U.S. Department of State 96/01/19 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, January 19, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Secretary's Town Meeting with State Employees ..............1 JAPAN Secretary's Working Lunch with Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda: Bilateral Relations, Okinawa, Middle East, Bosnia, Russia, China, Summit Meeting, UNSC Permanent Members and Expansion, Bilateral, Economic Issues ........1-3 Special Action Committee on Okinawa ........................9 UNITED NATIONS U.S. Policy re International UN Tax ........................3-4,14-15 Expansion of Security Council ..............................5-6,18 US Preference of Candidate for Secretary General ...........15 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Agreement to a Complete Prisoner Exchange: Status .........4-5 Possible Japan Funding for Bosnia Armed Forces Training ....5 Mass Grave Sites/War Crimes Tribunal: -- US Efforts to Locate; Shattuck Travel to Balkans ........16-17 NORTH KOREA Concern re Possible Famine; Relief Efforts .................6-7 CHINA Expulsion of US and Japan Air Attaches .....................7-9 -- Effect on Bilateral Relations ...........................7-8 TURKEY Shipment of Guns Confiscated on Syria Border ...............9-11 Resolved Chechen Hostage Crisis in Bosporus/Black Sea ......10 RUSSIA Chechen Hostage-Taking Terrorist Operations ................11-12 US Policy Toward Reform and Democratization ................12-14 Secretary Contacts with Russian Officials, Future Mtg ......18-19 WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (WTO) Ruling of US Discrimination Against Venezuela Gasoline .....15-16 COLOMBIA Santacruz Escape & US Bilateral Relations, Certification of Counter Narcotics Efforts .............................19-20 US Counter Narcotics Cooperation with Govt. ................20-21 THAILAND American TV Journalist Convicted, Jailed for Drug Trafficking ..............................................20
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 1996, 2:19 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have two quick things to report. The first is that Secretary Christopher held a Town Meeting this morning at 9:00 a.m. with Department employees in the Dean Acheson Auditorium. He made a statement about the effect of the recent government shutdown on morale in the State Department, in the Foreign and Civil Service, on the operations of the State Department and on the conduct of our diplomacy.
He made a very strong case to the employees that he would do everything he could within his power, within this government, to make sure that kind of thing did not happen again to our employees.
He took questions. Under Secretary Moose also spoke. If you're interested in this, I'll be very glad to go into any aspect of it that you care to.
Secondly, Secretary Christopher has just completed his working lunch with the Japanese Foreign Minister, Mr. Ikeda. Let me just review for you the major subjects discussed at that lunch.
First, as you heard them say publicly, both of them agreed at the beginning that Minister Ikeda's arrival in the United States -- his meetings with the President, with Secretary Christopher, with Vice President Gore, and Secretary Perry --is a very good example and demonstration of the close relationship that we both want to have with each other and that we do have.
Minister Ikeda said it was an example of the very, very high importance that the new government attaches to U.S.-Japanese relations.
Second, they discussed the Special Action Committee concerning Okinawa and U.S.-Japan military relations and the issues concerning the presence of the U.S. military on Japan itself. They agreed that the work of that committee should be accelerated as we move towards the summit meeting between President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto in April.
Third, they discussed the Middle East. The Secretary briefed Minister Ikeda on his recent trip to the Middle East; his discussions with Chairman Arafat. There was a good discussion and a thorough discussion of the Palestinian elections that take place tomorrow. Minister Ikeda said that Japan would play a very significant role in trying to assist the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian people, as they move forward after these elections.
Secretary Christopher was pleased to hear that. He thought it was consistent with Japan's greater role on global issues.
They also discussed the Syria-Israel discussions for peace. That completed the discussion of the Middle East.
On Bosnia, Secretary Christopher told him about the prisoner swap that was arranged by Assistant Secretary Holbrooke this morning in the Balkans. Secretary Christopher's view is that the Dayton Accords are on schedule. Today is an important day in terms of the deadline for several things that must happen. The prisoner swap is being arranged. It is not yet fully complete. We do hope that all prisoners will be released as part of this swap.
The Secretary also said that the United States would continue to watch the implementation phase of the Dayton Accords very, very closely, looking forward to his own trip to the Balkans in just two weeks' time.
Minister Ikeda pledged that Japan would be an active supporter of civilian reconstruction in Bosnia, a supporter of assistance to refugees in Bosnia. He also applauded United States leadership in bringing the parties to a peace agreement at Dayton.
