U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 1996, 1:09 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. A special welcome to our one visitor, Mr.Gardner -- Frank Gardner -- a freelance journalist from Australia. Welcome. Do you like our weather?
MR. GARDNER: It's not too good.
MR. DAVIES: Not too good, right. This is actually good for this time of year.
I wanted to start off by saying a couple of things about the Ankara Conference which wrapped up today. The formal title of it is the Ankara Donors Conference for Training and Equipping the Army of the Bosnian Federation. The U.S. and Turkey today -- March 15 -- co-hosted an international donors conference for training and equipping the military forces of the Bosnian Federation.
Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott led the U.S. delegation. Others on the delegation included our Ambassador to Turkey, Marc Grossman, and James Pardew, our U.S. Special Representative for Military Stabilization in the Balkans.
Thirty-two countries and five international organizations came to the conference. The conference was an important start in the pledging process that will create a stable military balance in Bosnia-Herzegovina within the arms control framework initiated at Dayton. Such a balance, we believe, is essential to insure the security of all people of Bosnia -- Bosniac, Serb and Croat.
Several countries at the conference announced contributions; others expressed a willingness to make contributions in the future; others expressed their support for the train-and-equip program, and we hope soon to have some details on that for you.
Significantly, at the conference Deputy Secretary Talbott announced that the U.S. plans to contribute $100 million in U.S. military stocks under the drawdown authority provided to the President by Congress in the 1996 Foreign Operations appropriation.
The details of this contribution were set out in a statement by U.S. Special Representative Pardew, and we'll make that available to you.
And with that, George.
Q Aren't most of the countries who attended opposed to the idea of train-and-equip?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if most of the countries who attended were. Certainly, a number of them have some differences with us over how we proceed here. Essentially, there is no difference over strategy. The strategy is to bring peace to Bosnia.
But there are some differences, I think it's fair to say, over tactics. In other words, how do we go about insuring that at the end of the conflict there is sufficient military stability so that the conflict doesn't re-erupt? There is an arms control process underway. We are participating in that process. In fact, negotiations are underway that won't end until about June on precisely how the arms control process will play out.
But it's our belief that it's important to start now to prepare -- to provide the Bosnian Federation with the training and equipping that it will need so that at the point when the implementation force pulls out at the end of its year in Bosnia, the Bosnian Federation will have the means to defend itself, and that there will be a balance of power, essentially, between the Bosnian Serb forces and the Federation forces.
So that's what this is all about -- planning for that process to insure that at the end of the day there is sufficient parity in military forces so that we don't see a re-eruption of the conflict.
Q Despite what you say, Glyn, it seems that very little money was actually pledged to this conference by anyone except the United States. Is the United States prepared to foot the bulk of the bill for this thing if other countries don't cough up?
MR. DAVIES: I think that the way to portray this conference is as the first of what we hope will be perhaps other gatherings, but certainly the first meeting in a process that will play out over a number of months. This was an initial gathering of this many nations to talk about
the challenge that the Federation faces, and we're very much hopeful that, for instance, the Europeans, after the negotiations on the arms control end of it, wrap up in June, will see their way clear to playing a role in the train-and-equip effort as well.
So this was a beginning; it was an initial exchange of views. Some countries did pledge some support and others promised that they would look into it and make decisions a little later on, and we'll simply have to see. But our position is clear, and it gave us an opportunity to spell out our position to those who attended the conference.
Q Is there any aspect of train-and-equip that is already underway on the ground?
MR. DAVIES: There is no aspect of train-and-equip that we are sponsoring that is underway on the ground, nor will there be until the foreign forces, of course, are removed from Bosnia, which remains a condition of our policy.
Q Is there any movement on that -- last year (inaudible).
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything necessarily to report. I would suggest that the conference in Ankara may well provide a bit more incentive to the Bosnian Federation to move on that -- on the foreign forces front, because they can now begin to see a little more concretely what it is that could be made available to them once the foreign forces are out.
Q Is the United States prepared to see a continuing imbalance in the forces as long as the Islamic forces remain in Bosnia?
