Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
96/03/18 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman

                 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                   DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                        I N D E X 

                  Monday, March 18, 1996

                                 Briefer:  Glyn Davies

   Welcome to Visiting Students
............................                       1       
   Secretary Christopher's Meetings in Geneva: CTBT Mtg 
    and Mtg w/Bosnian Leaders...............................1

   International Fund to Help Palestinians.................1
   --U.S. Role/Donor Countries.............................2
   Closure of Palestinian Territories......................2-3
   --Impact on Peace Process/Economic Growth/Trade...... 4, 5
   --Construction of Fence.................................4
   --U.S. Assistance Towards Construction, Position........5-7,14-15
   Israel Holding Palestinian Back Taxes...................3-4
   Anti-Terrorism Conference:  "Madrid Two" Proposal.......7
   Anti-Terrorism Follow-Up Meeting in Washington..........7-8
   Resumption of Wye Talks.................................8
   Redeployment of Troops from Hebron......................15

   Secretary Christopher Meeting w/Foreign Minister........8
   Premier's Warning Not to Sail Through Taiwan Strait.....8-9, 10
   Conducting Exercises on Island in Strait................9
   On-Going Exercises, March 18-20.........................9
   Evacuation of Islands...................................9-10
   Low-Level Official: Bombing Los Angeles.................11, 12
   Meetings w/Taiwanese Officials re: Advanced Weaponry....11-12

   Signing of Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty................12-13

   King of Spain Journalism Prize..........................13-14

   Rape in Okinawa.........................................15-16

   Crisis in North Korea...................................16
   KEDO Executive Board Meeting............................16-17

   Ambassador to Vietnam...................................17

   Crisis Continues/Parliament Prepares to Convene.........17


DPB #44

MONDAY, MARCH 18, 1996, 1:08 P.M.

MR. DAVIES: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing, and welcome to about a dozen students from Georgetown Prep. Is that right? It will surprise you to learn that I was up at your battle of the bands on Saturday night. That was quite a show. I was only there for about 10 minutes, though.

Just to point you in the direction of a couple of developments that you'll be seeing word on out of Geneva. First off, Secretary Christopher had a good series of meetings this morning to advance activity toward the signing, we hope, of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty before the end of the year, in the fall, if things go well. He's already given a press conference to lay out some of what he's done there.

He then moved into a lunch which he had with the Presidents of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia -- the Acting President of Bosnia, I should say, since President Izetbegovic is still indisposed -- as well as Carl Bildt, and I think Admiral Smith was there and some others, to talk a little bit about implementation of the Bosnia Accords.

He had some meetings afterward with the Presidents. Work is under way to prepare for a press conference which will happen imminently in which he may have some further news on the Bosnia front. So look for that.

And with that, George.

Q There are proposals for the establishment of an international fund to help the Palestinians weather the economic crisis that so many of them are facing. Do you have any response to that?

MR. DAVIES: We agree, I think, with our partners that it's very important to boost Palestinian employment and to spur the kind of Palestinian economic development that's envisaged by Israeli Prime Minister Peres who, I think, is behind this notion.

This is an issue that all of the donors -- all of those who are actively engaged in that track of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians -- will have to take up and look at. They haven't yet agreed, as far as we know, to a further meeting of donors, but we would look for that to occur at some point in the near future.

Q Is the U.S. going to play any leadership role on this issue?

MR. DAVIES: The U.S. plays, of course, a leadership role in assisting all parties to the peace process in moving forward.

The United States was very much instrumental in the meeting in Jordan at the end of last year in which one of the main topics discussed was how to bring economic activity and growth to Palestinian lands -- the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

So, of course, we're very much, I think it's fair to say, a leader in this regard.

Q In taking into consideration the track record of the donor countries which did not, all of them, implement or fulfill their promises and pledges to the Palestinians since October 1993, if setting up funds like this hoping that the donor countries will chip in some funds to employ Palestinians in the Palestinian territory, how are you going to correspond this? Or will the United States take responsibility by possibly advancing the funds and possibly collecting from the donor countries, or what?

