U.S. Department of State 96/05/31 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, May 31, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Asst Secy Shattuck Travel to Nigeria ...................... 1 Acting Secy Kornblum Travel to Balkans..................... 1-2 Public Announcement Re: Albania............................ 2 Statement Re: Zambia....................................... 2 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Situation Re: Mladic & Karadzic............................ 2-5 --Assurances by Milosevic.................................. 3 --Mladic's Control of Troops............................... 4-5 --Karadzic's Participation in Elections.................... 5 Acting Secy Kornblum's Conversations with Milosevic........ 8,14 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Update on Monitoring Group................................. 5 Hizbollah Attacks on Israeli Soldiers...................... 5-6,7-8 Effect of Israeli Elections................................ 5,6-7 Comments by Lebanese Officials about Hizbollah............. 7 Comments by Former Secy Kissinger.......................... 9 Financial Assistance to the Palestinian Authority.......... 15-16 NORTH KOREA Effect of Recent Defections on Four-way Talks.............. 10-11 ALBANIA Fairness of Elections...................................... 11-12 TURKEY Reported Alliance of the U.S., Israel, Egypt, Turkey and... Jordan................................................... 12 Aegean Conflict............................................ 12-13 BURUNDI Travel of Assistant Secy Moose in the Region............... 13 SAUDI ARABIA Execution of Terrorists.................................... 14-15 BURMA Possibility of Sanctions................................... 16
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, MAY 31, 1996, 2:45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I wanted to just let you know a couple of things on some stories that I know you've been following this week.
First, our Assistant Secretary of State, John Shattuck, has continued today his visit in Nigeria. He is in Lagos. He returned to Lagos from Abuja. In Abuja, he met with the Nigerian Foreign Minister. He met with other figures outside the government.
He is focusing in his talks on the current restrictions on freedom of association in Nigeria, freedom of the press, and on the detentions. He delivered a very strong message to the Nigerian Government on prisoner releases and the need for an expeditious transition to democracy in Nigeria.
He is in Lagos now. He'll be meeting with some government officials there but also some non-governmental groups as well -- some labor leaders, bar associations; a meeting with Mrs. Abiola, which I think is a quite important meeting, and with other spouses of those people who are currently detained by the Nigerian Government.
Second, John Kornblum, as you know, began his trip in the Balkans today with a more than three-hour meeting -- three and a half hour meeting with President Milosevic in Belgrade.
I would characterize the meetings as frank and serious -- the meeting today with President Milosevic. They discussed, really, a comprehensive range of issues pertaining to the Dayton Accords. They previewed the Geneva meeting that will be held on Sunday in which Secretary Christopher will participate. They talked about elections, what it will take for elections to be held successfully. They discussed Brcko, the need to name an arbitrator for Brcko. They discussed the problems of Muslim access to towns and sites and places where Muslims used to live.
As you know, there have been a number of problems in recent weeks where Serbs have stoned and shot at and prevented Muslims from returning to their homes. They discussed media freedoms and the recent crackdown in Belgrade on certain radio stations and newspapers. They also, of course, discussed -- and this was raised by John Kornblum -- the situation, the fate of Mr. Karadzic and Mr. Mladic and the very strong determination of the United States to see them leave the scene, leave their positions of power and be turned over to The Hague for prosecution at the War Crimes Tribunal.
I would characterize this meeting as a very frank, very serious, very intense discussion between Acting Assistant Secretary John Kornblum and President Milosevic.
I'll be glad to go into the Geneva meeting should you care to do so.
I just wanted to mention two other things. I won't read these but I wanted to let you know, we do have a public announcement that we issued late last evening on the situation in Albania which does advise American citizens to avoid parts of Tirana where political protests are expected.
We also have a public statement we're issuing today on Zambia, and our very strong view that the decision this week by the Government of Zambia to impose constitutional amendments that limit the right of the Zambian people to choose their president freely, that that decision ought to criticized and it ought to be re-thought by the Zambian authorities. That is available to you in the Press Office.
Q Do you have anymore details about the conversation in Belgrade about Karadzic and Mladic?
