U.S. Department of State 96/05/30 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, May 30, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Asst Secy Shattuck Travel to Nigeria ...................... 1 Acting Secy Kornblum Travel to Balkans, Geneva, Berlin; ... 1-2 Open US Cultural Center in Pristina (Kosovo) Asst Secy Moose Travel to Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire 2 Town Meeting, Dallas ..................................... 3 LIBYA Egyptian Inspection of Suspected Chemical Weapons Facility 3-5 at Tarhunah/US Position/Bringing Attention to Program/ Possible Other Sites/Egypt-Libya Relations/Egyptian Rpts to US on Facility/Notice to US of Inspection/Work With US Inspectors LEBANON/ISRAEL: Monitoring Talks ............................ 5-6 ISRAEL: Elections/Travel by Amb Ross ........................ 5-6 TURKEY: Changing Military Command Center for Operation ...... 6-7 Provide Comfort IRAQ: Mtg with Kurdish Leaders .............................. 7 GREECE/TURKEY: FM Mtg in Berlin Cancelled/Future Mtgs ....... 7, 8 ALBANIA: Election/Irregularities............................. 7-8 NATO: Next Week's Mtg in Berlin/Separate European Defense 8-9 Pillar/US Opinion/Enlargement Issue/Stand Against Aggression in Balkans BOSNIA Commitment to Bring Mladic & Karadzic to Justice/Secy Will 10 Raise Issue with Milosevic/Steps to Force Their Apprehension Value of Equip & Train Contract/Foreign Fighters Depart 10-12, 15 Before Services Rendered Soldiers in Turkey for Training/Similar Training in Other 14-15 Countries/Turkey Not Undercutting US Efforts Other Nations' Contributions to Equip & Train Effort ..... 16 Control of Funds for Equip & Train/Payment to Contractor . 17-18 CHINA Response to US on Arms Smuggling to US/Future Cooperation/ 12-13 Justice Dept Investigation/"Let Big Fish Off the Hook" KOREA Congressman Richardson's Mtgs in Pyongyang/Four Party .... 13, 18-19 Talk Proposal/Food Situation US Food Aid Contribution .................................. 18 MEXICO: Narcotics Cartel Leaders Untouched by Justice System ...... 16 ALGERIA Bodies of Murdered Trappist Monks Located ................ 16-17 KUWAIT: Robert Hussein Ltr to Secy Asking for Intervention .. 18
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, MAY 30, 1996, 1:15 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. We have some visitors today that we'd like to acknowledge. Mr. Sergey Nesterenko, who's a journalist from Ukraine; Mr. Uffe Riis Sorensen, who is an editor from Denmark -- he's sponsored by the USIA International Visitor Program; and members of the Elderhostel Program. They're currently studying at George Washington University. You're most welcome.
I have three things to tell you about the travels of three assistant secretaries.
First is that John Shattuck is in Abuja, Nigeria, today. He has had meetings with Nigerian Government officials, including the Legal Adviser of the Government of Nigeria and also the Foreign Minister of Nigeria.
There have been some misunderstandings about whether or not Assistant Secretary Shattuck was planning a meeting with General Abacha, and I can tell you that he is seeking a meeting with General Abacha. He would like very much to see him, and we have requested such a meeting, and we fully expect that such a meeting will take place, because we think it's important that John Shattuck have the opportunity to express personally to the leader of Nigeria our very great concerns about the human rights situation in Nigeria.
Second, I wanted to remind you that our Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs John Kornblum will be leaving Washington tonight for the Balkans. He'll be tomorrow in Zagreb and Belgrade for meetings with President Tudjman and President Milosevic, and on Saturday in Sarajevo for meetings with President Izetbegovic.
The purpose of his two-day trip to the region is to review the leading issues on compliance with the Dayton Accords with these three leaders before they all travel to Geneva on Sunday for their meeting -- their daylong series of meetings with Secretary Christopher in Geneva. I think you know that we are particularly concerned that Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia now dedicate themselves again -- rededicate themselves to compliance with the Dayton Accords. That will be the focus of the meeting on Sunday in Geneva.
