U.S. Department of State 96/02/06 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, February 6, 1996 Briefer: Winston Lord Glyn Davies DEPARTMENT--Statements/Announcements Welcome to USIA Visitor Program Group from Europe .........1 A/S Lord's Trip to East Asia and Pacific Region ...........1-13 Secretary Christopher's Upcoming Trip to Latin America ....13 Resignation of Zairian Archbishop Monsengwo................13-14 CHINA/TAIWAN Military Exercises on Taiwan Straits .......................14,20 Gilman Legislation on Restriction of Arms Sales to Taiwan...15 Bilateral Consultations w/Chinese Vice Foreign Minister.....15-16 IRAQ UN Talks on Implementation of UNSC 986 .....................14-15 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Detention of Bosnian-Serb Military Personnel ...............16 Prisoner Releases ..........................................17 International Police Task Force ............................18-19 POLAND D/S Talbott Mtg. w/Polish-Amer. Congress Rep. ..............17 HAITI Withdrawal of U.S. Forces ..................................19 U.S. Delegation to President DeLors' Inauguration ..........19-20 Report of U.S.-Canadian Talks re: Role in Haiti ............20 BANGLADESH Upcoming Elections .........................................20-21
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1996, 12:57 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. We have a full house.
I want to apologize for the heat in the room. I'm told that the air conditioning is broken, and we've ordered parts. We'll see when they show up.
First, one quick order of business. I'd like to welcome some visitors. I think they're on either side of the room. We have a l2- member European foreign policy group with us today. They're in the United States to participate in a project on the foreign policy challenges facing the U.S. and Europe, and they're sponsored by the United States Information Agency International Visitor Program. So welcome to the State Department briefing.
Today's featured guest is going to be Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Winston Lord. He's a frequent briefer. He's well known, I think, to all of you. He's here to tell you about and answer your questions on his recent trip to East Asia. On that trip he visited Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Philippines; and then he had his trilateral meetings in Honolulu.
Following his remarks -- and this is a bit irregular, but I hope you'll bear with us -- we will have a senior official brief, do a BACKGROUND briefing; not an ON THE RECORD briefing but a BACKGROUND briefing, on China. Then after that, of course, I'll come back and answer your questions on any other issues.
All right? So let me turn this over to Ambassador Lord.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Thank you, Glyn, and good afternoon.
I traveled to the East Asia-Pacific region for a couple of weeks in mid- to late-January. My departure was delayed because of the snowstorm, and therefore I missed an ASEAN dialogue in Indonesia, which I deeply regret. We've agreed to reschedule that later this year.
The general purpose of my trip was to underline once again U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific region and our engagement and staying power in the Asia-Pacific region, an area that President Clinton has elevated on his foreign policy agenda; and we've done this through trips, through rhetoric, through maintaining our force levels, through building regional architecture -- whether its APEC on the economic side; or the ASEAN Regional Forum and other dialogues on the security side; or whether it's through our diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula, or in Cambodia, the South China Sea, et cetera.
So these issues were discussed throughout the trip, as were specific bilateral issues at each stop. I always met, as I normally do, with the American business community wherever possible to discuss our economic and commercial objectives.
I also met with American Embassy employees and Foreign Service Nationals working with American personnel overseas to explain as best I could the budget situation back here and to carry their concerns back to Washington.
Finally, I met in almost every stop with the media, both local and American, and I'm sure you've all committed the transcripts of my press conferences to memory. So you have a lot of detail already on my trip.
As I said, everywhere I went I talked about our general engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. There were some issues that came up on several stops. For example, the importance of the Korea Nuclear Agreement and implementing it, and the importance that more countries, including in Asia, join KEDO and provide additional financial support for KEDO.
APEC came up in many stops and the crucial nature of that organization, and regional security dialogues as I mentioned. In every stop I pressed forward American business and commercial interests.
Let me just quickly tick off each stop, and I'll be glad to go to your questions.
I began in Thailand, a treaty ally -- perhaps the fastest growing economy in the region, many security interests -- and they have stepped up recently their cooperation on narcotics; discussed many regional issues. I would say that our bilateral relationship with Thailand -- which has always been strong -- has been making progress, even on the few problem areas that we've had recently.
Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam were on schedule for a Presidential delegation I was going to co-lead with Herschel Goldberg, the Veterans Department. That trip was postponed so I decided to go ahead anyway to underline our concern, above all, in the MIA question -- which is the President's highest priority in these three countries -- as well as to discuss a broader agenda.
