U.S. Department of State 96/02/05 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Monday, February 5, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies DEPARTMENT--Announcements A/S Windston Lord's Press Briefing on 2/6 .............1,3 Secretary Christopher's Trip to the Balkans, Middle East, Helsinki ............................................1-2 Change in A/S Holbrooke's Travel Plans ................10-13 CHINA/TAIWAN Reports of Military Exercises in Taiwan Straits .......2-3,8-9 Bilateral Consultations w/Vice Foreign Minister Li ....2-3,5-7, 19-20 Report of Transfer of Nuclear Technology to Pakistan ..6-8,10 Report of Expulsion of Chinese Nat'l. Spies fr. Ukraine.8 NORTH KOREA States Supporting Terrorism List ......................4 U.S. Food Aid .........................................4-5 Report of Denouncement of Terrorism ...................7 Report of Foreign Ministry Official's Visit to Department.7 GREECE/TURKEY Greek President Stephanopoulos' Visit to U.S. .........10-11 Sovereignty of Aegean Islets ..........................11-15 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Report of Contingency U.S. Economic Aid to Syria ......15-16 States Supporting Terrorism List ......................15 CYPRUS U.S. Diplomacy re: Cyprus Issue .......................16 VENEZUELA Report of Death of U.S. Citizen .......................17 BANGLADESH Elections .............................................17 SUDAN Departure/Relocation of U.S. Diplomats ................18 COLOMBIA President Samper's Political Situation ................18
U.S.DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1996, 1:12 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing and to Washington, D.C., which is very cold right now; but we're nice and toasty in here, especially with all these lights.
I want to pass on a couple of things. First of all, a reminder that Assistant Secretary Winston Lord will kick off the briefing tomorrow at about 12:45 by giving you his thoughts on the current status of our policy towards East Asia. He'll be available to take your questions. After that, I will take your questions on any other issues.
Second, just to recap briefly for you the Secretary's visit to the Balkans, which was a very successful visit. He left the Balkans Sunday night, having arrived Friday evening. He was there, of course, to assess compliance with the Dayton Accords and to press the parties to greater compliance. He started off by visiting Zagreb, Croatia. He arrived there Friday night. He met with President Tudjman.
He stressed to President Tudjman and Croatian officials the importance of the peaceful integration of Eastern Slavonia. He urged cooperation on the part of the Croatians with the War Crimes Tribunal. He also discussed with them the safe return of refugees.
On Saturday, he went to Tuzla. He met with U.S. forces and congratulated them on the fine job they're doing. He met as well with U.S.military leaders. Then he went up to Sarajevo and had meetings with President Izetbegovic to press the Bosnians to release the remaining few POWs they're holding. Also to move the remaining few foreign forces out.
Then, finally, on Sunday, in Belgrade, with President Milosevic. He discussed the need for continued Serb compliance with the Dayton Accords, specifically with the War Crimes Tribunal. He discussed the status of Kosovo. He announced the opening of a USIS office in Kosovo.
Then Sunday evening, he went on to the Middle East. He's now in Israel. He'll go tomorrow to Damascus to meet with President Assad; come back on Wednesday and meet with Chairman Arafat.
Thursday, he'll move to Helsinki to meet with Primakov, and he'll be back here over the weekend.
With that, I go to your questions.
Q What can you tell us about the military maneuvers that China is supposedly planning near the Strait of Taiwan?
MR. DAVIES: It's our understanding that the Chinese have not announced any military exercises in the Taiwan Strait region. We've seen those reports, though. Of course, we're continuing to monitor that situation closely.
Our position remains -- it's a position of long standing -- that the future of Taiwan is a matter for the Chinese people themselves, on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, to resolve. Our interest in that process of resolution is that it be peaceful on the part of all concerned.
We've urged both sides repeatedly -- and continue to do so -- to refrain from any actions which would increase tensions in the region. That would obviously include any intimidating or provocative exhibitions of military power, which wouldn't promote an atmosphere of peace and stability in the region.