Assistant Secretary Kornblum -- Acting Assistant Secretary Kornblum, I should say -- after he travels to Berlin for the NATO meetings with the Secretary, will remain in Europe when we return, and he will travel to Pristina in Kosovo to open the U.S. Cultural Center in Pristina.
You remember that when Secretary Christopher was in Belgrade in February, he secured the agreement of President Milosevic that the United States should have a continuing diplomatic presence in Pristina, in Kosovo, and the formal opening of our U.S. Information Center will be on Wednesday, and Acting Assistant Secretary Kornblum will preside.
Finally, George Moose, our Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, is in Tanzania today. He met with the former President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, and he expressed privately and publicly our very firm and full support for former President Nyerere's attempts to mediate an end to the crisis in Burundi.
Assistant Secretary Moose then went on to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where he had conversations with senior officials of the Rwandan Government. He has now arrived, I think just in the last hour or so, in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, where he's scheduled to meet with the President, the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister and the President of the Burundi National Assembly.
He's going to be emphasizing in the meetings in Bujumbura, as he did in Kigali and in Tanzania, our very strong support for the effort to mediate an end to the crisis. We are urging all parties in Burundi to agree to a cease-fire and to negotiations that will include all parties.
Assustant Secretary Moose will depart from Burundi tomorrow for Kinshasa, where he intends to meet with the Prime Minister of Zaire, Mr. Kengo. The purpose of this meeting -- and you'll remember that he met with both Prime Minister Kengo and President Mobutu 10 days ago -- the purpose is to urge that Zaire support President Nyerere's efforts for peace in Burundi, and specifically to urge that Zaire halt the arms flows through Zaire, to end the use of Zairean territory as a base for insurgent movements, and to continue Zairean support for a peaceful resolution of the political crisis in Burundi. So a very important trip by Assistant Secretary Moose and a very active agenda.
I will close the announcements by saying that our Town Meeting is underway in Dallas, Texas. It kicked off with a very good dinner with the business community last night. They have hundreds of people there today. Our Under Secretary of State Dick Moose is the keynote speaker, and Glyn Davies is also participating in that Town Meeting. It's the ninth town meeting of the 22 that we intend to hold this year, 1996.
Q Do you have anything to say about the Egyptian inspectors' claims that there's nothing menacing going on in that mountain southeast of Tripoli?
MR. BURNS: Tarhunah.
MR. BURNS: I think there is actually quite a lot to say about this today, and I'm glad you asked. We're very pleased that President Mubarak shares the very strong concerns of the United States about Libya's chemical weapons program. We're very pleased that Egypt has taken steps to address this problem, and we commend the efforts of President Mubarak and the Egyptian Government to look into it.
Obviously, we can't comment substantively on the reported inspection by the Egyptian experts, because we have not been briefed about the details -- the contents of their report, but we look forward to being briefed. We certainly understand the comment by President Mubarak that there were no chemical weapons at Tarhunah.
We never said there were chemical weapons at Tarhunah. We've never claimed that. We've never claimed it's an operational facility. What we have said -- what Secretary Perry has said and what others have said -- is that there's very good reason to believe that this facility is under construction for the purpose of harboring a chemical weapons program, and that is the purpose of the very mysterious construction underway at Tarhunah.
We remain skeptical that any inspection of the facility at Tarhunah -- still under construction -- that any inspection could establish that it will not be used for chemical weapons purposes. Unfortunately, we believe that the Libyan Government is intent upon building a chemical weapons capability.
We think that it wants to locate a chemical weapons program at Tarhunah. I think the Egyptian President and Government have done a very good thing by sending inspectors there. We look forward to their report. But we do believe that the root of the problem is the intent of the Libyan Government to use this facility for nefarious purposes.
Q Are you saying the Egyptians were hoodwinked?
