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

U.S. Department of State
96/04/26 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman

                        U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                          DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                               I N D E X 

                         Friday, April 26, 1996

                                             Briefer:  Glyn Davies

   Farewell to Assistant Spokesman Nanda Chitre ............  1   
   Release of "Patterns of Global Terrorism" on Tuesday 4/30  2   

   Acting Secretary Talbott's Mtg with Guatemala FM ........  1   

   Foreign Ministry Comments re Four-Party Peace Proposal ..  2   
   Prospects for Resuming POW/MIA Talks ....................  2-3 
   Conditions for Lifting Sanctions on North Korea .........  3   

   Prospects for Public Release of Understandings Reached ..  3   
   Estimated Return to U.S. by Secretary Christopher .......  3   
   Composition of Monitoring Group To Be Established .......  6   
   Status of Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon Peace Tracks ..  6-7 
   Israeli Prime Minister Peres' Private Visit to U.S. .....  7   

   USTR Mtg with NAFTA Partners re Impact of Libertad Act ..  4-6

   Secretary's Request to Ex-Im Bank re: Loans to China ...   7-8,10-11
   Status of Secretary's Determination re Non-Proliferation
     Issues/Possible Sanctions .............................  8,10
   Reported China Statement US Blocking Entry into WTO .....  8-9

   Status of Operation Provide Comfort .....................  9   
   Travel by A/S Designate Kornblum to Turkey, Greece and
     Cyprus.................................................  9   

   Bosnia/Arms Embargo/Adminstration Policy ................  11

   U.S. Efforts re Peace Process ...........................  11-13


DPB #66

FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 1996, 1:04 P. M.

MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Let me do three things quickly. First off, usually I welcome visitors but today I'm saying goodbye to somebody, somebody very important to everyone in Public Affairs -- to many of you as well, I think and also to many in the State Department -- Nanda Chitre is leaving us. This is a very sad day. She's going on to bigger and better things. You can question her directly about her future plans.

We will miss her very much for her warmth, her hard work, and her good sense which can sometimes be lacking in an organization that moves as quickly as we do. Anyway, goodby Nanda, and thank you very much.

Second: To make a little statement. I direct you to the fact that we have a statement that we are releasing today on Guatemala on the Acting Secretary's meeting today with the Foreign Minister of Guatemala, Dr. Eduardo Stein.

The Acting Secretary met with Dr. Stein this morning. It is very fitting that in this week, when we saw the hemisphere work together in the Organization of American States to preserve democratic stability in Paraguay, that we welcome the Foreign Minister of Guatemala to Washington, D.C.

Guatemala has been and will remain, we are certain, a strong and active participant in the Inter-American system.

The Acting Secretary and Dr. Stein discussed recent progress made in the peace negotiations between the Guatemalan Government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity, or URNG guerrillas. They also reviewed a broad range of bilateral concerns, including law enforcement cooperation and human rights.

There's a bit more that's in the statement available to you.

Third, and finally, to let you know that on Tuesday, April 30, we plan to release our annual report, the so-called terrorism report. It's formal title is "Patterns of Global Terrorism." We will release it to the press on April 30. That is the day that it is due to Capitol Hill.

We hope to be able to provide to you, in addition to the report itself, the U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Philip Wilcox, perhaps to begin the Daily Press Briefing on Tuesday. We'll firm all of that up early next week.

This, of course -- just so there are no surprises -- the terrorism list, which is a bit of a separate exercise, remains unchanged. There are seven countries on the terrorism list: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

With that, I will go to your questions. George.

Q: North Korea has issued what sounds sort of like a rejection of the proposal for a Four-Power talks. Do you have any comment?

MR. DAVIES: What we know from the North Korean Foreign Ministry is that they've said they're examining it -- the North Korean Government is examining the Four-Party peace proposal announced jointly by Presidents Clinton and Kim in South Korea. That, we think, is encouraging.

There are always stray statements that pop out on such matters before we get the final word. We don't read anything into some of this negative commentary. We hope and expect that the North Koreans will embrace this proposal. We think it's the right way to go forward toward a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

We haven't yet gotten a formal response, so we await that.

Q: There are also indications that there may be MIA/POW talks with the North Koreans. Do you have anything on that?

MR. DAVIES: We would like to get back into the POW/MIA issue with the North Koreans. I think I mentioned recently that, of course, to remind you of last January, a U.S. delegation led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs, Mr. James Wold, held discussions on remains issues with a DPRK delegation.

We want to resume those talks in the near future. Final arrangements haven't been made. But I can steer you,

I hope those talks happen quickly. I don't think that they'll be happening in the next couple of days, no.

