U.S. Department of State 96/07/01 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, July 1, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Foreign Policy Town Meeting: Des Moines, Iowa, July 11 .... 1 Dominican Republic Election Results ........................ 1-2 BOSNIA/CROATIA/SERBIA Reported Resignation Statement by Radovan Karadzic ......... 2-6 - U.S. Position on Need for Four Further Steps ............ 2,4 - Carl Bildt Role in "Resignation" ........................ 3,5 - Consideration of Sanctions Reimposition, Timing ......... 4-6 - Kornblum Conversations with Milosevic in Belgrade ....... 4-5 IFOR Patrols Increased Around Pale ......................... 5-6 War Crimes Tribunal Evidence Against Karadzic .............. 6-7 U.S. Response to Plavsic Remarks on Ethnic Cleansing ....... 7 Mostar Elections: No Irregularities, Good Turnout ......... 27 SAUDI ARABIA Security Perimeter Extended at USAF al-Khobar Compound ..... 7-8,12-13 Bombing Investigation: Cooperation w/ U.S./Judicial Action . 8-14 Bilateral Relations, U.S. Interests in Saudi Arabia ........ 8-9 Terrorist Objectives in Gulf; Bahrain Attacks Connection ... 9-10 Reactions of Other Allies; G7 Condemnation at Lyon ......... 10 Gen. Downing Review of U.S. Presence/Safeguarding Americans 13-15 U.S. Access to Suspects in Riyadh Bombing .................. 13-14 Responsibility for Bombing ................................. 15-16 No Consideration of Reducing U.S. Presence ................. 16 TERRORISM Follow-On Meeting to Lyon Discussion of Terrorism .......... 15 U.S Concerns of Syrian Support for Terrorist Groups ........ 15-16 IRAQ UN Res 986 Requirements For Sale of Oil for Food/Medicine .. 16-17 Food Distribution Arrangements ............................. 17-18 GOI Desire to Import Computers, Military Spare Parts ....... 17 MEXICO Guerilla Movement in Southern Mexico ....................... 18 GUATEMALA IOB Report: Finding of Abuses, Future Prevention ........... 18-19 Release to Congress, Public of U.S. Government Documents ... 19 CUBA ICAO Report on Shootdown of Civilian U.S. Aircraft ......... 19-20 Olympic Boxers Defect, Seek Asylum in U.S. ................. 20 TURKEY Assessment of Erbakan Government/Relations with Rogue States 20-21 - Tarnoff to Meet President Demirel/Request to Meet Erbakan 21-22 Importance of U.S. Bilateral Relations, Democracy, NATO .... 21 Suicide Bomb Attack at Military Parade/PKK Responsibility .. 21 GREECE U/Sec Tarnoff Travel: Bilateral Relations, Cyprus, Aegean .. 22 RUSSIA Visa Denied to Exec Director of American-Jewish Committee .. 23 President Yeltsin's Health/Recent U.S. Direct Contacts ..... 23-24 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israel Restrictions on Palestinian Authority ............... 24 Secretary's Discussions in Jerusalem, Dialogue ............. 24 U.S. Position on Israeli Lifting of West Bank Closure ...... 25 Timing of Monitoring Group Talks Resumption ............... 25 NORTH KOREA Threat to Withdraw from Nuclear Agreement .................. 26-27 U.S. Commitment to KEDO, Congressional Funding ............. 26-27 COLOMBIA Reported U.S. Visa Cancellations/President Samper's Visa ... 27-28
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JULY 1, 1996, 1:03 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have two announcements to make, and then I'll be glad to go to your questions.
The first is to let you know that we're going to have yet another foreign policy Town Meeting, sponsored by the State Department, this time in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, July 11. This is being sponsored by the Department of State and the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce.
Our featured speaker will be Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Robin Raphel. Also, Ambassador Alan Larson, who is our Assistant Secretary-designate in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs; Ambassador Richard Brown, who, as you know, is our Senior Coordinator for the Summit of the Americas, and Mr. Michael Owens, who is the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian Affairs.