Q Do you see any evidence of preparations?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any information that would indicate there's evidence of preparations right now. Obviously, the best place to go for that kind of specific military information is to the Pentagon. But right now I've seen or heard of no reports that there's any stepped-up military activity.
Q Was this a matter of discussion with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister today?
MR. DAVIES: Those discussions are going on right now. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing arrived yesterday. He's here today, tomorrow, and Wednesday for talks with a number of individuals. This is part of a routine series of bilateral consultations that we have at that level with the Chinese authorities in Beijing. His visit here to Washington follows up similar exchanges with Under Secretary Tarnoff last August in Beijing.
In September, here in the U.S., the talks will cover the full range of issues that we normally discuss with the Chinese. Taiwan is always on the docket and it's always discussed with them.
Q Specifically, the military exercises or the possibility of military exercises coinciding with the Taiwan elections?
MR. DAVIES: I think what we'll be doing is reiterating to the Chinese privately pretty much what I've just said publicly, which is our interest in a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question.
When I say Taiwan is on the agenda, I think that probably means Taiwan and all aspects of the Taiwan issue.
Q You say this visit was routine, there was no urgency in it? Secondly, when Winston Lord visits tomorrow, will he able to give us details of the results of the talks today?
MR. DAVIES: Ambassador Lord will probably be able to say something about the Vice Foreign Minister's meetings. At that stage, we'll be about half way through his program. He's got lots to do -- the Vice Foreign Minister. He's not simply meeting with officials here, such as Acting Secretary Talbott. He's got a program on the Hill; he's meeting with officials from ACDA. I think he may be meeting with officials from USTR. So he's having a number of discussions around town.
But perhaps what Ambassador Lord can do for you tomorrow is give you some sense of today's meetings here in the building.
Q This visit to the State Department, specifically, when was that arranged, Glyn?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know exactly when we told him to come. But what I've said is that we have a dialogue with the Chinese. We try to get together with them at this level, which is a fairly senior level, with some frequency. Roughly speaking, we try to do it about every six months either here or there.
Q Are there any other visits scheduled? Any more port visits scheduled for American ships to visit Chinese ports? I know there was one recently.
MR. DAVIES: I don't know the answer to that. You could probably put that question to the Pentagon. They'd be the custodians of such schedules. I don't know if we have any visits planned.
Q An article in today's Washington Post says that there was a White House meeting on January 19. I was just wondering, these meetings regarding the U.S.-China policy, was the State Department involved in this meeting? What has been discussed? Also, was the Taiwan issue involved in this meeting?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have in front of me the agenda of that meeting. If I did, I couldn't really get into the details of it. We're not in the practice of laying out for people exactly what we talk about when we have internal meetings.
If there was a meeting on China issues, I'm certain the State Department had a role to play, but I'm simply not at liberty to go into the discussion that occurred.
Q I need the official comment on whether the U.S. Government intends to remove North Korea from the terrorist states, or pariah states?
MR. DAVIES: You're asking is North Korea still considered a pariah state by the United States, is that right? I can't get into what may come out in reports that are due soon -- I think in March -- where we get into a formal discussion, as mandated by law, of which states are terrorist states and which aren't.
I know our policy is very clear on what North Korea has to do to rejoin the community of nations. Certainly, there have been no changes recently that would lead me today to say that North Korea is now a full-fledged member of the community of nations from the standpoint of the United States.
Q On Korea, what was it that caused the United States to decide to disagree with its Japanese and South Korean allies and send food aid to North Korea?
MR. DAVIES: I wouldn't characterize that as a disagreement, David. We had extensive consultations with the South Koreans and with the Japanese in Honolulu a couple of weeks ago. Ambassador Lord traveled out there to represent us.
We discussed all of the issues that we normally discuss at those meetings relating to North Korea. Our understanding -- you can check this by talking to the South Koreans or the Japanese directly -- is that they heard us out and they understand why we took the step we did, which is to provide some aid. Certainly not as much as the world food program requested, but some aid to the world food program for use in flood-related relief, to alleviate some of the hunger that resulted from floods in parts of North Korea.
There is no rift between the United States and South Korea.
Q But they've publicly stated that they don't believe the food aid is needed at all, have they not?
