U.S. Department of State 96/06/26 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, June 26, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies ANNOUNCEMENT Welcome to Visitors from Algiers .......................... 1 Saudi Arabia: Public Announcement re Al-Khobar Bombing .... 1-2 SAUDI ARABIA Security Situation, Threats to Compound ................... 2-4 Past Public Announcements, Warnings to Americans .......... 3,7,9- 10,13-14 Saudi Security Responsibilities, Response, Investigation .. 2-5,8-9, 14 Effect on U.S. Policy, Assessment of Saudi Stability ...... 5-6,11 Meeting at State with GCC Reps ............................ 6 Possible Reward, Responsibility, Motivation of Terrorists . 6-7,11-13 Nomination Hearing for U.S. Ambassador-Designate Fowler ... 7 Need for International Cooperation to Combat Terrorism .... 7,9-10,12 - Follow-On to Sharm al-Shaikh Conference ................ 9-10 - Netanyahu Call for Cooperation to Combat Syrian Terrorism 12 Secretary Christopher's Activities in Saudi Arabia ........ 10-11 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC U.S. Neutrality in Upcoming Runoff Elections .............. 14-15 BOSNIA-CROATIA-SERBIA Amb. Kornblum's Balkan Travels, Meeting with Milosevic .... 15-16 Karadzic Resignation/Marginalization/War Crimes Charges ... 15-16 ISRAEL U.S. View of PriMin Netanyahu Government Policies ......... 16 - Secretary Christopher's Contacts, Goals ................ 16 IRAQ U.S. Companies Bid for Iraqi Oil Sales .................... 16-17
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 1996, 1:19 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Sorry I am a couple of minutes late. A lot of information to track down today.
I've got two announcements to begin with. First off, to welcome some visitors to today's briefing -- Omar Berbiche and Mohamed Chermat, who are journalists with the independent French-speaking newspapers in Algiers, in the United States to study the bases of America's freedom of the press. They are sponsored by USIA. So, welcome to you.
Second, with regard to the bombing that occurred yesterday in Saudi Arabia, the very tragic bombing, to let you know that the U. S. Department of State has just released a public announcement which reads as follows:
At approximately 9:55 p.m. local time, Tuesday, June 25th, a terrorist explosion occurred in Al Khobar near Dhahran in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. It apparently was directed at military coalition forces.
The number of casualties is estimated at over 240 people, including the deaths of some American citizens. The U. S. Embassy and Consulates and the U. S. military component of the coalition are working with Saudi officials to deal with the tragedy and to ensure that additional measures are taken to protect the security of Americans in the Kingdom.
The U. S. Embassy has again encouraged American citizens in Saudi Arabia to be vigilant of their personal security and surroundings, to keep a low profile, to reduce travel within the Kingdom, to treat mail from unfamiliar sources with suspicion, and to report any suspicious activities to the U. S. Embassy, or the nearest U. S. Consulate.
The U. S. Embassy in Riyadh has suspended temporarily all routine consular services in order to be able to provide essential emergency services to American citizens in Saudi Arabia.
The Department of Defense has provided the following telephone numbers for relatives of affected service members seeking information. For those related to Air Force personnel, the number is l-800-253-9279, and I think the Pentagon has already put that out. Those from other services, the number is 703-697-5l3l. And that's what I have for the top.
Q Can you talk about threats to the compound prior to yesterday's incident?
MR. DAVIES: Well, at this stage, I really can't, because we don't have the kind of information that we need. An investigation has been launched. The President has spoken several times and has indicated that a team has gone out -- I think a team went out at about five o'clock this morning from Andrews Air Force Base, composed of FBI agents, some military personnel, some personnel from the State Department -- to investigate what has occurred, to help the Saudi authorities as they follow up.
So, our bottom line is that we really have to await the results of that investigation to put together exactly what happened in the run-up to this terrible tragedy, and what has happened in the aftermath of it.
Q You are not aware of any threats in the weeks preceding this incident?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to report to you right now by way of threats directed at that compound, specific threats. We have seen the same reports that I think most of you have seen, that in fact there were reports of suspicious activities that had occurred in the days and weeks preceding the bombing. But in terms of phoned or mailed or faxed threats, I just don't have any information at this time to report.
