U.S. Department of State 96/02/23 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, February 23, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns RUSSIA Secretary to Visit Moscow for Ministerial Mtg 3/22-23 .. 1 Arrest of Former NSA Employee for Alleged KGB Spying.... 7 Zhirinovsky's Comments re Pat Buchanan's Primary Wins .. 10 President Yeltsin's Speech/Remarks on Economic Reform .. 22 LATIN AMERICA Secretary's Mtgs with OAS Secretary General Gaviria .... 1 Secretary's Mtg with President of Inter-American Development Bank, Dr. Iglesias ....................... 1 Secretary's Mtg with American Experts on Latin America . 1-2 Secretary's Upcoming Visit to Latin America 2/25-3/4 ... 2 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Framework Electoral Code Adopted for Upcoming Elections 2-3 Hospitalization of President Izetbegovic ............... 12 Situation Report re Mostar ............................. 12 Situation in Sarajevo/Fleeing of Serb Residents ........ 12- 13,17-18 Serb Compliance with Dayton Accords/Sanctions .......... 13-17 Pace of Reconstruction Efforts/Civilan Implementation .. 18-19 Richard Holbrooke's Comments re: Congressional Response 18-20 Reported Threats Against IFOR Troops ................... 20 DEPARTMENT Information on Overseas Travel Available on the Internet World Wide Web Site .................................. 3 CUBA Cuba Statement re: U.S. Fomenting Dissident Groups ..... 3-4 Reported Sentencing of Human Rights Activist ........... 4 Cuban Democracy Act .................................... 4-5 UK/NORTHERN IRELAND Status of Gerry Adams Visa Request ..................... 10 Status of Peace Process/Prospects for Sen. Mitchell Role 11 MISCELLANEOUS Minister Farrakhan Travel to Iran, Iraq and Libya ...... 5-9 Reported White House Request regarding State Department Comments on Minister Farrakhan ....................... 7-8 TURKEY/GREECE Turkish Government's Recall of Ambassador from Athens .. 20-21 CHINA Reported Arrest of Tibetan Fulbright Scholar ........... 11 Reported Transfer of M-11 Missiles to Pakistan ......... 22-23 U.S. Assessment of Threat to Taiwan .................... 24 NARCOTICS Recommendations on Country Certification/Decertification 24-25 MEXICO Secretary's Meeting with Mexican Foreign Minister ...... 25
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1996, 1:17 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Welcome to Mr. Raymond Made, who is an Estonian journalist here, writing for a political magazine in Estonia. Very glad to have you with us. I have a couple of announcements to make before we go to questions.
First, Secretary Christopher has accepted the invitation of the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Primakov, to visit Moscow on March 22 and 23 for their two-day ministerial meeting.
You'll remember that when they met in Helsinki, they agreed they would have this meeting. At that point we had not worked out the dates. We have now done so. I believe the Russian Government has announced this, this morning.
As you know, this two-day ministerial will be primarily devoted to talking about the issues that will come up at the summit between President Clinton, President Yeltsin and the G-7 leaders that will be held in April.
I also want to let you know that the Secretary met yesterday afternoon with the Secretary General of the OAS -- the Organization of American States -- Dr. Gaviria, and with the President of the Inter- American Development Bank, Dr. Iglesias.
They had a very good conversation about the Secretary's trip to Latin America which starts on Sunday. They talked about many of the specific issues that will be discussed in each of the five countries that the Secretary visits.
This morning, the Secretary had breakfast with ten American experts on Latin America, and there was a very good conversation for about an hour about the trip. The Secretary was mainly in a listening mode to get their ideas on U.S. relations with Latin America.
I would say in general, the experts -- the people there -- gave the Administration very good marks for engagement with Latin America so far, pointing to the Summit of the Americas, to Haiti, to the Peru- Ecuador border dispute, to NAFTA, and to the Mexican economic recovery package.
In general, they all said that they believed that U.S. relations with Latin America were in fairly good and firm foundations. In fact, some of them believe that U.S. relations with Latin America are at their best level in some time.
There was a general feeling that the visit the Secretary is going to make not only is important practically, in terms of the substantive issues that are going to be discussed, but it also has great symbolic importance because of the great length of time between the Secretary's visit and the last visit by an American Secretary of State eight years ago.
There was also, I think, a very firm call by all of these experts that the United States remain engaged in Latin America. I think that a lot of them acknowledged that these countries are listening to the political debates underway here in the United States about isolationism versus engagement, and there is a firm call for the United States to remain engaged. I can assure you the Secretary very much agreed with that.
They had a discussion of a lot of the specific issues: the certification issue on narcotics, the environmental issues, the trade issues that will make up the substance of the Secretary's trip, and I'll be glad to tell you more about that if people are interested.
I'm going to post two statements in the Press Office, for those of you who would like to look at them after the briefing. The first is a statement that details the agreement in Sarajevo of the Provisional Election Commission of a framework electoral code for the upcoming elections that will take place probably late this summer in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
This is a very important development. As you know, it's being headed by the OSCE, and the group there is headed by an American diplomat, Bob Frowick. It's important because the parties have agreed on a parameter, a framework that will govern the elections, and I'll have this statement available to all of you.
We believe it's a good first step forward in trying to organize what will be one of the pivotal events of this year in trying to secure the Dayton peace agreements, and that is the elections that we hope will provide for political stability throughout the latter part of the year and certainly during the time period after which IFOR troops will have left.