Q: Can I ask a question on the release?


Q: One, do you plan to publish the agreement that was achieved today, or announced today?

MR. DAVIES: Jim, we don't have any plans to do it here. What I think I'm going to do on that is refer questions on it to the party. They earned the glory by achieving the excellent understanding that's been announced by the Secretary of State, and the President has also gone out publicly and lauded this achievement as a great achievement for American diplomacy and the diplomacy as well of our partners.

A lot of reporters have been sticking with the Secretary through thick and thin for seven days. If this thing is released, I think I'll leave it to them to release. I don't think there's been a decision made one way or the other at this stage.

Q: When do you expect the Secretary back?

MR. DAVIES: I would guess the Secretary will want to come back just as soon as possible. I hope they have fresh laundry at this stage. It's been a real long trip. The Secretary has been at it about 20 hours a day for seven days. I think you can expect to see the Secretary back here very shortly, which is to say on the weekend.

Q: Korea again. Under what conditions would the U.S. lift economic sanctions with North Korea?

MR. DAVIES: I think the question of the conditions under which we would lift the sanctions is really wrapped up in our dialogue with the North Koreans and wrapped up with the progress that we might make with not just the North Koreans but the others who have a stake in peace on the Korean Peninsula, especially the South Koreans.

I don't have any conditionality to give you right now, but I wouldn't expect that we'll be lifting any sanctions any time soon.



Q: Canada, Mexico, and the United States is meeting today at the USTR office. We understand that the United States is telling those two countries what they intend to do in terms of the Helms-Burton bill, spelling out for both of those countries how they will apprehend businessmen, what watch list will be set up and appeal processes, and so. Can you give us more detail on that, please?

MR. DAVIES: All I can tell you is that there is a meeting that's going on at the U.S. Trade Representatives' offices. It's essentially a working-level meeting to discuss implementation of the Libertad bill, the so-called Helms-Burton legislation.

What you have is a gathering of, again, working-level officials from the State Department and USTR along with representatives of the NAFTA countries over at those offices to discuss the impact of the Libertad Act on the terms of the NAFTA agreement. The discussions are going on right now, so I don't think I'll open a window on them and tell you exactly what's being discussed.

Those discussions are not in any way related to any potential Presidential action after August 1, as is provided for in the legislation regarding the possibility of a waiver to provisions of Title Three of the Libertad Act, which is the one that relates to property matters. There is, of course, no waiver provision that attaches to Title Four of the visa provisions.

So we are getting together with our colleagues from the NAFTA countries and taking them through some of our thinking about implementation. But there aren't any dramatic developments that can be expected out of that meeting.

Q: But, Glyn, for point of clarification, taking them through that thinking, indicates that the Canadians and Mexicans will be told (a) which companies or kinds of companies will be subject to the new law, which, and how many officers or companies would be subject to the law; what kinds of detentions there would be or, indeed, would individuals just be turned back at the border?

MR. DAVIES: Henry, it's not my sense that this meeting is going to be a meeting during which we're passing out multi-tab briefing books with that kind of specific information in it.

I think this is a kind of first get-together with diplomats from those nations to talk about what's to

happen. I'm not aware of any kinds of lists being turned over or more specific provisions being discussed.

Q: One final question on that. Clearly, this is an indication that the President's waiver is now less likely, if indeed not likely to be given to Canada and Mexico, that these talks are being held?

MR. DAVIES: I wouldn't steer you in that direction necessarily.

Q: Perhaps not. But doesn't it follow that if the representatives of the two countries are there at that meeting discussing how the United States intends to implement the Helms-Burton bill, it doesn't hold up much hope for presidential meetings?

MR. DAVIES: Henry, even if there were to be some kind of a waiver on August 1, or after August 1, I think it still makes sense for us to talk to our partners in the NAFTA process to explain to them where we stand at this point.

I just don't think that this meeting indicates or signals one way or the other what kind of a decision the President might make in several months time.

Q: A final question, and not to beggar the issue. The State Department did say that these are not talks or discussions but rather meetings. In other words, there is no negotiation going on. So, clearly, the message is being delivered -- a message is being delivered to Canada and Mexico?

MR. DAVIES: I think we're talking to them about our thinking on how Libertad will impact NAFTA. I would not take it beyond that. I'm not aware of any dramatic announcements or messages being given to our partners.

We think it's very important to consult with them, if you will, to tell them what it is that we're thinking of doing. That's the purpose of the meeting and really nothing more.

