U.S. Department of State
96/01/04 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
THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 1996, 12:56 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. It's a pleasure for me to introduce to you a guest of mine, Marc Thiessen, who is the Spokesman for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I think he's well known to many of you.
Marc and I discovered in a recent phone conversation that we often end up in the same newspaper articles together, so we thought it was high time that we met each other, and I invited Marc to come to the briefing, and we're going to get together afterwards. So, Marc, welcome.
MR. THIESSEN: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: I also wanted to say that Secretary Christopher's going to be traveling to the Wye River Conference Center late this afternoon and for the early evening. He's going to have a dinner and discussion with the Israeli, Syrian and American negotiators at Wye. He intends to discuss the progress, the substance of these talks, as we approach the end of the second round in preparation for his meetings next week in Damascus with President Assad and in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Peres.
He had planned, of course, to participate in this second round and is very pleased he was able to work out a trip to Wye this evening.
I also wanted to note the fact, before we get to questions, that we are in the 20th day of the Government shutdown, of the absence of appropriations to the State Department, and I think it's fair to say that the financial impact and the impact on morale here continues to be felt in many ways.
Today, Thursday, January 4, just under 27,000 people who work for the State Department in the United States and overseas received paychecks for less than half the normal amount that they would have received. If this furlough continues, then two weeks from today on January 18, which is the next payday for those of us in the State Department, these same 27,000 people, from the Secretary of State on down, will receive no pay whatsoever.
Yesterday I gave you many examples of the serious impact that this shutdown is having on our ability to carry out American foreign policy, both overseas in our more than 300 diplomatic establishments overseas but also here in the United States.
There is also an impact on people -- on the people who work in this building and work for the State Department around the world. In the United States, our lowest ranking clerical employees make barely $15,000 a year, and there are many people in this building and around the country -- in our passport offices and our other offices throughout this country -- who earn that level of a salary. Without a paycheck, those people are going to have a hard time making ends meet. They have to put food on the table; they have to pay their bills.
We've been gratified to see that a number of our Ambassadors, a number of our Assistant Secretaries here, have taken the initiative to help these people. Our Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, Toby Gati, has begun, with other people in her Bureau, a private fund to which they are contributing to help some of their lower- paid colleagues bear the brunt of this shutdown as we receive less than half a paycheck this week.
That's also true of some of our Ambassadors overseas. One Ambassador came in yesterday and told Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott that he would be willing to open up his own account in which he would personally pay the salaries of his Foreign Service National employees. This is an Ambassador from the former Soviet Union.
We've been gratified to see that -- very gratified indeed. But the fact of the matter is that we have backlogs that are growing, both for visas -- 20,000 visas a day are going unmet -- and for passports -- 200,000 Americans are waiting for passports and now cannot travel outside of the United States without those passports.
I would also say that Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has sent a letter today to all members of Congress -- both in the Senate and the House -- in which she outlined the effect that this furlough is having on the operations of the Department of State, in which she pledges, of course, that we'll do our very best to work with Congress over the period ahead, as long as this shutdown is in place, to try to brief Congress as much as possible, work on the issues that are vital to both Congress and the Administration.
But at the latter part of the letter, which is now just being delivered on Capitol Hill, she notes that we may no longer be able to provide usual services, such as briefings, witnesses for hearings, correspondence, travel arrangements, passports, visas and other constituent services. She also regrets that some legislatively mandated reports that are due to be delivered to the Congress may have to be delayed due to the fact that 72 percent of the people who work in the Department of State in the United States are on furlough.
This is a fairly, I think, strong reaffirmation of the problems that we are having here in the Department of State. With that, George, I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Q Will this affect the Human Rights Report which is due out in about two or three weeks?
MR. BURNS: I think that remains to be seen. That report is really a product of the efforts of every Embassy and every Consulate overseas, and there are people, of course, that are furloughed in those Consulates and Embassies; and, of course, by many, if not all, of the Bureaus here in the Department of State. We'll just have to see if we're able to meet that. We very much hope the furlough will not continue until the end of January.
Q I'm told that there have been some computer SNAFUS, and some people didn't get anything in some of the Embassies -- got no pay.