Finally, there will be another statement posted, which is that the Department of State is pleased to announce that we now have information about travel for American citizens -- travel abroad -- visas and passports available on the World Wide Web. This is consistent with the President's call to the American Government to give the American public broader access and speedier access to information that they need. We find in our interaction with the American public that information about visas, passports and travel conditions in various countries, especially countries that are somewhat dangerous, is one of the most sought after sets of information that the State Department has.
We have been doing a lot of this by phone. We've been doing it by mailings and now, of course, all this is available on the Web, which is a positive development.
Q Back on Latin America, the Cuban Government is accusing the United States of fomenting the pro-democracy dissident group on the island, and I was wondering if you had anything to say about that.
MR. BURNS: I think it's a preposterous charge. The fact is that the Concilio Cubano is a Cuban organization. It's made up of Cubans who wish to see democracy take root in Cuba and who want to see a change in the regime in Cuba. These people have been prevented from meeting by the summary arrests that have been made over the last couple of days by the Cuban Government.
So the charge that somehow the United States is interfering with Cuba is really preposterous, because our Interests Section in Havana has followed the emergence of this group, and we know that over 50 of them have been arrested and detained this week by the Cuban Government. So I totally reject that charge, George.
Q There's no U.S. involvement? Does the U.S. encourage this sort of activity in Cuba? We certainly don't oppose it.
MR. BURNS: What we certainly encourage in Cuba is freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press. We'd like to see democracy take root there. There are 35 governments in this hemisphere, and 34 are democratic in one way or another and one is still an autocracy -- it's authoritarian.
So we want to see changes in Cuba. Absolutely. That's why we've had an embargo on Cuba for 36 years. That's why the Cuban Democracy Act is so clear and so firm about what we'd like to see happen in Cuba in the future. But for the Cuban Government to then make this extension that somehow we're interfering in their political life is really preposterous, and it's a very unusual thing for them to say.
Q Nick, yesterday one of the people from Concilio Cubano, Lazaro Gonzalez Valdez, was sentenced to 14 months in jail for disrespect, disobedience and resisting arrest. Do you have any confirmation on this?
MR. BURNS: I do not have confirmation on the case of that particular individual. Our Interests Section has been trying to follow the cases of the more than 50 people who were arrested, and I'll certainly take that question and try to see if we can confirm it for you.
If it is true, if this report is true, then we would, of course, condemn it in the most strong and severe terms. It's another indication that Fidel Castro, who is out of step with the modern world, is ruthlessly trying to protect his hold on power at a time when the Cuban people, we believe, increasingly are attracted by democracy, by economic freedoms, and we believe that is the wave of the future for Cuba. That's what we hope for Cuba in the future.
Q The lawyer that defended Gonzalez Valdez said that he was sentenced to 14 months, and that he couldn't even appeal, because he has three days to appeal, but they have taken away -- the lawyer doesn't know where to find him. Then three people who were in attendance at the hearing, and this morning they have tried Morejon -- Leonel Morejon -- but we don't know the results yet. I thought you may have something.
MR. BURNS: I don't, but there's very little justice in Cuba, unfortunately. It's not surprising to hear reports like this, but it is tragic.
Q There was an editorial this morning in The Washington Post on the crackdown in Cuba. Do you think this is going to have any effect on people who have been saying the best way to deal with Cuba at the moment suggests ending the embargo, because Cuba is really changing. Well, do you have any feeling or any report that anyone is changing the opinion on this?
MR. BURNS: It's hard to see how Cuba's changing when they're arresting people left and right, when they deny freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. It's hard to see how that government is changing.
Q I mean, in the United States, whether you get any feeling that those groups that have been trying to intensify the contacts with Cuba are thinking that, no, there is no change or that they are changing their opinion about where Cuba is going now.
MR. BURNS: Oh, whether groups in the United States --
Q In the United States.
MR. BURNS: I can't speak for those groups, but there is a bipartisan consensus in Washington about Cuba, and it's embodied in the Cuban Democracy Act. I don't see anybody in this government or in the Republican majority in the Congress who wants to change the Cuban Democracy Act, who wants to end the embargo. It's hard to take that position if you look at what's happening in Cuba now.
Q Do you have anything on Louis Farrakhan?
MR. BURNS: Do I have anything on --
Q He arrived last night, and he was questioned by Customs. Was his passport taken, or does he still have it?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the answer to those questions, because the Department of State does not have people sitting at ports of entry. The INS does, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Customs Service does, and so I'll have to refer you to them as to what happened when he entered the United States. I can't confirm that he did enter the United States. I just don't know.
Q They were referring questions to you in fact.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q They said it would be announced here in Washington, whatever they decided to do. Whatever happened, they were acting at the State Department's request.
MR. BURNS: Who said this?
Q The Customs spokesman in Los Angeles said this yesterday.
MR. BURNS: Okay. I don't know what may have been said between the State Department and the Customs Service. I think I explained yesterday what the normal procedures are if an American has gone to countries which are off-limits for travel for use of an American passport and if there are entry and exit stamps in that passport. I just don't know what happened in this case, Roy.
Q Do you know what the State Department requested the Customs officers to do?
MR. BURNS: I do not.
Q Can you check that?
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to check it, but I don't know personally.
Q Do you have anything further on whether he sought validation for travel to Libya and Iraq.