In Cambodia we have seen major progress in recent years since the killing fields, but we also see they have tremendous challenges ahead of them. So I carried a message of continued U.S. support of recognition of the great obstacles that they must overcome, but also as a friend with some candid concern about some recent developments that could threaten (inaudible) our international support.
In Laos our relationship lately has been improving, especially in the MIA area and in our joint efforts to fight narcotics traffic.
In Vietnam I, of course, underlined the MIA question. As I said, a Presidential delegation will be going back there probably sometime this spring. I pressed also our broader agenda with Vietnam. We believe these two go together -- that the MIA progress is crucial to advance with Vietnam, but we have other interests there which encourage Vietnam to take constructive action in all areas. So in addition to MIAs we discussed economic issues, human rights, narcotics, regional security, various exchanges between our countries.
In Hong Kong I underlined once again the very large U.S. commercial, political, and humanitarian stakes in the future of Hong Kong; our desire for a smooth transition, our support for that; and our recognition that the Chinese, the people of Hong Kong and the British, have to work out the details. But we did support the autonomy of Hong Kong. The stability and prosperity of Hong Kong are very important not only for the United States but for many countries and for the entire region. And I stressed the need for some continuity for the rule of law, for individual and civil liberties, et cetera. I saw a very wide spectrum of people in Hong Kong.
On to the Philippines. Another treaty ally, with growing economic interests. Under President Ramos' reforms they've made significant improvements in their economy; and investment, including American investment, is going up. A key issue there was APEC, because the Philippines will be the host this year and they have some very promising and I think visionary plans for this year's ministers' and leaders' meetings. In my discussions with the Philippine leadership I was encouraged in that. I also visited Subic Bay, where the leaders' meeting will take place.
My last stop, which you've undoubtedly read about, was in Hawaii for trilateral coordination between us, the South Koreans and the Japanese, on our policy toward the Korean Peninsula. We issued a Joint Press Statement there. I gave a press conference, so I won't go through the details.
These consultations flow from an agreement among the Foreign Ministers of the three countries at Osaka last November to keep in close touch, and at my level to conduct trilateral consultations, to design and compare notes on the Peninsula, to express our solidarity on the key issues. I think it's fair to say that we had generally the same assessments of what's going on in North Korea, a determination to work closely together.
As a result, as you've seen, we've gone forward with modest humanitarian disaster relief for North Korea, with the full support and understanding of our allies, contrary to some initial erroneous press reports.
We also talked throughout about the importance of KEDO, and the delivery of heavy fuel oil, in particular. We underlined, as we did in the statement, the need for a North-South dialogue, which is a matter of basic principle that the Koreans determine their own future. It's a matter of obligations that the North and South undertook in the '9l and '92 agreements; and it's also a matter of implementing the Agreed Framework, which we insisted on in the negotiations.
So we have made clear that we would like to improve our relations with North Korea, but we've also made clear and reiterated that this can only go forward if there's progress as well in North-South relations, which is essential for that process as well as for the stability of the Peninsula.
I might end up by saying that with my Japanese colleagues around the edges of the meetings we also talked about probably the single most important event for U.S. foreign policy in Asia this coming year -- at least, the first half -- namely, the President's trip to Japan.
The other key event for the President will be his trip to Manila in November for APEC. I think you will see from that trip just how healthy our partnership with Japan is despite some perhaps inevitable media focus the last couple of years on trade disputes and other matters. We are in very solid shape, without being complacent, on our security alliance. This will be reaffirmed in a security declaration during the President's trip.
There will also be broad affirmation of other aspects of our partnership which reflects our shared interests. It reflects a secure relationship that is welcomed by other countries of the region. They're very interested in a good U.S.-Japan relationship.
It also reflects the fact that we've made some progress on trade with over 20 agreements, that the trade figures are beginning to show some improvement. We are not complacent -- there's some serious implementation, and other issues out there -- but the President's trip will afford us the opportunity to highlight the positive aspects of one of the most, if not the most important, bilateral relationships we have with any country in the world.
With that introduction, I'll be glad to take any questions.
Q On this same issue of U.S.-Japanese relations, there are reports this morning that the United States has asked Japan to foot the bill for the next oil shipments due to go to North Korea because of the cash-flow problem here in the U.S. Is that true?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: There are two aspects of the heavy fuel oil financing. It's a very important part of the Agreed Framework. It's something we're obligated to carry out as long as North Korea fulfills its obligations.
