U.S. Department of State 96/06/07 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, June 7, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Welcome Visiting Omani Government Official Saif Al-Rashid... 1 U/S Tarnoff Heads US Delegation to Florence Conference...... 1 State Dept Regional Town Meetings: San Diego, Norfolk...... 1 State Dept Senior Seminar Graduation........................ 1-2 KOREA US Decision on Additional Food Aid, Famine Relief........... 2-4 --Coordination with Japan, South Korea; No conditions....... 2-4,10-11 DOD Delegation travel to Pyongyang.......................... 3 Pachinko Remittances from Japan............................. 3 Status of Political Dialog/Four-Party Talks................. 4 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Bosnian Government Elections: --Timing, President Izetbegovic Agreement................... 4-5 EU Reconstruction Assistance Commitment..................... 5-6 Arms Control Agreement Target Date of June 12............... 6-7 RUSSIA Upcoming Elections --Monitors; US Support for Continued Reform................. 7-9 --Effect on Bilateral Relations with Syria.................. 9 Economic Policy, Actions.................................... 9-10 LIBERIA Report on Mass Graves in Monrovia........................... 11-12 Refugee Frigate Ship Zolotitsa.............................. 11-12 CYPRUS US Policy on EU Admission................................... 12-13 BURMA Aung San Suu Kyi Prevented from Delivering Address.......... 13-14 --US Actions to Organize Regional Pressure.................. 14 Special American Envoy on the Burmese Crisis to be Named.... 14 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Status of Talks............................................. 14 A/S Pelletreau Meeting with Faisal al-Husseini.............. 15-17 US Position on Renewal of Intifadah......................... 15 US Policy on Status of Jerusalem............................ 15-16 SAUDIA ARABIA King Fahd's Health.......................................... 15 CAMBODIA Reported Death of Pol Pot................................... 16 US Study of Genocide........................................ 16-17 DEPARTMENT AMB Mondale's Tenure in Japan............................... 17 Secretary Christopher's Tenure in Washington................ 17 ARMS CONTROL CTBT Negotiations; Peaceful Nuclear Explosions.............. 18 --Secretary Christopher's Involvement in CTBT Talks......... 19
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 1996, 12:42 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I just have a couple of very brief announcements. Then we'll go to questions.
First, I want to recognize Mr. Saif al-Rashid from Oman. Mr. Rashid is the Muscat Municipality Director of Information and External Relations. He's here to study U.S. public relations at the state and local government level, and he's a guest of USIA. Welcome.
Secondly, since you're all very interested in this, I wanted to let you know that Peter Tarnoff will be heading the U.S. delegation to the Florence Mid-Term Review Conference for the Dayton Accords. That conference is next Thursday and Friday, June 13 and 14. He will be accompanied by John Kornblum, our Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs; by Ambassador Bill Montgomery, and by our new and Special Representative for Civilian Reconstruction Affairs Richard Sklar; so a formidable U.S. delegation.
I also want to let you know that the State Department is going to be continuing its Town Meetings -- its regional Town Meetings throughout the United States. On June 18, there will be a foreign policy Town Meeting in San Diego, California. The keynote address will be given by Ambassador Madeleine Albright. Others speaking on the program will be Ambassador Winston Lord and yours truly, speaking respectively about East Asian and Russian affairs.
Then on June 20, in Norfolk, Virginia, another Town Meeting featuring speakers on East Asian, Middle East and Latin American affairs. That's in Norfolk on June 20.
Last, I just wanted to note that the Senior Seminar of the State Department is holding its graduation today. This is the 38th annual class of the Senior Seminar. This is the elite senior training program for foreign policy professionals, and our very own Christine Shelly is graduating today, and she's going to be going on to become the Political Counselor at the American Embassy in Ottawa. So I wanted to congratulate Christine.
Q What do you have to say, if anything, about food aid to North Korea?
MR. BURNS: What I can say about food aid is that we've now seen the appeal made by the United Nations and the World Food Program, which represents, I believe -- if I'm not mistaken -- a $43 million appeal. The United States is studying this quite seriously.