MR. BURNS: Not at all. I'm saying the Egyptians did a very good thing by shining a very large international spotlight on this program, and perhaps Mr. Qadhafi -- Colonel Qadhafi -- will think twice now about trying to make this particular site operational. If that is the effect of the Egyptian action, then the Egyptian action will have been quite productive.
But I think Colonel Qadhafi should understand that we're going to continue to look very closely, using all means at our disposal, at this facility and at other spots in other locations in Libya where we believe he may intend to build a chemical weapons operational facility.
Q You're saying there's other places in Libya where you believe he's constructing --
MR. BURNS: I'm just saying we have a broad gaze as we look upon Libya, and we're not going to limit our gaze to one spot. He should know that it's not going to be possible for him to carry out under the cover of darkness or in some secret location or in the side of a mountain a chemical weapons development facility or an operational facility. He won't get away with that.
Q Do Egypt's close relations with Libya concern the United States at all?
MR. BURNS: Egypt is a neighbor of Libya. Egypt has a relationship with Libya. We understand that relationship. We have an ongoing conversation and have had for more than a decade with the Government of Egypt about that relationship. But I do want to limit my comments in that respect to, I think the very positive actions taken by President Mubarak.
Q You haven't heard anything from the Egyptians so far, in specifics, in terms of diplomatic communications?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe we have, and that limits me from commenting on exactly what the Egyptian inspectors saw. We are very interested in that, and we'd like to have a full report -- I'm sure we'll get it -- from the Egyptian Government.
Q Did the Egyptians let you know that they were going to do this inspection before it took place?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the answer to that question. I don't know if our Embassy was apprised -- Ambassador Walker was apprised beforehand of it. I can check.
Q The other question or the corollary would be, was there any effort by the United States, by U.S. experts, to sort of work with the Egyptians on what they should look for?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the answer to that question, but I can tell you that, obviously, since we have these very serious concerns about Libyan intentions, we have discussed them in the past, recent past with the Egyptian Government and others -- some of our European friends as well.
Q Same region, different subject. On the monitoring talks, what's the story with that?
MR. BURNS: What's the story with the monitoring talks?
Q I understand they were called off again today.
MR. BURNS: I didn't say that. Did you say that?
Q No, but I understood that.
MR. BURNS: You understood that.
Q Correct me if I'm wrong.
MR. BURNS: Obviously, I think the most relevant thing I can say is that we are realistic. We know, as the Secretary and the President both said today, that the election results are not final. All the ballots have not been counted in Israel. We are going to wait for the final accounting, the final decision, the confirmation of the victor, before we have anything significant to say on the Israeli elections or on other problems associated with our relations with Israel and Arab countries.
The Monitoring Group is a very important group, because it will be the group that is able to ascertain compliance with the accord negotiated by Secretary Christopher. Once the electoral situation in Israel clarifies and once there is a victor and a government is formed, then, of course, we'll want to proceed very quickly with that government on this question and a variety of other questions, but we're not in a position to do that.
So, of course, there will be no meeting today, and I wouldn't foresee a meeting until the situation clarifies in Israel.
Q And when -- I believe it was Glyn who announced it -- I mean, he was asked those types of questions, and he seemed -- he, reflecting the Administration's views, seemed quite confident that they could meet today, regardless of what was going on with the Israeli election.
MR. BURNS: Sid, I don't blame you for asking the question at all. I don't mean to -- it was a good question. The fact is that the elections, as the President said this morning -- the election results are very, very close, and no one is in a position to confirm a winner or a loser. Until that happens, it's not possible, obviously, for us to have negotiations on a very important topic like this, so we'll have to wait and be patient.
But I do want to say we are committed to going forward with the process of establishing this group, because the agreement is very important. The agreement is protecting hundreds of thousands of Israelis and Arabs on either side of the Lebanese-Israel border, and so it must be adhered to.
Q Is Dennis still planning to go to Israel?
MR. BURNS: I don't know that he has any plans to go in the next couple of days. I haven't heard him talk about that, and I've spent the better part of the morning with him.
