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U.S. Department of State
96/05/09 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman



                           U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                             DAILY PRESS BRIEFING 
                                  I N D E X  
                            Thursday, May 9, 1996 
 
                                             Briefer:  Nicholas Burns 
 
FORMER YUGOSLAVIA 
  Background Briefing on Bosnia, Friday, May 10 ...........   1    
  Federation Forum Meeting, Blair House, Tuesday, May 14 ..   2    
  --List of Participants Expected at the Meeting ..........   2,13  
 
DEPARTMENT 
  Secretary's Address to the Business Council, Williamsburg   1    
 
HONG KONG 
  Secretary's Meeting with Hong Kong Governor Patten ......   2    
 
GREECE 
  Secretary's Meeting with Greek Foreign Minister .........   2    
 
TERRORISM 
  Issuance of Public Announcement re: Abu Marzook Ruling ..   2-3  
 
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 
  Meeting of the Monitoring Group at State Department .....   3-5  
  --Lebanon, Israel, Syria, France and U.S. Participating .   3    
  Arab Countries Reaction/Comments re U.S. Peace Efforts ..   5,6-7  
  Israeli Likud Party Comments re Resumption of Settlements   5-6  
  U.S. Position on Settlements ............................   6    
  U.S. Position on Role of UNIFIL .........................   7    
 
NORTH KOREA 
  Status of POS/MIA Talks in New York .....................   7-9,15  
 
BELARUS 
  Treatment of Political Activists in Belarus .............   9-10 
 
PANAMA 
  Reported Panama Request for U.S. Troops to Fight Narco- 
    Trafficers ...........................................   10   
 
ALBANIA 
  Secretary's Meeting with Albanian Foreign Minister .....   10-11 
  --Issue of Kosovo Raised ...............................   10-11 
  --U.S. Presence in Kosovo ..............................   14-15 
 
CHINA 
  Status of Secretary's Determination re:  Ring Magnets ..   11 
 
RWANDA/BURUNDI 
  Asst Secretary Shattuck's Visit to the Region ..........   11   
  --Situation in Burundi/Continuing Violence .............   11-12 
 
INDIA 
  Alleged Illegal Campaign Contributions by Indian-American/ 
    Embassy of India Involvement ..........................   12-13,15 
 
 
 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #74

THURSDAY, MAY 9, 1996, 1:23 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I want to introduce to you Mr. Doug Brown and Judge George Paine. They're both from Nashville, Tennessee. They're members of the Nashville Committee on Foreign Affairs. They were our co-host for the Town Meeting that we held in Nashville which was a great success. So you're welcome. We're glad you're here, and look forward to working with you in the future.

I want to let you all know that we're going to have a Background briefing here at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning in the Briefing Room by a Senior Administration Official on Bosnia. It's the long-awaited Background briefing that I've been advertising for 48 hours. I think you all know who the Senior Official is, and he will be here at 9:00 a.m. to answer all of your questions on all aspects of the Bosnia situation.

I also want to let you know that the Secretary will be travelling to Williamsburg, Virginia, tomorrow morning. He'll address the Business Council. He will return, I think, around 11:30 in the morning. The address, I believe, is at 10:00. This is no open to the press. The Business Council proceedings are not, but I will make the Secretary's remarks available to you probably at around 10:00 or 10:15 tomorrow morning.

Q What is the topic?

MR. BURNS: Pardon?

Q What is the topic?

MR. BURNS: The topic is going to be a broad range of things, but he'll certainly talk about our commercial diplomacy and about efforts to expand American trade and investment, but he'll go beyond that, too. There will be other items addressed.

Today, the Secretary had breakfast upstairs with the Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten. They had a very good breakfast meeting and good exchange of views. Governor Patten described the current political and economic situation in Hong Kong, certainly looking towards June 30, 1997, when, of course, there will be a transition to Chinese rule. He thanked the United States for its support on Hong Kong issues, a variety of issues; and, as you heard him say, in a variety of places this week, Governor Patten said he very much favored MFN extension to China saying it will be good for Hong Kong as well as good for the rest of Asia itself.

The Secretary has been over at the White House for meetings with the Greek President. The Secretary saw the Greek Foreign Minister for a bilateral meeting, Foreign Minister Pangalos, at 9:30 this morning. He will also be attending the State Dinner this evening at the White House.

We're going to hold this Federation Forum meeting at Blair House on Tuesday, May 14. The Secretary will be the host. The opening and closing sessions of the meeting will be open to the press corps, and I'll be giving readouts of the other activities, the other meetings that take place between the opening and closing.