MR. DAVIES: I wouldn't look for us to necessarily take responsibility for all of this. We play a lead role as we did at the Amman Economic Summit.

It's true that there was a kind of riot of activity around the Amman Economic Summit. A great deal of projects were discussed, a number of pledges were made. Some have been made good on; others, time will tell.

It's the view of the United States that it's very important to boost Palestinian employment and economic opportunity, so we'll be working to that end.

Q Isn't this more a measure of the Israelis closing the West Bank and Gaza? And wouldn't you do something to press -- I mean, if the Palestinians -- if there's a problem here with them not being employed, how long are you willing to allow the Israelis to close the territories?

MR. DAVIES: I would question the premise of your question, which is that it's up to us to allow or not to allow Israel to take measures that it has to take to protect itself in the wake of the terrible suicide bombings that occurred.

Israel has to decide how it deals with that threat of terrorism, and they've taken certain measures.

The U.S. commitment to the economic development of the Palestinian people goes back some ways. It's certainly many, many months at the Amman Economic Summit where we were very much present and played a lead role in pressing for pledges and for more work to develop the Palestinian people economically.

I wouldn't tie this too closely to those closures. The point is that Israel recognizes, as does the United States, that developing the Palestinians economically is very important for the long-term prospects of the region.

Q But the current problem is due to the closures, isn't it? How can you not tie it to the closures?

MR. DAVIES: As I've said, there's a long-term process of developing the Palestinian people economically. That goes on despite some of the privations that the Palestinian people are putting up with now as a result of the closures.

Sure, we're concerned, as are all people with an interest in the region, with what the whole region is going through as a result of these suicide terror attacks.

I would note that the Israeli authorities have taken a couple of steps. They've allowed more medicine and food into the areas that are closed off. I think they've also announced that they will seek to provide opportunities for more Palestinians to come to their jobs.

There's no question that this is a challenge to all engaged in the Middle East peace process, but it's one that we'll be working with Israel on and that everybody has to step up to.

Q From my information Israel is withholding billions -- not millions -- billions of dollars of back pay, back taxes that they collected throughout the 24 or 28 years of occupation. There were negotiations between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority, and I think the Palestinians were talking about $67 billion. Israel acknowledged that it withheld $1.3 or $.4 billion -- funds which are available in the hands of the Israelis in the banks and like certain escrow funds.

Do you think that it is time to come to an agreement on this --

MR. DAVIES: I don't have any information about Israel withholding funds from Palestinians who have those funds coming due to them. I'm happy to check into that and find out if there's anything to that.

Q Same area. My information is that Phil Wilcox has agreed almost with the Israelis about border closures to be enforced by barb wire and electricity, but he says that he has some apprehensions about this; that it has to have the -- what impact it will have on the peace process, what impact it will have on commerce and trade exchange between the Israelis and the Palestinians. What are your thoughts on his comments?

MR. DAVIES: A couple of points. One, Israel does have a challenge. They have to deal with this challenge to their peace and to the well-being of their people -- the challenge posed by the terror attacks.

Second, the United States has stepped up to help Israel with that challenge by pledging a fairly serious quantity of equipment and training aid to Israel.

Third, our efforts in assisting the Israeli Government and the Israeli people aren't focusing on constructing any kind of a fence or a barrier. That's not what we're about here.

We are providing certain equipment to help the Israelis deal with explosives detection. That's the principal focus of our efforts on the equipment front. I don't know that these reported plans of the Israelis to do something like that -- to make a barrier or a fence -- are in any way concrete. I don't think there have been any formal announcements about how that is to proceed. So at this stage it would be speculative for me to talk about what role we might play, if any, in that development.

Q Mr. Wilcox has a statement to this effect, that he -- he said what the impact it will have on the trade and exchange since the Palestinian economy is depending on Israeli economy and --

MR. DAVIES: Yes, that's right. He said words to the effect that it's important that whatever the Israelis do should take account of those needs that the Palestinian people have. That's right. I can't quote directly what he said, but he did say something like that. But he didn't go into any detail about this fence-building or barrier-building idea that has been reported in the press.

