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U.S. Department of State
96/04/10 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
I N D E X
Wednesday, April 10, 1996
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
Secretary Stop Added in Luxembourg Apr 22 to Attend ....... 1-2
Follow-Up Mtg of Sharm al-Sheik Summit/Mtg with Chinese
FM Qian Quichen in The Hague
Statement on Evacuation of AmCits from Monrovia ........ 2-3
and to Stop Fighting
Secretary's Activities & Contacts/Working Group/ ....... 3-8
Situation Update/US Priority to Assist AmCits/
Evacuation Plans for AmCits Other Nationalities/
Staffing US Embassy/Other Countries Conducting
Evacuations/Reason for Fighting
Situation at Greystone (US Housing Compound)/#s People . 8-11
There/Supplies/Security at AmEmbassy
Readout of Secretary's Breakfast Mtg with PM Simitis ... 11
President's Remarks on Venue for Imia Dispute .......... 11-13
Secretary-PM Simitis Discuss Cyprus .................... 12
Travel by Mr. Beattie & Amb Kornblum/President's ....... 13-
Comments on Resolving Issue
GREECE/TURKEY: Mr. Beattie's Talks on Bilateral Relations/ 13-14,
PM Simitis Plan/ICJ Decision on Imia 17-18
IRAN: Arrest of Turkish Spies ............................ 14
IRAQ: Sales of Oil via Iran .............................. 14
CHINA: Secretary's Decision on Ring Magnets .............. 15
JAPAN: Redeployment of US Troops from Okinawa to Japan ... 15-16
ISRAEL/LEBANON: Situation Along Border ................... 16
Update on North Incursion into DMZ ..................... 16
Update on Food Situation in North/Replacement Shipment/ 16-17
US Monitoring Food Situation
RUSSIA: Pres Yeltsin's Remarks on Keeping Nuclear ......... 18
Technology on Own Territory
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 1996, 12:09 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State
Department briefing. I had hoped to get out a little
earlier because, out of respect to the family of Ron Brown,
we don't want to, of course, brief at 1:00 today. So this
briefing will have to be a little bit abbreviated. I do
want to finish before 1:00.
I did want to get out, though, and tell you two things.
The first is that Secretary of State Christopher, in
addition to a meeting with Foreign Minister Qian Quichen on
April 19th in The Hague, in addition to attending the
meetings in Moscow on the 20th and 21st of April, he will
then, after the conclusion of the events in Moscow on the
21st of April, travel to Luxembourg on the evening of the
21st so that on the morning of the 22d, in Luxembourg City,
he will attend the Follow-Up Ministerial Meeting to the
Summit of the Peacemakers -- the Sharm al-Sheikh summit.
This is a long-anticipated meeting. It stems from and
flows out of the meeting that we had here in the Department
two weeks ago at the Ambassadorial level. The purpose is to
look at the specific recommendations that have been
developed by the Ambassadorial-level experts and to decide
what next steps we should take to help Israel and the
Palestinian Authority and others to fight terrorism. So
that's April 22nd in Luxembourg City.
I assume that those of you who will be meeting the
Secretary in The Hague on the 19th will want to come all the
way through with us. We'll then come back to Washington on
the evening of April 22nd. That's Monday evening.
I'll be glad to answer questions.
Q: Do you expect the same representation, pretty
much, you've had in the last two meetings?
MR. BURNS: We do.
Q: In other words, what, 28 --
MR. BURNS: Twenty-nine countries and organizations
have been represented. We expect that the same group of
countries will be there. Obviously, if other countries in
the region, including those who have decided not to attend
in the past, want to come, if they change their mind -- I'm
thinking now of Syria and Lebanon -- they're most welcome to
Q: I think I remember you didn't invite Syria to the
Experts Meetings because you thought they're unlikely to be
MR. BURNS: The door is open to Syrian and Lebanese
Q: But you're not writing them a letter of
MR. BURNS: I don't think so. I think they know the
address if they'd like to attend; they know the phone number.
Q: Just for clarification -- the evening of the 19th
will be in The Hague?