We expect that we'll have the leadership of the Federation with us to discuss of variety of issues. This will include the Federation President, Mr. Zubak, Vice President Ganic, Prime Minister Muratovic, and Foreign Minister Prlic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

As you know, we've had a series of Federation meetings, going back now for two years. This demonstrates our engagement and our leadership in trying to strengthen the Federation.

What we would like to do in this meeting is concentrate on the elections, on financial and commercial issues and other issues having to do with civilian implementation of the Dayton peace accords. As I said, we will be opening up the opening and closing to you. As we make further progress in completing the schedule, I'll give you further information. Our Background briefer will also be in a position to do that tomorrow morning.

Last is a public announcement that we're issuing today on the case of Mousa Abu Marzook. We're issuing this public announcement on the ruling by the District Court judge yesterday on Mousa Abu Marzook.

Our public announcement informs American citizens travelling or residing abroad that they may wish to exercise greater than usual caution in light of the District Court ruling of May 7 that Mr. Marzook is extraditable to Israel.

The Department of State has no specific information regarding a threat to American citizens or American interests overseas, but we can't discount the possibility of random acts of anti-American violence. So we advised all of our embassies and consulates last evening of the ruling, and we ask that they review their security procedures and take appropriate precautions.

We would also urge U.S. citizens travelling abroad that they might want to consult with the Department's country-specific Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets before they do so.

Q Nick, wasn't the monitoring committee to be meeting tomorrow as well -- the cease-fire group?

MR. BURNS: Yes, that meeting is still on.

Q What time is that tomorrow?

MR. BURNS: I believe the meeting is going to begin around 11:00 here in the Department. It's going to be chaired by Ambassador Dennis Ross. It will include all the countries that are going to participate in the monitoring group. All are coming -- Israel, Lebanon, Syria, France, and the United States.

The purpose, again, of this meeting is to try to arrive at some agreed-upon modalities and structures, rules of the road, for this monitoring group.

Q Will there be any sort of a public briefing?

MR. BURNS: We haven't decided yet if there's going to be a photo opportunity or questions, that kind of thing. I'll certainly be in a position to give you a briefing, hopefully, at noon, at least, about how they started. I'm not sure the meeting will be completed by the time I get out here.

Q I guess what we would like to do is to get at some of these people, the various Ambassadors, and ask them questions, as if we were journalists.

MR. BURNS: As if you were journalists, good. I think it's a good objective to have.

Q Because Backgrounders are very nice; better than not having Backgrounders. A lot of people around town have lunch with the Secretary, and we're hoping to have access, at least, to the Syrian Ambassador. Sort of a trade-off.

Could you see possibly if they can lead the "Fearsome Five" -- can maybe jointly take some questions from people who cover the building?

MR. BURNS: I will look into possibilities of press coverage. I'd doubt that we'd make the five together available because it's a working meeting. It's a working meeting where they have to really concentrate on trying to -- discussing the different approaches to how we would put this group together. So I don't think it's really conducive to a press conference. But I will check and reflect on it and see what we can do for you, Barry.

Q In light of the amount of attention that this got during the recent summit diplomacy and the difficulty with which, at times, there was in drawing up who would be a member of this group, the interest level that there was, you ought to allow the television camera to film the meeting. That, obviously, means that you ought to also allow journalists in to throw a question or two, and it's up to them if they answer.

MR. BURNS: There is a long 200-year tradition in this country of private diplomacy, of confidential diplomacy. We continued to exercise that during the shuttle. In fact, most of the shuttle meetings were not open to the press, so I don't think we're breaking any kind of tradition; or even recent activity by deciding not to open it to a press conference. I don't think that's going to be possible.

But if there are other ways that we can, at least, get you briefings or make some of these people available, I will try to do that. I just need to talk to the people who are going to be participating to see what their druthers are. We need to think about how we want to handle it.

I hear what you're saying. It's duly noted, and I will see what we can do.

Q Nick, there are a few reports out there that the Syrians have said they will not come if there is an open photo opportunity with the Israelis. Can you comment on that?

MR. BURNS: I've not heard that. It's the first I've heard of it.

Q The Syrians have not told you that?

MR. BURNS: Not to my knowledge. I don't have perfect knowledge of everything the Syrians tell us, but I haven't heard it.

Q On the same narrow subject, which is the reaction of the Arab world to the U.S. recent foreign policy. Two questions.

