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

U.S. Department of State
96/03/19 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman

                        U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                          DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                               I N D E X 

                        Tuesday, March 19, 1996

Glyn Davies

   Welcome to Visitors from Uzbekistan ................      .....  1   
   Secretary's Travel To/Meetings in Kiev and Prague ......  1   
   Department Briefing on Foreign Affairs Budget 3/20 .... 1   

   U.S. and Chinese Statements re: Military Exercises ......  2-3,4-5
   Third Round of Chinese Military Exercises ...............  2-3  
   Congressional Resolution re Taiwan Security .............  3-4  
   US-Taiwan Representatives Mtg re: Taiwan Defense Needs ..  5-6  

   Reported Iranian Statement on Equip and Train for Bosnia   6-7
   Update on Foreign Forces in Bosnia/Numbers/Departures ...  7

   Congressional Hearing on Minister Farrakhan's Travel ....  7

   Suspended Registration of New Foreign Adoptions .........  7-9

   WTO Criticism re: Helms-Burton Legislation ..............  9    
   --Timetable for Implementation/Enforcement .............   10


DPC #45

TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 1996, 1:13 P. M.

MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. First off, to welcome some visitors. We always have visitors, and they are always welcome.

Today's visitors are four influential media leaders from Uzbekistan, two of whom are magazine editors, one is a consultant from the Press Office of the President, and one is an editor from the National Information Agency. They are in the U.S. to observe the positive role of the press in a democratic society, sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency's International Visitors Program. Welcome to the briefing.

The second of three things: Just to give you a quick rundown on what the Secretary of State was up to today. He was today, for most of the day, in Kiev, Ukraine, and he had a number of meetings and some press availabilities, and you'll see some words, I'm sure, flowing back from his press conference.

He met with President Kuchma, with Foreign Minister Udovenko, with the Chairman of the Parliament, with Prime Minister Marchuk, and visited our Embassy, and then left not too many hours ago for Prague where he will spend two nights. That is what the Secretary has been up to.

The third of my three items: to alert you to the fact that tomorrow we will follow up the President's announcement today, which I think will occur in about an hour, of his priorities for Fiscal Year 1997, the Federal Budget. We'll follow it up with our own briefing on the Foreign Affairs Budget. We think it's important to lay out for you what our priorities will be for Fiscal Year 1997.

So first up will be Acting Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. He'll come down and speak to you, and then following Ambassador Talbott, we'll have the Director of the Office of Resources, Plans and Policy, Craig Johnstone. He will have a few more things to say, and he will answer your questions. That is all I have at the top of the briefing.

Q Do you have any comment on the latest exchange of increasingly heated words between the United States and China?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know that I would characterize what American officials have been saying as sort of heated rhetoric necessarily directed at China.

I'd note that just in the last little while, the Secretary of Defense had something to say about his pride in the United States armed forces and the United States Navy. That was just a statement of fact, that it is the best navy in the world. But there's no ratcheting up here from our standpoint of the rhetoric at all.

Q But there is on the part of China.

MR. DAVIES: The Chinese have said some things -- that's correct -- and I leave it to you to interpret what they've had to say. We haven't changed our view at all on the Chinese military exercises. I announced yesterday that they were set to begin their third round of military exercises. They, in fact, did begin after I think a rain delay.

They began yesterday in the new closure area that they announced last week, and this closure area is good for the period March 18-25 at the northern end of the Strait, around that island -- Haitan Island. The live-fire exercises that are continuing off the coast of southern Fujian Province are scheduled to last through tomorrow. So we still have occurring there air and naval exercises.

Our view remains of the exercises that they are provocative and unnecessarily so, and we've made that plain.

Q Yesterday you were making the point that you felt that the rhetoric coming out of China was not as bad as had been represented in the press; that you had re-read the statements carefully and that you didn't feel that they were as bad as had been presented. Yet today statements out of the Foreign Ministry were again harsher, and I'm wondering if there is increased concern over this seeming inconsistency on the part of that government?

MR. DAVIES: Betsy, of course, yesterday there were a couple of things. One, there was this story that the Chinese had somehow -- that at some lower level had threatened the use of nuclear force, and we took care of that yesterday. Then there was also a story that Premier Li Peng had said some tough things, and we took a look at that and decided that that was a bit overdrawn.

