U.S. Department of State 96/04/08 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, April 8, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies DEPARTMENT Secretary Christopher's Address on "Environmental Diplomacy" in San Francisco 4/9/96 .................... 1 --Secretary's Diplomatic Activities/Agenda .............. 13-14 Department of State Town Meetings in Maine and Indiana .. 2 LIBERIA U.S. Condemns Recent Fighting in Monrovia ............... 2 --U.S. Contingency Plans to Protect Americans in Liberia 3,4-5 --Report on Situation/Fighting in Liberia ............... 3 --Department Working Group Established .................. 3 --Travel Warning in Effect for Liberia .................. 3 --Individuals Seeking Refuge at U.S. Embassy Compounds .. 4,5-7 --Numbers of Official and Private Americans in Liberia .. 4 GREECE/TURKEY Sen. Specter's Resolution on Imia/Kardak ................ 7-9 NORTH KOREA Reports of Continuing North Korean Violations of the DMZ 9-13 South Korean Statement re: Shooting Violators of DMZ .... 10 U.S. Diplomatic Efforts re: Situation ................... 11-12 Rumors of Collapse of North Korea ....................... 13 Status of Shipment of American Rice ..................... 13 Status of Agreed Framework .............................. 14 SOUTH KOREA U.S.-South Korea Meeting Next Week ...................... 15 --Status of South-North Dialogue ........................ 15-16 UNITED NATIONS U.S. Dues/Arrearages .................................... 14-15 IRAQ U.N. Resolution re: Oil Sales ........................... 16-17 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Effect of Israeli Closures on Palestinian Population .... 17 LIBYA Reported Statement by President Mubarak re: More Evidence Needed re: Chemical Weapons Plant ..................... 17-18 TURKEY Turkey-Israel Agreement on Weapons Sales ................ 18 CHINA Status of Determination re Transfer of Technology ....... 18-19 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Reported Iranian Arms Shipments to Bosnia ............... 19 BELIGUM Seizure of Arms Shipment in Beligum ..................... 19-20
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, APRIL 8, 1996, 1:12 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing for Monday, April 8. A couple of quick housekeeping chores and then a substantive announcement. Then I'll go to your questions.
First off, to remind you that the Secretary will be delivering a major foreign policy speech on the subject of environmental diplomacy at Sanford University tomorrow. The address will be given at the Memorial Stadium at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time in Palo Alto. I don't think means that it's a stadium crowd necessarily, but that's the venue.
Barring technical difficulties, we will pipe the speech into the Briefing Room at about 2:00. Just to reiterate to you the importance of this speech, the Secretary, in his Harvard speech at the JFK School in January, said that he, the President, and the Vice President have identified international and environment and resource concerns as vital issues for the future of American diplomacy and for the future of the U.S. and how the United States interacts with the rest of the world.
In the Stanford speech, the Secretary will lay out to the American people our strategy to forcefully integrate environmental concerns into mainstream foreign policy objectives.
You remember that the Secretary has issued a directive to all Under Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries to accomplish that as they formulate and execute American foreign policy.
Second -- also in the public outreach vein --
Q Is there Q&A?
MR. DAVIES: There will be Q&A, and I have a name and number of a contact person that I can give you later on.
Also, in the public outreach vein, there are two Town Meetings coming up. This is in our series of more than 20 Town Meetings this year to try to reach out to the American people and explain what it is we do in the State Department and why we think it's important.
First off, Tuesday, April 23, in Portland, Maine, there will be a Town Meeting. That will feature Assistant Secretary for Political/Military Affairs, Ted McNamara; Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Canadian Affairs, Richard Hecklinger; and David Satterfield who covers the Near East and South Asia for the National Security Council Staff.
The following day, April 24, we will have a Town Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana. Our very own Nick Burns will speak at that one, as will Ambassador Craig Johnstone who is the Director of Resources, Plans, and Policy, and was here before you not too long ago. Alan Romberg will also speak, the Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff; and Shaun Donnelly, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs. We have press releases on both of those for you. You can get them in the Press Office.
Finally, a statement. This is on Liberia. The United States strongly condemns the recent fighting in Monrovia as an unconscionable use of force by armed factions that committed to a cease-fire and peace accord last August.
