U.S. Department of State 96/06/25 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, June 25, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies ANNOUNCEMENTS Welcome to Visiting Japanese Journalists .................. 1 Welcome to Two Summer Press Office Interns................. 1 BALTIC STATES U.S. Baltic Foundation to Present Awards to State Department Baltic Desk Officers .................................... 1-2 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Acting Asst. Secretary Kornblum's Return to the Region/Mtgs 2 Swiss Federal Counselor Cotti's Certification of Bosnian Elections for September 14, l996 ........................ 2-3 Reports Karadzic May Step Down ............................ 3 Dayton Accords re: Karadzic Holding Party Position vs Elective Office ........................................ 3-4 Prospects for Reimposition of Sanctions on Serbia ......... 5 G-7 SUMMIT Summit Agenda/Business with "Rogue States"/Test Ban Treaty 5-6 ARMS CONTROL U.S. Position on Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) ..... 6 India's Position on Signing Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty . 6-7 Israel's Position on Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ....... 7-8 ISRAEL Secretary Christopher's Mtg with Prime Minister Netanyahu . 8 Visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to U.S. on July 9 ....... 8-9 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Date for Resumption of Monitoring Group Talks ............. 9 Palestinian Authority Call for Meeting Between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat ............ 9-10 IRAQ Reported Criticism of U.S. Support for Iraqi Dissents ..... 9 TAIWAN Reports U.S. Plans to Sell Tanks to Taiwan ................ 10 CENTRAL/LATIN AMERICA OperRelations with U.N. .. 13-14
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 1996, 12:47 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I've got a few announcements to begin with, and then I'll go to your questions.
First, to welcome some visitors to today's Daily Press Briefing. Five Japanese journalists are here joining us today. They are participating in a program for journalists who work in the English language press in Japan, a program designed to expose you to the practices and policies of the American press system. So welcome to our briefing today.
Second, to welcome to our staff temporarily for the summer but intensively, I'm sure, two interns who will be with the Bureau of Public Affairs -- the Press Office -- this summer.
Darlene Allison, who comes to us from the University of Washington at Seattle and is working on concurrent Master's Degrees in Public Affairs and Communications, to be awarded in 1998. So that's ambitious.
And Amanda Batt. Amanda just graduated from the alternative program at H.B. Woodlawn High School in Arlington, Virginia, going to the University of Virginia this fall. Is it true that's a party school? (Laughter)
Anyway, please do make Darlene and Amanda feel welcome. I'm sure it's a serious school. I'm just kidding. I went to a party school, so I know -- Georgetown. It's a big party school.
Another announcement, to let you know that tomorrow night the U.S. Baltic Foundation will be conferring some distinguished service awards in the presence of the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on all of the Baltic Desk Officers who have served at the State Department since before World War II, in fact, to the present. This is kind of a unique event, and I thought I'd let you know about it.
Some of the Baltic Desk Officers, if you go back into the mists, include George Kennan, who was a Baltic Desk Officer from 1937 to 1940. Claiborne Pell, who was a Baltic Desk Officer a bit later, and the list goes on and on and includes many, many distinguished Foreign Service Officers.
The U.S. Baltic Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to advancing democratic development free markets and intra-Baltic cooperation. They have offices in the region and here.
On Bosnia, a couple of announcements. First off that Acting Assistant Secretary John Kornblum will return to the Balkans tonight. He will be making stops in Zagreb, Belgrade and Sarajevo before joining the Secretary at Lyon for the G-7 Summit.
Ambassador Kornblum will be going to the region to address a range of issues related to the implementation of the Dayton Accords. He will, as he always does, press the parties to comply fully with their obligations under the agreement, including, importantly, provisions concerning war criminals.
He'll meet in Zagreb with President Tudjman to talk a bit about the status of the Federation and the Defense Law, and, of course, cooperation on war crimes. In Belgrade, he'll meet with President Milosevic. The principal focus of discussions there will be Serbia's record of cooperation in bringing war criminals to justice.
In Sarajevo, Acting Assistant Secretary Kornblum will convene the third full session of the Federation Forum and meet with a full range of high-ranking officials, including President Izetbegovic.
Finally, just to provide you with some reaction to the announcement today by Swiss Federal Counselor Flavio Cotti that he has certified that Bosnian elections will take place on September 14.
The United States welcomes Federal Counselor Cotti's decision to certify that the elections should take place on that date. We appreciate all of the work that he's done, the time and careful consideration which he's put into making this decision, and we share his conclusion that continuing uncertainty about the elections could heighten political division in Bosnia even more, and therefore we agree that elections on September 14 is the right decision to have made.
