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

.
U.S. Department of State
96/05/29 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman


                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                           DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
                                I N D E X 

                         Wednesday, May 29, 1996

                                             Briefer:  Nicholas Burns

ANNOUNCEMENTS
   CUBA:  US Sends Advisory Letters to Foreign Companies
      Pursuant to Title IV of the Libertad (Helms-Burton) Act
      re Trade w/ Cuba .......................................  1-2    
   -  Next Steps; Goal of Legislation ........................  2      
   LIBERIA: US Welcomes ECOMOG Deployment in Monrovia ........  3       
   NIGERIA:  A/S John Shattuck Arrival in Lagos for Discussion
      of Human Rights ........................................  3       
   A/S Moose Travel to Africa to Discuss BURUNDI Crisis ......  3       
   UK Foreign Secretary Rifkind in Washington ................  3       

CUBA
   Helms-Burton Implementation, Advisory Letters:
   -  Potential US Entry Denial of Foreign Company Officials    4-5,8,10 
   -  Number of Letters Mailed, Countries Affected; Potential
        Future Mailings ......................................  4,6-8    
   -  Criteria Used to Determine Recipient Companies .........  5,7-8    
   -  Response Options for Affected Companies.................  5-7,11   
   -  CANADA Intent to Use Chapter 20 of NAFTA to Appeal .....  6        
   -  Comparison With Secondary Arab Boycott of ISRAEL: ......  9-10     
   -  Suppression of Democracy, Shootdown of Civil Aircraft ..  9-10     
   -  Readout of US-CANADA-MEXICO Meeting 5/28/96 ............  11       

NIGERIA
   Focus of Shattuck Visit; Abacha Meeting Not Envisioned ....  11       

BURUNDI
   Prospect of UN Action; US Support for Such Action .........  11-12    
   Purpose of Assistant Secretary Moose Travel ...............  12       

NORTH KOREA
   Readout from Congressman Richardson's Travel to Pyongyang .  12-14    
   -  Assessment of Famine Conditions ........................  13       
   Consultations w/ JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA on Additional Food Aid   15-16    

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
   Milosevic Belgrade Mtg; Alleged Karadzic and Mladic
      Participation ..........................................  14       
   -  Consequences of Milosevic Noncompliance ................  14-15   
   -  Procedures for Reimplementing Sanctions on SERBIA ......  15       

IRAQ
   Potential US Commercial Purchase of Iraqi Oil .............  16      

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #84

WEDNESDAY, MAY 29, 1996, 2:01 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have a couple of announcements to make, and then I'll be glad to go to your questions.

The first concerns the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996, the so-called Helms-Burton Act.

The Department of State today sent out advisory letters to several foreign companies to advise them that their activities involving confiscated American properties in Cuba may bring them within the purview of Article IV -- Title IV, excuse me -- of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, the Helms-Burton legislation.

Title IV provides for the denial of visas to the United States and the exclusion from the United States of any foreign national who the Secretary of State determines is a person who, after March 12, 1996, confiscates or traffics in confiscated property in Cuba, a claim to which is owned by an American citizen.

The advisory letters will not result at this time in exclusion from the United States of individuals associated with the companies which receive the letters. The letters merely inform the recipients about the provisions of Title IV and their potential impact on individuals associated with the companies if they are determined to have been engaged in this trafficking.

The advisory letters were sent as part of the Administration's continuing efforts to fully and openly implement the provisions of the Helms-Burton legislation.

We will soon be publishing guidelines on Title IV implementation which will explain in greater detail the criteria we will be using and the procedures we will be following in making determinations of confiscation and of trafficking under the Act. Such determinations will only be made after the guidelines have been published and additional information on possible confiscation has been collected and reviewed in accordance with these guidelines.

We expect to be making determinations fairly soon. And if the information warrants, certainly by the end of June.

Let me just explain, because I know there's a great deal of interest. There is a process here. Today's action in sending these letters to certain foreign companies is the first step in this process.

