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U.S. Department of State
96/03/11 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman



                        U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                          DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                               I N D E X 

                         Monday, March 11, 1996

                                             Briefer:  Nicholas Burns


DEPARTMENT
   Secretary Christopher's Travel to Middle East and Europe   1-8 

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
   Prospects of the Secretary Meeting with Netanyahu and
     Leah Rabin ............................................  8-9
   Prospects of U.S. Officials Meeting with Hamas Leaders ..  9-10
   Hamas' Political vs Military Wings .....................   10-11
   Chairman Arafat's Efforts to Stem Terrorism .............  10-11
   Israeli Measures to Stem Terrorism ......................  25-26
   Reports that Syrian President Will Attend Peacemakers
     Summit in Egypt .......................................  26  

CHINA/TAIWAN
   China's Missile Tests/Military/Live Ammunition Exercises   11-23
   -- Secretary's Comments on Meet the Press Sunday ........  11,16,17,
                                                              19 
   U.S. Carriers Deployed to Area ..........................  12-13,14
                                                              22-23
   U.S. Meetings with PRC Vice Minister Liu ................  13,14,18
                                                              22 
   U.S. Diplomatic Contacts with the Chinese on Issue ......  18,19-20  
   U.S. Relationship with Taiwan/Taiwan Relations Act ......  19,20-21  
   U.S. China MFN Policy ...................................  22  

RUSSIA
   U.S.-Russia Ministerial on March 22-23 in Moscow ........  23  

CUBA
   Reported Cuban Harrassment of Returned Migrants .........  23-24

BANGLADESH
   Election Outcome/Dispute.................................  25   

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
   Reported Russian Charges for Greek Military Planes to
    Land in Croatia.........................................  26  
   Situation in Sarajevo/IFOR's Mission ...................   28-29
   --Carl Bildt's Efforts re Serb Suburbs ..................  28-29

TURKEY/GREECE
   Reported Capture of Iranian Agency by Turkish Forces ....  8   
   Imia-Kardak Dispute ...................................... 26-27
   Former Greek King Constantine's Visits to U.S. ..........  27-28

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #40

MONDAY, MARCH 11, 1996, 1:05 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I want to welcome today twelve German broadcast journalists and editors here, sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission, which is a nonprofit organization that commemorates the legacy of free broadcasting in Berlin. You're most welcome. Very glad to have you with us today.

Secondly, I wanted to let all of you know -- those of you who are coming with us on the trip and those of you who are not -- what the Secretary's schedule will be over the next 12 or 13 days.

The Secretary of State is about to embark on a very long trip to the Middle East and to Europe that will have him out of the country from tomorrow afternoon until Saturday, March 23, and I wanted to go over the schedule with you.

As you know, the Secretary will be leaving with the President on Air Force One tomorrow. They'll fly to Sharm al-Sheikh in southern Sinai for the Summit of the Peacemakers. They will be there all day on Wednesday.

They'll depart Sharm al-Sheikh some time late Wednesday afternoon/early Wednesday evening for Jerusalem where they plan to spend the night. On Thursday, of course, the President and the Secretary will have a program of events with the Israeli leadership and the Israeli people, and I'd refer you to the White House for the details of that particular schedule.

When the President departs at some point on Thursday for the United States, the Secretary will be remaining in Jerusalem for Thursday afternoon/evening, and for a good part of Friday to continue working with the Israeli Government and talking to the Israeli people about the tragic events of the suicide terrorism.

He'll then be departing Jerusalem at some point on Friday -- late on Friday -- for Brussels. He'll spend Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday in Brussels. On Saturday he intends to meet with the Secretary General of NATO -- Secretary General Solana -- and also meet with General Joulwan about Bosnia issues, Dayton accords, compliance issues, and also, certainly with Secretary General Solana, about the range of NATO issues which we're currently working on, including the issue of NATO enlargement.

The Secretary will then travel on Sunday to Geneva. As you know, he'll be in Geneva on Monday for meetings there to push forward the very strong United States support for a comprehensive test ban treaty, which we hope will be concluded this year -- in fact, which we hope will be signed this year.

From Geneva, he goes on to Kiev for important meetings with President Kuchma, with Prime Minister Marchuk, with Foreign Minister Udovenko. That will be on Tuesday, March 19. This is a long planned visit to Kiev to talk about the very close relationship that the United States has established with Ukraine and all of the issues on the U.S.-Ukraine agenda, ranging from economic reform to our very good military cooperation with Ukraine and the Partnership for Peace, and to other issues in the U.S.-Ukraine agenda.

He'll leave Kiev on the evening of the 19th; spend the night in Prague on March 19, and then be in Prague on March 19 and 20 for meetings with the Czech leadership on U.S.-Czech relations but also to convene a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Central Europe -- all the Central European democracies -- including the three Baltic countries: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This is a continuation of the pattern of meetings the Secretary has had for two years now with his Central European colleagues.

On March 21, probably at some point in the afternoon, the Secretary will leave Prague for Moscow. He'll be in Moscow from the 21st to the 23rd. As you know, we've scheduled a full-scale review of U.S.-Russian relations with the Russian leadership, with Foreign Minister Primakov and President Yeltsin and other Russian officials. That will take place mainly on Friday but also extend into Saturday morning, March 23.

When those discussions end, the Russians will convene a Contact Group Ministerial meeting that will include Germany and France and Britain, Carl Bildt and others to talk about the Dayton accords and compliance with the Dayton accords. I would expect that meeting to take up the late morning and early afternoon of March 23.

The Secretary then intends to return to Washington on the evening of March 23. So a very long trip ahead of us -- 12 days -- comprising some very important issues concerning American policy in the Middle East; and, as you can see, across a broad spectrum of issues in Europe.

I also wanted to let you know that the Secretary is currently upstairs in a lunch. He has invited all of the Ambassadors of the European Union countries to a lunch today to have a long planned and comprehensive discussion of U.S.-European issues. They are discussing the new transatlantic agenda that was announced by President Clinton and the EU leaders in the December summit meeting in Madrid.

There will obviously be discussion of a variety of issues pertaining to the U.S.-European Union relationship. In addition, I expect a vigorous and good conversation on Bosnia, as well as on the Middle East and the support that we were so glad to see that the European Union leaders enunciated over the weekend for the State of Israel and for Yasser Arafat in the fight against terrorism; but also the criticism leveled by the European Union against Iran and Libya for the connections that we believe are apparent for everyone to see between those two countries and Middle East terrorist groups.

