U.S. Department of State 96/03/22 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, March 22, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies CHINA Meeting Between Secretary Christopher and Chinese Foreign Minister............................................... 1,2 U.S.-China Relations..................................... 1 Einhorn Non-Proliferation Discussions.................... 1-2 Status of Ex-Im Bank Financing........................... 8 ITALY Capture of Achille Lauro Terrorist al-Molqi.............. 2-4 --World Service Authority Passports...................... 3 PAKISTAN Brown Amendment Implementation........................... 4-5 NORTH KOREA Famine Relief Efforts.................................... 5 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Reported Mass Grave Near Omarska......................... 6,8 Indictments by War Crimes Tribunal/Cooperation of Serb... Authorities............................................ 6-7 IRAQ Talks on Resolution 986.................................. 7-8 GREECE Security of Athens Airport............................... 9 RUSSIA Secretary Christopher's Mtg with Yeltsin/NATO Expansion.. 10 SUDAN U.N. Security Council Action............................. 10-11 TURKEY Reported Attacks Against the PKK in Northern Iraq........ 11
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 1996, 1:10 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. In deference to Barry, I have no announcements, so I'll go right to your questions.
Q The Defense Minister of China will not be seeing Mr. Perry. Mr. Perry has called it off. What about our Secretary of State or your Secretary of State? Will he see the Chinese Foreign Minister as scheduled?
MR. DAVIES: The plan is still for the two to get together. We're still talking with the Chinese about the specific timing of that, but I think you can look for it along about the third week of April at this stage.
Q How would you describe the state of relations with China now?
MR. DAVIES: We deal with the Chinese on a number of issues, but it's clear that the actions that they've taken in the Taiwan Straits in recent weeks have made it a little bit more difficult to engage with them as we would like -- on all of the issues that we deal with them on. But it hasn't prevented us, for instance, from having Deputy Assistant Secretary Robert Einhorn go out there and talk to them about non-proliferation concerns.
What they've done in the straits won't prevent the Secretary of State from meeting with China's Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, we hope, in April in Europe. But it was decided -- and you may have seen the announcement that came out of the Pentagon -- that it just wasn't the right time for there to be a defense minister's visit to this country.
Q Is Einhorn there now?
MR. DAVIES: Einhorn is still there. Yes, he is.
Q How's he doing on the Chinese proliferation of nuclear technology?
MR. DAVIES: We don't have a readout for you yet, Barry, but we'll see if we can't get one after he gets back. He's still there. He may be leaving soon. I had heard one report that he might leave as early as tomorrow. Right now I've got nothing for you in terms of results of his visit.
Q You're not saying April 21 as the date for the meeting. Does that mean that that date is still under consideration?
MR. DAVIES: That date is still under some consideration. We're working with the Chinese to see if we can't find a date that's mutually convenient that's right around that time.
Q So it's possible because of the Clinton-Yeltsin meeting that that may slide before or after?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not sure what is behind the lack of firmness right now on that date, but I think it's related to the President's visit to Russia, yes.
Q New subject?
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q Do you have anything on the arrest of Mr. al-Molqi?
MR. DAVIES: Yes, I do. We'd like to congratulate the Italian officials for their follow-up on the al-Molqi case. They did a great job of initiating an effort to track him down, and they were successful. Also, Spanish authorities were very actively engaged. Al-Molqi was in fact captured in Spain.
Today, Italian Prime Minister Dini personally informed our Ambassador in Rome -- Ambassador Reginald Bartholomew -- of the capture in Spain of the escaped Achille Lauro terrorist. In response, Ambassador Bartholomew complimented Italian authorities and police on their diligent and effective work in conducting the international manhunt which led to his apprehension.
Obviously, this is news that I think will be well received by all Americans. We've also conveyed to the Spanish our pleasure at the role that they've played.
From the beginning, our cooperation with the Italians has been excellent, and we appreciate their serious efforts. We can't yet say whether our reward announcement had anything to do with it, but we'll see about that in the near future. We look forward now to the next step, which will be talks between the Italians and the Spanish about how to get al-Molqi back to Italy to serve out the rest of his sentence.
Q Do you know if they have an extradition treaty?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if they do, but we don't know of any impediment to al-Molqi's being returned to Italy to finish out his sentence. That's the next step. We have to see about that.
Q Are you suggesting it was more the Italian police than the Spanish police?
MR. DAVIES: No. I don't have the exact scenario of how he was caught. I think it was on the sea coast. He had gone to the beach apparently. They tracked him down and caught him, and I think Spanish police made the apprehension, though I don't have that detail -- I can't confirm that. But I think it's fair to say that it was the Italian Government's actions -- the strength of their actions that led to this. They were the ones who got on his trail quickly, clearly, and found him, and in working with the Spanish had him apprehended. So it's a great development.