MR. DAVIES: Yes.
Q Glyn, is the U. S. military and the Saudis now looking again at the security situation of all U. S. personnel to see that there are no unsecured roads that are coming close to our personnel, that this could be repeated. Apparently, it has been repeated, as you have announced, but are we rechecking? And, Glyn, how come this road was even open to traffic?
MR. DAVIES: Well, Bill, you know, the security situation and precautions that are taken, not just in Saudi Arabia but around the world, are constantly being reviewed. Now, clearly there may be lessons to be learned from this particular incident. We have all kinds of rules as regards setbacks from roads for buildings that house Americans. We have rules for security procedures that are to be set up at American installations of various kinds. The Department of Defense can fill you in better on the precise security arrangements that existed at that facility near Dhahran, so I can't speak to that directly.
But, of course, the U. S. military has set up in the wake of this more stringent security for their personnel, and they have said as much.
We have, for our part, and I read it today, issued further warnings to American citizens in Saudi Arabia, and we will have to await the results of the investigation to know what other measures should be taken.
MR. DAVIES: Go ahead.
Q There was -- before the warning that was released today, the previous warning was in May, I believe, of this year?
MR. DAVIES: That's right.
Q And were there any other warnings that were released in Saudi Arabia concerning threats against Americans between that May release and the release today?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not aware of any warnings that may have been issued in Saudi Arabia. Whether the Department of Defense issued warnings, they could speak to that. But we did, on May 16th of this year, put out a public announcement on Saudi Arabia. You will recall that in the wake of a threat, a telephone call threatening retaliation against Americans in Saudi Arabia if the four Saudis charged with the earlier bombing were punished, we put out all of that information to American citizens at that time, and that was the operative public announcement up until the announcement that I have just issued.
Q In the wake of this tragedy, the fact that that particular installation and others in Saudi Arabia had been, security had been beefed up because of the previous bombing and the subsequent threats -- the fact that there was a barrier and an increased security and still this spectacular explosion took place, do you feel that the security that is provided currently for U. S. installations is enough, is adequate?
MR. DAVIES: We go to tremendous lengths to provide security for American personnel, military personnel and civilian personnel. Many of you who have visited our embassies, for instance, overseas, know just how secure many of those embassies have become in the last generation or so as a result of what we have learned from terrorist attacks.
There is another point to be made here, which is that a determined terrorist is difficult to stop, especially if they concoct the kinds of devices that we have seen explode here, in Dhahran. That kind of a device that can leave a crater thirty feet deep and eighty feel wide is awfully hard to guard against. You can't close every road; you can't increase your setbacks to such an extent that you have absolutely no contact with the public, or the public can't get to you in any fashion.
I have seen the reports that you have seen that this tanker truck, or whatever it was, may have tried to enter the compound and was turned back; that the security measures put in place before today, or before yesterday, may have prevented much wider bloodshed. We'll have to see. That may well have been the case there, because we have taken increasingly strong measures to protect Americans.
Q I read that the Saudis were in charge of the perimeter security, the perimeter control, and that it, in fact, was a U. S. guard at a gate who became suspicious of the truck and who directed the Saudi guards outside of the gate to investigate the truck.
Do we have confidence that the Saudis are in fact paying enough attention to our concerns about security, and that they are up to this task?
MR. DAVIES: Well, I am glad you asked, because that allows me to make a point, actually two points. The first is that, of course the Saudis are charged with security at American installations in Saudi Arabia, and that's consistent with the practice all around the world where Americans are stationed.
It is usually the case that the host government has a measure of responsibility for security. And then, of course, we protect our own, as the President has said, and do everything we can to provide security ourselves.
The second point is that the Saudis have, we believe, acted in an exemplary fashion here. They reacted quickly when the warning was sounded. They have, in the wake of the bombing itself really stepped up to this very strongly to provide medical services, to launch an investigation. The White House, I believe, indicated that there was a phone conversation last night between King Fahd and the President. So they have moved swiftly to express their condolences to the American people, to mount an investigation in full cooperation with the United States, and King Fahd, himself, assured the President of his government's full cooperation when he extended his condolences to those affected.