Q: The briefing was right after the bill was signed. You and other briefers were unable to say what this whole bill meant and were saying things like, "Well, the lawyers are looking at it." Is that process completed? And have you decided what this bill really means?

MR. DAVIES: George, the process of examining how that bill will be implemented is not yet fully complete. But that doesn't stand in the way of our talking to our partners about where we are at this stage.

I can't tell you right now precisely when it is that we'll be able to roll out the implementation of the Libertad Act. Obviously, we want to do it as soon as possible. The President's motivation in signing the bill was to send a strong signal to the Cuban Government -- to Fidel Castro. We think it's very important to use the bill to do just that and to minimize its impact on the Cuban people and on third countries.

But I'll repeat what I've said before: It's a very complicated bill, a lot of interlocking bits and parts, and it's very difficult to get straight precisely how it's to be implemented, and so we're still engaged in that process. It's not just a legal process; it's a policy process as well, and it also involves consultations with Congress. So all those moving parts are still in motion.

Q: At some point it would be nice to have a briefing on those unanswered questions.

MR. DAVIES: I have the same questions, and so I'm looking for those answers, too.

Q: When is -- it's mentioned that there will be a monitoring group composed of -- to monitor the cease-fire, composed of the United States, France, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. Are there any troops involved, or is it just civilian monitoring?

MR. DAVIES: This is one where I could get myself in some serious hot water by getting out in front of the negotiations that have occurred in the Middle East. The Secretary spoke to this; mentioned the monitoring group to be established that will consist of those countries -- the U.S., France, Syria, Lebanon and Israel -- and its task, as I think he said, will be to monitor the application of the Understanding that was announced.

There's a complaint procedure aspect to this: that complaints of violations to the Understanding will be submitted to the monitoring group. If there is a claimed violation of the Understanding, the party submitting the complaint will do so within 24 hours. There are some specifics here.

But in terms of what this will require on the ground in Lebanon -- troops or bureaucrats or a combination of both -- I don't have any details to share with you right now.

Q: The second question was, are there any meetings scheduled in Washington soon on the peace -- for the peace process on the Syrian and Lebanese track?

MR. DAVIES: No. That's perhaps even more premature. Now that this, I think it's fair to say, triumph has occurred after seven days, and the Secretary has completed a real "Mission Impossible" and, with the others, brought an end to the shell fire, the next step is to flesh out some of these questions so that this Understanding can be implemented quite quickly and there's no lag between the cease-fire and implementation of the Understanding.

The next piece of this, which is moving on to consolidate the cease-fire and then further moving on toward a permanent peace between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon, that is, if you will, a kind of third hurdle that's got to be jumped. The Secretary said this morning -- and we believe deeply -- that we have to get there as soon as possible, because the only way to insure that fighting does not recur at some point in the future is ultimately to achieve a peace -- a lasting, comprehensive, open peace between those nations.

So I think what we will do is we'll at least let the weekend go by before we start talking about further developments on the peace track front.

Q: The last question was just -- as you know, Prime Minister Peres is coming to Washington Sunday, I believe. Do we know who he's meeting in Washington?

MR. DAVIES: I've been told that he's going to meet, certainly, with the Secretary of Defense, and there may be events planned at the Pentagon. I'm certain he will meet with others. Since he is a head of government, it's not my place to roll out his schedule. I think this is being billed as a private visit, so on the spectrum of visits, it's the least formal type of visit. But he will have contacts with all of the officials that you would expect, and I think I'll leave it to the White House to talk about precisely who and what will happen over there -- if anything happens over there.

Q: Glyn, do you have any -- could you explain why the State Department asked the Ex-Im Bank to again withhold loan guarantees for China?

MR. DAVIES: I'm happy to talk a bit about that. This was done because there is ongoing consideration of this issue -- ongoing consultations with the Chinese about the nuclear non-proliferation issue. The Secretary, because no decision has yet been taken on the non-proliferation front,

requested that the Ex-Im Bank temporarily take no final action to approve or disapprove financing for China.

In fact, if some of you go back to the calendar, you'll note that no loans have been given final approval since February 23. This does not constitute in any way a sanction against China. It's simply a deferral of Ex-Im Bank decisions to either approve or disapprove loans while we continue to discuss this issue with the Chinese.

The Secretary's request, which took the form of a letter from Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Joan Spero, was made because a final Ex-Im Bank decision was pending on a project. The Secretary has the authority, I should mention, to do this under the Ex-Im Bank Act. Ex-Im, of course, pursuant to receipt of the letter did indeed defer consideration of this loan, which in this instance was a loan for export of some $35 million worth of equipment for the Guangzhou metro system.