Minister Ikeda complimented the Secretary on his speech yesterday at Harvard, particularly on the references to U.S. policy in Asia, and specifically on U.S.-Japan relations.
There was then a very long conversation of the situation in Russia, of Japan's relations with Russia and of United States relations with Russia. Both of them agreed this is an important -- indeed, a critical time for Russian reform in the wake of the resignations of three very influential reformers.
Secretary Christopher said that the United States intended to steer a steady course in U.S.-Russian relations; that we would encourage continued economic and political reform. Both of them agreed that the G-7 summit in Moscow in April will be an important summit.
Secretary Christopher repeated some of what was in his speech at the Kennedy School yesterday, that one of our strategic objectives with Russia is to encourage Russia's integration with Western institutions -- economic, political, and security; and that process of integration would continue so long as Russian reform continues.
Minister Ikeda thanked the United States and Secretary Christopher for ongoing United States support for Japan on the issue of the northern territories.
There was a discussion also of the Chechnya crisis, the hostage crisis over the last week or so in Chechnya that has now, fortunately, ended but also a discussion a longer-term situation and what it might take to bring that situation to a peaceful conclusion.
Finally, at the end of the meeting there was some amount of time spent on China, on the relationship of China to Japan, and China to the United States.
Under Secretary Tim Wirth, who was present at the lunch, raised the importance of the common agenda. Both Ministers agreed this is a very important issue for the April summit meeting between the United States and Japan -- issues like population, AIDS, environmental degradation, and new initiatives like narcotics, crime, and climate change.
There was, at the end of the meeting, a brief discussion of the United Nations Security Council and the position of the United States that Japan should be added as a member to the Security Council, in the context of overall reform of the United States.
Finally, they discussed economic matters -- bilateral economic matters -- between the United States and Japan, noting that they were not Trade Ministers and not Finance Ministers, but Foreign Ministers who wanted to keep economic issues on their agenda as they go along because it is a very important part of the U.S.-Japanese agenda.
Finally, leaving that just for a moment, let me just read the following statement. This concerns the proposal by some for a worldwide United Nations tax.
In a January 14 interview the United Nations Secretary General gave with the BBC in London, there was a proposal mentioned to raise funds for the United Nations by exacting a tax on citizens around the world.
The United States Government does not support any form of worldwide tax to support the United Nations. The United Nations does not have the authority to impose or collect any form of tax and the United States Government would not consent to any proposal to grant such authority.
The United States continues to believe that the best way to ensure adequate and predictable funding for the United Nations system is through reforms which result in a fair system of financing and which reduce the overall costs of operation of the United Nations and which allow reinvestment of savings in areas of high priority to member states.
An approach to fund-raising that involved any form of international tax would be inconsistent with the intergovernmental nature of the United Nations. We believe it could undermine the sovereignty of the member states of the United Nations.
Q It doesn't sound like you had a lot of time to eat.
When you said the exchange of prisoners is not fully complete, is that a problem, or do you just mean by the very nature of the exchange - -
MR. BURNS: I don't want to mislead you as to what has been accomplished so far. I spoke with Dick Holbrooke earlier -- just about two hours ago -- and he told me that as a result of his conversations in Belgrade and in Sarajevo, we had been able to convince the Bosnian Government as well as the Bosnian Serbs to agree to a complete prisoner exchange in which all prisoners would be freed today. That is the commitment that both have made.
But as of this point, I don't believe more than several hundred prisoners have been released. So, obviously, many hundreds more need to be released in the coming hours. That is the status of this agreement and its implementation as far as I know it now. We're very pleased about it because we think that it's important for all of these parties to the agreement to meet the deadlines that were established and to which they agreed and committed themselves -- both at Dayton on November 21, and in Paris on December 14.
Q You're not saying yet, anyhow, that anybody is reneging?
MR. BURNS: No, not at all. I'm not saying that at all. These parties have committed themselves to a prisoner release, and we hope that all prisoners will be released relatively soon, in the next few hours, but that hasn't happened yet. We only have reports from authorities on the ground of several hundred being released so far.
Q And a quick one. While you're touching up the Japanese who, obviously, are always first on the list of people to ask money from, you mentioned two things that they're going to contribute to.