The second step will be the issuance -- the public issuance -- of guidelines for foreign companies and others -- foreign countries -- on the provisions of Title IV.

The third step, following the issuance of those guidelines -- and I think this will all be rolled out over the next month or so -- will be that the United States will determine that certain individuals are not welcome in the United States, will not be able to obtain visas or use their existing visas for travel to the United States if it can be determined that those individuals fall under the purview of Title IV. So that is how the process will unfold.

Let me just tell you, the statement that I have read will be available to all of you in the Press Room after this briefing. I'm going to attach to that statement for you the generic letter that we have sent out today. It won't have the individual names on it but it will be the text of the letter that we sent to these companies.

Let me also tell you that we are not going to be publishing the identity of the companies and the individuals to whom we have sent these letters. We will not be publishing any kind of a list of people, so-called "black list." I know some of you have asked me about that before. We're not going to do that because we want to carry out the provisions of this act with all due respect for the individuals concerns -- for their rights to privacy. Certainly, I think consistent with the commitments that we have made to some of our allied governments -- our friendly governments -- around the world, particularly Canada and Mexico, both of whom have individuals in companies who will be affected by this act.

Let me also remind you that the overriding focus of our Administration in implementing this Act will be to maximize the pressure on Fidel Castro and on the Cuban Government and to minimize the pressure and the effect of this legislation, as we can do so, on our friendly governments around the world, but particularly friendly governments here in North America.

I'll be glad to take questions on this as soon as I just run through the other announcements. I won't read this, but I do have a statement today on Liberia which welcomes the deployment of the ECOMOG forces throughout Monrovia.

Finally, after several months of very intensive fighting, we have some good news in Liberia, and that is that the fighting has stopped in Monrovia. The ECOMOG forces have deployed throughout Monrovia, including in the district where the United States Embassy -- the only remaining Embassy in Monrovia -- is located. The United States fully supports what ECOMOG has done. There's a statement available to you if you're interested.

A third statement available after the briefing concerns John Shattuck, our Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He arrived in Lagos today for two days of discussions with the Nigerian Government and with others in Nigeria -- a broad cross-section of people outside the government -- about the human rights situation there.

You know that the United States is deeply concerned about the political situation in Nigeria; most importantly, the human rights situation, the denial of human rights to a broad cross section of the population there.

Assistant Secretary Shattuck is there to make inquiries, to talk to people about the current situation, and certainly to press home our point of view that democratic government should be returned to Nigeria.

I also want you to know -- and there's a statement to this effect in the Press Room -- that Assistant Secretary of State George Moose has departed Washington for Paris, Nairobi, Tanzania, Kigali, Bujumbura, and Kampala for a trip through those African countries, in addition to visiting Paris, to discuss key issues about the on-going crisis in Burundi. That is available to you as well.

Finally, I want to let you know that the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Malcolm Rifkind, is in Washington. He is here as the guest of Secretary Christopher. Secretary Christopher will be attending a dinner for him this evening at the British Embassy hosted by the British Ambassador. Tomorrow, Secretary Rifkind will be the guest of the Secretary at a lunch here in the Department. I believe all of you will have a chance to see them both together at a photo opportunity before that meeting. That's, I think, at about 11:15/11:30 tomorrow morning.

So with that, George, I'll be glad to go to your questions.

Q On the Helms-Burton, Canadians don't need visas but I take it that officers from offending companies, so to speak, can be denied entry to the United States under this legislation, right?

MR. BURNS: That's right. If a Canadian citizen were to fall under this Act, if we were to identify a Canadian citizen, or any group of Canadian citizens, that they were going to be affected by this Act, we would let them know as well as the Canadian Government that they would not be able to enter the United States.

I think you know, after having read the provisions of the bill, this would be the CEOs of firms, some of the major shareholders, depending on the decision made about a particular company and the minor children of those individuals.

Still on Helms-Burton? Still on Helms-Burton.

Q You say you cannot give us the names, but at least can you give us the number of companies for each country? For example, Mexico and Canada?