Q There was a report that he was traveling on a so-called passport issued by the World Service Authority. Are you looking into that, and what can be done about that?
MR. DAVIES: We know about those passports. The World Service Authority is a private organization. It's a company of some kind that for a number of years has been issuing these so-called passports -- these documents that resemble and purport to be a passport of some kind.
Apparently, you make application, you pay a fee, and they'll send you what they call a "passport." But under Title VIII of the U.S. Code, Section 1101(a)30, the U.S. Government does not recognize the World Service Authority's "world passport" as a valid travel document.
That statute defines a passport as a travel document issued by competent authority, showing the bearer's origin, identity and nationality, if any, which is valid for the entry of the bearer into a foreign country. So what he was traveling on, if it's true, was not a legitimate passport.
Q Do you have any reason to think you may be paying out the reward money?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that yet. We have to look into that. I think the reward -- there may be stipulations in it about authorities not being able to receive it. In other words, it has to be based, I think, on a tip from a private individual and not based on work done by someone in the normal course of their work.
So I don't know the answer to that, but, obviously, that's something we'll look into.
There was a $2 million reward leading to information that would lead to his capture and arrest, and we'll have to see.
Q Up to $2 million, right?
MR. DAVIES: Up to $2 million, right, depending on the quality of the information.
Q What's been the response from the Italian Government about whether convicted terrorists can receive furloughs from Italian prisons?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know to what extent we've engaged in a general conversation with them about the problem that his escape might point to. The Italian Minister of Justice and other Italian officials initiated a process of looking into this whole matter, and I don't know that they've come out with any kind of a report.
Obviously, we would hope that once he's back there that this won't happen again, and that will be, I'm sure, one of the messages that we'll be giving the Italians, in addition to the congratulations for the fine work that they've done.
Q Do you have any more information on how the capture was actually made? Were you serious when you said he'd gone to the beach for the day?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have specifics on it. I think it was a seaside town where he was captured. All I have at this stage is what I've seen in ticker items. I know that people in this building have been calling, as you would imagine, their colleagues in Rome and in Madrid to get more detail, but I don't have it yet, so I don't know the precise circumstances.
Q What's the latest with the Brown Amendment?
MR. DAVIES: Brown Amendment?
Q What is happening?
MR. DAVIES: On the Brown Amendment. We're still reviewing the results of consultations with members of the Senate and House on how to implement the Brown Amendment. We haven't made any determination in the so-called ring magnet case. But currently no assistance that would be affected by the relevant legislation will be going to Pakistan, so that's not going to move forward. And there are, of course, other pieces of legislation that pertain to the question of transfer of such materials, such as the Symington Amendment and others.
So that right now is the status: that we've consulted up on the Senate side and on the House side, and now we're looking at the results of those consultations, and we'll see where we go from there.
Q Korea. There was a report on NPR this morning that the U.N. chief of the relief effort for Korea said that things were deteriorating insofar as the food supply. It said that people in North Korea were eating leaves, and that things were getting notably worse and were made worse by the sinking of the relief ship in the Taiwan Straits. Can you confirm?
MR. DAVIES: Bill, I can't confirm what the conditions are on the ground in Korea. We very much regret the double tragedy that occurred when the merchant vessel -- the Chinese-flag vessel, the Chengda, went down in the Taiwan Strait just a couple of days ago, because, of course, there was some loss of life. About 15 of the crew members lost their lives. Then from our standpoint as well, a good portion -- it turns out not all, but a good portion of our food aid being carried by the World Food Program to North Korea was lost and went down with that ship.
The World Food Program had insured the shipment, and they'll move quickly, they've told us, to purchase foodstuffs and get the food out there by the end of April. But I can't confirm what conditions are on the ground in North Korea, because we don't have any people there.
Q But can you confirm that the U.N. -- has the U.N. shared this point of view with the State Department?
MR. DAVIES: Bill, I can't speak for the U.N. I'm not a U.N. spokesman. I mean, I've seen what they've said. There's no reason to doubt it, but I just can't speak for the United Nations.
Q No reason to doubt it. All right, thank you.
MR. DAVIES: Yes.
Q Bosnia. There's a new report by the United Nations human rights investigator, saying that the Serbs killed 3,000 people in July after the fall of Srebrenica. Do you have anything on that?
MR. DAVIES: Are you talking about the new mass grave that's been reported?
MR. DAVIES: It actually may not be so new from our standpoint, because Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck was out there. This is the discovery of a possible mass gravesite near Omarska, I believe.