MR. DAVIES: I think I've seen statements from the South Koreans that go to that.
Again, you should pose this question to the South Koreans. What I think is interesting to point out is that since we made our announcement, there have been no announcements from Seoul that they take great issue with what we've done; they understand why we've done what we've done, why we've provided some humanitarian food aid to North Korea.
Q First of all, do you believe that the food aid was needed? And, secondly, are there any strings attached to the aid? Is the U.S. going to be able to assure that the aid does, indeed, reach people who are indeed suffering?
MR. DAVIES: We would not have provided the food aid if we didn't think it was needed. We have every assurance, based on what we know about the World Food Program and their network of personnel in North Korea, that that food aid will reach those who are in need, which to us was a key concern -- that they could track and give us assurances and reports that the food aid was going from the dock to the dinner plate, as it were. We have no doubts on that score.
We did believe and do believe that there is a need for humanitarian assistance that's related to the flooding that occurred in the last year. That's why we went ahead and did what we did.
Q Come back to China. You said that the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister is here for some routine consultations. But given the tension in the Taiwan Strait and also given the U.S. concern over China's proliferation activities, isn't he invited here on an ad hoc or urgent basis to resolve certain problems? Is he here just for general consultations, or is he invited here to resolve any specific problems?
MR. DAVIES: He's here, as I said, as part of our routine process of consulting with the Chinese Government on a wide range of issues. He was not, to my knowledge, convoked here urgently in order to deal with some of these matters that have been in the press.
We've got a wide agenda with the Government of China, and he's here to talk about all aspects of our relationship. Obviously, Taiwan is a key issue between the two countries, and so I imagine that a good percentage of his discussion with various officials will center on Taiwan and on our differences over Taiwan.
Q Do you have any response on the Washington Times' story on the alleged Chinese transfer of nuclear technology to Pakistan?
MR. DAVIES: Yes. Obviously, we read that with some interest. A couple of things. First off, the ground rules: a lot of that is allegedly based on intelligence information, information gained as a result of intelligence-gathering, and I can't comment on that directly. But I can say that the United States does have concerns about possible nuclear- related transfers between China and Pakistan. We've raised these concerns in our discussions with both the Chinese and the Pakistani Governments at very senior levels.
We'll continue to raise this issue at every opportunity, including in diplomatic discussions this week during the visit of Vice Foreign Minister Li. The U.S. objects to any transfers from China to Pakistan that would contravene China's obligations under the NPT and that could assist Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons.
Finally, just to take a snapshot of the U.S. position right now on the matter, we have not determined that China has violated the NPT or that it's done anything that would trigger sanctions under U.S. legislation. That is obviously an issue that's constantly under review by the United States Government, and so we constantly reassess that.
Q While the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister is here, are you going to warn him or warn China of any possible U.S. retaliatory actions, or are you just going to just express general concern as you have always?
MR. DAVIES: Now you're getting me into an area that's just slightly less sacrosanct than commenting on intelligence matters, and that's commenting on our diplomatic discourse with another nation and doing it while they're upstairs talking. On a number of scores, I'm going to decline to answer that.
Q I'm wondering whether you can comment on South Korean press reports which said that North Korea had sent a letter to the State Department, renouncing terrorism. Could you comment on that?
MR. DAVIES: I haven't heard of that. I don't know anything about that.
Q Also on North Korea, there's a report that the head of the America Department in the North Korean Foreign Ministry -- a man by the name of Lee Nyung (inaudible) -- is going to be in Washington today and is supposed to be seeing some State Department people. I don't see him on the appointment list. Can you find out if he is indeed seeing anybody here?
MR. DAVIES: Sure. I don't have anything on that.
Q Would it be possible to get a readout on the meeting this afternoon with Strobe Talbott and the Chinese visitor?
MR. DAVIES: As I said, I think Winston Lord may be able to do that for you tomorrow.
Q Nothing late this afternoon?
MR. DAVIES: Let me see what I can do for you, George. I know that those meetings are real late, they don't start until 4:30. But I'll see what I can do for you.