Of course, these elections won't be perfect. They can't be perfect. There are many organizational challenges. Nevertheless, elections will bring into being the multi-ethnic government structure which was foreseen in the Bosnian constitution, and it is a critical first step to moving the peace process forward.
Q Also on Bosnia, there are fresh reports this morning that Karadzic may decide to step down. Have you heard anything?
MR. DAVIES: Sure, we've seen the same reports that you've seen. We've seen the statements made by Mr. Bildt. We've seen the press reports -- indicating a source to individuals close to Karadzic -- that he may step down.
We are waiting to see what happens. I think what's important here is that in fact Karadzic is removed from power. He cannot run for office, and ultimately he should be delivered up to The Hague where he is wanted as an indicted war criminal. So that's essentially our reaction.
This will be discussed by Acting Assistant Secretary Kornblum when he goes out to the region, and I would hope as a result of that trip that we'd have a bit more certainty on all of this. But these are interesting developments, and we hope there's something to them.
Q There's another report that he may be pushed out of Serbia; that the Serbian Parliament has called for him to step aside and an interim president to be named. Do you have anything on that?
MR. DAVIES: Judd, this falls in the same category. We've seen the report. We haven't confirmed any of that from our standpoint. All of it tends in a positive direction, and we think whether he's pushed or pulled or walks off the stage himself, it's off the stage he should go. So we're looking forward to further positive developments, and we hope that some of these reports are borne out.
Q Just sort of a clarification on something you just said and the language of the Dayton Accords. When you say that he cannot hold a position of power, can you say whether a position of power is an elected position, or there have been some references to him not holding the presidency but retaining the party leadership. And some argue that holding the party leadership is equally as important, if not more, and extremely powerful, but it's not an elected office.
MR. DAVIES: Laura, that may be putting a little -- I mean, a fine point on it to some extent. He certainly in our view and in the view of the international community cannot hold any elective office, and he should be ultimately brought to the bar of justice and tried based on the indictment that the War Crimes Tribunal has written out on him.
Whether he retains some position at the head of a party or not, I think in a sense is kind of immaterial. We would certainly expect that in essence he would be removed from all positions of authority, whether official or unofficial. But I can certainly speak definitively to this issue of whether or not he can hold elective office, and he cannot.
Q Yes, but can you take the question as to whether it's possible for him to be the unelected behind-the-scenes power in Republika Srpska?
MR. DAVIES: I'm happy to look into that. I don't know that it's ultimately up to the United States to pronounce definitively on that. I think that's kind of a question for the international community. Again, I think it's very much a fine point here. I mean, he ought to be removed from positions of authority, and furthermore he ought to be brought to trial.
We would certainly not want to see him retain any positions of authority, whether governmental or in a party context, and it would certainly be a shame if anything like that were to develop. And I'm certain that the international community will do all it can to make sure that that does not end up being the case.
Q (Inaudible) tonight.
MR. DAVIES: He's leaving tonight. Any more on that?
Q You still feel the same way about Ratko Mladic, I trust.
MR. DAVIES: Sure, absolutely.
Q Everybody is talking not only about Karadzic.
MR. DAVIES: He's a bad guy.
Q Just for the record, he should be in The Hague before elections take place.
MR. DAVIES: He should be in The Hague, absolutely, yes.
Q (Inaudible) the outcome of this Congress on whether or not Karadzic will stand in the election -- determine whether or not you would want to impose -- reimpose sanctions on Serbia? I mean, are events this week --
MR. DAVIES: We always retain the right to come out in favor of reimposition of sanctions. Sanctions are always out there as, if you will, a strong incentive, but I don't have anything to announce today about either conditionality on sanctions or a decision that we've made. I mean, we've noted what Carl Bildt has said about sanctions, and he has now set up a deadline.
But we don't from our standpoint, the standpoint of the U.S. Government, have anything like that to announce today.
Anything more on Bosnia? Yes.
Q I have a question on the G-7 Summit and then a follow-up. It seems the success of the G-7 Summit could be hampered by the U.S. legislation that punishes foreign companies that do business with the so-called rogue states.
Could you tell us how the United States intends to deal with the potentially angry G-7 members?
MR. DAVIES: We went around a little bit on this, I think, yesterday. Our position is very well known. We think that Libya, Iran, Cuba, the so-called rogue states -- their behavior is such that it's appropriate that there be a reaction to it. The United States has chosen to react in very strong terms, and we're making the case to our friends and allies that in fact we need to be much tougher with those three nations in order to try to bring about a change in their behavior, because their behavior sort of indicates that Cuba hasn't changed in a couple of generations.