Our Embassy in Sarajevo, of course, is following up on this and we expect the Bosnian Government to notify both the United Nations and the War Crimes Tribunal of the fact of the existence of this mass grave. But this is yet another indication of just how terrible that 4-1/2 year war was, and yet another reason why it's important that the parties on the ground move quickly to consolidate the peace that's been in place now for some months.
Q Do you know how many people are in this grave?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything specific on how many bodies are supposed to be in the grave. I've seen some press reports but I don't know. Obviously, there must be an investigation, and the War Crimes Tribunal is central here. So we would look for the War Crimes Tribunal to be allowed to come in and to investigate it and to issue a report.
Q Has the Milosevic government given you a date when they intend to turn over the two men that they've said they will turn over to The Hague? And is the U.S. seeking to have that government also turn over other persons who might be suspects as a result of the testimony of these two men?
MR. DAVIES: All I have to report today is the undertaking that the Serbian Government has made -- that President Milosevic has made -- that the two will be turned over. I don't have anything to report by way of a specific date when that might occur.
But, of course, there is some news on the War Crimes Tribunal front that they have just, in the last day, indicted four men for alleged crimes against Bosnian Serbs. Two of the four indicted were arrested on Tuesday. One of them was a Croat who was arrested in Vienna; and the other, a Muslim in Munich. The other two are still at large. We think perhaps they're still in Bosnian Federation territory. All four are accused of rape, murder, and torture.
This action by the Tribunal is a positive development and further confirms the Tribunal's objectivity and impartiality. So we're happy with this development, and look to see all four of these men brought to justice.
Q Is the Tribunal finding it's getting better cooperation from the Serb Government or the Bosnian Serb authorities now in investigating crimes against Serbs?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know. I really don't. That's obviously a question that could be put to the Tribunal. But this is a sign of progress that I think is worth pointing to. The list is nearing 60 people now who have been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal.
We look to the day when all of those people and any others indicted are brought to justice and taken to The Hague for arraignment.
Q Are you pressing, though, the Milosevic Government to turn those people over quickly, or are you just waiting and seeing?
MR. DAVIES: When Secretary Christopher met with President Milosevic in Geneva, my understanding is that that issue was raised. So the answer is, yes, we are pressing the Serbian Government to comply with the War Crimes Tribunal's request. We would hope that would happen soon.
Q Just one on Iraq. Officials close to the talks at the U.N. on the oil-for-food deal say that -- basically, an agreement is on the verge of being reached and is awaiting U.S. approval. What's the stand on the agreement in terms of your Department?
MR. DAVIES: That's news to me that somehow the U.S. Government is holding up agreement. I think the Government of Iraq is holding up agreement. My understanding is that those talks continue -- the talks on Resolution 986 up in New York and that the sticking point remains the Government of Iraq's non-compliance, if you will, with the provisions of 986.
What has got to happen here is that Iraq has to step up to those provisions and agree to them. Obviously, there are some details to be worked out. That's what these talks are all about. But there aren't going to be any compromises. There's no negotiation. It's not a question of the United States giving a green light or a red light to the agreement that's reached up there.
Q Back to China for a moment. The 30-day hold on the Ex-Im Bank's export financing for China, I believe, falls due tomorrow. That hold was put on it at the request of Secretary of State Christopher. What are you going to do when it falls due?
MR. DAVIES: I've asked the question about sort of when the Ex-Im loan deferral is up, the 30-day deferral. It's a little hard to pin down. You could ask the question of Ex-Im, precisely what day that period ends.
All I can say on that is that we're continuing our review of reports that China provided nuclear assistance to Pakistan. As part of those deliberations, we're engaged with the Chinese through diplomatic channels. That's the Einhorn visit out there and other approaches to the Chinese.
The Secretary did recommend a 30-day suspension of Ex-Im Bank loans to projects in China while we work on the review. But there's been no decision; I've got no decision to announce about whether we'll ask Ex-Im to extend the loan again, and I've got no decision to announce on the issue of the transfers themselves.
Anything else over here? Let me go here first.
Q Let's clarify something. It's very confusing. There are so mass graves, I don't know which one you're talking about.
Is this mass grave that you're talking about the same one that is covered in July and you had the aerial pictures about, or is this something new?
MR. DAVIES: I think this may be something new. I'm not a hundred percent certain because there are, tragically, so many of these mass graves. This, I do not believe, was one that was previously reported on at great length, though it is one that John Shattuck, our Assistant Secretary, did visit.