Sure, the Chinese continue to make statements. Shen Guofang, the Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, I think has made a couple of statements, but it hasn't changed our view of the situation. We don't think that there's any imminent military threat to the island of Taiwan, and we're going to continue to monitor the situation and say to both sides what we've been saying all along, that it's important that they both avoid actions that would raise the temperature in the Taiwan Strait.

It's important that both sides not take any actions that could be construed as moving to solve their differences over Taiwan through military force. That issue should be resolved peacefully. Both sides have pledged to do so, and we hold them to that.

Q What actions do you see Taiwan contemplating that you would disapprove of?

MR. DAVIES: Barry, I'm not going to speculate about what we may be anticipating the authorities on Taiwan to do. I mean, one can imagine quite easily all kinds of things that could be viewed as provocative.

Q I'm trying to understand why you've chosen to volunteer an admonition to both sides. The Chinese mainlanders are the people who are on the move. The Taiwanese are standing there shaking a bit and wondering if anybody would help them, and you're telling them, "Be careful what you do." I don't know what it is -- I don't know if it's just a generic, as you used to do in the -- as you still do in the Middle East -- tell both sides to sort of be conciliatory -- if there's something up that disturbs the State Department.

MR. DAVIES: Barry, there's nothing up that's disturbing us. It's part of our standard approach to the issue to be even-handed in its advice, and that's all this is.

Q Can I ask about another area if we're --

Q Can we stay with China?

MR. DAVIES: Sure, we can stay with China. Betsy.

Q The Hill is about to pass a resolution that the U.S. should come to the aid of Taiwan were it indeed invaded by China. Do you find this helpful?

MR. DAVIES: We think that the bipartisan consensus that underpins our approach to China and has underpinned it for some time is the right way to go; that the Taiwan Relations Act and the Communiques that we've concluded with the Government of the People's Republic of China contain all the elements needed to move forward successfully in our relationship with both the PRC and with Taiwan -- our unofficial relationship with Taiwan. We don't think that there's any need for any further legislation or any further acts of Congress to deal with it. We think we're fine with what we've got.

Q Let me try, Glyn, to ask you about the words of Mr. Guofang here today. He says that the United States has an unshirkable responsibility for the tensions currently. Has China -- first question: Has China spelled out what has been our responsibility for the tensions? And then he says, "The U.S. must immediately stop its activities designed to interfere with China's internal affairs."

So has China explained to the United States that Taiwan generally, generically, is their internal affair; they are sovereign in Taiwan, and that helping --

MR. DAVIES: Bill, wait.

Q -- asking -- saying that we're going to defend Taiwan is an infraction of their internal affairs? Have they explained this to us?

MR. DAVIES: They've not said anything privately to any great extent that they haven't said publicly. You can interpret what the Chinese say yourself, and what they've said publicly is pretty much what they've said privately.

Q How did the State Department interpret it?

MR. DAVIES: Maybe it's best if the war just remains a war of spokespeople here and doesn't go beyond it.

We've been quite clear on Taiwan that the actions that we've taken recently have not been meant at all to raise tensions in the region. Quite the contrary, they've been meant to calm tensions in the region, to demonstrate our interest in a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan issue -- our attention to both sides declarations that they mean to solve the Taiwan problem peacefully.

We're there in the area. We have some assets in the area. We've talked about that a great deal. They're there simply to observe what's going on. They're in international waters. So we haven't done anything that would raise tensions.

China, in conducting these exercises in the Strait, conducting a series of them over a period of time, now, of course, they've moved to -- just recently announced that a third series of exercises will occur during the period of the elections on Taiwan -- China has been provocative, needlessly so. They've raised tensions. They crossed that red line. We haven't, and we don't intend to.

Q Do we perceive that they may see it the other way; that we're provocative and raising tensions?

MR. DAVIES: Shen Guofang can articulate the way the Chinese see it. I can't do that. That's not my job.

Q Glyn, does the United States believe that Taiwan needs some additional military resources to defend itself, such as new diesel submarines and new P-3 anti-submarine aircraft?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to have anything to say about the meeting that occurred today that I think has already occurred and may well be over between representatives of the United States and representatives of Taiwan.

I spoke to this yesterday. It's a regular meeting that occurs in the context of our consultations about Taiwan's defense needs. Both sides have decided -- and this has been traditional with regard to these meetings -- that it's best not to discuss in detail what transpires.