MR. BURNS: We had a very unfortunate occurrence where -- as you know, today is payday. No one will recognize the amount of pay in their paycheck, because it's slightly less than half of what we normally get. It will be an unusual figure, and, because of some computer problems that we experienced last night -- and the Secretary said this before -- we have older computer machinery in this building. Several thousand people will receive incorrect pay, and unfortunately for them it's not incorrect on the high side, it's incorrect on the low side.
Straightening this out has become an enormous challenge here. Our computer people, of course, are working without most of their staff, because most of their staffs are on furlough, and they stayed up all last night. I know Assistant Secretary of State Pat Kennedy is seized with this and was here nearly all last night working on this problem.
We have sent a message to all of our diplomatic posts overseas, informing our employees that what they get in terms of their paycheck may not be a correct amount. They may have been shortchanged, even with the just under half salary that they're going to get today. We have apologized to them, and we're going to straighten this problem out as soon as we can.
Q It's certainly honorable that some of the higher ranking officials in the State Department are willing to help out some of the lower ranking members, but is it legal?
MR. BURNS: In terms of INR, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, they set up on their own initiative outside the work place a private fund in the name of someone in the Bureau -- a personal bank account. This was not done on official time. It was done after hours. It's being done, really, as a collegial gesture by the leadership of that particular Bureau who feels a personal responsibility for the people who work there.
Q But it is illegal --
MR. BURNS: So they did check with the appropriate people here, and it was confirmed that they ought to do this privately. They ought not to do this as part of the normal course of their work, and so it's done in a private account outside the Department of State. The Department of State has nothing to do with this, but we certainly applaud the initiative that Toby Gati and Dan Kurtzer, the leaders of INR, have shown, as well as many of our Ambassadors.
I think I noted yesterday that at Embassy Moscow, where there's a real problem in having our Russian employees meet their bills this week, the American employees have voluntarily set up their own private fund to help pay the salaries of our Russian employees.
Q Nick, what is the specific problem with the electric light bill in Hanoi? Are they threatening to cut off the power?
MR. BURNS: The specific problem is that in Vietnam, as in most other parts of the developing world, you do not pay on credit. You pay cash. You pay for services with cash on the day that services are rendered, and the Embassy has been told by the local supplier of electricity that if they don't pay by cash, the electricity will be curtailed.
We are appealing to the Vietnamese Government to use its influence with the local supplier of electricity to ask them to understand that we are going through a rather peculiar period in our history now; that the greatest power in the world is operating on a shoestring these days, and that we would ask them to use their influence to see that the electricity would be continued. We very much hope that that would be the case, and we expect that that will be the case.
But let me just give you, since you're interested, some other examples. In Yerevan, in Armenia, which is an exceedingly difficult place to serve, especially during the winter where electricity is scarce, our Embassy has run out of fuel to heat the Chancery building in downtown Yerevan.
In Damascus, the Embassy is nearly out of money and has had to request an emergency authorization of $8,700 in order to pay for essential services that they must have to continue the Embassy operations. Without this $8,700, the Embassy will have to shut down, which is a prospect that most of us going out to Damascus next week would not want to see.
It's also true that we are going to be encountering some quite severe legal problems in our contractual obligations to our employees. Under Hong Kong law, where we have an independent Consulate, late payment of wages is a criminal offense, punishable by a maximum of $200,000 in Hong Kong currency and imprisonment for one year.
In Belgium, an organization --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Diplomatic immunity would apply.
MR. BURNS: It's not at all clear what will happen in each country, given the ability of employees or unions, to which these employees belong, to take these cases to courts.
In Belgium, an organization that does not pay salaries on time may be found to be legally in default and subject to bankruptcy procedures.
In Bridgetown, in the Barbados, the Department owes $7,600 for electricity, and we've been notified that termination of service is imminent. It's a similar situation to Hanoi.
I think the general point to make here beyond the many, many specific points -- and I could go on and on and on throughout the entire briefing, and I'll spare you that -- is that we are a great power. We have to act like a great power, and we're simply calling upon the Congress to let us do our job.
The fact is that the 6500 people who are furloughed in the United States cannot work by law. They are proscribed by law from coming to this building and working. They all want to work. There are 100 people in my Bureau, 85 of whom are furloughed. We have been receiving calls and in fact visits from a couple of people today who want to work. We want them to come back so that we can work fully with the Congress and fully meet our obligations to all the countries with which we have diplomatic relations.