MR. BURNS: Nothing further to what I said yesterday. I said yesterday I wasn't in a position to know. It's a big government. I do understand, however, after having checked it further today, that if someone does apply for validation, that is covered by the Privacy Act. Therefore, the Privacy Act, which is U.S. law, would not permit me to talk about who had applied for validation for Iraq or for Lebanon or for Libya, which are the three countries in question -- not for Mr. Farrakhan but for American citizens for use of American passports. It is covered by the Privacy Act.
MR. BURNS: Iraq, Libya and Lebanon.
Q Oh, Lebanon.
MR. BURNS: Yes. But as I said yesterday, I don't know the answer to that question. Beyond citing the law and citing the Privacy Act, I just don't know what he may have done and may not have done in that particular case.
I've confined my remarks generally to the substance of what he said in several capitals. I've commented upon that repeatedly.
The other aspects of his trip that are in the press are mainly the purview of the Justice Department and the Treasury Department in most respects.
Q But not when it comes to the issuing of passports?
MR. BURNS: Not when it comes to the issuance of a validation; that's correct. But I'm just not in a position to know what he requested.
Q The FBI today arrested a former NSA employee and charged him with spying for the Soviet Union in the Sixties. Can you tell us something about what sort of damage may have come out of this?
MR. BURNS: I can't. I've seen the same press reports that you have. In matters such as this, it is generally true that the FBI and the Justice Department speak for the United States if there are to be legal proceedings, if it's a judicial matter. So it simply is not in my purview to talk about that, but I am aware of the incident.
Q Did it do any damage at all to the U.S.' foreign policy, it's intelligence-gathering, anything like that?
MR. BURNS: I just can't answer that question because I'm not fully aware of what the charges are and what his activities may or may not have been.
Q I'm sorry, I had a follow-up on Farrakhan. You've been fairly critical in the last couple of weeks of comments that he made. There are reports that the White House asked you to tone down your comments concerning Farrakhan. Is that true?
MR. BURNS: What I can tell you, Laura, is that I have received great support in the State Department and in the White House for the comments that I have made quite consistently over the last couple of weeks about the nature of what he said in Tripoli and Iraq and Iran and what he did and did not do to fulfill his obligations as a citizen of this country. I'm talking now about terrorism.
I've received great support privately and publicly. Mike McCurry, publicly, has associated himself with my remarks and says that he fully supports them. I've seen the press reports just as you have. But I can tell you that the people who count -- the people who count at the White House and who count here at the State Department, including my boss -- have backed me up on that. I wouldn't have expected anything less because I was enunciating principles that are important to this government and this Administration -- the fight against terrorism.
Q You stand by --
MR. BURNS: I absolutely stand by everything I've said over the last couple of weeks on this subject; absolutely and firmly stand by it, and I've been very pleased to see that I've been supported on that.
Q Nick, given the publicity on this case, how come all of a sudden you don't know anything about what's happened vis-a-vis Farrakhan?
MR. BURNS: How come we don't know anything that's happen? What are you referring to -- me?
Q How come you don't know what's happened to him vis-a-vis -- I mean, given the attention that's been put on his case and his return, how come you don't know what's happened since his return and its effect on his passport?
MR. BURNS: There's no mystery here, and I can assure you there's no conspiracy here, Carol. I can't confirm -- I don't know if he came into the country last night. I've seen the press reports that he did but I cannot confirm that for you, number one.
Number two, if he did come into the country last night, I can assure you the Department of State officers were not standing at the turnstiles. That's the job of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; another part of the job there is of the Customs Service.
We know that he visited these countries that are off-limits for the use of passports. If there are no stamps -- entry and exit stamps -- from those countries in the passport, there may not have been a reason to have confiscated the passport. I wasn't there, so it's very hard for me to stand up here and say, "Yes, he came in and we did this, we did that," because I just don't know.
Q Nick, I find it hard to believe, though, that if you actually wanted to know what happened between his entry into this country and this moment that you would have asked the question and could have gotten an answer. Did you ask the question?
MR. BURNS: Let me tell you. I've already told you that there are certain aspects of this that come under the purview of the Privacy Act, which is United States law -- we can't violate U.S. law.
For instance, the question of whether or not he sought validation of his passport for travel to Libya and Iraq. It is a question that, I understand -- and I've been told by various people in the Department this morning -- comes under the Privacy Act. So I can't answer that question.
The other question that you would like to know, "Did he come in; what happened when he came in; what did his passport look like," is the responsibility of people looking at his passport as he comes through the turnstiles from a trip overseas. I wasn't there.
Obviously, there are conversations ongoing within the government about various aspects of this case, among the various government agencies -- the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of State, the INS, and the Customs Service. I think we're going to keep those conversations private, to respect the privacy of an American citizen, until there is some judgment as to what should be done in this case.
I think it's an entirely reasonable approach to take and it conforms to the law which is a very important consideration here.
Q Are you trying to say this is a very sensitive case that people would rather not talk about publicly?
MR. BURNS: I don't have the right to talk publicly about any American -- any American, Louis Farrakhan or anyone else -- when it comes to these legal matters. I don't have that right.
I have the right and I've taken the opportunity to talk about what he said and what he did during his trip. That's entirely within my responsibility and purview. It's not part of my responsibility or legal authority to talk about judicial matters, to talk about the legal consequences of acts that may or may not have been committed. It is the responsibility of other government agencies.