This continues our effort to reach out to the American public and to try to explain American foreign policy to the public and to receive their feedback on how we're doing.
The second, I wanted to read a very short statement on the important elections yesterday in the Dominican Republic. On Sunday, June 30, the people of the Dominican Republic elected a new President, Leonel Fernandez, of the Dominican Liberation Party.
We congratulate President-elect Fernandez, the political parties, the armed forces, the police, the Dominican civic organizations and first and foremost the people of the Dominican Republic for the peaceful conduct of this runoff round, and of the conduct of the elections in general. International and domestic observers agree that the Central Electoral Board ran a transparent process.
We also congratulate the outgoing President, Joaquin Balaguer, and the Dominican Revolutionary Party candidate, Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, for the parts that they played in this process.
This election sends a very strong signal, a strong message to the Dominican people about the importance of democracy, and it marks another watershed in the consolidation of democracy here in this hemisphere. This was a very important election. It brings the Dominican people into the evolution of strong democratic elections in our own hemisphere, with the notable exception of Cuba; for instance, it shows that in the island of Hispaniola, the Haitian and Dominican people now share a commitment to democracy, and they share successful democratic elections just over the last six months. So it's a very important event, and our congratulations go out to the Dominican people.
Q Having had about 24 hours to digest the resignation of Mr. Karadzic, I was wondering if you have any reservations that you'd like to talk about, considering that transfer and the leadership question in general.
MR. BURNS: We have many reservations, and I'm not even sure that he's resigned. This statement that's been made by Radovan Karadzic is most oblique. It's murky. We're unclear what it means. He says that he's stepped down. He's transferred his authorities to Mrs. Plavsic. Mrs. Plavsic says that he retains the office of the presidency. This is not a satisfactory outcome. This outcome is not going to convince anybody that Karadzic has taken the steps that everyone in the international community is now demanding, including, I might add, all of the eight leaders who met on Friday and Saturday in Lyon, including the Russian Prime Minister.
I will just tell you that as we look at these events today -- and we've been closely in touch with Carl Bildt and his office -- as we look at the events, we remain convinced that four things must happen. As we said throughout the weekend, Karadzic should be out of power; he should be out of any kind of political influence; he should be out of the country physically; and, he should be in The Hague.
That remains the American position. That is the international position, agreed upon by all members of the Contact Group. So despite his attempt to convince us that somehow he's done something significant here, we don't see any positive significance to the actions of Mr. Karadzic today.
Q According to some of the people in Bosnia, including in Mr. Bildt's office, what he signed was a statement drafted by the European Union representative. This piece of paper was put to him by Bildt's office, and he signed it and returned it. Is that your understanding?
MR. BURNS: I understand -- I know for a fact that Carl Bildt has been working directly with the authorities of the Republic of Srpska, as well as with President Milosevic, to achieve the removal of Karadzic from power. But despite the commitments made to Carl Bildt, the action taken was not sufficient. What we understood is that he would be out of the position of power; he would no longer have the office of the presidency, retain that title; but that he would also give up all exercise of political influence, and that has not happened.
Our position is that beyond those two, he ought to leave the country so there can be no possibility for him to influence the elections in September, and that he ought to give himself up for prosecution at The Hague. None of that has happened.
I think that Mr. Bildt -- you've seen from his comments, from his spokesman's comments, from Mr. Steiner's comments in Sarajevo -- that Mr. Bildt is displeased with this outcome as well. Here you have a statement issued, and immediately upon issuance, Mrs. Plavsic, the Vice President says, "Well, he's still the President of the Republic of Srpska." This is unsatisfactory, and none of us are convinced by it. We'll continue to support the efforts of Carl Bildt to convince Karadzic that he's got to do everything before we're going to be satisfied.
Q Well, was the draft statement given to him defective, or has it been weakened by subsequent statements?
MR BURNS: I can't answer that question, Jim. I can't answer questions about which draft was given to him, and so forth, whether there were changes made. But I can certainly say that the outcome -- and that's what's really important here -- is not satisfactory.
