U.S. Department of State 96/05/08 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, May 8, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns RUSSIA Report that Zhirinovsky Wants Media to Contribute to His Presidential Campaign ................................ 1 MEXICO Secretary's Recent Trip to Mexico for Binational Commission Meeting .................................... 1 ISRAEL Secretary's Meeting with Foreign Minister Barak ......... 2,4 --UN Report on Israeli Shelling of Camp in Lebanon ...... 2,4-5-8,9 --Meeting of the Monitoring Group In Washington, Friday . 2-3,9 GERMANY Secretary's Meeting with Foreign Minister Kinkel ........ 2 Secretary's Travel to Berlin for NATO Ministerial in June 26 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Acting Asst Secretary Kornblum's Trip to Region ......... 3,10 Federation Forum Meeting in Washington Next Week ........ 3,9-10 Return of Refugees/Freedom of Movement/Compliance ....... 11,12-14 Compliance by Parties on War Crimes ..................... 11-12 Number of Foreign Fighters Remaining in Bosnia .......... 12 Congressional Hearings re: Arms to Bosnia/Possible Subpoena for Ambassadors Redman and Galbraith ......... 13 SOUTH AFRICA Adoption of New Constitution ............................ 3 DEPARTMENT Secretary to Establish Award in Memory of Robert Frasure 3-4 GAO Report on State Department Overseas Properties ...... 20-23,26 UNITED NATIONS Selection of the Next Secretary General ................. 8-9 GREECE Greek Foreign Minister's Comments re Turkey ............. 10-11 CHINA Compliance with Intellectual Property Rights ............ 14-15 Secretary's Determination re Ring Magnet Issue ......... 23-24 LATIN AMERICA Secretary' Remarks in Mexico re Helms-Burton Act ........ 15-20 --Status of Implementation of Title III and Title IV .... 15-20 Administration's Support for Helms-Burton Legislation ... 19 TERRORISM Judge's Ruling on Extradition Case of Marzook ........... 20 PERU/ECUADOR Argentina Arms Sales to Ecuador/Status in Rio Group .... 24 NORTH KOREA Status of POW/MIA Talks in New York ..................... 24-25 ALBANIA Secretary's Meeting with Albanian Foreign Minister ...... 25 --U.S.Presence in Kosovo ................................ 25 SOUTH KOREA Prospects for Travel to South Korea by the Secretary .... 26
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 1996, 1:15 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
I'd like to welcome Mr. Jiro Shimbo from Japan. He's a news commentator for the Yomiuri Newscasting Service. He's in the United States to study broadcast ethics and administration. He's sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency.
MR. SHIMBO: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: You're very welcome.
I came across a very interesting wire report just before coming out here. I thought it might interest all of you. It's from Moscow. Vladimir Zhirinovsky would like the media to contribute to his presidential campaign, and he provides some bank numbers for his Moscow bank account. And he suggested donations of about $56,000. So I know that you're all interested in the Russian elections. I thought that I'd just bring that report to your attention.
Q Is it legal?
MR. BURNS: I have no idea if it's legal. I'm not suggesting that you do this. I'm just providing a service to the press corps in letting you know that there's an appeal that's been sent out for funds for the campaign.
Q It's only extended to journalists?
MR. BURNS: This is Russia. This is Russia, Barry.
The Secretary of State, Secretary Christopher, is back from his trip to Mexico. He feels that it was a very successful trip. As you know, he and literally half the President's Cabinet were in Mexico for two days. I think we've posted for you all of the Secretary's statements and the transcripts of the press conference. If you have any questions on that, I'll be glad to answer them.
This morning the Secretary saw Foreign Minister Ehud Barak of Israel. He is now having lunch -- he, the Secretary -- with Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel of Germany, and at 3:30 p.m. today he'll be seeing the Albanian Foreign Minister. That's Minister Serreqi.
The meeting with Foreign Minister Barak was quite good. It was a 45-minute discussion. It was the initial meeting of the United States-Israel steering group, which was formed, as you know, during Prime Minister Peres' visit here to Washington last week.
The Secretary and Minister Barak agreed to begin a working level discussion of security issues and non-security issues. There are two working groups for both of those issues. At this stage, this is at the mid-level of both of our governments, and we're really just exploring some options about how to strengthen our security relationship and other aspects of our relationship.
Of course, the incident at Qana came up in the conversation today. Minister Barak took the opportunity to tell the United States once again that Israel did not intentionally fire on the refugees at Qana -- the incident that resulted in such a great tragedy, where 102 people were killed.
I think you know the views of the United States. We've made those views quite clear over the last 24 hours. We've also made clear the fact that we are highly disturbed that the United Nations would issue a report that did not include, did not incorporate, the views of the Israeli Government, even though Israeli Government officials were questioned.
I think you know that we think that this tends to polarize the situation and not heal. What we think we've done over the past couple of weeks in the Secretary's successful shuttle mission is to achieve an understanding that will prevent such tragic incidents in the future. That's the way to go, to look forward.
In that respect, they also talked about the monitoring group, which is the group, as you will remember, we agreed would be set up in the wake of the Qana incident in order to monitor compliance with the agreement that civilians will not be fired on.
This Friday, May 10, the United States has invited Lebanon, Syria, Israel and France to a meeting here at the State Department. That meeting will be chaired by Ambassador Dennis Ross. We expect that the Ambassadors of those countries -- Ambassadors here in Washington -- will represent their countries, and the meeting will focus on trying to come to an understanding of the modalities, of the structure and of the functions, of this monitoring group.