Q Any problems in Ankara, Nick? (Laughter) Now that you mention those cities --
MR. BURNS: I knew that was coming. Why does that question not surprise me? (Laughter) In Ankara, we have a very large Embassy in a very important country and a valued friend and ally of the United States. We have one of our best and brightest young Ambassadors -- Marc Grossman -- and I know that Ambassador Grossman has encountered a number of challenges in keeping that Embassy open but is doing so at a very important time in Turkish-American relations.
Q Any problem with electricity bills? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: I'm going to call on you to help us if there are. I now know where to go.
Is anybody here from Greece who wants to talk about our Embassy in Athens? (Laughter)
Any more on this issue? To the next issue.
Q Two questions on the Middle East. The first, is there any comment from your podium about reports of media restrictions and human rights relations in the Palestinian Authority?
The second, do you expect some paper or general statement to come up tomorrow from Wye Plantation at the end of the second round of talks there?
MR. BURNS: Let me take the second question first, and then I'll go to your first question.
The Secretary intends to have a good, solid, substantive discussion tonight with all the negotiators, to take the temperature, to assess what progress has been made, to make sure that he is fully prepared to go out and brief Prime Minister Peres and President Assad next week when we're in the Middle East.
These talks will continue after the Secretary's departure this evening from Wye. They'll probably extend until about mid-day tomorrow, according to Dennis Ross, who's our chief negotiator there on site. We have not yet made a decision if we will have a formal statement to make. I may or may not have something to say at the briefing tomorrow. We'll just have to see how the talks go.
But the Secretary will certainly -- he'll be leaving Monday morning -- will certainly be on the record and available to all of you early next week to talk about his views on the meaning of these two rounds of discussions and how far we think we've come.
On the first question, we have seen the various reports, and we certainly share the concerns expressed by many observers, as well as expressed by some Palestinian activists. We discuss our human rights concerns directly with officials of the Palestinian Authority as part of our long-term objective of helping to build democracy and the rule of law in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
In this dialogue, we have underlined the importance of free and fair Palestinian elections on January 20 of this month, including freedom of the press, including access to the media of all political candidates, and internationally recognized election standards.
As you know, there are monitors from the European Union and other international organizations, including American organizations, on the ground. Some of those monitors have been quite vocal in recent weeks about discrepancies they see. We think this is a healthy process. The Palestinian Authority is working with the international monitors, and we expect those monitors to be in place when the elections are held on January 20th..
Q Will President Carter participate in supervising the elections?
MR. BURNS: I understand that President Carter will be participating as a private individual in the monitoring process on January 20, yes.
Q Nick, in the past the Secretary has gotten involved in negotiations when his particular combination of seniority and skill is needed. Are those needed right now, and can you elaborate?
MR. BURNS: I think this bears very little resemblance to the last such episode that all of you remember which was the weekend before the conclusion of the Bosnian talks at Dayton, Ohio, when the Secretary went there for five days with the express purpose of trying to push the negotiations across the finish line. This is a very different scenario.
The fact is that on his last trip to the region in mid-December, he established this two-step, two-round negotiating process with President Assad and Prime Minister Peres. They agreed to it. The Secretary as far back as last month was thinking ahead to the second round of talks when he would be back. He fully intended to participate.
So I wouldn't see this as the Secretary rushing in at some climactic moment of the negotiations. I would see this as a normal thing that he would want to do. These negotiations are being held just on the Eastern Shore easily within reach of Washington.
I would not want to lead you to believe that somehow we're at some defining moment. We are at a moment where we're trying to renew and revitalize the Syrian-Israeli track of negotiations. We're just at the beginning of that. The Secretary's trip next week is the next step. This is a long-term process. I don't think any of us believe that peace is just around the corner.
We hope that a peace agreement will be realized sometime in 1996 -- a comprehensive peace agreement to end all of the outstanding issues of difference between Syria and Israel that have existed for nearly 50 years.
Q Are you open to the idea of shifting the peace talks closer to the region as Israel would like to do?
MR. BURNS: I think what the Secretary will have to do in his discussions with the Prime Minister and President Assad is to review not only the substance of these talks but the procedural aspects, and they will together have to make some decisions about how these discussions will continue beyond the Secretary's trip next week. But since we are not at a point to make those decisions yet, I really can't help you much further with that.