Yesterday, some of us went to a briefing about the training -- an American briefing about the training -- of the Bosnian Government forces and equipment, etc., and that contributions would be sought; the U.S. would pay none, or very little, of the costs. Are the Japanese part of that tin-cup appeal as well? Did Christopher ask for a few bucks for that while he was buying the man lunch?
MR. BURNS: Barry, you know you're right about one thing. They covered so much ground in this lunch that they didn't have a lot of time to eat. It was a very active discourse, Barry.
Secretary Christopher, of course, offered this lunch, as you would expect, to his friend, the Foreign Minister of Japan.
Barry, they talked about a lot of issues pertaining to Bosnia. That issue did not come up specifically. We're a little bit ahead of ourselves. I know you had a good briefing by Jim -- by one of our representatives today. Sorry, I didn't reveal his last name. I'm keeping with the Background rules here.
But as we get closer to it, we will be in a position of asking specific countries for specific contributions. I'm sure that will be of interest in the U.S.-Japan agenda.
Q On Japan, you mentioned that the United States supports a Security Council seat for Japan in the context of the reform -- of United Nations reform. Is there agreement between the United States and Japan on how and if the Security Council should be expanded?
MR. BURNS: The United States, of course, -- this Administration -- has made clear that we believe that both Japan and Germany should be new members of an expanded Security Council. Other issues have to be decided, of course; other issues concerning the Administration of the United Nations, its structure and reform, we think, before this issue of actually taking a step to enlarge the Council will be undertaken. So it is in the context of other issues that are being discussed.
The Secretary reiterated again to the Japanese that he supports Japan as a future member in the Security Council as we do Germany.
Q On the specific issue of the expansion of the Security Council, are Japan and the United States in agreement on if and how it should be expanded?
MR. BURNS: We're certainly in agreement on the end result. As to how we get there, there was not a detailed discussion. There was not a discussion at all today of the steps towards an expanded Security Council; just on the goal itself.
Q Did the Secretary and the Foreign Minister talk about North Korean issues?
MR. BURNS: Yes, the issue of KEDO and support for KEDO and of continued support for the Agreed Framework was raised. Yes.
Q Did they discuss at all the reports of famine in North Korea? If they didn't, what's the latest the Department has on that issue?
MR. BURNS: That issue did not come up in the discussion. That issue has come up in a number of discussions we've had around the world lately. As you know, the United Nations has expressed concern about the possibility of famine in North Korea, and the United States has contributed money -- I believe $225,000 -- toward relief efforts. Other countries have contributed sums of money, and it is a situation that the international community, led by the United Nations, is watching closely.
Q Do you have any more ways of verifying how bad or not the famine might be?
MR. BURNS: The United Nations is taking the lead in doing that, not the United States Government. It is a matter of great interest to us here in Washington. We are concerned by famine anywhere in the world. We have a responsibility to do what we can as a country working with other countries to help alleviate famine, and we'll continue to watch it closely. We'll continue to be open to suggestions for international action.
Q On the meeting also, was the situation of the two attaches discussed in regard to China?
MR. BURNS: That issue did not come up.
Q The two highest foreign policymakers of both countries didn't discuss this at all?
MR. BURNS: The issue is closed. Lieutenant Colonel Gerdes left Beijing today. He's on his way back to the United States. He will not be returning to Beijing. That was a request of the Chinese Government. The Chinese made a similar request to the Japanese Government, and you've heard the Japanese Government say from Tokyo that they will meet that request as well.
It's a closed issue in that sense. The United States Government continues to conduct our review of the entire situation.
Q If I could follow, Nick. Yesterday in The New York Times -- and I don't know when the Senator made this statement -- but Senator Diane Feinstein was quoted as saying our people were basically caught red-handed in a restricted zone, she said, and it was inadvertent. This was confirmed by the Defense Department. This was truly the case that these guys were caught red-handed.
My question, number one, is this also the perception of the State Department? Does this require -- or not require, but what does this do to the relations between the United States and the PRC in this renaissance of improving relations that we've had since the meetings in New York -- one.
And, secondly, Nick, maybe I should just make -- just stop there and follow with the second question.
MR. BURNS: Thank you, Bill. Bill, on the first part of your question, since Tuesday, when we started discussing this issue, I have declined to discuss the specific details of the unfortunate events that occurred last week. I have stated that the United States remains displeased that the Vienna Convention -- Article 26 of the Vienna Convention was violated.