We may not be able to work through all the issues on Friday. We may not have a final agreement among these countries on Friday, but I think we believe -- based on this morning's discussions and our discussions in Beirut and Damascus and other places -- that it will be possible to put together this monitoring group, and it's very important that we do.
Just a couple of other announcements. Ambassador John Kornblum is back in Washington. He's participating in a lunch with Minister Kinkel. He has just returned from a very important trip to the Balkans. I talked a little bit about it the other day -- yesterday.
One of the things that results, of course, is an emphasis on our part on freedom of movement, on supporting the elections that are being organized through the OSCE and by Ambassador Bob Frowick, an American Foreign Service Officer, and also efforts to try to strengthen the Federation.
On that score, the United States will host a meeting on May 14, next week, of the Federation Forum here in Washington at Blair House. The purpose is to bring all the parties together to discuss specific ways to overcome some of the problems that have been present among the Federation partners.
I will tell you a lot more about this meeting -- about who will be coming, about what we are planning specifically -- at tomorrow's briefing, but I did want to mention it.
Two more items: The United States welcomes the nearly unanimous adoption of a new constitution by South Africa's Constitutional Assembly. This step is a major step forward in the remarkable transition of South Africa to a truly non-racial, multi-party and participatory democracy. The commitments shown by South Africans to reject violence and factionalism is an inspiring example to all of us, and we congratulate South Africa's Government of National Unity and all South Africans on this outstanding achievement.
Finally, I just wanted to let all of you know that Secretary Christopher has decided to establish an award in memory of Bob Frasure. This will be the Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award. It will honor an American diplomat, an American Foreign Service Officer, who best exemplifies Bob Frasure's commitment to peace and the abolishment of human suffering caused by war or civil injustice.
Bob displayed a great sensitivity to trying to end human suffering in his service as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State where he was our point man on Bosnia until August 19th of last year when he died outside of Sarajevo. He also, I think, expressed American values in his service as Ambassador to Estonia when he led the way for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Estonia, and where he championed the independence of Estonia.
I wanted to bring that to your attention because I think it's a significant way for us to remember him and to honor him, and that was Secretary Christopher's decision. We've just issued an announcement of this award, and we've asked the Department of State employees around the world to come up with nominations so that we might select a first recipient of the award in the coming months.
Q Could you roll back to your first statement about the talks with Israel about a new defense arrangement? You talk about non-security issues. That's a negative description. Could you give a positive description? You're talking about aid? What are "non-security" issues?
MR. BURNS: Security issues, I think, are self-evident. So we have a working group, working in the security issues. We have another group working on all other issues that might strengthen the relationship politically or economically, in some cases having to do with anti-terrorism, assistance and cooperation.
We have a close relationship. We'd like to try to find ways to strengthen it. Actually, Barry, one of the purposes of the working group will be to fill out that definition a little bit beyond where it is now.
Q Some place along the line, there was -- maybe last week -- there was talk of using -- re-examining how aid to Israel is used in making it more effective, perhaps. Is this part of this group?
MR. BURNS: That's certainly one of the issues that could be looked at, that's right. But we're at the initial stage here. It's really at the middle levels of our two governments.
Q Nick, can I take your statement about the report of the United Nations. Since the damage has been done and the victims are there in Lebanon, are you entertaining the thought of raising or asking the Israeli Government to compensate the families of the victims, in light of your meeting, that you're going to have the monitoring group on Thursday? Since, as they say, that was a mistake -- the United Nations says differently and other people say differently -- will there be a gesture here of showing some goodwill, good intentions, towards the victims' families who happen to be Lebanese and Palestinians to be compensated, either by the United States or by Israel or the United States and Israel, because, you know, you are bankrolling a lot of things for Israel, so I think you ought to be for assistance from -- or some gesture of goodwill to come from there.
I'm not keying on the United States; I'm just, you know, mentioning the United States, because many things have happened, and the way that the United States approached these things by all means.
MR. BURNS: Mr. Abdul-Salam, I don't think there's any question that the United States is not considering offering its own compensation for the victims. We were not involved in this incident. I don't believe the Government of Israel has said that it will do so, although I have seen requests from the Lebanese Government for that, but that's certainly an issue that Israel and Lebanon will discuss together, not with our involvement.
I want to make perfectly clear what our position is here. We do regret very much this incident. It was a tragedy that so many civilians died. It's also most unfortunate that in the Monday morning quarterbacking of this incident -- in the hindsight that's been shown on this incident -- everyone has been pointing the finger at Israel.
The Israeli Prime Minister stood up and accepted responsibility and admitted the mistake. Where is the attention on Hizbollah? Because you know and I know that Hizbollah fired the rockets from near the camp. That's the major point we are making, and the United Nations in highlighting the role of Israel, without delving seriously into the role of Hizbollah, I think made a serious mistake and did not contribute to the atmosphere that must be created, which is one of peace. That's what Secretary Christopher, I think, did so well when he was in the region. He contributed to that atmosphere.
Q Since you mentioned the Lebanese Government or the Lebanese issue of compensation, the state of war and a condition of war, when there is a mistake, which the Israeli Government admitted that it was a mistake to fire, because of old maps and other things, so let's take the Israeli side of the story. Will you possibly facilitate or create an environment that maybe Dennis Ross on Friday that the Israeli Government will be held accountable financially to compensate the families?