Q My understanding of the law is that it's illegal to use an American passport to travel to the two countries in question -- Iraq and Libya -- but it is not illegal to travel to those countries for an American citizen. Is there some feeling in the State Department that this is a loophole in the law, the law is flawed and ought to be changed?
MR. BURNS: It's a question I have not considered personally so I don't want to give you my personal views on this. That's a matter of the law. I'd rather get an answer to that question from our Legal Advisor's Office.
Q Vaguely the same subject although there may be a different sub-heading. Zhirinovsky (Laughter) has congratulated Pat Buchanan for his stunning victory in New Hampshire; finds himself a kindred spirit, calls them "Brothers in Arms." Do you have any reaction to that?
MR. BURNS: The one thing I'm going to do from now and forever more is I'm taking the "Fifth," the pledge, on the U.S. election and those running for U.S. election. You all know I'm a Foreign Service officer. I'm not a political appointee. I'm not going to get involved in the election.
If I commented on that very provocative and interesting question, I would cross a line that I must not cross. I am covered by the Hatch Act. I'm not allowed to talk about things like this. It's also inappropriate for someone like me. I don't want to compare Pat Buchanan and anybody else.
Q Your Russia expertise?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Your Russia expertise may --
MR. BURNS: I can talk about Zhirinovsky all day if you'd like to talk about Zhirinovsky. I don't want to talk about what Zhirinovsky may have said about our political campaign and one of the people running for President in the Republican Party, so I hope you'll respect that. But it's a very interesting question.
Q Do you have anything on the Gerry Adams visa?
MR. BURNS: I don't. I think that situation is just where we left it the other day when I last spoke on this -- that is, we have not made a decision.
Q Has he applied for a visa?
MR. BURNS: I understand that he applied around the 7th of February. That would have been, if I'm not mistaken, before the cease- fire was broken by the IRA. At some point, if he does want to come here, we will have to make a decision but that time has not yet come.
Q So there's been no decision on the 7 February application?
MR. BURNS: That's right. That's exactly right.
Q Nick, on the same subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Is there any thought to try and sort of reactivate the George Mitchell efforts on peace with those two factions -- between Britain and the IRA? He has been going back and forth recently between the two governments. Are we planning on becoming more involved in that?
MR. BURNS: Senator Mitchell, as you know, was on a previously scheduled trip on other business to the UK and to Ireland. He took advantage of that. He met Prime Minister Bruton and Prime Minister Major. I know that the White House has already told you that the President had discussions with Prime Minister Major and Prime Minister Bruton this morning as he flew westward on Air Force I.
So we remain involved. Senator Mitchell is the representative of the President and the Secretary of State on this issue. He's been directly involved.
As to the nature of our involvement, whether that will change, that's really a decision that the President will have to make in concert and only at the request of Prime Minister Major and Prime Minister Bruton.
I think you know our stance on this. We are very interested in this problem. We want the United States to play a useful role but only when it is useful to the two governments in the region and at their request. I don't have anything for you that would indicate that we're going to change our modus operandi here.
Our major effort here is to convince all parties to reimpose the cease-fire. We have the most severe criticism and condemnation of the Irish Republic Army for having unleased this terror upon the people of the UK and of Ireland, and Northern Ireland, over the last couple of weeks. It's reprehensible.
The responsibility is the IRA's to turn back again towards peace. That's where our efforts, diplomatically, are focused these days.
Q Nick, the International Campaign for Tibet -- a human rights group -- alleges that the Chinese arrested a Fulbright scholar, Tibetan Fulbright scholar, in Tibet today. His name is -- excuse my pronunciation -- Ngawang Choephel.
MR. BURNS: Sid, I've not seen the report. We'll be glad to look into it for you. We'll take that question.
MR. BURNS: Yes, I have a few things on Bosnia that I would like to tell you.
First, I think as you all know, President Izetbegovic has been hospitalized in Sarajevo. We understand that he has good care and that he is recovering from his ailments.
President Clinton and Secretary Christopher have written him to wish him a speedy recovery. We understand that Vice President Ganic is Acting President during President Izetbegovic's convalescence. We do wish him a speedy recovery.
In the meantime, a lot is happening in Bosnia. As you know, the situation in Mostar, we think, has stabilized at least for the time being. Ambassador John Menzies, our Ambassador, visited Mostar yesterday. He found that the joint patrols were taking place; that there was general freedom of movement throughout the City. He met with the mayors of both the Croatian and Muslim sectors of Mostar.
While the situation is still obviously unsettled -- it's a new situation, as you know there have been some incidents in the streets -- in general, we think that considerable progress has been made in unifying Mostar for the first time in many years.
The situation in Sarajevo, however, is not quite as bright or as optimistic this morning.
Our initial reports were that joint patrols were underway. Unfortunately, IFOR and the United Nations, in the last couple of hours, have both criticized the Bosnian Government for having established some checkpoints in Sarajevo, in Vogosca, which are not permitted; for having tried to impede the freedom of movement of some Serbs and for having sent out their own patrols without the escort of the international police training force.
You know these joint patrols -- Serbian and Federation -- were supposed to be accompanied by the international police officials. That did not take place this morning. The Bosnian Government has been quite severely criticized by the United Nations and by IFOR for that. We certainly would support IFOR and the U.N. So we hope that the situation in Sarajevo might improve.
The other disturbing reality of the situation in Sarajevo today is that the flood of refugees -- Serb refugees -- out of the city continues despite the best efforts of IFOR and of the United Nations to advise these people that actually we think they would be better off by staying in Sarajevo.