Q Which is why I didn't ask you about the meeting. I asked you about whether the United States thinks Taiwan should have additional military resources to defend itself, such as new submarines or P-3 aircraft?

MR. DAVIES: You're asking a specific question about a specific type of armament. The United States believes that the basis for our policy is the Taiwan Relations Act which spells out the measures that we take to ensure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself. All of our decisions flow from that.

I'm not in a position -- even if I were, I wouldn't go into detail about our specific discussions with authorities on Taiwan, about their defense needs, in particular armaments that they may be interested in purchasing and what we're interested in selling them or any of that.

Q These aren't static needs or exist within a situation. The situation has changed. Would you be willing to grant that China's needs are greater now than they might have been before the military exercises?

MR. DAVIES: Taiwan's needs?

Q I mean, Taiwan's needs.

MR. DAVIES: I don't know that I would be willing to grant that. I just don't know whether, in fact -- obviously, the situation develops all the time. There's no question about it. Both sides have to constantly re-evaluate what's in their best interest when it comes to the United States providing arms to Taiwan. But I'm not going to make any value judgment about whether Taiwan's needs are any greater now than they were a week ago or two weeks ago.

Q Another subject?


Q In an interview with the Washington Times, the Iranian Ambassador to Bosnia is speaking of Islamic countries being willing to prepare to provide weapons to the Bosnian -- at least to the Muslims -- and the Bosnian forces if, indeed, the U.S. withholds the training and equipment program. Is this something that the U.S. has discussed with the Bosnian Government? Is it a live possibility? Does the U.S. have a view on this?

MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry. Could you give the gist of that again?

Q Yeah. The interview -- the Iranian Ambassador, Tahu -- I don't know how he pronounces it -- told the Washington Times in Sarajevo that with the U.S. holding back on its promise to provide arms and training -- equipment and training -- that Islamic nations would do that job. I wonder if that's a stated wish by Iran to get deeply involved in Bosnia, or is it a real possibility --

MR. DAVIES: I don't know what's in their minds. It's a little difficult to define that. The United States is committed and has been from the beginning, really, of the Dayton process to a program eventually to train and equip federation forces. That program will be consistent with the Dayton agreement.

The seriousness of that commitment is reflected in the $100 million pledge that we made at Ankara. We welcome contributions, in fact, to that program -- from other countries, including countries in the Middle East that are consistent with the Dayton agreement and consistent with results of the Ankara conference. A number of countries, in fact, did pledge at Ankara to provide various forms of assistance. We're following up with them on that to make sure that those pledges are met. But we've stressed to the Bosnian Government that their involvement with Iran in arming the Bosnian military would be detrimental to stability in the region and to Bosnia's relations with the U.S. We've been quite clear on that.

Q Did the Iranians, in fact, take part in this Ankara conference?

MR. DAVIES: I don't think so; no. I'm not sure. There were 33-or-so countries there, but I don't believe that Iran was one of them. I would be startled to learn that they were.

Q Any update on the number of -- I keep saying "freedom fighters." That's what they used to be called. Now, they're called "foreign forces." Any update on the foreign forces in Bosnia -- I mean the number of them? And whether -- I think it was about 150 last week -- any left? Have any left the country?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have any updates for you, Barry. I can't report to you that "X" number have left recently, no.

Q Today, at 2:30, as you know, the House is going to have a hearing on whether Minister Farrakhan violated any U.S. laws when he traveled to Africa and the Middle East.

I understand, or at least the people sponsoring the hearing say the State Department was asked repeatedly to testify but it does not plan to send anyone. Why is the State Department not testifying?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know about "repeatedly." The official who would be appropriate for that hearing is not here, and that is Ambassador Phil Wilcox who is our Coordinator for Counter-terrorism. He's now in Israel.

Were he here, he would be appropriate, and we would dispatch him to the Hill to participate. Since he's not, we can't at this stage participate in the hearing.

Q No one else would be able to testify?

MR. DAVIES: He would be the appropriate official to testify at that level.

Q Today, the New York Times has a big story about adoptions, illegal adoptions in Paraguay. Do you have any comment, any statements in that regard?

MR. DAVIES: I do have some comment about that. It's true that the government in Paraguay has kind of declared a pause in foreign adoptions. They, on September 18, 1995, suspended registration of new foreign adoptions. The suspension, we think, is going to be in effect for about a year. It will give their government -- the Paraguayan Government time to review current cases, we think, to write a new adoption law and to create a new governmental entity to regulate adoptions.