MR. BURNS: I can tell you that there are a handful of letters sent out. A handful in my parlance would be single digits; less than 10. In fact, a very few number of letters were sent out.

They were sent to companies in three separate countries. I can't foreclose the possibility that additional companies will fall under the purview of this legislation as we issue our guidelines very shortly and as we then make the concrete decisions to exclude people from the United States.

I do want to remind you that the action today is not an action to exclude any particular person beginning today. It is really an advisory letter to them to explain quite fully -- and you'll see that the letter does this -- the provisions of the law as we understand them.

Yes, Carol.

Q If you were to determine -- if the government were to determine that a particular company were, indeed, in violation, would you have to exclude the CEOs, the major shareholders, and their dependents, or could you now or in a little bit say the CEO and the major shareholders and still let the kids in?

MR. BURNS: If we do identify a company as having traffic -- and that's the word of the legislation -- in nationalized property of an American citizen, then we would have to apply the full measure of the law. We couldn't include the individual for coverage and then exclude, on any basis, the minor children. I do believe it would be the responsibility of the Administration, as we read the law that was written by the Congress, to take that step.

I do want to emphasize one point here. We are talking about situations -- not of companies that invest in Cuba -- but companies that invest in assets and who own assets that were once American property, and that were illegally and unfairly taken from American citizens when they were nationalized by the Castro government in the early years of the Cuban revolution, and for which those Americans did not receive compensation.

Normally, in a process like this, when nationalization occurs, the individual who owns the assets -- who owns the factory or the plant, or whatever it is -- receives compensation from the government that has nationalized the property. We're only talking here about instances where that did not occur; where the property was nationalized by the Cuban Government and then transferred or sold to a foreign company and where the American company or citizen or family, or whatever it was, did not receive compensation.

There's a distinction I want to make. This law does not pertain -- Title IV -- does not pertain to Canadians, for instance, who have invested in Cuban properties where there was no American connection. It only talks about companies where there was an American connection and where the American was unfairly treated.

Q Nick, if these companies, who received letters today, came back and said, "Okay, we will compensate the Americans in some way for this property." Would that be a satisfactory resolution to this?

MR. BURNS: I'd have to see. I don't know the specific answer to that question. It's an interesting proposition. I just have to see, and I'd have to actually ask our experts to look into that. Again, it would depend how the law is written. We are not free agents here. We have to implement American law as drafted and passed by the U.S. Congress.

Q So the lawyers have been pouring this for weeks now, so somebody must have an idea?

MR. BURNS: They have. Someone may already know the answer. I'm just not intelligent enough to be able to give it to you right now but I will try. I'll go back and ask that question. It's a fair question.

Q The Canadian Government, after meeting with the USTR yesterday at the White House, they plan to use Chapter 20 of NAFTA. How do you respond to this advice from the Canadian Government to use Chapter 20 of NAFTA to appeal the decision that you just mentioned?

MR. BURNS: First, let me make clear that Secretary Christopher takes very seriously his commitment to Minister Axworthy that the United States would remain in close contact with the Canadian Government throughout this whole affair. I believe we've done so. They had a discussion of it when they met over lunch last month. We have been in close communication with the Canadian Government. We understand we have an obligation to do that, and we undertake that freely.

We do want to minimize the impact here of this legislation on Canadian citizens. I don't believe it will be possible to make this error-free. I think that some Canadians are going to fall under the application of this act, understanding, as we do, the pattern of Canadian investment in Cuba.

I would just say finally in direct answer to your question, we disagree. We believe that this law is consistent with international law. We've made that case to Canada and other countries.

Henry.

Q You've talked about limiting and minimizing the effects of this law and talked about a handful of people, and you've said that is less than ten. But isn't it correct that the framers of this law -- of the legislation -- provided a list of a wide number of countries, and that indeed it is known in the State Department that in the case of Canada, for example -- although this would apply to any other foreign country -- the list is inevitably going to get into the figures of 30 and 40 in Canada, maybe similarly in Mexico, and whatever; that this advisory letter going to Canada today, we understand there's just one, is only the first tip of the wave, and that you would be telling us today that there are many, many more to come.