The fighting and the resulting breakdown of law and order threatened to destroy the Abuja peace process. The United States reiterates its call upon faction leaders and the Council of State to live up to the commitments they made in Abuja to disarm, demobilize, hold national elections, and return Liberia to peaceful, democratic, civilian rule.
We are consulting with other countries in west Africa, with the United Nations, with the Organization of West African States and with the Organization of African Unity on appropriate steps that might be taken to respond to the latest events in Liberia.
We call upon the Council of State to take steps to ensure the safety of all international personnel in Liberia. As a precautionary step and to protect U.S. citizens, however, we have begun to develop contingency plans, including moving transport into the region.
We again urge all Liberians to stop the warfare and redouble their efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to this conflict.
That is all I have up front. George.
Q Could tell us something more about the contingency plans? Are airplanes being flown into the area? Are they there yet? How many Americans are in Liberia?
MR. DAVIES: I can give you some on that. Let me start off, George, by giving you a quick situation update. The situation in Monrovia continues today to be chaotic. This follows on a couple of days of widespread looting and fire throughout the capital. Thousands of Liberians appear to be fleeing the city.
The current fighting -- just to explain it to you -- is a continuation of the long-running dispute between the major factions in that country. The largest faction, which is the National Patriotic Force of Liberia -- it goes by the acronym NPFL -- is led by Charles Taylor and is fighting various ethnic Krahn factions -- Krahn is K-R-A- H-N -- including supporters of Roosevelt Johnson who is the former head of the United Liberation Movement.
The latest fighting has taken place around an area centered on the Barclay Training Center in downtown Monrovia. We understand that about 30 ECOMOG peacekeepers are being held hostage at the Barclay Training Center and that three of their armored personnel carriers were also captured.
The United States, in the face of this, due to the deteriorating security situation, made a decision recently that it was prudent to make contingency plans to protect the lives of U.S. citizens, both official Americans and private citizens who are in the country. We haven't made any decision yet to evacuate anybody from Monrovia nor have we made any decision about the U.S. Embassy and whether it will remain open.
We're therefore monitoring the situation closely. We have a working group upstairs in the Operations Center which was brought up yesterday and has stayed in place overnight. It's a 24-hour operation.
I also want to point out that we have a number of deep interests in Liberia and in the region. They are historical, commercial, and have to do with our commitment to the Abuja peace process, and to assisting parties in the region to restore peace.
We've reminded Americans that there is a travel warning in effect for Liberia and that they shouldn't travel to that country.
Another development on the ground is that the U.S. Embassy has allowed a number of third-country individuals, those who are fleeing the fighting in Monrovia, to seek the safety of various U.S. Embassy compounds in the city. Our records show that there are about 450 American citizens in Liberia. Forty of them are official Americans. Most of the private citizens in Liberia are missionaries, or they work for non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance.
Our Ambassador there, Bill Milam -- M-I-L-A-M -- is a very capable career officer. He is in charge of the activity on the ground.
Q George's question about moving transport assets. What do you mean? What does that mean?
MR. DAVIES: That means that we are taking some prudent steps. In addition to this planning, we are moving some assets into the nearby area; in this case, Freetown, Sierra Leone. This gives me an opportunity to express our appreciation to the Government of Sierra Leone for its assistance in all of this.
I don't have for you now any kind of a count on the number of transport aircraft that we have moved into Freetown. It may be that the Pentagon can provide that kind of detail. But this is all part of the contingency planning that we are engaged in until the point at which we make a decision to do something.
Q Glyn, you phrased the contingency plans as "to protect U.S. citizens." Does that have any connotation, or are you only speaking of the withdrawal? Where does the "protect" come in? Is there any sense of sending U.S. troops to physically --
MR. DAVIES: I want to stress that these are transport aircraft that are being moved into the area. If there was a decision made to mount an evacuation, all we would be doing is evacuating U.S. citizens, not engaging in any fighting.
Q They have to get from Monrovia to Freetown; right?
MR. DAVIES: Obviously, whenever you go into a chaotic situation like this and try to extract American citizens, you have to provide security in order to do it. I can't get into -- partly because I don't know but also because I don't think the planning is necessarily fully set yet -- I can't get into whether they would move overland, whether helicopters would be involved. I don't have that kind of detail for you.