I was pleased to see that Shen Guofang, the Chinese Spokesman, said yesterday that he did not think -- China did not think that this incident should mar U.S.-China relations. We certainly believe that the United States and China have a lot of important issues to discuss and work on together. We hope for an improvement in U.S.-China relations in 1996, as Secretary Christopher noted in his speech at the JFK School yesterday.
Q So in view of the two incidents -- the Taiwan visa flap and this -- our attaches being caught red-handed -- or attache -- then you say there has not been damage done to relations with China. Is that --
MR. BURNS: We're concerned about several aspects of the incident pertaining to Lieutenant Colonel Gerdes, and we've made that clear. We've also said that U.S.-China relations must go forward, and there are many important issues for us to pursue together. We'll follow that course.
Q Here's my second question, if I could, on this issue. Nick, is it wise under the circumstances, the delicacy of the relations with the PRC and the United States, to have military attaches out in the field doing their job -- one. Is it then -- are these military attaches under the control of the Ambassador or under State Department control, or are they under Defense Department control, or can you tell me?
MR. BURNS: Yes and yes.
Q Yes and yes?
MR. BURNS: It is wise for American military attaches to continue to do their jobs in China and in countries around the world, and they will continue to do that in China and other countries around the world. It is wise to pursue that course of having military attaches work on military-to-military relations with the country in which they are based, and also to work on trying to understand better the military situation in that particular country. It's certainly wise.
What was the second "yes" that I gave you?
Q (Laughter) The U.S. Embassy controls the attaches.
MR. BURNS: That's very wise.
Q Is that correct?
MR. BURNS: Yes. In any country, in any Embassy in the world, the Ambassador is the supreme authority, and this has been worked out in many, many administrations past -- the supreme authority, the top figure who has -- he or she has complete control of Embassy operations, including the operations of employees not part of State Department, such as the Defense Department in this case.
Q So then no curtailing of attache travel in China is --
MR. BURNS: We normally don't discuss publicly all the activities of our political or economic officers or our military attaches. But I can tell you, we have military attaches in Beijing. They will remain there. They will continue to do their jobs.
Q You still feel that the Chinese Government should make amends for the way our people were handled? Should we make amends for trespassing?
MR. BURNS: Bill, I'm only going to answer the first part of your question, not the second part of your question. On the first part of the question, we'll continue to discuss this as long as we feel we should. We'll do that privately, and we'll go on and try to have a good relationship with the Chinese Government.
Q Back to Japan, I was just wondering if the Secretary and the Foreign Minister made any specific steps for the Special Action Committee on Okinawa. What type of steps they should take -- this Committee should take to alleviate the problem on Okinawa?
MR. BURNS: They both agree that we want to put the unfortunate, in fact tragic, incident of early September behind us. They both agreed that the Special Action Committee's work should be accelerated as we look towards the April summit between Prime Minister Hashimoto and President Clinton.
As you know, this is a Committee in which both the State Department on our side and the Defense Department have a responsibility. But they did not have a detailed discussion of the specific agenda items of that Committee.
MR. BURNS: Any further on Japan before we move on? Any further on Japan? Okay, yes, please.
Q The Turkish Government -- they caught several trucks loaded with weapons nearby the border in, I believe, it was --
MR. BURNS: Which part of the border?
Q Syrian border. -- which they are going to go to the Syrian- controlled Bekaa Valley. The Turkish Government claimed that the guns are going to go to some terrorist organization, and they urged several governments, if I'm correct from the wire report, Israel and other government. Do you have any information about the subject?
MR. BURNS: I don't. It's the first I've heard of this particular incident, so we'll have to check on it for you.
Q Another part is do you have any reaction which the Turkish Government solved the problem of the Chechen events in the Bosporus?
MR. BURNS: We're very pleased that the hostage crisis in the Black Sea has come to an end. We're very pleased that the Chechen rebels have decided to end their futile acts of terrorism and in taking hostages, and certainly would congratulate the Turkish and the Russian Governments for the end of this particular hostage crisis.
Q Nick, if you have an answer to the first one -- you know, the next time we'll see each other is in about 72 hours -- could it be distributed perhaps the way guidances used to be put on the doors and still sometimes are.
MR. BURNS: The first part of the question --
MR. BURNS: -- on this --
Q Yes. I mean, you might also --
MR. BURNS: -- illicit shipment.
Q I also wondered if you'd be asking Syria about it, you know, and, if you have an answer to this and if it's to be the State Department's intention to be public about this, could you please let us know before Monday if you can?