He also expressed appreciation for our having dispatched an FBI team to help the Saudis as they go ahead to follow up on this and investigate it.
Q This may be premature, but I'm going to ask it anyhow. Given the geopolitical importance of Saudi Arabia and its obvious economic importance as a major source of oil in the world, is the State Department reassessing policy towards Saudi Arabia? Are you concerned about stability in Saudi Arabia? This is, after all, the second attack since November in a place that prided itself on rather rigid stability?
MR. DAVIES: There's no basic reassessment that's been launched of security in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has for --
Q I'm not worried about security so much as the relationship with Saudi Arabia and the larger question.
MR. DAVIES: Oh, no, in fact much less that. I know of no look that's been launched at our relationship with Saudi Arabia, whether it should be affected by this. I don't think so at all. I mean, the United States is not going to cut and run in the face of terrorist attacks, even determined terrorist attacks like this, employing rather sophisticated methods.
That's a point that's been made by the President, the Secretary of State and we note as well on Capitol Hill. This is important to note Senators and Congressmen have said that they, too, believe the United States should stick with our commitments in that part of the world, indeed all around the world, and not let terrorists back us down or face us down.
Q I notice there was a meeting downstairs between the United States and the GCC members -- Gulf Cooperation members. Was that called because of the bombing, or was it just a regular, routine meeting between --
MR. DAVIES: I don't know of any connection between the two. I would have to look into that for you.
Q Does the United States -- does the State Department intend to offer a reward in this case?
MR. DAVIES: Not at this time. I have nothing to announce. I did see in the press that the Saudi Government, I believe, has offered a reward in the wake of this, so there is, I believe, a reward out there. But I don't know of any reward that we've issued. We do have a reward program that's been rather active and successful.
Normally, though, we develop information first so that we can target reward programs a bit better at individuals or at better sources of information. I don't think in this case we have any leads yet.
Q You mentioned that the State Department issued a public announcement or advisory on May 16, I think. In light of that and the threat that you seem to have perceived, is your -- are your suspicions going in that direction to the organization that these four people belonged to?
MR. DAVIES: It's just too early to know where to direct suspicion. We will have to get our team in place on the ground with the Saudis and launch into -- work with them. They've already begun their effort, and our military officials on the ground in Saudi Arabia are working with them.
We'll have to see. There will be no effort spared in this, but we are less than 24 hours after the bombing has occurred, so it's very difficult to even begin to assign suspicions to one group or another. But the United States will be tireless. We expect the Saudis will as well, and we'll follow up every lead and look into every suspicion that we have.
Q Do you know many advisories or public announcements you issued following the November attack in Riyadh? I mean, there was the one in May, but I think there were a few others.
MR. DAVIES: There was one in January as well that I don't have in front of me. But there have been consistently warnings and public announcements issued by the State Department. Certainly, whenever we get a credible threat, we put the word out.
I should also point out that there is another level of activity, and that is the level that occurs in-country, in Saudi Arabia itself. Our Embassy has already put out locally -- that is, within Saudi Arabia -- the information that it has on the bombing, and it has put out a warning as well.
So we are at a number of different levels and have been since last November putting out warnings to Americans.
Q Would you say there's been a constant stream of threats since November?
MR. DAVIES: No. I would say that in reaction to the threats that we've received, we've put out public announcements and warnings. I think probably the number of warnings is under five all told. I can check that. But sometimes warnings are put out not in response to a specific threat but just in response to changing conditions in the country, and we then update the information that we put out.
Q Would you characterize this attack as an attack against American interests or against Saudi interests, because the Saudis were charged in protecting this space? And also is the State Department going to seek a revised schedule for the nomination of Mr. Fowler to be Ambassador, because currently there's no nomination hearings scheduled for him, and we're without an Ambassador at this crucial time.
MR. DAVIES: I can't see that this would necessarily affect our effort to get an Ambassador out to Saudi Arabia. That's something that perhaps down the pike we could look into to. We have a number of candidates for ambassadorships that we'd like to get confirmed that are pending, and Mr. Fowler is among those.