MR. DAVIES: In a way, that's a speculative question. There is still some time left to run in this process, and we'll simply have to see. Every time we meet with Bosnian officials, we renew our call on them to get the foreign fighters out. But, again, we'll simply have to see how this goes in the next months -- in the coming months.
Q Is the $100 million for -- is that available now, or is that for equipment that's out there and is ready to be transferred when the foreign forces leave, or how is that money (inaudible).
MR. DAVIES: This is obviously -- a contribution of that size takes -- I mean, it's a complicated endeavor to give all of this to the Bosnians eventually. There was a great deal of detail that was issued at the end of the conference. I have some of it here -- actual listings of what kinds of armaments we have in mind.
But the point is that the $100 million -- I mean, we're not going to go forward with providing it to the Bosnian Federation until the foreign forces are out. This is $100 million in U.S. military stocks under the drawdown authority provided to the President by Congress in the '96 Foreign Operations appropriation. I can get you all of the details that were put out by Special Representative Pardew, but he listed a number of items that will be made available.
Q Glyn, it was the stated preference of the Administration that it wanted to see a military balance -- or it preferred to see a military balance by building down rather than building up. Does this mean that you now despair of a build-down?
MR. DAVIES: No, Jim, not at all. There is an arms control process that's underway; and, as I said, we're very much a part of that arms control process, and it's very important that it go forward to build down the Bosnian Serb forces. But we made a judgment and announced it some time ago that that would not be sufficient to insure that there is parity when IFOR pulls out of Bosnia; that what was needed in addition to that very important process of arms control was some kind of a training-and-equipping effort as well, and that's what this is all about. It's the second half of that that we are very attached to.
Q What do you think about the move on Capitol Hill to link aid to Bosnia to the withdrawal of the Iranian fighters?
MR. DAVIES: We've made very explicit our linkage on the train-and-equip front. In other words, that we're not going to go forward with this $100 million in military aid unless the foreign forces leave the country. It's the Administration's view that it's not necessary to link civilian reconstruction aid to removal of the foreign forces. Also, that it's very important that we move forward -- as spring is upon us and the building season begins -- that we move forward on the civilian reconstruction aid without really any more strings attached to it.
Q On the subject of civilian reconstruction aid, the World Bank -- correct me if I'm wrong -- and also the Europeans have been of the opinion that reconstruction aid ought to be provided not just to the Bosniacs but to the Bosnian Serbs as well. And the Bosnian Serbs in just the past week have left Sarajevo suburbs in ruins as they departed. Is there any re-thinking about the amount of reconstruction aid that they ought to be entitled to?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know of any re-thinking. The Bosnian Serbs have, of course, the Serbian Government very much in their corner. I don't think there's been any change in our view of what's needed on the ground in Bosnia, which is that the bulk of the aid has to go to the Bosnian Federation. I mean, I've got nothing to report to you in terms of a change in how we view that.
Q Glyn, on another subject, have you seen the vote in the Russian Duma where there was a resolution regretting and suggesting a reversal of the dissolution of the Soviet Union?
MR. DAVIES: No, I haven't seen that, no. It was a vote in the Duma today, suggesting a reversal of the --
Q A resolution, suggesting a reversal and saying that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was an illegal act and should be reversed.
MR. DAVIES: That sounds fairly dramatic. I haven't seen it, so I can't really react to it in any specificity.
Q Could you look into it?
MR. DAVIES: Sure. We'll look into it.
Q And maybe you have something else on your (inaudible). Are any officials in this Department seeing Gerry Adams while he's in Washington?
MR. DAVIES: Not that I know of. One of the conditions attached to his visit to Washington was that there would be no official meetings. So I don't know of any official meetings that are going to occur. I don't think there are any in the cards.
Q Can we switch over to China for a minute?
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q I'd like to know -- yesterday, the Pentagon came out and said that U.S. officials have received reassurances from the Chinese Government that there will be no invasion of Taiwan. I'd like to know what channels those came through or if you can fill us in on that?