There's a short-term problem of the shipments for the next couple of months, and that is occasioned by the budget debate in the U.S. Congress -- which has held up our appropriation of $22 million, most of which would go for this purpose. Therefore, we have to get over the short-term hump.
It is true that in Hawaii, in a sense, we have been talking to various countries -- and, particularly, Japan -- on whether we can have some short-term help.
But then there's the longer-term structural problem of assuring over many years contributions from various countries. Now, Japan, the U.S., and South Korea have been taking the lead on this. But other countries have joined KEDO. Still others have provided financial support. Some have done both. Many have provided political support.
We are vigorously working with the Europeans and others in Asia and the Middle East to garner more financial support. Frankly, we think the Europeans, for example, can and should do much more. If Japan and Korea are going to contribute to Bosnia, Europe can certainly help us out on a non-proliferation issue of global concern. It's also true of some of our Asian friends and true of those in the Middle East.
So we have both a short-term crunch, which we hope to relieve temporarily with the help of our friends, and then to get a waiver and get the money out of the Congress as soon as possible. I think there's general support in the Congress on this $22 million level, but then we still face this longer-term challenge.
Q On that, when you say you hope short-term help from our friends, you're talking about Japan and South Korea or other parties?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: For the short term, we would welcome help from any quarter. Japan, I might add, although it is being very generous with respect to the overall implementation of the Framework, is carrying a significant financial load here. But we would welcome some relatively modest help in the short term to enable KEDO to finance this. It might not be direct contributions like Japan. It might give KEDO the wherewithal to use money for the heavy fuel oil deliveries.
Q But you have no doubt now that the next scheduled fuel shipment will go through?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: We're sure it will, but we'd be even more sure if we had all the money.
Q Would a China question be appropriate?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: No. There's so much to cover.
Q You can't tell us anything about what's been happening. It's been pretty black, news-wise.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I think it's already been announced that that issue will be covered by an Administration official later.
Q Now that three former U.S. officials have testified that the U.S. Government has wrongfully accused this Thai politician, Narong Wongwan, of narcotics trafficking, are you doing anything to clear up the matter, settle it once and for all?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I'm not familiar with the three former U.S. officials who have testified to that, so I cannot assume the premise of your question.
I will say that we are very confident about our information. We have shared this with appropriate Thai authorities, and our position has not changed.
Q If the Thai Government does put this man in a Cabinet post, as they're now once again talking about, what is the reaction to that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Let's not address a hypothetical question. The Thai are well aware of our concerns. We'll see how the situation unfolds.
Q There are reports that the U.S. has said that it will pull out, or at least close several facilities in Okinawa eventually. Can you give us anything on this?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: This is still under discussion. As you know, as a result of Secretary Perry's trip last fall, there is a special action committee set up that I co-chair with my colleagues in Defense. We report up the chain to our superiors.
There have been some preliminary meetings of that. The Okinawans have just presented their views to the Japanese. That's between them and the Japanese. The Japanese will be coming to us with their positions.
We are taking this extremely seriously. We know it's a sensitive issue in Japan, and so we will work in good faith to try to ease the problems in this area in our mutual self-interest. I say that because this is in the self-interest of Japan as well as the United States to have the American presence, the American bases, the American security alliance.
The terms of reference for the special action committee are to -- I don't have the exact wording -- look for consolidation; and whether this will result in reductions, we'll have to see. But the overall force levels in the Pacific and in the Japan area will not change. It will roughly remain the same. But we're talking about how we can ease the intrusive nature of some of these facilities, either through consolidation or possibly relocation.
Q What's the status of the U.S. and North Korean plan to exchange Liaison Offices? Secondly, do we expect an additional lifting of the U.S. trade embargo against North Korea sooner or later?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First, let me repeat that the overall progress of U.S.-Korean relations -- and we would welcome progress -- depends importantly on progress in North-South dialogue. That doesn't mean every last step is in lock step. But it does mean that we will not get out in front of our friends in terms of dialogue with the North. We think it's in the North's interest to talk to the South as well as in the interest of general stability.
So we will continue to insist upon North-South interaction and dialogue.
Having said that, on the Liaison Office, that has been going slowly over some technical issues which, frankly, the North Koreans have raised. So we are prepared to move ahead on the Liaison Office if we can remove these technical issues. It doesn't look like that's going to happen in the next couple of months. We're always ready to discuss this further.
