U.S. Department of State 96/01/30 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, January 30, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies DEPARTMENT Statement re: Members of Bosnia-Herzegovina Provisional Election Commission .......................................1 Secretary Christopher's Trip to Wye Conference Center .....1 FRANCE End of Nuclear Testing/Commitment to CTBT .................2 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Presence/Threat of Foreign Forces .........................2-4 Prisoner of War Releases ..................................4 Demonstration by Women of Srebrenica Group/IFOR Role ......4-5 BANGLADESH Elections .................................................5-6 BOLIVIA Minister of Government's Visit to U.S. ....................6-7 TAIWAN/CHINA Vice President of Taiwan's Request for Transit Visa .......7 GREECE/TURKEY Dispute re: Island of Imia ................................8-9 CHINA/TAIWAN Report of Timetable for China/Taiwan Reunification ........9 Ambassador Sasser's Schedule ..............................10 SAUDI ARABIA Possibility of Visit by Secretary Christopher .............10 BRAZIL Martin Pang Extradition Case ..............................10-11 VIETNAM Arrest of U.S. Citizen ....................................11 NORTH KOREA Food Shortage Situation ...................................11 JAPAN U.S.-Japan Talks re: U.S. Military Bases ..................12 COLOMBIA Allegations by Orejuela brothers against President Samper..12 Extraditions to U.S. ......................................12
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 1996, 1:28 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Just a couple of things to start off with, and then I'll go to your questions.
First up, we released a statement -- I think I might already have seen it running on the wires -- that notes the fact that today Swiss Foreign Minister Flavio Cotti, who is the OSCE Chairman in Office, introduced the members of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Provisional Election Commission at a Press Conference in Sarajevo. He named the seven person commission, which from our standpoint notably includes as head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia, Ambassador Robert Frowick, who will serve as the Chairman.
The Provisional Election Commission is the organization responsible for insuring that free and fair elections take place, and the selection of its members is another important milestone in civilian implementation of the Dayton Agreement.
The only other item I've got for you is that the Secretary -- I think as Nick said -- will be going out this evening or late this afternoon to the Wye River Conference Center to do what he can to assist the parties to make progress. As he'll be in the region next week, he wants to get the parties' very latest thinking so he's as prepared as possible for his trip to the region.
With that, Barry.
Q Wye did resume today, did they?
MR. DAVIES: Yes.
Q Okay. And do you want to give us any appraisal of how they're doing, by any chance?
MR. DAVIES: As far as I know, things are going well. The Secretary will go on out there and take the temperature of what's happening and prepare himself for his trip. It's slated to wrap up tomorrow. I'm not going to go beyond that and give you any characterization of what's happening.
Q Can I just ask a question about the Chirac visit?
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q Is there any consternation here in the Department over some Democrats' plan to sort of walk out on a scheduled speech before -- a joint Congressional speech that President Chirac is planning to give?
MR. DAVIES: I think I'd heard that report. This would relate to French nuclear testing in the Pacific, as I understand it. Chirac has announced that France will, with this sixth test in their latest series -- that that is the end of it for France. They've ended their nuclear testing.
There was a White House statement yesterday that welcomed it, as well as importantly looking to the future -- the French commitment to concluding a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty this year. We believe that the French decision adds new momentum to our collective efforts to conclude a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that we can all sign in the fall.
The President made mention of that in his State of the Union address that that's an important goal of the United States right now.
Q Should the Democrats perhaps put this test behind them and sit respectfully for the President's call?
MR. DAVIES: For a foreign leader of President Chirac's stature, we would hope, obviously, that the Congress would sit and listen to what he's got to say.
Q Glyn, the U.S. Commander of NATO, Smith, yesterday at the White House said he did not assess any imminent or really any real threat from the Iranian -- from the foreign mercenaries in Bosnia. It didn't seem to be quite consistent with the message we hear from all the other U.S. officials.
Do they pose a threat, or is it just sort of the U.S. campaign to make everyone believe Iran is a threat?
MR. DAVIES: Two points. First of all, he's the man in charge of the troops on the ground, and, if he says there's no threat, then obviously that's the most significant statement that anybody could make about whether there's a threat or not.