Still on Israel? Any other questions on Israel and the Middle East? Israel is not really a big story today, right?
Q The Turkish Defense Minister was in town -- in Washington -- having certain meetings with Administration officials. "Operation Provide Comfort" was central to the discussions with the Administration officials.
Do you know if there has been a request to change the status and/or location of the military command center at Zakho?
MR. BURNS: I don't. I imagine that what we'll try to do as we talk to the Turkish Government about this issue is keep those discussions private. This is before, of course, the issue is brought before the Turkish parliament -- keep the discussions private.
We have a very active discussion underway with the Turkish Government on the question of "Provide Comfort." As you know, Minister Gonensay and Secretary Christopher had a good discussion of it last week. So I don't really have any details to share with you on that particular issue.
Q Is there any planned meeting with Mr. Talabani and Mr. Barzani? Is the U.S. Government planning any meetings in the coming weeks -- in the coming two weeks?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing to announce by way of meetings with the two of them. As you know, we've had a regular series of meetings -- not John Deutch, but Robert Deutsch -- has conducted a series of meetings with them in various places, including Ireland. I'm sure that those meetings will take place in the future, but I have nothing to announce, specifically.
Q As you know, the Greek Government decided to cancel the meeting between the Greek Foreign Minister and the Turkish Foreign Minister in Berlin. Do you have a reaction on that?
MR. BURNS: I don't. I think we'd rather maybe hear from the Greek and Turkish Governments, their perspective on that particular issue. I don't have a particular comment except to say, I'm sure there will be an opportunity for the Greeks and the Turks to continue talking about the many issues before them.
MR. BURNS: Albania, yes.
Q The elections and a lot of people saying there were irregularities. Is there any statement on that?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We continue to receive and assess reports from the people who have been on the scene, including the OSCE, including some non-governmental organizations from European countries and from the United States, including from the United States the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute. Both of those are American organizations.
We've expressed our very serious concerns to the Albanian Government about the irregularities in the elections reported by the OSCE, by our own Embassy, and by these other groups. We'll continue to raise those concerns with the Albanian Government.
We are urging, in the meantime -- the Albanian Government and others -- all the political parties, to exercise restraint, to avoid violence, and to try to resolve a resolution of their problems peacefully.
Q Nick, you just said you are sure Turkish and Greek officials will have an opportunity to come together and talk to these issues?
MR. BURNS: That was a generic statement.
Q Is this generic?
MR. BURNS: I just know that since the countries are fairly close together, as I remember my geography, and since, for instance, Greeks and Turks will be in a lot of meetings together in Europe in the coming weeks, it's a figure of speech. There will be an opportunity -- I didn't mean to imply that -- to slip under the rug any secret meetings that we may be aware of. I'm not aware of any secret meetings.
Q NATO. Can I change the subject? NATO.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Next week, NATO meetings will concentrate on internal reform of NATO structures, particularly deal with French desires to create a separate European defense pillar, as they call it, which would, in some respect, put some Americans under European control -- under European command. What is the U.S. take on this proposal? Is the U.S. going to vote for it in the NATO meetings?
MR. BURNS: This is one of those issues that you have to come on the trip to get the answer. Some of you have signed up, and there will be advantages to those who come on the trip.
Q And I'll be there, but I was trying to get --
MR. BURNS: Some people seated in the front row will be on that trip. I'm very pleased about that.
What we're doing right now -- and this is a typical in the run-up to our NATO meeting -- we are having private meetings in Brussels and we're having conversations in capitals with our NATO allies about the issues that will be joined next week about the communique that the NATO Foreign Ministers will issue from Berlin next Monday afternoon.
I don't want to go into the details of about those conversations. We'd rather present a united front in Berlin on Monday. Obviously, there are different points of view that are brought to some of the questions that you refer to, Judd. I'd just rather keep those differences, or even the points of view, behind closed doors at this point.
Q The U.S. does have an opinion, though?