Q If that's the case, Nick, why aren't you pushing --
Q Is he wanted by The Hague, by the International Court of Justice, and --
MR. BURNS: Oh, yes, he's an indicted war criminal, and he is wanted by The Hague. He is at large.
Because I have -- I mean, you know, from (inaudible) -- you know, just everybody is looking for him. How the American forces or IFOR forces are close to him to try to hold him, to arrest him or something?
MR. BURNS: He's an indicted war criminal, and what we hope is that he will end up in The Hague for prosecution by the War Crimes Tribunal.
IFOR, as you know, does not have as its primary mandate searching him and others out to capture them, but they will take him into custody, should they encounter him.
Q Nick, since you are saying that this is not satisfactory, why are you not pushing for the reimposition of economic sanctions?
MR. BURNS: The reimposition of sanctions is a distinct possibility at any time, should we decide that that's the proper and best course of action. The reimposition of sanctions can be easily arranged, either through the efforts of Carl Bildt or through Admiral Smith. I think that Mr. Karadzic and Mr. Milosevic should understand that that is an option that we have at our disposal. I wouldn't want to lead you to believe that that's something that we're going to exercise today.
We'd like to see this play out. We'd like to see now, given the very stiff counterreaction from the United Sates from Carl Bildt and others, what conclusions are drawn by the Republic of Srpska leadership and, most importantly, by the leadership in Belgrade. We'd like to see some action on their part to take this very inadequate statement of yesterday and turn it into something much more promising, and that would be the removal from power, influence, and the country, of Radovan Karadzic.
John Kornblum, our Assistant Secretary of State -- he was confirmed by the Senate in that position on Friday -- John Kornblum was in Belgrade last week, and he had very frank and direct conversations with Mr. Milosevic about this. So they all know what we want, but we're not going to stand here and say something is satisfactory if it clearly is not.
Q What conclusions should they draw, if you have threatened sanctions if Mr. Karadzic does not resign from positions of authority by a certain date, he then does not do as the international community has asked him to do, yet you say you want to wait for the situation to play out. I mean, what conclusions should they draw? There are threats made, but they're not carried out.
MR. BURNS: That's not a threat that was made by the United States. I'm sorry, we did not make a threat that we would move to support economic sanctions or the reimposition of those sanctions by today. But we have said very clearly to them privately, and we said it publicly for a long time now, that this is a live option, and it is a live option.
What we'd prefer to see, Laura, before we impose sanctions is, we'd prefer to see them act in accordance with their commitments to the Dayton Accords. But should they not do that, they shouldn't be under any kind of -- they shouldn't operate under any kind of assumption that somehow we will not act. We will act if it's in our interests to act.
Q They don't seem terribly responsive to diplomatic pressure at this point. This is, as you've characterized him, an indicted war criminal who's unlikely to voluntarily present himself at The Hague. Are you prepared to give any kind of deadline for sanctions, or deadline for apprehension of this man?
MR. BURNS: If we're going to set a deadline, we probably would not announce it publicly. If we were to set a deadline. I'm not saying that we have. They know from the private discussions with us that sanctions are a real possibility. That's just not rhetoric. It's not a threat that will not be fulfilled.
We would like to see now the political leaders in Republic of Srpska and Belgrade draw the right conclusions after the conversations that Bildt and John Kornblum had directly with Milosevic last week -- just a couple of days ago -- and after they've now seen the unanimous declaration of the eight leaders in Lyon.
I think it makes sense for us to give them some time to work through these declarations and to see that there is a united will in the West against Karadzic remaining in power. But they should understand that we will take the action of reimposing sanctions if we get to the point sooner or later where we think that he's not going to step down. We will take that action.
Q In Geneva earlier in June -- actually, last month, early in June -- it was announced that IFOR would take more robust patrols around -- including in Pale.
MR. BURNS: Pale, right.
Q There was a report in The Washington Post over the weekend that some Italian soldiers were encountered by a Post reporter, and he asked them what they were doing and they said, "Trying not to run into anybody famous." Are they in fact doing these more robust patrols, and Karadzic was pretty obviously out in the open pretty much of last week?