That said, to the extent there remain any foreign forces in Bosnia, of course, the Dayton Agreement calls for their being removed from the country, and we are watching that very closely. I'm happy to renew our call on the parties to follow through and remove all foreign forces from the country.
But he's the one who's watching this day to day, and, if he says there's no threat from foreign forces in Bosnia, then that's good enough for me.
Q Why did the Administration go to such great lengths, I mean including a threat to cut off assistance to the Bosnians, to illustrate how great a threat they thought it was.
MR. DAVIES: I don't think it's fair to say that we threatened to cut off assistance to the Bosnians. We simply pointed out -- the Secretary himself pointed out -- that under the provisions of the Dayton Agreement they were obligated to do this, and that their compliance with Dayton is the main ingredient, obviously, in how we assess their seriousness. It's only if they're serious and comply with Dayton that we would follow through on some of the aspects of Dayton that will occur down the road, to include equipment, training and the rest of it.
Q So it would be fair to say we were more interested in -- the emphasis is on compliance, not on illustrating the threat.
MR. DAVIES: Sure. Our emphasis is always on compliance with Dayton. We look to the parties to comply with Dayton.
Q The threat was never perceived at that --
MR. DAVIES: Again, I just wouldn't characterize it as a threat. I don't think it was a threat.
Q Well, not the threat from the foreign fighters.
MR. DAVIES: You're asking how serious the threat was --
Q I'm asking if the emphasis of the message was on compliance, not on emphasizing that there was a great threat there from the foreign fighters.
MR. DAVIES: I think it's probably fair to say that the Secretary is looking at the big picture here, and alarm bells have never gone off in this government that, oh, my goodness, we have a red letter threat from foreign forces. It's been a concern. It was much more of a concern before some of the forces started to leave the country, but since there's been some progress.
Leighton Smith's remarks, I think, are notable. The threat is greatly diminished. So what the Secretary had to say was looking at the big picture -- all compliance issues -- and he simply wanted to note that getting rid of the foreign forces, having them leave the country, was one of the several important aspects of compliance with Dayton that we were looking at.
Q Do you have any numbers -- changed numbers on your prisoner toll -- prisoners of war?
MR. DAVIES: Yes. I think according to the Red Cross, which is in the first instance responsible for monitoring this, the report we've got is that an additional thirteen prisoners have been released by the Serbs, which brings the total released to more than 500 so far. We understand that all but approximately 100 -- and I thought I saw a ticker item that put the figure at 112 -- and that may be the case. It's really the Red Cross's business to count them. All but approximately 100 or so of the prisoners registered with the ICRC have been released.
As far as we know, all three sides are still holding some prisoners, and we would reiterate -- make the point again that under the Dayton Accords, all those prisoners have to be released. If any of those prisoners are indicted war criminals, they ought to be turned over to the War Crimes Commission.
Q On the subject of the ICRC in Bosnia, there are reports of rioting in Tuzla, threatening the well-being of the staff and the facilities of the Red Cross there. Do you have any comments on that activity on the part of those wives looking for their husbands? And specifically what is the role of IFOR in the protection of the Red Cross people?
MR. DAVIES: On your first question, there was a demonstration yesterday, organized by a group, which we understand is known as the Women of Srebrenica. This was a crowd numbering in the hundreds who were angry over the fate of the many thousands still unaccounted for after the fall of Srebrenica.
This group, mostly women, did ransack and loot the ICRC Office. The United States is very sympathetic, obviously, to their frustrations. We think it's important, though, that they exercise some restraint, but we would urge the Bosnian Serbs to make an accounting of those people who remain unaccounted for after last summer.
In terms of IFOR and its role in protecting the ICRC or others, I'm not going to get into specifically what call has been made by the commander in that area. We all know what IFOR's role in the Bosnia mission is, and I don't think they have written down anywhere that part of their role is to stand guard outside certain offices. Obviously, they're going to do all they can to preserve freedom of movement and maintain a secure atmosphere.