We are prepared in principle to respond positively to this appeal, because the food program would be run by the World Food Program, which has a very good track record in North Korea. We have certainly heard the views of Congressman Bill Richardson, who returned from Pyongyang with the assessment that there is a food crisis in North Korea.
We would like to coordinate any American response with our allies, with Japan, with the Republic of Korea, and we are doing that. We have successfully transferred food assistance just in the last couple of months. We believe we can do it again. We'll be working with our allies throughout the weekend.
At some point when we've had sufficient coordination, the President will make a formal decision on this, but I think we are prepared in principle to go forward.
Q Do you have any idea what level?
MR. BURNS: At what level? Do you mean the volume of assistance?
MR. BURNS: No, it's something we're studying right now. Obviously, we'd like to see a broad international response to this, not only from the United States and Japan and Korea but from other countries as well. That will be needed, because I think the appeal is for roughly 70,000 metric tons of food, which is a considerable amount of food, and that will be quite costly.
So we're looking at it quite seriously and actually done a lot of work on it before the appeal was made on a contingency basis, but we wanted to see the outlines of the appeal. We've now seen that, and, as I said, we're prepared to respond positively.
Q I assume that just for the record there's no conditions attached to this?
MR. BURNS: There will be no conditions attached to this. I'm glad you asked that, Judd, because I think that we have a responsibility to respond on a humanitarian basis, given the situation in North Korea.
Obviously, there are other American objectives at play here: the Agreed Framework which continues. Of course, the North Koreans have frozen their nuclear program; the four-party proposal put forward by the President and President Kim at Cheju Island.
We obviously have a concern about the "remains" issue, and in that light, I think, as you know, a Department of Defense delegation will be in Pyongyang starting tomorrow to discuss the "remains" issue from the Korean War with the Korean Government.
There are lots of other issues out there where we need to move forward with North Korea, but this issue is separate. We are not linking or conditioning a positive American response to food aid on any of these other issues, however important they may be. We look upon this as a humanitarian issue.
Q Today's Washington Post reported that U.S. Government is planning more food aid to North Korea. Have you got any -- Korean Government's assent or consultation, right?
MR. BURNS: As I just said, we are prepared to respond positively to the request from the United Nations and the World Food Program for food aid to North Korea. We are studying it. You asked a question, I think, about coordination. We are coordinating the U.S. response with the Republic of Korea and with the Government of Japan and with other allies of the United States in Asia.
We don't have a formal decision made yet here in Washington, but I do want to lead you in the direction that this is something that we're considering very seriously.
Q The Post today had a story which suggests that the North Koreans may be benefiting from pachinko remittances from Japan. Do you have any comment on that? That seems to be a sizable sum of money.
MR. BURNS: I don't have any particular comment on that, no. If you're interested, I can look into that for you, but I don't have any comment on it.
Q Are there any plans right now for any more political meetings with North Korea?
MR. BURNS: At this point I don't think we have anything planned. Congressman Richardson was not an emissary, a formal envoy, of President Clinton, but he's certainly someone who's worked very well with the Administration in the past, and we supported his trip. In fact, we sent a Department officer with him.
He had fairly good political-level talks with the North Koreans. He met with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs in Pyongyang. He not only discussed food aid; he discussed a lot of other issues. So I think through Congressman Richardson, we now have a fairly good idea of the thinking of the North Korean Foreign Ministry on a variety of important issues.
In addition to that, we do meet with the North Koreans from time to time up in New York where they have their mission to the United Nations. As you know, just a couple of weeks ago, a Department officer traveled up to New York to meet with his North Korean counterpart.
So, we have contacts. I'm not aware of anything pending. We would like, however, beyond this question of food aid, to begin discussions with the North Koreans on the four-party proposal. We've offered, and Congressman Richardson put this forward again, to brief the North Koreans in detail on what the proposal is. We obviously, beyond a briefing, would like to get to the negotiations themselves -- the four-party negotiations. That's a major objective of American policy towards North Korea.
Q New subject?
MR. BURNS: Sure.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Mohammed Sacirbey is running around town saying apparently that this is not the right time to hold elections. The conditions aren't -- did you go through all this yesterday?
MR. BURNS: That's okay. I'm not aware of what Mr. Sacirbey has said.