MR. BURNS: Barry, of course, we aim to please. We always aim to please, and we'll look into this matter. I can't anticipate what we're going to find when we do look into it. If we find anything interesting --
Q If you find no basis to the report, tell us that.
MR. BURNS: -- that we think we can share with all of you, we'll certainly do it. We're always quick to do that. We sometimes post these at night. We sometimes release them at the next briefing. I'll be glad to do that.
Q Nick, sort of a semantic point. You all called the Chechens carrying out these operations terrorists, right?
MR. BURNS: I said earlier this week, and I'd be glad to repeat today, that the operations that take women and children and innocent civilians hostage, to use them as human shields and to be responsible in many ways for their deaths in some cases, is reprehensible, and they are terrorist acts. Absolutely.
Q At the same time you're urging Russia to negotiate an end to this settlement. It seems sort of a strange position to be urging Russia to negotiate with people you consider terrorists. Can you explain that a little bit?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I'm glad you asked this, because it provides an opportunity, I think, to allay any misunderstandings on this issue. The President said this morning, Secretary Perry said two days ago, I believe Mike McCurry and Ken Bacon and I have all said this week that the taking of hostages is a terrorist act. It is condemned by the United States, and no one in the civilized world can tolerate it.
None of us suggested in any way, shape or form that the Russians negotiate with terrorists during these specific incidents in Pervomayskoye and in the Black Sea.
However, as we look beyond these two hostage-takings this week toward the future, and as we look back at the last 13 months, we are absolutely convinced that there is no military solution that can be successful for the Russian Government in Chechnya.
The problems in Chechnya are political in nature, they're ethnic in nature, and we believe they can only be resolved by negotiations between the Russians and the Chechens. The international community has offered a forum for those discussions in the OSCE. We would offer it again. If the Russians and Chechens choose their own forum or in another forum, that's fine with us.
But we do believe that negotiations is the only way forward, beyond these two specific hostage/terrorist incidents.
Q But not with people who might have had a role in -- any role in these incidents?
MR. BURNS: Sid, it's not for us to choose negotiating partners, but generally in a warlike situation, you negotiate with the people against whom you are waging a war. That's been true in the Middle East. It's been true in Africa and Central America, in all these peace negotiations over the last decade or so. It will undoubtedly be true in Chechnya.
Q The war in Chechnya is not a terrorist insurgency?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q You're saying it's a war in Chechnya, not a terrorist insurgency?
MR. BURNS: We were very specific about the incidents this week -- this week -- when hostages were taken, which is uncivilized and unwarranted, and which I think almost all countries around the world have condemned, including our government. That's what we termed terrorist -- those operations.
The long-term struggle in Chechnya, which is a part of Russia, is something different, and we think there that negotiations is the only long-term solution.
Q How do you find someone to negotiate with who -- within the Chechen movement -- who wasn't part of the command structure of this operation? I mean, have there been people identified in Chechnya who are --
MR. BURNS: It is not our responsibility nor would the Russians or Chechens ask us to take responsibility to choose negotiating partners. It's their responsibility to end this conflict. Too many people have died. We don't believe the continued use of military force in Chechnya in general is going to resolve this conflict. That's our point of view.
Now, why do we say that? Why do we give this kind of public advice and recommendation? Because the war has gone on for too long. Too many people have died. We do have an interest in stability in Russia. We have a great interest in stability in Russia. We want to see Russia succeed as a country and succeed as a democracy, and the Chechen conflict is impeding those developments in some ways, and that's the interest that the United States Government has here.
Q Nick, in a follow-up to what you said regarding the Russian situation generally and comments that you made on Wednesday where your advice to the Russians was that if they continue on the road to reform and play ball with the IMF, play ball with the World Bank, that this is the acceptable policy.
But the Russians had elections just recently, and it was an overwhelming defeat for those who wanted to follow that policy. Obviously, the changes in personnel over the last month or so is an indication or reaction by President Yeltsin that he realizes that is the case.
If he were to follow your advice and continue with a very strict IMF conditionalities policy, isn't this condemning him to defeat in the next elections, and at that point what does the United States do in terms of the relations with Russia in dealing with the new people? I mean, isn't that a policy which will lead Yeltsin to defeat if he followed your advice?
MR. BURNS: I'm not in a position to offer political advice to anybody inside Russia, but I am in a position to restate for you, as a way of answering your question, the fundamental foundation of U.S.- Russian relations and indeed of Russia's relations with the West.