Q Are you saying, Glyn, that U.S. troops have not been asked to safeguard the Red Cross people in Tuzla, at least as far as you know?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if they have. I mean, you could ask the Pentagon that question.
Q Glyn, this is again Ershad, Inquilab, on the Bangladesh election crisis.
MR. DAVIES: Yes, Mr. Ershad.
Q Would you like to add anything further to Nick's comments from yesterday?
MR. DAVIES: No, I think Nick's comment from yesterday was pretty darn good, as a matter of fact, as I saw it and read it. Nick, as usual, got it spot on right. Of course, what Nick said was that we've called for an end to the violence, an end to the intimidation, and it's a message that we've been sending to both the opposition and the government. We're not taking sides in this.
Our interest in that country as everywhere is in seeing the democratic process proceed. We would like very much, of course, to see fully participatory elections occur.
Q A follow-up to that. Do you recognize the election of February 15?
MR. DAVIES: Do we recognize the election of February 15?
Q Yes, the one-party election?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think we have a mechanism for sort of deciding which elections we necessarily -- we'll wait until February 15 for the elections and see what happens. I'll let you know afterward. But I can't speculate about whether we recognize or don't recognize -- we want to see fully participatory elections. We hope that's the process that will play out, that it will be a democratic process playing out.
Q Clarification. The Government and opposition. You're meaning -- Nick's statement means the government as well as opposition. It does not mean only the opposition in question about the statement that has --
MR. DAVIES: The point we're making is to everybody involved, obviously -- and there's no secret to it, and we're consistent, I think, everywhere we're asked this type of question -- and that is, we want to see democracy play out. It's up to Bangladesh to make that happen. We look to them to do the right thing so there are fully participatory elections and the democratic process plays out.
Q You're not taking sides in this election process between the opposition and the government?
MR. DAVIES: We never take sides in elections.
Q Thank you.
Q But one-party elections would not fit your description of "democracy," would it?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to stand here and speculate about what's going to happen on February 15.
Q I mean, by definition, one-party elections are non- democratic.
MR. DAVIES: One-party elections don't, in the abstract, obviously, provide for fully participatory democracy normally; that's correct.
MR. DAVIES: Do we have anything else on that? No more South Asia?
Q As you know, the Minister of the Government of Bolivia is here, Dr. Berzain. He's visiting Washington, D.C. to evaluate counter- narcotics in meetings with different representatives of the U.S. Government.
I was curious. How do you see Bolivia's anti-drug trafficking efforts, their eradication efforts?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything right now to give you a snapshot of how we view their efforts. Obviously, we work with the Bolivians as we do with other Latin American countries to try to get at the scourge of drugs that's flowing into our country. But I simply don't have anything specific for you.
Q Just to follow up with that. Another important aspect of his visit is that he will be asking for financial assistance. Bolivia has gotten to a point where they feel that they've done all they can with the resources that they have to attack this problem in their country. He's going to be meeting with the representatives to -- basically, to say -- consumers and (inaudible) have their shared responsibility to combat this problem.
Do you think that the U.S. would be willing to provide financial assistance to them to continue in their eradication efforts, especially since the repercussions is not helping them; it might be more drugs coming to the United States? Generally speaking, what is the U.S. reaction on that?
MR. DAVIES: You sound like you should be sitting next to the Minister's meetings. Generally speaking, obviously, we want to work with Latin American Governments to eradicate drugs so that we can reduce the flow of drugs into this country.
If he's going to make a pitch to us, we'll hear him out and we'll decide given our limited resources -- increasingly limited resources -- whether we can follow through and help further, but I don't have anything specific for you.
Q Do you have any positive response to the Taiwan Vice President's transit?
MR. DAVIES: Well, still looking at that. In fact, I checked that specifically. We're still examining that, so I don't --
Q Have you got any other way to go there except through the United States?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know how wide we cast our net, how many travel agencies we've checked with, but in terms of the visa application, we're still looking at it. In terms of the visa application, we're still looking at it.