Q That this is not the right time to hold elections. The conditions are not right, so on and so forth. On Sunday last, the Secretary announced that all of the Balkan Presidents had assented to elections, or agreed basically to it. Is there a change in view here? Is he freelancing? What's your view? Are the Bosnians on board on elections?
MR. BURNS: I cannot account for Ambassador Sacirbey's remarks. I can tell you what his President told Secretary Christopher in Geneva, however. President Izetbegovic said -- and this was reflected in the Joint Statement released in Geneva on Sunday afternoon -- that Bosnia supported -- the Bosnian Government supported establishing a date for elections throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina in the first part of September.
President Izetbegovic made it clear privately to Secretary Christopher that this was his position. In fact, I think the Bosnian Government has made the argument to us in private that setting a date for elections will allow all of us to improve conditions for the holding of elections between the announcement of the date and the holding of the elections themselves.
It's also true that the Bosnian Government has formally taken part in the activities of the Electoral Commission and has agreed with the Commission that the elections should be held. So I'm not quite sure what Mr. Sacirbey is talking about.
The elections will go forward. We hope very much that they'll go forward, because they're necessary to de-legitimize the war criminals who are in charge of the Republic of Srpska and to bring into power a different group of political leaders who we hope will be more moderate and more interested in implementing the Dayton Accords.
They're also going to be important in establishing the three-person presidency, the legislature -- you know, the new structures of the state that will be set up under the terms of the Dayton Accords.
The Bosnian Government has committed itself to this many times over, so it's not clear to me why Ambassador Sacirbey would make that kind of remark.
Q Speaking of Bosnia, the EU today apparently announced that it is giving $89 million for Bosnia reconstruction, and I was wondering if you're satisfied with that.
MR. BURNS: I think the European Union has shown a commitment to the reconstruction effort. If my memory serves me correctly, the European Union was the first country or organization to get money on the ground in December and January of this year.
The European Union has been a major supporter of the High Representative's office in a logistical sense, and they have shown a great commitment to move forward on reconstruction. I'm not aware if there are European Union pledges in addition to the $89 million that have not yet been met. All of us who have committed money need to make good on our pledges, but that also includes the United States.
So I have no reason to downgrade the efforts of the European Union on reconstruction assistance. We now believe, having gone through the first six months of the Dayton Accords, that our overriding preoccupation should be in the civilian area on the question of elections, war criminals, freedom of movement and reconstruction.
Obviously, you heard Admiral Smith and General Joulwan agree with this, because they intend to take people away from -- some of the people who are instrumental in putting together the 1,050 kilometer-long zone of separation -- take some of those people and have them help the High Representative on some of these civilian efforts, and that will be very important -- that kind of help. So I think all of us need to focus on the reconstruction side.
Q Despite what was said in Geneva the other day, the negotiators failed to reach an arms agreement. What do you say about that?
MR. BURNS: Actually, I think there's probably less here than meets the eye, in this sense. The Dayton Accords -- in fact, Article IV of the Dayton Accords -- specifies that there should be an arms control agreement. The target date is June 12; we are now June 7.
The Chief Negotiator, General Eide, set up June 6 as an internal deadline that he hoped the parties might meet, and they have not met that. He gave a very stiff warning to the parties this morning saying that he thought they had to work very hard over the weekend to meet the June 12 deadline, but a lot of progress has been made in these negotiations in Vienna. We are hopeful that that June 12 deadline can be met.
So I wouldn't say that the effort has failed by any means. I think they're in the middle of very tough negotiations and there's a lot of public posturing surrounding those negotiations.
New subject. David.
Q A number of the reports out of Moscow in the last week or so have quoted Yeltsin aides -- unnamed -- as saying, should it become necessary vote fraud will be part of their strategy for June 16. Would you have any response to that? And have you yet got an American team put together to go and watch the polling places?
MR. BURNS: On the first part of your question, obviously, as the world's leading democracy, the United States wishes to see a free and fair election take place in Russia. We think it's important that the election be held. We think it's important that the results of the election be respected by the losing and winning side, obviously.