MR. BURNS: That's a decision that Israel will have to make. It's not a decision that the United States can make for Israel.
Q Nick, what does the U.N. say when you make this case, about why they don't put more attention on Hizbollah?
MR. BURNS: I have not discussed this with U.N. officials, and I'm just not aware of what specifically they've said to Ambassador Albright and our other officials at the U.N. But I think they give the appearance of being more interested in pointing a finger than in creating a climate of peace and stability in the region.
Frankly, they look at an incident which had several actors. They isolate one of the actors, totally forget about another actor, in fact, the group that fired the rockets that attracted the Israeli fire. It just seems a little one-sided to us.
Q Why do you think this is? Do you think the U.N. is not fulfilling its mission -- its inherent mission as a peacemaking organization?
MR. BURNS: You have to direct those questions to the United Nations. I can't answer the question.
Q Well, the U.S. opinion --
MR. BURNS: I can't answer a question like that. The United Nations has done a lot of positive things in the Middle East in the past. This particular review, this debating society up in New York, over the last 48 hours was not helpful. It was not helpful to the situation. It didn't move the situation forward one bit. In fact, it moved it backwards.
Q Does the United States think that the U.N. was actually harboring Hizbollah guerrillas in the refugee camp?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. The United States has not done an in-depth study of the incident. We are not in a position to say what happened, why the Hizbollah guerrillas were allowed access. But it does it appear that Hizbollah rebels on that day, and on previous days, did have access to the camp. That's most unfortunate considering the fact that there was firing going on between Hizbollah and Israel.
Q Is there some way to prevent that from -- if you think that's the case, I would think that you would be putting some emphasis on trying to prevent that in the future?
MR. BURNS: We have. Secretary Christopher negotiated an arrangement which prohibits firing by other side on civilians. Especially with the establishment of the monitoring group, this should prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
Q Can you elaborate on the access Hizbollah had to the camp?
MR. BURNS: I can't elaborate in any detail, Barry. I've seen, certainly, the comments made by U.N. officials and by others that Hizbollah officials did -- Hizbollah fighters took cover in that camp after they fired the Katyusha rockets that day which then drew, subsequently, the Israeli fire. No one has disputed that claim.
Q What about the U.N.'s -- was the U.N. involved? Did the U.N. acquiesce? Was the U.N. actually asked? Did the U.N. make it easier for Hizbollah to use civilians as cover?
MR. BURNS: I just don't know. I have no reason to believe they made it easier, but I think you'll have to ask those questions to the United Nations.
Listen, our emphasis here is not on looking backwards. Our emphasis is on looking forward, and that's why we're having the meeting here in two days, to try to get this monitoring group established on the ground so it's effective in preventing civilian casualties in the future.
Q One more, if I can. Maybe this isn't the place for this. But I wonder if you would engage in any analysis for why the U.N. had done this?
Israel has been riding a wave of goodwill for several months now, reversing some of the extreme antagonism that was visited on Israel, typified by the description of Zionism as racism.
A lopsided vote against Israel is automatic in the U.N. Sometimes the U.S. would stop it. Once in awhile, in other Administrations it didn't.
Has, number one, Israel lost -- has this current been reversed, and is this damaging to your hopes for peace? And is this reflective of a special sentiment within the U.N. to Israel that isn't reflected when, for instance, an entire Syrian village is destroyed?
MR. BURNS: I would answer your question like this, Barry. I would say, in many multilateral organizations, and sometimes in the United Nations, there is a premium put on debate, on discussion. We live in the real world. We are an effective intermediary in the Middle East. We're more interested in establishing agreements, understandings and conditions as we have done over the last two weeks to prevent this from happening again.
We're more interested in actions rather than these interminable debates about the past. I think that's what contributed to the way that the United States reacted to the issuance of this report yesterday. It's not helpful. It may make some countries feel good to gang up on Israel but it's not helpful to the peace process.
We have Arab lives in mind as well as Israeli lives when we talk about the importance of preventing civilian casualties. So, Barry, I guess that's the way I'd answer that question.
The second point is this, we think it is possible to move forward towards peace between Syria and Israel. A very important part of the understanding is that Syria and Israel, Israel and Lebanon, will resume their negotiations as soon as possible.
Mr. Barak said this morning to all of you at "C" Street, he didn't know if that would be possible before the May 29th elections. It may be possible afterwards. The United States wants to concentrate its attentions on helping these countries move towards real peace negotiations where real progress can be made. That's what Secretary Christopher has in mind. We think it can happen, and we want to make it happen if the conditions are right.
Q The behind-the-scenes maneuvering prior to the selection of a new Secretary General of the United Nations is already underway. I'm wondering whether you think this report and some of the tragic activities that it was about might have any impact on the opinions of major powers as to who should be the next Secretary General?
MR. BURNS: David, that is a question that really hasn't come front and center. There is going to have to be a decision as to the next U.N. Secretary General. In fact, I'm quite sure that Secretary General Boutros Ghali has not made his views public or private about what he wants to do. Until that happens, I think it just doesn't make any sense for me to comment on that particular issue.
Q (Inaudible) call a meeting of the monitoring group. France and Russia are not invited, then, to this meeting?
MR. BURNS: No, the countries invited are the members of the monitoring group. The United States will chair the meeting. Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and France will participate. The consultative group, which is a second group whose function is to help in the reconstruction of Lebanon, does have the European Union and Russia as members, in addition to the United States, France, etc.