It's a very important lunch, and the Secretary wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to do this before leaving for the Middle East.

Finally, I just wanted to note that our Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott will be departing Washington in just a couple of hours. He'll be traveling to Moscow for meetings this week with the Russian leadership. These meetings are intended to prepare for the Secretary's visit to Moscow in about 9-10 days from now.

So with that, George, I'll be glad to go to your questions.

Q Do you have anything to say about who's attending and who's not attending the meeting on Wednesday?

MR. BURNS: I think the response to the invitation by Egypt and the United States to the meeting at Sharm al-Sheikh has been quite encouraging. As you notice, this meeting is co-hosted by Egypt and the United States -- by President Mubarak and President Clinton. Boris Yeltsin, the Russian President, will also be there, which is very important, in his capacity as co-chair of the Middle East peace process that was started in Madrid more than four years ago.

Of course, Prime Minister Peres, Chairman Arafat will be there, as well as, we think, representatives of Algeria, Bahrain, the Prime Minister of Canada, the European Union will be represented. President Chirac, Chancellor Kohl, Prime Minister Major, Prime Minister John Bruton, Prime Minister Dini, King Hussein, of course, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, the UAE. We expect Yemen -- representatives from all these countries. In addition to that, Norway, Spain, Turkey. The United Nations will be represented, and we expect the Saudi Government will also be represented.

This is just an incomplete list of countries that we have received calls from over the weekend. We expect that other countries will finalize their decisions. I think all of you are probably wondering about Syria. As the Secretary said yesterday, we hope very much that the Syrian Government will choose to be represented at this conference. They ought to be there, but the Syrian Government has not yet made a decision. We await that decision.

Q But they haven't said no, right?

MR. BURNS: They have not said no, and they have not said yes. They are deliberating. We, of course, have had several discussions with the Syrian leadership about this issue. We think it's important that they be there. This is a Summit of the Peacemakers, of countries interested in Middle East peace, of countries interested in isolating the terrorist groups in the Middle East that are making peace so difficult to talk about.

The symbolism is going to be quite dramatic on Wednesday at Sharm al-Sheikh. I think if you go back and look at the history of the State of Israel and its relations with its Arab neighbors, I'm not sure there's ever been an event quite like this one, where an Israeli Prime Minister will stand on the same dais and meet in the same conference room with so many leaders of Arab countries. The list that I've read you is quite impressive, and so we would hope very much that Syria could be there.

Q Nick, was everybody invited? Let me strike this -- it may sound a little bit silly -- but Iran and Iraq aren't going to be there.

MR. BURNS: No. Iran and Iraq were not invited.

Q They were not.

MR. BURNS: This is the Summit of the Peacemakers. This is not a summit of the warmakers, in the case of Iraq.

Q But, I mean, we have the President of Israel and the PLO reaching an agreement, so in this world there are strange twists and turns. And, if you wanted everybody to join in fighting terrorism, presumably you'd like everybody there. But just for the record, they weren't invited. Syria was, and Syria hasn't said yes or no.

MR. BURNS: Countries that have articulated an interest in Middle East peace, a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, have been invited. You can see the range of countries is quite impressive. Gulf countries --

Q Sudan wasn't invited either, was it?

MR. BURNS: Gulf countries, North African countries, European countries, North American countries.

Q You invited with some expectation --

MR. BURNS: We did not. As far as I am aware, there was no invitation extended to Tripoli, Baghdad, Tehran, Khartoum.

Q Sudan.

MR. BURNS: That's right. Because I don't believe any of these countries have ever said publicly or privately that they're interested in a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and we have concerns that some of these countries -- in fact, as Secretary Christopher said last week -- have connections to the terrorist groups -- both political connections and financing connections -- that are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

So it would be too strange to be true, Barry, to have people like Saddam Hussein or Muamar Qadhafi up on the dais, because they have no interest in Middle East peace, and that's part of the tragedy of the history of the Middle East in the last couple of decades.

Q How about Lebanon?

Q At what level have the Saudis indicated they'll send somebody?

MR. BURNS: I'd prefer to leave that to the Saudi Government. I have specifically not indicated who's coming for each government, because I think it's fluid in some cases. I'm not quite sure who will be representing Saudi Arabia, but let's let the Saudi Government announce that.

Q And Lebanon?

MR. BURNS: I have seen, Jim, a press report from Beirut, a wire service report from Beirut, that the Lebanese Prime Minister said this morning that Lebanon would not attend. We think that's unfortunate. We think Lebanon ought to be there as well.

Q And they were invited.

MR. BURNS: Of course. Lebanon is part of the Middle East peace process. There is an Israeli-Lebanese part of the Madrid process, and we think it's very important that peace between Israel and Lebanon be concluded in order to form a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

Q Have the Lebanese found out what Syria was going to do before you have? (Laughter)

MR. BURNS: Norm, that's a very creative question. (Laughter) I'm not sure I can give you an equally creative or inspired answer here. We're waiting for word from Damascus, and I'm sure the Lebanese will be interested in what the Syrians have to say.

Q Nick, can I ask you about this European Union lunch. Is there anything specific that the United States would like the European Union to do or not do in regard to Iran?

MR. BURNS: As I said, Jim, we were encouraged to see that the European Union chose to have some sharp words for both Libya and Iran over the weekend. As you know, we have had a difference of opinion with many European countries over policy towards both of these countries.

We believe that because of their undeniable support for terrorism -- and in our case, terrorism that has cost American lives but also European lives -- we believe that the European Union countries need to take a harder, tougher approach to both of these countries.

President Clinton has put himself forward in the last couple of years with steps that would have the United States effectively isolate Iran from business as usual with the United States -- with American companies, with American diplomats -- and that's been the right course to take.

The Europeans have followed a course, frankly, of critical dialogue, as they call it, with Iran. We don't see that that critical dialogue, frankly, has had many positive effects or has been effective, and therefore we are very glad to see that the European Union has questions for the way in which Iran and Libya reacted to the suicide bombings.

You remember, that the initial response from the Iranian state-sponsored newspaper was "divine retribution," which was cynical and cruel and off the mark and out of step with the rest of the international community. Now we see these hectic attempts by the Iranian leadership to convince us they really didn't mean that; that their state-sponsored newspaper really didn't mean to say that; that they actually do oppose terrorism, which we believe is contradicted by the evidence, which is that Iran supports Hamas, Iran supports Hizbollah and other terrorist organizations.