We would, obviously, never support any kind of effort by anyone on any side, from any political party, to engage in any kind of fraud in the lead-up to the elections, during the elections, during the vote count, or afterwards. That's a very clear position of our government.
On the second part of the question, there will be substantial international monitoring of the elections led by the OSCE. The International Republican Institute here in the United States is going to be sending a team, including members of Congress; various non-governmental organizations that are interested in democracy will be there.
I think that there will be a sufficient number of international observers to allow that group, essentially, to monitor comprehensively the conduct of the elections so that following the elections they will be able to report as to whether or not they believe -- and this is an objective group -- the elections were free and fair. That's an important contribution to make.
Q Will we plan for an official U.S. delegation?
MR. BURNS: The United States, as in elections past in Russia -- the December '95 Duma elections, the December '93 Duma elections has not had its own official observer team. Our Embassy officers, from the Ambassador on down, have been present at polling places. I remember in the December '95 elections, we had Embassy officers at the Central Election Commission Headquarters during the counting of the votes.
So we'll be present, and we'll want to ascertain for ourselves the conditions under which the elections have been held. But I think we'll leave it to private groups and to the international groups to be the main body that calls this free or fair.
Q Again, on the elections. Has there been any planning done in the Department or in the government for the possibility of a Zyuganov victory, and what implications might that have for U.S. foreign policy?
MR. BURNS: I can't say that we've done the type of formal contingency planning that we sometimes do when we look down the road and try to foresee what might happen in any given country. But I can tell you this: In January, we began a series of meetings here to think about the Russian elections, what impact it could have on the United States, what impact it could have on U.S.-Russian relations.
As you know, Strobe Talbott, our Deputy Secretary of State, was the principal author of an Administration policy paper that looked at the elections and looked at all the factors surrounding the elections.
That paper, of course, from January on, and all of its drafts, contrary to what you read in a major American paper two weeks Sunday -- that paper had the issue of the communists, their platform, their beliefs, their leadership, as a central core of the paper. So, obviously, we've been looking at this issue.
But there is very little, formal contingency planning that one can do because we just have to, I think, sit by -- stand by -- and let these elections take place. We are not interfering in them. The country is too big and too proud for us to even try that. It's not appropriate for us to do that.
We've got to hope that the Russian people will continue reform and vote to continue reform, as the President and Secretary of State have said.
American policy, under the Bush and Clinton Administrations, has been centered on reform because we think reform meets our own national interests for a stable country to deal with; for a country with which we can negotiate a lower level of nuclear arms; for a country that will be respectful of its neighbors, including the Baltic states and Ukraine; and for a country that will practice economic reform, thereby giving greater opportunities for our businesses.
America has a lot at stake in the continuation of reform in these elections. I think you know our general position is that we will continue to support those Russian politicians who stand for reform. We are concerned about the platforms of some of the major political parties that are anti-reform -- including the communist party, which has published a manifesto on its economic program which is akin to something you would have read in 1976 or 1966 or 1946 as opposed to 1996.
So I think it's very clear where America's national interests lie. I think it's very clear that we would like to see a continuation of reform. But we will not be supporting, formally and officially, identifying any political candidates that we're going to support. That's for the Russian people to decide. I think we'll have to wait for the verdict of the Russian people and then make sure we're in a position to protect our national interests accordingly.
Q Would you expect an intensification of relations between Russia and Syria if Zyuganov wins?
MR. BURNS: What I don't want to do is look into the crystal ball and assume that there will be a particular person who is going to win this election and then try to speculate on what the policies might be. Let's wait for the elections to occur.
There has been a tremendous change in the Russian-Syrian relationship over the last five years. You know that very well since you're a neighbor of both countries. But I don't want to speculate on a Zyuganov victory because we don't know who is going to be the victor in that election.
Q On Russia. There's a report that Yeltsin has asked, or ordered the Central Bank to hand over a billion dollars or so to satisfy some of his core constituencies or promises that he's made. Do you have an opinion on that? Are you concerned by that at all?
MR. BURNS: We have opinions; we have views. I'll give you some of them. I think it's important to note the context here. Russia's economic performance over the last year, in particular, but the last three in general, has been very, very positive.
