U.S. Department of State 96/02/01 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, February 1, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT--Announcements Introduction of Ms. Helena Kasparova, Interior Ministry, Czech Republic .......................................1 Secretary Christopher's Trip to Latin America ..........1 Secretary Christopher's Participation in French President Chirac's State Visit ................1-2 Secretary Christopher's Trip to Europe and Middle East .2-3,15 --Goals of Trip to Former Yugoslavia ...................14-16 A/S Winston Lord's Press Briefing on February 6 ........2 SUDAN Suspension of U.S. Diplomatic Presence/Travel Warning ..3-12 SAUDI ARABIA U.S. Travel Advisory/Enhancement of Security............9, 24-25 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Release of Prisoners ...................................13,15-16 IFOR Mission; Refugees; Reconstruction; Human Rights ...14 Eastern Slavonia Agreement .............................15 Departure of Foreign Forces ............................16 War Criminals ..........................................16-17 GREECE/TURKEY Dispute over Sovereignty of Aegean Islet ...............17-21 Assistant Secretary Holbrooke's Trip to Region .........18,20 LIBYA Mr. Louis Farrakhan's Trip to Libya ....................21 CHINA/TAIWAN U.S. Transit Visa for Vice President of Taiwan ......... 21-24 Report of FM of Taiwan Speech in Los Angeles ........... 23
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1996, 1:11 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
We'd like to recognize today Ms. Helena Kasparova, who is from the Interior Ministry of the Czech Republic. She is here on a USIA program, and she's here studying public relations and law enforcement. Welcome.
I'd like to tell you all that Secretary Christopher will be making a major trip to Latin America beginning on February 25 and extending until March 4. During this trip he'll be making stops in Central America, in several countries in South America and in the Caribbean.
We are currently working out the specific schedule with all of the countries concerned; and once we have made final arrangements -- probably by early to mid next week -- we'll tell you what the countries are.
Also for your information, the Secretary has spent most of today involved in the state visit of President Jacques Chirac of France. The Secretary began his day with a breakfast with Foreign Minister de Charette. He then went to the ceremony hosted by the French Government at Blair House.
This was the ceremony where President Chirac conferred upon the widows of Nelson Drew, Joe Kruzel and Bob Frasure the Legion d'Honneur, which is the highest French Government honor.
Speaking on behalf of all of Bob Frasure's Foreign Service Officer and Civil Service Officer colleagues, we would like to say how profoundly grateful we are to President Chirac and the Government of France for this very, very gracious gesture to our colleagues.
The Secretary will, of course, continue his involvement in the visit today in the meetings with President Chirac and President Clinton this afternoon and in the state dinner this evening.
As you know, the Secretary is leaving early tomorrow morning for his trip. Our schedule now takes us to Zagreb tomorrow night. He'll be staying in Zagreb Friday and Saturday night; visits to Sarajevo and Tuzla on Saturday; a visit to Belgrade on Sunday.
We'll then take off late Sunday afternoon for Jerusalem. We'll be in Jerusalem Sunday night, and then in Jerusalem, Damascus and perhaps Jericho Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, early Thursday of next week. Then into Helsinki on Thursday for meetings with Foreign Minister Primakov on Friday and Saturday.
We now expect to be returning home here to Washington on Saturday evening. That is the extent of the schedule I want to give out. For security reasons, I won't be giving out a specific schedule for Saturday. Those of you who are traveling with us will, of course, get that schedule. We're going to ask you not to publicize it, for obvious reasons.
Barry. Actually, Barry, can I say one more thing?
MR. BURNS: One more announcement I had in the book here. On Tuesday, February 6, for those of you not traveling with us, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Winston Lord will conduct an ON-THE-RECORD press briefing at 12:30 p.m. He'll begin the briefing. He will discuss his visits to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Philippines. He'll discuss his trilateral meeting in Honolulu last week with the Republic of Korea and Japan.
He'll also be available to discuss all other Asian issues with you. After his appearance here, we'll have the regular Daily Briefing with Glyn Davies.
Q It may be even tougher than usual getting into the Israeli hotel that night, because there's a wedding, and you know how tough it is to get in. Also, the filing center may be just a small room that first night.
MR. BURNS: You're talking about the Laromme Hotel in Jerusalem?
Q Yes, which is tough enough. So anything the U.S. Government can do -- and I don't think you can do much with Israeli security -- but whatever it can do would be appreciated.
MR. BURNS: Let me just say -- I mean, you've made it --
Q It's unfortunate. Folks have scheduled a wedding, and they're worse off than we are, because apparently guests can't even bring gifts to the wedding. That's how crazy the scene is. I don't know why they would have a wedding --
MR. BURNS: We are working hard with the Israeli Government to try to overcome some of the problems that the press had on the last trip --
MR. BURNS: -- while respecting the rights of Israeli security to provide all of us security.
Q And the bride and groom.
MR. BURNS: I'm not referring to the bride and groom, Barry. I mean, you may want to greet them when we get there, but --
Q (Inaudible) Nick, on the Sudan pullout, I need a couple of additional bits and pieces of facts. How many people being or have been evacuated? How much business is done in -- even though it's on the terrorist list, I know there's some business with Sudan. Could you fill in some of those details for us?