So we'd like to join forces with the European Union in a pragmatic, tough policy of isolating these two countries until they can show that they're going to become part of the civilized world.

Q Just to round out the picture, you're going to Moscow, and the Secretary saw the Russian Foreign Minister not too long ago in Helsinki. Do you have anything positive to report about Russia's relationship with Iran since you and -- since the Secretary and the Foreign Minister got together?

MR. BURNS: I think it's important to contrast the way that Russia has reacted to the suicide terrorism with Iran.

Q I think it's (inaudible) Iran.

MR. BURNS: Iran talked about "divine retribution." Russia took a very tough, critical position against Hamas and against suicide terrorism. Russia and Iran have a relationship, and it's an economic relationship and it's a political relationship. But in the last meeting in Helsinki that Secretary Christopher had with Primakov, the Secretary made quite clear our view of Iran and our concerns about Russian connections to Iran. In the meeting in Moscow, he'll, of course, reiterate and reaffirm those concerns, and we hope to convince the Russian leadership that it's in their interest -- they're a neighbor of Iran -- as well as in our interests to try to prevent Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Unfortunately, we've come to the conclusion that Iran would like to acquire weapons of mass destruction. We want to deny them the technology and the training of their engineers and scientists to get there. As you know, we've had a long running difference of opinion with the Iranian Government about transfers of certain nuclear technologies and other technologies. Those concerns also extend, as you know -- as we talked about last week -- to China's relationship with Iran.

Q But nothing since the centrifuges were taken off the block, and they hadn't been on very long -- it was probably a (inaudible) centrifuge. You have no word from Moscow of any reversal of any technology transfers, is that correct?

MR. BURNS: In recent weeks, I'm not aware of any announcements by the Russian Government that it's altered its policy. But we'll continue to work at this, Barry, because it's in all of our interests that we do so.

Q Today the Turkish secret forces caught one of the Iranian agents -- he killed six years ago one of the prominent Turkish columnists and also executive editor of highly circulated newspapers. Do you have any information about that? Have you heard anything on the subject?

MR. BURNS: I don't have any information on that. No, I don't. But we'll be glad to see what we've got on it.

Q Nick, could I ask a question, to follow up on the Friday questioning -- rather aggressive questioning of you about whether the Secretary would see for the first time in a year Netanyahu. I have two questions. One, I want to reverse that question of Friday to say, is the reason he hasn't seen Netanyahu in the past year is because Netanyahu doesn't support a comprehensive peace, and in fact has come out to freeze the peace -- that's his campaign plank on the peace -- so that it wouldn't be appropriate, would you say, for the Secretary to try and see a leader that might not be in accord with the U.S. policy?

Secondly, is it possible that he will pay a courtesy call on Leah Rabin, who has come out with some rather remarkable statements regarding the recent events?

MR. BURNS: The facts are -- just to establish the facts -- that in March of last year, 1995, the Secretary did have a meeting with Mr. Netanyahu at the Larome Hotel, and that in our last trip to Jerusalem in early February, the Secretary asked Mr. Netanyahu for a meeting. Unfortunately, because of both of their schedules, we could not work out a mutually convenient time for that meeting, and so the meeting did not happen.

So we certainly made an attempt to see Mr. Netanyahu on two occasions over the last year. He is a prominent political leader. Our tradition in this country, in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and with all of our allies, has been to meet opposition leaders. It's not unusual for us to meet a German or a French or a British opposition leader, nor should it be unusual for us to see an Israeli opposition leader, and I'm sure that we'll have continuing contacts with Mr. Netanyahu in the future.

I know that our Ambassador -- Ambassador Martin Indyk -- sees Likud leaders, including Mr. Netanyahu, regularly as part of his diplomatic duties and as you would expect him to do so. I don't know if it will be possible to have a meeting this week. We're busy trying to work out the schedule for the Secretary on Thursday and Friday in Jerusalem, so I don't want to anticipate what it will be specifically.

On the question of Mrs. Leah Rabin, the Secretary has seen her, I think, in both of his previous visits, both in January and February, to Israel. She is in frequent contact with us, and we admire her very much, admire her greatly, admire what she has done to try to argue for peace in Israel, even since the assassination of her husband.

Q Just as a follow-up, would you see any of the opposition -- not necessarily Hamas, I understand that -- but there are other opposition to Arafat during the --

MR. BURNS: There is no possibility of an American meeting with Hamas. You know what we think should happen with Hamas. We think their leaders should be hunted down and arrested and convicted and sent to prison for crimes.

Q Even the political leaders?

MR. BURNS: We have said before that the leaders of Hamas -- those responsible for the bombings -- should be held accountable. I'm not sure I see a very great distinction between political and military leaders in that particular organization.

Q But you do --

MR. BURNS: So I wouldn't anticipate any meetings with members of Hamas. On the contrary, the Secretary's routine has been to have a meeting, in every visit to the Middle East, with Chairman Arafat, either in Jericho or in Gaza. We meet with many members of the Palestinian Authority.

If you're talking about Palestinians who do not serve as part of the Authority, who do not serve as part of the Council, who are critics, the Secretary has not generally

made it a habit of meeting with those people. I'm not sure he'll have time during this visit to do so.

Steve.

Q China?

MR. BURNS: Any more on the Middle East before we go to China. Bill, do you have one on the Middle East. Any more on the Middle East?

Q I don't know if you made a statement at the outset -- I wasn't here, but --

MR. BURNS: I did not, no.

Q Okay, Arafat has moved against three Hamas leaders and is supposed to be looking for maybe the key man. Was this something he couldn't have done until now?

MR. BURNS: As you know, since the Palestinian Authority became responsible for Gaza and Jericho and now for the broader part of the West Bank for the last several months, the Palestinian Authority has been responsible for security and for making sure that the rule of law as it currently exists is adhered to.

We believe that Chairman Arafat, who at one time obviously felt that he could have a political dialogue with Hamas, has now come to the conclusion that that's no longer possible, given the recent spate of suicide terrorist attacks, and he has taken very firm measures over the last week to arrest prominent members of Hamas. We support that.

We believe that Chairman Arafat understands that it's his responsibility to work with the Israeli Government to stem the terrorism; that effort can only be successful if Palestinians and Israelis work together. We applaud the efforts that he has undertaken in the last week or so to arrest these leading members of Hamas.

Q But if I can just pursue this a second, because in response to the other -- and also Friday -- you didn't, and I'm sure this is policy when you say it -- you didn't see really a great distinction between a military wing and a political wing. You didn't buy into the argument there are kind of two Hamas's -- the State Department didn't accept that.

