U.S. Department of State 96/02/07 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, February 7, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies DEPARTMENT Announcement Re: Tajikistan............................1 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Detention of Bosnian-Serb Officials....................1-5 Suspension of Contacts with the Bosnian Government.....2-4 Reported Replacement of Head of Croatia's Intelligence. Service..............................................5 Administrative Districts in Mostar.....................9-10 CHINA Alleged Transfer of Nuclear Technology to Pakistan.....5-6 Reported Sale of Soviet Fighter Planes to China........7 GREECE/TURKEY Situation in the Aegean/International Court of Justice.7-9 HAITI Return of Haitian Documents............................10-11 Diplomatic Relations with Cuba.........................11
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1996, 1:15 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Life wouldn't be complete without an announcement, so let me give you just one.
This time the announcement's on Tajikistan, and it's good news. It will be available for you after the briefing. The highlights are that the United States welcomes the peaceful resolution of the recent political crisis in Tajikistan. On February 4, the Tajik Government reached an agreement with the two rebel military leaders who had moved forces near the capital, Dushanbe, and who had made various political demands.
The government agreed to make some changes in the composition of the cabinet. In return, the rebel soldiers are to return to their barracks and lay down their arms by today, February 7. The rebels also will be amnestied for their participation in the revolt.
The negotiated resolution of this difficult situation has removed a dangerous distraction from the U.N.-mediated peace talks now underway. The U.S. calls on all parties in Tajikistan to work toward national reconciliation via a process of dialogue and negotiation and rejects attempts to achieve political ends via force of arms.
That will be available for you after the briefing. With that, George, any questions?
Q Do you have any observations about the continued detention of those Bosnian Serb generals by the Bosnian Muslims?
MR. DAVIES: Yes. First off, an accounting...I was asked recently -- perhaps even yesterday -- about the prisoner situation in the region. Let me give you what we know about prisoners being held.
Our understanding is that the Bosnian Government, having recently released five prisoners in Gorazde, is still holding nine persons that it believes to be war criminals. The Bosnian Croats are still holding one prisoner and 50 persons they believe to be war criminals. The Bosnian Serbs are holding 21 prisoners and five persons they suspect as war criminals.
Obviously, those that fall under the prisoner category must be released, and we trust will be released. Those being held as suspected war criminals fall under a separate category.
We're concerned about the circumstances of the detention of General Djukic and other Bosnian Serb officials by the Bosnian Government. We've told the Bosnian Government that we're concerned about that action. We believe it's important, as I said yesterday, that all parties to the Dayton Accords respect the provisions of those accords, notably, in this case, the provisions regarding the free movement of peoples.
What's happening now on the question of these eight is that a meeting is taking place in Sarajevo involving officials from the War Crimes Tribunal, Bosnian Government authorities, and representatives of Carl Bildt. They are working out what's to become of those eight.
Judge Goldstone has issued an announcement that the War Crimes Tribunal is interested. They've called for the provisional arrest of two of those officials that were taken by the Bosnian Government.
This is playing out as it should, which is that the War Crimes Tribunal will make the ultimate determinations of which of these persons should be held and perhaps later indicted. The Bosnian Government has pledged that it will work with the War Crimes Tribunal in bringing this to a close, we hope, as quickly as possible.
Q But in the meantime, have the Serbs and the Croats suspended their cooperation as far as the Accords are concerned?
MR. DAVIES: That's right. We've followed up on that with the Bosnian Serbs, and we've told them that while we understand their concerns at the original arrests, those concerns don't justify suspension of contacts with the Bosnian Government or with the implementation force. We expect the Bosnian Serbs as well to comply fully with all provisions of the Dayton Accord, and we continue to discuss this with Bosnian Serb authorities -- discuss the importance of their returning to those talks.
Q Is it correct, as has been reported, that these eight were detained by the Bosnian Government in the zone of separation that's supposed to be being maintained by NATO?
MR. DAVIES: I've heard that report. I can't confirm that. I don't know where precisely they were detained, but I've seen that report. It's something I could check for you.
Q Were they on their way to a meeting with either Bildt or with the Muslims?
MR. DAVIES: That's the claim they've made, but we've also seen reports from the other side that there was no such meeting scheduled. So we've yet to get to the bottom of the precise circumstances of their having been taken. That's one of the things that's being discussed now.