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to. I assume that all of you have seen the statement that we issued last evening -- rather late last evening. Let's just review the facts.
The facts are that Ambassador Tim Carney, the American Ambassador, met late yesterday, January 31, with the Sudanese Government in Khartoum. He informed them of our decision to suspend our diplomatic presence and to seek the cooperation of the Sudanese Government as we conducted an orderly departure of 25 official Americans from Khartoum.
The Government of Sudan has assured Ambassador Carney of its readiness to facilitate the departure of our official American staff. Ambassador Carney today met with the American community in Sudan: he met with official Americans, he met with representatives of the non- governmental organizations, some of the U.N. organizations, and as many private Americans as could come to the Embassy.
He informed them of the reasons for the decision that we made and of the fact that over the next several days our official American employees will be leaving Khartoum via regularly scheduled commercial flights.
The State Department has also issued -- we have issued a revised travel warning, which informs the American public of our decision to suspend our diplomatic presence in Sudan. It notes that Americans who are currently resident in Sudan may wish to consider departing as well at this time.
Ambassador Carney has received assurances that we'll have the cooperation of the Sudanese Government here. We have no reason to believe that this departure will not go smoothly. However, we will be prepared for any eventuality, and we will take whatever steps we have to take to ensure the security of our people as they depart.
Let me just go over one aspect of this that may not be clear to everyone, perhaps even from our statement that we issued last night. We have been concerned for a long period of time about the activities and movements of specific terrorist organizations who are resident in Sudan.
Over the course of many, many conversations with the Sudanese Government, we simply could not be assured that the Sudanese Government was capable of protecting our Americans against the specific threats that concerned us.
We have a fundamental obligation to protect our people overseas. American diplomats face threats in nearly every country overseas. It's a fact of life in the latter part of the 20th century, unfortunately. But the specific nature of these threats, the persistence of these threats, and our root belief at the end of all these conversations that this particular government could not protect them led us to take this extraordinary measure of withdrawing all of our diplomats.
We are not breaking relations; we are suspending our presence. We will establish an office nearby in the region where Ambassador Carney will continue to conduct a dialogue with the Sudanese Government. But we will not be resident in Khartoum for the foreseeable future until we can be assured that American officials can return there with some expectation that the government there will be able to protect them.
Q You've raised more questions that I had originally. But to get back to what I asked originally, how many Americans and --
MR. BURNS: Twenty-five.
MR. BURNS: I did say.
Q I'm sorry. This is a somewhat unusual evacuation, it strikes me. You're taking the official Americans out. Usually when you have a problem, you leave a skeleton staff. You're taking the official Americans out, but you're not telling just American citizens to get out as well.
MR. BURNS: Barry, no, absolutely not. Let me just --
Q You're evacuating all Americans?
MR. BURNS: No. Let me just review what I said. We are asking our official American employees -- 25 of them -- to leave via regularly scheduled commercial flights. We're not swooping in and lifting them out. They're going to leave on an orderly basis over the next couple of days.
We are advising private Americans -- and there are about 2,100 private Americans, people who have American citizenship, in Sudan -- that they may wish now to consider leaving themselves, given the fact that we are pulling our official Americans out. We assume that people will do that, if they wish to leave, via commercial routes.
We are ready to take any measures necessary to protect our people as they leave; but we don't expect that will be a problem, and we've been assured by the Government of Sudan that in fact it won't be a problem.
Q Maybe I'm the only one that has a question here on this. Either you have the most intricate terrorist information that you know is directed -- possibly directed against an official American, and it isn't directed against Americans generally, because it strikes me in the reverse of what you usually do, you're putting the emphasis on having official Americans leave and simply telling the 2,100 other U.S. citizens, "Think about it. Maybe you want to leave. Maybe you don't want to leave."
So I think you're saying whatever you're concerned about must be directed at official Americans, and you're sure of that, and not directed against any American. Because one thing people think might be more than a coincidence, this follows the U.S. Security Council action, which, you know, presumably would be irritating to the Sudanese, and there's some concern whether there would be, you know, attacks against Americans -- not necessarily a diplomat in striped pants, but an American businessman maybe, or a housewife. No? Am I making any sense? Why aren't you urging them to get out along with the official Americans?
MR. BURNS: Barry, let me try to answer your questions.
Q You're advising them to think about it.
MR. BURNS: There are a lot of questions in your --
Q Well, sure.
MR. BURNS: -- in your remarks, so let me try to deal with them. There is no connection between the action in the U.N. Security Council and our decision to announce this and to take our people out. There's no connection. It is coincidental.
The fact is that we've had a concern, a security concern, about the official American community for a long time. The decision was made by Secretary Christopher and others just recently to get them out.
I'm not going to be going into the specific nature of the threat for reasons obvious to you. But this is an extraordinary measure. We would not take this measure were we not convinced that the threat was sufficient and the inability of the government insufficient to cause a real problem for us.