I'm not challenging. I'm just saying I'm trying to understand the thinking. But you did -- you're saying now that indeed Mr. Arafat was trying to open a political

dialogue with Hamas, and, having failed to do so, is moving against these leaders. That's sort of --

MR. BURNS: That appears to be the case.

Q Yes, but, you know what I mean, those who argue there were two Hamas's, explain the action -- explain the recent action as the result of his concluding that, after all, he can't work with either of them. You don't believe there's two, but you still buy into the argument he tried.

MR. BURNS: We think that Arafat has taken quite significant and effective steps over the last week to apprehend people who may have masterminded the recent series of terrorist bombings in Israel. That's significant, and those people range from -- there's not just the military side of Hamas. There are people who are supporting other activities that Hamas has underway.

Barry, you're right. It's hard to see how a leading member of Hamas could avoid responsibility for the actions of Hamas by saying, "Oh, I'm just part of the political wing. I'm not part of the military wing." It's very difficult, for me at least, to see the logic in that kind of response.

Q But you see it with Gerry Adams, for example, in Sein Fein and IRA. You see a difference between the political arm and the military.

MR. BURNS: I don't blame you for asking the question, Jim, but I think that the two situations are very, very different, and I don't put them together. I don't analyze them in the same breath.

Yes, China?

Q Secretary of State Christopher and Tony Lake, both of them, said that the United States' one-China policy is based on the premise that the Taiwan issue will be solved peacefully. But under the circumstances right now, do you see the possibility that if the mainland Chinese use force against Taiwan, the United States is going to review or reconsider its one-China policy?

MR. BURNS: I think as the Secretary of State said yesterday and as we've been saying pretty consistently for the last month or two, the United States does not believe that China intends to attack or use military force against Taiwan. As the Secretary said yesterday, we believe that China is actually trying to coerce Taiwan, intimidate Taiwan, before the March 23 elections. That, we think, is the cause and the logic, if you will, of these test firings -- missile firings and also the military exercises, which now have taken on a new dimension today as of, I think, an hour or two ago, in that they'll be using live ammunition.

We very much oppose this. As the Secretary said yesterday, we believe it's risky, and we believe it's reckless, and we certainly would hope that the Chinese Government would end these exercises very soon. But we don't believe that China intends to attack Taiwan. We think there are other motives here, with which we disagree, that would explain these actions.

Q If I may follow up, Nick, there has been quite a change. Most of the Taiwan Straits now is off-limits to shipping due to this live-fire exercise. The United States, after consultations last week with Mr. Liu, has come out strongly yesterday on this particular issue, and we're moving up another carrier battle group. We'll soon have the Nimitz and the Independence both in the area.

What happened last week in the talks between Mr. Lake and Mr. Liu that these measures -- these harder measures were necessary?

MR. BURNS: Well, it is true, as Secretary Perry said, I believe, from Santiago, Chile, this morning that both the Independence and the Nimitz will move up at least to be in the vicinity of the Taiwan Straits. I'll refer you to the Pentagon for any operational details or location of those ships.

It's true that the United States decided to take this measure so that we can monitor the situation in the Taiwan Straits. Of course, we have an interest in that. These are international waters, and they lie in an area of great strategic interest for the United States.

Bill, I take issue with your description that the Taiwan Straits are closed. It is true that large areas of the Straits have been designated by the Chinese for impact or live exercise areas, but I think that commercial shipping continues today, and we expect in the next couple of days and weeks, through the Taiwan Straits.

It is certainly possible to navigate the international waters of the Taiwan Straits, despite the presence of the designation of these live-fire areas.

What changed things for us last week and what changed -- what made these exercises different than exercises in the past was the very close proximity of the missile firing range to the coast of Taiwan. Thirty kilometers north, 50

kilometers southwest, and the proximity of these tests to two of the major Taiwan ports. That is a difference. That is a difference that we felt we had a national interest to be concerned about; that we felt we had to speak out about, and I think you have seen very tough language and straightforward language from the Secretary and from Tony Lake and Madeleine Albright over the weekend to that.

Q Was there a failure in the talks last week with Mr. Liu to reach some kind of accommodation that precipitated this harder response on our part? That was my basic issue.

MR. BURNS: The conversations last week covered a lot of issues, but I think the primary issue was Taiwan, and the primary concern raised by the United States was this reckless behavior by the Chinese Government, which we don't believe is warranted.

Obviously, we haven't changed their minds, because they're going forward with the exercises -- the live-fire exercises today. We still remain opposed to them.

Q And let me just make one more point here. The live-fire exercises, you don't believe, are, of course, intended as preparation for any military action against Taiwan at this time, but they could in fact be practice for a future operation, could they not?

MR. BURNS: Bill, our judgment is that they do not constitute a first stage in a military action against Taiwan. They do not. We believe they are meant to intimidate.

Q You think that these are risky and reckless exercises. What do you think could happen? What are your worst fears and concerns?

MR. BURNS: We said last week, I don't think any country, much less China, can be assured of the accuracy of its missiles when they're tested. We think the close proximity to Taiwan is a risk too great to take -- a risk to the people of Taiwan, but also to commercial shipping and to naval shipping.

These are international waters. These aren't China's waters. These are international waters, most of it in the Straits of Taiwan. Every country that is a seafaring country has the right of innocent passage in these waters. We do not believe it is prudent to conduct test-firing so close to the shores of a country where 21 million people are living -- Taiwan.

Q Beyond the Nimitz, are we poised to move any other ships or groups in there?

MR. BURNS: I think the action that we've taken is meant to send a very strong signal of concern and of interest by the United States. I think it's appropriate -- the action announced by the Pentagon today.

Roy.

Q Did we have any warning that these live-fire exercises would be taking place, or did it take us by surprise -- take you by surprise?

MR. BURNS: Roy, I don't know if the Chinese Government shared this announcement with us before the public announcement. I'll have to check on that.

Q (Inaudible) very top-level talks here in Washington. Was there any indication from those talks with Mr. Liu that this was going to be expanded?

MR. BURNS: I just don't know. I'll have to check. I honestly don't know. I'll have to check on that for you.

Q Also, it's true that they've now announced two kinds of exercises, but as a matter of fact, how many missiles have been fired as far as we know?