U.S. citizens with adoption cases already in the pipeline should be in touch with their adoption agencies and with their Paraguayan attorneys for confirmation of when their cases were registered in the Paraguayan court.

We have here in the Department of State worked with prospective parents -- adoptive parents -- over the years to make information available to them about conditions in Paraguay. We've noted that in recent announcements that we've put out there's been some unpredictability in the issuance of final decrees -- final adoption decrees in Paraguay, uncertainty over case processing and other difficulties.

So we think it's a positive development that the government has declared this period, this pause during which they will kind of revisit how they process adoptions and perhaps clarify it and make it a bit better for Americans and others who go to Paraguay seeking adoptive children.

Q Have you done any investigation here in the States that something is wrong?

MR. DAVIES: I don't think that we've done any independent investigation. Certainly, none that I know of. There's no hiding the fact that there have been problems in Paraguay. The Government of Paraguay has recognized that, and that's one of the reasons that they made the announcement they made at the end of last year.

Our interest in all of this is in protecting both the American citizens and the adoptive children. We have, in the United States, very strict procedures and laws for immigrating adoptive children to the U.S. We've made great efforts over the years to encourage foreign governments to act against abuse and corruption in adoption procedures.

Just on the case of Paraguay alone, since 1989, over 2,200 immigrant visas have been issued to Paraguayan children adopted by American citizens. So we've been very engaged in this. We're happy to see that the Paraguayans are now turning to perhaps solve some of the difficulties that exist down there.

Q Did you say 2,200?

MR. DAVIES: Twenty-two hundred; two thousand two hundred.

Q Since --

MR. DAVIES: Since 1989; that's right.

Q Can I ask something on Cuba, please?

MR. DAVIES: Sure. Go right ahead.

Q At the WTO today, some of the United States' closest allies and trading partners criticized it for the Helms-Burton bill having become law and called it a violation of international law. They haven't actually filed a complaint yet -- a formal complaint -- but they are threatening to.

How does the United States plan to respond to these criticisms?

MR. DAVIES: That issue is now being dealt with, in the main, by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative here in this town.

We know that there are objections out there. We've seen them registered publicly on behalf of a number of our allies and partners, and it's our intent to work closely with them as we move to implement the various provisions of the Helms-Burton agreement, to explain to them what it is that they're likely to see.

But it remains our view that the Helms-Burton legislation was important as a way of showing our strong displeasure with Cuba's shootdown of those two unarmed aircraft.

In terms of the details of the legislation, we'll simply have to see how it plays out as we work on the implementing legislation, and as we discuss with our partners around the world how this will affect them.

Q So does there need to be implementing legislation that has yet to be passed by Congress?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not certain what necessarily has to be done from the congressional side, but certainly, I guess, to be more precise, there has to be within the Administration a great deal of implementing language written so that those in the government who are charged with enforcing the Helms-Burton agreement know exactly how to proceed as various cases come up.

Q When do you expect the government to start enforcing the law?

MR. DAVIES: As soon as it's possible to begin. I'm sure there are already actions being considered on the part of private individuals -- for instance, under the so-called Title III provisions -- and there may be right now people moving to file suit. I think for the most part on Title III, we'll take our cue from kind of what comes through the courts.

In terms of some of the other provisions -- for instance, the visa provisions -- I don't know right now exactly when and how that will begin to be implemented. But that's something I could look into, and perhaps we could figure out what the timetable is going to be for you.

Q Does the law allow a great deal of flexibility to the Executive Branch in how it is enforced? Is there a debate, perhaps, within the Executive Branch over how strongly to enforce some of its provisions?

MR. DAVIES: David, I'm not aware of any debate about how we're going to go about enforcing these provisions. It's now the law of the land, and we'll step up to it and enforce them just as soon as we're able. I just don't know of any debate that might be going on about how to implement it. It's broad legislation. It's complicated. You can't all of a sudden wave a wand or snap your fingers and then in the space of a couple of days or week have it all set so that you can implement this across the board.

Q Could you possibly take the question as to when it is going to start being enforced?

MR. DAVIES: I'll look into the various provisions and when we can expect developments to occur, but the President has signed it, so the legislation will be enforced -- as we're able to enforce it from the point at which the President signed it.

Anything else? Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:39 p.m.)


To the top of this page