U.S. Department of State
96/01/02 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman
"Due to the Government furlough, this is an unedited transcript of the daily press briefing."
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, JANUARY 2, 1996, 1:14 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the briefing. I don't have anything to burden you with right up front, so I'm happy to go quite quickly to your questions.
Q Why don't you try the schedule, at least, for the Mideast talks?
MR. DAVIES: Sure, absolutely.
Q Access, if there's any?
MR. DAVIES: There's no access, except for the negotiators. The talks out at the Wye River conference site will get going again tomorrow. They're scheduled to last through Friday, about mid-day. They'll start tomorrow at about mid-day.
The cast of negotiators is the same. I have that list if anybody wants it. We're looking forward to the resumption of these talks.
As you know, the negotiators stuck around after the talks broke up last week, on schedule, on Friday. We were encouraged by what we saw and we're encouraged that everybody is coming back tomorrow. We look forward to further progress.
As you know, the Secretary is going out to the region the beginning of next week, so he'll have an opportunity first-hand to play a role.
Q You say you're encouraged. There weren't any meetings over the weekend. What were you encouraged by?
MR. DAVIES: There were. There were some informal meetings.
Q Between the U.S. and either of the two sides, I don't believe. Excuse me, not between the two sides?
MR. DAVIES: That's correct. That's correct.
Q I misstated. I'm sorry.
MR. DAVIES: That's correct. There were some informal consultations that occurred over the weekend, just as occurred before the last round of talks got underway on Wednesday.
Q Who were the consultations between?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to go into exactly who met with whom and when but just that they took place. So far things are looking up.
Q When you say you were encouraged, are you basing that on the three days last week or are you also mixing in the informal conference over the weekend?
MR. DAVIES: Encouraged, based on the three days last week.
Q And nothing has changed over the weekend?
MR. DAVIES: No, nothing changed materially. No, not at all, Jim.
Q Was the Secretary planning to visit the talks when he comes back to Washington?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think at this stage he has any plans to go out there, no.
The other part of your question that I didn't get to is, exactly what kind of comment you can look forward to. We don't know whether on Friday we'll have anything to say or not. If we do, what you can expect is that Friday there will be perhaps some kind of a statement from this podium or else a written statement.
Q But the U.S. is part of the Wye meetings as it was last week, right?
MR. DAVIES: That's correct.
Q Is anybody joining these talks new from either side?
MR. DAVIES: Not that I know of, no. I don't think so.
Q Is there any thought that further talks may be necessary after these?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think so. The plan is that these talks will wrap up on Friday. Then the negotiators will return to capitals and the Secretary will then go out. We'll have a more formal announcement about his schedule a bit later. He's due back tonight.
Q Is there anything different about the format of the next three days?
MR. DAVIES: No, not that I'm aware of. I think it will be the same. Essentially informal.
Q What time are they getting together tomorrow?
MR. DAVIES: Around mid-day.
Q There's a wire from Jerusalem this morning that the Israeli army is saying that a three-way summit is expected between Peres, Christopher, and Hussein. Do you have any information on that?
MR. DAVIES: No, I don't. What service ran that?
Q This is Reuters reporting an Israeli army radio broadcast.
MR. DAVIES: I can't help you. I'm sorry.
Q Several Arab countries got together last week in Damascus. They declared a Damascus declaration on water. They accused Turkey of giving dirty water to Syria and not enough water so forth. It was a toughly-worded declaration. Turkey responded in-kind.
It seems like the situation is heating up over the water issue. What is the Department's view on this? Is the Arab concern justified?
MR. DAVIES: We don't have any specific comment on that. I haven't seen those statements. It sounded like statements were traded. Is that what happened?
Obviously, that's a part of the world where water is an important issue much as it is in Western states and the United States. But we don't have any specific comment on that.
Q Could you take that as a request?
Q (Inaudible) the way water is distributed in that region? Is there any sort of basis for --
MR. DAVIES: Dirty water going to --
Q I didn't say "dirty" particularly. Choose your own description, but is the distribution the same?
MR. DAVIES: I'm happy to look into it. I don't think we have a role to play in the provision of water.
Q You're telling Israel to give up the Golan Heights which is the source of most of its drinking water. if the drinking water to that part of the world is being fiddled around with, I think you very much are involved.
I would just request that you ask if there's any change in the way that somewhat parched area uses its water?
MR. DAVIES: Sure, happy to do that.
Q A question?
MR. DAVIES: You have another question?
Q No, this particular question. Could you take it as --
MR. DAVIES: I'll look into it. I don't know that I'll be able to develop anything. There's a furlough on, but we'll see, if I can.
Q What does the U.S. have to say about Kind Fahd's transfer of power albeit maybe temporarily?
MR. DAVIES: It's our understanding that it is, in fact, temporary; not permanent.