MR. BURNS: Yes. The plans are that the Secretary's
meeting, I think, will begin mid-to-late afternoon with
Foreign Minister Qian Quichen. I would expect that would go
several hours. We'll then obviously have some kind of press
opportunity following that. I think we'll stay in The Hague
on the 19th; probably leave for Moscow the morning of the
20th. I don't have specific times, but that's the general
Q: You've got no indication from Syria and Lebanon
that they're changing their minds; right?
MR. BURNS: No, no indication whatsoever. The second
thing I wanted to do was to give you an update on the
situation in Liberia. I had hoped to do that an hour ago.
I apologize, but I've just been on the phone with our
Ambassador, Bill Milam, in Monrovia, and upstairs at our
I have a statement to make, and then I want to take
Given the unsettled conditions in Monrovia -- in
Liberia -- the United States Government is conducting an
evacuation of American citizens to Freetown in Sierra Leone
and to Dakar, in Senegal. Our first priority is the
evacuation of American citizens.
We are assisting the nationals of other countries on a
space-available basis. As you know, we've had many
requests from foreign governments to assist their citizens.
Once we've evacuated all non-official Americans who wish to
leave, we will evaluate the situation and make a
determination regarding our own official presence.
Our current plan, of course, is for the Embassy to stay
open during the evacuation. They're working very, very hard
at helping the American citizens.
The United States Government continues to call upon the
contending factions to cease fighting, to restore law and
order, to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian
assistance, and to assure the safety and security of
Liberians and members of the international community.
We're consulting with governments in the region, asking
that they use their influence with the faction leaders to
Yesterday, the United States joined with members of the
United Nations Security Council in passing unanimously a
Presidential statement calling on the Liberian factions to
stop the fighting and honor the Abuja peace process or risk
losing the support of the international community. This
situation is a tragedy for the Liberian people who so
desperately want peace.
We therefore urge the faction leaders in Monrovia and
throughout Liberia to adhere to the Abuja peace accord and
to move forward with the mobilization and disarmament.
I can tell you a couple of things based on what has
been happening here at the Department and out in Liberia
this morning. Secretary Christopher, as you know, is back
from his trip to California where he gave his speech on the
environment. He was briefed on the situation this morning.
He was, of course, kept fully briefed on this during the
last several days. He'll maintain a very close watch on
The Department is maintaining a full-scale, 24-hour
working group upstairs on the Seventh Floor. It's led by
two Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State: For African
Affairs, Prudence Bushnell, and Bill Twaddell.
Assistant Secretary of State, Pat Kennedy, who is the
Acting Undersecretary for Management this week, is also
participating in that working group and playing a major role
I can tell you that they're doing an excellent job.
They're keeping in touch with the families of Americans
here, keeping in touch with the Embassy there, and very
closely in touch with the Pentagon.
I just spoke with our Ambassador, Bill Milan, who, of
course, is in charge of our operations in Monrovia. It's a
very difficult situation. He reports that the situation
this morning and this afternoon in Monrovia is tense. It
continues to be chaotic.
We have seen the reports of a cease-fire. Frankly,
Ambassador Milam reports that we cannot judge the cease-fire
has taken hold throughout most of the city. He has still
heard and seen -- members of the Embassy community have seen
gunfire and fighting this morning. There may be a de facto
cease-fire that has taken place near the Barclay barracks,
so in a limited area.
We hope very much that reports of this cease-fire will,
of course, be able to be judged to be accurate as the day
continues and as we head into the night there. We are
calling upon the factions to stop their fighting, to remove
the pressures they've put on Liberian citizens and on the
foreigners living there and especially on the 450 Americans
Our priorities right now are to assist the American
citizens. To date, we have evacuated 168 people. Of those
168 people, 54 are American citizens. When American
citizens reach the United States Embassy, which is the point
of departure for the evacuation, they are put on helicopters
for either Freetown or Dakar.