MR. BURNS: As far as we know, three missiles were fired on Friday. We're not aware that any other missiles have been fired since then. But what is new in this story is the initiation of live ammunition exercises as of 11:00 a.m. this morning Eastern Standard Time. I don't have confirmation that in fact those live-fire -- live ammunition exercises have begun, but they were slated to begin over two-and-a-half hours ago.

Q Are you not struck that perhaps while the Chinese fired some opening shots on Day One of their missiles, that there have been no missile firings since then?

MR. BURNS: We certainly noted it, and we hope that trend continues. We hope there are no more firings, because I think you know what we think about this.

Steve.

Q Nick, assuming that the government in Taipei accepts your argument that there is no imminent military attack likely, how then could this behavior be intimidating? It is certainly saber rattling, but is it intimidating if it's not going to be used against Taiwan?

MR. BURNS: I think it's designed by the Chinese Government to intimidate not just the leaders of Taiwan but the people of Taiwan. They face important democratic elections shortly on March 23, and I think the Chinese probably want to affect the outcome of those elections.

There's obviously always an impact on financial markets in Taiwan of this kind of action, and we hope that that will not take place. We hope that the people of Taiwan, despite the pressure that they must feel from their large neighbor -- we hope the people of Taiwan will understand that democracy should continue; that elections are important; that they have an important economic relationship with the outside world, including with the United States. We're one of the largest trading partners of Taiwan and it with us, and we think that what has happened in Taiwan -- free-market economics and the democratic revolution that has swept Taiwan -- is a very positive thing.

We'd like to see both continue. We do not want to see China intimidate the people of Taiwan away from the democratic principles that now seem to be taking root in Taiwan.

Q But to follow up, I assume you've taken note of polls which indicate that Mr. Lee Teng-hui has garnered even more support as a result of this rather than less.

MR. BURNS: We don't think that these attempts to intimidate people should work. We hope they don't work. We wouldn't be surprised if they don't work. Oftentimes when these kinds of clumsy maneuvers are undertaken by governments, they don't work well, and we certainly hope these won't work. We hope the people of Taiwan will feel free to make their own votes, as they wish, on March 23.

Henry.

Q Although we've heard it before, could you be specific again and tell us exactly what you think the Chinese intimidation factor would be in those elections. Who do they want to see win, and who do they want to see lose?

MR. BURNS: It's hard for me to know exactly what the leaders in Beijing --

Q I'll accept your best judgment.

MR. BURNS: -- are thinking about events in Taiwan, and I'd rather leave it to my colleague, Shen Guofang, in Beijing to give you an analysis of how the Chinese in Beijing feel about events in Taiwan. Our view is they're meant to intimidate people before an election. I think I've given you as much as I can on that today, with all due respect, Henry.

Q According to reports in Taiwan, there are a lot of Chinese people, as well as U.S. citizens in Taiwan, have made telephone calls to the American Institute in Taiwan, the U.S. representative office there, asking for information. Can you give us an idea in terms of how intense the telephone calls were?

MR. BURNS: As you know, there is a very fine person who is in charge of the American Institute in Taiwan, Lynn Pasco, who is a China expert and very fine diplomat, and he has received a great number of phone calls today from the public and from American citizens and from others in Taipei and around Taiwan about the situation. I believe he'll be meeting with the press shortly to give his perspective and to try to calm people.

We don't believe an attack is imminent. We believe that these moves are designed for other reasons. We think that the elections obviously should go forward, and we hope very much that the United States and Taiwan will continue to enjoy stable economic and cultural ties.

Q Two questions: Based on what the Secretary had to say during his television interview yesterday, is it the view of this Administration that China has violated the understanding with the United States at the time of normalization; that they have resorted to use of force -- threat of use of force against Taiwan instead of seeking a peaceful solution of the Taiwan issue?

MR. BURNS: That's not how we frame this issue. We do not believe that China is threatening the use of force or intends to use force. We believe that these are exercises designed for political reasons to coerce people on Taiwan. So, therefore, I would take issue with the basis of your question.

Q You have from this podium and other officials of the Administration have called for a direct dialogue between Taipei and Beijing. Yet, on the other hand, you also keep saying that this is a matter for the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to resolve. I see some contradictions there. So I'd like to see what kind of a role the U.S. intends to play, because this is a very dangerous situation in the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. doesn't -- obviously, has the influence to do something to bring perhaps the two sides together, to come down -- to sit down at the negotiating table to resume the interrupted dialogue as a result of President Lee's trip to Cornell last June.

MR. BURNS: I don't see the contradiction, with all due respect. You know, the United States believes that people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits are responsible for resolving these problems, ought to resolve these problems, and we hope very much that the case will be that they will resolve these problems.

We have, of course, diplomatic relations with Beijing -- a very active dialogue -- and we've made our opposition to some of these events very clear over the last couple of weeks. I think the fact that we've done that -- and I don't think there's a country around the world that's spoken out more strongly in the past two weeks than the United States. The fact that the Pentagon has ordered the deployment of two carrier -- at least parts of two carrier battle groups to the western Pacific to note the very strong interest that the United States has in this region -- I think those are significant.

This is not business as usual. The Secretary of State used very strong language yesterday. The National Security Adviser used very strong language yesterday. This language is meant to signal our very great concern over the reckless behavior of China, and the disposition of these battle groups is meant to convey that concern. But we are not interested, frankly, in doing anything that would exacerbate the tensions.

We want our actions to help calm the situation. We want the situation to return to a state where these problems that obviously exist can be discussed peacefully and constructively. But ultimately these problems have to be discussed by the people on Taiwan -- the people of Taiwan -- and the people of -- the population of the People's Republic of China. That's the only way they're going to get resolved.

I don't think it's helpful -- or would be helpful if the United States interjected itself without being asked into the minutae of all these political disputes. It is up to the Chinese people.

Q You are involving yourself in the situation, though, aren't you?

MR. BURNS: The United States is a Pacific power. The United States has been a Pacific power throughout this entire century, and we have interests in the western Pacific. We have strategic and security interests. We have political and economic interests. We are noting those interests by what we say and what we do, and the message could not be more clear.

We've talked about the fact that we don't think there's an imminent threat. That's our judgment, and we'll stick with that.

Q A follow-up on what you just said, Nick, and ask you whether this matter has been raised since Saturday or Sunday directly with the Chinese in Beijing, not just over the airwaves and by --

MR. BURNS: It was raised on Thursday and Friday and Saturday, just a couple of days ago with one of the prominent foreign policy officials of the People's Republic, Mr. Liu, and Ambassador Sasser has been active every day over the past week with the Chinese leadership, and that won't stop.