Q I understand from what you are saying that you are not into the issue of erecting these -- the assistance that the United States is providing Israel is not including or excluding these things that we are talking about here?

MR. DAVIES: We're talking to the Israelis about intelligence-sharing, about providing some equipment, about providing some training, working with them in that sense. We're not engaged in discussions with Israeli authorities about some scheme to build a barrier or a fence or additional checkpoints. Time will tell. It's up to Israel to decide how they proceed from this stage forward.

Q On that point, as you're aware, articles over the weekend were saying that some of the American funds for security that the President has just committed were going to be used to help create a barrier between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Does the U.S. Government not want its money to be used on that? Would the Administration oppose the erection of some sort of a barrier? Or do you think it's a good idea?

MR. DAVIES: David, I think all of this is very, very speculative about what Israel might do in the future; even about what they formally announced they're going to undertake.

I've seen --

Q It's my understanding that money is already arriving; equipment already has arrived. It's not speculative. It's happening already.

Q I understand that the --

MR. DAVIES: For the time being, it's our understanding that Israel is setting up -- they're strengthening the checkpoints that exist in order to try to screen terrorists out who might try to cross into Israeli territory.

In terms of what a more permanent arrangement might look like, I simply can't say at this stage. There have been quotes of police officials and others. I don't know that I've seen any comment from the very highest reaches of the Israeli Government about this. We will simply have to reserve judgment about future developments that might occur, but what's important now is to keep the focus where it ought to be, which is on fighting this scourge of terrorism and preventing these suicide bombers from walking into the middle of civil society and blowing themselves up.

Q Then is it essentially entirely up to Israel to do that as they see fit with the American money and an American --

MR. DAVIES: Israel's a sovereign country. I mean, it makes decisions about how it --

Q Yes, but the U.S. makes decisions about what its money goes for.

MR. DAVIES: How we react to it, that's right.

Q -- where its money goes.

MR. DAVIES: Perhaps we'll have something to say a bit later on if there's something a little more concrete here. But at this stage I'm going to confine myself to what I've said about it.

Q At the moment is there any restriction on the use of American-supplied funds for such a barrier?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know that there's any specific restriction built into what we've provided that would go to that issue.

Q You don't know or you don't think there are restrictions?

MR. DAVIES: I would doubt it, but I don't know for a fact. I don't know what might have been negotiated specifically on that. But I would doubt that there's anything that even talks about a barrier or a fence and how we would relate our equipment -- our donations to that.

Q Since the United States is playing a leading role in the Middle East negotiations, does the United States take any position on a physical separation between Israel and the West Bank?

MR. DAVIES: The position we take is that clearly the Palestinian people have to be allowed to develop economically, and there has to be a way arrived at for the Israeli people and the Palestinian people to live together, and I use that word advisedly. I don't think it's in anybody's interest to create a hermetic seal between the two, and I don't think that that's necessarily what the Israelis have in mind.

Q How does the United States look at some of the proposals that were made at Sharm al-Sheikh anti-terrorism conference billed as "makers of peace" or to hold a Madrid Two -- Madrid Two conference to try to strengthen or extrapolate on the whole situation over the peace process, because it's hitting some bumpy roads here and there.

MR. DAVIES: We reacted to that Syrian counter-proposal when it was made essentially by drawing people's attention back to the challenge, which was in the first instance to fight terrorism, to try to shut down Hamas and to rout out its support network.

Now we want to put the focus on the Sharm al-Sheikh follow-up meeting, which will occur in Washington at the end of the month. We've sent invitations to countries that participated in the Sharm al-Sheikh summit in Egypt. Of course, Syria was one of the countries that was invited to Sharm al-Sheikh, and at the end of the day they chose not to come.

In terms of Syria, we continue to believe that Syria should have an important place at meetings on the peace process and terrorism, and, of course, we regretted at the time the fact that they chose not to come to Sharm al-Sheikh. But the next focus here is on the Sharm al-Sheikh follow-up meeting here in Washington at the end of the month.

Q What's the date on that?

Q At the end of this month?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have a specific date.

Q At the end of the month possibly?

MR. DAVIES: I think it's the end of this month here in Washington.