MR. BURNS: Oh, we always have an opinion. We always have an opinion. We have very strong views on this issue. We think, as you know, NATO is the major core European security institution. It's the embodiment of the American presence in Europe. It confirms the United States as a European country, a European power, along with our NATO allies.
We want NATO to adapt to the changing post Cold-War world.
I know that some of the terms that will be used in Berlin may not sound exciting, but it's a very important undertaking to work through institutionally how NATO can transform itself so that it can continue to be relevant to all of our needs. This is a part of it. The enlargement question is another part of it.
As Secretary Christopher just told you upstairs, that issue will be discussed in the sense that there will be reports given but there will be no change in our position, that the enlargement issue should proceed gradually, but steadily towards its conclusion.
Q Nick, can I follow up? Can I ask the question in a different way?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Might some structure, similar to what the French are talking about, have been of use, say, four years ago in the Balkans?
MR. BURNS: Four years ago?
Q As an alternative to UNPROFOR, for example?
MR. BURNS: That's very hard to say. It's always tempting to try to assess what went wrong over the last four years in the Balkans. We know what went right. Peace came when NATO stood firmly against aggression last summer. I think that's the lesson that will endure for sometime.
Q Earlier, the Secretary answered a question concerning General Mladic and Mr. Karadzic, saying that there will be steps taken within the coming weeks and months that would encourage their departure. Can you give us an idea what you're planning, what some of the steps might be?
MR. BURNS: You wouldn't really expect me to give you an idea of those steps, would you?
Q Sure, sure. Try.
MR. BURNS: Let me just say very simply that we remain committed. You heard Secretary Rifkind and Secretary Christopher say this together, on the same sheet of music: "We remain committed to bringing these two individuals and the others -- more than 50 others -- to justice; that we will continue to impress upon President Milosevic and the Republic of Sprska officials that it's their responsibility to arrest these people and bring them to justice." Not that IFOR won't do it, if IFOR has the opportunity. But we know that Milosevic has the opportunity, and we know that others in Banja Luka and Pale have the opportunity. They ought to seize that opportunity and take it upon their own shoulders to fulfill this commitment from the Dayton Accords.
That's a very serious undertaking. One of the issues that the Secretary will raise with Milosevic on Sunday is this issue: The importance that Serbia come into compliance with this aspect of the Dayton Accords as well as all the others.
So, I think, what he was referring to was the fact that there will be a constant diplomatic drum beat for these parties to do what they have said they would do in upholding the Dayton Accords.
Q Nick, there's another way to read that comment, though, and that is that there is a plan of specific steps that the United States and its allies have in mind to try to force their apprehension. Is that taking his comments too far?
MR. BURNS: Probably. I think it is. I think that the Secretary's remarks were meant to be general. I heard them in a general way. I think they were certainly fully consistent with everything he has been saying and the rest of us have been saying for a good six months now about the war crimes issue.
Q Nick, the equip-and-train contract was selected yesterday. How much is that worth?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the dollar value at this point. That's a good question. I can check for you on that.
Q Who is paying for it? Is the American taxpayer, is it the Bosnian Government, is it --
MR. BURNS: As you know, the Administration has said that we would be willing to spend up to $100 million on this effort. That's not just for the contract. That's also hardware as well as the software that comes with the contract. I can check the figure on what sum the business group is getting and how it breaks down.
Q How much American money will be going to that, if you can get that?
MR. BURNS: Right. I just want to reaffirm to you probably what you already know. But just for everyone else who might not know it, this contract will not be executed. Services will not be delivered to the Federation until the Federation -- the Bosnian Government, in this case -- meets the obligation to remove or convince to leave the remaining handful -- very small number -- of foreign Islamic fighters who were present in Bosnia.
Q Is that written into the contract?
MR. BURNS: That is understood. It's understood by everybody. It's been the constant refrain of ours for six months now. They know. The Bosnian Government knows, the Federation Government knows that this contract will not be executed and fulfilled until all the foreign forces are out of Bosnia.