So there are different groups but France is a member of both. That was at the insistence of the United States, by the way, during the negotiations that France would be included.
Q There's a statement from London this morning calling on Israel to answer completely to the charges in the United Nations report.
MR. BURNS: A statement from London?
MR. BURNS: Who, in London?
Q England. The British Government.
MR. BURNS: The British Government. I would very respectfully submit that the Prime Minister of Israel was on CNN yesterday. He was on Israeli television the day before. He stood up and took responsibility. He sent his military officials to talk to the U.N.
The Israelis have answered all the questions. I'm not aware of any questions that have not been answered. Why doesn't the rest of the world, though, however, submit that Hizbollah should answer some questions? Where are the calls for Hizbollah to answer questions about their perfidy in this incident?
Q Tell us more about the Blair House meeting? At what level will the delegations be represented?
MR. BURNS: The Federation Forum meeting?
MR. BURNS: That's what I would like to get into tomorrow. We don't have, I think, a sense right now -- at least, I don't have a sense right now of the exact composition of the delegations. I can tell you, however, that Secretary Christopher will participate in part of the Federation Forum event on May 14.
What I'd like to do is give you a more comprehensive sense of that tomorrow. Ambassador Kornblum is just back, and I want to have a talk with him.
Q Has he seen the Secretary? And can you give us --
MR. BURNS: John Kornblum?
Q Yes, since his return.
MR. BURNS: Yes, very briefly. But he hasn't had a chance to report in any full way yet.
Q I suppose you can't tell us whether he made any headway on refugees and --
MR. BURNS: I can tell you this. On the issue of freedom of movement --
Q (Inaudible) I wasn't there.
MR. BURNS: He made some public comments in the region. I think he did as well this morning. On the issue of freedom of movement, he did receive from President Milosevic as well as the other presidents a renewed commitment to that principle which underlies all of the Dayton Accords, which is an integral part of the Dayton Accords.
He also talked about Federation issues. He talked about the elections. He talked about human rights and war crimes issues. So he went there as part of his normal diplomatic duties really to review all major aspects of the Dayton Accords.
As I said yesterday, what I will do over the next two days is make him available to as many of you who want to see him. I'm not sure what the basis will be yet, but I'll organize that because I know there is interest in this.
Q Nick, two hours ago, the Greek Foreign Minister, Mr. Pangalos, was speaking at the Madison Hotel. He painted Turkey as an unreliable, untrusted country and asked the United States to not trust Turkey because they have several social, economic, and ethnic problem.
What is the U.S. official will towards Turkey? I'm not asking --
MR. BURNS: The official . . .?
Q Official position?
MR. BURNS: Position?
Q The (inaudible) for Turkey?
MR. BURNS: We love the Greeks and the Turks. (Laughter) If Mr. Lambros was here, I would say it to him. They're both NATO allies. They're great allies of the United States. We have good relations with both. That's all I've got to say on that question.
Q Do you share his view as some kind of problem country in this area?
MR. BURNS: We believe that Turkey is a valued NATO ally, which makes a great contribution to European security. We feel the same way about Greece, by the way. So I'm just not going to touch that question, is what I'm really saying here.
Q Could you go back to Bosnia just for a minute? Yesterday, when you spoke of the refugee problem, you spoke with the Bosnian Serbs being particularly -- Serbian, I think Bosnian Serbs. Are the Croats accountable? Have they been cooperating with the return of refugees?
MR. BURNS: I think that there have been problems in all parts of the region. However, I would say that perhaps the most sensitive and difficult problems, even in the last few weeks, have occurred because of the reluctance or refusal of many Bosnian Serbs to allow Bosnian Muslims back to their place of origin.
I think, to be fair, there have been incidents on all sides.
On the issue of war crimes, here I think, we can see that the Bosnian Government has really taken a significant number of steps to put itself into compliance with the Dayton Accords. The Croatian Government has done moderately well, taken some steps, has withheld cooperation on others.
The Serbs have probably fallen well behind the others. The Serbs have not complied by and large with the provisions of the accords which talk about handing over indicted war criminals to the Tribunal. There are 57 people indicted; only three are incarcerated. That's a very poor record, and the parties are responsible for that.
Q What's the latest accounting of foreign fighters still in Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: To the best of our knowledge, Judd -- and we do look at this quite carefully -- a handful, a handful of Iranians and other foreign fighters remain from the -- well, we'll put it in the high hundreds or low thousands who were certainly there on November 21, '95, the day the Dayton Accords were signed.
So the Bosnian Government, I think, has done a lot to convince these foreign fighters to leave but they have not gotten to the end of it. In fact, we just contacted them in the last couple of days again. John Kornblum raised this when he was in Sarajevo, that they need to complete this process before we can go ahead with equip and train.
Q At what point are they in compliance? Do all foreign fighters have to be out?
MR. BURNS: All foreign fighters who cannot show some Bosnian citizenship or show that they are bona fide diplomats accredited to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Q The handful you refer to are people who don't fall into those categories?
MR. BURNS: That's right. Because some of the people who you and I would understand to be foreign fighters have married Bosnian citizens and they are now legal residents of Bosnia. All of them have been, in effect, demobilized. They're no longer out in their training areas.