Q Is Syria going to be invited, or have they --

MR. DAVIES: We invited those nations that attended Sharm al-Sheikh to that conference.

Q What is the level of those countries? How is it represented? Is it Prime Minister or the technical officials?

MR. DAVIES: I don't think it's head of government level, no. It's at a more technical level, that's right. But I don't know specifically, so I can check that for you.

Q Peres has also said that the talks with Syria can't resume until Syria has fulfilled what Peres called "U.S. conditions" about condemning the bombing. Is it the United States which is setting these conditions for the resumption of the talks, or is it Israel?

MR. DAVIES: I was unaware that Israel had said that, and I'm unaware of any United States conditions that attach to Syrian attendance at eventual, we hope, follow-on talks to the Wye rounds.

Q Any update on a possible meeting between Christopher and the Chinese Foreign Minister?

MR. DAVIES: This is going to be a daily thing, but a daily thing that may end fairly soon, I hope. I don't have an update for you on that. It remains very much in our interest that we would like to meet with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen at an early moment at some point soon -- certainly this spring -- to discuss the many issues that are on the table between the United States and China. But I don't have an announcement for you today of a date when that will occur.

Q What places are you looking at? Beijing, Washington?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to go into possible venues -- a mutually exclusive venue. You know how these things work. For me to start spouting off arrangements that are in the works just wouldn't help matters at all. First you have to agree on where you'll meet and when you'll meet, and then you can make an announcement. So we're not at the stage where we can make an announcement yet.

Q Do you have a response on the Chinese Premier's warning that the U.S. naval forces should not sail through the Taiwan Straits?

MR. DAVIES: Our reading of this so-called threat is that there was no threat; that if you read Chinese Premier Li Peng's words carefully -- and we have people who are paid to do that -- they in fact have not threatened U.S. forces operating near Taiwan. That's what we come up with as we look carefully at those statements.

Q Are you going to send the Nimitz through the Straits then?

MR. DAVIES: I'm going to get out of the business of sort of commenting on military maneuvers. We reserve the right to sail in international waters, to steam in international waters, but it's just not appropriate for me to comment prospectively on movements of U.S. forces around the world, much less in that part of the world.

Q There are reports that the Chinese are going to conduct military exercises on an island in that area this morning. Do you have any information on that, possibly the name of the island or --

MR. DAVIES: I don't. I know that, of course, on Friday at the end of last week, they announced that there would be a third series of exercises; that they would occur in a closure area on the northern end of the Taiwan Straits. They've been engaging in preparations for those exercises which will begin -- I believe it's on the 18th. That's today. That's exciting. Today, the 18th.

The other exercises going on in the south are going to continue through Wednesday, the 20th, and part of what I think they're training to do are amphibious assaults and other such military preparation. So it may be that they are doing some preparation on islands, but I don't have names of islands for you, I don't think, to give you.

Q Do you know whether this has actually taken place?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know whether it's taken place. I don't know whether they've actually gotten going on that third round of exercises that was to have started today. There's one island that's mentioned here that is called Haitan Island -- that they've created a closure zone that includes Haitan Island, and that is where the People's Liberation Army -- the Chinese Army -- has been staging some preparations. So perhaps that's the island that you're referring to.

Q Spell that.

MR. DAVIES: What I have is H-a-i-t-a-n -- Haitan. I don't speak Chinese.

Q All one word?

MR. DAVIES: It's one word, according to this transliteration.

Q Speaking of islands, there is a report from Taiwan that some of their islanders close to the Chinese mainland -- I don't remember which island either, Glyn -- are being evacuated. Their troops are on a high state of alert, and the PRC Spokesman has said that China has not given the U.S. assurances that it would not attack one of these islands. Can you clarify? Indeed, has China assured that they will not attack any of the possessions of Taiwan?

MR. DAVIES: The Chinese publicly and privately have stated and restated that there's no change in their stated policy on Taiwan, which is that their intention is to seek a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question. We have no reason to believe, based on what we've seen in recent days and weeks, that there's any Chinese intention to act militarily against Taiwan.