As soon as Americans arrive at the Embassy, they'll be
taken care of and they'll be evacuated. We do have a
sizable number of Americans who have not been able to make
it to the Embassy compound. We are in touch with a great
majority of those people. We believe that all of them are
safe. We have no reports of any injuries, any casualties
among American citizens, but we're keeping closely in touch
with them and we're monitoring the security situation on a
minute-by-minute basis as you would imagine.
When these helicopters leave the Embassy compound, if
there are spaces available -- and there have been on all the
flights -- we are filling those spaces with foreigners. We
have many requests from foreign governments to do so and we
have honored those requests as best as we can. We'll
continue to do that on a space-by-space basis. Obviously,
we're going to give priority to American citizens.
So that's a brief report on the situation. Barry, I'll
be glad to go to whatever questions you have.
Q: A couple of quickies. You say these other
Americans have not been able to get there. Is it because of
the fighting or just a matter of logistics?
Liberians: Have you gotten any request for evacuation
from Liberians, and would they be welcome on these
MR. BURNS: In answer to your first question, Barry,
this is not a forced or mandatory evacuation. Should
American citizens wish to stay -- and I imagine some will
probably wish to stay -- they can stay. We're not ordering
them to leave but we're making it possible for them to leave
if they wish to do so.
I think most of them who wish to leave but have not
left have problems in getting to the Embassy compound.
Q: Because of the fighting --
MR. BURNS: Because of the fighting.
Q: -- or other?
MR. BURNS: Because of the fighting, because of the
security situation. There is fighting throughout the city.
It's intense in some places. Obviously, people are safer
sometimes staying in their homes or staying where they've
assembled rather than trying to make the trek to the
Embassy. We understand that.
There is a system, a telephone system and a radio
system, by which we can keep in touch with most Americans.
I can't say all Americans. We are using that system. Of
course, we're using VOA and any other facility we can to get
the message out to Americans that if they can make their way
safely to the Embassy, if they judge it to be safe enough to
do so, they are welcome to come to the Embassy and we'll be
glad to facilitate their departure.
Q: (inaudible) Liberians are welcome aboard, and
have they asked? Have any of them asked?
MR. BURNS: Actually, I think most of the requests that
we've received are from foreign governments. I can tell you
that we have airlifted out of Monrovia at least seven
Egyptians. These numbers are going to change. A group of
Filipinos, British citizens, and citizens of Australia,
Italy, Ireland, Greece, South Africa, Canada, France,
Guinea, Sweden, Germany, and Ghana.
These numbers are changing. One-hundred sixty-eight
people have been evacuated; 63 of whom were just evacuated
just in the last hour by helicopter. Of course, this
helicopter shuttle continues. So these numbers are going to
grow throughout the day. As there are spaces available, and
if there are foreign citizens who make their way to the
compound, we will accommodate them on these flights.
Q: Two questions. Do you have an estimate of how
many Americans would like to come to the Embassy and are
prevented to because of the fighting? And, secondly, will
the U.S. security forces go and get them out of wherever
they are and bring them to the compound?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I don't have an accurate number of how
many Americans may be out in the suburbs or in other parts
of Monrovia wishing to come to the Embassy. I don't want to
be misleading. I don't have an accurate number for you
On the second question, as you know -- and I'm going to
leave most of the details here to the Pentagon on the
military side of things -- we have re-enforced the Embassy,
of course, with some people -- military personnel -- who
have been flown in from Freetown. We believe there is
adequate security at the Embassy. I don't think that we're
at the point where those people will go into the city in
search for American citizens.
The fact is that while this is a chaotic and tense
situation, there have not been attacks on Americans as far
as we know. We believe that all Americans are safe and we
want to make sure that they remain safe. That is our
priority right now. Our priority and Ambassador Milam's
priority -- and his Embassy has done an outstanding job --
is to make sure that we meet our responsibilities to
Q: Can we take a filing break?
MR. BURNS: I note there's a filing break by the wires.
Q: What are your plans for the Embassy as far as
MR. BURNS: Right now, Ron, our priority is to meet the
needs of the American citizens, the non-official Americans
-- private Americans who are in Liberia. As you can
imagine, we think there are roughly 450 Americans in
Liberia. Fifty-four have come out. That leaves us with
just under 400. That's going to be our priority. As long
as this evacuation continues, we're obviously going to have
a fully open and aggressive and energetic Embassy there.