The Bosnian Government has taken several very constructive steps to ensure the safety of the Serb residents of Sarajevo. There has been a three-week delay in the deployment of Bosnian armed forces into the Sarajevo suburbs.
As you know, the Bosnian parliament passed an amnesty bill. There has been an extensive Bosnian Government and IFOR and U.N. media campaign to try to encourage the Serb residents to stay. We have a lot of sympathy for most of these Serb residents. They have lived through a war.
Obviously, they're fleeing because they feel they will not get justice, they will not be treated well when the Bosnian Government comes in. We still encourage them to stay. We think that by fleeing they turn themselves into refugees. It adds to the misery of that country. It does not help to heal the wounds of the war. It certainly does not help to maintain the multi-ethnic nature of Sarajevo which has been its historic nature.
It's a very difficult situation. We're watching it closely. We'll do whatever we can to help. But I'm not sure that the statements that we and others have made, frankly, have much affect. The exodus continues, and that's a very sad fact.
Q On the military side of things, are the Serbs conforming or not to the Dayton Agreement at this point?
MR. BURNS: At this point, from what I understand, the Serbs have committed to returning to military consultations and to attend the military meetings with IFOR, which is positive. We'll watch the performance, the performance of the Serbs over the next week or so to make sure that actions conform with words.
As you know, we certainly remain interested in the Bosnian Government side in pursuing this issue of the foreign fighters.
IFOR said this morning they thought that there were perhaps 100 to 150 foreign fighters left in Bosnia, and that remains the responsibility of the Bosnian Government to deport those people, to move them out, to convince them to leave. It doesn't really matter how they do it but to get them out of Bosnia so that we don't have to fear that those foreign fighters represent a threat to IFOR forces, to our young men and women there.
Q I was thinking in terms of the 48-hour period given the Serbs to resume attendance at these joint meetings. According to the wires this morning, there's still no compliance. I was wondering, is that accurate as far as you know?
MR. BURNS: It's not my understanding. I think that there have been some meetings. But, Roy, what I would like to do is maybe step back and give that another look later on this afternoon when we receive our full reports.
Q Another question. How can you say that the Serbs are in compliance or that anybody is in compliance with the Dayton Agreements if the indicted war criminals are not only at large but making speeches and basically directing policy on their side? Can you say that they're supporting Dayton?
MR. BURNS: We've never said that. In fact, we've said since December 14, on a very broad measure, there have been violations of the Dayton Accords by all sides -- by the Croatians, by the Bosnian Government, by the Bosnian Serbs, and by Serbia, and specifically on the issue of war crimes.
In fact, just yesterday, I talked from this podium about the fact that they're not in compliance on war crimes and that the outer wall of sanctions remain as an inducement to them -- on Serbia.
Q On the lifting of sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs, how can you lift them? How can you contemplate lifting them if they are being directed by people who are indicted war criminals?
MR. BURNS: As you know, the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1022 sets out the conditions under which sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs will be suspended.
As you know, the IFOR commander in this case, Admiral Smith, is to submit a report to General Joulwan as to military compliance with the Dayton Accords; that means compliance with the zone of separation, with the pullback of military forces, and with the adherence to the zone of separation that has been created 600 miles long.
I don't believe that Admiral Smith has issued that report but I believe that he will be sending it to General Joulwan tomorrow. If he does send it tomorrow, and as we think there is general military compliance, I would anticipate that there would be some kind of suspension of sanctions fairly shortly -- fairly shortly.
Q But do they have to be attending the commission meetings? Isn't that also part of the separation of forces?
MR. BURNS: I believe that UNSC 1022 links suspension of sanctions with the military provisions. I think I've set out what those military provisions are.
Obviously, Roy, we do want them to attend the military meetings. That was one of the purposes of the Rome meeting. We have a commitment from them, and we expect that they'll do it.
Q It's in the military annex that they have to attend these meetings.
MR. BURNS: Of course. That's why we've called them on the carpet many times for their failure to attend those meetings.
Q Nick, aren't you being a little -- I'm a little confused. On the one hand today you say you would expect sanctions to be lifted shortly. Yesterday, you sort of said that the Bosnian Serbs should wonder what the United States is going to do about that. It's not certain whether the United States is going to support lifting.
So between yesterday and today, has the United States made some decision that it is certain that it will support lifting sanctions on --
MR. BURNS: I've commented on this, I think, three times this week. The first time I commented, I said that there would have to be a period of reflection on our part and a period of some days where we measured, monitored compliance; that there was this mechanism under the U.N. Security Council resolution, which is fairly clear, about what has to happen to suspend them and what the conditions are for suspension. I laid those out.
I think there has never been any belief that this would not happen, as long as the military arrangements were met. But we, frankly, publicly wanted to introduce some element of doubt as a public signal and public warning to the Bosnian Serbs and to the Serbs that we do take these other issues seriously. We've sent that message this week. We're continuing to do so.
Admiral Smith hasn't even issued his report yet. He hasn't sent it up to General Joulwan. Yesterday, we thought that he had. We checked again and he hadn't. We believe that will happen tomorrow.
So while I think it's probably inevitable, as long as the military conditions are being met, that sanctions will be suspended. I think it's been a very useful way for us to signal our continued concern over other aspects.
Of course, as you know, there are mechanisms at work that, if the military conditions are violated, there is a re-imposition formula here.