Q Let me follow on Mr. Wang's question. Mr. Li Peng said if someone makes a show of force in the Taiwan Straits, that will not only be a futile act but will also make the situation all the more complicated, and I think they were referring to U.S. naval show of force or any kind of show for that matter in the Taiwan Straits. Is that not accurate? Do we perceive that the Chinese would prefer we stay out of there at this time while they're having their exercises?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to get into our perceptions of what the Chinese believe or are saying. I've seen that report as well. I stick with what we've been saying for some time here: that we don't see any imminent military threat to Taiwan; that the exercises that the Chinese announced and have been carrying out are certainly provocative and tend to raise tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

Our interest is in resolving questions arising around the Taiwan Strait peacefully, and that's one of the reasons why we've taken the actions we've taken in recent days.


Q (Inaudible) quoted, presumably from the Chinese and (inaudible) private discussions that they have no intention -- or their intention is a peaceful resolution. Is that a commitment not to take military action?

MR. DAVIES: We take the Chinese at their word, that their intention remains to resolve questions arising around the Taiwan Strait peacefully, and we don't see any imminent military threat to the island of Taiwan.

Q Yes, but my point is that an intention can be an artful way of saying, "We're not saying what we're going to do."

MR. DAVIES: Your question is?

Q So, in other words, although you have chosen to interpret this as a commitment not to use military measures, I don't see it that way.

MR. DAVIES: I never said that. I haven't chosen to interpret it as a commitment necessarily. I've told you how we perceived the situation, which is that we don't see this situation evolving into any kind of an attack on Taiwan, and I've told you the Chinese have said publicly and privately that there's no change in their position, which is that they intend to seek a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question.

Q A similar question: Over the weekend, Assistant Secretary Lord was quoted on C-SPAN as saying that a low-level Chinese official had at some point said that were the U.S. to try to defend Taiwan, the Chinese would bomb Los Angeles. Where was that said and by whom?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have details of who might have said that. Whoever said it, it's irresponsible and clearly out of bounds. There's been no threat from China to use nuclear weapons against the United States, and I would encourage you not to read anything at all into that.

If a low-level official might have said something that could be interpreted that way, that's certainly not a very responsible act, but we've been in discussions with the Chinese, and there's no threat on their part to use nuclear weapons against the United States, and I think it's kind of a ridiculous notion.

Q Glyn, the Taiwanese and U.S. officials were supposed to start a couple of days of meetings here today or in Roslyn today concerning Taiwan's request for advanced U.S. weaponry. Do you know if those talks have begun, (a). And (b) whether given what's been going on over the past ten days, the United States is inclined to reassess Taiwan's needs for advanced weaponry?

MR. DAVIES: We have an annual process of getting together with Taiwan authorities under the auspices of our American Institute in Taiwan, which is our means of maintaining unofficial relations with the Government on Taiwan. These are routine discussions. They were planned quite a while ago, certainly in advance of these recent tensions. I'm not going to go into details on those contacts. We constantly review our relationship with Taiwan, what their needs are and how we might usefully meet their needs. That meeting is just getting underway, and I don't have any specific comment on it.

Q (Inaudible) meeting today?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know precisely whether it was today -- I know it's this week that the meeting is to occur, but I can't tell you if they blew the whistle today or what happened.

Q Will there be a readout once the meetings are over?

MR. DAVIES: For a readout, I would refer you over to the Defense Department, which I think has the lead here. If I can get something useful for you, George, I'll give it to you.

Q To go back to the nuclear threat voiced by the low-level Chinese official, which Secretary Lord spoke of yesterday, is it the same message that came through Ambassador Charles Freeman or it was voiced on another occasion?

MR. DAVIES: It's such a wild thing that I'm not even going to go into where we got it from or where we heard it. Just on the face of it, it doesn't make a lot of sense. There is no outstanding nuclear threat against the United States from China, and it's silly to build this up into anything more than it is, which is some low-level official saying something that could perhaps have been interpreted that way, and that was irresponsible to begin with.

Q Could I go back to your first statement about hoping that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will be signed by the end of this year. Do you expect all countries around the world to be signatory to this Test Ban Treaty, and I'm particularly asking if Israel will be joining this treaty?