One, have you heard directly from any Arab governments -- Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or others, or Egypt -- complaining about what they see as a lack of an even hand on the part of the United States?

And, two, does it disturb the U.S. Government to see some of the a hostile press comments in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt?

MR. BURNS: President Clinton, in his press conference which just concluded, gave a very long and very good answer to a question like that.

But, Jim, on your specific part -- the last part of it about comments from Egypt and other countries -- I would just note that both President Mubarak and Foreign Minister Moussa sent very warm congratulatory letters to the United States -- to President Clinton and Secretary Christopher -- after Secretary Christopher successfully brokered the cease-fire arrangement to protect Arab civilians and Israeli civilians in the Middle East. I would just note that as a fact.

Just building on the President's remarks, but his remarks are quite full, that you should judge us and other countries should judge us by our actions and by our effectiveness. We have been effective for a generation -- Republican administrations and Democratic administrations -- in the Middle East in representing ourselves, our national interests and in helping those countries move towards peace.

There's been no country in the world that has contributed more to peace in the Middle East than the United States. I think our record unassailable and speaks for itself.

Q Nick, did you happen to notice the Likud people are speaking now of reviving of settlement activity if they should win? I wonder if the State Department has an opinion on that subject?

MR. BURNS: On settlements?

Q Yeah, the possibility that if Likud wins, which isn't remote -- there is a possibility -- that they would then resume the settlements that both Labor and Likud have encouraged in past years?

MR. BURNS: Let me try to answer your question, Barry, without delving into the context of the Israeli elections, to what Mr. Netanyahu and Prime Minister Peres are saying.

We're aware of the comments made during the campaign. In the past, settlement activity has created a great deal of tension and it has been a complicating factor in the Middle East, and in relations between Israel and the Palestinians and others. We certainly believe that to be true.

I think it's also true that Israel and the Palestinians have decided to resolve this question, if they can, in the context of the final status talks which began last Sunday at Taba. So it's up to them now to resolve that problem, but it has been a matter of tension and complication in the past, certainly.

Q Well, at present, is it the U.S. view that that would have a negative effect if there were further settlements? Would that have a negative effect? Let's look at a U.S. viewpoint from the Secretary's hopes of broadening the peace accords.

MR. BURNS: What I'd like to avoid is commenting directly on what Mr. Netanyahu has said in the course of their campaign there, because if I answered your question, I'd be doing that. So I'd rather just take the step back that I did, Barry, and just say that our position is, it has been complicating and it has produced tension -- "it," being the matter of settlements. I think that's clear for all to see.

Q While we're at it, the point Jim raised, the outrage registered by Arabs over Israel's shelling near Qana, is that a complicating factor, too, in your efforts? Are you finding -- is it likely that it will be harder now to get the peace talks going because of Arab resentment over Israeli activities?

MR. BURNS: I don't think it needs to be. One of the points that we've been making about the Qana incident this week is that we need to look forward not backwards. The United Nations was looking backwards. We need to look forward.

We think that there is sentiment in Syria, in Lebanon, and in Israel -- good sentiment, positive sentiment -- that will be conducive to getting their peace talks going again. That may not happen before the Israeli elections are held on May 29, but it could possibly happen afterwards. That's what Secretary Christopher, in fact, was discussing with the three leaders -- Harawi, Assad, and Peres -- during the recent shuttle mission.

Not only do we want to have the cease-fire on shelling of civilians, we want to get going with the peace talks. That's a very important part of it.

We're not discouraged by some of the negative comments that we've heard or by the actions of the United Nations in that sense. We're not discouraged. We think we can move ahead. But we do believe that moving ahead is a lot better than moving backwards. Some of the countries wanted to take us backwards this week.

Q Prime Minister Peres and some others have been extremely annoyed at the United Nations actions in the investigation and even suggested that UNIFIL may have outlived its usefulness and should disappear. Does the U.S. Government take any view on whether UNIFIL is still effective and should be retained?

MR. BURNS: Our position is that UNIFIL has a responsibility and a role to play, and it should continue to play that role.

One of the problems -- to get to the first part of your question -- that we had is that the U.N. report did not take Israel's viewpoint, factor Israel's viewpoint fully into the report, as it should have done. It excluded mentioning Hamas in any kind of appreciable way. That was the problem we had. But I think that UNIFIL -- excuse me, not Hamas; Hizbollah.

I think that UNIFIL has a role to play and should continue to play it.

Q North Korea?