We are responsible as a government, first and foremost, to all Americans. We have, of course, the capability to tell official Americans that they must leave. We don't have the capability to tell all Americans that they absolutely have to leave, but we are advising them in a revised travel advisory that they ought to think about that as an option for themselves.
We were very careful, in fact, in what Ambassador Carney did over the last couple of days to make sure that the information about this threat given to the official Americans was also available to the private Americans, because we have an obligation to alert the private American community about a threat when we see it.
But we don't have the right to order all of them out at this time. That's an option that they have to consider on their own.
Q But you would have the option of saying, "For heaven's sake, get out; it's terribly dangerous?"
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q You're telling them, "Think about it, give it some thought."
MR. BURNS: Barry, I said before, in my first answer to your question, that we have issued a revised Travel Warning which informs the public of our decision to suspend relations and which notes that they may wish to consider departing.
Q Twice now when you referred to the Sudanese Government, you referred to their "inability". Am I correct? You're not in any sense --
MR. BURNS: It's not their refusal.
Q No, no --
MR. BURNS: The Sudanese Government did not --
Q That's not my question.
MR. BURNS: Let me just say it. It's not their refusal.
Q I didn't say the word "refusal." I didn't mean to.
MR. BURNS: I'm saying it. I've seen various press reports that said the Sudanese Government refused to protect our Americans. They couldn't -
Q I'm not asking that.
MR. BURNS: I didn't say you. I said --
Q Can you answer my question?
MR. BURNS: I just want to make a point. The point is that we were not convinced that they could protect our people. That's an important point.
Q I know, you've made it twice and now a third time. I don't want to pick you up on the point. I want to make sure that even though Sudan is listed on the State Department's terrorist list and even though, in your statement, you're speaking of movements and activities of terrorism groups, which obviously could not be there without the knowledge, if not the acquiescence, of the Sudanese Government. In no sense, am I correct, are you criticizing the Sudanese Government? You simply say, they're not up to the job; they're not capable of doing what they'd like to do, which is to protect Americans. Is that correct?
MR. BURNS: No.
Q Alright, then. What about the motives of the Sudanese Government? Are there any here?
MR. BURNS: That's not correct. The reason it's not correct is because I think it's commonsensical. If the Sudanese Government is allowing terrorist organizations to be resident in Sudan, then that is a failing for which the Sudanese Government should be criticized.
MR. BURNS: It appears that they are.
Q So you're critical of them? Not just their ability --
MR. BURNS: Of course we are. We've been critical in the past, and we're critical now of the tolerance that the Sudanese Government has had for certain organizations that concern us.
We are also concerned by their inability to protect our people. There are various concerns here.
Q That's what I wanted you to clarify, whether you had anything to say about the Government, per se, except that they're incapable of protecting all these Americans?
MR. BURNS: That's right. So it's broader than that.
Q On the same point, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, formally, I gather, asked the United States to reconsider its decision. From what you're saying here, I gather than you have heard it and have decided not to reconsider, that you are going ahead?
MR. BURNS: We're not going to reconsider. It's the right decision to make, and we're going to carry out the decision.
Q A Bosnia question?
MR. BURNS: Let's stay on Sudan, Rick.
Q What does the Sudanese Government have to do? Does it have to get all these terrorist groups out before the United States returns to Khartoum?
MR. BURNS: That's a good question, Ron, and as I said before, we know that American diplomats must live overseas -- not all of them wear striped pants -- live overseas, sometimes in very hostile environments; sometimes sleeping around sandbags, as Ambassador Menzies does in Sarajevo. We know there are risks. We're willing to take the risk in putting our people overseas and having Foreign Service officers live overseas.
But some risks you don't take. Some risks are so great and so profound and so direct that you don't take the risk because we're not going to willfully stand by and allow people to assume risks that they shouldn't take. That's the case with Sudan.
It is an extraordinary situation to make this step, but we're doing it because we want to protect the lives of our people there. This government in Sudan simply must now take steps to shut down terrorist organizations and provide a climate of security and the ability of the government to protect foreign diplomats that is commensurate with the normal standard around the world -- in a normal country. Even in other countries where there is a terrorist threat, the government is sufficiently capable, sufficiently inclined to protect foreign diplomats.
Americans are a target in this part of the world, and we're not convinced that this particular government has the wherewithal to do what it must.
So, I think, Ron, it's a very general answer, but it's really the best we can do right now. I think the message to the Sudanese Government is very clear about what has to happen.
Q Did the threats come from Sudanese individuals or from non- Sudanese individuals who are in Sudan? That's the first part of the question.
The second part is, is there any connection between the Sudan announcement and the Saudi Arabia warning?
MR. BURNS: There's no connection that I know of between our decision on Sudan, our revised Travel Advisory on Sudan, and the Travel Advisory that we issued two days ago on Saudi Arabia -- the threat to Americans in Riyadh and elsewhere in Saudi Arabia -- on the second question.
On the first question, Tom, I just can't go into that. I can't go into the nature of these threats or the specifics of these threats, again, for obvious reasons. We want to counter these threats. We want to use the ability of all of us, internationally, to counter the threats to not just Americans but to others in Sudan.