Q I assume there's some sort of export license that went with the contract. Is it part of the issuance of that export license?
MR. BURNS: Is what part of it?
Q That the foreign fighters have to go before this shadowy --
MR. BURNS: It's absolutely understood by President Izetbegovic and by all other officials of the Bosnian Government that they won't see a penny of the money, and they certainly won't see any equipment, until the foreign fighters are out. Nothing could be more clear. In fact, there's almost a daily discussion now between John Menzies, our Ambassador to Sarajevo, and the Bosnian Government, including with President Izetbegovic.
As I said, I think it's significant that they have come down from perhaps over 1,000 foreign fighters late last autumn to a handful now. We are convinced that they are going to get all of them out and that this contract will go forward once that happens.
Q Have you heard anything from the Chinese about their investigation into the AK-47 case?
MR. BURNS: We have had a series of discussions with the Chinese Government, mainly in Beijing but also in Washington. I think Shen Guofang, the Chinese Government Foreign Ministry Spokesman, yesterday said, in effect, that China did not want its citizens to break the laws of other countries; that China would be investigating these charges. He implied that China would be -- he implied very strongly that China would cooperate with the United States. That is what we've heard from the Chinese Government. We've given them all the relevant details, and we do expect their cooperation.
Q But so far they haven't promised their cooperation?
MR. BURNS: Oh, I think we'll have their cooperation. I don't know what you mean by "promised." We have every indication that they're going to look into this and do what's necessary to investigate some of the detailed charges that have been brought against these individuals.
Q Have they gone further and said that if, in fact, they find the U.S. allegations are true that they will take action to stop these kinds of exports?
MR. BURNS: I'm just not aware of all the conversations we've had, so I can't answer every question of the type that you're asking; but I can you that they're seized by it and they're looking into it. That's a good start.
This is a law enforcement matter. The Department of Justice here in Washington will have the lead role in this case. The State Department will help the Department of Justice as much as we can. We'll do anything that they ask to help bring these people to justice, to try them and convict them in U.S. courts for the fact that they brought these arms in illegally.
Q (Inaudible) some Chinese are telling you they didn't know about it?
MR. BURNS: Pardon?
Q I gather --
MR. BURNS: I didn't say that. I can't describe to you all the conversations we've had because most of them have occurred in Beijing. I can't speak for the Chinese Government. Obviously, that's a question that will be answered at some point.
Q You want an answer to that question?
MR. BURNS: It's a question that will be answered at some point, I'm sure, in the course of the judicial proceedings.
Q Have you all bluntly asked them if they --
MR. BURNS: You can rest assured that we've asked the right questions and we're having the right counter-discussions. This is a matter for the Justice Department to proceed with, but we're going to be helpful to Justice -- we in the State Department.
Q What is your response to press reports that the Department of State intentionally let the big fish off the hook?
MR. BURNS: I haven't actually -- and I've read a lot of press reports -- I haven't seen those press reports. But now that you raise them, I can tell you that there's absolutely nothing to them. Nothing could be further from the truth. We cooperated with the Justice Department every step of the way and the other law enforcement agencies as they proceeded with this operation against these people who wanted to bring guns into the United States.
We have enough guns in the United States. We don't need guns being brought in illegally, frankly. The Department of State has been fully in support of everything our law enforcement agencies have done.
So while I haven't seen the report, let me just reject it and knock it down very clearly.
Q Do you know anything more about what Congressman Richardson was told, in Pyongyang, specifically in reference to the four-party talk proposal?
MR. BURNS: I know that Congressman Richardson has spoken publicly about his meetings. All I can tell you is that he had good discussions with the Foreign Ministry -- I believe with the Vice Foreign Minister -- about that -- the four-party proposal -- as well as the food aid, the food situation in North Korea. I can't go beyond what he's already said, and that is that he had good discussions.
Q To go back to the Bosnian question, I asked this question a few days ago. I'm sorry. Can you tell us, in what context has Turkey started training the Bosnian soldiers?