As far as sanctions, we've eased some last year as part of our obligation. But overall policy of North Korea is under review; and, as I say, it will depend importantly on North-South dialogue.
We do wish to have better relations with North Korea, and draw them into the international community. But to have stability on the peninsula and make that possible, there's got to be North-South dialogue.
Going back to the Liaison Office for a moment, we think that is in our interest to have a presence in North Korea, to have a somewhat better sense of what's going on in that very opaque society and to carry forward our dialogue directly rather than having to go through indirect means; and also to talk about other issues like missile proliferation, remains of MIAs, conventional problems, conventional force problems, terrorism, human rights, etc.
Q The U.S. Government has apparently shrugged off our interest in getting Khun Sa to this country -- extradition. Do we want to drop that matter or continue in some other --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: No. We will continue to express our concern. This is one of the leading drug traffickers in the world, not only recognized as such by us but by Burma itself for many years and by other nations in the region. So anything which would let him off the hook and which would let his forces continue drug trafficking would be a serious setback to the control of narcotics in the region. This is not in Burma's interest. It's not in Thailand's interest. It's not in anyone's interest. So we're going to continue to express our concern.
We believe he should be extradited. We believe he should be prosecuted. And above all, we believe his forces should not be able to continue drug trafficking with impunity. This is a very serious problem.
We already have a difficult relationship with Burma, and this will burden it further if Khun Sa does not get the justice that he deserves.
Q During your trip, did any countries raise concern over China's military activities in that region?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I think there was a general concern about China's military activities, but I think I'd rather not get into the Chinese situation at this point, which I just remembered in mid- sentence.
Q Mr. Secretary, when you were in Hong Kong --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Nice try, though. (Laughter)
Q Mr. Secretary, when you were in Hong Kong, did you talk to the Chinese officials, Chinese representatives? Were you assured by them about a smooth transition? Did you discuss the fate of the newly elected Hong Kong legislature beyond 1997?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I gave a press conference as well in Hong Kong. I'm in a tricky position because Hong Kong, in July 1997, will be part of China. But it's autonomous, so I guess we can talk about it in this briefing. I did mention it, of course, in my run-down.
Yes, I met with Zhou Nan, the top local Chinese official as well as with Governor Patten, Han Son Chan, the head of the Civil Service -- a wide spectrum of politicians and business people of all points of view on these issues. So I think I really had a good sense of the mood there.
With respect to the Chinese, I'll let them speak for themselves. But I think it's fair to say that Zhou Nan reiterated China's own self- interest in a smooth transition; clearly, it has an economic interest. I might add, it has an interest in terms of its demonstration affect on Taiwan and other interested parties.
He was very reassuring in his terms about China's intentions of maintaining autonomy and following the joint declaration. But, of course, we'll have to see how this plays out.
I did express the substantial interest in Hong Kong, recognizing that others have to determine its fate, particularly the people of Hong Kong along with the Chinese and the British, but making clear that we have a very serious concern as do other countries in terms of regional stability and prosperity, in terms of our own huge economic stakes and for humanitarian reasons.
Again, as a candid observer and an interested one, I did point out some elements that we think make Hong Kong work: Autonomy, as promised in the joint declaration which we fully support; the rule of law, the freedom of expression, civil liberties. We think all these help to make Hong Kong more confident and assured and therefore it's in China's interest. So we did make these points.
On LEGCO, we don't have to get into a lot of details. But you know our view is that there ought to be continuity and that all points of view should be reflected in the future leadership in various quarters in Hong Kong.
So I did, again, suggest that popular opinion be respected in Hong Kong.
Q A follow-up? You said that you had a sense of the mood in Hong Kong. What is the mood?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I have the sense that it's a very complicated mood, which it is. It depends who you talk to. There are some concerns.
There's also a feeling that there have been some modest steps in terms of improvement of Sino-British relations, generally, recently; some agreements that have been reached, but also concern about other aspects, whether it's LEGCO, the human and civil rights issue.
I did get a sense -- and I said this in my Hong Kong press conference -- that obviously we'll have to see what happens in the next year and a half.
I did feel there was some beginning of dialogue among people with very different points of view, sort of a sense of groping for greater mutual understanding. I don't want to exaggerate that, so I don't want to be labeled with an adjective about my feeling. But it was a very interesting and intense two days in Hong Kong.
MR. DAVIES: How about two, maybe three more non-China questions.
