The proposal to sell ATACMs to Turkey has been around for a while. We've been considering it for months.
We could find out for you exactly what stage we're at in the process of conveying these missiles.
Q Is there any proviso attached to the conditions of the sale that it should not be used against internal targets -- like Kurds?
MR. DAVIES: The ATACM is not a missile, we don't believe, that would be a useful missile to use for anything like that. It's our understanding, according to its characteristics, that it's used more for longer-range military uses than would be the case if Turkey were to consider using it for internal use. We're obviously very concerned. We're looking at this whole process, and we'll be tracking Turkey's purchase of the missile, and we'll be tracking the missile according to the regulations that we've got for transfer of such technology.
Q But there is no explicit part of the contract that says it should not be used --
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if there is. It's perhaps something we could check for you, but I don't have the contract in front of me, so I don't know.
Q New subject. Getting back to Wei Jingsheng, I understand that there was a situation yesterday where Ambassador Lord called in the Chinese Ambassador. Could you give us some idea of what --
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that he called in the Chinese Ambassador. I know that we conveyed -- and I think it might well have been at his level -- to Chinese diplomats here in town our concern over the Chinese action taken on Wei.
Yesterday I went through for folks the visit of Wei's sister here. She, of course, saw Tony Lake. She saw some people in this building, including Assistant Secretary Lord.
So our position remains the same on that case. We're obviously very concerned at what the Chinese have done. We think Wei should be released. We don't think he should have been held in the first place.
Q Was anything passed through the Embassy in Beijing? Were there any messages passed through the Embassy in Beijing?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that our Embassy in Beijing has made a formal demarche to the Chinese authorities. But when an Assistant Secretary of State, such as Assistant Secretary Lord here in Washington, sends a message to the Chinese Embassy, we consider that fairly serious stuff.
Q In conversations, has the United States told the Chinese that this sort of behavior would prevent the United States from supporting China's membership in the WTO?
MR. DAVIES: It's hypothetical to talk about Chinese accession to the WTO. It will take some time for the Chinese to complete the reforms necessary for them to bring their system into line with WTO standards. At the same time, obviously, we want China to be aware that its behavior in the human rights area is of great concern to us.
The human rights basket of issues between the United States and China is very important. Their action here with Wei means that we will obviously be raising his case with the Chinese at every opportunity.
Q Whether there's a direct connection or not, does the Wei case change the atmosphere enough so that the United States at this juncture would not support Chinese membership in the World Trade Organization?
MR. DAVIES: As I said, we're not going to make a determination now on Chinese accession to the World Trade Organization. They've got some work to do in China on other aspects of their preparation for that accession. They've got to bring their systems into line with World Trade Organization standards.
It's awfully premature to talk about whether or not China will or won't gain accession to the World Trade Organization -- whether we support that.
Q Nonetheless, you raise the question of their human rights behavior as being very important to the United States.
MR. DAVIES: Sure. Absolutely.
Q Is it a factor in how we view their accession to the WTO? It is no longer a factor when it comes to MFN.
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to take that on directly. There are many factors that go into the position we will take on Chinese accession to the WTO. We're reserving now on laying out all of those factors. I gave you some. We're obviously watching how China develops internally and how it completes its reforms and whether those reforms will be sufficient to bring China into line with the standards of the WTO. But I'm not going to get into whether there's any impact from the human rights end of it on Chinese accession.
I've said what I'm going to say about that.
Q Another one on Bosnia? I'd like to do a final one on Bosnia.
The two-plus feet of snow, the blizzard that pretty much closed down Tuzla to air traffic was the result of the storm or system track being almost directly over that part of Bosnia-Herzegovina --
MR. DAVIES: Bill, let me stop you. You're asking a question about weather in Bosnia. I think that's not something that I can get into. I'm not a meteorologist.
Q But let me ask you this --
MR. DAVIES: I think we have questions over here, Bill, so I want to move quickly.
Q I have a question I think is quite relevant.
MR. DAVIES: What is it, Bill.
Q In the winter, there's rain every two or three days -- rain or snow every two or three days. That's the forecast for the next five days. The storm tracks continue to go over our sector in Bosnia. Does the Department take into account, or are you looking at the 30 and 90- day forecast as to see where the jets are going to be as to the weather? Basically, are you going to take the weather into account in your deployment --
MR. DAVIES: I got your question. It's not our deployment. It's the Defense Department's, and I don't do weather. I'm sorry, I can't help you there.
Are there questions over here? None?
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:53 p.m.)
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