Q Can I ask two Bosnian questions? The first one is on freedom of movement. At the conference this morning over at the Madison, and at a number of other discussions of Bosnia, there's been the view advanced that, basically, the Dayton agreement was a partition, and that part of the proof of that is that in the recent weeks the implementation -- IFOR forces -- have not protected refugees trying to return to their homes; have stood aside and watched violent incidents occur to these refugees as they attempted to, and, in fact, have told people who said they want to go home, "You can't, it's not safe." That's my first question. How would you respond to that?
The second one deals with the issue of whether or not the House International Relations Committee is, in fact, going to issue subpoenas for Ambassadors Galbraith and Redman. Apparently, the Committee has -- subpoenas have been -- the word is, I guess, "authorized," but not issued.
MR. BURNS: Right.
Q The threat of subpoenas continues. Members of Mr. Gilman's staff are saying that it has taken this threat to get these two Ambassadors -- to get the attention of the Department, the fact that the House side would also like to hear from these Ambassadors. How would you respond to that?
MR. BURNS: Let me take that question first. Secretary Christopher spoke to Congressman Gilman yesterday; made clear to Congressman Gilman what has been clear about our position all along. If the Congress wishes to question Ambassador Chuck Redman and Ambassador Peter Galbraith -- the State Department -- and this is from the Secretary, we'll take whatever steps necessary to make that possible. We took that attitude last week when they were questioned by a Senate Committee, a Senate group.
There's really no need to issue a subpoena. If the House International Relations Committee wishes to talk to them, they will be there.
The State Department has taken that attitude since Day One, after the publication of a Los Angeles Times article -- what was that? -- about a month ago. That's been privately Secretary Christopher's position and it has been his public position. So I think as a result of a phone call yesterday, we hope that any misunderstanding has been cleared up.
On the first question, David, I would disagree that somehow the Dayton Accords will lead the parties and us irretrievably towards partition. That was not the intent of the American negotiators -- Secretary Christopher, Dick Holbrooke, and others. The intent was to help them establish a unified state.
I think you can probably look at the situation objectively and say that de facto partition in some cases has been the order of the day. But, certainly, we're working very hard, very hard, to overcome the barriers to return of refugees, the barriers to holding elections which are quite considerable. We're working hard to remove those. We want there to be successful free and fair elections so that there can be a duly constituted representative assembly.
It's an objective of the Dayton Accords. I don't think that it is impossible to reach that, but it is difficult because six months after the war ended there are still lots of barriers to unity. They will not be overcome quickly. It will take a long time.
Q Do you think the partition can be avoided without IFOR enforcement of the right of return, the right of freedom of movement?
MR. BURNS: IFOR has performed the most valuable service by enforcing an end to the fighting and the separation of the armies and laying down of the heavy weapons of the armies. IFOR has done all that.
IFOR cannot solve all the problems of society there. It will not be able to bring every refugee to his or her home and to protect them as they travel there. But IFOR has took down the barriers in Sarajevo. IFOR enforced that aspect of the agreement that had the Muslims take over Serb-held areas and Serbs take over Muslim-held areas.
IFOR is creating the conditions to open up the major highways, railways, and ports and other transportation modes so that people can move around. But can they get every refugee back to his or her home? No.
IFOR's job is to create the framework. It's the job of the Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians to fill that in.
Q Secretary Christopher said not long ago that he was more interested as regards China and the issue of sanctions for copyright infringement in compliance rather than sanctions. With the deadline a week away, or compliance, wouldn't you find yourself in a situation of accepting more Chinese promises rather than Chinese actions, the Department being fond of actions rather than promises if it does not impose sanctions or recommend the imposition of sanctions on this issue?
MR. BURNS: What Secretary Christopher said upstairs just a few moments ago, and I know what he believes, is that we ought to make every attempt to convince China to come into compliance with the February 1995 intellectual property rights agreement. That is why Lee Sands, the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, will be in China. I believe he'll arrive there Monday or Tuesday. He'll be in Hong Kong over the weekend. That's why we're making that effort.
We have, in essence, told the Chinese that if the enforcement of that February 1995 agreement does not improve, then we will be forced to take action to defend American manufacturers. That is fair under international law and it makes sense under international law.
We, at this point, would like to see the Chinese take the necessary steps to resolve this problem.
Q The thing is, if you have seven days left for them to come into compliance, how can you judge compliance in seven days? Isn't it to the point now whether you have either made a decision on sanctions or have not?
MR. BURNS: The Chinese can certainly take steps. As you know, the way that USTR works this, there's a 30-day period afterwards. They can certainly take steps to resolve this problem.
We're not at the point, Steve, where somehow there's no time left for them to take any significant action that would resolve this problem. We're not at that point yet. We still hope to resolve it.
Q On the Helms-Burton law. Yesterday, you said you'll give us more details on what Secretary Christopher said?
MR. BURNS: Yes. What kind of details would you like?
Q You said you didn't see the transcript and you couldn't give us any information.
MR. BURNS: Did I promise details?
Q I think so.
MR. BURNS: Okay. Alright, you asked for it. Here goes. Let me just talk about the two major aspects of this. First of all, we're working on the implementing regulations of the Helms-Burton Act. They've not been finalized. They've not yet been issued and final.
In general, we're seeking to maximize pressure on the Castro regime. We want to minimize the impact on our allies and on our trading partners.