Also, on the question of the modalities of how to handle persons who are arrested as suspected war criminals by the parties, there are protocols that are being worked out by the Joint Military Commission. It started meeting earlier in the week, and we hope that through that channel we'll get more clarity on precisely what circumstances are to be followed in cases like this.
Q You don't seem unduly concerned by the Bosnian Serb suspension of contacts with the Bosnian Government and Bildt --
MR. DAVIES: I don't mean to play it down. This is not at all a positive development in terms of the progress that had been made toward full implementation of the Dayton Accords. We're very concerned about it. That's why we've gone to the Bosnian Serbs, and we've told them that we think that their action was out of proportion to the action that prompted what they did.
We would hope that they would get back into their talks with the Bosnians. We're working hard to help the War Crimes Tribunal, the Bosnian authorities, IFOR, all the others engaged here, to work this out so that they can come to some resolution about the fate of those eight.
Q What was the Bosnian Serb response then to the U.S. view that it did not warrant them pulling out of --
MR. DAVIES: I don't have a Bosnian Serb response to give you. We're continuing to press this with the Bosnian Serbs and with the Bosnian Government. I would hope that soon this can be resolved, and that the Bosnian Serbs will go back to the talks with the Bosnian Government. But I don't have a response to give you right now.
Q Aren't you concerned actually that these people being detained by the War Crimes Tribunal and going ahead and saying, "We want two of these people," isn't that sort of rewarding the Bosnian Government for arresting these people in the first place and a whole series of retribution would take place?
MR. DAVIES: There are two, in a sense, competing obligations that the parties have. One the one hand, they're obligated to bring suspected war criminals to justice, to the attention of the War Crimes Tribunal. That's spelled out in the Dayton Accords.
The other very important provision of Dayton that we've been underscoring in the last couple of days is this issue of freedom of movement. It's important that this type of arrest not be made purely to harass members of other factions, so we're making that point.
But subsequent to the arrest of these eight, the Bosnian Government did the right thing in contacting Judge Goldstone, giving them access, and allowing the War Crimes Tribunal to make the ultimate determination.
When you get down to it, it's really a question of whether a rule of reason is being applied by the parties. Are they in fact arresting people simply to harass, or are they arresting people who are suspected war criminals?
That's up to Judge Goldstone to help determine, and he's certainly begun to do so in the case of the eight by indicating an interest in two of those eight. We would all on the parties not to engage in arrests purely for the purposes of harassing others.
Q Does the U.S. believe now that the Bosnian Government should release the other six immediately or not?
MR. DAVIES: We look to the War Crimes Tribunal to make a determination about all eight of them. We've got some preliminary word about the principal two. But it's really up to the War Crimes Tribunal.
Bob Gallucci, in fact, I think is meeting now with the various actors in this to try to help move this along. But it's up to the War Crimes Tribunal. It's really between the War Crimes Tribunal and the parties who have arrested the suspects to work out and work out quickly whether or not those arrested are of interest to the War Crimes Tribunal.
q Where is he having this meeting?
MR. DAVIES: Sarajevo.
Any other Bosnia questions?
Q On Croatia?
MR. DAVIES: Croatia.
Q Several papers in Croatia reported over the last few days that the United States asked Croatia to replace the head of its intelligence service. Some of the papers even said that President Clinton told Tudjman to replace his son who was, until the last few days, head of that service. Do you have anything on that?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on that. That's the first I've heard of that.
Q Can you get anything on that?
MR. DAVIES: I'd be happy to look into that. Sure.
Q On another --
MR. DAVIES: Bosnia or --
Q Another subject?
MR. DAVIES: We're going to go quickly, I think, to Lambros, but go ahead, Jim, please.
Q Have you had any further looks at whether the Chinese are indeed supplying things to the Pakistanis that they should not be?
MR. DAVIES: A couple of comments on that. One is that Assistant Secretary Lord is on the Hill -- he might have completed his testimony, but he was on the Hill this morning and testifying in open session before a Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
MR. DAVIES: I think he may have been asked questions about that.
MR. DAVIES: He has not. All right. Let me get into what I've got for you on that.
I can't get into details about what information we might have about some of these allegations of transfers of technology. But, as a general statement, the U.S. is concerned about the possible transfers of nuclear-related material and technology between those two countries -- China and Pakistan.
We've raised those concerns in our discussions with both nations. We had an occasion just in the last couple of days to raise these concerns with Vice Foreign Minister Li who was in town.
We would object to any transfers from China to Pakistan that would contravene China's obligations under the NPT and that could help Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons.