We've said before that we were concerned about the King's health and we wish him a speedy recovery. If you want anything specific about his health, of course, the Saudis are the best source for that.
We understand that he's formally empowered Crown Prince Abdullah to provide for governments during an interim period as the King continues to recover.
This, we believe, has happened before. I think in the late 80's, there was a similar temporary transfer of some of the powers. But in terms of the kingdom and its governance, we think it's in good and stable hands.
Q How was the United States informed of this?
MR. DAVIES: We certainly read the statement. I don't know if we got any advance word of it.
Q (Inaudible) any advance word of it?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if we did.
Q Have you heard anything about King Fahd coming to the United States for medical treatment?
MR. DAVIES: I've heard nothing about that, no.
Q There's some who feel that Crown Prince Abdullah is less pro- Western, less pro-American than Fahd. Is there --
MR. DAVIES: Concern?
Q Yeah. Is there any concern in the United States about it?
MR. DAVIES: No, there's no concern about whether he's more or less pro-Western than Kind Fahd.
Q Is that because you don't care whether he's more or less pro- American, or because you think he is more pro-American than some analysts would say?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to comment on which of the Crown Princes has a particular attitude toward the United States. We simply take note of the fact that this temporary transfer of some powers has occurred. We believe that Saudi Arabia is in good hands, being well governed. I'm not going to handicapped the various factions in Saudi Arabia.
Q Do you believe the relationship will change at all? Do you see the relationship changing?
MR. DAVIES: We don't see the relationship changing. We think it's steady-as-she-goes.
There are factions in every country.
Q All Saudi Arabia --
MR. DAVIES: Every person a faction.
Q The Saudis, they have no factions. They all work together. (Inaudible)
Q Have you received a visa request from the Vice President of Taiwan for a transit visit to --
MR. DAVIES: Not that I know of. I've heard nothing about that.
Q Will you look into that? If a request is made, do you have any problem approving it, given the --
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to speculate about -- I mean, every visa request, we look at on its merits. I would also point out that there is a furlough on so that tends to make it a little more difficult to work through these things, but I'm happy to look into it.
Q Another question. The Chinese President has been quoted as saying that the U.S.-one China policy cannot be trusted. Do you have any response to that?
MR. DAVIES: The Chinese President has said that?
Q Yes, the Chinese President.
MR. DAVIES: I haven't seen that report. Happy to look at that report, but no comment on it.
Q There are various reports this morning that some of the obligations that the parties undertook in the Dayton Accords are not being honored. For example, there's supposed to be free access for civilians throughout Bosnia. There is reportedly a Serb checkpoint stopping Muslims from going into the Serb part of Sarajevo. Any comment on this? Is the U.S. going to do anything about it? Or are we just going to let these violations --
MR. DAVIES: There have been reports of some problems; reports that a number of civilians traveling through the Serb-held areas of Sarajevo were detained by Serb authorities. IFOR, I think, is looking into those reports. If they're true, they're troubling. They would constitute a violation of the Dayton agreement.
On the whole, if I can take you back to November 1, the progress since then has been rather startling and positive. Freedom of movement is largely the rule -- freedom of movement for civilians.
There have been no attempts to hamper IFOR personnel, so that's obviously pleasing to us, and we're in early days with the implementation. IFOR hasn't yet fully deployed. Various aspects of the implementation, including the formation of a police force are still getting underway.
Q You may have been referring to it -- when you said several people -- but there is a report that 11 people were kidnapped apparently by Bosnian Serbs. Is that what you were specifically referring to?
MR. DAVIES: That's one of the reports that's concerning us. IFOR is looking into it.
Q You don't know if it's true at this point?
MR. DAVIES: We don't have any confirmation on it.
Q You probably (inaudible) this a lot during the time when I was gone, but may I just ask about this police force?
How far have you gotten in organizing a police force? Who is going to be in it? What is it going to do?
MR. DAVIES: We're looking forward to the arrival tomorrow in Sarajevo of high representative Carl Bildt who will arrive tomorrow and be in work on the ground in Sarajevo. We're pleased that he's coming.
It's a new year. The holidays are over, so we think it's time to get going on a lot of the aspects of civilian implementation. We're anxious to make quicker progress, and we think that his presence there is important for the smooth coordination of all aspects of civilian implementation.
The police force is one aspect of a broader array of issues that kind of fall under the rubric of civilian implementation.
So we're looking to Mr. Bildt and his structure to get going on these issues.
Q Have police been recruited already?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think we're far along on that process, no.
Q Do you think Bildt should have been there before this?
MR. DAVIES: Everybody took a little break over the holidays. Mr. Bildt is now on his way to Sarajevo. He'll be there tomorrow. We're happy he's going to be there tomorrow. We look forward to working with him.
Q The U.S. military didn't take a break over the holidays. They were deploying.