MR. BURNS: I can't say anything positive about that conversation except to say that it took place. I can tell you that we remain concerned and very strongly opposed to the fact that Karadzic and Mladic not only retain political and military influence in the Republic of Srpska but they seem to have the ability from time to time -- infrequently, but nonetheless have the ability -- to move around.
Mladic was cited last week by some of you at a funeral in Belgrade. Karadzic has left Pale from time to time. We don't think that ought to happen. We don't think they ought to play a life in a political sense - - have a life in the political sense in that country.
Mr. Milosevic says that he would like to see them marginalized but does nothing to marginalize them. This is a point of difference between us and President Milosevic, as you know. I think this point of difference will be discussed quite seriously in Geneva by Secretary of State Christopher.
Q On this point, Nick, in the past, according to a senior American official yesterday, Milosevic has assured Americans several times that Karadzic has given up his public positions and has given up his positions of public power. What you're saying, basically, is that you don't believe Milosevic?
MR. BURNS: Words just aren't good enough. We have received repeated assurances since November 21 of last year when the Dayton Accords were agreed to, that somehow Karadzic and Mladic would disappear from the scene; that they would be marginalized, that they would no longer have positions of influence. Well, that's not the case.
None of you would say -- and I certainly can't stand here and say - - that they don't have influence. They do have influence. Our very firm belief is that it is the responsibility of the Bosnian Serb population and leadership, a well as the Serbian leadership, to marginalize those two individuals because they are indicted war criminals.
We're looking for acts. We're not just going to rely on words.
Q Still, it seems that your bottom-line on Karadzic and Mladic has been modified somewhat in the past few months. The statements from the Secretary yesterday and from the senior U.S. officials suggest that now you're asking only that Karadzic, in particular, not be a candidate himself in the elections and that there be some kind of written statement that they are no longer going to appear in public. That's short of what kind of demands the United States was making previously, it seems to me?
MR. BURNS: Our first, and very strong preference, is for those two individuals and the 50-odd others who have been indicted, to be brought to The Hague and prosecuted and, hopefully, convicted of war crimes. That's our strong preference. We've not retreated on that. That is what we said in private to President Milosevic, to Krajisnik , to Plavsic, to the others that we deal with in Banja Luka.
However, if that does not happen, then we have to be pragmatic. If it doesn't happen, certainly, at the very least, they cannot be in positions where they try to run for office. The Dayton Accords will not permit them as indicted war criminals to run for political office. They cannot participate in the elections. We don't want them to be in any position where they can influence, in a very strong way, the elections. We want them to be effectively marginalized, if they haven't been arrested, so that the elections can go forward with some degree of objectivity; so that at the end of the elections new people will emerge as the leaders of the Bosnian Serb population.
So, Tom, I wouldn't say we've retreated from the first goal. But since we are realistic and we cannot assure you or ourselves that they will, in fact, be arrested, we do continue to make strong representations to the Serbs and Bosnian Serbs that they ought to be marginalized in that case.
In the final analysis, even if we go through an election where they're present on the ground but not playing a role, we would hope at some point they would come to justice and that they would be arrested and tried.
Q Commanding the Bosnian Serb army is not an elected office, so that really doesn't apply to General Mladic, does it?
MR. BURNS: You're right in one sense. What we're saying certainly, specifically, applies to Karadzic because I think he would like to run for political office but he will not be able to do so. We will not allow him to do so.
Mladic is a different figure and he has a different set of responsibilities. It seems to us that he retains effective control over the Bosnian Serb military forces from his lair. We think those duties ought to be relinquished by him and, again, that he should face trial.
Q But the answer is, you will allow Mladic to remain in control of his troops?
MR. BURNS: That's not our answer at all. That's not what I'm saying. It's not what anyone has said here. We're not going to allow them to do anything. The fact is, we don't have complete control of all events there. We don't have the capability of magically transforming the situation, say, by tomorrow morning, the way we'd like it. Because if we could do that, they would be in The Hague. They wouldn't be sitting in the Republic of Srpska.
We don't believe he should retain control of the Bosnian Serb military. We don't approve of it, and we'd like to see those duties relinquished; we'd like to see him stripped of his responsbilities. But it's the responsibility to do that, of the people who signed the agreement -- the Bosnian Serbs and the Serbian leadership.