At this point, we're where we were yesterday and the day before, which is to say that we have not determined that China has violated the NPT nor that it's engaged in activities that would trigger sanctions under U.S. legislation. But this is a matter that's under active review and reassessment.
Q Would it be correct to characterize it -- you have suspicions but you don't have proof of such transfers?
MR. DAVIES: I think what's fair to say is that we have a body of information and we're looking into it. This is not an easy process, evaluating the information that we've got. Making a decision on whether or not sanctions are triggered -- this is a complex process that we're engaged in.
We take it seriously, but we've got to evaluate evidence before we take any steps which would have both political and economic consequences.
If sanctions are called for, we wouldn't hesitate to impose them.
Q You were asked and you said you were going to check the other day if the ring magnets have any other feasible utility like pinning notes to a frigidaire?
MR. DAVIES: I've checked that, and I don't have a full answer for you. Preliminarily, I can say that it appears they don't necessarily have other uses. The only uses they would have would be for these purposes.
Q Also on China?
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q Do you have any information on the sale of high performance Soviet fighter planes to the Chinese?
MR. DAVIES: Yes, we've seen those reports. I think there may be a little question over the numbers of aircraft that may be engaged or involved here. Essentially, our view is that while we understand that Russia intends to sell some SU-27 flankers, we believe that the transfers don't significantly alter the balance of power in the region, including in the Taiwan Strait.
The transfers appear to be in line with the region's current upgrading of defense capabilities and with China's recent economic growth. They've been, since about 1985, slowly modernizing their armed forces, and this is part of that effort.
Q How many planes are involved in this deal?
MR. DAVIES: We've got different numbers. There are as many as 72 or so; I think the equivalent of about three wings, if I understand how many aircraft comprise a wing. We might be able to get a little more precision on that.
They have, I think in the past, transferred some of these aircraft. What's at issue here may be a second batch of about 24, so the equivalent of another wing of SU-27s. It's our understanding that the deliveries would occur over a period of years.
Q Do you know when the first deliveries would occur?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know, no.
Q Mr. Davies, yesterday, at 5:46 p.m., I received by fax your press guidance regarding the Aegean issue. This guidance, with the involvement of a Greek official here in Washington, D.C., was presented to some media as "an initial Greek success," which is not true, since the U.S. for the first time is placing in question the Greek borders into the Aegean Sea.
Could you please then clarify on the record if this press guidance covers also the limitation of the (inaudible) over the Aegean via the International Court of Justice?
MR. DAVIES: Mr. Lambros, I'm happy to take a look at whatever piece of paper you've got after the briefing, and perhaps I can help you with that. But since I don't have it in front of me I can't tell you whether or not -- what its status is.
But our position hasn't changed on the question of the sovereignty of the island of Imia. It remains the same.
Q Repeatedly, the State Department stated here that the U.S. is not taking a position on the Greek-Turkish dispute over the Aegean. Then why, in this particular case, with the mentioned press guidance, for the first time you are taking actually a legal position, saying that the two parties should address the Imia issue to the International Court of Justice?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think that constitutes taking a legal position. That's some advice that we've given to both parties. We think that they ought to work this out peacefully. The International Court of Justice is one way to work this out peacefully. So we've suggested that that's one place that they could go.
Q It specifically says this by the State Department and by the White House that Imia should be addressed to the International Court of Justice. So I'm asking you right now why you are taking a position from the legal point?
MR. DAVIES: Again, this is not a legal position that we're taking. It's simply what we've told both Turkey and Greece about how we think they might proceed to resolve this issue, and that is that the International Court of Justice is a venue where they could air their differences.
Q According to reliable sources, prior to the issue of this press guidance, the Department of State had full consultation with the Turkish Embassy at the highest level, including Turkish Ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir.
I would like to know if, prior to the issuance, you had similar consultations also with the Greek Ambassador, Mr. Loukas Tsilas?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know. I don't know exactly who saw whom. I don't have in front of me any kind of a rundown, minute-to-minute, on how we handled the -- sure, I'm happy to look into it.
Q And the last one. Did you clarify -- my questions of recent days -- what happened around Imia Island in the crucial evening during the Aegean crisis? We would like Mr. Holbrooke to give us an answer to this crucial question: How the Turkish military forces succeeded to invade the second Greek island in the middle of mediation personally by President Clinton?