The Secretary, yesterday in Mexico City, referred to Title IV of a legislation which allows for the denial of entry into the United States for those found to be trafficking in confiscated properties, meaning properties that were owned by American citizens prior to the Cuban revolution and which now have been taken over in some form by foreigners.
The Secretary said yesterday that this provision, Title IV, is prospective. That means that it would affect those who trafficked in confiscated property after March 12, 1996, which was the day that the Helms-Burton legislation was signed into law.
On Title IV, it's important to note that trafficking not only applies to new investments -- new capital investments in an asset -- in an industry, a facility -- made after March 12, '96, but it also includes additional investments beyond routine maintenance in existing investments and confiscated properties.
The Secretary also said that the President has not made a decision whether to exercise his wavier authority on Title III of the act which allows U.S. citizens whose property has been confiscated by the Cuban Government to sue the Cuban Government, or to sue in District Court here the foreign investors who hold those assets or to use the profit in any way from those assets.
That decision can be made at any time by the President, to exercise waiver authority. I think the Secretary and others have referred in the past to a decision that would have to be made during the summer because there is a six-month suspension provision in the bill.
So I hope that clarifies some of what we said yesterday. I hope it's helpful. But I would just put the accent on the fact that we're still working on the implementing measures here.
Q When you say it's not only on assets but it goes beyond, like maintaining -- do you mean it's also prospective? If it's an investment, it's already made. But some further investments must be made just to keep it.
MR. BURNS: If those further capital investments extend beyond what one would understand to be routine maintenance, then, yes, that would bring them into a place where they would be subject to the law.
Q Do you have anything on the Miami Herald story today which talks about foreign business executives who might lose their visa privileges because of violations of the embargo?
MR. BURNS: I think everybody understands that will be the case when we judge compliance, after we're through with looking at the implementing regulations, that will be the case.
Q But it provides details such as they soon will be given 45 days to comply or risk losing their visa privileges?
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry. That aspect of the story, we have not yet made that determination. We are debating in the Administration, discussing in the Administration, exactly how we put this implementation into implementation but we have not made any decisions yet about what the time period would be.
I would also say that the Secretary, or the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs -- the Secretary has delegated authority to that person -- will make trafficking determinations of who is a "trafficker" -- that's the word in the law -- on a case-by-case basis after the guidelines have been published regarding the implementation of Title IV.
The names of individuals associated with the trafficking will be added to the list of people who are excluded. They're excluded aliens. That's maintained by the Department of State and the INS. That's, in effect, how this law will be implemented. That's how we will know, in essence, who to bar and who not to bar.
Q Is that to be made public by the State Department, or is that being given to foreign governments so that they may notify the people on the list?
MR. BURNS: First of all, we haven't compiled any lists.
Q Appreciating that.
MR. BURNS: There are no blacklists.
Q No, I appreciate -- I accept that.
MR. BURNS: I think it's fair to say that -- I would encourage all foreigners who now own property in Cuba that used to be owned by Americans and would be, if it had not been expropriated, nationalized -- I would encourage them to understand this law. They can assume that if they are in the categories that I described, that they will be subject to this law once the implementing regulations are put forward in public.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Did you really (inaudible) they already have the property. They will lose their visa privileges.
MR. BURNS: I've just been all through that. I hope there's no misunderstanding. But I think I discussed the specifics of what Title IV is and what Title III is. I think it's very clear it's for new investments, but it's also for those who have investments and who make capital improvements upon those investments. So there are two categories.
Q Just touching on the Secretary's desire to maximize and minimize in this particular issue, the bill as it stands now says executives of companies and their families, raising the specter, of course, of --
MR. BURNS: Their immediate family members, including minor children.
Q Immediate family members, which, of course, would be children --
MR. BURNS: Minor children.
Q Minor children. Under the minimization aspect of what you're talking about, clearly that is not going to go forward. Is that what you're saying? In other words, you would just specify only the executives of companies and not their families.
MR. BURNS: I'm not saying that. No, Henry, I'm not saying that at all. The law says -- the law specifically includes minor children -- the immediate family members of an executive -- and I am not saying we'll exclude those people from being covered by this law, and therefore, from being prevented entry into the United States.
Q Now, one final -- further question. You talk about making this information available. When do you anticipate that will happen, and can you be specific on the form that that's going to be delivered in?
MR. BURNS: We will certainly make public the implementing guidelines, the implementing steps that we will take, to put this into law, so that Canadians, Brits, French who may be in these categories will know exactly what we think the law says and what it doesn't. We will be consistent with the law as it's written.
Q But I'm asking, and I'm sure those businessmen would be asking as well, when and how does that come forward?
MR. BURNS: We'll make a public statement, announcement from the Department of State, and we'll certainly make our experts in the Inter-American Affairs Bureau available to all of you to make sure this is fully understood.
Q Is this legislation hurting the United States? Secretary Gurria raised it with the Secretary yesterday. Mr. Kinkel raised it an hour ago upstairs. You hear reports about this almost every day. Is this a burden to you?
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't say it's a burden. I wouldn't say it's hurting us. It's a fact of life. It's the law of the United States, and this Administration has a constitutional obligation to implement U.S. law. So it's a reality. It's certainly something -- it's a source of disagreement with Canada, with Germany, with many European countries, but I think our relationships with those countries are sufficiently strong to withstand a disagreement on this particular law.
Still on this subject or on another subject? New subject?
MR. BURNS: This subject, Steve.
Q Just quickly, as a representative of the State Department, do you find at this point that the implementation of this law might be more counter-productive than the benefits derived from it?