So that is the case that we've made, and I said yesterday, and I'll reiterate again today, that we don't expect that the G-7 will take up a lot of time, take up these issues to any great extent. That shouldn't be, obviously, the main agenda of the G-7. There are many bigger issues to talk about.
Q You don't think your allies at the G-7 will put up a fight or push for that to be --
MR. DAVIES: You'd have to ask them. I can't predict what the other members of the G-7 will bring to the table at Lyon. I've said that the United States for its part would prefer to spend the precious time at Lyon talking about other matters -- you know, macroeconomic issues, some of the initiatives that the G-7 is undertaking against international crime. All of those issues, I think, are a great deal more important than some legislation pending in the United States.
Q I just want to follow up on that. As a follow up, could one of these items on the agenda be also the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that should be signed in Geneva?
MR. DAVIS: That may well come up. I think, there would be a great deal of unanimity among the G-7. Most members of the international community would like to see a Test Ban Treaty concluded. In fact, negotiations are underway in Geneva and they're at a very hot and heavy stage; you could even call it the "end game" in Geneva as we try to work through some of the issues left and achieve a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that can be signed in a couple of months and concluded this year.
Q Any thoughts about how effective that treaty could be if India, Pakistan, and other states refuse to sign?
MR. DAVIS: You're asking me to speculate, in a sense. We've seen what India has had to say. We've seen what India has had to say.
We've discussed with the Indian Government, in the context of the Geneva negotiations, their concerns. The negotiations aren't over. We hope very much that at the end of the day we will have a text that everybody can agree on. We will, for the first time in history, have a true Test Ban Treaty that outlaws all nuclear explosions. I think that goes a long way toward meeting India's concerns.
India, of course, was the country that initially proposed this kind of a measure many, many years ago. If we can go this step and conclude a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, that gets us pretty far down the road toward eventual global nuclear disarmament, as a follow up to all of the nuclear disarmament steps that the United States and Russia and other nations have been engaged in.
So we think it's important to go ahead with the CTBT and not to try to make the best -- the enemy the good. It's too big a task to get it all down at once. It's important to go forward with this step. Then, we can talk about further steps afterwards.
Q Are you willing to predict whether India will change its position by Friday?
MR. DAVIS: I'm not going to try to predict what India will do. You would have to ask the Indians what their thinking is.
Q Can the treaty go through without India? You all said you would check on that last week?
MR. DAVIS: That, as I understand it, is one of the items being discussed at Geneva. There's a discussion of precisely under what terms a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would come into force.
That's, if you will, a debate that's occurring in Geneva. What I don't want to get into now is kind of a blow-by-blow description of every proposal and counter-proposal that's being put on the table at Geneva.
We're making our best effort in Geneva to conclude negotiations on a CTBT. We don't think it's productive in the midst of these negotiations to critique each proposal that comes up.
Q Could you explain to us what was the Israeli reaction to the request by the United States Government that Israel, Pakistan, and India join and sign the NPT -- and join with the rest of the international community?
MR. DAVIS: Give me that one more time so I can answer it.
Q What is Israel's position after you requested -- I think the Administration expressed its wish a few days ago that they would like to have Israel, Pakistan, and India sign the NPT and join the rest of the world?
MR. DAVIS: Our position is pretty well known on the NPT; that we would like very much for the NPT to be a universal system or regime.
In terms of the Middle East, specifically, we recognize that that issue -- the non-proliferation issue -- will probably have to be one of the issues that is dealt with in the basket of issues that are dealt with as a comprehensive peace is achieved. So we don't have any illusions that it will be possible to wrap up the NPT in that part of the world in advance of a more general peace agreement. That's our position.
We're not going to necessarily put the NPT in front of trying to conclude a regional peace. A regional peace is a bit more important to us right now.
Q You don't think this would have been brought up in the current talks between the Secretary of State and Mr. Netanyahu?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think so. I doubt very much that it was brought up just because the Secretary didn't all that much time. He had to go quickly through the Middle East on his way to Lyon, but I can't say for certain. That's a question you would want to address to them.
Q Can you address an assessment or a situation report about the talks between Mr. Netanyahu and the --
MR. DAVIES: The best situation report or assessment was given by Mr. Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, and by the Secretary of State, who gave a press conference just, I guess, an hour and a half, two hours ago.
The Secretary laid out what he had come to Israel to try to achieve. He achieved it. He was there to underscore the importance of the strategic relationship between the United States and Israel -- Number One.
Number Two, he was there to reiterate the United States commitment to assist Israel. He'll repeat this commitment when he goes to Cairo tomorrow, that peace should be pursued and that we strongly support pursuing peace without preconditions.