Q The Chinese are appealing to the Administration to go easy on them in the upcoming meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva. I guess you hadn't seen that, judging by your quizzical look.
MR. BURNS: I have not seen it. Did they appeal to us today to make --
Q There was a story today that they won't tolerate any American feistiness at the U.N. Human Rights Commission meeting. Well, you don't have any guidance on that. They're also recommending that you reject the visa application from the -- I guess it's the Taiwanese Vice President. Do you have any update on that today?
MR. BURNS: On the second issue, George, as you know, I did confirm yesterday that the Taiwan Vice President, Mr. Li, has asked to transit the United States en route to the inauguration of the Guatemalan President later this month, and we are considering his request.
We have not yet made a decision. Once we make a decision, we'll announce it. We have noted public statements, both from Taiwan and Beijing on this issue this morning.
On the first part of the question, George, I really can't say that I have much to add to what we've said in the past on that issue.
Q On the transit visa, wasn't it U.S. policy that those would be routinely granted. He could land at the airport and go into the duty free, but he couldn't go out of the airport until the airplane takes off again. Is that not the case?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe we've ever set down a hard and fast policy about any type of visa pertaining to officials from Taiwan. When President Lee Teng-hui was anticipating a visit to the United States, there was a discussion of whether it would be a transit or whether it would be ultimately what it was -- a visit to Cornell -- and we did, I think, talk about what we might be willing to do or not to in that respect.
But this is a different case. It's a different individual, and we're simply reviewing that. There are a lot of people in this building and in the White House who are looking at it, and, when we make a decision, we'll be very quick to let you know what that decision is.
Q Is it a request for transit to stop at Hawaii or is it for in the continental United States, and is the United States a convenient transit point for Guatemala?
MR. BURNS: I don't know what specific plane he's taking and what the flight path of the plane is and what options are available to him in terms of where he transits, whether Hawaii or California or some place else as the most logical place. That's part of the information that we are now getting from the Taiwan officials and as part of, of course, the information that we need before we can make a decision on this particular issue.
Q Nick, if the furlough continues into the next week, could the visa request be denied on that basis?
MR. BURNS: I don't think we'd use that as a reason for denial. The fact is that we are issuing visas for official travel to the United States. We're not issuing tourist visas, business visas, student visas to the United States. But when a French official applies for a -- that's not a good example. But when an Egyptian official, for instance, would apply for a visa or in this case we have an official from Taiwan applying, then we would look at those a little bit differently than we would a normal tourist or student visa.
Q So you do regard him as an official from Taiwan?
MR. BURNS: He's clearly an official. As you know, we have unofficial relations with Taiwan. (Laughter)
You know, I know this by heart, because every day last May, June, July and August we had this little exercise here, and I'd be glad to go through it. You thought you'd catch me.
We have an unofficial relationship with Taiwan, but it is abundantly clear that people who have posts in the government there that clearly exists are officials. They're not private individuals. They are officials of a government.
We have unofficial relations with that government, not official relations. But, yes, I used that word "official" I think generously and appropriately.
Q So it could be an official transit --
MR. BURNS: No, I didn't say that. I said that we were considering a transit. I don't believe I modified the word.
Q You did use the word (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: No, I used the word "official" to pertain to the individual but not to the type of visit, which is a transit.
Q Lower case "official."
MR. BURNS: Yes. Lower case "official." Is that satisfactory?
Q Let's see if Marc has any comment on that -- Marc Thiessen.
MR. BURNS: No, Marc is just an honored guest today.
Q I've been dying to ask him to comment on each one of these things, but it's your briefing, not his. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: It is my briefing.
MR. THIESSEN: Outside the building afterwards. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: Steve.
Q In honor of Marc, have you been hearing from any of those people on Capitol Hill who are instrumental in getting -- in putting pressure on the State Department to issue a visa for Mr. Wei? Are they taking a similar --
MR. BURNS: You'll have to ask Marc afterwards.
Q No, I mean have you heard from these people?
MR. BURNS: I assume that our East Asia Bureau has heard from various members of Congress on this since this became public yesterday. I would just assume so, but I'm not aware of any official demarches to us from anybody to the Secretary on this.