Let me just cite for you one figure. A couple of years ago, there was hyper-inflation in Russia. The general economic definition of "hyper-inflation" would be a 50 percent monthly rate of inflation.
We have an economist sitting over here who I think would agree with me in the definition -- from the Federal Trade Commission; a friend of mine, Peter Vander Nat.
In May, the monthly inflation rate was 1.6 percent. That is a tremendous improvement from the situation of just two or three years ago. The Russian Government has kept to all of its commitments to the IMF under the IMF structural adjustment reform effort that it is engaged in with Russia. That's the first point.
The second point is that the United States believes that the actions taken by the Russian Government -- Howard, that you asked about -- are very serious. Since the transfer of profits that are involved here, it would essentially be taking an amount of money from the storage of the vaults of the Central Bank and adding it to money creation in a way that could be inflationary. That's the danger here.
So we're going to follow the issue closely. The lead institution here, of course, is the International Monetary Fund. That has a contractual relationship with Russia, and Russia is expected to meet the targets there.
I understand that technically the Russian action does not violate the terms of the IMF agreement as long as Russia takes compensatory actions that are anti-inflationary. In other words, Russia would take an action in a different part of its fiscal or monetary policy to act against the effect of the action that it has just taken.
So we'll have to watch this. But, certainly, we'll bring this to the attention of the Russian Government, as the IMF is now doing.
My last point would be to say that Yeltsin has been challenged over the last three or four years many, many times about specific actions he's taken -- challenged by critics in the West. Every time when it looked like economic reform might flag, he has acted to bolster economic reform. So we hope very much he will take these compensatory measures in order to bolster the reform orientation and the fiscal and monetary prudence of his economic policies.
Q North Korea. If you, or when you decide to give additional food assistance to North Korea, do you or can you expect North Korean acceptance for the joint briefing given by the U.S. and South Korean Government and the four-party meeting --
MR. BURNS: As I said before, we're looking very positively upon this request from the World Food Program at the United Nations. But we're doing this in isolation, not connected with the other issues in the relationship. We're going to do it on a humanitarian basis. We're not going to condition any food assistance on any other issue. I want to make that clear. I think you came in late. I know you may have missed the first part of this, but that's exactly what I said.
Q On the subject of Liberia. Do you have any update on the refugee ship, and also the reports yesterday of mass graves?
MR. BURNS: I do. First, on the reports of mass graves in Monrovia.
I understand that rougly 100 bodies have been uncovered in a mass grave on the beach near the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia -- downtown Monrovia.
We understand this is an area where some of the fighters dug a burial site for those who died of disease during the fighting over the last two months of cholera and of measles and for those who were killed in the fighting. It was not possible to bury the remains of some of the people -- civilians who died -- and the fighters -- in their hometowns. So they were buried in this spot. The bodies are now being exhumed, and we hope, will be ready for proper burial elsewhere as the families dictate.
On the second question, Laura, I can tell you no good news -- no good news at all on the tragic voyage of the Zolotitsa, which is the refugee ship carrying 368 people that left Monrovia 10 days ago. It has been turned down in Togo. It's been turned in Benin. We hope very much that either Togo or Benin or the Government of Nigeria -- the three coastal states there -- will take action to allow this refugee ship to dock, allow the people to disembark, allow them to receive proper medical attention, and food and water, because these people are suffering.
We cannot discount the possibility that some of these people may perish if this ship is allowed to drift on the high seas and not allowed to come into port. This is a humanitarian crisis. Frankly, the governments involved -- Togo, Benin, and Nigeria -- have an obligation to help these people who are victims of the terrible war in Liberia. We call upon these governments to do so.
All of our Ambassadors, in each of these three capitals, is working very hard to convince these governments to do the right thing and to help these people. We will not stop those efforts until one of the governments decides to act on a humanitarian basis.
Q Nick, there were reports of another mass grave site near the Greystone compound. Do you have any information about that?
MR. BURNS: Actually, the mass gravesite in question is not far from the American Embassy. But if there's one near Greystone, I just can't account for that. That's not information that I have now. It's something we can look into if you are interested in it.
Q On the ship, you're absolving Ghana because they took in the previous vessel?