Finally -- Number Three -- the Secretary was in Israel to help prepare the way for a very successful visit to the United States by the new Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He will be here on July 9.
The Secretary formally announced the fact that Netanyahu is coming to the United States.
So that's what the Secretary went to do. He went, in a phrase, to establish a good working relationship with the Prime Minister, and he did so. He'll be in Israel through tomorrow morning and then off to Egypt to talk to President Mubarak and to talk to Chairman Arafat.
Q Do you expect that when Mr. Netanyahu comes here the 9th of July that they will set a date for resumption of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, or has there been talk about this at this meeting today between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Christopher?
MR. DAVIES: It's certainly our position and it appears to be the position, increasingly, of the parties in the region that peace talks should be resumed without preconditions.
Whether or not a date is announced when Mr. Netanyahu comes to the United States, I can't say. We'll have to wait and see. That's still some weeks off.
The United States view is that peace talks should go forward soon without preconditions. If you followed what the Secretary and the Prime Minister had to say, I think the Secretary's trip to Israel helped moved things forward in that regard.
Q Do you have a date for the resumption of the Monitoring Group talks?
MR. DAVIES: I don't. The Monitoring Group talks, of course, depend heavily on the presence of Ambassador Dennis Ross who is with the Secretary in the region. Once he gets back, perhaps we can look into that and find out when they'll be resumed.
Those talks have been held among Ambassador Ross and then the Ambassadors of the parties to that agreement. So it can be done pretty much anytime those officials are here in Washington. We'll see, but we hope soon.
Q There's a report in a state-run newspaper in Iraq criticizing U.S. support for Jordanian-based Iraqi dissidents. It says, "Clinton's support for Iraqi traitors is terrorism from a big country that pays money for mercenaries and traitors to attack innocent Iraqi civilians." Anything you have to say about that?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think so. I don't think I'll comment on that.
Q Can I go back to the Middle East? The Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority have concerns -- great concerns -- and expressed this morning by the Chairman of the Palestine Legislative Council, Ahmed Qureia, that there is no indication from Mr. Netanyahu except some people from his entourage that he is going to meet, or he is planning to meet with Yasser Arafat.
Due to the fact that he is the interlocutor and the peace partner - - no matter what Netanyahu says -- because he's the only one will deliberate and talk to him, is the United States calling on Mr. Netanyahu to meet with Yasser Arafat as well to prepare for the eventual resumption of the peace talks between both parties?
MR. DAVIES: Abdul Salam, I get the impression you did not see this press conference that occurred just a couple of hours ago.
Q Because of the power failure, I didn't have power--
MR. DAVIES: The power failure. Okay.
Q -- in Fairfax County, I didn't get the cable. I was going to watch it this morning.
MR. DAVIES: We'll get in touch with the authorities in Fairfax and try to straighten that out for you.
The questions you're asking are good questions. They were addressed at a much high pay grade by my boss, or bosses -- the Secretary of State -- and, as well, in a sense, by Prime Minister Netanyahu. So I would refer you to what they had to say about it.
This, for the Secretary of State, was an opportunity to get together for the first time with Prime Minister Netanyahu in his new capacity and to talk over positions, if you will. I don't know that that issue came up. Take a look at that transcript. If you find that there are any holes, give me a call.
Q Anything on U.S. plans to sell tanks to Taiwan?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on that. It might be a good question to ask of the Pentagon. Have there been recent reports in that regard?
Q Do you have anything to say about "Operation Laser Strike" that's going on currently --
MR. DAVIES: This is in Central and Latin America?
Q Right; staging out of Panama.
MR. DAVIES: I don't. Again, I think that's probably a question for the Pentagon.
My understanding, based on a brief conversation I had this morning with the people from the Pentagon, is that they've announced this; it's going to go forward. It's not aimed at any problems within Panama. It's being staged, as you properly put it, out of Panama and directed at difficulties in other countries. I don't have any details on it.
Q There are reports of, I believe, a Second Vice President of Panama and someone else having taken campaign contributions from drug sources?
MR. DAVIES: You may be referring to the reports that -- was it President Balladares in Panama? Do I have this right?
MR. DAVIES: In fact, some monies did come to his campaign -- I think $50,000 from narco-traffickers. When he discovered this, he made it public. He went ahead to redress the situation. That may be the report that you're referring to. He went ahead and laid it all out once he discovered where the money had come from.
I don't think that's at all related to these reports that the Pentagon has embarked on some new action.
Q Are you all close to any decision on what to do about the situation in Colombia?
MR. DAVIES: If we were close, I probably wouldn't say. The situation in Colombia, our relations with that country, those issues are under constant review. I, today, don't have anything to announce.