We're going to monitor the security situation on a
day-by-day basis, and I just think we'll take it one day at
Q: Nick, Pentagon officials have been saying that
Americans aren't really lining up to be evacuated. There
doesn't seem to be a clamoring to get aboard the choppers,
and the percentage of Americans, (inaudible) foreigners,
would seem to underscore that -- those who have left.
Do you have a sense of how many would go if they could?
MR. BURNS: No, I think it's a difficult question to
answer. But I think you do need to take account of the fact
that there is fighting in the streets. It's a dangerous
situation. There are people being killed in the streets of
Monrovia, and American citizens who are living in outlying
areas or living in suburbs where they don't currently have
access to the Embassy have to judge for themselves the
security risk of trying to travel to the Embassy.
We are in touch with them. We'll give them whatever
advice they need. But I think that accounts, in my own
mind, for a large reason why we haven't seen all 450
Americans line up at the Embassy for evacuation.
I also know, as well, that there are a sizable number
of people in that 450 who also have Liberian citizenship,
who may be longer-term residents of Monrovia, and there may
be reasons why they want to stay. But I do think you have
to take account of the security situation first and foremost.
Mr. Lambros, we're going to keep on this before we go
to the breakfast with Prime Minister Simitis.
Q: A couple of questions. Are any other countries
conducting any evacuation operations?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that there are any other
countries conducting evacuations. I think the United States
military is the only military force present that's currently
evacuating people. That's why we have responded as we have
on a space available basis to the requests by many foreign
governments to lift their nationals out of Monrovia.
Q: And one question. You mentioned talking to
neighboring countries. Do you believe that any of the
neighboring counties had a role in fomenting the uprising?
MR. BURNS: No. In fact, the situation is sufficiently
opaque that I think it's a little bit risky to perhaps trace
the specific reasons for all of the fighting.
I mean, we do know that there is a dispute about the status of
the government minister, and that led to at least part of
the fighting. But there may be other reasons for some of
the other fighting, and I wouldn't trace it to neighboring
states. No, I wouldn't do that at all, Jim.
Q: On a point of clarification, you made a reference
to people being evacuated not only to Freetown but also to
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q: But no one's being evacuated directly to Dakar,
is that correct?
MR. BURNS: They're going to Freetown and from there to
Dakar, and some of them, I believe, are already making plans
for international flights out of Dakar airport.
Q: Nick, forgive me, I stepped out. This may have
come up, but, if it hasn't, have any third countries
indicated an interest in trying to evacuate their own
personnel themselves? Have you been approached by any
MR. BURNS: We're not aware of any attempts by other
countries to bring in their military assets to evacuate.
No, I'm not aware of it.
Q: Could you bring us up to date on the situation at
the U.S. housing compound?
MR. BURNS: At the housing compound or at Greystone?
The housing compound?
Q: Yes. Aren't Greystone and the housing compound
the same thing?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Glyn says yes. Glyn has been into
this more than I have.
I talked to Ambassador Milam about Greystone, which is
a facility very close to our Embassy. He estimates that
there are roughly -- and this is a rough estimate -- 15,000
people there. They are Liberian. We are trying to work
with the authorities now -- as we can work with the
authorities in a very difficult situation -- to provide them
with food and with water, which they need.
We obviously hope that the authorities will do what
they can to secure those people and to give them what they
need to subsist. What we're hoping for now is that our own
remonstrations and those of Liberia's neighbors and those of
the international community will convince these factions to
agree to a cease-fire, which we do not yet see occurring,
and to allow people to return to their homes and to return
to a state of peace and stability. That's the objective
here, George, diplomatically.
So we obviously are concerned about the people there,
because they are in our facility. But we think it's going
to be up to the authorities to try to get them the food and
the water they need to subsist.
Q: Are there any Americans at this compound there?
MR. BURNS: We're not aware of any Americans there, no.