MR. BURNS: Certainly not. The ship has made a long voyage. Of course, that voyage has also passed Ghana. If the Ghanaian authorities can do anything -- if the ship turns in that direction -- we would, of course, ask President Rawlings and his government to allow this ship in.
The Ghanaian Government, as you remember, did do the right thing when the last refugee ship was searching for a port.
Q On Cyprus. The Wall Street Journal, in yesterday's article on Cyprus, considered also the efforts by Greece for the admission of the Republic of Cyprus into the European Union as a causa belli. Do you have any comment on that since the U.S. Administration, as we've known, is very supportive for the admission of Cyprus into the EU?
MR. BURNS: I didn't quite get the question, Mr. Lambros. I'm sorry.
Q The question is, since the Wall Street Journal considered the efforts for the admission of the Republic of Cyprus into the European Union, as a causa belli?
MR. BURNS: As a --
Q Causa belli.
MR. BURNS: Causa belli. I'm sorry.
Q I would like to know if you have any comment since the U.S. Administration is very supportive for --
MR. BURNS: It should not be a causa belli. It should not be a reason for anyone to try to inflame the situation. I spoke last week about the United States Government position on Cyprus and its eventual admission into the European Union.
You know that the United States Government has a very positive outlook on that prospect. As I said yesterday, there's no reason for anyone to think that prospects for war have increased in Cyprus. There are too many countries and too many organizations like the United Nations that are interested working now with the parties on Cyprus -- the two communities, and Greece and Turkey -- for that to be a fear of anyone.
I don't agree with the main point of the article. I don't encourage you to incline yourselves in that direction either.
Q Do you have anything on Burma?
MR. BURNS: I do have something on Burma, yes.
Q (Inaudible) threats --
MR. BURNS: That's right. Ron, we've seen the statements by the military dictators in Rangoon that they intend to forbid Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize winner, from giving her normal Saturday address to the supporters of the National League for Democracy.
I would just note that the United States Government calls once again upon the Government of Burma to cease and desist in its pressure tactics against the Democrats in Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi has a right, under international law and under any reasonable standard of decency, to speak out about conditions in her own country. She also has a right to expect that her compatriots, who were arrested over the last two weeks, should be released from government detention.
By the count of the American Embassy in Rangoon, 150 of the 260 people who were originally detained have been confirmed released. That leaves a considerable number of people -- well over 100 -- who have not been released, who remain under government detention. Why? Because they wanted to express themselves in support of democracy.
So we strongly support the rights of the National League of Democracy. We strongly support Aung San Suu Kyi.
We would like now to try to work with some of our allied and friendly governments in Asia to try to find a way to convince the Government of Burma to stop its pressure tactics.
The Japanese Government has made some very positive and forceful comments in public, including some by the Japanese Foreign Minister. We would like to see similar comments and similar action from some of the other governments in the region.
As you know, we have identified that individual who will serve as an American envoy -- a special American envoy -- on the Burmese crisis. I believe there will be an announcement forthcoming, if not today, I'm sure early next week, about the identity of that person; and he will be dispatched to the region to try to see what the United States can do to work with these other countries in the region to increase pressure on the Burmese Government to act in a civilized manner.
Q This envoy will go next week, is what you're saying or just --
MR. BURNS: I don't have the dates of his departure, but I can tell you the individual, who's a prominent individual, has been identified. He's agreed to take up this assignment, and I think it's probably the best course of action right now.
The Burmese Government appears to be impervious to the feelings and sentiments of its own people. Perhaps it will respond more effectively if some of its trading partners in the area and fellow Asian countries can be organized in such a way to try to put more pressure on the Burmese Government.
Q Anything going on with the Middle East? Any plans for Dennis Ross or --
MR. BURNS: The entire region or just -- there's a lot going on in the Middle East.
Q I mean specifically the Arab-Israeli peace process.
MR. BURNS: The Arab-Israeli, yes. We have set no plans for meetings, because, as you know, Mr. Netanyahu is still forming his government, and we believe very strongly he ought to be given an opportunity to form the government. When the government is announced, I understand that the policy program of the government will also be announced concurrently with the announcement of the ministers. At that time we'll have an opportunity to begin formal discussions with the Israeli Government about how it intends to proceed on all these issues that you and I are all interested in. But until then, we're not going to have a lot to say.