Q On Greece and Turkey. In recent days the international community and, above all, the United States of America are witnessing a very unusual and paradoxical claim and demand. Specifically, the Turkish Government through note verbal and threat of using force demand from the Greek Government to remove from the Greek rocky island Imia -- I-M-I-A -- Greek flags and security Greek forces stationed there, violating, first, the Greek territorial integrity of this Pacific island.
Since those Turkish actions constitute a real threat against Greece over the Aegean in violation of the existing international treaties and Convention, could you please clarify the U.S. position vis-a-vis to this crisis keeping also in consideration that Turkey is not -- I repeat, is not -- a signatory member of the Paris Treaty of 1947 pertaining to the status quo of the Greek island of Imia.
MR. DAVIES: We've had our eye on that situation, which has begun to develop hot and heavy in recent days and hours -- hot and heavy. The situation right now is a little tense.
We've urged and we continue to urge both governments to exercise restraint and to work together to resolve the issue peacefully through negotiation and dialogue. It's important the United States believe for both governments to exercise utmost caution.
The way perhaps to proceed is to think in terms of returning that island, or the sets of islands, to the status quo ante, which was no military forces on them whatsoever. In fact, perhaps no people on them might have been the situation.
We are at high levels making that point to both governments.
Q Since your government is a signatory member of the Paris Treaty of 1947, would you please clarify the U.S. position from the legal point of your vis-a-vis -- to the Greek island of Imia due to the fact, as I told you earlier, that Turkey is not a signatory member as claiming today as a Turkish this specific island.
I would like to know the position of your government regarding the status quo?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think it's a good idea for me to get into a legal analysis to whom the government belonged in the past and so forth. What's important now is that there is some heightened tension, some activity by both governments that is centered and focused on that island or those islands. We don't want it to develop into something dangerous. So the message that we're sending to both governments is to please calm down and to draw back if, in fact, they're contemplating anything and to talk about this instead of to demonstrate militarily about it.
Q If Germany, for example, would ask Poland to grant a portion of its Polish territory violating the treaty of unification, would you have advised the Polish Government to sit down and have a dialogue with Germany?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to make an analogy to central Europe. What's important is that right now, today, there is some tension over those islands; and we think it's very important that both parties take a deep breath and talk about it and not engage in military demonstrations or threats or posturing over the islands. It's not worth it.
Q Generally speaking, could you please clarify the U.S. position vis-a-vis to the aggressors to the violations of treaties and conventions, etc. You must have a position?
MR. DAVIES: I'm looking here to see if I've got anything more. The point is, I'm just not going to get into that because it wouldn't be useful. What we've got to deal with is the situation at the moment which is kind of a tense situation. We think both Turkey and Greece should draw back, take a deep breath, and they should sit down and talk about it. We're willing to help in any way we can, but I'm not going to sit here and give you some kind of a legal exegesis on who owned the island when or treaties from the 1940s. I don't think it's useful.
Q Back to China and Taiwan. Have you heard anything from China about preparing a timetable for incorporating Taiwan?
MR. DAVIES: I think the report was that Premier Li Peng had made a speech wherein he had said something like that. Our analysis, or reading of the speech, is that, in fact, he didn't get into discussing a timetable for the reunification of Taiwan with the Mainland. So we just don't share the analysis, I guess, that's out there about the speech.
Q The U.S. isn't aware of or asked Beijing if it's about to announce a timetable -- a speech --
MR. DAVIES: We haven't asked anybody about timetables, no.
Q On China. Is Ambassador Sasser on station yet? Has he left?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that. His plan, I think, was to be on station right about now, but I can check, find out if he made it.
Q A very serious-minded article by Jonathan Clark in the Los Angeles Times alleges that this Administration's policy is incoherent, non-integral, at odds with itself, and that the Congress is compounding the problem, especially the Taiwan lobby, so that our policy with China is -- his quote is, "Great wars start because of irreconcilable competition between great powers." Have you seen the article? Do you have any comment?
MR. DAVIES: Haven't seen the article; no comment.
Q Do you want to put Saudi Arabia on the Secretary's itinerary, or do you want to hold back on that for a while longer?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know where that stands right now. I'm not sure whether it's on or off. Let me see what I can find out for you.