In fact, we don't have American Embassy personnel there. I
believe we have some of our Foreign Service Nationals at
that compound. We have 38 Americans in Liberia, and they
are at the compound. They're not at that facility.
Q: So, Nick, there's no attempt to bring in food or
bottled water by the choppers when they are coming back to
pick more people up?
MR. BURNS: There is an attempt to try to get supplies
to our Embassy compound and supplies to Greystone, two
separate U.S. Government facilities, but that's using
resources within Liberia itself. I'm not aware of any
large-scale effort to bring in --
MR. BURNS: -- some food for the Embassy people, but not
for the 15,000 at Greystone.
Q: Did that rather large crowd of people break into
that compound, or was the door opened? Were they allowed in?
MR. BURNS: Glyn tells me -- Glyn's been monitoring
this very closely for several days -- that they were allowed
in to the compound by our Embassy.
Q: Are they then part of any one particular faction,
or are they just people fleeing the fighting?
MR. BURNS: I don't think we can answer that question
right now. I think they're innocent civilians who have been
caught for the most part in the cross-fire.
I want to make sure we've answered all the Liberia
questions, Mr. Lambros, before we go to Greece and Turkey.
Q: Have they, during this evacuation, remained over
at Greystone? There was some concern for security reasons
that some of these people might try and move into the
MR. BURNS: There's been no indication -- no evidence
of that. The Embassy's secure. We've got adequate security
at the Embassy, and I think all factions are aware of that
in Monrovia. We certainly call upon the factions to respect
the rights of all people in Liberia -- Liberians and
foreigners -- to leave, if they wish to leave.
We certainly hope that this ultimately leads to an end
to the fighting and to a return to the Abuja peace process.
That is where this situation must head. Beyond the work of
trying to facilitate the departure of Americans and insure
their safety, we are thinking diplomatically here. That's
why we worked in the U.N. Security Council yesterday.
We've also been in touch with all the neighboring
states of Liberia, including those most prominently involved
in the West African effort, and we are using all the
diplomatic resources we can to try to end this fighting.
Q: Nick, just to expand on Greystone, are the 15,000
camped out in large open spaces? Are any of them in
housing, or is it a situation of both?
MR. BURNS: I'll have to check for you, Charlie. I
think we can get an answer for you from our Embassy, but,
not having been there, I'm just reluctant to answer that
Q: (Inaudible) the 15,000 has been stable since like
Monday. Are Liberians still free to enter the compound, or
are they being prevented from entering?
MR. BURNS: Glyn says that they're going back and
forth, but I think 15,000, obviously, George, is a great
number. I'm not aware that the compound could probably hold
a lot more than that.
Q: But that is the number the Ambassador used two
MR. BURNS: Yes, I talked to the Ambassador about 45
minutes ago, and he said that there were roughly 15,000, he
would estimate. He said he hadn't been over personally,
because obviously he has been supervising the evacuations
from the Embassy compound, but that his estimate based on
the work of our FSNs, our Foreign Service Nationals, was
Another subject. Okay, Mr. Lambros is first.
Q: Do you have any result on today's breakfast
between Secretary of State Warren Christopher and the Prime
Minister of Greece, Mr. Konstandinos Simitis?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I'm happy to report that Secretary
Christopher had an excellent breakfast this morning with
Prime Minister Simitis and Foreign Minister Pangalos and
others -- a very good discussion about the U.S.-Greek
relationship, the importance of that relationship; about
Greece's interest to work to reduce tensions with Turkey;
about a follow-up to some of the discussions that the
President had yesterday on the Imia/Kardak problem. I think
you know very well what the President said on that yesterday.
There was a long discussion about Bosnia and about how
the United States and Greece could work together more
closely on all the various Bosnian problems; and also a long
discussion about the Balkans in general -- about Albania,
about other countries in the Balkans; with Greece, of
course, being a Balkan country, has very close ties with
some of these countries, and there are things that we can do
together in the Balkans beyond the Bosnia problem, we hope,
to bring stability and greater economic progress to that
So a very good meeting. They touched a wide range of
subjects, and the Secretary regrets that he had to miss the
meeting yesterday because of his speech in California, but
was happy to have had the opportunity to see the Prime
Minister this morning.