MR. BURNS: Very helpful, Henry --

Q I thought so --

MR. BURNS: -- to lead me along like that. I appreciate it. Basically, I think you are correct to say that there are a limited number of issues -- letters issued today, and I said that. I think you cannot exclude the possibility that we would send out other letters to an additional number of countries, and that the group may be larger than the three reported in the press this morning. I think that would be a fair assumption to make.

Q It would also be a fair assumption that since you have frequently told us at the State Department that this is the law of the land, and you are going to deal with that as such. But any Canadian company that is in violation will receive a letter of this kind; that you're not going to cherry pick.

MR. BURNS: What I can't do is give you a list of companies which will receive these letters. I don't want to give names. I think you can assume that we will fairly but comprehensively undertake the implementation of this law. That's our responsibility to the law.

Let me just also point out if a company wanted to divest itself of property which had been expropriated from an American citizen, it can certainly do so. And, if it did so, then it would not fall under the purview of this Act; and, as you know, there is a recent example of this.

The CEMEX Company has informed the State Department -- this is a Mexican company that deals in concrete -- has informed the State Department that CEMEX has decided to end its involvement with the confiscated American property in Cuba. We, needless to say, believe this is a very sound decision on CEMEX's part, and I would refer you to CEMEX for a detailed explanation of why it made the decision, but CEMEX will not fall under the application of this law, because it will divest itself.

That, I think, goes to a larger point here. We understand that there has been a great deal of confusion in Canada and Mexico and in parts of Europe about this law. We've tried our best to try to overcome that confusion by being open and straightforward with the governments and companies involved, and that's one of the reasons why we issued the letter.

We think it will be a positive move and a very positive step forward if more companies made the decision that CEMEX made, and if they now divested themselves of this kind of nationalized property.

Q But that still avoids the issue here, which is indeed that there are many, many more companies going to be receiving these advisory letters, and that that decision has already been made here at the State Department -- that sending out the first is only the ones that were the most obvious, but more are coming.

MR. BURNS: I think you can assume that. I'm not trying to avoid that. I think that that's a fair assumption to make.

Q Will we be informed when more letters go out?

MR. BURNS: I will be glad to do that, yes.

Q How much time do the companies (inaudible) from Cuba.

MR. BURNS: Excuse me?

Q How much time do they have to get out of Cuba?

MR. BURNS: The Act was passed, signed to law on March 12th of this year -- 1996 -- and, as I said in my introductory statement, I would think that we would come to the end of this process by the end of June, meaning that we would have to begin to make decisions on who would not be able to travel to the United States -- which of the representatives of these companies.

I think if they want to avoid any application of the law, they then have about a month. If they subsequently at any time in the future divest themselves of confiscated property, then, of course, the provisions of the law would no longer apply to them.

Q This brings up the question, what do you mean "trafficking"? Does this mean owning property that were formerly owned by U.S. interests, or do more than owning. Do you have to invest actively? I'd like to know what you mean by "trafficking."

MR. BURNS: "Trafficking" is a technical term. It's used in the law. I use it here as a technical term. Essentially, to be very general about it and generic about it, it means that you own the assets, and that your company controls the assets -- whether it's a plant or any other kind of physical asset -- financial asset that was confiscated from an American citizen. Henry.

Q Foreign Secretary Rifkind wrote an article in The Washington Post, which I am certain the State Department is aware of, and he's delivering a speech, even as we're speaking, at the National Press Club, where he says that when the United States invited other nations to join them in the anti-Arab boycott procedure -- you remember when Arab nations were asking for a boycott of Israeli goods -- that that was a wrong decision, and nations did join and assisted the United States in that area.

He says that there is no difference in the two, and undoubtedly he'll tell the Secretary of State that tomorrow. But just for our edification, what is the difference between the secondary boycott on that occasion and the secondary boycott the United States is attempting to do now?