Q Are you admitting to publicly putting misinformation that was contrary to U.S. policy to send some sort of diplomatic message?
MR. BURNS: Sid, give me a break. Give me a little bit of a break here. The conspiratorial edge to the question, I know, is quite interesting. You'd probably like to write that story.
Go back and check what I said yesterday, Sid, and go back and check, I believe, what I said on Tuesday. It's very clear there's a mechanism here that I've spelled out for you, and I've done it again today: that certain conditions will unhinge the suspension of sanctions.
We sent a public warning to them, as well as a private warning, that they couldn't automatically bank on the support of the United States; that we would be watching their implementation on other measures. That was a useful and rational and logical thing to do.
I think your question is most inappropriate.
Q I don't mean to combative.
MR. BURNS: You're being very combative.
Q But you did say, the question was never in doubt all week; that you used this bit of public diplomacy as a warning.
MR. BURNS: It was a warning. And if there had been a wide-scale violation of the understandings arranged at Rome, I don't think the United States would go forward. What we have seen -- and I think I answered the first question on this -- is that the Bosnian Serbs have said they will now re-enter the military meetings, and we've seen some early indication of that. We're going to wait over the next 24 hours or so to see further indications of that.
Q But you said it was never -- do you stand by your comment, it was really never in question this week that the sanctions would be lifted?
MR. BURNS: Ultimately -- I said "ultimately." As long as the military provisions -- I use the word "ultimately" -- are adhered to, that was probably going to happen. But we gave them a public and private warning, which was a logical and wise thing to do. So I do take exception with the way you asked the question.
Q Nick, let me ask a question about Mladic if I may, which has a certain conspiratorial bent too. Mladic seems to be directing the actions of the Bosnian Serb military and the Bosnian Serb military appear to be adhering to all the terms of Dayton. You've said that other spokesmen for the government have said that. Does that become an argument to perhaps not assiduously pursue him on war crimes?
In other words, he appears to be enforcing a certain amount of discipline within the Bosnian Serb military which works to enforce Dayton.
MR. BURNS: No. I don't think that's an argument for us not to try to have him brought forward for prosecution by the War Crimes Tribunal. That's what we want to see happen. There is no interest that the United States has in seeing Mladic or Karadzic remain in power. There are other people who could run those institutions -- people who have not been indicted for mass murder.
Q Nick, a couple of minutes ago you said that the exodus of refugees in Sarajevo continues and it's a sad fact. A couple of days ago, from the same podium, the former Assistant Secretary, Mr. Holbrooke, said that there are some Serbs, if I remember correctly, who ought to leave and that they know which ones they are and they can sort themselves out.
What is the U.S. policy? Should all the Serbs remain in Sarajevo -- all the Bosnian Serbs?
MR. BURNS: Our policy is that -- I think I know what Dick Holbrooke was trying to say. Our policy is that the Serb residents of Sarajevo should stay. If there are people in Sarajevo who are guilty of war crimes, that's another thing. Perhaps Dick was referring to that when he made his distinction. But the Serb residents ought to stay.
The obligation that we have as one of the, in effect, guarantors of the Dayton peace agreements is to be fair to all sides. We need to be fair to the Serb population and the Bosnian Serb population, many of whom were victims of the war. We'd like to see those people stay.
Q Can I follow up? I think what Holbrooke -- had prefaced what Charlie said -- was that a certain number of the Serbs in the suburbs had come in as fighters, had evicted Muslims, had conducted ethnic cleansing, used those suburbs as a base for the siege of Sarajevo proper. You seem to be --
MR. BURNS: It's not going to be up to the United States to go through the Serb suburbs and try to identify those people who should stay and those people who should not. That's the job for the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Government and the United Nations -- the civilian side, Carl Bildt's effort. It is not the job of the United States to do that.
Q Nick, isn't there some concern about the snail's pace of the reconstruction efforts now; that if nothing really happens on the ground -- the Bosnian Serbs -- there's nothing that the Bosnian Government, with all the good will in the world that they may have, can offer to them to show that they would have improved conditions if they remained together in this agreement; and that military people have said that they're also concerned that 23,000 refugees are going to be coming back from Germany within the course, I think, of the next year, and that if something doesn't happen quickly on this area, that the whole thing could really fall apart.
Is there not concern in the Department, and, if so, are there efforts being made to try and speed things up on the reconstruction?
MR. BURNS: There is that concern. I think you heard Carl Bildt say that most persuasively at Rome when he made his introductory statement last Saturday afternoon. The concern is that we need to move quickly on the reconstruction side on civilian efforts.
I do want to give the Congress a break here. The Administration just put to Congress, two days ago, our request for an additional $860 million to help pay for some of the bonuses that our troops will be receiving -- bonuses and pay -- as a result of their service and for $200 million, which is the U.S. contribution to that civilian effort that you site.
I think that there may have been, somewhat mistakenly, the impression given to you the other day from the Department that somehow Congress was responsible for dragging its feet. Congress is not dragging its feet. Congress just got the Administration's request a couple of days ago, and I think it's only fair to let the Congress look at a very serious and complicated proposal. We certainly will work with the Congress and would expect speedy action, but they do deserve a couple of days, at least, to look at this.
Q There have been reports, though, that other countries who have pledged money for the civilian implementation have been reneging or have not been putting money into the pot. Are you all concerned about this seeming lack of response?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to stand up here and cast stones. I think that we ought to applaud the efforts of the European Union, which has met its obligations, and has contributed the first tranche of money to fund Carl Bildt's effort.