Q How about Hong Kong?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Did you have a question, because a couple of people haven't had a question yet. You haven't? I'm sorry. From now on, you're going to call on the questioners. I'm in serious trouble here. (Laughter)
Q On Hong Kong, is there a fear among the citizens of Hong Kong that the Chinese might renege on some parts of their agreement, specifically sending in some of their military troops as has been reported?
Is some of the recent revelations in the press here in the United States, specifically, about the Chinese in Taiwan, has that had an impact? Is that reverberating?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First of all, it would be rather presumptuous of me in a drop-in for 48 hours, however intense, to sort of summarize the feelings of the Hong Kong people. Obviously, there's all different points of view.
None of the people I talked to expressed any concern about actual military moves or moving in of military. There will be a garrison stationed there after the return of Hong Kong to China, but that's been fully agreed.
Obviously, some are more concerned than others about China's intentions. Some feel that China genuinely wants Hong Kong to prosper in its own self-interest but may not understand what it takes to have that happen. Others are quite confident that China will find a way to make it work. So I really can't sum up the mood. Obviously, in some quarters there's apprehension.
Q Mr. Secretary, do you have any concern about North Korea's movement of aircraft and some heavy weapons closer to the border with South Korea? Have you figured out their reason for doing that at this time?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: We obviously monitor these kind of movements very closely. As you know, it's been a problem for many years now of deployments near the border, so this just adds to it.
There are all kinds of signals, frankly, somewhat in conflict with each other, about North Korean movements and intensions. For example, the number of winter exercises is much less than it usually is. Then there are other movements which you've cited which have been taking place.
So we don't see any imminent danger, certainly, of military hostilities, but that clearly is one of the more tense areas in Asia, and we're very vigilant about maintaining our alliance and our force levels and deterrence. Even as we believe we've, at least so far, put a freeze on the North Korean nuclear challenge, we recognize the conventional challenge remains, and we'd like to get on with the process of opening North Korea up in close coordination with South Korea and Japan in order to get at some of these other basic problems.
Meanwhile, the freezing of the North Korean nuclear programs is one of the major foreign policy achievements in recent years.
When this Administration came into office, I think it's fair to say that everyone recognized the North Korean nuclear threat as the number one security threat in Asia, and many would contend it was the number one security threat in the world.
The dog hasn't barked. People have not noticed, perhaps, but we have frozen that program in its place under international supervision, and before North Korea can get full components for its light-water reactors, substitute reactors, less proliferation dangerous reactors, it's going to have to talk about past activities.
So this is a major diplomatic achievement. We're not complacent. We're going to make sure it's faithfully carried out, but I don't think it should be lost sight of.
MR. DAVIES: Last question, please.
Q The U.S. Government still lists North Korea as one of the terrorist countries. How does the U.S. Government justify giving money, about $2 million, to North Korea?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First of all, with respect to the terrorist list, that's always under review. Secondly, the aid that we are providing, first of all, goes to a United Nations program which frees up resources for them in turn to help the North Korean people.
As I've already stressed, and we have in our various press releases, this is an important but rather modest humanitarian gesture to respond to local flooding crises for families who can't reach normal aid distribution or are in serious difficulties.
This has been attested to by the U.N., the World Food Program and various NGOs whom we trust. So the need is there. It is localized. It is emergency. It is humanitarian.
This is to be distinguished from major food aid, such as South Korea and Japan have been providing, and we have not. We don't have the money for it in the first place, and we think it's more appropriate that our Korean friends take the lead, which gets into the question of the structural problem of food in North Korea and the issue of leverage and possible conditions, and so on.
So these two have to separated. They got a little confused in some of the media coverage, and I welcome the chance to clarify it, because it's on this humanitarian basis, rather modest sums through a U.N. program, that the South Koreans are entirely comfortable, the Japanese fully supportive. So any suggestions of any disagreement with our friends on this issue is totally false, and I'm glad to put that to rest.
Indeed, just this morning there's a new press statement out of South Korea supporting what we've done.
MR. DAVIES: Thanks very much.
(Assistant Secretary Lord concluded his briefing at 1:25 p.m.)
MR. DAVIES: Back now to the regular briefing, if anybody has any questions. I have a couple of announcements I can give you, perhaps to get the ball rolling.
One is to announce to you the stops that Secretary Christopher will be making when he takes his trip to Latin America from February 25 to March 4.
The Secretary's visit to the region will include stops in the countries of El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago.