MR. DAVIES: What we've received from the Chinese through diplomatic channels, it essentially mirrors what they've said in public, which is that there is no change in their intention to seek a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question. That's the essence of the message we've received in both diplomatic channels very recently with the visit of Mr. Liu Huaqui; from our Embassy there as well; also, they've reiterated that publicly.
Q Does that apply to the new set of exercises that they've just announced today?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that they've renewed it in the context of the new exercises, nor do I think that they necessarily have to renew it.
We accept that Chinese assurance on its face. The Chinese did announce that there will be exercises that will occur during, actually, the elections on Taiwan. In conjunction with that, they announced a new closure area which will be at the northern end of the Strait. The closure area that is in existence now is at the southern end. There have been preparations underway, as we understand it, by the Chinese armed forces for that exercise to occur between March 15 and 25th.
Q What's your reaction to that?
MR. DAVIES: Our reaction remains the same, that Chinese actions in conducting these exercises are, in essence, provocative acts. We've made plain to the Chinese that we object to their taking place.
Q You say that you accept at face value their representation that they don't intend to attack Taiwan?
MR. DAVIES: We accept that that's their position; sure.
Q Do you believe it?
MR. DAVIES: It's our judgment now that there is no Chinese intention to attack Taiwan; that's correct.
Q Mike, now that they've extended the dates of their military actions -- training exercises -- past the 23rd, is there any thought about extending the moratorium on Export-Import loans past the 23rd as well?
MR. DAVIES: I haven't seen any consideration given to that. They gave us, essentially, a 30-day period during which we could sort this out, but I don't know that there's been any approach to Ex-Im to extend that at all.
Q Now that you have received assurances from the Chinese about no military action against Taiwan, is there any thought given --
MR. DAVIES: Let me be plain on that. The assurances that we've gotten from the Chinese Government are that they mean to resolve the issue of Taiwan peacefully. Those are the assurances that we received.
Q What about any military action against Taiwan -- military attack? Have you received any -- the Pentagon spokesman said --
MR. DAVIES: It remains our judgment that the Chinese are not going to be attacking Taiwan imminently. That's our judgment, and I would repeat that.
Q Well since you have received assurances from the Chinese about their peaceful intention, so-called peaceful intentions, and also in your judgment that there will be no military attack against Taiwan, is there any thought given to the possibility of changing the course of Nimitz?
MR. DAVIES: I haven't heard of any consideration being given to that. You could address questions about the Nimitz and its course -- precise questions -- to the Pentagon. I think the Nimitz has only just very recently left the Middle Eastern region to steam to the Western Pacific.
I think, to this point, the only specificity we've given about where the Nimitz will end up is that it will be in the Western Pacific region. I don't know of any changes to that plan at all.
Q To follow John's question, Glyn, do you think -- we've heard from the PRC, especially the PLA, that they're very upset that we would be bringing our naval forces to bear at this time. If, indeed, we believe their intentions are not to take military action against Taiwan, would it not be a very good reciprocation to at least back off; perhaps take the Nimitz, keep it at some distance and back off the Independence to show --
MR. DAVIES: There's a problem with the premise here. This isn't some kind of a tit-for-tat. We're not moving warships around like chess pieces on a board in response to specific Chinese actions necessarily.
We've laid out the rationale for the decisions that have been made to move the Nimitz. We're doing it in order to signal our interest in the Western Pacific as a Pacific power. The United States is a Pacific power. And also to monitor the situation out there.
I really wouldn't look at this in terms of the United States moving aircraft carriers around, or bringing them back 15 miles or forward 20 miles in relation to minute-to-minute developments on the part of the Chinese.
We've made announcements about what we're going to be doing with our aircraft carriers. We've given that rationale, and that all stands. There's no reason to change those decisions right now.
Q You see no need to ease tensions in any other way?
MR. DAVIES: Moving the aircraft carriers, as we have, is not meant to raise tensions. Quite the contrary. We made the decision to move them in the way we have in order to lower tensions, to indicate that the United States has an interest in the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question.