MR. BURNS: I understand that the patrols actually began before the meeting in Geneva, and that they have been undertaken; that there are increased number of patrols in and around Pale. I don't know if The Washington Post reporter saw the other patrols. I don't know. I can't account for the quotes in The Washington Post. I can't comment on them.
I can just tell you that is the case. And I think Karadzic and Mladic feel that, that the type of IFOR presence has changed just over the last month or so.
Q Nick, do you know if contingency planning has been done by troops on the ground to reimpose sanctions?
MR. BURNS: Contingency planning? I don't know if contingency planning has been undertaken. But since it's a live possibility, since it's something that could happen at any moment that we choose -- and that's the leverage that we bring to this and that's what the Republic of Sprska people have to keep in mind -- I think we'll be ready to do it when we decide to do it.
Q Is the international community willing to wait through the elections for Karadzic to do what you want him to do?
MR. BURNS: We'll have to see. I'm not setting any deadlines right now. We don't think he should have any influence on the upcoming elections. Our preference is that he resign his position and separate himself physically from the scene before those elections.
Q Nick, also on Karadzic. At The Hague this morning prosecutors said that they have not found any single piece of paper with Karadzic's orders to lay siege to Sarajevo or any other --
MR. BURNS: With Karadzic's?
Q Yeah. No single piece of paper with his signature on it ordering these war crimes, including the siege to Sarajevo or killing of civilians.
One, do you believe that is true? And, two, does that weaken the case against Karadzic and his colleagues as far as you're concerned?
MR. BURNS: All I know is that he's been indicted. People who have been indicted by Justice Goldstone are indicted because there is strong evidence to support the argument that they were responsible for gross mistreatment of people -- civilians -- under their care, and civilians who happen to have the misfortune of living in the military sphere of operations of the Bosnian Serb army.
There seems to be little doubt that the evidence against Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic is quite strong based on the testimony that all of you have seen that has been made public over the last couple of years. So I don't think anyone's feeling that the case against them is weak. I would predict that if he goes up to The Hague, while he'll have an opportunity to defend himself, the case against him will be most convincing.
Q Do you have any thoughts on the views of the -- what's her name? Mrs. Plavsic?
MR. BURNS: Plavsic, yes.
Q -- on ethnic cleansing? She seems to be very favorably disposed toward that practice.
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to write any testimonials to Mrs. Plavsic. She's part of the leadership of a group of people who are responsible for starting a war and for violating the human rights of another group of people on the worse scale that we have seen in Europe since the Nazis. So I'm not going to say anything good about Mrs. Plavsic. She is who she is.
She's not an indicted war criminal at this point. So we will deal with her when we have to deal with her. But, I wouldn't count her as a friend of the United States.
Is that all on Bosnia? Moving on from Bosnia. Yes, Bill.
Q Thanks, Nick. Regarding security perimeters around U.S. facilities, I understand the General in charge of the base at Dhahran -- General Schwalier -- had on several occasions asked the Saudis to extend that perimeter in that particular corner. I understand now it has been extended to 400 feet. Will it stay that way permanently?
Secondly, on the issue of relations with the Saudi Arabians, concerning possible suspects, information about the terrorist groups -- are they going to give us full information? Are we insisting? Are they going to be doing that, or do we know yet?
MR. BURNS: Bill, I can tell you that based on the President's phone conversation with King Fahd last Wednesday and based on Secretary Perry's personal discussion with him yesterday in Jedda, and his discussions with Crown Prince Abdallah and with Defense Minister Sultan, the United States has received a very strong pledge of cooperation on all aspects of the Dhahran bombing from the Saudi leadership,from the senior members of the royal family.
We fully expect that in the weeks and months to come, as we work through all aspects of this terrible tragedy, that those pledges of cooperation will be met; that the Saudi authorities will give us what we need to have in order to protect our soldiers and our civilian personnel throughout Saudi Arabia, including our Embassy and Consulate personnel. And that as the investigation proceeds, as our 70-person FBI/State Department investigation team proceeds with its work, they will have all the cooperation that they need.