MR. DAVIES: We would like very much to see all nations of the world join in signing that treaty at some point in the fall. One of the reasons that the Secretary of State went to Geneva -- in fact, his primary reason for going there initially was to engage in discussions to try to give a little push to the treaty and to see if we can't move things along more quickly, so that by the fall we'll have a document that's agreed that we can get as many nations as possible to sign up to.

There are a number of nations that have questions, differences, problems with this -- clearly, Russia, China -- but what we have in front of us now is a spring and a summer of working through these issues and trying to get as many countries as possible to sign on.

Q Do you have anything about a U.S. statement released by your Embassy in Madrid today, attacking Spain and accusing Spain of helping spread lies, and even the King of Spain was in some way involved in that?

MR. DAVIES: We will have a statement for you. It will be released right after the briefing on this. Apparently, the King of Spain -- King Juan Carlos -- did confer a journalism prize on a journalist who wrote a series of articles about the trade in baby parts. We view with extreme regret the jury's decision to award the King of Spain prize to Correio Braziliense, which is the publication, I believe, in Brazil for this series.

These are old and ridiculous stories. The charges of organ and cornea theft that were contained in these articles have appeared elsewhere. They've been repeatedly and authoritatively discredited. We find it puzzling that a Western European Government which has the full facts at hand and the counsel of plenty of knowledgeable scientists would associate itself with what is a dangerous and damaging fiction about the United States.

Q Apparently the reporter didn't mention the United States and didn't mention U.S. citizens either. Why you take it as a personal attack to you?

MR. DAVIES: I haven't seen the report, so I don't know that it necessarily did mention the United States or not, but I do know that there is a very tragic history to these rumors. Americans have been attacked in Latin America. One woman was killed because of these rumors that chase each other and have been for the better part of, I think, a decade that somehow Americans are engaged in trafficking in organ parts from babies.

It's macabre and it's wrong, and these rumors ought to stop. Any journalist or other professional person who takes up this story and talks about a trade in baby parts is just fueling a very damaging rumor.

Q Could you provide any truth -- any assurance to the government or to the King that that was really a lie? Apparently you've pressed this for a couple of months now at least.

MR. DAVIES: We've, I believe, turned over to Spanish authorities some background material on the history of this very vicious rumor, to try to inform them better about the truth in this matter. There are materials that have been made available for some years by U.S. embassies overseas.

American news organizations have looked into this and done reports on this, and they've shown that there's absolutely nothing to it. It's just one of these terrible rumors that gets abroad and gains some currency and people keep picking it up. This is somebody else who picked it up and it's too bad. It shouldn't have happened.

Q Can you provide to us the proof that you have that this was really a lie?

MR. DAVIES: I think we can get you some material on that.

Q You're not sure whether American citizens are mentioned in this series?

MR. DAVIES: I haven't read the series.

Q But I don't understand why you're agitated?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know if American citizens are mentioned in the series specifically. But our agitation derives from the fact that this is a rumor that's almost always in people's minds in Latin America, associated with the United States and Americans.

Q But you usually take the trouble to read these articles before --

MR. DAVIES: I haven't read it. I haven't read it. Other officials in the United States Government have read it, George. They've given me this reaction to put out, and I stand by it.

Q Can I go back to Israel for a moment? I don't want to put words in your mouth. Did I understand you correctly as saying that none of the $100 million pledged by President Clinton last week would go into that fence or barrier?

MR. DAVIES: I didn't say that, Jim. What I said is that our cooperation with Israel is not built around the construction of some kind of a barrier or fence. We haven't engaged the Israelis in any great depth on this. And also, this is all speculative. I don't think we've seen fully what Israel ultimately plans to do with our assistance that we're giving them. We'll simply have to see.

Q Has anybody other than Mr. Wilcox put into words an American point of view to the Israelis that the United States does not think a physical barrier is desirable?

MR. DAVIES: Jim, I don't know to what extent American officials have engaged the Israelis on this except to state generally that it's not been a topic of our discussions across the board. Certainly, I don't think the President got into any detail with them on it.