This trip will allow the Secretary to demonstrate continued U.S. commitment to democracy and economic reform in the Western hemisphere and examine ways to advance our common regional and other policy objectives. We'll have that statement available for you.
Second and last statement, that we'll put out right after the briefing, is one about Zaire and a development that's occurred, the resignation of Archbishop Monsengwo. I won't read the whole thing to you but just the highlights.
The United States regrets the resignation of Zairian Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo as President of Zaire's Transition Parliament. Monsignor Monsengwo has served in that capacity with great distinction since January 1994. He played a guiding and conciliatory role with calmness and impartiality and did much to move forward the process of democratization in Zaire.
The U.S. urges Zaire's leaders to move with deliberate speed to complete the arrangements for elections to be held before July 1997, the date the Zairians themselves have set to accomplish that task.
Both of those will be available after the briefing. Now, I'm happy to move to your questions.
Q I don't have any.
MR. DAVIES: No questions. Anybody else? Everybody is tired.
Q You wouldn't allow me to ask the man while he was here the response he got from the Chinese when he asked about their planned hostilities -- well, not hostilities, but military exercises during the elections on Taiwan. Have we gotten a response?
MR. DAVIES: Bill, why don't I put that question to him, and we'll get you a response. Okay? I promise, I'll do that.
Q Iraq? There are meetings at the United Nations, as you know, that are going over the next couple of weeks. The discussion there is the question of oil and humanitarian aid.
MR. DAVIES: Right.
Q Knowing the position the United States has had in the past, can you tell us if there is any change in what the attitude is of the United States towards those talks?
MR. DAVIES: No, our position hasn't changed. We hope those talks succeed, that those discussions are successful. Iraq has a delegation in New York. It's led by their former U.N. Permanent Representative. They're meeting today with the Secretary General's representatives.
The Secretary General has made clear, and we certainly endorse what he said, that these talks are really only about implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 986. The resolution itself is not open to change or to amendment.
Q Just to follow-up, you used the word "succeed," what, in the eyes of the State Department is "success" of those talks?
MR. DAVIES: We want to first, obviously, take a look at what comes out of them. These are talks, as I've said, between the United Nations and Iraq. Our position on U.N. Resolution 986 is pretty well known. We'd like, obviously, the Iraqis to sign up to its provisions so that their sale of some oil and oil products can result in humanitarian aid with no strings attached to the Iraqi people.
Q A Taiwan question which perhaps you'd be good enough to take, whether the Clinton Administration opposes Gilman legislation that would ease restrictions on arm sales to Taiwan? And if the Administration does oppose it, can you tell us why?
MR. DAVIES: I think the Administration's view of arm sales to Taiwan is pretty well laid out in the legislation that exists -- the Taiwan Relations Act -- which talks about arm sales to Taiwan. But if you'd like, I can try to check into if there's anything more up to date.
Q It's pending in Congress.
MR. DAVIES: The U.S.'s position on arm sales to Taiwan is laid out in the Taiwan Relations Act. To the extent that the two may differ, we may have some questions about the legislation but I'm happy to look into if we have a particular point of view on the Gilman legislation for you.
Q Despite what the senior Administration official has said about the talks between the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and U.S. officials, could you give us a short summary of what has been achieved in the talks for the sake our story?
MR. DAVIES: Sure. I think I can probably give you a little rundown.
The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing, arrived Sunday for talks yesterday, today, and tomorrow. As I said yesterday, these bilateral consultations are routine. We've had similar exchanges in the past, both in August and September 1995.
As in past visits, the Vice Foreign Minister will be meeting with a number of senior Administration officials, including Acting Secretary of State Talbott, Under Secretary Davis, Defense Under Secretary Slocombe, Deputy Trade Representative Barshefsky, and ACDA Director Holum. The fact that the Vice Foreign Minister is having that many meetings is the reflection of the breadth of the agenda.
In his meetings here in the Department, we exchanged views with the Vice Foreign Minister on, of course, the overall bilateral relationship, on issues such as human rights, Korea, Japan, global and regional security, and Taiwan.
We agreed to build on the positive meetings that the President and Vice President had with Chinese President Jiang Zemin last Fall in New York and at Osaka. We agreed to expand cooperation wherever possible.
Q The Bosnian Government has taken a group of Bosnian Serb military personnel as prisoners and says that they're looking into whether they're war criminals or not. What is the U.S. position on whether or not that is a legal act given that these men, I gather, have not yet been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal?