Q Just a follow-up. You said you won't allow Karadzic to run or to stand to hold elected office?
MR. BURNS: We do have control over that. We have control because the OSCE is going to supervise the elections. He won't be on the ballot; indicted war criminals won't be on the ballot.
The OSCE does not have the power, and neither does Carl Bildt, to strip Mladic of his military responsibilities, but I think others do -- people inside the Bosnian Serb system and people in Belgrade have that power. They ought to exercise that power.
Q Can I switch the subject to something we didn't ask the Secretary about? What about the Monitoring Group? Has that become a moot issue now?
MR. BURNS: It's certainly not a moot issue at all. The Monitoring Group is a very important issue. As you know, there's already been an agreement and a commitment to establish the Monitoring Group. We believe that commitment will be met by Israel as well as the Arab countries, as well as the United States and France.
The question is, can we all agree -- the five countries participating in the Monitoring Group -- on the specific responsibilities and framework, structure of the Monitoring Group? We came very close to an agreement last week. Didn't quite make it.
What I would expect is the following. Once Mr. Netanyahu has had a chance to form his government -- once that government is up and running -- we will, I think, very quickly identify the Monitoring Group as one of the first priority issues to be discussed and, hopefully, to be satisfactorily negotiated and agreed to by all the parties. It's a very important agreement. You know there were some troubling events during the last 24 hours in southern Lebanon. We don't want to see violence in southern Lebanon.
We were very disturbed to see that Hizbollah took advantage of this electoral period; struck first and launched attacks on Israeli soldiers. Nothing can justify that. We certainly don't want to see violence of any form take place. We want to see the situation returned to one of calm.
If we had a Monitoring Group in place, we could address today, tomorrow, the next day, the charge that civilians were targeted during the last 24 hours. We don't believe that charge. We don't believe that civilians were targeted by Israel or even by Hizbollah, in this particular case, over the last 24 hours. But, certainly, it's another reason why the Monitoring Group needs to be up and fully running now that it's been agreed that it should be established.
Q In other words, it could be a matter of weeks and possibly even months, depending on the speed of the formation of a government in Israel before you finally get around to this again.
MR. BURNS: It's hard to say how long it will take for Mr. Netanyahu to form his government -- to form his coalition government. I don't expect we're talking about a period of months here, however. We would see it in weeks rather than months.
Q Although Netanyahu has not formed his government, he's not exactly an unknown quantity in a lot of cases. Is it the hope of the U.S. Government to persuade him to change his positions on things like the Golan Heights and settlements, or are you going to try to work around those positions?
MR. BURNS: You all just think I'm easier than the Secretary, don't you? You think I'm just going to spill my guts out here when the Secretary did the right thing and said, I thought, what was appropriate to be said. I think, Norm, just to be serious for a moment -- let me be serious for a moment.
As the Secretary said, we have to allow Mr. Netanyahu some time to form his government, and, of course, we will very quickly want to have a set of comprehensive discussions with the Israelis on all of these issues. There's plenty of time for that. We've got to give him some time to form his government.
Therefore, I certainly am not willing to go beyond anything the Secretary said, and I thought the Secretary's remarks were completely appropriate to the situation. There hasn't even been a final, official determination of the winner -- the victor. There won't be until Sunday. We haven't seen an initial set of substantive comments from Mr. Netanyahu, much less Prime Minister Peres, and so I think we all ought to be a little bit patient, and I'm sure we'll get to all these issues in due time.
Q Do you expect that the government will take positions other than the Likud's election manifesto?
MR. BURNS: I think that's just a question that Mr. Netanyahu is going to have to decide, along with the people who -- his ministers that he brings into the government, and it's not possible for me to foresee the exact positions that he will take on any given issue.
Q Can I go back to Lebanon on the question of Jim? Do you have any comment on the criticism by the Lebanese President and Prime Minister, of Hizbollah and its activities, and the presence of some Iranians inside Beirut who are working with Hizbollah to foment this situation? For the first time the Lebanese leadership has addressed Hizbollah, and they had a very hot exchange on the air about this?