Q: What did they say on the Imia issue exactly?
MR. BURNS: What they said exactly was exactly what was
said yesterday. We didn't deviate by one word from what was
said yesterday at the White House. If you're interested in
that, I would just -- the major conversation, of course,
took place between the President and Prime Minister Simitis,
and I'm sure that Mike McCurry and David Johnson briefed you
in full on that.
Q: The Washington Post reported today that President
Clinton endorses World Court venue for the ownership of the
Imia dispute. Could you please clarify, is this process
finally was proposed by the Greek Government or
by the U.S. Government due to the fact that on February 12,
when President Clinton addressed a message to the
Greek-Americans, stated that only the ownership of Imia
should be addressed to the International Court of Justice,
as it was proposed by the Greek Government.
The next day, however, as you remember, Mr. Burns, the
Simitis Government denied. Let us know then what if true
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, I'm going to take the wise
course here and just point you to the President's good
remarks on this -- very clear remarks -- yesterday in the
Oval Office about our position and in a subsequent briefing
by the White House.
Q: White House Spokesman Mr. McCurry stated
yesterday after the meeting between President Clinton and
the Prime Minister, Mr. Simitis, the President said: "The
U.S. favors having the ownership only question of the islet
referred to the International Court of Justice," and also
that, "President Clinton felt enormous encouragement that
the Prime Minister of Greece is discussing that publicly
My question is, what happened to the sovereignty of
Imia, and if Mr. Simitis and Mr. Pangalos during today's
meeting with the Secretary of State, Mr. Christopher,
protested finally your well known decision not to recognize
Greek sovereignty over Imia since February 1.
MR. BURNS: They had a very good discussion this
morning that built on the progress made yesterday, and I
just want to leave it there, Mr. Lambros. The President was
very clear about this yesterday, as was the White House in
the press follow-up.
Q: And the last one --
MR. BURNS: I should also tell you there was a good
discussion of Cyprus --
MR. BURNS: A very good discussion of Cyprus, and our
Special Ambassador, Mr. Beattie, was there at the breakfast
table, and he reported on his plans, of course, to make a
trip to the area. John Kornblum was there, our Acting
Assistant Secretary of State. I think you'll see the United
States very active in the Cyprus problem in the future.
Q: The last question on Imia -- the last question.
How your government endorses this process on
Imia, which in the final analysis may be redrawing the
Greek-Turkish borders in southeastern Aegean prior to the
delimitation of the continental shelf, which is against the
international law and international practice.
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, I think you've exhausted my
knowledge of the problem. I've said all I can say about
Imia and Kardak, and I want to leave it where the President
had it yesterday.
Q: Assistant Secretary Kornblum will be going to
Greece, Turkey and Cyprus?
MR. BURNS: Mr. Beattie is going to be doing that. I
Q: The following month --
MR. BURNS: Ambassador Kornblum would like to go very
much, but I think he has not set a specific time for his
Q: So there is no initiative for Greek-Turkish
relations. It's the well known initiative, if and when it
takes place, on Cyprus?
MR. BURNS: As the President said yesterday, the United
States remains very much interested in the resolution of the
Cyprus problem. We're going to devote a lot of resources to
that. We have two Ambassadors who work full-time on that,
and then we also have, of course, Ambassador Richard Boucher
in Cyprus itself.
So we've got a lot of people devoted to this problem.
I know that Mr. Beattie will be making a trip, and I think
that Mr. Kornblum will be going at some point, but I don't
have any dates for you on that.
Q: He's going for Cyprus or Greek-Turkish --
MR. BURNS: He'll obviously want to talk, in addition
to Cyprus, about other issues on the Greek-Turkish
relationship, but also our bilateral relationships with each
Q: After the White House, Greek Prime Minister, Mr.
Simitis, prepare a press conference at some hotel, and he
claimed that he submitted a three-step plan to approach two
countries to come closer -- Greece and Turkey -- and he said
that the American side endorsed this plan. I believe this
morning also this plan will be discussed at the breakfast.