Q Could you elaborate a little bit on the other side of the coin -- the statement and your stress that you're not breaking relations, you're going to maintain an office in the area, you hope, with the Ambassador there? In other words, you want to continue to conduct diplomatic discourse with the Sudanese Government.
Again, this, too, makes it seem what you're doing is not so much critical of the Sudanese Government but concern about a difficult situation, a scary situation. Can you elaborate a little bit on what is the reason then, even while removing your diplomatic presence, for going through these traces of maintaining contacts, setting up offices, making the point you're not breaking -- what are you trying to say with that?
MR. BURNS: We've had a difficult relationship with Sudan over a number of issues, including support for terrorism, including the activities of the government and what has happened inside the country, including Sudan's relations with some neighbors of Sudan who are very important friends of the United States. That is a difficult relationship. We believe it's worth pursuing that relationship -- pursuing, if possible in the future, a resolution of some of these differences between the United States and Sudan. That is the rationale for establishing an office near Sudan and having Ambassador Carney and others conduct a continuing dialogue with Sudan.
That's also the rationale of not fully breaking relations. There is still business that the United States feels it should do with Sudan to protect our national security interests in the area.
However, the decision to take the Americans out is one, really, based almost solely on our obligation not to have American citizens take undue risks overseas while recognizing that risks are a part of a diplomat's job.
There is a fine line there, Barry. I know that we're both trying to thread the fine line, but that's basically it.
Nothing has happened in the relationship that would cause us to break relations. But something has happened that would cause us to do something unusual, and that is to suspend diplomatic operations, leave a few of our trusted and valued Foreign Service national employees in our installation to protect our physical property.
Sometimes you do have to take extraordinary measures in order to avoid down the road cataclysmic events. What I'm referring to here is threats and possible attacks upon American diplomats.
Q What about those 2,100 U.S. citizens? Are they -- what? -- a lot of business people? Who looks after them?
MR. BURNS: All of them are American citizens. A great number of them -- perhaps even up to three-quarters -- are dual citizens. Roughly 350 of the 2,100 are employed by private voluntary organizations and other international organizations.
We will give whatever advice and assistance to them that they require. Ambassador Carney is trying to make contact with all of them. Those who want to leave will receive every assistance that they need from us to leave.
Those who want to remain, remain on their own accord. They are duly apprised of our view that one option for them is to leave, considering the decision that we have made about the official Americans over whom we have a direct responsibility.
Q A couple of factual questions. Will there be a protecting power for the United States left in Khartoum?
MR. BURNS: We're establishing -- we're not breaking diplomatic relations. We are continuing diplomatic relations just from another venue. I don't believe that will be necessary, but I will check with our African Affairs Bureau and make sure there's not more to the story than that, Jim, but I think that is the case.
Q My question is, even in Algeria, which is a very dangerous situation, you didn't take this step, did you?
MR. BURNS: We have not taken the step. No, we have diplomats in Algeria.
Q Have you ever taken this step before?
MR. BURNS: Barry may be a better source of information. I don't recall a situation like this where you're not breaking relations but you're withdrawing your personnel. It's an interesting question. It's an interesting question. It's an unusual situation. It is.
Q You talked to the Egyptians, I guess, about this?
MR. BURNS: We have informed other governments in the area about our --
Q You wouldn't put that office in Egypt, would you?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe it's going to be in Egypt. We're now talking to another government in the region about putting Ambassador Carney in a small office in that country. Once we have that country's agreement, we will announce it. We're not going to keep this under wraps. We just don't have the agreement yet. But, no, I don't believe that country will be Egypt.
Still on Sudan. I think Rick had the first question.
Q A couple of questions about Bosnia. One, could you just describe briefly who Secretary Christopher will see in Croatia, Sarajevo, and Belgrade, exactly? What is the goal of this trip? What does he expect to achieve with it? And then I've got a second question.
MR. BURNS: Good. The goal of this trip is for Secretary Christopher, in his discussions with leaders in the area, to ascertain the general level of compliance with the Dayton Accords; to look into all the major provisions of the accords, particularly on the civilian side -- the fate of the prisoners; the concerns we have over compliance with human rights, specifically, the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal; the continuing presence we believe of at least some foreign fighters who ought to be removed, should have been removed by January 19 and still remain -- the civilian issues concerning reconstruction; the fate of refugees; our hope that we might play a very big role, a large role, in helping Bosnia get back on its feet; the deadlines that not only approach on Saturday, February 3 -- D-plus-45, when all territory that is to be transferred must be transferred -- and the deadlines that ensue in the coming months. All of these questions will be looked into.
This is a trip designed to have a fairly comprehensive set of discussions with the Bosnian Government, the Croatian Government, and the Serbian Government about the general level of compliance.
He will be meeting with President Izetbegovic and other officials of the Bosnian Government in Sarajevo, with Carl Bildt, the head of the civilian reconstruction force, with some of the Americans who are a part of that force. He'll also be meeting in Tuzla with Admiral Smith and General Nash. He'll be touring places where American soldiers are on duty and speaking to American soldiers.
In Zagreb, he'll be meeting with President Tudjman and Foreign Minister Granic and others in that government about the Eastern Slavonia problem, about the Dayton Accords.