Something very dramatic happened on December 25, 1991. A totalitarian empire crumbled, and a new democratic state took its place. The essence of the relationship between Russia -- democratic Russia -- the United States, Germany, Japan and international institutions like the IMF and the World Bank is the following: That reform by Russia will be assisted by countries and institutions in the West; that the extent of that reform is important, and the depth of that reform is important.
What's at stake right now for the Russian Federation is a $9 billion credit from the IMF, the largest single source of financing that Russia would ever have received. The IMF, of course, expects that Russia will adhere to economic reform, to a stringent budget, and to other economic indicators that have been negotiated with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais in the past.
We want to see -- "we," the United States -- that $9 billion credit go forward, because it will support President Yeltsin's economic reforms. It's in Russia's interest to continue the economic reforms. It's in all of our interests to see that Russia is integrated with Western institutions.
Secretary Christopher said at the Kennedy School yesterday that that is the strategic objective here; that we will continue our end of the bargain as long as reform continues. But, if reform does not continue, then the basis of Western support will have eroded. The political basis -- when we think about the reaction here among the American public and the American Congress, and that is certainly true of other governments in the West and certainly true of financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
There's a lot at stake. We hope and expect that reform will continue, but it is a critical moment, considering the events of the last several weeks. We are on Russia's side, in the sense that we want Russian reform to continue. But, if it does not, Russia should not be surprised if those of us in the West have to look at this situation perhaps a little bit differently.
Q Isn't there a contradiction here between the economic reform and the democracy, because it seems that what the Russian people are saying is that if democracy is this IMF conditionalities, we don't want it; and isn't that a defeat of democracy if these things are continued and are rejected by the Russian people?
MR. BURNS: The elections in December were for the Duma. The Russian Executive, the Presidency, and the Executive institutions have not been changed by that election, not by law. The Presidential election awaits. It's in the future. There is a rather dramatic debate underway in Russia about the issues that you raise on economic reform.
There's no question that a lot of people in Russia are unhappy about the situation that has unfolded over the last couple of years. But we can only speak for ourselves here, and we as Americans believe that the economic reform course set out by President Yeltsin, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, and First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais is correct, that it will be to the benefit of Russia.
They have to think about support from the international financial institutions and governments and support from private investors. Private investors will respond to reforms. They will not respond well to a slackening of reform.
Q Nick, going back to the statement you made at the beginning, has anybody else, other than Boutros-Ghali in this one interview, ever suggested anything like a U.N. global tax?
MR. BURNS: It's an idea that has been discussed in academic circles and think tanks and was then discussed publicly on the BBC by the U.N. Secretary General. Because it's received a lot of attention here in the United States, we felt an obligation to make our views very clear. I spoke to the Washington Times about this a couple of days ago. We thought we wanted to give this a little bit more exposure so that our view would be clearly understood.
Q But you're not opposed to little kids going around with UNICEF boxes?
MR. BURNS: When I was a kid, I had a UNICEF box on Halloween, and my kids have had UNICEF boxes on Halloween. That's a good effort, Jim. That supports a specific U.N. agency that's doing good work. But the idea of putting a tax on Americans who take an airline flight from Fort Worth to San Antonio, it doesn't make sense to us.
The American people are already taxed enough, and we think that there ought to be U.N. reform, the budget ought to be reduced, and we think that the idea -- the manner in which the United Nations has been funded in the past is the way it should be funded in the future.
Q Has the United States decided yet whether it intends to support Boutros-Ghali as serving for a second term as Secretary General?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe we've said anything about that at all, because, of course, it's not timely to do so. When the time comes for us to think about that selection, I'm sure we'll have something to say.
Q Nick, can I ask about the WTO ruling that the U.S. discriminated against Venezuelan gasoline? Mr. Kantor said that the WTO did not have any power over U.S. laws or regulations, but he also said that he would appeal that ruling. Now, in 160 days or 180 days, I guess, there should be a decision from that appeal.
In view of what Secretary Christopher said yesterday about building on the Miami Summit, free trade and all that, and the fact that this case is going to be very closely followed in Latin American as a test of U.S. sincerity in trade, what does the Department of State think that the U.S. should do if that ruling holds up against the United States?