Yes, still on China?
Q China --
Q No, not China --
MR. BURNS: Let's just keep on China for a little while longer, and then we'll go to Bill.
Q Nick, are you consulting the Chinese on this?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Are you discussing this -- the visa request with the Chinese?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any discussions that we've had. I just can't say. I mean, we do have an active Embassy, although it's reduced in number in Beijing these days. I can't exclude the possibility of any discussions. I think as a matter of course, given the interest that Beijing ordinarily shows and displayed this morning on this particular issue, we would certainly inform them of a decision once a decision was made, I think, and I can assure you that that kind of communication would take place, yes.
Bill. Still on China?
Q Yes. Another.
MR. BURNS: Let me just go to Bill, and then I'll be glad to go to you.
Q If I could follow up, but have you any more on the Lavi fighter technology transfer by the Israelis to the Chinese? Anything from the Israelis? Have we gone back to them on this issue?
MR. BURNS: I really have nothing further to what I said, I thought quite exhaustively, yesterday on this subject. We went back and forth on it. I said what I had to say. I don't have much new to say today.
Q There was an article this morning in the Times reporting that one of these prototypes was identified as being in China? You have nothing to say on that?
MR. BURNS: I simply have no comment on that, no.
Q I think Vice President Li has made a couple of transits through the United States to Latin America before -- at least twice. And why this one is so particular -- so special -- that the United States take a long time to consider it?
MR. BURNS: It's not at all -- I wouldn't say it's special. I don't think we've taken a long time to consider it. The fact is that somebody told the press that this application had been made to the United States, and I don't think it was anybody in this building or anybody in Washington, D.C., for that matter, or maybe not even anybody in the United States.
So when you asked yesterday, I confirmed that we had just recently received an application for a transit visa. We'll look at it. It's not unusual for us to look at this, because, as you know, this is important for many countries in the region, including Taiwan. So I wouldn't say it's special. I would say it's probably -- you're right. There have been transits in the past. I don't think we're taking a long time to deal with it. I think we're taking the appropriate length of time to deal with it.
Q You suggested that China would be informed once a decision had been made. It wasn't clear whether you were ruling out any discussion with them before a decision was made.
MR. BURNS: I certainly can't rule it out. I mean, I can't account for everything that all of our diplomats do every day in Beijing or I can't account for all the discussions that take place between Chinese officials here and people in the State Department. I'm not in a position to say that there will never be a conversation about this, but I think it's fair to say that we will inform them after the fact.
Q Just to make sure. There's no U.S. policy that says that you will consult with Chinese Government officials about future visas.
MR. BURNS: I don't believe there are any hard and fast rules. I think logic and common sense should apply in these cases, and I'm sure it is applying.
Any more on China? Okay, I think you had the next question.
Q There is an extradition situation which is big news up in the Pacific Northwest involving a fellow named Martin Pang (?). You may be familiar with it. He was accused of -- he's charged with an arson fire that killed four firefighters. He fled to Brazil. He's held by the Brazilians now. They will only allow him to be extradited on the arson charge, not the murder charges.
Appeals have been made by the City of Seattle to the State Department and to the Justice Department for help. What do you know about all of this?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe we have been apprised of this -- at least I don't believe that John and I have -- and we'll be glad to look into it and see what we have to say on it.
Q Generally speaking, when these situations come up -- and I realize maybe they're not all that common -- but where treaties and foreign courts prevent extradition under circumstances which are palatable to our judicial system, what can be done?
MR. BURNS: Generally speaking, these cases are the purview of the Justice Department. The State Department sometimes plays a role in our contacts with foreign countries or facilitates a role. There are no hard and fast patterns, however. But generally speaking the Justice Department speaks to this on behalf of the U.S. Government. I just am completely unfamiliar with the particular case. We'll be glad to look into it and see if there is something we can or cannot say on this.
Q This is a question about Burma. There are reports today that government troops have overrun the northern stronghold of an opium warlord Khun Sa and that the United States has offered a reward for any information leading to his arrest. Do you have any information on this?
MR. BURNS: I have a little bit of information. This situation, of course, has been underway for some time now. It's our understanding that Burmese army troops on January 2 peacefully occupied the headquarters and another stronghold of Khun Sa's Mong Tai army in the Shan state of Burma.