This is an idea that's been put out there, and we'll simply have to take a look at it as it develops. For Israel now, Job One is getting at terrorism and choking off the terrorism that has so bloodied them. We want to do everything we can to help them in that effort.

Q Has there been accountability over the $100 million? Would the United States ask --

MR. DAVIES: I'm certain there will be accountability.

Q Thinking about such things that --

MR. DAVIES: Look, I'm certain there will be accountability, but I'm not prepared right now to tell you exactly how it's all going to play out. The United States doesn't provide $100 million in assistance without tracking it and talking at great length with the recipient about how it's to be used.

Q One more question on that area. Mr. Peres' condition to the Palestinian Authority that Israeli forces will not redeploy from Hebron was supposed to be March 28, before the arrest of the leader of the militant wing of Hamas, whatever it is -- the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigade. You see by this conditioning by the Israelis another impediment or another problem on the road to --

MR. DAVIES: I don't have any particular comment on that. I haven't looked into that or studied that.

Q Can you look into that?

MR. DAVIES: I can look into that, sure. Happy to.

Q There's been another rape in Okinawa. I was wondering whether or not you have any information on whether or not Americans have been implicated in that situation?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have a great deal of information beyond that it's obviously very distressing to us to hear it. We will, of course, work with the Japanese authorities.

I think what happened was that on March 17, an Okinawan woman was raped by an unidentified assailant. She was treated for knife wounds and reported to police that her assailant was a young non-Japanese person. But she was not able to identify him based on various records that the U.S. military had provided.

So this is distressing to us. We're investigating it along with Japanese officials. We'll have to await the outcome of that investigation.


Q If I could, just to move across the straits to Korea. General Gary Lock was quoted this weekend in a Washington Times article as saying that the famine and other political crisis in North Korea was very soon going to produce either an implosion or an explosion. His assessment was that it's coming to a head. Does the State Department share his view that North Korea is in crisis?

MR. DAVIES: It's very difficult to know what's happening in North Korea since it is, in our favored phrase, an opaque society. We certainly don't have official Americans there. What few Americans might be there are in the context of non-governmental organizations there to provide aid.

We decided, based on the evidence given us some time ago, that there was a food emergency that existed in North Korea and it was based on that that we moved to provide some food aid to the people of that nation through private organizations. But I don't have any prognostications for you right now where the mercury is on the thermometer in North Korea in terms of the regime. I just don't know.

Q Is the Department aware of what General Luck has said? Has his assessment been reflected on here?

MR. DAVIES: Bill, I'm sure people are well aware of what he said. They're incorporating it in their analysis of the situation. Sure.

Q Do you have any information on the KEDO executive board meeting in New York?

MR. DAVIES: No, I don't have any information on that.

Q Have you received funding? You're short some funding on oil supplies --

MR. DAVIES: I don't know that the funding has been entirely resolved yet. That's something I can check for you.

Q Did you hear any words from the White House about your Ambassador to Vietnam?

MR. DAVIES: I haven't seen an announcement out of the White House, and you should look to the White House for announcements about ambassadors. We stay away from that very carefully.

Q Thank you, Glyn. This is Arshad of the Daily Inquilab. The parties in the negotiation with the opposition stalled. The last hope of peace has been crushed.

The economy in Bangladesh is in a total shambles. The United States efforts through its fine Ambassador -- Ambassador Merrill -- has been ignored, if not totally, by the Administration of Khalil Wazir.

Amidst violence, blood, and continued violence, the parliament has been called tomorrow. The people in the opposition have rejected it, resisted it. There is going to be a mass demonstration tomorrow.

Glyn, civil order is totally broken; democracy bombarded. From the State Department, we would like to have a reaction to all this happenings. The last hope would be, in order to restore normalcy and at least to save the situation from such utter disarray, the army should be invited and should be stepped in.

MR. DAVIES: Mr. Arshad, we're aware that preparations are underway to convene the parliament in Bangladesh tomorrow. We can only repeat our hope that political activists on both sides will avoid violence and that Bangladesh's political leaders will work together to find a peaceful solution to their differences.

Thank you.

(Press briefing concluded at 1:48 p.m.)


To the top of this page