MR. BURNS: The Clinton Administration decided to -- the President decided to sign this legislation, and we decided to support the legislation as it worked through committee in the wake of the shootdown of the two Cessnas on February 24.
We believe it strengthens our ability to isolate Castro. It certainly has caused some disruption in our relations with close allies. We want to work through those problems. We want to assure them we'd like to minimize any effect on them and maximize the pressure on Castro.
Now, Henry has asked a very good question. How does that happen? I think hopefully in publishing the implementing guidelines, we'll answer some of those questions.
Q The people who have already visas, many of those people who come to the United States, having indefinite visas, many European countries have --
MR. BURNS: But you still have to --
Q Are they going to lose the validity of the visas, so if they come here, they will not be allowed to enter?
MR. BURNS: I would like to reserve the right to check this with our Consular experts, but my understanding of the Consular business in law is that even someone who has a visa must pass through the turnstile at Immigration at the port of entry into the United States, and there's a list of people who are excluded.
Terrorists, for instance -- many terrorists have visas. We don't know that they're terrorists when we give them the visas, but, if we find them and they're on our list, even if they have a visa, they're not allowed entry to the United States, and sometimes in the case of terrorists they're arrested.
We're not talking about arrest in this case, but we are talking about excluding people, even those who now have multiple-entry, long-term visas.
Q Mr. Marzook, it has been ruled in his case, that he can be extradited to Israel. What happens now? The Secretary must sign an extradition order, is that correct?
MR. BURNS: Betsy, I'd like to check with the Department of Justice and with our legal experts here before I give you a good answer on that, but I will look into it for you.
Q Palaces and mansions, Part II? The GAO has taken the State Department to task now for buildings owned in, I think, Bermuda and Argentina. Do you have a response?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Al Kamen ran a piece this morning in "In The Loop" --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Your favorite author, as I understand.
MR. BURNS: One of my favorite reporters in Washington. He is.
MR. BURNS: I read it three times a week and very closely, and he had a piece in his column this morning, I think derived from an unnamed source in the General Accounting Office, which basically charges the Department with not caring about how much money we spend on some of the property that we own overseas.
Last Friday I talked to you about this. We're just not going to sit here and take this -- these unnamed leaks from the GAO, questioning the integrity of the Department of State and our leadership here.
The facts are that the GAO is completely wrong in its unnamed leaks and assertions to The Washington Post and other newspapers. The residence of our Consul General in Bermuda has not been sold because of strenuous objections by the local government, which does not wish to have this property developed for commercial purposes.
The GAO says it costs $100,000 a year to maintain it. Wrong! It's $38,000 a year. The GAO alleges by leak in The Washington Post that our residence of our Ambassador in Buenos Aires should be sold. Well, I'm sorry to disappoint the GAO but that's an historic property. It can't be sold. The Argentinian Government does not want that property to be sold. In fact, they made that clear at the highest levels of the Argentinian government when the Secretary visited there at the end of February.
You can't sell that property. No one would buy it, because it cannot be developed for commercial purposes. The GAO says that it costs $500,000 a year to maintain it. Wrong! The two-year maintenance costs, 1994 and 1995, for this is $218,000. When we were there, the American business community told us that the American business community wanted to start a voluntary fund to pay for the renovation, so that the American taxpayer would not have to do that.
Now, why do I go into this level of detail? We shouldn't have to be charged with malfeasance by the GAO in leaks to The Washington Post. They have oversimplified the issue, and they're wrong on their facts. I would say the following thing, too.
We are a great power. In fact, we're the greatest power in the world. I don't think the American people want our diplomats to live in third-floor walk-up efficiency apartments, especially our Ambassadors overseas. Our Ambassadors deserve to live in places that reflect the power of the United States.
The American people do expect us to be conservative with our money, and last year we sold property which generated for the American taxpayer $52.8 million, and we have 100 more properties on the selling block all over the world. So we're doing what's right to save money, but why should we sell properties that are ours that we own and that cannot be sold for commercial reasons.
The other thing I'd say, Judd, because there's an implication here that somehow we're pinstripped cookie pushers in the State Department. Take a look at Ambassador Bill Milam in Liberia. who's right now living under Marine guard protection in Liberia, and take a look at Ambassador John Menzies in Sarajevo.
I think the GAO has made a serious mistake in taking us on, and I'm very glad to respond, and I'll respond again if we have any more unnamed leaks.
Q Have you made this in a more formal way -- Has the State Department --
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Has the State Department made this in a more formal way to the GAO?
MR. BURNS: We received a copy of the report. Normally what happens is the agency in question here does not leak the report, but they leaked it. We received a copy of the report, and we've looked at it, and we've told the GAO where it's wrong, and it's wrong in many places.
Q And what is their response? What are they going to do?
MR. BURNS: I don't know what their response is. That's why we've decided to go public here, and to air our differences with the GAO in public, which I think is the right thing to do. We shouldn't have to sit back and let the readers of The Washington Post think that we're somehow lavishly spending the taxpayers' money overseas, because we're not doing that.
Q Nick, why was this report compiled in the first place?
MR. BURNS: That was not at the suggestion of the Administration, I can tell you that. I don't know who suggested that it should be compiled. I should have brought it today. It's a very interesting report with a very tendentious title, and I think they should go back and check their facts. I also think they should reflect upon how they want the United States to be perceived overseas, and how we should present ourselves overseas.