Although we do not have a lot of details, it appears that this was an uncontested deployment of Burmese troops in an area that had been historically controlled by the insurgents, and it appears to be the result of a successfully concluded peace agreement between the Burmese Government and the representatives of Mr. Khun Sa.
Given the criminal notoriety of Khun Sa and his organization's extensive involvement in the international heroin trade, we are concerned that this apparent political agreement could facilitate the continued drug trafficking operations of the Shan United Army.
As you know, this supplies a large amount of the heroin -- a very large amount of the heroin consumed in the United States. So we are calling on the Burmese Government to turn Khun Sa over to United States authorities. Because he is a drug lord, he should be prosecuted in United States court on narcotics charges.
Q If the government turns him over, would it be eligible for the $2 million reward?
MR. BURNS: That's a very interesting question. (Laughter) That's a very challenging question. We have to think long and hard about that. We do have a $2 million award for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Khun Sa. I don't believe that foreign government officials are eligible for these awards. I believe that the only people eligible are private citizens, and in this particular case I'm certainly unwilling to say where we may be getting information on Mr. Khun Sa. But he should know that there is a very high degree of importance placed upon his eventual arrest, his eventual trial and his eventual conviction in the United States of drug charges.
Q Do you know his whereabouts?
MR. BURNS: I can't say. I don't know his whereabouts. There may be people in our government who do, but I wouldn't say we knew where he was. We'd want to keep him guessing.
Q Do you have any word on the detainees in Sarajevo?
MR. BURNS: Yes, there's a little bit of information on that. It may be good information. Ambassador John Menzies, our very fine American Ambassador in Sarajevo, has met twice today with Serb authorities in the Serb suburb Ilidza, and he was told earlier today as a result of his conversations and as a result of efforts by Carl Bildt and by IFOR that the 16 detainees would be released.
We have seen press reports that they have been released at the insistence of the United States and of IFOR. We very much hope those press reports are accurate, and we're currently from Sarajevo checking into those details.
If it's true, we certainly welcome the action of the Bosnian Serb authorities to release 16 innocent people. However, I would have to note that the abduction of 16 people is a direct violation of the Dayton Accords, a direct violation of the commitments made by the Bosnian Serb authorities and by the Belgrade Government.
Just so you know, after our briefing yesterday, we did send a letter from our Charge in Belgrade to President Milosevic. The Charge later called Foreign Minister Milutinovic, and we told the Serb Government in no uncertain terms that these people ought to be released immediately.
There can be no justification for this type of action. Freedom of movement is an essential condition for peace taking hold in Bosnia. It's what the civilians there need after three-and-a-half years of captivity.
So while we are encouraged by this report, we are going to be very mindful of the need to make sure that these parties comply with the Dayton Accords. We were very pleased to see that IFOR decided this morning to put additional French troops into the Serb suburbs in Sarajevo.
As Secretary Perry said yesterday, until the civilian police force is in place, IFOR may have to do what it can and what it's able to do to help make sure this type of incident does not happen in the future. But fundamentally this is the responsibility of the Serbs and of the Bosnians and Croats to carry out this agreement. It's on their shoulders.
Q Nick, Boutros-Ghali on Tuesday expressed a fear that there's a real danger of the situation in Burundi degenerating; that it might explode into ethnic horror again. Does the United States Government share Boutros-Ghali's assessment of the urgency of that situation?
MR. BURNS: We share Boutros-Ghali's concern that violence is out of hand; that too many people, hundreds of people, have died over the last month; that an effort must be made by the government and by all other forces in the area to achieve stability and peace and to try to resolve their problems through discussion and not through a resort to arms.
We're concerned about it. As you know, we have an Embassy in place, a very thinly staffed Embassy at the present time, but still they're watching the situation closely. All of us who remember the spring of 1994 in Rwanda and Burundi have to hope that reason will take hold.
Q Does the United States Government, Nick -- to follow up -- support the call for some kind of U.N. military intervention in Burundi?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that that's being called for right now officially by the U.N. Secretary General, but certainly we are ready to support the United Nations and the international community, private groups, to do whatever we can to help the situation.
Any more questions? One more question? Mark, do you have one? Okay, thanks very much.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:30 p.m.)
To the top of this page