MR. BURNS: Nations in Latin America can be assured that the United States intends to be true to the commitments we made at the Miami Summit. We do believe in free trade. We want to open up this hemisphere to free trade.
You've asked about a specific trade case, which is really the purview of the U.S. Trade Representative, of Ambassador Kantor. I'm going to have to refer you to him or his spokesperson for an answer to that question.
Q I told you what he said.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q I told you what he said.
MR. BURNS: Yes, I know, but since he's the responsible official, I don't think he'd like it if I stepped into this case and said what I think, which I'm sure would be absolutely consistent with what he thinks anyway. (Laughter)
Q Nick, I asked the Secretary about reports of other mass graves around Srebrenica, and he said that all that he had seen were press accounts. Do you all know anything more about these sites, and is there going to be an effort to get U.S. officials there within the next couple of days?
MR. BURNS: We're concerned about the reports we're hearing, as Assistant Secretary Holbrooke mentioned last evening on another network, Betsy. He said that just as in 1945, when the full extent of the atrocities of the Second World War became apparent at the close of the war, we are now receiving a lot of information about human rights abuses; in some cases, a mass of human rights abuses that took place in Bosnia over the last four years.
That is why Secretary Christopher asked John Shattuck, our Assistant Secretary of State, to accompany Dick Holbrooke to the Balkans.
Dick Holbrooke is now in Germany, on his way back to the United States. John Shattuck has remained behind. He hopes to go to Srebrenica to look personally into what we believe were massive executions of Bosnian civilians after the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa in mid-July of this past year.
He is also looking into the other allegations, Betsy, that we and you have heard about. He's working, in this case, with the United Nations, with the European Union and with other non-profit organizations that are on the ground who believe they may have first-hand knowledge of this.
In this sense, I understand that Justice Goldstone was briefed at NATO Headquarters this morning in Brussels about our determination to help him uncover human rights abuses in Bosnia, to bring those who are responsible to justice, to try them, and to convict them. Assistant Secretary Shattuck will be in the Balkans throughout the weekend and into early next week looking into all these issues.
Q What is complicating Assistant Secretary Shattuck's travel to Srebrenica? What seems to be holding it up? Because he's tried several times in the past but now that area is actually under the control of U.S. troops. It would seem that travel there might be a little bit easier for him now. It also raises the question of more and more of these accounts are going to come out in the press. The question still remains, what will U.S. troops do when they encounter these mass graves? And is there going to be some instruction to them to secure the area so that evidence can't be destroyed?
MR. BURNS: I just didn't want to give out the details of Assistant Secretary Shattuck's trip for obvious reasons, despite the fact that there is a cease-fire, the Dayton Accords are being implemented. General Joulwan said today that the armies are now being separated by American, British, French forces.
There are some scattered incidents of snipings. There are still landmines -- millions of landmines -- in Bosnia. We simply want to take every precaution we can to make sure that John Shattuck's trip is safe. We will not be giving out in advance his itinerary, the date in which he intends to visit or from which direction or with whom. We'll do that privately. We'll let you know about his trip when he comes out. I'm sure he'll let you know. Your colleagues in the area will know it when he comes out.
As for the larger question, the President, Secretary Perry, and Secretary Christopher have all spoken to this. IFOR will cooperate with the efforts of international organizations, but specifically the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal, to help them investigate and uncover allegations of human rights abuses.
As IFOR builds up to full strength -- although this is not the central mission of IFOR -- IFOR will work to provide security for all international investigators who are looking into human rights abuses. That is the least we can do. It is the proper thing for us to do considering the brutality of the Bosnian Serbs over the last several years.
Q You have said that the U.S. is going to support Japan and Germany for the extended Security Council. Is the U.S. also going to support the candidacy from Africa?
MR. BURNS: We have said so far that we would be willing to support Japan and Germany. There is an issue out there of what other countries from other continents should be a part of an expanded United Nations Security Council. We have not said specifically what other countries we would support, although it is, of course, possible that other countries could be added if this does come about.
Q Let's go back to Russia for one second before we break here.
Has the Secretary been in contact with any Russian officials in the last 24-48 hours considering possibly a visit to Moscow?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary has not been in touch with any Russian officials since his telephone conversation a week ago yesterday with Foreign Minister Primakov.
Deputy Secretary Talbott has just returned last night from a trip to Europe where he met with Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov. He met with German officials, so he's been in touch. Of course, Ambassador Pickering is in Moscow, and he's been closely in touch with Russian officials.