Your first question? I'm sorry.
Q My first question was, would you characterize this as an attack against Saudi interests or against U.S. interests? And also if I could just ask if you've issued any specific warnings to businesses as opposed to individuals in Saudi Arabia.
MR. DAVIES: It's too early to know what this was an attack against. Clearly, Americans, I think, have suffered greatly here -- American servicemen and women -- in Saudi Arabia. There have been nationals of other countries affected as well, though the bulk of the people injured and killed are Americans. We do have information that there are others who have been injured here.
I think the way to look at it, the way we ought to look at it, is this is an attack against civilized nations. It's not just an attack against the United States. It's an attack against the international system in all countries that have signed up to certain norms of behavior, and that's why it's important that the world move forward to try to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring in the future.
At Lyon there are in fact a number of initiatives that will be taken that are more in the anti-crime category but are also related to the effort to get at international terrorism. So this is another indication of the need for the international community to step up to the challenge of international terrorism.
Q Thanks, Glyn. Would you see an increased counter-terror or counter-intelligence effort, especially in Saudi Arabia, and is this not the fact that there was 5,000 pounds of this incredibly powerful explosive, a big truck involved here -- in other words, a lot of detectable assets before this attack. Don't you think that there is a gaping, rather glaring failure on the part of Saudi security and Western intelligence to pre-empt this kind of thing?
MR. DAVIES: Bill, I mean, these are all questions that -- first of all, I would question the premise of your question. I don't think that there's any gaping breach in security that this immediately points up. There will be lessons learned, obviously, as a result of the bombing, and that's why we have an investigating team going out there to help the Saudis, that the Saudis have welcomed, to look into this, to try to learn some lessons from it.
I've said it's difficult to counter a terrorist or terrorist group that comes up with a bomb of this magnitude, that can leave a crater the size of the crater outside King Abdul Aziz City. Again, I think what's needed here are further cooperative efforts, and at Lyon we will be discussing how to go about cooperating in that vein.
There was the other question about whether we warned businesses or not. The warden networks that our Embassies have set up around the world in various countries often do take advantage of communicating with other groups, whether they are businesses or they can be private or non- profit groups. We get the word to the headquarters, and they then get the word out to their people in the field. It's not a situation where, for instance, in Saudi Arabia we would contact all of the 40,000-some Americans in-country.
So I guess the short answer is yes, that very often we do get the word out to businesses, and they in turn get the word out to their people.
Q Yesterday the Secretary was asked in his press conference in Israel whether the follow-on conference to Sharm, which was cancelled because of the to-ing and fro-ing over the bombing in Lebanon -- whether that conference would be held again -- would rescheduled, and the Secretary said that the State Department had been working that process on a country-by-country basis.
Do you see this possibly as changing in the wake of this bombing and that that process will be reinvigorated?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that we will necessarily under the Sharm al-Sheikh rubric go back to that kind of a multilateral effort right away, or that this bombing will have any effect on that. Sharm al- Sheikh was a remarkable meeting because you had for the first time a number of Arab nations sitting down at a table with Israel to talk about Israeli security. There was a degree of solidarity that hadn't been seen and certainly hadn't been expected in the Middle East in recent history.
But what the Sharm al-Sheikh meeting did was it prompted a number of initiatives and a number of contacts that we've tried to follow up on. So what the Secretary was referring to was the fact that in the wake of the Sharm al-Sheikh meeting, we've gone to other nations and have discussed some of the subjects raised at Sharm al-Sheikh.
We'll have to see in what context we choose to go forward in our efforts to combat terrorism -- whether it will be in that kind of a multilateral context or whether we'll continue to do it bilaterally.
Q But surely this is just the kind of incident that the conference in Sharm was formed to address.
MR. DAVIES: There are a number of effective ways to combat terrorism. I talked a bit ago about the Lyon Summit coming up with the G-7 countries. That will be one forum. I think any time that leaders get together or ministers get together at the level of the Secretary of State and it's appropriate to discuss terrorism, we will be doing so, and we have been doing so.