MR. BURNS: We strongly support the right of the Lebanese people to control Lebanon, and of the Lebanese Government to exercise political and other control over the entire situation in Lebanon. We have great respect for the President, Mr. Harawi, and for Prime Minister Hariri.
As you know, we have very little good, if any good, to say about Hizbollah. Hizbollah has been an organization that is terroristic in nature. It has launched unprovoked attacks on civilians as well as upon soldiers in the security zone, and I think that the Lebanese Government deserves support in its quest to try to reconstruct Lebanon economically, and to try to gain a greater measure of stability politically throughout Lebanon itself. So we do want to work with the Lebanese Government. We have a good relationship.
Secretary Christopher had very, very good, productive talks with Prime Minister Hariri during the shuttle mission, and he looks forward to future talks with him.
Q Could I just parse your answer there a bit? You're not defining an attack on military personnel in occupied territory as an act of terrorism, are you?
MR. BURNS: What I said -- and I know there are a couple of issues here -- is that certainly there is no reason for Hizbollah to attack Israeli soldiers in the security zone. We do not condone such attacks. We don't favor them. We oppose them.
Hizbollah launched unprovoked attacks on IDF personnel; killed four people over the last 24 hours in the security zone. What Secretary Christopher's agreement of April 27 speaks to is something a little bit different. It doesn't speak to the situation within the security zone. It speaks to the situation of civilians -- Arab civilians, Israeli civilians. There have been some charges over the past 24 hours that one side or the other directed fire at civilians.
We don't have a complete understanding and a perfect understanding of the events of the last 24 hours, but we do not believe that attacks were directed at civilians over the last 24 hours. But because there are charges in the air -- charges have been made -- it does point up the need to move as rapidly forward as we can in confirming the responsibilities of the Monitoring Group itself, because I think it will be helpful in situations like this.
Still on the Middle East or off the Middle East?
Q Another question on Bosnia. You didn't say so outright, but you hinted at it. Did Kornblum run into a brick wall today in his conversations with Milosevic in Belgrade?
MR. BURNS: Before I call it a brick wall, I'd want a further, longer discussion with John than I've had. But, needless to say, I chose my words very carefully: frank, serious and intense. I did not say productive. I did not say positive. I did not say encouraging. Frank, serious and intense; and, George, you know as well as I do in diplomatic parlance that signifies that these were very difficult discussions.
Difficult because -- and Secretary Christopher will speak to this privately and publicly on Sunday -- we firmly believe that peace is in the hands of the Serbs, Croats and Moslems in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the Balkans in general. It's in their hands. We can only do so much here.
We have stopped the war for them. We halted the Bosnian Serb military offensive last summer and turned that historic tide back. We provided a peace agreement for them and helped them negotiate the peace agreement. We provided now 60,000 troops from NATO countries to help separate the armies, to bring weapons under centralized control.
We have created the opportunity for them to have peace. They've got to cross the finish line, and that's the message here. Enough with the words. Enough with the assurances. Let's see some action, and let's see actions where it counts. There has to be a greater degree of freedom of movement on the ground for elections to occur successfully. There has to be a greater commitment to arresting war criminals so that they can be tried in The Hague by the United Nations Tribunal.
There has to be a greater commitment to adherence to the letter as well as the spirit of the Dayton Accords in all respects. Moslems who want to return to their town for a one-day visit ought not to be stoned, and, if local Serb officials stone them, those people ought to be dealt with.
IFOR and Carl Bildt can only do so much, and I think that's the message here. The message is they've got to be as interested in peace as we are.
Q Could you comment on Secretary Kissinger's remarks concerning the over-commitment of the Administration with Christopher and Dennis Ross giving the prime responsibility to Peres?.
MR. BURNS: I didn't see former Secretary of State Kissinger's remarks, but I'd just say this. I don't think any American can argue with the fact that there is a consensus in this country that Republican Administrations, Democratic Administrations ought to be focused on peace in the Middle East. The way to focus on peace in the Middle East is to deal with the people who hold power: Yasser Arafat, Hosni Mubarak, King Hussein, President Assad, Prime Minister Peres.