MR. BURNS: I think that there have been some Bosnian soldiers who have travelled recently to Turkey for training. There's no question about that. Our preference, of course, would have been that no training would have been initiated until all the foreign fighters had left. They all will have left quite soon. I'm sure at that point we'll be able to proceed with our own program.
The Turks were good enough to host the first conference. We know that Turkey fully supports the equip-and-train program. In fact, it's been one of the leading supporters. We wish that other European countries besides Turkey would step up to the plate and help us to train and equip the Bosnian army so that there is an equilibrium of force in the Balkans when IFOR departs; not a disequilibrium which would invite continued warfare. That's the strategic objective here and the rationale, really, for this program.
It's frankly dismaying to see that some of the European countries who presently have troops in IFOR do not want to take the steps that we have initiated to create an environment which is conducive to peace and not to war after IFOR leaves. It really is a commonsensical approach, and we're very glad to have the support of Turkey on it.
Q Part of this program has officially been contracted to Turkey already?
MR. BURNS: No, I didn't say that. The Turkish Government on its own -- on its own -- has initiated training of Bosnian military personnel.
They have not received money from the United States to do so, and, as I said before, there will be no money forthcoming to the Federation forces until all the foreign forces have left. We've been very careful about that.
Q Did you have any talks with Turkey on this matter?
MR. BURNS: We've had a lot of talks. Yes, we talk all the time with Turkey.
Q Recently, on this --
MR. BURNS: Recently?
Q On the training program.
MR. BURNS: I can't point to a conversation today or yesterday, but I know that we've had talks about this issue just in the past four or five, six days.
Q Is similar training going on in other countries?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of it. It may be the case. I'm just not aware of it.
Q Does the United States feel that Turkey is undercutting its efforts? I mean, here you are holding up the equip-and-train contract because you want all these Iranians out of Bosnia, and yet Turkey goes ahead with its own training program. Do you feel that it's undercutting your position?
MR. BURNS: No, we don't.
Q Why not?
MR. BURNS: Because you're talking here about just a fraction of the total Western effort to equip and train the Bosnian forces, and here we're not talking about equipping, we're talking about training, and a very small number of people.
Q How many?
MR. BURNS: I don't have the exact number, but I was advised yesterday that it was a very small number. The vast majority of the Western effort will proceed once the foreign fighters are out. So, no, I wouldn't describe the Turkish action like that. In fact, Turkey has been one of the stalwarts here, so I'm not in the mood to criticize Turkey at all.
Q And when did this start?
MR. BURNS: I can't tell you the day it started, but I think it was quite recently.
Q This week?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe it was this week. I think it was before this week. I just don't know the day.
Sid, did you have a follow-up?
Q Does your dismay about Europeans not contributing to equip-and-train extend to some of your allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who didn't even show up to the donors conference in Turkey?
MR. BURNS: We would call upon everyone -- every country that has an interest in peace and stability in the Balkans to join us in this effort. That includes Moslem countries in the Middle East and beyond the Middle East, some in Asia.
Actually, even though we didn't have perfect attendance at the Turkish conference, I think there will be some effort by some of those countries who did not attend. I'm confident of that.
Q On the subject of narco corruption in Mexico, Nick, a few perceptions from my travels to Mexico City. In the eyes of many reliable Mexican witnesses, the cartels, with the exception of one cartel leader, have not been touched by the Mexican justice system. They continue to -- the bribes go deeper and further, laterally as well, out into the Americas. The justice --judicial police, apparently, are corrupted. The army is compromised.
Nick, who in Mexico is going to take action against these cartels if your law enforcement is bought and paid for?
MR. BURNS: As you know, Bill, President Zedillo has launched an anti-narcotics campaign. The United States supports that. We have a very active anti-narcotics program with the Government of Mexico. I think there have been some significant gains, some significant achievements by the Zedillo Government, but I think any Mexican official would say what I would say, and that is that it's a long, hard fight.