Q You're saying, though, that these planes will go into Monrovia and extract people? They won't go overland to Freetown?
MR. DAVIES: My understanding -- and it's not based on having actually reviewed any of the planning -- is that's one of the plans that's being considered. We're looking at all the various ways we could do this. Obviously, our interest would be in doing it as safely as possible. If it turns that that's possible to do and that's the quickest way to do it, if we ever make a decision to do it, then we'll do it that way.
Q You're saying that ground troops, or a ground component of an air force security squad will have to go in there to provide security. So American ground troops will be part of this --
MR. DAVIES: Sid, what you're doing is, you're getting me way out ahead of not only where our planning is but of what I know. I don't know to what extent that would be required. I don't know if people would go out overland, some overland, some by air. It just remains to be seen. We're short of making any kind of decision on this. We haven't made a decision as to whether or not we will evacuate Americans from that country. So we'll just have to wait and see.
Q How many people are taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy compound?
MR. DAVIES: It's a little difficult to get an actual account of the numbers of people. But I've seen reports that place the figure at over 10,000, and I don't have any reason to dispute that which then leads to the conclusion that we've got some large Embassy compounds, as we do in many African countries for various purposes -- warehouses, and that sort of thing.
Q You haven't made a decision about whether to evacuate the people who have taken refuge there as well, or just Americans?
MR. DAVIES: We're engaged, as you would expect, in consulting with other governments and other embassies there in Monrovia to talk about the extent to which we would help out other nationals if it came to that.
Q I understand that the Government of Lebanon has requested the United States to assist in the evacuation of more than 100 families or 100 Lebanese who live in Monrovia. Do you have such a request?
MR. DAVIES: We're in contact with the Government of Lebanon. That's true. There are a number of Lebanese nationals who are in that city.
Q Glyn, I'm sorry if I didn't get it. But would you give us the breakdown again of how many people -- how many official U.S. are at the Embassy compound, and also how many others are in the compound plus how many are in other U.S. compounds.
MR. DAVIES: Sure. Let me give the numbers I've got as best I can. The Census Bureau wouldn't accept this.
There about 40 official Americans in Monrovia; about 450 American citizens in the country. I don't know what percentage of those 450 private total Americans are in Monrovia. I don't know if all the official Americans are necessarily in Monrovia, though I assume so.
Then the reports that I've seen place over 10,000 people at the various Embassy compounds, and I don't have a reason to dispute that figure, but it's a little difficult to know whether or not that's correct, how many there are. But I think what's fairest to say is that there are thousands of third-country nationals who are in our compounds.
Q How many compounds are we talking about?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know. I don't know the answer to that.
Q But like a half a dozen or more than --
MR. DAVIES: I wouldn't want to speculate. I've served in Central Africa and have been to a few posts in Africa, and typically we have -- and actually it's not just Africa but all around the world -- various kinds of installations. Sometimes, the Consulate is separate from the Embassy. You'll have a residence compound. You'll have compounds where you might have a commissary; a recreation association with a pool. There are different kinds of compounds, some of which can be rather extensive if they have ball fields and schools and things like that.
Q Any sense of who these 10,000 people are? Are they Europeans? Are they Liberians seeking refuge?
MR. DAVIES: I think it's a broad mix of people.
Q Are there Liberians there?
MR. DAVIES: That's my understanding, yes.
Q Are you saying that they're all on American Embassy compounds, or are you covering various other nations' compounds as well?
MR. DAVIES: I'm saying that it's my thumbnail understanding that they're all on American Embassy compounds.
Q Is it because the (American) Embassy compounds are more secure than other embassies in Monrovia?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know why the people have chosen to do what they're doing, and it may well be that there are thousands of people who have gone to other locations in Monrovia as well out of concern for the chaotic situation -- the fires, the looting and the rest of it. So I just don't know whether there are private companies that have big compounds with a number of people at them. It's difficult to say.
Q Are the Embassy facilities that you have there capable of taking care of these people -- 10,000 -- and food and shelter and other things?