Q A specific one on the Chinese-Pakistan nuclear relationship, if indeed it exists. Without going into specifics, would the transfer of these ring magnets be a violation of the NPT?
MR. DAVIES: That's something that I'd have to check, and that's kind of theoretical; I can't really comment on what information we might have on that issue.
Q I mean, does it have any -- do these ring magnets have any other feasible utility?
MR. DAVIES: Like medical equipment or something?
MR. DAVIES: I can't answer that. I don't know the answer to that. I can check if I can get an answer on that. Any more on China?
Q China. Let me quote from -- read a quote from an article that Bill Gertz wrote for the Washington Times today. It follows on the question about the ring magnets -- the issue of the ring magnets. A gentleman named Bill Triplett, former Chief Counsel of the Senate Foreign Relations, was quoted as saying, "This is another example of the ruthless way the Chinese are violating every non-proliferation pledge they've made to us." Can you comment on Bill Triplett's quote?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to comment on it. I'm not going to respond to every quote that's in the newspaper. Bill, I've pretty much laid out our position on it, and I'm just not going to say we agree with that 30 percent, 40 percent, 60 percent.
Q Are you concerned about the expulsion of Chinese national spies from the Ukraine, trying to gain technology on the SS-18 ICBM boosters? Are you concerned about that activity?
MR. DAVIES: I have no idea where to go with that one for you. China?
Q I'll try China once. Years ago -- not that many years ago, the Chinese and the Taiwanese used to lob shells at each other, relatively harmlessly, it's true, but still they used to do it.
Is there any concern at this point that the Chinese may be contemplating a return to that approach to Taiwan?
MR. DAVIES: No, I don't think we have any concern that this is necessarily going to escalate to that sort of behavior.
Q So there is no warning being given to the Chinese this week not to (inaudible) anything towards Taiwan?
MR. DAVIES: Again, I'm not going to get into what it is we're telling the Chinese nor am I going to characterize even the tone. Our view of tension in the Taiwan Strait and how to handle that issue is quite well known, which is that it's got to be done peacefully. We've urged both sides to do so, to try to get at it peacefully.
We're not going down a list of things and telling the Chinese not to do this, not to do that.
Q Are there any steps the United States would take in the event that that is not the road the Chinese choose to take in resolving the dispute?
MR. DAVIES: That's highly speculative. That's a "what- if" decision tree kind of question, and I'm just not going to take it on. We'll see how things develop, and we hope they develop peacefully.
Q Is it your impression, though, that the situation in the Taiwan Strait is more tense now than it was recently -- in the past?
MR. DAVIES: Certainly, if you base your opinion wholly on what's appearing in the press, there would appear to be that kind of an impression being created. But we'll form our opinion about whether things are more or less tense based on our conversations with Vice Foreign Minister Li and our ongoing consultations with the Government of Taiwan. Again, I don't think it would be useful for me to assign a percentage to whether we view it as more or less tense right now.
Q You have been calling for peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue for a very long time. Given the increasing tension in the Strait, do you think that stand is really working -- that policy is really working -- or are there any plans to probably change it a little bit?
MR. DAVIES: As our experience in Bosnia shows, I think it's always important to try to get at these issues through peaceful means. So, peaceful as against what -- counseling something other than a peaceful resolution? No. You'll never find us, I don't believe, pursuing anything but a peaceful resolution to a dispute like this. Any other course of action would be fruitless.
Q Are you sure Beijing is listening? Is your message getting into --
MR. DAVIES: You have to ask them. I can't speak for them.
Q New subject?
MR. DAVIES: One more on China.
Q I'm puzzled by your disinclination to discuss whether in fact China has violated any nuclear agreement with the United States, including an agreement to adhere to the NPT. I think you said about ten minutes ago, "We haven't determined that China has violated the NPT," and that transfer of such technology would in fact be a violation of the NPT, would it not?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know. We would have to look at the transfer, I suppose. I don't know all the ins and outs of the NPT. You asked about ring magnets, could they be used for something else. I can't give you an answer to your conditional question -- would a transfer like that be a violation.
I would imagine it would depend on a number of factors, and I don't have with me today the information I need to answer that kind of a theoretical question.