Assistant Secretary Win Lord has also been in touch with the Chinese and will continue to do so.

Q Nick, when Mr. Liu was here, was he asked to give any sort of guarantee that there would not be an attack?

MR. BURNS: I don't want to go into the nature of our diplomatic conversations with him. He's still here, by the way. He is in Washington. He has meetings today and tomorrow on Capitol Hill and with various business groups, and I expect that he'll be departing Washington tomorrow.

We've had good conversations. We didn't agree on the issue of Taiwan or on the steps that China is taking, and we made our view abundantly clear to him, but I don't want to get into what we said and what he said, because that's not our purpose here. It's not my purpose here today. It may be your purpose here today, but it's not my purpose.

Q Nick, I just want to follow up. You're sounding extremely confident that there will not be a Chinese attack. You don't want to say whether you've had any private assurances, but I wonder on what you base that. I'm sure you've seen the recent comparisons with Saddam Hussein's attack on Kuwait. No one thought he was going to do that. So I wonder why you're so confident.

MR. BURNS: To be fair to the Chinese, I wouldn't equate them with Saddam Hussein. I think there are some dramatic differences between the situation in Iraq and the situation in Beijing, in the quality of the leadership to begin with.

But let me just say, Chris, we have been saying that it is our judgment -- it is our analytical judgment that there will not be an attack. We've been saying that for the better part of two months now. We did not begin saying that with Mr. Liu's arrival, and so we base that on all of the factors that go into an analysis -- intelligence and diplomatic conversations and gut judgments, and that kind of thing.

Q Is the policy of deliberate ambiguity dead? Is it gone now with the statements yesterday from the Secretary that said there will be really grave consequences if they try to resolve the problem --

MR. BURNS: That language of grave consequences is identical to the language written in 1979 in the Taiwan Relations Act. That's been American policy for the better part of 17 years now, and it's been shared by Republicans and Democrats.

Q Can you define "grave consequences"?

MR. BURNS: We've chosen not to define "grave consequences" for deliberately ambiguous reasons. But it's clear to us that the Chinese Government understands the magnitude and the impact that any kind of attack would have on China's relations with the rest of the world. It's clear to us that the Chinese understand what the stakes are, and we do not believe that the Chinese intend to take this action.

We believe that the Chinese will decide to discuss these issues with the Taiwanese. That may not happen until after March 23 for political reasons in that part of the world. But we're confident that that will happen.

Lee.

Q Nick, does the introduction a few hours ago of live ammunition up the ante and run the greater risk of a military confrontation with either Taiwan or the United States? Are the Chinese now increasingly playing with fire, so to speak?

MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. I would answer no to both or, if there are three questions there, all three of them. I don't believe so. These areas are designated areas. I think, obviously, commercial ships and naval ships will stay away from them, if indeed live-fire exercises are going to be conducted there. But it is still possible to transit the Straits of Taiwan and commercial shippers and others will take advantage of that.

We don't believe that China is seeking any kind of conflict with the United States. We have an enormously important relationship here. We have ways to discuss problems. We've just had a senior official of the Chinese Government here for comprehensive and constructive talks.

As you know, the Secretary is looking forward to a meeting with Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen. We're now trying to arrange some mutually acceptable dates for that meeting. I don't know when that will be, but last year they met three times. He obviously wants an opportunity to meet with the Vice Premier and Foreign Minister in the near future, and we hope very much we can schedule that.

So the United States and China will find a way to continue to talk about these issues. We've not going to have a conflict with China, in the sense that you asked the question, Lee -- that kind of a conflict. We're going to continue to have a political dialogue where we disagree on some issues and agree on others.

But I think China should not mistake the message that is being sent by the United States. It's a very clear message.

David.

Q Since your analysis is that there is no Chinese plan to attack Taiwan -- that there's no military danger to Taiwan -- could you kind of explain in greater detail why two aircraft carriers are being sent to the area?

MR. BURNS: To note the great concern that the United States has over the testing of missiles in close proximity to Taiwan and the introduction of live-fire exercises. The general climate that's been created by that, which we think is not conducive to peace or a constructive discussion of issues.

It notes our interest. We are a Pacific power. We are a Pacific country. We have all sorts of interests in that part of the world, in the western Pacific. It notes those interests. It's a signal meant to convey the strong interest that we have in a peaceful outcome to these differences.

Q Nick, you said earlier that this was a national interest of the United States that's at stake here -- a strategic interest, security interest, political, economic interest. That's quite a lot of interest.

MR. BURNS: It is, because all those interests come together when it comes to China and that part of the world.

Q My question is what exactly is our commitment to Taiwan's security?

MR. BURNS: The relationship of the United States to Taiwan is set out in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. I have enunciated it many, many times from the podium.

Q What is our defense commitment to Taiwan?

MR. BURNS: Roy, I think you know our relationship to Taiwan is quite clear. We have an unofficial relationship with Taiwan. We have an official relationship with China. We believe that the People's Republic is the sole legal government of China. We acknowledge the Chinese position that there is one China, and Taiwan is part of China.

Within this context, we carry on commercial relations, cultural relations, with the people of Taiwan, and the American Institute in Taiwan is responsible for those unofficial relations. So that's the relationship. It has served the United States well through Democratic and Republican Administrations.

Q But my question is, what is our security commitment to Taiwan? I mean, everything you've just said suggests that we don't have a security commitment to Taiwan except for all the interests at stake. So how do all these interests combine into a commitment by the United States?

MR. BURNS: They combine in the Taiwan Relations Act, which has been accepted by Republicans and Democrats and all Presidents and Secretaries of State and Defense since 1979.

Q Is the United States committed to the security and safety of Taiwan against outside attack?

MR. BURNS: You can even recite the answer better than I can -- the answer to that question.

Q Well, I'm asking.

MR. BURNS: We would look with grave concern, as Secretary Christopher said yesterday, upon any use of military force against Taiwan by China.

Q Does that mean that --

MR. BURNS: That's the language of the Taiwan Relations Act. You know that was carefully crafted. You know what it means. We know that China knows what it means, and that's the important thing.

Q Just to look a little bit farther down the line, today Senate Minority Leader Daschle came out and said that the actions are making it a tougher and tougher sell on MFN later this year. Would you concur with that?

MR. BURNS: I'm not a congressional analyst, so I can't really engage in that kind of analysis. But I can just tell you, obviously, Tony Lake spoke for the Administration yesterday when he said that the United States believes that the provision of MFN is the correct policy, and we're going to stick by that policy.