In Serbia, he'll be meeting with President Milosevic on Sunday about all aspects of the Dayton Accords, with particular emphasis on the question of human rights.
So, as you can see, it's a very busy schedule, lots of issues on the table. I can tell you that we're not pleased that the parties have not yet complied with a major provision, which is release of all prisoners and departure of all foreign forces. Those two issues will be raised directly by Secretary Christopher with President Izetbegovic, with President Milosevic, and with others.
Q (Inaudible) figures on prisoners?
MR. BURNS: On prisoners? We believe that the vast majority have been released, but there are still in the neighborhood of 100 prisoners who have not been released. We're concerned about that, and we're going to work on those cases.
Q You had detailed figures a couple of days ago. Are they still valid?
MR. BURNS: I gave you the International Committee of the Red Cross figures on Monday. I did not receive those figures this morning. I don't have them, but we're still working on getting them.
Q Shattuck said 101.
Q (Inaudible) to 100.
Q We think it's roughly a hundred. It's an inexact science because we believe there are some prisoners who may not have been declared who may be secretly held by one side or another. That's also a concern of ours.
Q Your colleagues at the Pentagon seem to be very, very pleased with the way the deployment is going of IFOR and the way IFOR is operating and with the cooperation they're getting from the military forces in the area.
Could you go into a little more detail and give me an assessment of where you think the civilian side stands? Aren't there some pretty major problems developing? Not only the return of prisoners but return of refugees. What about exchange of territory? Do you expect that to go smoothly?
MR. BURNS: I think all of us should applaud the actions of IFOR, the various military components, but especially the American troops. They've done an outstanding job. The report that Admiral Smith gave the President the other day was quite positive in terms of what IFOR has been able to accomplish in the mission that is IFOR's.
On the civilian side. The civilian side is very tough. The civilian presence will last a number of years into the future. Their responsibilities on the refugee side are daunting. Several million people involved in refugee -- transfers of people, movements of people, and the inability of people to go back to their homes.
On reconstruction, which will be a multi-billion dollar enterprise over the next couple of years. On human rights, where, as you know, the United Nations is beginning today to dig up certain sites to help uncover the atrocities that we know were committed by the Bosnian Serbs and by other ethnic groups during the last four and a half years.
In general, I think that the military side is more advanced in terms of the implementation. They have more people on the ground. We certainly would like to see a great many more police officials on the ground as we approach D-plus-45 and D-plus-60 on the transfer of territory and authority, particularly in those areas being vacated by the Bosnian Serbs. So there are a number of concerns there.
The United States is helping. Ambassador Bob Gallucci has been in Europe all week meeting on these issues. He'll be joining the Secretary. Jock Covey, a very talented American diplomat, is on the ground in Sarajevo. Bob Frowick is on the ground organizing the elections. We're putting a lot of effort in helping the civilian side succeed, and that will be a big part of the Secretary's trip to meet with Carl Bildt and to assess progress on the civilian side.
Q How deeply does he get into Eastern Slavonia? There is leeway, you know, to buck the problem for a year. Is that likely to happen? Is this something that will be done when he's not around, or done at a different level -- Galbraith and people like that?
You're only seeing the Croatians. What are you going to do about the Bosnian Serbs? Who are you going to work through? You're seeing the Croatian Government, but the Bosnian Serbs are the other part of that equation.
MR. BURNS: The Secretary does not now have any meetings scheduled with Bosnian Serb officials.
In the meetings on Eastern Slavonia, the Secretary will raise this directly with President Milosevic but also with the Croatian Government, with President Tudjman and Foreign Minister Granic.
The Secretary personally worked out the terms of that arrangement on November 10 in Dayton and personally wrote the compromise proposal that brought them over the top. He has a personal concern, and we have a governmental concern that that agreement be adhered to. We believe it will.
Jacques Kline, an American Foreign Service officer, has been appointed the leading U.N. official in charge of that operation. We're building a U.N. military force to police the area during the transitional period.
Barry, in answer to your specific question, the parties, a year after Dayton, so D-plus-365, decide if they want to invoke the second year.
Q Nick, could I just have one more on that. Is the Secretary's trip a sign that you're worried that the civilian side of the agreements are starting to fray, that the thing could fall apart?
MR. BURNS: We're determined that the agreement not fray. That's why you've seen the Secretary speak so forcefully in public about the importance of adherence. That's why he warned last week that equip and train would not go forward without adequate compliance by the Bosnian Government.
We believe that if we allow exceptions to be made, if we allow aspects of the agreement not to be carried out on time or not to be fulfilled, then the entire agreement will be in danger. That's why you saw such a strong response by Secretary Christopher last week.
He is going, Rick, to Sarajevo, to Belgrade, and Zagreb with that message. All of this is important. All of the agreement. You can't pick and choose parts of the agreement that you want to implement and disregard the rest. You've got to implement all of it.
Q In the hearing this morning, an ambiguity in the Dayton Accords arose in the hearing with Assistant Secretary Shattuck. He said that of the prisoners who have not been released, some at least are accused by the holders of them as being war criminals.