Q But presumably you wouldn't agree with the statement that Bill read about China violating every nuclear agreement they've ever made with us?
MR. DAVIES: I would not agree that the Chinese violated every agreement they've made with us -- every nuclear agreement they've made with us. No, I would not.
Are we finished with China? Can we go on to something else?
Q When is Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke going to visit Athens?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know when he might have a chance to visit Athens. I know it was his intention to get down to the Aegean and visit a number of capitals. But for several reasons, that situation has changed. He won't be going to the Aegean. Obviously, in Turkey things have yet to settle out in terms of the formation of a government. Assistant Secretary Holbrooke, who doesn't have a whole lot of time left, has a number of appointments in Europe -- Central Europe, Western Europe. He wants to go on to those.
Finally, -- the real answer to your question -- my understanding is that in terms of scheduling it could not be worked out with members of the Greek Government. I think they have travel planned. So for a variety of reasons, Ambassador Holbrooke has decided not to undertake that mission, and we will look for other opportunities to discuss with the Government of Greece these issues, including, I believe, there will be a state visit here soon by President Stephanopoulos. So we hope that perhaps during that visit we can get into that.
MR. DAVIES: May 9. Thank you.
Q According to reliable sources, he has been advised today to retract Mr. Burns' statement, February 1, that "on the question of Imia/Karadak, we do not recognize either Greek or Turkish sovereignty." Do you have anything on that?
MR. DAVIES: That I've been instructed to retract it?
MR. DAVIES: No, I have not instructed to retract it.
Q So that your government decided not to recognize either Greek sovereignty or the so-called Turkish sovereignty over the Greek island, Imia. My question is: What is the legal status of this island today, and who is the owner?
MR. DAVIES: You answered the question in the first part of your question, which is that we've chosen for the time being not to take an issue -- to stake out a position on the question of sovereignty over those islets. We are not taking a position at this time.
Q The first day he stated that, "We are not taking a position." The next day, in answer to my question, he elevated to the decision. It was that, "We do not recognize." It's totally different between taking a position and not recognizing. So since you don't recognize the Greek sovereignty and the so-called Turkish sovereignty over this specific island, could you tell the legal status and who is the owner right now?
MR. DAVIES: We don't take a position on the legal status. Now there's something else that you can play off me tomorrow. We don't take a position at this time on the legal status of those islets. That's the end of what I've got for you on that today.
Q On the Holbrooke visit, would it be correct to say that the Greeks disinvited him -- asked him not to come?
MR. DAVIES: You'd have to ask the Greeks.
Q Well, what did they tell Holbrooke?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know what, if anything, they told Holbrooke. I saw a report that reported what I think Mr. Simitis had to say, but those words stand for themselves. I don't know if they communicated anything specific to Ambassador Holbrooke.
Q In that report -- same subject -- in that report there is a report of rising anti-U.S. fervor in Athens, and that's another reason why he was disinvited, according to the statement from the Prime Minister. Are you concerned about anti-U.S. feelings in the region?
MR. DAVIES: If there's a concern, it's probably that Assistant Secretary Holbrooke, who was a member of the President's team -- if you'll recall, the President and the Secretary of State and many others in the government, notably Assistant Secretary Holbrooke -- pulled out all the stops diplomatically to prevent a confrontation over Imia/Karadak. We believe we were successful, because there wasn't any kind of a confrontation. Tensions did not escalate in the Aegean at that time.
So our concern, I suppose, is with the fact that we are now in some fashion being labeled as part of the problem here, rather than part of the solution, since we thought we were part of the solution.
Q I have a follow-up. During the Imia crisis, Mr. Holbrooke asked Greek officials for the removal of the Greek flag and the Greek forces from Imia island. The answer was yes for the forces, not for the flag, because it was a Greek island. On a later stage, Mr. Holbrooke informed the same official that Turkish flag and Turkish forces "landed" -- not invaded -- landed on the second Greek island. ' Mr. Holbrooke then using his diplomatic skill succeeded to defuse the crisis, as you said, at the political cost of Greece. My question is, was Mr. Holbrooke aware prior to the Turkish invasion of the second island, and what actually Mr. Holbrooke did to prevent the Turkish invasion since he was mediating, as you said, to defuse the crisis on behalf of President Clinton?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know what Ambassador Holbrooke was or was not aware of at that time, and I wasn't personally engaged in those heroic efforts on the part of Assistant Secretary Holbrooke, the Secretary of State, the President and others to get the parties to back off.