Just two additional points quickly: One, the $35 million amount meant that this did not trigger any kind of Congressional notification. The second point being that regardless of that, the Administration is consulting with the Congress and letting appropriate committees and individuals on the Hill know what is occurring and why it's occurring.

Q: How is the Secretary doing with the determination on possible sanctions against China?

MR. DAVIES: He's working on it. He's working on it real hard in his spare time; but he's been real busy, I think, as everybody can tell. This issue is on his plate. It's on the front burner -- let me use your metaphor, or image -- and he'll make the decision when he's ready to, when he has the facts that he needs, once all of the necessary consultations with the Chinese have been completed, once all of the lawyers have had their crack at it.

I'm not going to hint when he might do so, but he'll do it when he can.

Q: One more on China. One of China's Vice Premiers has again accused the U.S. of blocking China's entry into the WTO. He was actually suggesting that if the U.S. efforts to block China continues, China may initiate the establishment of a regional trade organization to counter the WTO. Do you have any response?

MR. DAVIES: That's one of those great questions where it's a report I haven't seen. But we do have on our very broad agenda with the Chinese difficulties with China

on trade matters; and we think it's important that China step up to its responsibility as a growing economy to be responsible on trade matters, intellectual property rights and the rest of it on the economic end of the spectrum.

In terms of China's membership in the WTO, that's not something that I've got anything for you on right now. In terms of regional groupings, I don't think we have any objection to regional economic groupings regardless of who designs them, as long as they have as their guiding principle free and fair trade.

Q: After the Robert Deutsch visit to Turkey and then the Kornblum meeting in Ankara, and some published reports from Turkey advised that some reliable U.S. sources said that "Provide Comfort" was not to extend after June, when it expires. Did you have any information about that? If it's the case, do you have any conclusions to plans to replace "Provide Comfort"?

MR. DAVIES: That sounds to me like a very contingency-laden question, a speculative kind of question. I can't confirm what unnamed sources, however placed, are saying about that.

It's true that Assistant Secretary-designate Kornblum, accompanied by our Director for Southern European Affairs, Carey Cavanaugh, is on a familiarization trip to Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. He's spoken publicly about the purpose for his trip out there. It is, really, just a familiarization trip. He's now in Nicosia. He'll come back to Washington late tomorrow evening.

The primary areas of consultation or familiarization on this trip, it won't surprise you, are Aegean issues and Cyprus. He's had a very positive set of meetings so far, but it wouldn't be appropriate to go into any details about it, and I certainly can't confirm that.

Q: "Provide Comfort" -- what is the U.S. plan and projects for the "Provide Comfort," which expires in June?

MR. DAVIES: Our plan on "Provide Comfort" is that as long as it's needed, we will seek to keep it in operation.

Q: As long as it's needed --

MR. DAVIES: "Provide Comfort"?

Q: As long as it's needed --

MR. DAVIES: Is it in operation? Yes. At this stage, sure, we believe it's needed in northern Iraq.

Q: Going back to one of your previous answers on China, you said the Secretary is still reviewing non-proliferation matters. Translated, does that mean he still hasn't made up his mind about the ring magnet sales?

MR. DAVIES: The ring magnet sales, so-called, are a part of that -- perhaps even it's fair to say a big part of what he's considering. So I think it's tantamount to saying that there's been no decision on the ring magnets issue for me to say that the Secretary has made no decisions on non-proliferation issues as regards China. A long answer to a short question.

Q: I'd just like to clarify that. On the letter, you actually said you don't want it to go -- you don't want any final actions to be taken, but all other actions up til final actions will be continuing as normal? Things in the pipeline will continue up until the final actions?

MR. DAVIES: There's no plan to ask Ex-Im to freeze the pipeline. The point here is simply to prevent final action from being taken in order to preserve our room for maneuver prior to a decision. We've seen that some preliminary actions have been taken on certain loans, one that I think was valued at about $140 million just in the last week or so, which is then notified to the Congress, which has 30 days to pronounce itself on it. So that's the essence here, to prevent for the time being any final decisions on loans under Ex-Im's aegis.

Q: Now you've gone through pains to say that these are not sanctions; but after two-and-a-half months, don't these become de facto sanctions? And say this is put off for weeks, doesn't this become a de facto sanction?

MR. DAVIES: It's our position that these do not constitute sanctions -- de facto, de jure or any way you might want to have it. But you can be the judge if you care to go interview people working on the Guangzhou metro. I don't think that this is really holding up anything in too serious a way, and that's our position. Again, the Secretary -- this is a complicated issue -- he's been preoccupied. He's working hard on this particular issue, and he'll make a decision when he's ready.