MR. DAVIES: I think it's important not to speculate about the situation. We're not talking about necessarily a Fort Apache kind of a thing. I think we're talking about some chaotic situations in the city, a number of people seeking, out of prudence, a degree of refuge by going to American compounds, and that's what's happened. It doesn't mean that they can't, at the end of the day, if things are calm enough, go elsewhere.
So I wouldn't get into scenarios of people drinking pool water and the rest of it. I just don't know that we're at anything like that yet.
Q Senator Specter of Pennsylvania just released a three-page resolution which --
MR. DAVIES: Mr. Lambros, I'm sorry. Anything else on that situation in Liberia? No? Okay.
Q Senator Specter of Pennsylvania just released a three-page resolution on the Greek islet, Imia, calling upon the Governments of Greece and Turkey, number one, to submit the sovereignty of Imia to the International Court of Justice. And, number two, to agree to be bound by the decision of the court with respect to the dispute. This proposed method, however, is detrimental to the Greek continental shelf and the Greek territorial waters in the Aegean.
I was told, Mr. Davies, that this resolution was prepared a few days ago with the involvement of two Greek-American personalities, one from D.C. and the other from New York City, officials from the Greek and Turkish Embassies, and one officer for the Department of State.
Could you please comment on this subject and release the name of your official?
MR. DAVIES: I can't comment on the subject. I didn't know that Senator Specter had issued such a statement, so I just don't have anything for you, Mr. Lambros, on that.
Q Senator Specter advises both governments to be bound by the decision of the court. Since his advice is related with the U.S. policy vis-a-vis to Imia islet, could you please clarify if such a court decision will be applied not only on Imia but as well as to the rest of the rocky islands of the Aegean?
MR. DAVIES: I don't speak for the International Court of Justice, and you're also asking a very speculative question. I just don't know if the ICJ were to take it up, what the outcome would be.
Q I would like, Mr. Davies, at this point to remind you that on February 1, right here, Spokesman Nicholas Burns stated, regarding this issue, "The U.S. does recognize Greek sovereignty as you look at a map of Greece, with all respect, with exception of a few tiny islands -- in this case a tiny islet that is no bigger than the Department of State."
Since the statement is related with Senator Specter's resolution, could you please comment if Mr. Burns' position is still valid today?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to go back over the whole history of the Imia/Kardak issue as it's been addressed from this podium. I know our policy hasn't changed on Imia/Kardak. It's very important that Greece and Turkey seek a peaceful means to resolve their differences over that islet and other islets, and we have said that what's needed here, we believe, is some form of consensual arbitration or other consensual mechanism, so that they can both present their cases and work this out.
Q Last week you told us here that your decision since February 1 not to recognize Greek sovereignty over Imia is still valid. Once again, I would like to know if the Greek Government protested your decision? Your answer is very important, since Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Simitis, and his Foreign Minister, Mr. Pangalos, are not authorized to give away sovereignty of any part of Greek territory, ignoring the Greek constitution, the Greek parliament and the Greek people.
MR. DAVIES: Given the fact that Mr. Simitis is in town and this issue may come up, among others, what I'm not going to do from the podium is add any further comment that would handicap those talks on --
Q Did they protest?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to go into the substance of our diplomatic exchanges with the Government of Greece.
MR. DAVIES: Because I choose not to.
Q Can you tell me what you have to add on the fact that North Korea has been sending troops into the DMZ?
MR. DAVIES: We've had a number of reports that armed North Korean troops have entered the northern side of the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom, in violation of the military armistice agreement, and that they did this on three successive nights -- April 5, 6 and 7. On each occasion, the North Koreans remained for approximately three hours before withdrawing. I don't have any reports today of there having been any incursions today.
I mentioned Friday that the Combined Forces Command, which includes both U.S. and ROK troops, has been placed on a higher watch condition, which is to be distinguished from a higher defense condition, if you will, or a higher defense posture.
This does not signal that the threat of hostilities has increased. Nonetheless, these violations by the North Koreans of the armistice are a cause for concern. We believe that for more than 43 years, the military armistice agreement has helped to maintain stability on the Korean peninsula. We believe further that the DPRK -- the North Koreans -- should abide by their responsibilities under the armistice and avoid provocative actions.