So since I don't have in front of me any kind of an elaborate, annotated schedule of who knew what and said what at what time, I can't answer your question.
Q Last Friday I asked you specifically to give an answer about the Turkish claims against Greece over the Aegean, and you stated into my tape recorder, "Whatever Mr. Nicholas Burns said on this issue is valid, on the record, and we don't have anything else at this point."
Later, however, I was in touch with a State Department official who informed me that according to a press guidance, as of that day there is no list of Greece islets or no Greek islands in question as far as for Greek sovereignty rights over them.
My question: Do you expect any list, for example, tomorrow or after 50 days? Otherwise, do you prepare any kind of list to this effect?
MR. DAVIES: Mr. Lambros, I would not look for a list. I don't think you're going to get a list. It doesn't exist, and I can tell you now there are no plans to draw such a list.
Any more Greece/Turkey?
Q Yes. Did I understand you correctly to say that Holbrooke not only is not going to go to Greece, he's also not going to go to Turkey or Cyprus as he had originally planned?
MR. DAVIES: My understanding is that he will not be going to any of those capitals at this stage. He's going to pursue a rather full schedule of calls in Central Europe and then in Western Europe, and that we will look for other opportunities to pursue the agenda of the United States in the Aegean, lowering tensions.
Q (Inaudible) five days ago was same in Turkey as now. What is the reason of this change of Mr. Holbrooke's not going to Turkey, because Turkish Government is waiting for him, and the Turkish people made statements that they are waiting for Mr. Holbrooke in Ankara.
MR. DAVIES: It was decided on balance that given the state of political affairs in Turkey, given scheduling difficulties in Greece, given the very few weeks that Assistant Secretary Holbrooke has left in office and the many demands on his time, that the best use of his time right now would be to continue on his schedule in Central Europe and in Western Europe. That's really all that there is to say about that.
Q You say that you are going to talk peace methods with the Greek President 5th of May. When are you going to talk with Turkey?
MR. DAVIES: We talk with Turkey every day. We have a very fine Ambassador, Marc Grossman, in Ankara, and he leads our efforts on a daily basis to deal with the Turkish Government on these issues. Obviously, we'll look for other opportunities at other levels as well to talk these matters over with the Government of Turkey.
Q It came to my attention that the legal division of the Department of State is reviewing a document of the Turkish Embassy here in Washington, D.C., dated January 29, sent by the Turkish Consul, in which, inter alia, citing only political argument, not even one (inaudible) of convention proposed to your political dialogue with Greece for an agreement over the Imia issue.
Do you consider the Greek-Turkey dispute over Imia political or a legal one?
MR. DAVIES: It doesn't matter whether it's political or legal. The point was, it came to a point where military confrontation was a possibility in our view, and because that was our judgment, we decided to become engaged in resolving the dispute, at least at that time; and we were successful, we hope, in mediating between the two sides, and we were able to defuse tensions between the two.
It wouldn't be useful for me to get into the nature of our position on those islands, because we've decided right now not to take a position on the sovereignty of the islands, the legality of the islands, what have you.
Q At the same time, last Friday I asked White House Deputy Spokesman, Mr. David Johnson, if he could confirm reports that the U.S. Government in the framework of (inaudible) is trying to create a kind of neutral zone in the Aegean, including some area of the Anatolia Peninsula, in order to face the Balkan crisis.
Mr. Johnson asked me to address the question direct to you. So, therefore, I'm asking you, do you have anything on that?
MR. DAVIES: First let me thank David Johnson for that. (Laughter)
Q White House (inaudible).
MR. DAVIES: What I'm going to do is, with your permission, perhaps we can talk after the briefing. But may I invoke cloture on this issue.