Q Coming back to U.S. talks with Mr. Liu Huaqiu, I just wonder if you have picked the right person to convey the message to the highest level in Beijing. From what I understand, Mr. Liu is the Director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the State Council, and that position has been described variously by diplomatic sources as a sort of protocol and administrative office.

MR. BURNS: With all due respect, I think you're talking to the wrong diplomatic sources. I don't know whose diplomats these are, but they're not American diplomats. Mr. Liu is an imminent person who is quite influential in the Government in Beijing. We have a dialogue with him as well as others, because we believe that dialogue can be effective.

I can assure you that Ambassador Sasser has seen Jiang Zemin and Li Peng and Qian Qichen over the last month, since his arrival. We are also in contact, as you would expect, with the whole range of Chinese leaders. But I'm not going to be party to any kind of attack on Mr. Liu as some kind of protocol official. He's not. He's a very influential person.

Q One other question on China.

Q Let's move on. You don't have anything new, right?

MR. BURNS: I don't have anything new.

Q You said earlier that you thought that sending in the USS Nimitz was appropriate. Is the U.S. considering bolstering this in any way, if need be? Are we on standby to send in more forces?

MR. BURNS: We've announced what we have to announce. We believe the steps we've taken are the right steps and the appropriate steps. I don't want to signal any additional steps. Obviously, that's the preserve of people other than myself in this government.

Q On Russia --

MR. BURNS: Yes, on Russia. Terrific.

Q You mentioned earlier a full-scale review. Can you tell us more about that?

MR. BURNS: Yes. This is a ministerial meeting between the United States and Russia. We have one or two every year. I don't mean to say review in the sense that we're somehow going to recalculate. "Review" means just to look at the full agenda of economic, political and military issues; see where we are on them; have a good, comprehensive discussion on them. That's what this meeting in Moscow on the 22nd and 23rd is meant to be.

Q Nick, on Cuba, there was a story in The New York Times yesterday, suggesting that the Cuban authorities are harassing boat people who have been returned since last May, and they had pledged that there would be no retaliation against boat people, for the act of having tried to leave Cuba. Do you have anything to say on that subject?

MR. BURNS: I do. The United States is committed to insuring full compliance by Cuba with the May 2, 1995, Joint Statement, and that Joint Statement said that no action will be taken against returned migrants as a consequence of their attempts to immigrate illegally. As you know, George, as part of this commitment that we've made, the United States conducts a monitoring program, which includes frequent visits by U.S. diplomatic personnel from our Interests Section in Havana to returned migrants throughout the island.

Returned migrants have passes to our Interests Section. That means that they don't have to wait in line -- the long lines every day in front of our Interests Section in Havana. They can go right to the front door and get into the building, and they can report any problems that they are experiencing after their return to the American diplomats there.

The migrants cited in The New York Times' article have each been visited at least six times by United States diplomats -- American diplomats -- and several of them have used their passes to visit our diplomats -- the same people -- at our Interests Section.

We're generally satisfied that the Cuban Government has been fulfilling its own commitments. There have been some incidents of concern to us, and we have brought these to the attention of the Cuban Government, and in general we have obtained satisfactory resolutions of these problems.

But we do take seriously any claims by returned migrants that they have suffered reprisals or discrimination by the Cuban Government, and some of the specific allegations of employment discrimination and harassment in The New York Times' article have not been made to our monitors by the individuals who have talked to our monitors.

So we'll take another look at those, now that we've seen them in print. We'll talk to these individuals directly in order to satisfy ourselves as to the facts. The only other thing I can say is that you know what we said about Cuba in our Human Rights Report. The human rights situation in Cuba is deplorable, and we're committed to insuring that no individual with a credible fear of persecution is returned to Cuba. That is the process that we have set up when we do find people on the high seas.

We also believe that those who are returned to Cuba not be subject to retaliation, as I said just a minute ago, because of their attempt to leave. We want the migration process to be safe, legal and orderly, and we believe this policy is working since we instituted it on May 2 of last year.

Legal migration from Cuba -- legal migration -- is at an historic high. Irregular migration is at its lowest level since 1990, and we believe that lives have been saved that otherwise might have been lost through the risky sea voyages that Cuban refugees were attempting before this policy was put into place.

Q Can you say how many have been granted political asylum on the basis of a credible fear of persecution?

MR. BURNS: I will be glad to ask that question of our experts in the Inter-American Affairs Bureau.

Q Nick --

MR. BURNS: Still on Cuba?

Q Yes, sure.

MR. BURNS: I think Mr. Arshad has a question. Abdul Salam, we'll go to you after Mr. Arshad.

Q Thank you, Nick. This is Arshad of the Daily Inquilab. An optimistic start in the offing to break the political deadlock. The opposition has met the President, and it is due to the resolve of the fine Ambassador David Merrill, who has been doing a great job out there. Nick, I have two questions --

MR. BURNS: Thank you. This is the kind of question we like to get, Mr. Arshad. (Laughter) I wish there were more of them. You know, paying tribute to the efforts of our career diplomats and our political appointees overseas.

Q That's a part of my duty.

MR. BURNS: Thank you very much.

Q Does the State Department now support a political solution which is acceptable to all political parties, i.e., the caretaker government? And, number two, the Bangladesh President is thinking seriously of bringing in the army into the negotiating table just to insure a free, fair and well participated polls. What is your take on that? The President is thinking very seriously about this option, and I believe that Ambassador Merrill has also been trying to do this as a way of making the polls free and fair and acceptable to all.

MR. BURNS: As you say, Ambassador Merrill has done an outstanding job representing the United States. We stand for a peaceful resolution of these problems between the government and the opposition. I don't want to get into the details of trying to dissect what the government and opposition are doing. You can do that much better than I can. You've done it, so I would just like to tell you that we maintain our consistent policy of hoping that these problems can be resolved in a non-violent fashion.

We have Mr. Lambros and Mr. Abdul Salam. Mr. Abdul Salam and then Mr. Lambros.

Q Nick, I can go to the Middle East? Are there any indications apparent to you that the closure of the Palestinian territories will be ending soon?

MR. BURNS: That's a question, I think, for the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority. I just don't know at this point.

Q Do you have any thoughts about this whole thing that now has taken more than two weeks it has been closed and is creating a lot of hardship on the Palestinians there?