MR. DAVIES: A couple of points in answer to that. One is to reiterate our attachment to the notion of freedom of movement, and the freedom of movement provisions of the Dayton Accords and that those freedom of movement provisions be respected by all parties.
That said, we understand that a representative of the War Crimes Tribunal is now in Sarajevo and will interview the individuals being detained to find out if there's any reason for further investigation.
The Bosnian Government has indicated that it will abide by the decision of the Tribunal and will either continue to detain the individuals at the request of the Tribunal or release them if there is no evidence of war crimes. So we think that the Bosnian Government has, in this matter, subsequent to the arrest, taken the appropriate steps.
Until the Tribunal has had an opportunity to speak with these individuals, we can't comment further about their status. It is true that the individuals have not at this time been indicted by the Tribunal.
Q The reason I'm asking is for the future. If either side is allowed to detain people who have not been charged by the War Crimes Tribunal just because they think maybe they've done something -- maybe they have, this group, I have no idea -- doesn't that create potential and rather serious problems?
MR. DAVIES: We think it's important that arrests not be made for purposes of harassing people in Bosnia.
Frankly, what this gets us into is a bit of a gray area about who can and who can't be arrested. It's something that we're looking into. But I think what's important to underscore here is that the Bosnian Government has made the right undertakings about the handling of these eight. That's what we're looking to.
Q The meeting between Assistant Secretary Talbott and the Representative of the Polish-American Congress, can you tell us about that meeting and what might have been touched upon in terms of NATO expansion?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have a readout of that meeting, so I really can't help you with that. But, if you'd like, we can perhaps look into it.
Q Back on Bosnia, does the United States have any reservations about the way the Serb and the Croat Governments are handling the prisoner business? Carl Bildt was critical of both of them in Geneva today.
MR. DAVIES: If you're referring to release of prisoners --
Q Release of prisoners and other provisions in the transition.
MR. DAVIES: Our concern there, as we've stated it before on a number of occasions, is if prisoners are being held, that they be released. This is something that should have occurred several weeks ago. It's largely occurred. There are very few, I think, still being held, but those still being held should be released. I don't have a particular comment on what Bildt had to say.
But that's our view on prisoner release, and I don't think there's any ambiguity about it.
Q Do you know how many prisoners are left?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know. It's been a seesawing number. We look to numbers provided by international groups -- the United Nations and others. We don't have our own kind of individual count. So, if you'd like, what I can do is check into what we regard as the latest number and get back to you on that.
Q Could I ask about the Bosnian international police force. The NATO officials raised some concern about this subject. They said that there's not enough force in there, and also they have an obstacle of the language barrier. Do you have any comment on it?
MR. DAVIES: The language barrier is going to be a problem, obviously, because you're talking about police monitors coming from a number of different countries, and not all of them are going to speak Serbo-Croatian or the language that they might need. We're confident that that can be worked out.
In terms of the rate at which the international police task force - - the IPTF -- is being deployed, we agree that it's not being deployed rapidly enough. We think that action has been taken to correct that, and that those who are involved in providing police to the IPTF are now doing so with the right kind of dispatch. We're working hard to make sure that those countries that have pledged police follow through on their pledges and augment their contributions, if at all possible, and accelerate their deployment.
Obviously, the police will play a critical role in developing peace on the ground in Bosnia. So we're following up on this, and we believe that things are going better than they were. We're still not satisfied with the pace, and we hope the pace will pick up. We're working to that.
Q Will there be Americans in that International Police Task Force?
MR. DAVIES: I think the answer is that there will be Americans in the International Police Task Force. We've pledged to provide up to about 200 for the IPTF, and we've begun consultations with Congress to make the funds available for the first group of monitors.
The contracting process has already begun. There's a little bit of paperwork, unfortunately, involved. There's money involved, and that's what we're talking to Congress about.
Q Have you already started, though, the process of searching, because since this is such a high priority time and since the United States is the lead country in this whole affair --
MR. DAVIES: I believe we have. I don't have the very latest on where the search stands -- whether we're putting out ads or how we're doing this within the country -- but that's perhaps something we could follow up on and have for you.
Q One on Haiti. The U.N. mandate there expires the end of this month. Will the Administration support a continuing U.S. presence there in some diminished capacity -- two to four hundred rotational troops, something like that?
MR. DAVIES: A continued presence of American troops?
Q American troops in Haiti.