Q Because when you do, could you maybe couple it with some explanation why he's going there. I don't know if you saw --
MR. DAVIES: What the agenda is?
Q Well, yeah. The New York Times business page has a thoughtful piece about a possible struggle between the caretaker and Prince Sultan, etc. Is the Secretary going there to try to keep Saudi Arabia Western-tilted or what?
MR. DAVIES: I don't even know if the Secretary is going at this stage, but I can check that for you; happy to check for you.
Q The Martin Pang extradition case --
MR. DAVIES: I don't. We have a team down there -- I'm sorry, did I cut you off? Did you want to ask --
Q Go ahead.
MR. DAVIES: We have a team down there. It was there over the weekend talking with the Government of Brazil about the issue. They have yet to complete their work, so I don't have anything on that specifically.
It's obviously something that we in the State Department feel very strongly about following through on, given the seriousness of the charges against him.
Q (Inaudible) where is that now? What issues are at the fore?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think it would make a lot of sense or be a good idea for me to go into the issues on the table. I mean, they're talking now with the Government in Brasilia, and it's just not useful for me to play a role at the table when I'm not there.
Q Glyn, there was a gentleman -- I don't recall his name -- who was arrested -- an American arrested in Vietnam a week or so ago for carrying banned literature or something. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. DAVIES: I don't. I saw those reports, and I know that our Consular people were working hard to gain access to him and to do what they could to help him out, but I don't know where that stands.
Q Could you take that?
MR. DAVIES: Sure, I'm happy to check where that stands right now.
Q From Vietnam to North Korea, on the famine there or lack thereof. There was this meeting in Honolulu the other day which apparently reached no particular decision on this. What happens now? Is the United States going to go ahead with some sort of aid, or is it waiting for the agreement with South Korea? Does there have to be a further trilateral meeting, or what's the next step?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that we've spelled out next steps precisely. That was an important consultation that occurred at the level of our Assistant Secretary of State, Winston Lord, who was out in Honolulu talking with our partners. They shared assessments of the situation in North Korea.
It's obviously not an issue that we need to be together with other countries physically to make progress on, and so I'm sure that we're following up. I don't know whether there are plans to meet again, at what level; but I do know that we're working with our partners in the United Nations to get a very clear view of what's happening in North Korea and to do whatever we can, whatever is necessary to alleviate the situation.
Q Are there any plans to go ahead with aid -- food aid or any other kind of aid?
MR. DAVIES: We've already provided, I think, $225,000. I know one of the items being discussed in Honolulu was this issue of further food aid and, if so, how would it be provided. But I don't know what kind of follow-up we'll do. I know that we stay in contact with the Government of South Korea and the Government of Japan. I can check into what next steps concretely are likely to take place.
Q Just a quick question. As you know, today in Okinawa the talks over the base issue, the Okinawan side has issued a formal request to remove all United States bases by the year 2015. Are you concerned over the escalation of the seriousness of these talks?
MR. DAVIES: I mean, I saw that report. We're working with the Government of Japan on that, and they've had some things to say about the situation in Okinawa. But we've been very pleased with the cooperation that we've had from the Government of Japan. We've been working with them in a series of talks and a series of steps over recent months to address that issue and to talk about the levels of U.S. forces, where they ought to be, that kind of thing.
But Japan remains committed to a U.S. presence in their country, and we remain committed to working with them.
Q Just one more, on Colombia, an article in the Post this morning by Mr. Doug Farad, were you aware of the allegations of the Orejuela brothers, the cocaine kingpins in prison, alleging that box loads of cash were sent to Samper at his request from them to keep them in Colombia rather than be extradited from the U.S.? And my second question is, do we still want the cocaine kingpins that are being charged in this country with crimes here? Do we want them extradited still?
MR. DAVIES: Do we want the kingpins that are being charged? Sure, anybody who is being charged in this country, we obviously would like to bring to the bar of justice. We seek extradition all the time of individuals who are wanted for crimes in the United States.
On your first question, I haven't seen that report, and I don't have any particular comment on it.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:55 p.m.)
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