Do you have any --
MR. BURNS: There was a very good discussion of
Greek-Turkish issues this morning, led by Secretary
Christopher. National Security Adviser Tony Lake was also
at this breakfast. He participated in this aspect of the
discussion. It's obviously our hope that when the Greek and
Turkish senior officials meet, they will, of course, talk
about the variety -- the range of problems that right now
divide Greece and Turkey, and that, I think, was a good
result of the meetings here in the last two days.
Q: The problem is the three steps is bringing three
conditions under the dialogue, and the Turkish side, they
always said that without the conditions, we are ready to
speak about -- with the Greek side. And this is the
conflict of the two countries approach to the solution.
MR. BURNS: I think what I'd like to do is leave it to
the Greek and Turkish Governments to define exactly what the
stages of whatever process will unfold. I just want you to
know that both Secretary Christopher and Mr. Lake this
morning fully supported the idea that Greece and Turkey
would engage in discussions to resolve not only the
Imia/Kardak problem but other problems in the relationship.
We want the situation to go in that direction, because
we have good relations with both countries.
Q: Iran arrested four Turkish diplomats, claiming
that they are spies. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I have seen the press reports. I will look
into that. I don't believe we have anything developed
today, but we'll look into that for you.
Q: Also on Iran, there's a story this morning which
says that Iraq is selling oil via Iran, in violation of the
MR. BURNS: I have nothing for you on that. I've seen
the story, but I don't have anything to give you today on
that one. We'll look into it, George.
Q: You are looking into it.
MR. BURNS: We will, of course, look into that. Any
time we see reports of violations of international
agreements or U.N. regulations, we look into them, and, if
we find anything, we might let you know. We might not.
Q: Wait a minute -- speaking of violations. Is
there any decision --
MR. BURNS: Alleged violation.
Q: Alleged violation.
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that the Secretary -- I was
with him the last two days in California. I was with him
this morning. He continues to look at this matter. He has
had a number of meetings on it, but he has not yet made a
decision. When he makes a decision and when we've informed
the Chinese Government of our decision, we'll be very glad
to let you know as well.
Q: (Inaudible) make up his mind before April 19?
MR. BURNS: George, we're going to have to take this
one day at a time. I don't want to say yes or no. He is
looking at information as it comes in. There are
discussions that have been underway in Beijing, of course.
There are discussions here in Washington between Chinese and
American officials, and he obviously needs to evaluate all
that information. He'll be the one to decide when the best
time for that decision is, but I don't want to --
Q: Are you opening up the possibility that he will
perhaps talk this over with Chinese Foreign Minister before
making a decision?
MR. BURNS: There's a possibility he could make a
decision before April 19th; there's a possibility after
April 19th. I'm ruling everything in -- every conceivable
option in on that. I just don't want to try to speculate
when that decision might be made.
Q: Japan -- Okinawa?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q: There are reports both in Japan and the United
States that the U.S. has agreed to redeploy military to make
them less public, I guess would be the fair way of saying
it, on Okinawa; to move some troops to Japan -- the home
islands -- but not to reduce the total number of troops in
Does the Department think that this would diffuse the
crises that arose, that stems from the rape of the Okinawa
school girl and put U.S.-Japan relations back on an even
MR. BURNS: I don't think there's any crisis about the
Okinawa situation. I think that the tone and tenor of the
crisis as passed, but I think there is a mutual
commitment by both countries to work on this issue.
Obviously, in advance of both Secretary Perry's visit there
this weekend and President Clinton's next week, I really
don't want to say anything more than that. We'll be
discussing it. It will be an issue both this week and next
week when the President arrives. I would leave any
substantive comment to the President on this.
Q: (inaudible) prelude to a new security
arrangement, or is that --
MR. BURNS: We're working on a number of issues in the
runup to the President's visit, but I just don't want to get
into them substantively at this point.
Howard, did you have a question?
Q: Yes. I'm curious whether there's anything new
along the Israel-Lebanon border? Any situation update?