Those are important commitments made by the Saudi Government, and we are relying upon the Saudi Government to meet them.
Q Are there any other weak spots or openings that need a greater perimeter that are in issue in that particular area, or anywhere else in the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: I think you saw over the weekend that Secretary Perry announced the steps that have already been taken over the weekend to extend the perimeter fence at the al-Khobar barracks. We certainly are taking every precaution that we can to protect all of the Americans under our care in Saudi Arabia -- the Embassy and diplomatic personnel as well, of course, the people under the authority of the Department of Defense, our soldiers and our airmen there.
Q Are our relations with the Saudis suffering because of this particular incident?
MR. BURNS: Relations with Saudi Arabia are among the most important that the United States has anywhere in the world, certainly, in the Middle East, one of the keystones of American interests in the Middle East. We've had vital national security interests in the Persian Gulf and in Saudi Arabia since the close of the Second World War.
We have acted since the close of the Second World War to protect those interests. We will not be deterred from protecting those interests in the future.
The President, Secretary Christopher, and Secretary Perry have all spoken to that. What we saw and what we experienced last week was a terrible tragedy for all of us, but specifically for 19 American families. We will not let a few radicals, a few terrorists, drive the United States out of Saudi Arabia. We have interests there and we will defend them.
We have a good relationship with the Saudi Government and with the Saudi people and we will continue that. We don't believe that this incident should lead to any kind of problem in U.S.-Saudi relations in the future. In fact, it just means that we ought to redouble our efforts to strengthen that relationship.
Q What are the interests?
MR. BURNS: The interests are quite clear. We have a very strong interest in the stable flow of petroleum from the Persian Gulf to Western Europe, Japan, and the United States. Considering the fact that Saudi Arabia is the world's largest producer of oil on a daily basis, on an annual basis, that interest for our economy and the economy of allies in Europe and Japan is a vital, national interest. It has been declared to be so and has been deemed to be so by every American Administration back into the late 1940s. It's indisputable, and we will protect those national interests.
Q Could it be also that these perpetrators of violence in Bahrain together with these perpetrators of this explosion in Saudi Arabia have the same objectives to try to drive a wedge or possibly have the U.S. forces be removed from that part of the world? Do you see a connection between what's happening in Bahrain to what happened in Saudi Arabia?
MR. BURNS: We can't know if there is a connection because we don't know the identity of the people of the terrorists who killed the Americans and bombed the barracks last Tuesday night. We just don't know who they are. We hope that the investigation undertaken by the Saudi authorities and the American investigating team will lead us to those people.
Already, as you know, they have uncovered parts of the vehicle and other evidence. We hope, as was the case with the Riyadh bombing, we will be successful in having that trail of evidence lead us back and lead the Saudis back to the killers. If so, justice will be done.
I can't draw any links between the events in Bahrain and the events in Dhahran. We can't do that, possibly in any way, until we know who the terrorists were in Dhahran last Tuesday night.
Q If I might follow. You just mentioned about the flow of oil to your Western allies and to Japan and the United States from that part of the world. I see some of the commentaries over the weekend that your other partners or allies in the West and Japan are not taking a strong part into securing or possibly trying to secure that flow. If all the responsibility falls on the shoulder of the United States to the point of stationing all forces there, there are these critics here, which I read over the weekend, that they are calling on the other countries to share and express more desire to invest into that area more than they have done so far. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: Those critics should have read the communique from Lyon on Friday and Saturday. They should have listened to the statements of President Chirac and President Clinton and all the other leaders at Lyon. All of them condemn the terrorist bombing. All of them have a stake in doing that and an interest in doing that, and they did it.
The fact is that the United States has the most powerful navy in the world. That navy has been patrolling the Persian Gulf now for nearly five decades and will continue to do so. We'll keep the Straits of Hormuz open for shipping, for the free navigation of the Straits for shipping in and out of the Gulf. It's a very important, vital national interest that will continue.
We will not be deterred from protecting American interests by these terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia.