The United States has an obligation to put forward our own money. We have not done that yet, and that's why we're working closely with the Congress on the question of the $200 million, which is our share. Other countries have not come forward, as they should have and as they committed to do so.
It's up to Carl Bildt, of course, to be the lead person speaking out on this. He's in charge of the effort, but we want to fully support him. He has done, I think, a lot with very little. He started out with a cell phone in Brussels, and he has built an organization. He's got major responsibilities, and we all need to step up and help Carl Bildt, and that's what we intend to do in the weeks ahead with the consent of the Congress.
Q I just want to make sure I'm clear. It wasn't just some faceless, low-level U.S. official who talked about Congress and Congress' role. It was Dick Holbrooke himself on television and publicly here. So now you're backing off Holbrooke's criticism of Congress.
MR. BURNS: Carol, I think I've said quite clearly and quite openly, I wouldn't use the word "back off." I wanted to clarify the record, because I think it's only fair, and I know many other people -- my superiors in this building -- feel it's only fair that if Congress just received a proposal, that we not give them a hard time, we not say they're dragging their feet.
In fact, they're looking at it seriously. We're having good discussions with the Congress, and we don't want to create a problem where there is no problem. Congress has responsibilities that it needs some time to carry out.
Q What was Holbrooke talking about?
MR. BURNS: You'll have to address that question elsewhere. I think to be charitable to Dick, who I very much respect, he may not have been aware of the timing of this proposal. That's one theory. I just wanted to set the record straight about what we expect of the Congress and what we don't expect. We don't want to be unfair to the Congress.
Q Could you come back to Mladic for a second? I'm not quite sure -- yesterday at the Pentagon, they confirmed that there is this threat against Americans to kidnap American troops in IFOR; that it came from Mladic. They seem to be certain of that.
How does one square the idea of a threat against IFOR troops with compliance with the military annex of the Dayton accords?
MR. BURNS: I didn't read in Ken Bacon's briefing yesterday -- if you're referring to that -- I didn't read any kind of confirmation. What Ken Bacon and I both said yesterday was that we could not confirm that report, but obviously everyone is concerned about it. I said yesterday essentially what I heard the Pentagon saying, that our soldiers will protect themselves, and they have the ability to defend themselves.
Q But my question is, this is coming from Mladic. Mladic is the man in control. How do you square his actions and his presence there with conformity with the Dayton --
MR. BURNS: Roy, I'm not able to confirm that statement for you. I don't know that he made it. We have a responsibility here when we say that we think someone said something to know that for a fact. I don't know that for a fact.
It wouldn't surprise me, given the environment, that some Bosnian Serbs might be up to no good, and that's why we said what we did yesterday; that our troops will defend themselves.
Pertaining to the suspension of sanctions, which your question is, there are very clear conditions laid out, and we've talked about that before -- about what those are.
Q New subject. About Greek-Turkish relations. Yesterday the Turkish side withdrew the Ambassador from Athens. Do you have any reaction about this?
MR. BURNS: It's not appropriate for me to comment on actions by Turkey, given its own disposition of its diplomatic personnel. I would say this -- it's very important that Turkey and Greece avoid confrontation and work to resolve a very difficult problem over this islet, and we're ready to help them do so.
Ultimate responsibility for resolving this rests on Greece and Turkey's shoulders together, and they ought to take that responsibility and they ought to resolve this question. The bickering is not conducive to that.
Q And also is the European Union -- the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Simitis, visiting several European capitals, asking to stop some financial due for the Custom Union. Do you support Greece -- this kind of action against Turkey?
MR. BURNS: Again, I can't -- I'm not aware of what the Greek Prime Minister may or may not have said, so I can't comment on that. But what I can do is tell you that the United States firmly supports the Customs Union. We were one of the main supporters of the Customs Union. We encouraged our European partners in the EU to conclude that agreement with Turkey and very glad they did so.
Q You said that Turkey and Greece should avoid confrontation. Can this be taken State Department view that Turkey's recalling Ambassador for consultation to Ankara is a sign of confrontation, increased tensions?
MR. BURNS: This is a conspiratorial day here at the State Department. (Laughter) It must be a lack of news or something. We're all trying to get the -- the conspiracy theorists are here.
Q My question is, do you see this as increased strains in the Greek-Turkish relations?
Q Or tensions?
MR. BURNS: There are enough tensions and strains in the relationship without me adding to them. Our position is that Greece and Turkey are valued allies of the United States. They should work their problems. They should work them out. I didn't want to comment. I said it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the actions of the Turkish Government in recalling its Ambassador.
I'm not commenting on that. I'm commenting on the general state of the Greek-Turkish relationship which we think needs to be improved. Let's face it, they need to get along better. They need to resolve their problems more amicably than they do, and we're willing to help them in any way that we can, and they know that. Both countries know that.
Q Russia. Boris Yeltsin's speech? Any reaction to Yeltsin's speech?
MR. BURNS: Big speech. It was a state of the nation speech. Lots of news.
Q Well, what he said on reform.
MR. BURNS: On reform?
MR. BURNS: We were very gratified to see in the speech -- I've not seen a full text, but I've seen most of the reporting on it -- that President Yeltsin reaffirmed his commitment to economic reform. That's a very positive thing. It's positive because it's been the policy of the Russian Government for four years now -- over four years.