MR. BURNS: Yes.

Q U.S. and North Korea are in MIA talks in New York. What has been discussed in detail? And what can be achieved immediately during these talks?

MR. BURNS: I understand the talks have now been completed. They finished. I think the Department of Defense will have something to say about those talks later on this afternoon, probably around 5:00 this afternoon.

As you know, Jim Wold, our Assistant Secretary of Defense, led the U.S. delegation, so I think he'll have a statement to make that reflects what we concluded with the North Koreans during the talks, but I'm not in a position to give that to you. You'll have to wait a couple more hours for that.

David.

Q Do you have any kind of reaction to or response to Senator Dole's speech today on foreign policy, relating to Asia? He was quite critical of the Clinton Administration?

MR. BURNS: I don't have a reaction. I'll tell you why. I'm taking the pledge. The pledge is that from now until election day, as a Foreign Service officer, it's not appropriate for me to get involved in the campaign. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on Senator Dole's platform or his speech during the whole course of the campaign. So you'll have to go elsewhere for that. I think you understand the reasons why.

Q Could we look at that another way, though. Senator Dole has called on the United States to stop its talks with North Korea. Is the United States going to stop its talks with North Korea?

MR. BURNS: Patrick, if you can divorce yourself from the politics for a moment -- I know that's easy for both of us to do, perhaps not for everybody else in this town to do -- I just simply don't want to answer any questions in the context of the political campaign. Other people can do that. I'm a career civil servant. I'm not allowed to do that by law, and it's not appropriate for me to do it.

But I can tell you this: I and others will continue to defend the Administration's policy in Asia, and, if you'd like to ask a specific question on that, which is totally divorced from the speech this morning, I can do that.

Q Why are you talking to North Korea?

MR. BURNS: Why are we talking to North Korea? We had talks over the weekend about the POW/MIA issue -- more than 8,100 cases that need to be resolved.

Second, there's the Agreed Framework. I think one of the great accomplishments of the Administration is that we've been able to freeze a nuclear program that was under development.

Third, we obviously want to talk to them about peace on the Korean Peninsula, and that was the nature of President Clinton and Mr. Kim's proposal at Cheju Island last month.

Q New subject. Do you have a comment on the case of Yury Khadyka, the Belarusian opposition leader who's in jail on hunger strike and charged with organizing an anti-government rally?

MR. BURNS: Yes. I do have a comment to make on that. We looked into this -- I looked into it, because I happened to see a very prominent op-ed piece in one of our major papers this morning.

I can tell you in response to some of the charges made in that piece that the United States has repeatedly raised the issue of human rights violations in Belarus with officials of the Belarusian Government, both in Minsk and also officials of the Belarusian Embassy here in Washington.

We've expressed our strong concern over the government's handling of the recent demonstrations in Minsk; of its detention of Yury Khadyka and others involved in the protests in Minsk.

In March, we published our Annual Human Rights Report, and we criticized Belarus quite severely in the Human Rights Report for its restrictions on the freedom of assembly, for its crackdowns on the press in Belarus, and for its actions against free-trade unions. So we've not been a shrinking violet.

We've had some problems with the Government of Belarus. You may remember the outrageous shootdown of American balloons last summer in which American citizens died over Belarus.

We've been very upfront about our problems with the Belarusian Government, and I can also tell you in response to another part of the article that we in no way, shape or form have agreed or encouraged Belarus to seek any kind of a union with Russia. That's up to Belarus and Russia, but our view is that the break-up of the Soviet Union was a very good thing -- positive to see one country break into 15 -- and we prefer to see it remain that way.

Q Have you specifically raised the case of Khadyka, and when was the most recent communication?

MR. BURNS: We have raised the case of Yury Khadyka at several junctures, including quite recently. I can't give you a date, but, if you check with our people in the S/NIS office, they will be able to give you the date of the last demarche.

But the Belarusian Government knows of our concern about the human rights violations committed by the Belarusian Government.

Q Nick, the President of Panama announced that he will ask today that the U.S. military forces -- the presence of U.S. military forces between his country and Colombia for protection from guerrillas and narco-traffickers. Is the U.S. Government seriously considering this request?

MR. BURNS: Can I just be clear about the nature of the request itself? There are, of course, American forces in Panama, but is the question: Would we use those forces to help in the fight against narco- traffickers?

Q Yes, to be between Colombia and Panama.