MR. BURNS: I think we do have a difference of opinion with the U.K. and with Canada and other countries, and there's no reason to hide that. I think what we want to do is try to minimize the impact of that difference on our bilateral relations and to be fair to the citizens of Canada and the U.K. and other countries who want to try to explain to them in as full detail as we can the provisions, so they can make their own decisions.

The difference is this: The United States, of course, has had a problem with Cuba for going on 36 years now, and that problem is only 90 miles off our shores. Castro took in February and March of this year two decisive actions that I think turned the tables in the United States but certainly within this Administration on Helms-Burton legislation.

Number one, Castro cracked down further on democracy activists within Cuba -- the Concilio Cubano;

And, number two, he shot down two unarmed Cessnas over international waters and four American died.

This is both an issue of international politics and law -- the violation of international law by the Cuban Government -- and also an emotional issue in the United States. I think you would understand that that incident -- the shootdown of the two Cessnas, the murder of four Americans -- I think tipped the balance in the United States Congress, within this Administration, and among the American people about how we ought to deal with Castro.

Our view is he ought to be further isolated. His isolation should be reinforced, and we would call upon our allies to understand what happened -- to understand American sensibilities and sensitivities, as well as your own -- and to join us in tightening the sanctions on Cuba so that the last remaining dictatorship in our hemisphere might one day become a democracy.

Q But all the nations involved have agreed that the actions of Cuba are as you described them, but I want to take you back to the Israeli balance that Mr. Rifkind is talking about. When the Arab nations asked for a boycott of Israel, the United States, in the forefront, lobbied all the foreign nations -- many of which are now facing the Helms-Burton bill -- and asked for their support, and everybody agreed secondary boycotting was not the correct international procedure. Now you have turned it around.

MR. BURNS: It's one thing to protect a democracy -- Israel -- against an unwarranted boycott. It's quite another to choose to protect a totalitarian dictatorship against a boycott. We are engineering a boycott here, but we're doing so because we understand what the nature of the Castro regime is. It's a brutal authoritarian dictatorship that has victimized its own people; has also now victimized American citizens.

It is a tough step to take the kind of decisive action that we have taken, and sometimes I think other countries may not feel the same compelling urge that we do. But we would ask you to understand it. We would ask our critics in Europe and in Canada and Mexico to understand it. What is motivating the President and the leadership of the Congress, Republican and Democratic, to take this step. It's the outrageous actions of a dictatorship. That was not the case with Israel. Israel's a democracy, and there is, I think, a very profound distinction.

Moving on. Are we moving on, away from Helms-Burton or--

Q Helms-Burton, still. Will the provisions apply to state-owned companies?

MR. BURNS: The provisions will apply to any companies that traffic in American-confiscated assets -- state-owned or privately owned.

Q In that case, we maybe could see a foreign official being denied a visa of entry to the United States?

MR. BURNS: We'll just have to see. I don't know what state-owned company you're referring to. We'll just --

Q The reference is to ---

MR. BURNS: We'll just have to see what unfolds over the next couple of weeks. We are encouraged that a Mexican company has made a decision to divest. We think it's a very positive and sound step.

Q In terms of a meeting that was held yesterday between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, can you tell us anything about it? Any results in that meeting? Did the Mexicans and Canadians express their concerns, or did they let you know what they're going to do to face this problem?

MR. BURNS: The meeting yesterday concerned a variety of issues, but, obviously, given the importance of this issue -- centrally this issue, the Helms-Burton legislation and its implementation. I can't report to you fully on it, because that would betray the confidentiality of the meeting. But, certainly, I think both Canada and Mexico in the persons of their Foreign Ministers have made clear publicly their opposition to this law, and we have made clear our support for the law.

Still on Helms-Burton?

Q No, Nigeria.

MR. BURNS: Fine.

Q Will there be any meeting with Abacha during that time? What is the focus of the meeting?

MR. BURNS: I don't think that John Shattuck will be meeting with Abacha. I don't think he would turn down a meeting. I just don't think that Mr. Abacha is interested in a meeting.