I have nothing to give you in the way of onward travel by anyone, because there are no plans for that at this time, except to say that we are looking forward to Mr. Netanyahu's visit to the United States, whenever that can occur.
Q In the Middle East, Crown Prince Abdallah is representing Saudi Arabia in Damascus today at a summit meeting. Does that give you any indication that King Fahd is incapacitated?
MR. BURNS: It should not, no. I think there have been many occasions over the past year or so when the Crown Prince has represented the Saudi Government at international meetings. It's not surprising at all. But we have no reason to believe that His Majesty, the King, is incapacitated. He is certainly carrying out his duties. He is the sovereign there, and I said that last week, and I'll continue to repeat that today.
Q Middle East again. Do you have anything on the meeting of Mr. al-Husseini with Assistant Secretary Pelletreau yesterday?
MR. BURNS: Mr.?
Q Al-Husseini -- I believe Faisal al-Husseini.
MR. BURNS: Yes, Faisal Husseini. Yes.
Q And also he made some comments yesterday at (inaudible) saying that any new intifadah would be possible if the new Israeli Government decides to exclude Jerusalem in the final status talks. What's the U.S. position on that right now, since Secretary Christopher last week announced that there will be some adaptations in the policy?
MR. BURNS: Actually, the Secretary didn't quite say that. But let me just go to that directly and then go to your first question.
On the second question, as the Secretary said on Sunday in Geneva and as a number of us said subsequently, United States policy has not changed on the issue of settlements. United States policy has not changed on the other issues that you mentioned, issues that have been in play for quite some time in the Middle East. They have not changed. America has national interests and will continue to pursue them.
Mr. Husseini -- Faisal Husseini -- was in the Department yesterday. He saw Ambassador Pelletreau, Ambassador Dennis Ross and Toni Verstandig, who is our Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Near East. We know him quite well. He has been a figure in Palestinian politics for decades and is a quite respected figure. And, as you would imagine, we had full discussions with him yesterday on the situation there.
Q Any more on Pol Pot and his existence or lack of existence? The Khmer Rouge is denying that he has died, and I just wondered whether you had any firmer fix on that.
MR. BURNS: We don't have a firm fix. Unfortunately, the reports of Pol Pot's demise seem to be exaggerated, if not unconfirmed, and one can't think of a more despicable figure in the 20th century. He ranks right up there with Hitler and others. He's a mass murderer. I can't say we would be displeased to hear a final confirmation that he was no longer with us.
I would say this: The United States Government strongly supports the efforts of the Cambodian people to look towards the future -- King Sihanouk spoke about this yesterday -- to try to look toward the future, build their state and build their democracy.
We also support, as you know, their effort to at least look back to the past and try to achieve some measure of justice from the genocide that occurred in the 1970s -- between 1974 and '79. We are now funding an investigation which has been accomplished in part by Yale University. It's a genocide investigation. It takes place here at the Department of State.
We have submitted a study of the genocide to the Royal Government of Cambodia and to the United States Congress. We would firmly support any effort to try to bring those responsible for the genocide to justice, assuming that this will be done according to normal international legal proceedings.
The Cambodian people need to know that the international community is interested in bringing those who are still alive, still at large, and responsible for these crimes to justice, and we will continue those efforts working with them.
Q Is the study public?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if the study has been made public. I can see, George. But I know that we have finished at least the initial part of the study. It's called "Striving for Justice: Accountability in the Crimes of the Khmer Rouge." We spent money on this and time and effort. We had a U.S. Government office in the State Department established for this purpose, as you know, and we remain willing to cooperate with the Cambodian Government and the Cambodian people and others around the world to set up a process that would bring these people to justice.
Q Back to Faisal Husseini. He wants Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestinian state. Just for the record, you said the U.S. policy did not change. Can you repeat what the policy is on that?
MR. BURNS: It hasn't changed. It's so well known that most of the people in this room can report it and cite it word for word. But, if I cite it right now during this interregnum, it might not be helpful to the situation, so I'm just not going to go beyond the fact. You can be assured that American policy on Jerusalem has not changed.