Q What about a possible invitation of Christopher to come to Moscow? Did that come from the Russian side?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary offered to Foreign Minister Primakov last week an early meeting, in the first part of February, somewhere in Europe -- because the Secretary, of course, is going to the Balkans and the Middle East -- in order to form a working relationship with him and review the issues that have to be discussed. But we have not yet agreed with the Russians where that meeting will be held or when it will be held.
These things have to be worked out. Just the mechanics haven't been worked out yet.
Q Have the Russians proposed Moscow for the meeting?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Have the Russians proposed Moscow as a site for the meeting?
MR. BURNS: Various venues have been proposed. We're considering all the alternatives. Once an agreement is reached between the U.S. and Russia, we'll be pleased to announce it to you.
Q On Colombia, could you give a clarification about how the U.S. views the Samper government in the aftermath of the escape of Mr. Santacruz?
There's some confusion based on statements made by John Deutch, who has been in Bogota, where he talked about increasing bilateral anti- narcotics cooperation. There was a Reuters wire which indicated that this meant that this ruled out any move by the Administration to decertify Colombia when that certification comes up again in March.
Do you have any comment on it? What is the U.S. position? Will Colombia -- if the decision were made now, would Colombia be certified as cooperating or --
MR. BURNS: On the last part of the question, when the time comes to certify or not to certify, we'll make that decision based on all the available evidence.
On the first part of the question, there really shouldn't be any confusion. Mr. Deutch made his trip and said what he had to say fully consistent with American policy towards Colombia.
As you know, Assistant Secretary Gelbard and others have indicated our great displeasure that there could have been an escape from a Colombian prison in the manner in which that unfortunate event unfolded -- these prisons in which sometimes these drug kingpins live quite comfortably. We think of prison as a very stark environment where people should be locked up and the key should be thrown away, particularly concerning drug-runners like these gentlemen.
We're very disappointed that security could have been so lax, or for whatever reason, this person could have escaped. We've made those views quite well known to the Colombian Government.
Q Serious enough to affect the decision on certification?
MR. BURNS: It's certainly part of the equation, but we have not yet made a decision. When we do, we'll -- as we do every year, Assistant Secretary Gelbard will visit with you and he'll make the announcements about which countries have been certified and which have not.
Q Speaking of prisons and drug-runners -- I don't recall the gentleman's name -- there's a story in the New York Times today about an American who has been thrown in prison in Thailand for -- I just wonder if you had any comment on that situation?
MR. BURNS: On that situation? I understand that on October 17 of last year, 1995, Stephen Carl Roye, who is an American freelance television journalist, was found guilty of possession with intent to import heroin. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in Thailand.
He was arrested on October 13, 1994 -- the year before -- and charged with possession of 3.3 kilos of heroin found in his luggage. Since his arrest, Embassy officials from our Embassy in Bangkok have visited him approximately 20 times, including most recently December 18, 1995.
His case proceeded through the Thai judicial system in accordance with Thai law. Our officials from our Embassy will continue to visit him to ensure that he is being treated fairly. If he wishes, we would very much be willing to help monitor his health and his welfare while he's in prison. That's all I have on that for you, Sid.
Q Do you think he got a fair shake? Do you put any credence in his version of --
MR. BURNS: All I can say is to repeat what I said previously, and that is we believe that his case proceeded through the Thai judicial system in accordance with Thai law.
When Americans -- when anyone else to foreign countries, they are subject to the law of those countries. What does concern us is the application of the law and the way in which people are treated in that system. The statement I've made is fairly clear in that respect.
Q Just to follow on the Colombian matter. Did Director Deutch or Mr. Gelbard, or has the State Department, received any positive response from the Colombian Government for increased U.S. help in the drug war against the cartels?
MR. BURNS: We've had an up and down year with the Colombians over the last 12 months; some good news and some unfortunate news. We hope that the trend in 1996 will be more up than down.
Q Do you have a direct answer to that question at this time?
MR. BURNS: That's, in essence, my answer.
Q That's all you can do at this time?
MR. BURNS: We're looking for a better level of cooperation. We certainly appreciate what has been done by the Colombian Government; but we think that the fight is so important, it has got to be at a very high level and consistently adhered to.
Q And they didn't ask for more help as a result of the Deutch mission?
MR. BURNS: I think Mr. Deutch explained what he did on his trip quite well.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 3:03 p.m.)
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