So we'll have to wait and see. Whether there's a Sharm al-Sheikh follow-up meeting per se, as such, I don't know. I've got nothing to announce. But rest assured that the United States will be making every diplomatic effort to combat terrorism, as we have in the past, and this will, I think, provide further impetus.
Q Back to the subject of security again. Oftentimes in the wake of such a terrorist act, you all issue a cable worldwide to your installations to increase security or take notice of security precautions. Has any such cable gone out, and are you beefing up security any place else or every place else?
MR. DAVIES: We've made all of our Embassies and Consulates aware of the facts as we know them relating to this bombing. I don't know of any formal process that we've engaged in to further beef up security. Security at our Embassies is already at a high state of alert and certainly in the region, as a result of this, our personnel will be taking further precautions.
Part of your question probably relates to what the Department of Defense is doing, and so you might ask over there what they've got planned in addition to the work that they did immediately inside Saudi Arabia to further beef up their security.
Q And have you -- I understand the Secretary is on the ground in Saudi Arabia. Have you had a report back from them? Do you know if he has been to the site or if there's been any --
MR. DAVIES: All I have so far are press reports which indicate that the Secretary has been out to the site; that he was very impressed by the devastation and very saddened by what he saw; and he went as well to express his condolences -- those of the Department of State and the Government -- to those affected by the bombing. Quite a few people are injured, a number are hospitalized. Those numbers are, of course, available from the Department of Defense.
So he went out there because he was in the area. He was just a couple of hours away. In a sense, he couldn't not go, and he realized that; he had to go as a mark of solidarity. He also wanted to take a look at this devastation and talk to Saudi officials, and I think he's had some meetings while in Dhahran with Saudi officials so that he then could report to the President in Lyon on what he's discovered and heard in Saudi Arabia.
So those were the reasons why he decided to go, even though in his schedule there wasn't a lot of time to get from Cairo to Lyon via Dhahran. I think he's been greatly affected by what he's seen, and he'll have a full report for the President.
Q Do things like this alert the U.S. Administration to the internal political situation in Saudi Arabia? Are you at all concerned about the internal political situation in Saudi Arabia in terms of opening up the system?
MR. DAVIES: That's shades of the question that I got earlier and tried to answer: "Are we reassessing our relationship with Saudi Arabia?" The short answer is no. We're going to stick by Saudi Arabia as a friend and ally. We've had in the past some critical things to say about Saudi Arabia. All of that is freely available in reports such as the Human Rights Report that we put out every year. There's no secret about some of the differences we have with practices within Saudi Arabia.
But all of that, I think, given the events of today, certainly we'll not go into it. We don't want to emphasize our differences with that great nation. We want to stand with them as they're standing with us and work with them to combat this kind of terrorism, which is a terrorism directed not just at the United States but I think at all civilized nations.
Q Follow-up on the question that was related to the system, and I think implicit in the question was whether the system breeds the kind of activities which occurred last night.
MR. DAVIES: The problem with answering that, George, is what was the kind of activity that occurred last night. I mean, we've got a lot of assumptions we can jump to about what that was -- terrorists, perhaps theocratic terrorists. I've heard it all as well, and, of course, the State Department will do everything it can to find out what the nature of that terrorism was. We have a great interest in knowing that. And in investigating the terrorist act, we'll be very interested to know how it came about and what the roots are, the antecedents to that kind of action.
But the point is there's no excusing it. There's no excusing killing innocent people in this kind of a terrorist act. People who are at 10:00 at night, after a hard day's work, sitting down to rest and all of a sudden the side of their building gets blown off. That's a bloodthirsty, bloody-minded, wrongheaded act. There's no excusing it. today I'm just not going to get into any analyses of the Saudi regime.
Q Glyn, yesterday one published interview -- at one published interview the new Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu, he said that Turkey, Jordan and Israel suffer by Syria-based terrorism action, and he called for global action against Syria and the Syria-based terrorism, which probably some of the extension might be this event also. We don't know yet.
And what will be the U.S. response to this kind of call, and what are you planning to do?