Q Can you tell me how you feel about the meeting that was held by -- I believe it was the South Korean Defense Ministry, and they issued a statement saying that the South Koreans would shoot any North Koreans that came into the southern areas of the DMZ. Do you find this helpful?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to comment directly on that. I think from our standpoint what's important to underscore is the military armistice agreement, which was put in place back in 1953 in order to bring stability to the Korean peninsula. It has succeeded for 43 years in preventing any kind of a large-scale re-emergence of hostilities, and it's important that it be respected, and that North Korea get back to abiding by that agreement.
Now, what have they done. They've come into the security area near Panmunjom in numbers in excess of those permitted by the armistice agreement. They've brought in armaments that aren't permitted, and they've not been wearing the kind of insignia that's required by the armistice agreement.
Those three things, taken together, occurring over three nights add up to a serious walking away from the armistice agreement. What we'd like them to do is recognize the importance of that agreement to the stability of the Korean peninsula and to get back to abiding by it.
Q But this is not their first questioning of the armistice. Over the last year or two, the North Koreans have repeatedly said that the armistice is no longer applicable; that they're not going to abide by it, and so forth and so on, and that they want to negotiate a peace treaty directly with the United States. What is your response to that?
MR. DAVIES: We're not going to be negotiating a peace treaty directly with North Korea. That's not in our interests. What's in our interests in the United States is to see North and South Korea resolve their differences, and it simply wouldn't be helpful for us to engage in direct talks with North Korea, so we're not going to do it.
What's important is for both sides on the Korean peninsula to get back to the table and to work this out peacefully.
Q Do you see any connections between these incursions and the approaching South Korean elections?
MR. DAVIES: Jim, I don't. It's a little hard to divine the rationale or the motivations for the North Koreans here. It certainly wouldn't be helpful for me to speculate. I just don't know why they're doing it, and why they're choosing at this time to do it. There are a lot of theories out there, but I'm not going to comment on them.
Q Why does the United States -- the issue aside of how the negotiations are conducted, why does the United States now want a formal peace treaty with North Korea?
MR. DAVIES: Because what's needed on the Korean peninsula is for there to be a formal, final reconciliation between the two Koreas. We're present there in terms of our security commitment to South Korea and our participation in the United Nations effort, but it's not our land. It belongs to the Koreans, so it's up to them to work this out. It would be a sidelight were we to get involved in negotiations directly with North Korea. It wouldn't solve the problem, which is this problem between the two Koreas.
Q Would you rule out trilateral negotiations between the three parties that fought the war?
MR. DAVIES: Sid, I'm not going to get into diplomatic speculation or gamesmanship about the various ways in which we could play a useful role here. We'd like to play as useful a role as we can, and we're willing to play whatever role is in our interest and, of course, in the interests of peace on the Korean peninsula.
We think that's what we're doing by playing a role in helping prevent a renewal of the conflict, which brings us back to the recent incidents which are of concern, are troublesome to us. We'd like to see them stop and to see North Korea get back to that armistice agreement, which is the bedrock of going forward to some kind of a permanent peace.
Q To take that role playing a little bit further, can you bring us up to date on any meetings that Assistant Secretary Lord is having, either here, elsewhere or anything that Ambassador Albright is doing in New York? What is the U.S. doing to --
MR. DAVIES: All I can tell you, Charlie, is that they're both, as you would expect, actively engaged on the issue. I'm not going to detail for you the meetings that they might be undertaking. In fact, I've seen both of them this morning in meetings and heard both of them speak about what's going on. They clearly are well up on the issues, and they'll take whatever action is appropriate. But I'm not going to detail their meetings.
Q Have there been direct contacts with the North Koreans since all this started late last week?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to report about direct contacts with the North Koreans since this started.
Q This is not the first time this has happened, I gather. Can you tell us when has this happened in the past, and what was the --
MR. DAVIES: There have been incidents in the past of North Korean activity that was not in conformance with the military armistice agreement. Some of the incidents, of course, are quite well publicized and well known -- those of many years ago -- the famous tree cutting incident.
I don't have any kind of a rundown to give you on what they've been doing over the last 43 years, but I do think it's of concern that on three successive nights they quite clearly violated the military armistice agreement. So that's where we are today, and that's where we're directing our efforts.