Q Perhaps I can clarify what (inaudible). There was one story this morning in the wires saying that -- my understanding was that the U.S. was going to send forces to the border between Colombia and Panama to protect Panamanian territory from narco-traffickers and the guerrillas.

MR. BURNS: I'll have to take the question. I'm not aware of the report. I'm not aware that that has been something that has been proposed, but I'll be glad to take that question for you.

Q In yesterday's meeting, did Secretary Christopher raise any issue besides Kosovo with the Albanian Foreign Minister?

MR. BURNS: Yes. There was a good meeting with Foreign Minister Serreqi. They talked about Kosovo at some length because of the sensitivity of that issue right now.

They had a 45-minute meeting. They talked about the parliamentary elections upcoming and the situation in Kosovo. I would just say, Ron, for the record, because I know that you're interested in this, that the United States is a strong supporter of the ongoing process of consolidating democracy and the rule of law in Albania.

The Foreign Minister briefed the Secretary on preparations for the May 26 elections. He assured the Secretary that the elections would be free and fair, and the Secretary welcomed those assurances.

On the issue of Kosovo, the Secretary shared with the Minister our concern over the increased violence and tension in Kosovo and certainly reaffirmed strong American support for a political dialogue that would lead to a peaceful political solution that guarantees full human and political rights for the people of Kosovo.

The Secretary said that the Government in Belgrade would have to show substantial progress on Kosovo before the so-called outer wall of sanctions would be removed, at least by the United States.

The Secretary expressed his admiration for Dr. Rugovo, stressing that international sympathy for Kosovar Albanians was due in large measure to his efforts and to the strong support he's given to a peaceful resolution of disputes. So it was a very good meeting, and an excellent opportunity to exchange views and to make those points.

Steve.

Q Nick, different subject. Pro forma on ring magnets, is there a decision? But since I've got your ear, do you have anything from Shattuck or anyone else in the Rwanda-Burundi region about what's happening there -- government stability --

MR. BURNS: On the issue of ring magnets, we're still studying the issue. We're studying this issue very hard, and we're still engaged. We've been at it for a long time. We're still engaged in that.

On the issue of Burundi and Rwanda, John Shattuck is in Rwanda, along with Rick Bogosian, our Special Envoy. They're going to be there, I think, through tomorrow for discussions. They're trying to strengthen the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in Rwanda -- the efforts of Justice Goldstone, who also directs that Tribunal. We have been a strong supporter of it.

They'll have conversations with governments officials as well in Rwanda. Then they intend to move on to Burundi, to look into the very difficult situation there where there have been several reports of massacres of innocent civilians in Burundi. They'll go there together as a team.

On Burundi, Steve, I would say that the United States continues to deplore the continuing instability and violence which is being carried out by both Hutu insurgents and by the Tutsi militias. We share very much the strong concern of the U.N. Secretary General.

We support the efforts of the former President of Tanzania, Julius Neyere to try to convince all the parties to these talks to come to the negotiating table to resolve their differences there.

We do believe that it's important -- and we've been discussing this at the United Nations -- to do some contingency planning, should the situation in Burundi deteriorate further. As you know, there's been a Security Council resolution on that, and there's been work in the United Nations to prepare, in essence, for the worst, should the worst occur.

We're sending an interagency team from the U.S. Government to New York on Friday to participate in some discussions to make sure that the United States is giving full support to the efforts of the United Nations, to try to be helpful to reduce instability and violence in Burundi.

Q What is the worst that you mentioned? I mean, what does the United States foreign policy apparatus envision as the worst possible scenario?

MR. BURNS: There are many scenarios, but certainly right now there's an unacceptable level of political violence, of executions of innocent people by both insurgents and, unfortunately, by members of the military. We believe that it's important to look ahead, learning from what happened in the genocide of April 1994 in Rwanda, to look ahead and make sure that we are positioned to respond to a deterioration in the political situation, both with humanitarian support but also to put the U.N. in a position to field any kind of a force that it wished to field in the event of a very unstable situation.

In that event, I think the United States would be in the position of supplying logistics and transport and communications assistance. I don't envision that American troops would participate in any such contingency, but we certainly want to work with the U.N. and within the U.N. system to try to look ahead and make sure that we're prepared.

Hopefully, the situation will not deteriorate to such an extent where that is necessary, and that's one of the reasons why we've sent two of our senior officials to Bujumbura and Kigali this week.

Q Mr. Burns --

MR. BURNS: Yes.