We didn't move them in order to raise tensions, and we've been very explicit about that.
Q Yesterday, Assistant Secretary Lord proposed that Taiwan and China resume their dialogue, which was broken off in June. He says Taiwan is acceptable to that idea. Have you heard from Beijing? Are they interested at all?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any information about a response from the Chinese in the last 12 hours to Assistant Secretary Lord's testimony or to what he had to say.
Q Presumably, it was brought up with Mr. Liu, or other officials.
MR. DAVIES: It may have been, I don't know. I think what I'll do is fall back on not commenting on diplomatic exchanges on that one. I don't have any information for you.
Q Mike McCurry said at the White House that he hoped the Chinese announcement on new war games near Taiwan contains the seeds of an easing of tension. Could you give us some reason or explanation why he got this kind of judgment?
MR. DAVIES: That China's announcement of --
Q New war games, new military exercises near Taiwan has the seeds of reducing tensions -- easing tensions?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not precisely sure what his reference was there. I would have to know the question in order to shed some light on his answer. I think what we can certainly conclude is that China is continuing these exercises and they are, to this stage, just exercises. We have no reason to believe that the Chinese have aggressive intensions toward Taiwan or will be taking military action against Taiwan any time in the near future. I think that's something that should calm people on the question of Taiwan at this time.
Any other China questions? Mr. Lambros.
Q According to sources, the Greek Ambassador here in the United States, Mr. Lukas Tsilas, he has in his possession a U.S. document, non-paper, titled "Talking points on the Greek-Turkish agreement during the Imia crisis with your (inaudible), to the effect: 'No flags, no soldiers, no ships,' against the Greek sovereignty over the Greek island of Imia."
May we have a copy of this document since it was prepared by the Department of State?
MR. DAVIES: No, because we don't hand out diplomatic documents to the press.
Q The Greek Under Secretary of Defense, Mr. Nick Kouris, in charge of the operation of the Greek military forces during the Imia crisis, he has been informed for the first time that the Turkish forces invaded a second island at 5:00 a.m. Greek-time.
Mr. Holbrooke, the next day, told us at the National Press Club that the Turks exceeded that 4:00 a.m. Greek-time. As I told you yesterday, Mr. Davis, Mr. Holbrooke was aware three hours ahead of time for the second Turkish invasion. I would like to know if and when Mr. Holbrooke informed the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Simitis, and his Foreign Minister, Mr. Pangalos?
MR. DAVIES: We won't be providing any detail on that, Mr. Lambros, because we choose not to because it's not in our interest to do so.
What I'm going to do is to task you to desist from asking anymore Imia/Kardak questions right at the moment. If you come to me afterward, we can perhaps have a discussion about how to get you some more information about--
Q (Inaudible) after the briefing. It's very important to have an answer to some --
MR. DAVIES: Sure. Any other questions? Peter.
Q Do you have a readout on Ambassador Moose's activities on Angola today -- the meetings with the Portuguese and the --
MR. DAVIES: No, I don't. I don't have that. Perhaps we can get that for you.
Q Do you have any information about Gaafar Nimeiri, former head of state of Sudan, who has reportedly died in Oakland, California?
MR. DAVIES: I don't. I can't confirm that. Hadn't heard that.
Q Vaguely, the same area at least, if not the same subject. There was a report this week on the extent of slavery in places like Mauritania and Sudan, do you have any reaction or comment?
MR. DAVIES: We have a lot to say about that in our human rights report on those two countries. A general point to make, which is that our concerns are a bit deeper about the problem as it exists in Sudan than the problem as it exists in Mauritania, although it's an issue in both countries.
Obviously, the United States is very concerned about involuntary servitude or slavery, and the fact that it continues to persist long after most people would have thought that problem had gone away.
But beyond that, and beyond what's in the human rights report, really nothing for you at this time.
Q Glyn, another one on Bosnia. When Mr. Christopher goes to Geneva next week, we were given to understand that it would be basically arms control. There's now a report out of Geneva that the United States has asked for a preparatory meeting of the Contact Group in preparation for the Moscow full-scale gathering. Is there such a thing?