Q And do I understand correctly that you have --
MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry.
Q Do I understand correctly that you don't have any comment at all on the statement by South Korean officials that they might shoot those who enter the DMZ?
MR. DAVIES: David, my comment is confined to talking about the importance about the military armistice agreement and a return to the regime that existed prior to these incidents -- a complete return to that regime.
In this agreement, of course, there is a lot that's said about what happens when troops cross the border or cross the DMZ and what that means. I don't have it in front of me -- I can't spell it out for you - - but it is a demilitarized zone. The two Koreas are not formally and finally at peace, so, obviously, it is a tense situation. That is a dangerous area, the DMZ.
It is important to act prudently there, and that's what we're trying to do and what we're insisting that the North Koreans get back to doing.
Q Are you encouraged that there was no penetration today in contrast to the previous three days?
MR. DAVIES: Every day that goes back when there's no incident like this is a good news day.
Q Do you have anything to say about the speculation over the weekend that North Korea is near collapse?
MR. DAVIES: That speculation, George, is a continuation of speculation that we've seen for some months about the state of the North Korean populace in the face of this food crisis that they've had. Of course, there are reports that began soon after the death of North Korea's leader that there were various things occurring in Pyongyang, the capital.
It's very difficult for us to penetrate that society and to know precisely what's occurring and to make any kind of an assessment of what's going on. But we do our best, and we try to stay abreast of what's occurring there, for the most part through foreign nationals who are there with the non-governmental organizations.
But I don't have any specific analysis to share with you today about the state of affairs in April of this year.
Q Do you know if the second shipment of American rice, which would have replaced the one that sunk in the Taiwan Straits, has arrived in North Korea?
MR. DAVIES: Jim, I don't think it has. As I recall, that shipment of rice was to have arrived at the end of this month. There was another shipment of foodstuffs, a smaller shipment, that was to arrive at mid- month. I'm stretching it here, but I think within the next week or so. I don't have the exact date.
So I think in coming weeks, over the next three to four weeks, there should be substantial shipments of foodstuffs arriving in North Korea, and we hope it gets expeditiously from the port to the people's dinner tables.
Q Glyn, other than flying out to California to give a speech on environmental foreign policy, can you give us an idea what the Secretary's involvement is on these two current crises? This one and in Liberia. Is he doing anything? Is he talking to anybody?
MR. DAVIES: The Secretary is in constant communication with the State Department, with Acting Secretary Talbott, Under Secretary Tarnoff. He's being kept up to date on Liberia, on Korea, and on a host of other issues,as you would expect.
He's got a fully functioning fax machine which we keep red hot. I don't know precisely what kinds of directives he's given, but you can be assured that he's had a lot of conversations already today with the leadership of the State Department.
Q I'm not talking about his being informed of what's going on. I'm talking about a proactive role he's taking in managing these two crises and the crisis with the airplane crash.
MR. DAVIES: Sid, the Secretary always takes a proactive role. I have the privilege of being in many of his meetings, and he runs those meetings with a great deal of vigor. He manages to do it from afar. I've seen him from places like Dayton remain engaged in issues that have nothing to do with the Bosnian peace process, for instance.
Since I haven't spoken with him myself, I can't tell you precisely what kinds of directives he's issued this morning, but he's in touch, and he's running the affairs of the Department from afar. The Acting Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, is the on-scene manager of our foreign policy today while the Secretary is out in California preparing for his speech tomorrow.
Q Just for the record, everything is still on track with the Agreed Framework?
MR. DAVIES: With the Agreed Framework?
Q Yes. Nothing has changed in that, despite the current North Korean actions?
MR. DAVIES: Not that I know of.
Q They're doing everything they're supposed to do?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to report by way of a change in that.
Q Do you have anything on the KEDO meetings in New York?
MR. DAVIES: I don't, no, but they have a spokesperson who I think can answer specific questions about that.
Q Boutros Boutros-Ghali has an article today in The New York Times, calling on the United States to pay its dues to the United Nations. Do you have any answer to his request or his call?