Q Nick, back on China, what's the status of the ring magnet issue?
MR. BURNS: The ring magnet issue remains an outstanding source of concern to us. It continues to be discussed with the Government of China, and the Secretary continues to discuss it with his advisers, as in fact he did this morning in the meeting that we had here in the Department on China -- our relationship with China. But he has not made a decision as to how to proceed in that case.
Q Are you getting information from China that makes a difference?
MR. BURNS: We're getting information from China. We're having an active discussion with them. The Secretary had a long conversation in The Hague with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, but we're not at the point now where we're ready to come to any kind of agreement or to announce any kind of action resulting from the discussions.
Q Are you making progress?
MR. BURNS: In a negotiation like this and a discussion like this, it's probably not possible to answer a question like that until you get to the final step, and we're not at the final step.
Q Are you dragging it out because it impacts on the IPR decision, the MFN decision?
MR. BURNS: No.
Q It's self-contained.
MR. BURNS: We're not dragging it out. We're actually working very hard to bring it to a conclusion, but we're not dragging it out.
Q Does the decision on ring magnets have an impact -- not have an impact, but is it dependent in some way on the other major decisions which have to do with China?
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't lead you to believe that at all. We're not practicing that kind of linkage here.
Q You're not saying if the Chinese are cooperative on one, you might overlook another?
MR. BURNS: No.
Q I would like to know what's the position of the United States Government regarding the sales of Argentinian arms to Ecuador during the Peru/Ecuador war, being Argentina is a member of this group of -- Rio Group -- that was supposed to guarantee the peaceful solution to the borders problem between Peru and Ecuador. Having in mind Peru, there is some hints that the Peruvian Government wants to repeal or to (inaudible) Argentina of being part of this group which is also -- the United States belongs to this group -- this same group.
MR. BURNS: Let me take your question. I'm just not familiar with the specifics of your question, but let me see if we can get you a good answer to that. But I know you support us in maintaining our -- have you seen the residence of the American Ambassador in Buenos Aires? (Laughter) Wouldn't you agree that the United States ought to remain in that residence? Do you want to take a position? You can even be on the record. The cameras will now turn towards you. (Laughter).
Q What's the status of the POW/MIA talks with North Korea?
MR. BURNS: They are ongoing. They continue today in New York City.
Q That's because --
MR. BURNS: That's because we haven't come to the end of the discussions, and we continue to have more to discuss with the North Koreans, and there is one issue, POW/MIA remains.
Q Are they raising --
MR. BURNS: That's our central focus.
Q Are they raising specific monetary numbers, proposals?
MR. BURNS: I'm not part of the discussions, so I don't want to say. Obviously, we're talking about all aspects of the POW/MIA issue, and, as you know, that has been an issue in the past.
Q Who leads North Korean delegation?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Who leads the North Korean delegation?
MR. BURNS: Who is leading the North Korean delegation? I would direct you to the East Asia/Pacific Bureau, to Ken and John. They might be able to get you that answer. Jim Wold is heading the United States delegation from the Pentagon.
Q Do you know what issues the Secretary plans to raise with the Albanian Foreign Minister this afternoon?
MR. BURNS: He certainly wants to raise issues having to do not only with U.S.-Albanian relations -- and there are many -- in an improving relationship, but also the issue of Kosovo. I would say on that score, the Secretary has decided that the United States will now have a continuous presence in Kosovo itself. He made that decision the other day.
He thinks it's important. As you know, when he met with President Milosevic in Belgrade in February, he was able to convince Milosevic to agree that the United States would have a U.S. Information officer resident in Kosovo. We have not yet been able to get that person to a state where he is living there full-time.
So in the meantime, we have assigned an officer to be present in Kosovo at all times, because, as you know, we have a great concern about the issue of the Albanian population there -- the ethnic Albanian population there -- and that's certainly going to be part of the discussion today. But it does go broader into the other aspects of our bilateral relationship.
Q Nick, is it you are not able to get an officer currently into Kosovo because the Serbians have prevented it?
MR. BURNS: Not at all. It's simply logistics on our part. We need to assign someone and get that person permanently there. So in the meantime, the Secretary felt strongly that we should have a person -- an interim presence there, and he has given the order, and the European Bureau is executing that order.
Q (Inaudible) fourth-floor walk-up for the person to live in, too, right?
MR. BURNS: You know what, thank you for providing me this opening. I could go on and on, but I won't, George. In a place like that, a Foreign Service Officer will go out and live in very trying conditions. You've been to Central Asia. You've seen how our Ambassadors, much less our third secretaries, live in places like Turkmenistan and Tajikistan where there's a war going on.
Our Embassy in Tajikistan is on the second floor of a hotel under permanent guard, and they have to live in their offices. That's also true of our Embassy in Sarajevo. GAO ought to go out to -- they ought to go to Sarajevo. They ought to go to Monrovia. They ought to go to Tajikistan. They ought to go to Turkmenistan. They ought to go to Mongolia. They ought to see how American diplomats live around the world. It would be very instructive for them. I encourage them to do that.
Q Do you confirm, according to South Korean reports, Secretary Christopher is going to South Korea some time next month or this month?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary has no plans to travel to the Republic of Korea this month or next month, no. His next trip, foreign trip, planned is to Berlin for the NATO Ministerial meeting. It's the first week of June, first days of June.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:07 p.m.)
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