MR. DAVIES: Yes. There will be a meeting taking place on Monday in Geneva -- on Monday, the 18th of March. The Presidents of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia will meet in Geneva at the invitation of Secretary Christopher.
Representatives of the Contact Group will also be there, as well as the representative of the Italian Government in its capacity as the Presidency-country of the European Union. This came about as a result of Ambassador Kornblum's travels earlier in the week. He met with the three Presidents in the regional capitals. His discussions were very productive, and they discovered some areas where all agreed that peace implementation would benefit from a presidential-level meeting, or presidential-level talks.
Since Secretary Christopher has long planned to be in Geneva for talks on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, it was decided to take advantage of his proximity to the region and to invite the Presidents down there to do some work on Bosnia; work that will, we hope, advance the Moscow meeting a bit -- play into it, contribute to it.
The Moscow meeting will be taking place later that week, and that will be the formal Contact Group meeting on Bosnia, hosted by the Russians in Moscow.
Q And with the three Presidents as well?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have the specifics on participation. I think, though, that the Moscow meeting is a ministerial meeting, and that the three Presidents won't be there. But Ministers -- that is to say, those at Secretary Christopher's level -- will attend that meeting.
Q The U.S. Embassy in Spain has apparently put out a statement sharply criticizing the award by King Juan Carlos of a prize to a Brazilian newspaper over stories it ran about organ transplants from children. Why is the United States making a kind of an international incident out of --
MR. DAVIES: I know there's nothing in here about that. I don't know that we are. I haven't seen the statement, and I'll look into it.
Q Speaking of the meetings, do you have any update for the arrangement of a meeting between the Secretary and the Chinese --
MR. DAVIES: This can be daily, I can tell. I don't, and what I will pledge to do is everything in my power to let you know as soon as we can when that will happen. I'm sure when we arrange a meeting, both sides will want to announce it right away, but I don't have anything for you on that meeting.
Q An announcement. Has the United States named a new Ambassador to Vietnam?
MR. DAVIES: The United States has not named a new ambassador to Vietnam. The White House makes those announcements, so I would steer you to the White House for that. There may be an announcement at some point in the near future, but I don't have any information for you.
Q Do you anticipate a meeting between the Secretary and the Chinese Foreign Minister within a couple of weeks? Is there a tentative time frame penciled in?
MR. DAVIES: The spring is the tentative time for him at this stage. There may be more specific planning going on, but I'm not at liberty to talk about it at this stage.
Q I'd like to give you a chance to comment on -- Louis Farrakhan had a press conference last night, and he took the Muammar Qadhafi line on Pan Am 103. I mean, right down the line on that. And then at the end of his answer, he said that the State Department was coloring, was manipulating journalists, especially, against Qadhafi and against him. I would appreciate your comments on that.
MR. DAVIES: I wish we could manipulate journalists, but we can't, and we don't.
Q He truly believes that, and, Glyn, also he said he would be more available to answer the questions on his recent trip, and I think he was making a good-faith effort to do so.
MR. DAVIES: Treasury and Justice are on that case, and we'll await the results of what they're up to.
Q Yes. On the so-called former King of Greece, Mr. Constantine Glyxburg, for the record, since it was misspelled in the yesterday's briefing that the complete title of the German institute in the payroll of which the name of Mr. Glyxburg appeared is the following: The German Royal Institute of Hanover Germany.
On the same subject, Mr. Davies, the well known pro-royal retired Greek General, Mr. Manolis Gryllakis -- G-r-y-l-l-a-k-i-s -- via the services of the Greek Ambassador Loukas Tsilas, requested for the State Department to bear weapons for himself and his men for the upcoming visit to the United States. I would like to know if such permission is granted to him by the State Department and on what basis?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything for you on that, Mr. Lambros.
Q Will you take the question, please, at least?
MR. DAVIES: We'll look into it. Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:39 p.m.)
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