MR. DAVIES: I've gone into that a bit already. We will step up our efforts to combat terrorism. We will further sensitize our friends and allies of the need to stand together to combat terrorism. We will use every available meeting to do so. The Lyon summit will be one such, and already on the agenda of the Lyon summit were a number of anti- crime, anti-terrorism initiatives. So that will be an opportunity to get at the problem.
This is another indication that we live in a very dangerous world and that determined people can sometimes get through and cause damage to innocent individuals. That's the lesson that is always brought home to us when there's this kind of a terrorist act perpetrated.
So we're going to redouble our efforts -- efforts that are already quite strong -- in combatting terrorism, and we'll know more about what happened once this team has had a chance to conduct its investigation.
Q Specifically for Syria, do you have plans to do anything more. Are you planning to change today's policy against Syria?
MR. DAVIES: It's much too early to tie this terrorist act to any particular country, and so I'm not prepared to do that today.
Let me go here first.
Q The common presumption is that whatever attack against -- in the region against the United States and personnel may be caused by resentment due to the United States' strong support for Israel, especially throughout the Lebanese bombing and recently after Netanyahu's election. Has there been any indication at all of that or - -
MR. DAVIES: Not knowing who did it makes it difficult to know why they did it.
Q I mean, were there warnings that may have -- I mean, one of the threats specifically mentioned that if something was done to the people that were hanged, then they would retaliate. Has there been any other threats in that direction but indicating other reasons or causes?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know of any threats spurred by that that have resulted in terrorist action, and I don't know whether this most recent tragedy was a result of those types of motivations.
Q Going back to my question before, not just are businesses being warned but are businesses being urged to take special precautions? I mean, than to check their mail and notice suspicious people. Are they being urged not to travel to the other Gulf countries, or are they being urged to take any specific precautions?
MR. DAVIES: Part of the public announcement that I read I think spoke of taking precautions when traveling around Saudi Arabia.
Q Outside of Saudi in the rest of the Gulf?
MR. DAVIES: We have sort of a country-by-country system of travel alerts, consular warnings, that kind of thing; and it simply depends on the country. Sometimes we issue regional alerts if we think that there's a regional threat, but I can't point to anything specific by way of warnings given to American businesses outside of Saudi Arabia recently that would fit the bill that you're setting up.
Q You haven't asked businesses to perhaps re-evaluate their ties to Saudi Arabia?
MR. DAVIES: Goodness no.
Q And there has been no regional warning -- just for Saudi Arabia, not for the other Gulf countries?
MR. DAVIES: This public announcement is for Saudi Arabia, the one that I've just read.
Q As far as you know, have there been any regional warnings recently?
MR. DAVIES: Not recently, but I can always go back and check the rack -- I mean, we've got a rack of these warnings on various countries -- and see what there is there.
Q My question goes back to the Riyadh bombing and to this one, especially this one of up to 5,000 pounds of very high explosive -- I believe liquid explosive. Does the State Department believe that this material could have been manufactured indigenously in Saudi Arabia?
MR. DAVIES: Bill, you're so far beyond where we are now. As far as I know, the FBI agents may still be in the air. They left at 5:00 a.m. this morning. So we're just not going to leap to any conclusions. We have to investigate this. The Saudis are in the lead in that process. We will help them, and they've welcomed our help.
That work is painstaking and detailed and will be done very carefully, so we'll know more about pounds of explosives and types of explosives.
Q Do you know if there is any capacity for manufacturing within Saudi Arabia? Don't we know that by now?
MR. DAVIES: Bill, I don't see that as a relevant question right now. I mean, it will be to the investigators.
Q (Inaudible) to the culpability.
MR. DAVIES: We'll look into all of that, absolutely. Sure.
Q Different area. There are rumors flying around the Dominican Republic on the eve of their runoff election, I believe on Sunday, that the U.S. is taking sides, and I think both sides are accusing the U.S. of supporting the other side. Do you have anything on that?
MR. DAVIES: The United States in the Dominican election process is maintaining strict neutrality. I can tell you that. We've been supporting democracy in the Dominican Republic for quite a while. Since in fact the flawed 1994 elections, the U.S. has sought through all the means we've got -- all the diplomatic means -- to assist the Dominican Government, political parties in the DR, and Dominican civic organizations in holding free and fair elections.