MR. BURNS: We're looking at it very closely, as you
would imagine, given our interests in both Israel and
Lebanon. We've been in touch with all parties, as normally
happens. I don't have anything new beyond what I think Glyn
(Davies) told you yesterday. And that is, very
unfortunately Hizbollah fired a large number of Katyusha
rockets into northern Israel. It's very unfortunate that
they did that. We hope very much that will not be repeated
and the situation can return to one where the residents of
northern Israel don't have to live in bunkers, and sleep in
bunkers overnight. They can live freely as they should be
allowed to live freely.
Q: North Korea?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q: Do you see any progress on North Korea?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that we did not detect today
any incursions into the buffer zone and the DMZ. There
haven't been any since April 7. Obviously, we would call
upon the North Koreans, as we have done in past days, to
adhere to the 1953 armistice and to all the conditions and
requirements and responsibilities of that agreement.
We hope very much that there will be no further
incursions -- illegal incursions.
Q: North Korea. I think it was a U.N. report that
was out today that describes the food situation in the
country as worse and calling upon international
organizations to step up on the donations. Do you have
anything more on that?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any new information. We are
monitoring the food situation.
Q: I know the rice shipment was delayed because of
the sinking of the ship. The rice is due sometime this
month, but is there any consideration --
MR. BURNS: There's a replacement shipment that's on
its way. I don't believe it's -- we don't have any reports
it has actually reached North Korea. Glyn says the end of
April for that replacement shipment.
We're monitoring the food situation carefully because
we do believe that it's critical. As you know, we have
contributed in the past. I have nothing to give you by way
of new food shipments by the United States. But, of course,
we're always in touch with the international organizations
that have responsibility for that.
Any other questions? Mr. Lambros, this is not an
Imia/Kardak, is it?
Q: Some questions for you that pertain directly. I
need a personal answer from you?
MR. BURNS: Okay. One question.
Q: Senator Specter of Pennsylvania, by resolution,
advances both governments of Greece and Turkey to be bound
by the decision of International Court of Justice on Imia.
Since this advise is related with your policy, vis-a-vis
Imia, could you please clarify, if such a court -- decision
will be applied also to the rest of the hundreds of Greek
islets into the Aegean Sea?
MR. BURNS: That question is up to the Greek and
Turkish governments to decide; not the United States. Thank
Q: (Inaudible) February lst, you said here, "The
U.S. does recognize Greek sovereignty as you look at the map
-- the current map of Greece -- with the exception of a few
tiny islands -- in this case, a tiny island -- that is no
bigger than the Department of state."
It is still valid, this statement today?
MR. BURNS: I stand by my February 1st statement.
Q: Excuse me?
MR. BURNS: I stand by my February 1st statement. I
never like to repudiate myself at the podium unless it's
absolutely necessary. It's not necessary today, fortunately.
Q: Nick, has the Secretary made a decision on rings?
MR. BURNS: We dealt with that. No, he is not.
Q: I have one other question. Yeltsin today made a
comment about countries should keep their nuclear weapons on
their own territory. What do you make of that?
MR. BURNS: It's hard to know. We've seen the wire
reports. We haven't seen the full text. Often times in a
situation, it's best to check the full text -- to see the
context before you comment.
I can just say this. I think one of the major
achievements of the last four years is the fact that Russian
nuclear warheads and all nuclear weaponry is currently on
Russian soil. It's been withdrawn from some of the other
successor countries of the Soviet Union -- from Kazakstan,
Belarus, and Ukraine. That's a tremendous accomplishment
made possible, in large part, because of the United States.
So we would certainly just congratulate the four of
them -- the four countries -- for this historic drawdown
both in the level of nuclear weapons, but in this case,
reducing the number of countries that have nuclear weapons
Q: But his point seems to be there should be some
commitment from the United States.
MR. BURNS: That's why I want to see the full text of
his remarks, to check exactly what was said and in what
context and what other prescriptions may have been put forth.
Q: It wasn't raised in Moscow with the Secretary?
MR. BURNS: It was not raised with the Secretary at
Thank you very much.
(Press briefing concluded at 12:44 p.m.)
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