I don't know if I can de-conflict what you've got on --
Q The report says that American officials issued fresh aerial photographs showing what they believe is the site of a massacre of up to a thousand Bosnian Muslims. Is this --
MR. DAVIES: I think that's a different site, actually. What I can do is maybe get you a little more detail on that and tell you where Omarska fits in all of that.
Q Glyn, I think the confusion is that there is a report that was being given to the War Crimes Tribunal today that was done on Srebrenica, saying that up to 3,000 people died and giving more information --
MR. DAVIES: And that there are aerial photographs that support that, and not Omarska.
Q Not Omarska.
MR. DAVIES: Okay. Got you.
Q The Greek Government is responding angrily to the DoD decision to post the Athens Airport as having inadequate security measures. They're saying there are political reasons tied to Turkey. How do you respond to that?
MR. DAVIES: There are no political reasons tied to Turkey for the determination that was made by Transportation Secretary Pena who, late yesterday, determined that the international airport in Athens, Hellenikon International Airport, needs to implement more effective security measures in order to be fully consistent with the standards that are set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The determination that he made had some automaticity to it. It was triggered by an inspection procedure that's mandated by law, a law passed in 1985. So the decision was based, really, on purely technical criteria. It's not in any way a reflection on our very good relations with Greece.
So what happens next -- Greek and U.S. authorities will work closely together, closely and cooperatively, to bring the Athens Airport up to ICAO standards.
We understand from the Transportation Department that U.S. and foreign air carriers that operate between the United States and Greece are providing additional security measures. Those additional measures bring the security up to snuff. They compensate for the deficiencies that we found at Athens Airport. As a result, they provide adequate security for the travelling public. So those flights are safe, according to the ICAO standards.
Q Thank you, Glyn. On Secretary Christopher meeting with President Yeltsin, we have quite a bit on the wires about this. I would just ask you, do you have any more to add from your conversations with Nick Burns? Specifically, it reports that Mr. Solana was present; was trying to work something on the expansion on NATO, some accommodation between the U.S. and Russia on this particular issue and apparently failed.
Can you address that particularly subject?
MR. DAVIES: Bill another outfit I'm not a spokesman for is NATO, so I can't really talk about Solana's trip there. I understand from those travelling with the Secretary that his meeting with President Yeltsin went very well. Then, there's an awful lot out there in press reports and tickers that goes into detail on that. So I would commend those reports to you.
Q Specifically my question was, did Nick say anything to you about this NATO issue and this vote in the Duma, this matter of NATO expansion?
MR. DAVIES: Over the last 24/48 hours, we've had a lot to say about NATO expansion, starting with what the Secretary had to say in his speech at Prague. He had some very forthright language about how we plan to proceed deliberately and transparently -- that is, we members of the alliance -- to move forward with NATO expansion.
That same message, you can rest assured, was delivered by the Secretary to President Yeltsin when they met. But beyond what you've seen in speeches and press reports, I don't have anything for you.
Q No news of progress on that issue?
MR. DAVIES: We continue to engage with the Russians on the question of NATO expansion; of course.
Q Do you have anything on the Sudan? They haven't fulfilled the U.N. resolution. The deadline expires by the end of the month. Does the United States support putting sanctions, U.N. sanctions?
MR. DAVIES: We support the U.N. Security Council action that was taken to try to get those individuals back to where they committed their attempted crime against President Mubarak. I think that was Ethiopia where that occurred. So we stand by the vote that we registered in the United Nations when that resolution was put up.
Q What's next? Because by the end of the month the deadline will expire.
MR. DAVIES: We'll see what happens. They've got until the end of the month, as I understand. If they comply, so be it. If not, there are, I think, provisions for some sanctions in the resolution, and they would have to be implemented. No question about that.
Did you have a question? No.
Q Just one more. What's the reaction to the Turkish Government reports that they've been bombing Kurdish areas in northern Iraq and chasing the PKK? Is this a concern of yours? In the past, you've not said much about it, but --
MR. DAVIES: We've had a fair amount to say about the Kurdish issue and Turkey, and all of that, of course, is contained in our human rights report that was just issued on Turkey, among many others on other countries.
What I don't have today is any particular reaction on the reports that we've all seen of increased activity on the part of Turkey in northern Iraq against PKK strongholds.
The PKK is a terrorist organization that commits violent acts, and we very much condemn it. But I don't have anything for you today on what Turkey has done in northern Iraq.
Q Are you urging restraint on the Turks at all?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know the content of our current diplomatic conversations with Turkey on that issue. Obviously, it's a situation that we watch very closely because we, as members of the international community, play a role in northern Iraq on the sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
But, as I said, I really don't have any particular reaction to what the Turks have been doing.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:36 p.m.)
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