MR. DAVIES: Carl Bildt was also, I'm sure, busy doing things. He simply wasn't in-place. Now he's in-place or will be tomorrow, we understand.
Q So you don't think that hampered the effort at all?
MR. DAVIES: That he wasn't. No. He was, I think, doing a great deal of work outside the country. What's important is, obviously, that he be there, and he will be there. We think starting tomorrow we can really get going on all cylinders.
Q Glyn, has the dispute been eased at all over who pays what share of this rather large sum of money that is figured to be needed for the civilian implementation and rebuilding programs? As I understood it, the Europeans and the European Union wanted the United States to ante up about a third of those costs with the United States saying that that was too much because of the cost of military implementation or peacekeeping implementation.
MR. DAVIES: Right.
Q Has anything happened on that front as a result?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that they've worked out all the decimal points on the funding for the various aspects here. We continue to talk to the Europeans.
I think there was a successful pledging conference that occurred in Brussels before the holidays. The first priority, of course, is humanitarian aid. I think that's well along. We put out some numbers last week on that, which I'm happy to give to you if you need them.
Q Can I ask you about the Travel Advisory for Germany last week?
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q I suppose if there were any serious developments we would have heard abut them or read about them by now.
Can you revisit the situation and tell us, is there still -- I know it said it would expire on January 31. Is there a reason to keep it on? Can you tell us what raised the alarm?
MR. DAVIES: These travel advisories are part art, part science. They're based on various reports that I simply can't get into.
This particular one, a judgment was made when the Advisory was issued last week that it would remain valid through the end of this month. There's been nothing in the intervening days to change that.
Q So America still should be careful?
MR. DAVIES: That's correct.
MR. DAVIES: Anything else on Germany? Let me go to Cyprus first.
Q We heard about Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and also the U.S. Ambassador to Athens, Mr. Niles, and the U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Mr. Boucher, and several U.S. officials -- they're having a meeting in this building right now about Cyprus. Can you elaborate on the subject?
MR. DAVIES: If there's a meeting going on now, and it's not one I know about, I can't say anything about the meeting.
Q Also, at this meeting they invited the Cyprus Ambassador, Mr. Jacovides. He's also attending this meeting, but no Turkish officials and the Turkish Ambassador in this building.
MR. DAVIES: You know more about this meeting than I do.
Q Can you take the question?
MR. DAVIES: I'm happy to look into it. I don't even know that there's a meeting occurring. It's all very interesting.
Q North Korea: I was wondering, what if anything do you know about the food situation there, since they've been saying that it's quite dire? I'm wondering how you view the situation? And what, if any, upcoming meetings will there be between the United States and North Korean officials?
MR. DAVIES: We've spoken to the issue of the food needs of North Korea before. Of course, the United States has already pledged and I think provided close to a $225,000 in food aid. I don't know of any meetings that are scheduled in the near future.
I know that the United Nations has a presence in North Korea. Most of the aid, if not all of it, is being handled either through the United Nations or through private voluntary organizations. If you know of a particular meeting, I can look into it but I don't know of one.
Q Have there been any problems, to your knowledge, of the food aid going to the military?
MR. DAVIES: I'm unaware of any problems on that score.
Q The Secretary's next trip -- will this be the occasion for him to visit Bosnia, as he apparently wants to do sometime this --
MR. DAVIES: Barry, I don't think there are plans for him to visit Bosnia on this trip.
Q The U.S. and North Korea will hold high-level talks in Hawaii, probably this month, for the repatriation of the remains of U.S. soldiers missing n the Korean war. Can you comment on that?
MR. DAVIES: I think that meeting was specifically to brief the North Koreans about some of our techniques for identifying the remains of servicemen. I don't know whether, in fact, that meeting is already over or not. It was very narrow, and it was simply to show them our facility, give them some briefings. It wasn't any kind of a negotiation.
Q I understand that the United States initially okayed the sale of Israeli fighters with U.S. components to Ecuador and that Washington has since withdrawn that approval.
MR. DAVIES: These are Kafir fighters -- Kafirs?
Q Actually, I don't know if they're Kafir, but they're Israeli fighters. Maybe they are Kafir. Do you know anything about that?
MR. DAVIES: I don't.
Q Can you take a look at that?
MR. DAVIES: I'm happy to look into that, sure.
Q Following up Mr. Zang's question on China. Glyn, do you have any knowledge, or can the Department comment about a command post built by the PLA in Fujian Province? That's right across straits. A command post that became operational under PLA during military exercises in late November in the straits of Taiwan?
The Chinese are saying -- they claim that they have the responsibility to defend Taiwan. That's one reason this command post is located where it is. Do you know anything about that?
MR. DAVIES: My briefings always end with interesting questions from you, Bill. I don't know anything about a command post in Fujian Province. I really don't. If I did, it would be probably intelligence- related and I couldn't get into it.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:35 p.m.)
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