The good news, of course, is that the observers who witnessed the first round of elections in May agree that that election was free and fair. After that first round, the State Department reiterated its strong support for Dominican democracy and congratulated the Dominican people on that accomplishment. So to go back to what I said originally, we're neutral.
Q Have you got anything to tell us about John Kornblum's travels in the Balkans? Has he made a citizen's arrest? (Laughter)
MR. DAVIES: John Kornblum is in the region. He has had a series of meetings and will be meeting with Serbian President Milosevic later today. All of this, of course, occurring against the backdrop of these very interesting reports that Karadzic has tendered his resignation as President of the Serb entity.
We've said it before -- I'll say it again -- that the only acceptable outcome will be his unconditional removal from power. He must not remain in any position that will allow him to impede implementation of the Dayton Accords. That's number one.
And, number two, he must be delivered to The Hague to answer the war crimes charges on which he's been indicted. The questions I got yesterday -- kind of these angels on the head of a pin question -- can he remain head of his party if he quits the presidency -- all of that, I think, is immaterial because where he belongs is in The Hague. If he's in The Hague, he's not going to be able to hold any position, whether it's in the party or the government.
Q Except that from that podium spokesmen have been saying, well, if he's not in The Hague, he should be marginalized. Is he marginalized if he's not running for office as President but is head of his political party?
MR. DAVIES: Maybe what we're seeing, and we certainly hope this is the case, we are now seeing the marginalization of Radovan Karadzic. That would be wonderful as a first step. But the ultimate step has to be that he faces these charges of his having perpetrated acts that constitute being a war criminal. He has got to go to The Hague to face those charges, and that is the message that we are impressing upon those in the region, and that is the message that John Kornblum will be giving to President Milosevic later today.
Q The Administration has been urging everybody in the area to take a deep breath and not prejudge the intentions or the policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Now that Secretary Christopher has spoken with him, is the Administration satisfied with these policies, or at least the outline of these policies; and do you see them any different than the campaign rhetoric that we have heard?
MR. DAVIES: Well, the Secretary just today finished some discussions in Cairo with Egyptian President Mubarak and Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. His next step will be to report to the President on the results of his visit to the Middle East. But it is true that the United States believes that the peace process should go forward without preconditions. The Secretary has said as much. We'll have to wait and see from the Secretary how he assesses his trip out there. But he has made a very good start, certainly, in Israel of a contact with the new Israeli government, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has, we think, prepared quite well for Netanyahu's visit to the United States July 9.
So he went out there for that first contact with the Government of Israel and then reported to President Mubarak on the results of his meetings in Israel, and that's where matters stand now. We will stay in the game. The United States, Secretary Christopher will stick to it, remain persistent, and try to advance the peace process.
Q Even a game of solitaire?
MR. DAVIES: Good question. No, it's not a game of solitaire at all. In fact, that's what is wonderful about the Secretary's trip. All of his interlocutors are essentially saying the same thing, which is that the peace process should continue. Obviously there are differences of approach, and that is where we can be useful in talking with the parties and trying to figure out where to go from here, because it is absolutely essential that the process continue, and the Secretary is determined to help it continue.
Yes, over here.
Q About three weeks ago the State Department issued an announcement that U. S. companies would be allowed to bid on Iraqi crude that is going to be sold under U.N. Resolution 986. However, they haven't got any more details other than the fact that they will be allowed to participate, and some companies are complaining now about the hold-up.
Do you know what is holding up the final details into to how U. S. companies can participate? Can you comment on some of the details we are also waiting on from the U. N.?
MR. DAVIES: That strikes me as kind of a technical question that is probably best directed to the Department of Commerce. I mean, the policy decision was made and announced. I'm not aware that there are any hold-ups in U.S. companies' moving forward to take advantage of some of that business.
It is something I am happy to try to look into, but I think you would probably be better served if you went to the Commerce Department.
Q I went to the Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control that has to write the regulations, and they say they are waiting on details from the State Department.
MR. DAVIES: Very interesting. I am happy to look into that for you. Sure. I don't have anything on it.
(The briefing concluded at 2:00 p.m.)
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