Q Nick, will the United States allow the Saudi wheels of justice to punish these people if they're caught? Or would you prefer them to be extradited to the United States for punishment?
MR. BURNS: We have to remember that our American troops and our diplomats who live in Saudi Arabia must respect the rules and laws of the Saudi Kingdom.
In this case, I think as in others, it's up to the Saudi authorities, in essence, to decide where the rule of law should prevail and which judicial system should try these people.
I can't anticipate any request that we may or may not make if these people are caught. We are confidence that in the last case, of the November bombing, the people who were responsible for that were brought to justice. As you know, justice was done.
Q You're saying it's up to the Saudis to decide where they should be tried?
MR. BURNS: As in all cases, Sid, anytime you have an incident like this where Americans have been killed, Americans have been threatened in countries overseas, we have to work with the sovereign authorities of that country. It's their country. We are guests in that country, and we have to work with them cooperatively as best we can to see that justice is done.
In the present case, we have a couple of interests. The first and most important interest is to work with the Saudis to find the killers. We're doing that. We've got more than 70 people on the ground to help them do that.
If they are found, then we expect that they should be prosecuted and they should received harsh punishment for what they have done -- for the murder of 19 people and for wounding many hundreds of other people; over 250 Americans, over 150 Bangladeshis, 147 Saudis. Among them, many small children. A couple of you who were us saw these small Saudi kids in the hospital, the King Abdul Aziz military hospital in Dhahran the other night.
These people may think that they are operating to strike at foreigners. They struck at Saudis, including an 11-year old girl and her 8-year old brother who fortunately will survive this bombing, but they were hospitalized because of the work of some terrorists.
So I think we've got to respect the laws of the country in which our soldiers and diplomats reside. We can certainly expect from them that there will be full cooperation, and that's what they've pledged to us.
Q So there's no interest in extraditing them; is that what you're saying?
MR. BURNS: I didn't say that. I just can't anticipate, because I'm not part of the Justice Department. I'm not speaking for the Justice Department. I can't anticipate what request we will or will not make. We are not at that stage yet. We're at the stage of trying to find the killers and that's where we are focusing all of our attention right now, and on protecting our diplomats and our soldiers. We've taken steps to do that.
Q Do you expect that if these perpetrators will be caught and they will be sentenced by Saudi Arabia authority -- law enforcement authorities -- that you will have an input since this is a multinational force -- multinational people -- who have been hurt or have been killed and wounded? You say more than Americans; there are other people who were involved. Do you expect that you will have an input into your system of justice to be applicable or to (inaudible) the system of justice of Saudi Arabia?
I'm saying this because in light of the fact when they beheaded the four people last month, there were some complaints or some criticism that they did not share the information that the Saudis collected from these four criminals with the United States forces. So how do you correspond this?
MR. BURNS: We've got enough to do that we ought not to focus ourselves backward. We ought to focus on the future. The future means, we need to catch the killers; they need to be tried. We need to continue to exert American influence in the region. We will do that, and we need to protect our people. We're going to do all those things. That's enough on our plate to keep us forward looking and not backward looking for the present time.
MR. BURNS: Anymore on Saudi Arabia? Charlie.
Q Nick, while I understand your desire to look forward in the investigation and in the follow-up, sometimes looking backward can give you some clues. There have been a couple of instances that have been noted, certainly widely in the press and even admitted to by U.S. military officials, that had somebody taken certain actions before, this event might not have happened or might have had less impact.
I'm a little at a loss to understand why you're reluctant to talk about things looking backward as part of this investigation?
MR. BURNS: Charlie, we have a lot to do here. We're focusing on those things that I think the American people would want us to do: Catch the killers, defend our people there, make improvements as we have done over the weekend to make sure that our military people are protected to the best of our ability, and we're doing all that.
We do have some lessons to be learned from the OPM-SANG bombing in Riyadh.
Ironically, and it's really a tragic irony, that investigation into the November bombing was concluded. The whole operation was concluded on Tuesday evening in Riyadh. In fact, the principal American FBI investigators and the State Department bomb experts -- ballistic experts -- had a final meeting with the Saudi authorities in Riyadh on Tuesday night, and they were heading home.