The focus of the trip is to try to get a first-hand account and feel for the human rights situation in Nigeria by our leading human rights official, John Shattuck; and he's going to talk to people within the government but also, very importantly, people outside the government, including those who are democrats.

Q Can I ask about Burundi? There seems to be an awful lot of diplomatic activity concerning Burundi. George Moose is doing that issue non-stop, it seems. Has the situation changed at all with respect to the prospect of some sort of U.N. action?

MR. BURNS: There hasn't been a change. I think that the United Nations has done contingency planning. In the event that there is a humanitarian crisis in Burundi that warrants international action, the United Nations wants to be ready. The United States supports that. We've participated in the discussions about a possible U.N. force.

Again, I'd just remind you, we have said that we would contribute logistics and communications and support to -- including lift -- to any kind of U.N. mission but would contribute American troops. American troops are otherwise engaged in the world at this point.

Assistant Secretary Moose's current trip follows up his own trip and Tony Lake's trip, and it's meant to look into a very, very grave situation, where there are continued reports of massacres of several hundreds of people over the weekend in Burundi.

We're concerned about it, and we think that the United States and Britain and France and the other countries that have some influence in that part of the world need to exercise it, and we're doing it in concert with those countries.

We are trying to support the central efforts of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, who is trying to mediate a solution to the political problems of these various factions in Burundi.

Q So if the situation is that grave, why not volunteer some American troops?

MR. BURNS: The United States has to decide on a case-by-case basis when we deploy American troops to any given area. We have upwards of 25,000 American troops in Bosnia. We've just completed the withdrawal of American troops from Haiti, and we have to decide where we have comparative advantage, where we can have the greatest impact.

In this particular situation, the United States believes and has told the United Nations that we will support it; that we will provide assistance. Some of the assistance, for instance, the lift, probably only we can provide, but we're not willing to put troops in right now. Others will be willing to put troops in.

In any kind of international effort, you've got to have a sense of team work, and we'll bring to it what we can.

Q Nick, on North Korea. Have you gotten any fuller readout today from Richardson, and have you made any progress in trying to schedule some sort of a briefing for North Korea to answer continual questions about the four-party talks?

MR. BURNS: As Glyn said yesterday, Congressman Richardson, I think, did a very valuable service to all of us by traveling to Pyongyang. As you know, he went with an American Foreign Service Officer, a State Department official. It was a private trip, but it had support of the U.S. Government.

He did talk to his interlocutors at the Vice Foreign Minister level in Pyongyang about the four-party proposal. We are hopeful that the North Korean Government will accept the proposal and join us and the Republic of Korea and China in a discussion to try to find peace on the Korean peninsula.

Right now we have not had a commitment from the North Koreans that they will do so, but we hope that's forthcoming.

He also talked about the food situation in North Korea with the officials there, and he made a trip north of Pyongyang to look at some of the countryside and try to assess for himself, obviously on a just episodic basis, what the food situation is like. I think he came back with some concerns.

We are now awaiting the full report of the World Food Program and U.N. team that came back just in the last couple of weeks from North Korea. We've made no decisions to provide additional food aid, but we, of course, also retain the option of helping an international effort to do so. I think we're awaiting, probably just in the next ten days or so, the full report of the World Food Program team.

Q Richardson certainly seemed -- at least his public comments -- certainly seemed to boost the case for food aid to North Korea. What do you think of it?

MR. BURNS: I saw those public comments myself, and I think, as you know, the preliminary reports on the team -- the World Food Program team -- that went to North Korea was that there is a food crisis, and that there is a very difficult situation for many people in North Korea.

We have contributed in the past. We will now await any kind of international appeal made by the United Nations and the WFP, and we'll make our decisions based on that appeal.

Q Did nothing specific come out of this trip? To the extent that they talked about the four-party talks, and you have said publicly, we're willing to do some sort of a joint briefing for North Korea -- you talked to them about this issue -- did he not say, "Do you want this briefing? When do you want to set it up?" Did no one get that specific?

MR. BURNS: He had good and detailed conversations with them. I don't think it's in our interest to unveil that entire conversation publicly.