Q (Inaudible) According to the same sources, during the Imia crisis, the Turkish Prime Minister, Tonsu Ciller, was also in touch with high German officials in Berlin or in Bonn. We would like to know if Mr. Holbrooke was aware of that Turkish general communication. What was the purpose?
MR. DAVIES: You're down to a level of detail that I'm simply not prepared to address, even if I thought it was a good idea to address those details, and I don't think it's a good idea to. So I'm going to let that go.
Q Another subject --
Q Could I just nail down one piece of diplomatic terminology here? Do you believe that every relevant Greek official who has anything to do with the incident is unavoidably tied up? Or do you think there may be some deeper reason for asking Holbrooke not to come?
MR. DAVIES: I think the reasons for Ambassador Holbrooke not going to the area are as I laid them out. You really have to ask the Government of Greece -- Greek officials -- those questions. I'm not in the business of divining what their rationale is. All I can do is tell you what Ambassador Holbrooke -- what his rationale is for doing what he's doing.
Q Another subject: Syria. Some wire reports suggest that in the case the Syrians sign a peace agreement with Israel, the U.S. promised to them to help in some economic and financial difficulties for Damascus. Can you confirm or deny this subject?
Also, if I'm correct, the U.S. (inaudible) to have economic and financial relations to some terrorism-supporting countries. Are you planning to remove Syria from this list?
MR. DAVIES: I've already answered that question in another context. Our determination for which countries are states supporting terrorism and which aren't has yet to be made. It will be made soon. At that time, we can answer some of these other questions about what that means.
Q What about the financial and economic aid to Damascus if they sign this peace agreement with Israel?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any detail on the thinking about providing financial aid to Damascus. Obviously, the Secretary of State is in the region now. He's there to do everything he can to lend impetus to the Syrian-Israel track of the peace process. I would imagine economic issues along with political issues, military issues and other issues, are on the agenda of these discussions with officials in the region.
Q A month ago the word was '96 would be the year of the big push in Cyprus. This was Mr. Holbrooke's own words.
Considering what has happened and the fact that Mr. Holbrooke cannot even visit the region, has there been a reassessment of that agenda goal?
MR. DAVIES: It's the view of the United States that we want to do everything we can, obviously, to diffuse/solve/or move the parties toward solving the Cyprus problem. We have a number of other American officials who are engaged in that.
I don't think you should read anything into Assistant Secretary Holbrooke's decision not to go the Aegean in the next couple of days. It would simply be overdrawn to then conclude that we were somehow changing, in a tectonic way, in a big way, our views towards Cyprus or the role we might play in solving the Cyprus problem.
Q Will he be involved in the Cyprus initiative even after he leaves the State Department?
MR. DAVIES: You would have to ask him. I don't know what his plans will be as a private citizen. We obviously hope that a man of his skill and accomplishments would remain available. I think he maybe even said he'll remain available to the President and the Secretary of State for diplomatic assignments that suit his schedule and that suit the United States.
We very much hope that we won't lose Dick Holbrooke forever to various forms of government service, and I suspect we will see him again in different guises.
Q Glyn, there seems to be some mystery in Venezuela as to the death -- the circumstances surrounding the death of an American -- Mr. Wilder I believe is his name -- and the role of the local police there. Has the Embassy investigated? Does the State Department have any comment on the circumstances surrounding his death?
MR. DAVIES: I believe that the Embassy was involved in looking into that.
Lee, I don't have anything right now that would help me answer that question, but it's something that I'm happy to look into.
This was an issue, if I'm not mistaken, that did come up in the last week or so.
Q Can you do that as a "taken question?"
MR. DAVIES: We can do that as a taken question. Happy to do that.
Q Thank you, Glyn. As we talk -- this is Arshad from the Daily Inquilab. As we talk in Bangladesh, hundreds of lives are lost. Blood splattered everywhere in Bangladesh, particularly in its capital, Dhaka, including the very recent bloody incident at Dhaka University where hundreds of students were injured, some seriously.
Glyn, on the record, democracy is badly wounded in Bangladesh now. Does the United States still hold the views that the February 15 election would be free, fair, and acceptable to all under the circumstances that I have already said to you?