MR. DAVIES: Obviously, it's the position of this government that the United States would like very much to pay its dues. We are also very engaged with the United Nations in their reform effort and have applauded some recent announcements made by the United Nations to move to deeper reforms in the U.N. system, which for many years suffered from a degree of bloating and perhaps in certain quarters a bit of mismanagement, but things are looking up.
They've made some tough decisions. They need to follow through in order for that reform to continue, and we would like to once again get in the black with the United Nations.
Q My understanding is that by November, if they do not receive what the United States owes to the United Nations, that the international organization will be bankrupt, and they will not have money to pay anything.
MR. DAVIES: I haven't seen anything that specific. There have been statements made in recent weeks and months about the difficult financial situation that the United Nations is in. And it's true -- it takes money to run an organization of that size and scope. We recognize that, and we are a major contributor to the United Nations.
But there are reforms that we think ought to be put in place. That process has started, and we're looking to its completion.
Q I wonder, what kind of a backdrop does the recent activity on the Korean peninsula provide to next Tuesday's summit meeting with the Koreans -- the South Koreans?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that it will too greatly affect that summit meeting. There are many issues on the table between the United States and South Korea that go beyond merely the security situation, though the security situation is clearly one of the most important issues that we have to deal with.
I think what we'll have to do is just wait and see how that meeting comes out. We're looking forward to it. It's an important meeting. The President, I'm sure, would like to have been able to spend more time there but is unfortunately going to be between two other important meetings in Tokyo and in Moscow.
Q What kind of communication will you be making to the South Koreans? For example, you said that it would be useful to have North- South dialogue on this. The North Koreans apparently have proposed some sort of a dialogue to take place, and they suggested Beijing as the venue. The South Koreans responded by saying, "No, we'd like to see it somewhere on the Korean Peninsula."
If the U.S. view is that the North-South dialogue is productive, would you bring a message to the South Koreans saying, "Look, why don't you entertain the possibility of negotiations regardless of --
MR. DAVIES: I'll confine myself just to saying that at that summit meeting we will share privately with the South Koreans our views on recent developments on the Korean Peninsula. I'm sure we'll reiterate our offer to be of assistance in any way we can in resolving the not inconsiderable problems on that peninsula.
Q What military actions are underway due to the crisis in Korea?
MR. DAVIES: I've spoken to that already, that the Joint Command has bumped itself up to a higher watch condition. There is, though, no indication that any kind of an attack is in the offing. The normal defense readiness of the forces remains the same.
Judd, did you have something?
Q Another subject.
Q Back to the United Nations. There are two consultations going on at the United Nations today. One regarding oil for -- the deal for food for Iraq.
The second one, I understand, that the PLO representative of the United Nations this morning met with the President of the Security Council who is the Ambassador of Chile regarding a request by the Palestinian Authority to convene or to issue an order or a resolution calling on Israel to lift the sanctions and lift the blockade and the closure of the Palestinian territory.
What are the thoughts of the United States regarding the second one and the first one, too?
MR. DAVIES: Our position on 986, which is the resolution which talks about Iraq selling $2 billion worth of oil in a six month period in order to purchase foodstuffs and other humanitarian goods for the people of Iraq is well known. Iraq has to comply with Resolution 986.
As a member of the Security Council, we will, of course, be very interested in ensuring that Iraq complies with 986 if this is to go forward. I don't have any kind of a specific update on that.
As to your second question, I don't think I have anything to go beyond what we've said in recent weeks about the situation in Israel and the effect of the closures on the Palestinian populations in the West Bank and Gaza.
Secretary Christopher made an announcement at the Sharm al-Sheikh follow-up meeting that was meant to address that and to, in some sense, alleviate some of the effects of the closure. We've seen recent positive signs in terms of the number of trucks that have been permitted into those areas.
I think I'll just leave it where it's been in recent weeks.
Q If the Council of the United Nations Security Council will pass a resolution calling on Israel to lift the sanctions, lift the closure -- what do you think the position of the United States will be in that?
MR. DAVIES: You're asking me to speculate. I'm not going to do it. Nice try.
Q You could not speculate on the next question. How do you react to President Mubarak's statement that he needs more evidence from the United States that Libya actually has the chemical weapons plant that the Secretary of Defense talked about last week?