Q: Glyn, could I follow up on that. Are you concerned at all about driving business away from U.S. companies to their competitors in Japan and Europe?

MR. DAVIES: No, that's certainly not anything that we're trying to do. China's got a very fast-moving, growing economy that we want very much for American business to be

able to participate in. This request on a $35 million loan for work to be done on the Guangzhou metro I don't think constitutes any kind of a sanction against China and certainly shouldn't be seen as any kind of a blow to U.S. commercial interests in China.

The history of the de-linkage issue on MFN is well known, and it's a central concern of this Administration that we do what we can to promote U.S. business interests in that part of the world.

Q: Do you have any comments on these reports that the State Department was seeking to circumvent the arms embargo on Bosnia, looking at possible arms shipments from other countries?

MR. DAVIES: The problem with getting too deeply into that, of course, is that all of these reports are about internal administration deliberations. There's as well a kind of an intelligence aspect to it. I can't sit here and go through all the various ways in which the United States Government considered how we might help the Federation resist what was then some rather serious Serbian aggression.

I can tell you that of course, as you would expect, there were discussions which considered various options in order to try to help the Federation resist the military action on the ground. I'm not going to characterize those internal discussions. You know that if we could have lifted the arms embargo multilaterally, we would have done so; and, further, that lifting it unilaterally would have triggered, we believe, a major escalation of the war.

In any case, this balance that we sought to strike between our policy of abiding by the arms embargo and our concern, at the same time, about the adverse military situation facing Federation forces was consistent, we believe, with the majority sentiment in the Congress which, of course, a few months later passed legislation that barred the U.S. Government from using appropriated funds to enforce the arms embargo.

Did I bury that question? I have more.

Q: On Liberia. What is the United States doing in Monrovia to try to achieve a permanent end to the fighting?

MR. DAVIES: We sent a delegation, that I've talked about a couple of times, headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs William Twaddell, out to the region. It was a delegation composed as well of representatives: MacArthur Deshazer from the NSC, also

representatives of the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Byran.

What they did was, they consulted with the Ghanaian officials who were there representing ECOWAS, the regional grouping, and delivered to ECOWAS our message, which is that the United States is happy to go ahead with further assistance to ECOMOG if ECOMOG is capable of reinstituting order and getting a grip on the situation there.

They also delivered a very strong message to the warring factions, the leaders of the warring factions, describing to them the consequences, in our view, of their continued standoff at the Barclay Training Center and their inability to come to a cease-fire and come to terms.

That, essentially, is what they did. They've left Monrovia now. They've moved on to Ghana, and they're consulting with the President of Ghana, President Jerry Rawlings. They'll come back and report on what they've done.

Q: Is it your suspicion that Samuel Taylor was using this period of combat to crush any remaining opposition -- democratic opposition?

MR. DAVIES: We have a number of different suspicions and theories about what's occurred. The important thing is that, of course, Liberia descended into some rather serious chaos. Many lives were taken. Many fighters came in from outside of Monrovia, and there was a tremendous amount of looting and mayhem that really reduced much of Monrovia to a very sad state.

Our efforts have been directed to trying to put an end to that and to try to get the Abuja peace process back on track.

As regards what may have motivated Taylor or any of the others, our theories about what they were up to at the outset of this I don't think matter much now because the situation changed so dramatically.

Certainly, if that was his intention, he didn't achieve it. It's important that they give up, all the factional leaders, any designs on taking over Monrovia or gaining military sway over Liberia.

Q: Did Mr. Twaddell make it explicit that if there is not a return to order, then there will be no U.S. aid?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know quite how explicit he made that linkage. But if not explicit, it was implied that there's very little the United States can do in an

environment that remains as chaotic as it has been in weeks past.

The cease-fire that was declared a few days ago does appear, day by day, little by little, to be strengthening on the ground. That's all very positive. But, of course, there are still reports of sporadic gunfire. There is still this standoff at the Barclay Training Center.

There have been some positive developments -- many of the civilian hostages have been able to come out, there's increased movement of civilians into and out of Barclay -- and that's all to the good.

We'll continue to play our role. We never closed our Embassy. We decided to hang in there, given our interests and our historical ties to that country. Our intention is to hang in there a lot longer, especially as the situation continues incrementally to improve.

Q: Thank you.

MR. DAVIES: Thank you.

(Press briefing concluded at 1:36 p.m.)


To the top of this page