MR. DAVIES: We aren't going to be in a position to pronounce ourselves on those elections until we actually see how those elections pan out.
Our interest is clear and it's pretty much the same across the board, which is, we want to see the democratic process in Bangladesh supported and we'd like to see the democratic process play out in as unfettered a manner as possible. But I'm not going to sit here today and make a prediction about how those elections will come out.
You know that we're obviously very concerned about events occurring there and we want to play as positive a role as is possible.
Q (Inaudible) rates. The only option would be for the army to step in. What would the United States hold to the view of that?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that that's the case. That's your analysis, Mr. Arshad. I can't predict the future in that country.
Q Do you defend the democratic process as opposed to the armed intervention?
MR. DAVIES: Our interest is in seeing the democratic process develop in an open and inclusive manner in Bangladesh.
Q On Sudan. Have the U.S. diplomats begun leaving at this time? Can you confirm that Nairobi is going to be the next home base for Ambassador Carney?
MR. DAVIES: U.S. diplomats are making arrangements to leave Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. They will be departing in coming days on commercial aircraft.
I just want to repeat, we have an assurance from the Government of Sudan that that government will facilitate the departure of official Americans. They've repeated that several times and they've demonstrated that so far. So that's positive.
I can't confirm where we will set up shop, where Ambassador Tim Carney and some members of his staff may end up working to maintain our relationship with the Government of Sudan. We're still engaged in talking about that with officials of the country concerned. So I can't confirm that or deny that right now.
Q How many people are involved in this exodus? You say U.S. diplomats are making arrangements to leave --
MR. DAVIES: About 25. I think 25 official Americans. I don't know about dependents or what the total number is. I know that some Americans -- about 10; not official Americans but others -- have already left the country. They may have done so based on some previous plans. It's kind of hard to say, but they've left in the last couple of days. Our people will be leaving in the next couple of days.
Q Glyn, there seems to be more revelations about the President of Colombia and his alleged involvement with narcotics traffickers. There seems to be an assassination attempt there which may be linked to the situation. I was wondering what the State Department had to say about the President of Colombia's troubles?
MR. DAVIES: We view what's playing out now in Bogota -- in Colombia -- as really an internal matter for the Colombians to sort out. Obviously, our interest in Colombia has several aspects to it. The primary one is the work that we do with the Colombians on stemming the flow of illegal narcotics into this country. That's an ongoing issue between the two countries.
There have been a number of dramatic developments, it would seem, in Colombia in recent days and weeks. We're obviously closely attuned to what's going on and we will remain closely attuned.
Q Just to follow that. I believe there was a request by a family member -- maybe having to do with this assassination that Lee mentioned -- for U.S. protection. I don't know what that specifies. But if there are those who are at risk in asking for help, will we allow them to come to the United States and protect them?
MR. DAVIES: I did a little bit of checking. It may not have been exhaustive, but what I know now is that we've received no such request.
Q Can I just do one more China question?
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q I presume that the subject of Chinese violations of copyright law will be one of the subjects discussed with the Vice Foreign Minister?
MR. DAVIES: There always is; right.
Q There were articles over the weekend suggesting that the U.S. Trade Representative wants to bring this to a head pretty soon and wants to tell the Chinese that there will be heavy sanctions imposed on them soon if they don't close those compact disk factories.
What's the State Department view on how soon and how heavy the penalty should be for China?
MR. DAVIES: The U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Kantor, has the lead in this government on that issue. Our view is that we would obviously like to resolve that problem as soon as possible. It's not just the question of compact disks but I think also computer programs. There are other aspects to the intellectual property rights issue.
With Ambassador Kantor in the lead, and he'll have a chance to talk to Vice Foreign Minister Li in the next couple of days, we obviously would like to see this resolved.
I don't have really anything that can help you much beyond what he's already said on the issue.
Q When is the deadline?
MR. DAVIES: A deadline? I haven't seen a deadline that we're presenting to the Chinese. I think it's too complicated for deadlines.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:59 p.m.)
-18- Monday, 2/5/96
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