MR. DAVIES: We've got time here -- time for diplomacy to work, we think. The United States will continue its efforts to provide evidence to President Mubarak and all other regional actors and those interested in the region to impress upon them the importance of seeing that this activity is shut down and that Libya's efforts to build what might well be the world's largest chemical weapons plant are brought to a halt.
We'll continue our efforts, developing evidence, providing evidence, and discussing this with out allies and friends in the region and elsewhere. If it were to go forward, it would be counter- historical. At a time when the world is working very hard and seeing some progress in arms control, here comes Libya building a monster chemical weapons factory that can do nothing but deal death. It's insane. So we will continue to provide evidence of that conviction that we have to people in the area.
Q My understanding is that the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Amre Moussa, visited Libya and he came back with a statement that there are no chemical weapons plants at the area that the United States specified. What's your answer? This is why, possibly, President Mubarak said, "Give me the evidence."
MR. DAVIES: Secretary Perry has spoken to this. Secretary Perry has provided some evidence to Egyptian officials. We believe that such activity is underway. The Libyans may be calling the "Great Man River Project," or pretending it's a component of that, but we don't believe it is. We believe that they're building munitions factory for chemical weapons. That's a very dangerous thing for the Middle East and the world.
Q The last question. The Arab League aired its objection and alarm over the Turkish-Israeli $600 million deal of updating the weapons of Turkey -- the airplanes. Do you have any comment on this latest fears of the Arab world?
MR. DAVIES: I don't really have any comment on that. We consider that a bilateral matter between the two countries. I think I'll leave it at that.
Q Another one on Libya. You said the U.S. has been providing Mubarak with evidence. What other moves -- who else has been getting this evidence? What kind of international --
MR. DAVIES: Judd, I don't have a list for you here of what we've done already and what we have planned. What I can say is that we are engaged in a diplomatic effort to convince allies and those with an interest in the region of the importance of putting an end to this. We'll continue those efforts.
As you might imagine, we're talking to a number of countries about this.
Q What can you say about China's sanctions, a decision on which the White House said was imminent six days ago?
MR. DAVIES: Deja vu all over again. I'll take you back to Friday because we're where we were on Friday in terms of there not yet having been a decision made by the Secretary of State. He is looking at the evidence, and he'll make the right decision at the right time.
Q But you're closer to a decision than you were six days ago; is that right?
MR. DAVIES: As time moves forward, even as we set our clocks forward, we move closer to a decision.
Q I'd like to ask two questions dealing with the Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia.
First question: Has anybody from the State Department been invited to appear, or asked to appear on Capitol Hill either for an open committee hearing or closed briefing on the subject?
MR. DAVIES: I've noted that there may be an effort underway to investigate this or hold hearings on this. Our view is that we will cooperate in every way we can with the Congress if they choose to commission various inquiries here. I don't know of any specific requests for Administration officials to appear at this stage.
Q My second question dealing with the same subject. Over the course of the last two or three years, have the Saudis ever expressed to the United States Government, either State Department or otherwise, their particular interest in the subject of arms to Bosnia?
MR. DAVIES: I just don't have anything for you on that. I don't know whether they have or haven't.
Q Also on the Iranian arms shipments, have you seen the statement by Prime Minister Peres about a shipment of arms, allegedly from Iran, destined for someplace else, found in Antwerp? Does this agree with your assessment of the situation? Were they indeed Iranian arms? And were they bound for some terrorist group?
MR. DAVIES: Jim, we don't know what the destination of those arms was. What I can tell you is that we do know that Belgian authorities did seize a container. In that container was a small quantity of arms. We are certain that the Belgian authorities will carry through their investigation properly and that we'll have some resolution to this. But at this time, we don't know where those arms were destined for.
Q Do you know where they came from?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think we've got that information either.
Q You say a small quantity; like what?
MR. DAVIES: I can't go into that. I've seen some reports but until the Belgians make their report, I won't put anything out there that might prejudge the outcome of their investigation.
Q I'd just like to do a follow-up to the answer you gave me about the Saudis. You don't know whether they have or haven't. My question being this: If you did know the answer to that question, would you tell us?
MR. DAVIES: That's a speculative question. We choose to say certain things from the podium and we choose not to say others. That's just one where, today, I can't help you. Sorry.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:56 p.m.)
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