Q You mentioned the possibility of sanctions a week ago -- of more sanctions.
MR. DAVIES: Sanctions are always an option. But, again, today, nothing to announce. We spoke yesterday a bit about our dispute with Colombia on civil aviation matters. That, as I said yesterday, is unrelated to counternarcotics performance.
Q Also on civil aviation matters. The Cubans are saying that the United States manipulated the U.N. Civil Aviation organization, and they referred darkly to a five-hour meeting between U.S. and U.N. officials as sort of "cooked" the results which were disclosed last week. Do you have anything to say about the Cuban allegations?
MR. DAVIES: That's nonsense that we "cooked" the results. The information that we gave to the ICAO was evaluated by the ICAO. They are to meet, in fact, tomorrow in Montreal to go over the report that's been completed that we've seen because it was released to the member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization just a few days ago.
We believe, and we expect, that the report will be an objective record of the events of February 24 of this year. We also believe that it will conclusively demonstrate that the two unarmed U.S.-registered civil aircraft were shot down in international air space and that the Cubans did not attempt to follow any kind of standard international procedures and warning or intercepting those aircraft.
What I don't want to do is get into any more detailed commentary on the report, because the meeting to be held tomorrow will consider it and decide when and how to release it. Representing us at that meeting will be Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena, who will lead our delegation to underscore the importance that we attach to the report and to the appropriate ICAO action.
Q It may be released tomorrow, the report?
MR. DAVIES: That's one for the ICAO. I don't know. I know that there will be this meeting tomorrow in Montreal. Secretary Pena will represent us, but I don't have any word on what their plans are for releasing the report.
Q Do you know what time the meeting is-- in the morning, in the evening? Do you know?
MR. DAVIES: Those details I don't have, but we could get those for you. That wouldn't be difficult.
Q On Burma, it was reported that one of the Aung San Suu Kyi supporters died in prison last week, and there are quite a few people detained in prison.
MR. DAVIES: Right.
Q And are you still considering next steps to be taken for this Burmese action?
MR. DAVIES: We're always considering steps to be taken. Our policy toward that nation is always under review. What happened -- and this was very sad -- was that a gentleman by the name of Leo Nichols, who was a businessman and a friend of Aung San Suu Kyi, died, and he died in jail.
Leo Nichols had served as honorary Consul for Norway and was a local agent for some other countries. He was 65 years old and reportedly suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in his cell while in prison on June 22. He had a history of health problems.
We can't say whether or not the reports we're getting from the Burmese regime are correct or incorrect about his cause of death, but certainly his imprisonment on a questionable charge and the harsh prison conditions, which included being kept in isolation, may well have contributed to his death.
We think that his death heightens the urgency for the SLORC -- the State Law and Order Restoration Council -- to release all those persons in Burma who are being held solely for their peaceful exercise of their basic political rights. There was really no reason to take him into custody in the first place, and there's certainly no reason for the Burmese regime to be holding the many individuals they are, including many members of Parliament-elect who belong to Aung San Suu Kyi's party.
Q How do you know there was no reason for him to be taken into custody in the first place?
MR. DAVIES: We don't believe that there was. We believe that his case is very similar to the cases of the many others who were taken into custody by the Burmese authorities. By all indications, they appear to have been taken into custody merely because they belong to a party and were attempting to have contact with her.
She has a huge following -- Aung San Suu Kyi. Just on Sunday, 5,000 people came to see her speak. She is trying to build a democratic movement in that country and every time she takes a step to do so, the Burmese regime blocks her path, including by holding people in detention. They're playing games. They'll arrest a couple hundred people; they'll release 100 of them; they'll keep others.
We believe that that kind of arbitrary action is not at all warranted and ought to cease, and they should allow her and her supporters to go about their business.
Q Is the United States freezing the payments to the United Nations due to the fact that the United States and Mr. Boutros-Ghali are estranged with each other, and they have no meeting point, since he wants to renew his mandate, and the United States is opposing this? How is the situation? How are the relations at the present time between the United States and the United Nations?
MR. DAVIES: We aren't freezing any payments for the United Nations based on our view about the future of the secretary generalship of that organization. I'm not sure where you got that. But, no, we have a great deal of respect for Secretary General Boutros-Ghali. We've said so. We simply believe, and we went into this at great length last week, that the United Nations needs new leadership to meet the increasing challenges facing the organization, especially internal challenges.
The U.N. is an organization that's made a few steps toward reform, but it's in great need of further reform, and we think that new leadership is required. That's why we took the position that we took last week that we will not support Secretary General Boutros-Ghali for a second five-year mandate.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:19 p.m.) (###)
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