There is narcotics trafficking in Mexico, as there is in the United States, and we all need to join together internationally to fight the problem. We all need to do a better job in our own countries, and that includes the United States, in fighting this problem. So I would just say we're going to continue to work with the Mexican Government.
Before we close -- I think we're just at the end of this briefing -- I just wanted to make a reference to the situation in Algeria, because I know we have a very distinguished Algerian correspondent here. I just saw a statement by my French counterpart -- the French Foreign Ministry spokesman -- confirming that the Algerian Government has located the bodies of the seven Trappist monks.
I would like to join him in what he just said a couple of hours ago in Paris, and that is -- and I'll put it in my words -- this is oftentimes a brutal and cruel world, and we see evidence every day in this briefing and around the world of atrocities. But this one is perhaps unparalleled, the beheading of seven Trappist monks, people who stand for peace, religious figures; and, of course, Islam dictates and the Koran dictates that religious figures of any religion should not be affected by violence or be the target of violence.
This is a particularly brutal and outrageous attack, and the French Government has denounced it in very compelling terms. We'd just like to associate the United States Government with the statements of the Government of France and the Government of Italy and the statements from the Vatican.
Q Nick, let's go back to Bosnia shortly. Is the United States going to control each penny for that program, equip-and-train?
MR. BURNS: The United States will control every penny that is produced by the American taxpayer -- that is appropriated by the United States Congress. Yes. Other governments, of course, will contribute their own funds, and they will be responsible for a counting of those funds. But the whole operation, we hope, will be a unified peace. There will be coordination among the United States, Turkey, Arab countries, Moslem countries from Asia, and we hope some European countries in the final analysis.
Q The United States gave $100 million, you mean?
MR. BURNS: That is our commitment to this program, yes.
Q And you are going to control $100 million.
MR. BURNS: The United States taxpayer -- every American taxpayer and every Congressman and Congresswoman would expect us to do that, yes.
Q And who and how is going to pay people from MPRI company?
MR. BURNS: This is a contract that is being let by the United States Government to this company, and that will be U.S. funds that will pay this particular company to organize the effort on the U.S. side.
I issued a statement on this yesterday. I would also refer you to that for details.
Q Any decision on food aid by the U.S. to North Korea?
MR. BURNS: No decision. It's obviously a question that has taken -- well, it's a question that's relevant, because I know that the International Committee of the Red Cross has launched an appeal, and now we're awaiting the deliberations of the United Nations and the World Food Program. So it's something that we know we have to keep in our view. It's an option -- more food aid from the United States -- to us, but we have not made any decisions on it.
Q Thank you. This is one question about -- are you aware of the case of Robert Hussein in Kuwait?
MR. BURNS: I am aware of that -- the case -- yes.
Q And I am told -- I don't know if this has worked its way through the State Department yet, that apparently Mr. Hussein sent a letter to Secretary Christopher to ask for his intervention on his behalf.
MR. BURNS: On the question of the letter, I have no information on a letter to the Secretary. I mean, it may be that he sent the letter, but we have not -- our files and our records do not indicate we've received a letter. This is a case of a Kuwaiti citizen who was found to be an apostate by a Muslim family law court in Kuwait just the other day.
Obviously, he is not a United States citizen, so we're not directly involved, but we do have our views, and we are sharing those views with the Kuwaiti Government.
Q I need to go back to the matter of North Korea. Congressman Richardson came back; I believe made a statement that the North Koreans were so preoccupied with their hardships at present, especially their agricultural -- their food supply problem -- that they weren't able to focus on anything else. Nick, can you confirm? Is this the case? Are they not going to be able to participate in four-power talks in the near future?
MR. BURNS: I'm not sure this is exactly what I remember Congressman Richardson saying. It's obviously a major problem, but North Korea continues to observe the Agreed Framework. They continue to consider the proposal for the four-party talks. I think they can do many things at once in that country, as we can do as well.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:52 p.m.)
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