MR. DAVIES: We're sticking with the timetable that was announced back at the time of the deployment of American forces. They're going to be coming out on time. Right now there are no plans to keep forces there on a permanent basis. There may be a need to have Americans there for specific tasks, as you said on a rotating basis, but we're pulling our troops out, as we announced we would, and that's going forward as planned.
Q So the troops will come out as planned, but more could go in and --
MR. DAVIES: No, I wouldn't say more could go in. What I'm saying is as we assess the need in Haiti, post-withdrawal of U.S. forces, it may be the case that for certain very defined, specific tasks, American personnel will be the best placed to provide assistance, and we'll look at those requests. We're not going to rule that out. But in terms of withdrawal, that's going to go ahead as scheduled.
Q Do you have anything on --
Q Haiti, could we do?
MR. DAVIES: Haiti question, and then we'll come back.
Q Tomorrow's inauguration: Do you have any observations about what has been accomplished there?
MR. DAVIES: This is Haiti's first democratic transition in its history. So this is a very important event. There will be going down to Haiti, I think, a very high-ranking U.S. delegation to represent the President. So this will be a Presidential mission.
I think you can look to the White House for an announcement of who will comprise that delegation to Haiti. My understanding is that it will be headed up by Ambassador Albright. Our own Acting Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, will be among those going down; and others will go down as well.
Q There has been suggested that there are negotiations going on between this building and the Canadian Government that the Canadians take a lead in Haiti -- that in response to the allusions that have been offered up here that the Americans are leaving and will not stay. Can you tell us what the nature of the talks are between the American Government and Canada on an increased role for Canada in Haiti?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not aware of any talks that are meant to discuss that. We're talking with all of our partners; and Canada was an important partner, has been an important partner, and remains one on the Haiti issue. We're talking with all of our partners about the future of Haiti.
Right now we're looking to the inauguration of President Preval. We think that's an important event. We'll remain in contact with the Canadians and others who have an interest in developments in Haiti.
Q You said yesterday that you didn't have any information on the exercises in the Taiwan Strait. Do you have anything new today?
MR. DAVIES: No information to offer to you on that -- no.
Q Did the Chinese say anything with your meeting yesterday about this exercise?
MR. DAVIES: I've got nothing that goes to that specifically in terms of the content of the meetings that occurred yesterday -- no.
Q Glyn, Arshad from the Daily Inquilab. I need to be corrected, first, in the phrasing of my question of yesterday. I stated that hundreds of lives are lost. It should be hundreds of lives are at risk. So I apologize for this mistake.
MR. DAVIES: Mr. Arshad, you wouldn't be asking these questions just for the record, would you?
Q No, and I'm just correcting myself.
MR. DAVIES: O.K.
Q Now I'm correcting myself. I have to repeat that because --
MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Q -- it was a slip of the tongue or whatever, you know -- a fit of emotions or whatever.
MR. DAVIES: All right.
Q Now, the question is: At this point in time, unrest, violence, and blood is rocking the democratic process in Bangladesh -- even right at this point. What is the utmost concern of the United States, leading up to the February l5th elections? Could you please give us a view, because it's very, very critical from now up until the elections February l5th.
MR. DAVIES: Mr. Arshad, our concern hasn't changed from our concern yesterday, which is that the democratic process play out in as open and democratic a way as possible.
I really don't have anything to add to what we've said on just about a daily basis. Bangladesh is an important country, a large population. It's one with which we enjoy excellent relations, and it's one that we want to see walk down the road of democracy just as far as is possible.
Q (inaudible) that's assurance enough to the people of Bangladesh. Would you view that you would be non-supportive to any extra constitutional means, if it at all happens?
MR. DAVIES: Bangladesh's future is up to the people of Bangladesh. I think, as you know, our interest is in helping the people of Bangladesh to reach the future that they want to reach -- as we understand it -- which is a democratic future.
I don't have any comment beyond that, and we'll see what happens in the elections that are coming in about a week.
One more. Bill, go ahead.
Q Do you have a comment on an article that appeared in USA Today in which Harvey Feldman, Former Deputy UN Ambassador, says that China's view is that Clinton had not kept his word. The Chinese think the Clinton Administration has shown in the Li visa case that it is wishy-washy and it backs off. On the issue of communications and the issue of respect between China and the U.S. Has this come up in these talks, that you know about, that the Chinese don't believe the Administration?
MR. DAVIES: Bill, that hasn't come up, nor would we expect it to. I disagree completely with the premise of that article.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:01 p.m.)
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