There will now be a new Prime Minister of Israel, and, as Secretary Christopher just told you, there is a U.S. commitment to work with him on peace. So I just don't see the logic of that argument.
Q Yesterday, as you know, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal talking about the "emerging alliance" between Turkey, Jordan, Israel, if not Egypt, and certainly supported with the full blessings of Washington. Now that -- after Mr. Netanyahu's election, there seems to be a more conservative parliament and cabinet on its way in Israel, how do you think this will influence this emerging alliance - - the alignment in the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: I guess I would just differ in one respect with the question. I'm not sure I would call that an "alliance." An alliance to me is something quite specific. But, if it's a set of relationships, if it's friendships, if it's partnerships, that's good.
As Secretary Christopher just said, as we look at what's changed over the last three or four years, what has changed is that Israel now has a set of economic and political relationships, in some cases budding security relationships, with a number of important countries in the region -- Arab states and other states like Turkey.
That is an historic process that ought to be encouraged by the new government, as well as by the United States. We certainly encourage Israel's ability to trade with its Arab neighbors and with Turkey, to engage in political discussions about a variety of issues, to have talks on security issues, on water, on all the issues that make up what we know to be the Middle East peace process and beyond.
This is a very important, very positive trend, and we hope it continues. We hope that the new government will be interested in continuing it, and I would imagine that they would be.
Q I have a question about North Korea. Today, early morning Eastern time, North Korean elite defectors arrived in Seoul, Korea. One of the two said that North Korean regime would not be able to last more than three years. It sounds as if North Korea is on the way of collapsing. Meanwhile, North Korea has not made any decision to accept the four-way talks suggested April 16 at Cheju Island. Does the U.S. see these recent defections could have any influence on North Korean acceptance of four-way talks badly?
MR. BURNS: You mean a negative effect?
MR. BURNS: It's very hard to agree with that assessment or to answer positively to that question. I'm not inclined to do so. The fact is that we've seen reports that two North Koreans -- a scientist and a writer -- wished to defect to South Korea. There has been a rise over the last few years in the number of defectors from North Korea outside the country.
Certainly, this indicates to us that the North Korean system is under some stress. At the beginning of your question, you used the word "collapse." I wouldn't use that word. I don't think there's any indication that the system is on the verge of collapsing.
North Korea, we assume, will do what's in its interest. We think a peace agreement on the Korean peninsula is in the interest of North Korea as well as the Republic of Korea -- as well as China, the United States, Japan, Russia and others.
So we're going to continue urging North Korea to accept our proposal. We have offered to them a joint briefing with the Republic of Korea to explain in further detail our proposal, and that offer stands, and we hope they accept it.
They have an interest in the Agreed Framework, and they are continuing to abide by the Agreed Framework. They have an interest in working with the international community on food assistance, perhaps, in the future, should the situation warrant it. So we hope the North Korean Government will do what's in its own interest, because we think the interests of North Korea would dictate an engagement with the South and with the United States and others on all these issues.
Q Nick, then how does the U.S. interpret the defectors recently from North Korea?
MR. BURNS: I'm not sure that there is a generic response to your question. We have not talked to these two individuals -- these most recent defectors. Oftentimes people defect for individual, personal reasons, and so I don't want to ascribe to that situation anything broader than it might suggest.
Q Albania and the recent elections. You, during the last couple of days, said that the U.S. Government is awaiting the reports of its national monitors and organizations. Human Rights Watch, Helsinki, which is based in the U.S. in New York, came up with the report saying that the elections should be invalid and called for new elections -- new fair and free elections. What's the position of the U.S. Government?
MR. BURNS: We've been concerned about this situation since the conclusion of the elections just a couple of days ago. Our representatives -- our diplomats -- have met with the OSCE in Vienna. In fact, they met with them yesterday. They discussed the OSCE observations on the elections.
We agree with the OSCE Chairman in Office's statement, which calls on all political parties in Albania to examine for the sake of stability there measures including the possibility of a partial repetition of the elections in order to resolve the disputes there.