On one hand, the Dayton Accords says that prisoners should be released. But there's another clause in the accord which says that the parties are obligated to detain people suspected of war crimes. So if they let them go, they would violate that provision. If they keep them, they violate the prisoner exchange provision.
MR. BURNS: I understand the apparent conundrum, but I think there's a way to bridge it. We recognize the right of any one of these governments to detain people under suspicion of having committed war crimes, and that is the case. I think all of them have detained people who they say are war criminals. We understand that will happen.
We also believe that their investigation of these individuals should be brief and that these cases should then be turned over to Justice Goldstone and the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal. Here is where it's bridged, Jim.
If the Bosnian Government, for instance, wants to detain people under suspicion -- Serbs under suspicion -- we would not contest its right to do so. But we would expect the Bosnian Government to turn those cases and those individuals over to the War Crimes Tribunal.
We recognize as an ultimate authority, in terms of indictments and prosecutions and incarceration, the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal.
Q Can you confirm that the Muslim fighters have left Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: No, I cannot confirm that. I don't believe anyone can say that. We think that a great number of them, perhaps the great majority of them, have left. But we are convinced -- and I believe Admiral Smith said today publicly, he thought -- I'm just quoting Admiral Smith -- he thought that 200 to 400 people in this category, foreign fighters, remain. Some of them may have a claim to Bosnian citizenship. They may be demobilizing or will demobilize. That is certainly appropriate.
Others who cannot claim Bosnian citizenship must leave, and this will also be on Secretary Christopher's agenda this weekend.
We're still on Bosnia, Lambros. We're going to the Aegean in a minute. I can tell.
Q Karadzic and Mladic, they continue to be there and are indicted war criminals. You said they won't run in elections, obviously. But has their continued presence posed any problem at all to the implementation, domestic or military?
MR. BURNS: We don't believe their continued presence is posing a problem to our military. However, we're opposed to their continuing presence in their governmental offices. We think they should step down. We think they should be turned over to the War Crimes Tribunal for prosecution, and that has been our position for many months and that remains our position.
Anymore on Bosnia before we go to Imia and Kardak?
Q According to reliable sources, Nick, the Department of State has already a list of some small Greek islands on which you are not taking the position, as you said yesterday, over Greek sovereignty, something which is actually in the same line with Turkey. May we have the list?
MR. BURNS: That's a good question --
Q It's a question that's been known --
MR. BURNS: It's a good question. Let me look into it. I can tell you on the question of Imia/Kardak, we do not recognize either Greek or Turkish sovereignty. We'd like both governments to work that question out in a mutually satisfactory way.
There may be other islands -- minor islets -- that we have a similar position on. I don't have a list. I'll look into it for it.
Q Since you make a strong statement that the U.S. Government is not recognizing this specific island, what do you base this argument?
MR. BURNS: We base it on our conviction that the best way to resolve the problem is for Greece and Turkey to do that together.
Q But there are treaties and conventions pertaining to the status quo of those islands. Do you recognize the existent treaties and conventions pertaining to the legal status quo of the Aegean?
MR. BURNS: As you know very well, both Greece and Turkey claim sovereignty to that particular islet. We have decided, upon reflection, that we will not proclaim our own view of sovereignty but we'll try to work with the Greeks and Turks, perhaps as an intermediary, to work this problem out.
Q Today you don't recognize one island. May we assume that the United States will come to the second one?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Already, as you said today, that you don't recognize the sovereignty of this island. May we suggest that the United States will come with a list of the second island.
MR. BURNS: As I said, I think it's a fair question. I will ask our European Bureau if there is a list of islets or islands upon which we do not have a view as to the sovereignty of that islet or island.
Q Could you then verify information that the initiative of Mr. Holbrooke is targeting the partition of the Aegean , actually the partition of Greece, as Kissinger did in the case of Cyprus.
MR. BURNS: No, no. Dick Holbrooke, when he finishes his trip with the Secretary on Sunday, will be making a trip of his own through Europe, and that trip will take him to Warsaw and Budapest and Nicosia and Athens and Ankara and Rome and Paris and London.
In Nicosia, Athens and Ankara, he will not be initiating a new diplomatic process on Cyprus, but he will be talking about problems in the Aegean, and particularly the problem that we saw a couple of days ago. He will not be introducing any plan to partition any country. He will simply be offering some American ideas for how Greece and Turkey may overcome these problems.
Q According to British Foreign Office documents declassified most recently, Ankara has asked Hitler, quote/unquote, "to guard." It's very important. Actually to find those islands in the Aegean while Hitler's troops were very busy in the Middle East, even Hitler realizing Turkish true intentions turned the offer down. Why then today those islands would be offered to Turkey with a method of partitioning process in violation of the existing treaties?
MR. BURNS: I always hate to be compared to Hitler. (Laughter) It's not a good thing.
Q But it's a matter of fact that we have this situation today.