MR. BURNS: We know there is hardship on the Palestinian population. We know that the great majority of Palestinians oppose Hamas -- Hamas' use of suicide terrorism -- and it's up to the State of Israel -- the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take the appropriate measures to make sure that these suicide terrorist bombings do not recur.

Those measures have been taken, and we support the measures taken by both Prime Minister Peres and Chairman Arafat over the last two weeks.

Q President Mubarak said today that Syrian President Hafez al-Assad will attend the peacemaker's conference in Sharm al-Sheikh. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. BURNS: I've not seen that report.

Q And as well as a comment about the Iranian statement, condemning all violence in the world.

MR. BURNS: We wish the Iranians would put those words into practice. Words are cheap. Actions are much more important.

Mr. Lambros.

Q According to a report from Athens, the Croatian Government is charging only Greece thousands of dollars in landing fees for Greek military planes, C-130, using Croatian airports supplying Greek military forces of IFOR in Bosnia. I'm wondering if the Croats have the right to do that. Is it not against the Dayton agreement?

MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, I'm not familiar with that report. Our view is that all three governments in the region must live up to the Dayton accords. IFOR has spelled out in great detail what the requirements are, and I'm sure that the Greek Government will be taking this up directly with Croatia if there is a problem, and that IFOR, I'm sure, stands ready to assist if there's a problem as well.

Q On March 8 you stated in the Foreign Press Center, regarding Greek-Turkish differences -- quote -- "We have had a number of discussions with both governments. I do not believe there is yet a decision as to what mechanism will be used to resolve the Imia-Kardak problem." Could you please elaborate more about those discussions? May we assume that already a Greek-Turkish political dialogue is going on in those days behind the scenes with direct U.S. involvement in view of the upcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Greece and the President of Turkey?

MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, I'm not sure I can elaborate further, because we've talked about this issue so often. You know our position. It's up to Greece and Turkey to find a mutually agreeable way to resolve the problem of Imia-Kardak.

Q As long as there is a discussion between the two sides to resolve it, so that's a message, if you can say something more.

MR. BURNS: I really can't. I have no new information on this issue. We remain hopeful this problem can be resolved by both governments, however.

Q On March 7, you stated that the so-called former King of Greece, Mr. Constantine Glyxburg, "is welcome to visit the United States any time." Since Mr. Glyxburg, who is now in New York City, is not recognized by the Greek constitution and is doing a lot of unfortunate political movements against the present political system of your friend and ally, Greece, how could he be we welcome to the United States, and do you consider him as a political refugee? Is Mr. Glyxburg entitled from the political and legal point of view to organize that type of activity against Greece and its democratic system while he's a guest in the United States?

MR. BURNS: King Constantine is a private --

Q (Inaudible)

MR. BURNS: Excuse me, Mr. Lambros. King Constantine is a private individual --

Q He's a former King.

MR. BURNS: Of course, he's the former King. I know he's not the King. But, you know, generally you do keep the title even though your station may be different in life. King Constantine is a private individual. He's not a public official. He is not received here as a public official. Our government has nothing to do with his visits here. These are private visits. He is free to come and go from the United States as he pleases.

Q How do you characterize his activities against the Greek political system then? It's a democratic one. It's an elected government.

MR. BURNS: Yes, it is.

Q So any private citizen can do that against another system?

MR. BURNS: The United States cannot involve itself in all of the political disputes of people around the world. He is a private citizen. He is free to come to the United States, as he often does, but he is not received here formally or officially by the United States Government, as you know.

Q Nick, The Washington Post has carried some rather graphic reports the last couples of days out of Sarajevo. The net impression they leave is -- in these reports -- is that IFOR or NATO is standing by and watching the burning and murdering of Sarajevans -- the burning of the buildings. The only people putting out the fires, it said, were journalists.

The basic impression that leaves is that IFOR is becoming like UNPROFOR. Are you concerned about the impression that Sarajevo's -- the mess in Sarajevo is causing?

MR. BURNS: Frankly, I don't agree with that statement that IFOR is -- I mean, how could I agree with a statement that IFOR has becoming like UNPROFOR. UNPROFOR did not succeed in its mission. IFOR is succeeding in its mission. It stopped the war. It has created a cease-fire zone. It is monitoring that cease-fire zone, and it is doing everything it can to fulfill the military requirements of the Dayton peace accords. It's done a very impressive job.

There are a lot of problems. Carl Bildt is attempting to have the international police training force, the UNHCR and others, including IFOR, contribute to the effort to try to stabilize the situation in the Serb suburbs, and we hope very much that that will be the case over the next couple of weeks.

I have voluminous guidance here from EUR on this. I get voluminous guidance very day from EUR on a variety of subjects, and I can tell you what we think about this.

Q Well, this is the Dayton --

MR. BURNS: Are you interested in what we think about it?

Q Well, I'm just wondering, don't the Dayton accords require IFOR to act and not to stand by if atrocities are being carried out in front of them?

MR. BURNS: Atrocities.

Q You know, you have thugs running through the suburbs of Sarajevo at night, such that the police task forces are afraid to go out, and murdering people and burning up houses, and they're not even sending in, it looks like, the fire department.

MR. BURNS: Let's put the responsibility for these actions where they should rest -- with the Bosnian Government, the Bosnian Serbs, the Serbian Government and the Croatians. They're the people who have a self-interest in implementing the Dayton accords. They ought to do this. We're there to help them transition to peace, if that transition can be made.

So, first of all, the onus has to be on the parties. Secondly, Carl Bildt has taken, I think, some effective steps over the last couple of days. He and we have condemned the lawless behavior instigated by the Pale leadership -- the Bosnian Serb leadership -- of many members of the Bosnian Serb community.

We are going to maintain the right of freedom of movement in the Sarajevo suburbs, because that is one of the hallmarks of the Dayton accords, and Carl Bildt has announced that both IFOR and the International Police Task Force will increase their presence in the Serb suburbs. And they're going to work to try to do what they can to deter attacks.

But, frankly, Roy, we can't deter every crime from taking place in Bosnia. That's the job of the leaders of the Bosnian Serb community, and they ought to take that much more seriously than they have.

Q Another on Bosnia?

MR. BURNS: I'm going to have to wrap this up pretty soon. I think we're reaching the end of this briefing. But, if it is an outstanding question that we haven't grappled with over the last six months -- is it a new question.

Q Well, it's not a new question, but --

MR. BURNS: Let's do it in the background session.

(The briefing concluded at 2:08 p.m.)

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