We understand that President Berisha has already announced that three constituencies will be rerun. We have, as you know, expressed some serious concern in public about the irregularities reported by the OSCE and our own Embassy, and we've raised these concerns directly with the Albanian authorities. We believe that they ought to consider very strongly, both the government and other political parties, the possibility of repeating parts of the election -- perhaps in certain key constituencies where there are differences of opinion on whether or not the election was free and fair.
Q That does not involve process, just specific --
MR. BURNS: I wanted to limit myself to saying a partial repetition. We and the OSCE have not called for an entirely new election, but we are suggesting, based on the evidence available to us, that some of these races featured gross irregularities; and, therefore, there ought to be an examination of whether or not those particular races ought to be rerun.
Q On a previous question, the Turks are talking in Ankara for a kind of a military alliance among U.S.A., Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Jordan. I would like to know if such a formation is in process.
MR. BURNS: I don't believe the Turkish Government has ever suggested such an alliance to the United States. The Turkish Government was just here -- Foreign Minister Gonensay -- for comprehensive talks, and that suggestion was not made to us. A military alliance among those states? No. We're not talking about such a military alliance.
We have a friendship -- we have a military alliance with Turkey. It's called NATO. We don't have military alliances with the other countries involved. We have friendships with Israel and Egypt and Jordan but not military alliances. "Alliance" is a very specific word. It means that there's a military treaty alliance, and that does exist with Turkey and with Greece, but not with those countries in the Middle East.
Q Since there is a lot of confusion in Athens if your government yes or no supports finally a solution -- the step-by-step process proposed by the Greek Government for a solution to the difference over the Aegean -- could you please once again clarify the U.S. position more particularly on the Imia issue?
MR. BURNS: Do you really want me to do that? (Laughter)
Q Of course! The issue has been raised yesterday --
MR. BURNS: I would suggest that our position is very clear on that matter -- that I have enunciated it, Glyn Davies has, many, many times - - that we expect that Greece and Turkey will work out their own differences; that we're ready to help them do so. You know our position on Imia/Kardak, and we haven't changed our position since that issue came into full public view a couple of months back.
Q But my question is, what is your position to the Greek proposal for step-by-step process?
MR. BURNS: We're going to keep our advice to the parties -- our specific, detailed advice -- private, because if I say we're in favor of the Greek position, then the Turks will object; and, if I say we're in favor of the Turkish position, then you'll object, and I don't want to have a disagreement in the Press Room. I want everyone to be friends.
So you know that we're allies with Greece and Turkey; that we are giving advice behind the scenes; that we are ready to help both of them. But, fundamentally, it all comes down to whether Greece and Turkey can resolve these problems together, and they've got to decide on a venue for that.
On the question of Imia, they have not yet decided, and, if we can help, we will do so. Thank you.
Q Do you have anything on George Moose's talks in Burundi?
MR. BURNS: I can just say that he has continued his trip through the region. He has had a series of discussions in Tanzania, in Rwanda, in Burundi. Today he met with Prime Minister Kengo of Zaire. He moves on tomorrow for talks in Kampala, Uganda.
The primary focus and message of his trip is this: There is an African peace initiative underway led by former President Julius Nyerere -- former President of Tanzania. We have great respect for him, Mr. Nyerere, and for his proposal. We fully support it, and we're calling on the parties -- the countries involved -- to support it.
There's also a specific message for the Zairian Government, and that is, the Zairian Government ought to use its own control of its country to stem the flow of arms to the insurgents in parts of Zaire; to end the use of Zairian territory as a base for insurgent activity; to continue to promote -- this is now Zaire's obligation -- a solution to the crisis in Burundi. So that's our very strong message to the Zairian Government.
It's been, so far, a successful trip because we are lending the full support of the United States to the efforts of former President Nyerere.
Q I'm sorry, I want to go back to the meeting between Mr. Kornblum and Mr. Milosevic today.
Does the Administration still believe that Mr. Milosevic has the wherewithal to marginalize both Karadzic and Mladic? And, if he does, why is he not doing it? If there has been this campaign, this very aggressive campaign in the last month to put pressure on him to do something about this and with the threat of economic sanctions hanging over his head, why is he not complying?
MR. BURNS: We do believe that President Milosevic, in concert with Bosnian Serbs in Banja Luka and elsewhere, has the power, the ability to effectively marginalize Karadzic, Mladic, and the other indicted war criminals.