Q Any truth to rumors that Ambassador Mondale will step down this summer?
MR. BURNS: I know of no indications that he will step down this summer. He's currently serving with great distinction in Tokyo. I know of no plans. He has the full confidence, obviously, of the President and the Secretary of State.
Q There's a little item in the Wall Street Journal this morning, suggesting that the Secretary of State will stay on in a next Clinton Administration. You talked about Mondale. Perhaps you can talk about the Secretary of State.
MR. BURNS: All I can tell you on that, George, is that I think what we've got to do is, first there has to be in the first Tuesday in November an election, and then if President Clinton is re-elected by the American people, the Secretary of State, obviously, will want to have some conversations with the President, as he said many times, about his future. But the Secretary has made no decisions on that score.
He currently is working, as you know -- and those of you who travel with him know -- extremely hard on all the problems and challenges facing the United States. We have a full agenda. We had some very good news yesterday from Geneva. We have a possible breakthrough on the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty negotiations. He's working very hard on that and will be working hard on that in the coming weeks.
He's working very hard on the Bosnia question, just having been in Geneva with the three Presidents. He'll be working on that throughout the summer. He'll be taking an important trip to Asia this summer, where we'll have the ASEAN meetings, where he'll meet the Chinese Foreign Minister, and then on to Australia.
Working hard on Middle East issues, where, of course, the environment having been changed, he needs to remain focused on that problem. So there's a lot on his plate. He's very energetic. He takes his job very seriously, and I think he's enjoying his job.
So I wouldn't believe everything that you read in the papers about these assumptions that people are making. "He's going to do this, he's going to do that." The Secretary will make his own decisions in due time.
Q It quoted a senior aides. Did you see the item?
MR. BURNS: I saw it in the Washington wires. I don't know who all these senior aides are. (Laughter) All I can tell you is I can speak on the record about this issue, and I'm happy to do so, to enlighten you and to calm this situation down.
Q What's going on with CTBT, specifically?
Q He's following the situation quite closely. There was a very good statement by the Chinese Ambassador, as you know, to the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty negotiations, saying that China would now, in essence, not insist on the position that countries should be allowed to have peaceful nuclear explosions.
That was heartening to us, because we think that peaceful nuclear explosions can bring military benefits to the country that practices them. We do have some issues that need to be worked through, including some verification issues, but we're hopeful if that can take place by the end of this month, and I know there's a deadline on June 28, that it might be possible for our President and the leaders of the other nuclear countries to sign a Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty in September at the United Nations.
This would represent the fulfillment of four decades of hopes by Americans and Chinese and Russians and British and French diplomats and people that we might get to that point at the end of this century where no one is testing -- no tests at all -- and that would be a great improvement in nuclear stability and certainly a great improvement in the environmental consequences of some of the tests that have occurred.
Q But what is the Secretary doing? Is he speaking -- by phone to some specific high-level officials and --
MR. BURNS: The Secretary is giving instructions to our negotiators at Geneva. The Secretary is an experienced negotiator and, of course, will follow this period between now and June 28 very closely.
He took time out of a trip in March to travel to Geneva to meet with the Ambassadors, including the Chinese Ambassador, representing the nuclear countries at Geneva, and I think the Secretary would be open to any possible effort to make a difference here, should our negotiators believe that's necessary over the coming weeks.
This is one of the most important priorities of the United States, and if you think about the interests of the American people, there are few things that would be more important to every person living in this country than a Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.
Q But there are no plans right now for him to make a special trip to go and lobby some countries on this?
MR. BURNS: No, there's nothing that I have -- no, there are no firm plans right now to do anything like that, but I wouldn't discount the possibility that the Secretary might get involved in one way or another on this issue.
Q Does the U.S. accept the Chinese demand that this be a temporary 10-year review of the question of peaceful experiments?
MR. BURNS: We prefer not to negotiate in public. We prefer to negotiate in private. We do have some thoughts on that, and we don't agree with all of the conditions that the Chinese Government is now laying out publicly. We do have some differences of opinion, and we're making those known.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:24 p.m.)
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