It's up to the North Koreans to decide if they want to engage on this four-party proposal. We think it's a good proposal after 46 years of lacking a peace agreement on the Korean Peninsula. We think it should happen.

We are ready to brief with the ROK. We're ready to have any kind of talks, on a preliminary basis, that they want without conditions so they can feel ready to accept this offer. We hope they do accept the offer.

Laura.

Q Two days ago there was a meeting in Belgrade, or just outside of Belgrade, that was called by President Milosevic. In attendance were many members of the Bosnian Serb leadership, including Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Are you aware that that meeting took place? Has anyone talked to President Milosevic to determine why he did not arrest the two indicted war criminals?

MR. BURNS: I think the second question is a good question. We don't know if Karadzic and Mladic attended this meeting. We know that Krajisnik and Plavsic attended the meeting, but we don't know about the indicted war criminals.

If they attended the meeting, then obviously President Milosevic had an obligation to arrest them. If they attended the meeting and he did not arrest them, then he's in violation of the Dayton Accords; a point that has already been made to him by John Kornblum, will be made to him by John Kornblum on Friday and Saturday when they meet. It will be made to him by Secretary Christopher when they meet in Geneva on Sunday.

Q This is the second time in two weeks that -- at least with Ratko Mladic -- that he would have been present and in a position to be arrested. Are there no consequences to Milosevic's lack of action on this, and to just keep saying he's in violation of Dayton when there doesn't appear to be any consequence attached to his non-compliance?

MR. BURNS: Two points: One is, we cannot confirm that Karadzic was in Belgrade over the weekend. We've seen the press reports. We are now asking the question, but we've not be able to confirm independently that he was there. So I really can't concede the first point yet.

The second point is that Serbia in violation of the Dayton Accords and has been for some time. Serbia knows what the ultimate penalty is -- the retention of the "outer wall" of sanctions, the reimposition of, if you will, the "inner wall" of sanctions; the more broadly-based sanctions that will really hurt if reimposed on the Serbian Government. That decision can be made at any time by Carl Bildt, by Admiral Smith. Certainly, at the urging of the United States if we feel it's appropriate.

We've decided to give them additional time to see if they can come into compliance. But, believe me, if in the final analysis they're not in compliance, we do reserve the right to take the final step of reimposing sanctions.

Q The sanctions are not reimposed by the Security Council? They're reimposed by --

MR. BURNS: But at the instigation and at the call of the people on the ground -- the military commander, Admiral Smith of IFOR, and Carl Bildt.

Q They ask the Security Council to reimpose it or there's a mechanism --

MR. BURNS: Actually, they have a mechanism available to themselves to make this decision. Of course, they're going to do that in concert with a variety of governments, including the United States Government.

Q There doesn't have to be a vote?

MR. BURNS: I can check that for you, Sid, just to be absolutely sure. I don't believe so.

Q Going back to North Korea food aid. When you make the decision, are you going to be consulting with South Korea and Japan, or are you going to just inform them? Do you think that because of the Cheju talks, you need to consult before you make the decision?

MR. BURNS: Should we face the decision of responding to an international appeal for additional food aid to North Korea, we would only do so after consultations with the Republic of Korea and Japan. We've made that commitment to them. We have a close relationship and would not want to go around that relationship.

Q What happens if the South Koreans will want you not to go ahead?

MR. BURNS: That's a hypothetical question. I don't answer hypothetical questions. We have a good relationship with the Republic of Korea. We have a good communication with the Republic of Korea.

Betsy.

Q Nick, has the decision been made yet whether U.S. companies can buy some of this Iraq oil which is going to be sold?

MR. BURNS: That decision is under discussion. That issue is under discussion in the Department. There was an important meeting on that here in the Department on Friday. A decision has not yet been made. It's not just a State Department decision, obviously. It's a decision that would also involve other U.S. Government agencies, including the White House.

I think we need to make that decision very soon, but it has not yet been made as far as I know.

Q Thank you.

(Press briefing concluded at 2:34 p.m.)

(###)

To the top of this page