You'll have to ask them why they've not chosen to do so. They have given us repeated assurances that they will do so. They have not done so successfully. We would think it's in their interest to do that. Because if they can't do that, we think it's going to be an impediment in implementing all the various aspects of the Dayton Accords. They've got to be as interested in that -- in the success of the Dayton Accords -- as we are.
Q Do you think that President Milosevic believes that the threat of sanctions is real? Or do you think that he is, in a way, calling your bluff?
MR. BURNS: He ought to. The United States has consciously decided not to elevate our diplomatic relationship to a full ambassadorial level. We do not have an ambassador in Belgrade. We have a Charge d'Affairs.
The United States has maintained the "outer wall" of sanctions, the denial of international respectability and financial flows to Belgrade. There is a provision in the Dayton Accords that will allow either Admiral Smith or Carl Bildt to decide that because of the gross violations of the Dayton Accords sanctions could be reimposed on both the Republika Srpska and Serbia.
Believe me, we have not -- we have not -- forgotten that is an option available to the international community, and they should not forget that either.
Q Can you comment on the recent executions in Saudi Arabia?
MR. BURNS: We were informed, I believe, this morning by the Saudi Government that the four individuals who were convicted of the attack on our own military facility last year, that those people were executed today -- publicly executed. I believe that the method of execution was by beheading.
There isn't much doubt in our own minds, based upon what we know from the investigation by the Saudi authorities, in which the Department of Justice participated, that these men were guilty. Nothing can excuse terrorism. Nothing can excuse an attack on a U.S. installation overseas. It was an outrageous crime on the part of those four individuals.
I think the Department of Justice would have to answer any questions about the investigation that led to the prosecution, conviction, and execution of these individuals.
I would just note that international law does permit judicially- imposed capital punishment within an established procedural framework. I think the results speak for themselves.
Q Nick, (inaudible) report on the unfreezing of funds earmarked to the Palestinian National Authority by Mr. Gilman's committee?
MR. BURNS: I don't have an up-to-date report for you on the Congressional legislative aspect of it. I can check for you with our Legislative Bureau.
Q Next. Nabil Sha'ath -- he's the Minister of Planning in the Palestinian Authority. When he was here, he complained that from the $500 million that the United States earmarked in five years for the Palestinian Authority, there were about $200 million with the OPIC -- Overseas Private Investment Corporation -- that has not been dispensed to the Palestinians; that these funds are there and they did not move it to create projects and other things to dispense on the Gaza Strip, development, and other areas.
Could you look into why these funds have not been allocated and dispensed by --
MR. BURNS: As you know, the United States wants to meet its commitments to the Palestinian people. We pledged money and we ought to be forthcoming with that money. We've done quite a lot to already help the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza.
We do have in train discussions with the Congress about the portion of the money to which you refer. I can tell you that the commitment from our part is there from the Clinton Administration, but we'll have to check on the legislative end of it.
Q Did you have a conversation with Capitol Hill about possible sanctions to Myanmar?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me? A conversation with . . . ?
Q With Congress -- additional sanctions to Myanmar?
MR. BURNS: Congressman Richardson?
Q No. To Congress about additional sanctions of Myanmar -- Burma?
MR. BURNS: On Burma? Thank you. We are involved in conversations with Senator McConnell and Senator Moynihan and others about sanctions on Burma.
We retain the option to consider further sanctions should the situation there warrant it, if we decide that that is the proper way for us to try to influence the Burmese authorities. We would note that they have released 60 of the detainees from last week. But that means they've only released a minority of the detainees. Well over 100 people remain detained -- under detention -- in Rangoon. There's no reason for that.
We still maintain our very strong support for the democracy activists led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
Q You don't have an envoy to announce?
MR. BURNS: I don't have an envoy to announce, except to say -- we didn't cover this in the briefing yesterday; we did after the briefing - - that the United States does intend to send a envoy to Burma and to neighboring states to press home our point that we all ought to be concerned and speak out against the anti-democratic actions of the Burmese authorities.
(Press briefing concluded at 3:22 p.m.)
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