MR. BURNS: It's always dangerous to answer questions comparing us to --
Q Even Hitler also --
MR. BURNS: Lambros let's be fair to the United States here. I think the United States has done a better job protecting Greece's sovereignty and integrity than Hitler ever did or aspired to -- (laughter) -- or that any other state did. I think we have a better relationship with Greece than Hitler ever aspired to. He wanted to dominate Greece --
MR. BURNS: And I remember that the British had to help protect Greece from Germans during the second World War.
Q And how Greece fought with the side --
MR. BURNS: Thank goodness for the British.
Q -- and how Turkey did with the other side. I'm not going to go into the history. (Inaudible)
MR. BURNS: I can assure you that the United States is a faithful ally to Greece --
Q Excuse me?
MR. BURNS: The United States has been a faithful ally to Greece, and we'll continue to be a faithful ally to Greece. You can be assured of that, and the Greek people can as well.
Q (Inaudible) guarantee the territorial integrity of Greece under this (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: I think we all know that the United States does recognize Greek sovereignty as you look at a map, and the current map of Greece, with all respects, with the exception of a few tiny -- in this case a tiny islet that is no bigger than the State Department.
Q (Inaudible) those exceptions -- those tiny islands you're mentioning are part of the Greek territory.
MR. BURNS: I'm going to try to get you a list of any of the islets that we believe are in dispute between Greece and Turkey, and on which we do not have a legal position of sovereignty, and that's a fair question. I'll do that. But please don't compare our attitude to Adolph Hitler.
Q I'm stating history. It's not a matter of comparing.
MR. BURNS: It's almost comical but not quite. Not quite.
Q And also my question which has been pending for three days about your legal point vis-a-vis the Treaty of Paris.
MR. BURNS: I've responded to that question now for two days, saying we don't take a position of sovereignty over Imia/Kardak.
Q No, no. I'm saying your position vis-a-vis to the Treaty. Do you honor the Treaty of Paris, 1947? This is the question. Do you?
MR. BURNS: We certainly know about the Treaty. The United States was informed of the Treaty at the time. I believe it was 1947. We understand all aspects of the Treaty. On the question of this tiny little pile of rocks in the Aegean, we've decided -- and this is going to be my final answer on this -- we've decided to take a position of trying to be a faithful intermediary to both Greece and Turkey.
Q One more. Mr. Holbrooke stated yesterday at the National Press Club, talking about Greek/Turkish differences, that most he recently studied the Treaty of 1932 pertaining to the start of the war over the Dodecanese Islands, in 1923 pertaining to the rest of the Greek islands in the Aegean. May we have his opinions, conclusions or results, whatever, since he's going to the area in a few days and we may have some questions.
MR. BURNS: He's been a more avid student of those treaties than I have been, and so I think I'm going to let him speak for himself when he gets to Athens. I'm sure that your colleagues in Athens will pepper him with questions, and I'll let him know that he needs to study up on those treaties before he goes.
Q Prior to his departure, will you release some of his points?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q It will be very beneficial to say some of his points prior to his departure.
MR. BURNS: He has spoken out over the last couple of days about his views on this. He's been very clear about American views on this problem.
Q Also the treaties?
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to take this question. I'll be glad to take it and perhaps even given you a written answer on this. I'd be very glad to do it. Thank you very much.
Q Nick, on the subject of Libya and the meeting between Mr. Louis Farrakhan and Muammar Qadhafi. The Justice Department yesterday and then again this morning through a spokesman said that press reports were being followed, leads were being followed, with regard to Mr. Farrakhan's business there.
And then the Attorney General this morning said she could not make any comment with regard to anything that was being pursued. So I would ask you if you have any comment on this action by the Justice Department. And, secondly, I'm not clear from previous queries here in this forum, Nick, about what the legal requirements are for a common U.S. citizen to visit Libya. What makes it legal? What are the restrictions, etc.?
MR. BURNS: American citizens should not visit Libya. The Justice and Treasury Departments have legal purview on this question, and I imagine that the Attorney General declined to comment because the Justice Department is still involved in its particular investigation of this matter.
I have spoken to this question twice, and suffice it to say that Mr. Farrakhan let all Americans down when he cozied up to Qadhafi and failed to raise the fact that 270 people died because of Muammar Qadhafi on Pan Am 103. He let us all down.
Q Could I ask you a question on your second favorite subject right after the Aegean? Have you heard from the Chinese Government about your decision to issue a transit visa?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we have.
Q And what have they said?
MR. BURNS: The Chinese Government informed our Charge in Beijing, Scott Hallford, this morning that it was very displeased with our decision to grant a transit visa to Vice President Li. I understand we also had a similar exchange here in Washington, and, as you know, the response of the United States Government is we think this is a routine matter; nothing to be concerned about, and it should not affect our relationship with the Peoples Republic of China.
Q According to the itinerary released by the people in Taipei, he really seems to be stretching the term "transit." I think it involves two and possibly three overnight stays.
MR. BURNS: Three.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Is that within the purview of your meaning of the word "transit"?
Q Airport hotel stops.
MR. BURNS: No, I don't think so. I think it's reasonable. The fact is, he's coming a long way. Taipei is a long way from Port-au- Prince and from El Salvador, and I believe he's going to be overnighting in San Francisco and Miami. Then he goes to Port-au-Prince. Then he transits one of our airports -- just transits the airport, doesn't spend the night -- and goes down to El Salvador. Then after El Salvador he goes to L.A., and he transits there for a night, and then he goes back to Taipei.