Otherwise, Mr. Spokesman, the Turkish Government had the guts to challenge even the mediation of the American President. We need an explanation by Mr. Holbrooke or by the Department of State. Can you take this question?
MR. DAVIES: I'll look into it for you, Lambros.
Q It's very interesting why you always emphasize the dialogue between the two countries. Why, suddenly, your press guidance or White House press guidance is carrying advice to both sides of legal -- to go to the International Court of Justice. Do you have any idea about that? Why this kind of position change -- happens in one day?
MR. DAVIES: The United States is always willing to play a role in helping resolve disputes if we're asked to. We can't sit in judgment and decide this case ourselves. That would not be appropriate.
Our decision in this matter was to suggest to both sides that they avail themselves of the International Court of Justice, which is one, I understand, of several venues that might be able to help Greece and Turkey work out their difference of opinion over the sovereignty of Imia/Kardak.
Q Do you have anything on the situation in Mostar after the decision of the EU Administrator on the forming of a central district? There were some problems there afterwards.
MR. DAVIES: Do you have a specific question that relates to Mostar?
Q Your position on the problems that obviously are there?
MR. DAVIES: Yes. They've supplied me with something. We welcome the Mayor of Mostar's decision with regard to the dispute -- I'm sorry - - we welcome Administrator Koschnick's arbitration decision with regard to the dispute over the administrative districts in Mostar. We urge both the Bosnians and the Croats to move to implement it peacefully and without delay.
We understand the decision calls for the establishment of three Croat-majority and three Muslim-majority municipalities with a large multi-ethnic zone in the middle of the city.
So, essentially, we welcome the steps that have been taken.
Q On Haiti. Has the U.S. proposed to the Haitian Government a Memorandum of Understanding related to the return of Haitian documents seized by the U.S. that would prohibit Haiti from making them public if there's a likelihood that individuals or information in the documents might endanger Haitians -- certain Haitians?
MR. DAVIES: I think what's fair to say about that is that we're engaged in trying to work out with Haitian authorities ground rules under which we could return these documents. I don't have specifics on how precisely we're doing that, whether we're giving them a piece of paper that we're suggesting they sign on to. I just don't know.
But what we're trying to work out with the Haitians is precisely how we could return these documents because we'd like to, but we do have concerns about the documents.
Q What is there to work out? Are there certain documents that are more sensitive than others that are going to --
MR. DAVIES: It's a large body of stuff. It's not just documents. You've got membership applications for the FRAPH -- identification cards, correspondence with the Haitian Armed Forces. You've got personal stuff: business records, passports, what-have-you. So it kind of depends on the category of documents or effects that are at issue here.
On some of this stuff, there's no dispute. We'd like to get it back to them as soon as possible. Obviously, the FRAPH pamphlets, public speeches -- things like that.
The others are a bit more problematic -- documents that contain the names of American citizens. We will redact the names of known American citizens which appear in those documents, and what we're trying to work out with the Haitian Government is in the event there's information that we've redacted or withheld from them and they have a legitimate reason for wanting that information, we want to work out a way ahead of time so that we can share information with them under certain safeguards.
It's a very involved process. There's a large body of material here, and we're trying to work through it with the Haitians. That's what we're engaged in now.
Q Who's involved in this? Is the Embassy there or --
MR. DAVIES: It's principally, I think, people from DoD. I know we're involved. I don't know who has the lead, but I guess you could view it as a State/Department of Defense joint effort in dealing with the Haitians on it.
Q And on the Haitian side?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know who's engaged on the Haitian side.
Q Glyn, have any of these sort of innocuous documents been turned over already?
MR. DAVIES: All I know about that is I saw the report that we sought to turn some material over, and we were told, "No thanks, we want it all because it all belongs to us," that coming from the Haitian side.
So I don't know that we've actually returned any of this material to the Haitians. I know that some of it we're prepared to return right now, but I just don't know if any of that has happened yet.
Q Also on Haiti, how does the United States view Haiti's decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba?
MR. DAVIES: That's a decision that it's really up to Haiti as a sovereign nation to make. There's no ambiguity or question about the U.S. view of relations with Cuba. We obviously have no diplomatic relations with Cuba, nor are we likely to re-establish such relations. I mean, their future -- as to Haitian motivation, I mean -- I think that's a question you could perhaps put to the Haitians. They've got the right to make that decision, and now we take note of that.
Q Thank you.
MR. DAVIES: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:41 p.m.)
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