We were also very pleased to see the actions by Michel Camdessus and the IMF to conclude with President Yeltsin the second largest agreement that the IMF has ever concluded with any country -- the $10 billion arrangement.
This is a very important demonstration of support for Russian reform at a time when Russian reform is embattled. As you know, this agreement calls for a tranching of the $10 billion over three years. The largest share, roughly $4 billion, is going to be released this year.
There will be monthly monitoring of Russia's economic performance throughout 1996, and we think this is a good agreement. We think it is further tangible, very substantial Western support for Russia's reforms. We think that it will help to maintain the momentum within the Russian Government for support for the basic economic reforms.
We think it will help keep inflation down to a reasonable level and maintain the strength of the ruble and allow the Russian government to carry out the structural reforms that President Yeltsin talked about in his speech this morning.
So I think two positive events today: The Yeltsin speech in many respects, at least on economic reform, and the actions of the IMF.
Q Yesterday, CIA Director John Deutch confirmed that there was some sort of transfer from China to Pakistan, and from the podium Mike McCurry earlier this week said that he did not expect any determination would be given to the President that would require his immediate action. The Secretary of State earlier this week said it was all still being reviewed, considered, etc.
Are you going to openly disagree with Mr. Deutch that there has been a transfer? You're saying that this evidence needs to be weighed -- it's ambiguous -- and he's confirming it publicly.
MR. BURNS: The Secretary of State simply -- he didn't speak that specifically about that part of the problem. Secretary Christopher said that we're still studying and analyzing this problem. It's a very complicated and serious problem. So I'd certainly associate myself with the Secretary's remarks and also Mike McCurry's remarks, and they're fully consistent.
Actually, I would also say that I think Director Deutch has been consistent in his remarks -- the ones referred to -- with our policy and also with the statements by others this week. We've said many times that we take all reports of transfers of missile technology to Pakistan very seriously, and we need to weigh the evidence very carefully. We need to be clear about that evidence. So I don't actually see the gap that you appear to see.
Q You're saying we need to weigh clear evidence. He's saying we have it, this is the case. I mean, there is definitely a gap.
MR. BURNS: I don't read it like that. I think that the Administration is going to have to continue to study the problem. At some point we'll have to make a decision. I don't know what that point's going to be, but I don't share the characterization that there's some kind of split in the Administration.
Q Is this on the Secretary's calendar for action before he goes to Latin America?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary said that he continues to look at this problem, but he hasn't made a decision. I can't predict when he will arrive at a decision. It's a very complicated case.
Q (Inaudible) the Secretary's decisions.
MR. BURNS: Yes. China, yes.
Q Taiwan newspaper reported yesterday China is prepared for a military exercise this week. The United States has still same response for China/Taiwan issues, or do you see any imminent threat, even though China conducts a military exercise this week?
MR. BURNS: There's been no change in our assessment of the threat to Taiwan. We don't believe that a Chinese threat is imminent. We've also said that we understand these exercises are occurring; that we think they're provocative and designed to intimidate the Taiwanese people before their elections. We don't think they're helpful. We've made that known to the Chinese Government, but we haven't changed our assessment during the last couple of days. It's the same assessment.
Q Has the Secretary gotten any closer to make a decision on the drug certification?
MR. BURNS: That decision must be made before the end of February, because the recommendation must be sent to the President, and the decision will be announced on March 1. I don't know exactly which day the Secretary will send his recommendations to the President.
Q March 1 is next Friday.
MR. BURNS: That's right. So it's going to happen between now and next Friday.
Q And he leaves on Sunday. I guess he can still do it --
MR. BURNS: The Secretary often works on the road. He does a lot of work on other issues on the road.
Q That doesn't give the President much time for serious thought, does he?
MR. BURNS: Oh, I think we'll give the President -- the Secretary would always want to give the President time for serious thought.
Q Has he made a decision, regardless of whether he sent it to the White House or not?
MR. BURNS: On which issue?
Q The drug issue.
MR. BURNS: The certification issue is -- there's not one decision to make. There are many, many decisions to make on individual countries, and I can tell you the Secretary has not yet sent his recommendation to the President.
Q But is it completed though, whether he has transmitted it or not?
MR. BURNS: I'd just have to check. It's in various stages of development, depending on the country you're talking about. But I don't believe that the entire document is complete, no.
Q But the determination has been made for many of those countries -- some of those countries?
MR. BURNS: I assume possibly, and possibly -- I just don't know. I mean, I assume that there's been some work done, but it's not really even a very interesting question until the whole document is done and gets on the President's desk. He's the only one that can make the decision.
So we're all going to have to wait til March 1. I'm very sorry to tell you that.
Q Nick, yesterday Secretary Christopher met with the Mexican Foreign Minister. I was wondering, did the Foreign Minister have any particular message for the Secretary? Obviously, they talked about a broad range of things, but I was wondering on this particular issue what did he have to say?
MR. BURNS: They had a good meeting. They know each other well. They get along very well. They communicate well. The meeting covered a lot of issues. It certainly covered the narcotics issue, as you would expect, given the importance of the issue, but I can't tell you what they said.
Q Well, Watson called it an excellent meeting. You're calling it a good meeting. I see a gap there. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: I know. This is a big problem. (Laughter) Boy! Let's pursue this. Anybody else want to come in here?
Q (Multiple comments)
MR. BURNS: Thanks.
(The briefing concluded at 2:08 p.m.)
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