That's reasonable. You don't want to have people staying on planes for days on end getting some place. We do, but we're unusual people, and we operate under unreasonable circumstances. We can't expect others should have to live under the discomforts that are so routine for the U.S. press corps with Secretary Christopher.
Q On a transit visa, he can go from the airport to the hotel but not do anything else, is that right?
MR. BURNS: We have not placed restrictions upon him that are more onerous than on any alien who is transiting the United States. He's free to go into San Francisco and stay in a hotel, and he's free to sightsee. He's free to have meals in a restaurant. He's free to talk to people.
What he cannot do, of course, is engage in public activity. He cannot hold public meetings. He cannot stand up in the middle of a park and give a speech. We certainly don't want to see any interviews on television, and I think the Taiwanese authorities are very clear about our wishes in granting this transit visa.
No pubic activities. Public activities by a Taiwanese authority would be inconsistent with the unofficial relationship that the United States has with Taiwan.
Q The Taiwan Foreign Minister spoke to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles. Is that a concern of the U.S. Government?
MR. BURNS: We have told Vice President Li and his staff that that kind of activity would not be welcomed by the United States. This is a transit of the United States. This is not a visit to the United States. He's transiting to go to Haiti and El Salvador, and he is not to have public appearances.
Q So what about the Foreign Minister? He's already done that yesterday.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q The Foreign Minister has already given a speech to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles.
MR. BURNS: I'm talking about a transit, though. A transit is quite different than a normal visa which implies someone is visiting the United States. This is different. A transit visa implies that you're just stopping here for physical comfort en route to some place else, and there can be no public activities associated with that.
Q Was the Foreign Minister given a visa to make a speech at --
MR. BURNS: I'll have to check into that. I'm usually up to speed on Taiwan issues, but obviously I don't know about the whereabouts of every Taiwanese authority.
Q When the Chinese Government expressed its displeasure, did it say anything more? Did it refer to a map and ask if that's the only way to get there from here?
MR. BURNS: I'm not familiar with all the details of the conversations. I just understand that the Chinese Government is displeased with the fact that we issued the transit visa, and we, of course, replied that this was consistent with our unofficial relationship with Taiwan and with what we had said we would do and how we would react to requests for transit visas, as opposed to requests for a normal visa, which we've said would be given on a rare occasion, unofficial, and considered on a case-by-case basis.
Q You wouldn't say that's the only way to get to Central America from Taipei, would you?
MR. BURNS: I'm sure there are other ways to get to Central America, but a request was made, and we had an obligation to look at that request. We made the decision that we did. We feel very comfortable about that decision.
Q I know you wouldn't restrict activities of the American press. How do you prevent his appearance on TV if reporters and cameras happen to approach him at the airport or in some other way?
MR. BURNS: We're going to have to rely on the good faith of the Taiwanese authorities and the understandings that we have reached concerning the issuance of this transit visa. They know the limitations and the parameters of this visa -- they're very well aware of them -- and we expect that they will be respected. If they are not respected, it cannot fail but to have an impact on future requests.
Any other questions? Laura.
Q I have a question on the public announcement that you issued a couple of days ago on Saudi Arabia. Can you give us a little background on what precipitated that announcement? Is there a specific threat?
MR. BURNS: We have said a couple of times over the last several months that we are concerned about possible threats to American citizens in Saudi Arabia. Our Embassy now, I think, has issued two travel advisories to Americans and just the other day issued the second.
We never go into the detailed nature of these threats, because we don't want to tip off groups that we hope can be stopped by in this case the Saudi Government and the United States Government. But we're sufficiently concerned that we have an obligation to tell the American public about it -- those Americans who may be traveling there or who may be resident there.
Q Do you know if any security of U.S. installations in Saudi Arabia has been increased or has there been any change?
MR. BURNS: Since the attack on one of our facilities in Riyadh, we have taken the measures that you would expect us to take -- appropriate measures to enhance security around American installations. But, of course, again we will not detail what those measures are.
Q Do you think the Saudi Government is able to protect Americans there?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We believe the Saudi Government is committed to do that and has the capability to do it.
Q Nick, if I could follow on that subject. In a Washington Post article this morning, there's an allegation, an innuendo, I guess, that the Secretary of State canceled his trip to Saudi Arabia based on security concerns. Is there any validity to that? What do you think of that?
MR. BURNS: That's not correct, no. The Secretary wanted to have a meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah and Minister Sultan and Foreign Minister Saud and was not able to do so, basically because we couldn't mesh the schedules. There was no other reason than that. It was not connected to the announcement made by the American Embassy the other day.
Q Do you feel it is dangerous for any American citizens to be in or to go to Saudi Arabia?
MR. BURNS: We'd just urge American citizens who are there or who intend to travel there to read the travel advisory and to take all the considerations in that advisory into account as they make plans for their travel.
(The briefing concluded at 2:01 p.m.)
-22- Thursday, 2/1/96
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