Q Mr. Burns, I trust you have seen this report in the Baltimore Sun. Nineteen members of U.S. Congress and House of Representatives and the Senate have benefited from campaign contributions made by an Indian- American businessman who received money from the Indian Embassy, from a minister in the Indian Embassy.

Since this is conduct unbecoming of the diplomatic mission, although the officer concerned has since been transferred to India and is a senior police official in the State of Rajasthan, I would like to know what action has the State Department taken or is planning to take, and has the Indian Embassy -- the Ambassador been called in? Has a protest been made? Whatever has been done? Thank you.

MR. BURNS: I can say two things very briefly. First of all, the case reported in the Baltimore Sun today is a criminal case, and therefore I have to refer you on that aspect of the case to the Department of Justice.

On the diplomatic side of this -- diplomatic aspect of it -- we have contacted the Indian Embassy here in Washington and expressed our very strong concern about this particular case.

David.

Q Did you get anything today on the level at which the meeting will take place next week, Tuesday, on Bosnia?

MR. BURNS: The Federation Forum meeting?

Q The Federation Forum meeting.

MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher will --

Q I'm sorry. You've already said all this, haven't you.

MR. BURNS: Yes. He will participate and host the meetings for the United States. We'll have the Federation President and we'll have the Vice President, Mr. Ganic, and we'll have the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Q The President of the United States is not going to drop by or anything like that, is he?

MR. BURNS: I can't exclude that possibility, but I'm not aware of any plans to do so. So on that, I'll -- I will let you know as we go along. We've not completed the planning for this, and I can't exclude any possibility like that. But we're not now counting on it, and I think that the Secretary will be the person who hosts the meeting.

Still on this?

Q A one-day meeting? Is this a one-day meeting?

MR. BURNS: Yes, it's going to be a one-day meeting.

Sid.

Q A quick one on the former Yugoslavia. The USIA office is Pristina was announced when the Secretary was in Belgrade. Is that -- are you preparing to open that now?

MR. BURNS: We are preparing to open it, exactly. We have identified an officer and now need to move that officer and his personal effect to Pristina, to take up residence there. Again, the point here is that Secretary Christopher feels -- and feels personally and quite strongly -- it's important to have an American presence in Kosovo. Although this will not be a formal consulate or a liaison office, it will be an American presence in a place that is tense and that deserves the attention of the international community.

Q And is that something that Milosevic agreed to do in the meeting with Kornblum -- agreed to do again or to honor a previous commitment?

MR. BURNS: President Milosevic made this commitment to Secretary Christopher when we were in Belgrade in February, and he reaffirmed it to John Kornblum just a couple of days ago.

Q And as a result, you're now scrambling to -- you're not scrambling, but you're now moving to open it, because he's given you the final go-ahead.

MR. BURNS: No. We had always -- no, it didn't require the second conversation. We had a go-ahead from the Serb Government in February. We've been moving towards it, and it will happen soon, but we weren't waiting for some kind of second approval.

Q This is just a USIA operation. There won't be any foreign -- can you describe what they'll be doing there?

MR. BURNS: Yes. The person will be a Foreign Service Officer, certainly, and the intent will be to maintain an American presence there, people-to-people contacts, our cultural programs, but certainly also to have this person report on the political situation there and to make sure that Washington -- those of us here in Washington -- have a firsthand appreciation of the situation in Kosovo.

Q And just one more. You say this will be a Foreign Service Officer. This won't be someone who works perhaps for another agency in this town?

MR. BURNS: I understand it will be a Foreign Service Officer.

Betsy.

Q Nick, you said that Defense was going to do a briefing this afternoon on the talks with North Korea.

MR. BURNS: Yes.

Q But can you give us any of the highlights of what they -- were any decisions taken? Are there further talks?

MR. BURNS: We've decided since the Defense Department headed the U.S. delegation, the Defense Department would make the announcement. I think what you'll see is there will be a statement issued, and there will be an explanation of what happened during the last couple of days. The issue is POW/MIAs.

Q Nick, going back to this Sun story. Congressman Dan Burton had written a letter to Secretary of State, raising this very subject in support of a Democratic Congressman from New Jersey, Bob Torricelli. So he was seeking intervention of the Secretary of State to protest to the Indian Government and raise this issue with the Indian Government. Has there been any action on that letter?

MR. BURNS: I don't know about the particular letter, but I think I answered your colleague's previous question by saying the United States has expressed its strong concern to the Government of India -- here through the Indian Embassy in Washington.

Q Thank you.

MR. BURNS: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:53 p.m.)

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