They heard just after that meeting about the Dhahran bombing. Those people then flew to Dhahran within a couple of hours and began their investigation.
Secretary Christopher met with them on Wednesday evening in Dhahran. They told us that they were fairly well satisfied with the cooperation they had received from the Saudi authorities over their many, many months where they were investigating the Riyadh bombing.
We expect that the renewed pledges of cooperation by King Fahd and the Crown Prince and the Defense Minister, and others, will now be lived up to by the Saudi authorities.
Q A follow-up, Nick. On the investigation, I think it's General Downing appointed by the President to undertake the wide-ranging overview, will that cover not only U.S. military presence in the area but also the diplomatic presence -- international school, etc. -- or is the State Department doing something on its own?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if General Downing's mandate extends to the civilian American presence which is quite considerable. The oil presence.and many thousands of Americans live there, working for ARAMCO and Mobile and other companies. There's a considerable diplomatic presence. I don't know if it extends to that.
But rest assured that Secretary Christopher asked our Charge d'Affaires in Saudi Arabia, Ted Kattouf, when they were together on Wednesday night, to take all appropriate measures to safeguard American diplomats and their families in Riyadh and Jeddah and Dhahran where we have diplomatic establishments, and we will do that.
Q You said these Americans who were meeting with the Saudis were fairly well satisfied with Saudi cooperation concerning the November incident. Can you talk to the question of whether or not the U.S. requested access to the four suspects and whether the Saudis rejected that request, as has been reported in the newspapers?
MR. BURNS: George, I don't have perfect knowledge about what was requested and what was not over the many months of that investigation. I do know that we did not receive access, full access to the four individuals.
What we hope in this new investigation is that full cooperation will be achieved. I can't anticipate what all the requirements of full cooperation will be, honestly. I think our investigators and our Embassy in Riyadh are going to have to figure out, as we go along, what they need to do their job for the American people. When we do have requests, we'll make them to the Saudi authorities and we'll expect that full cooperation will be met.
Q Do the Saudis share fully information regarding these four guys that were executed and their role in the bombing and their --
MR. BURNS: I just answered that question. I think that was essentially George's question which I just answered, to be fair about it.
Q But you don't know, then, if some information has not been shared with the U.S. authorities?
MR. BURNS: I'm not an FBI investigator. I didn't do the investigation of the November bombings. Therefore, I can't sit here and answer all these encyclopedic questions about what we knew and what we didn't know.
All I can tell you is that the people who conducted that investigation told us that they were satisfied with the level of Saudi cooperation.
I answered George directly. We did not have access to the four people.
Q But the guys that met with Christopher, though, did not witness that they had received full information about the guys --
MR. BURNS: I said what I want to say about that issue.
Still on Saudi Arabia?
Q Nick, regarding the security measures, do you have other additional measures taken to protect the Americans in the region itself, or let's say the Gulf area? Or is it just limited to Saudi Arabia? MR. BURNS: You saw over the weekend a series of steps taken to protect Americans in Saudi Arabia. We will take whatever steps are necessary to protect Americans elsewhere.
Q Is there any kind of threat, or did you receive in the last few days because of this --
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any specific threats. But I might not be aware of all the threats that we receive. We receive a lot of threats around the world to Americans. Terrorists should know that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend our people.
Q What are you expecting from the -- in the G-7, you focused a little bit of terrorism and will discuss in the coming weeks? Are you expecting another summit like Sharm al-Sheik?
MR. BURNS: As President Chirac announced on Thursday night -- Thursday evening -- there will be a follow-up meeting to the Lyon conference in France sometime in the next month or two. We need to set the date. We need to decide on the mandate of that conference. We need to decide who will be invited to that conference. None of those decisions have been taken, so we'll be engaging with the French and our other G-7 partners to decide on those issues and to go forward with a conference that we hope will strengthen the fight against terrorism.
Still on Saudi Arabia? Jim.
Q As of now, do you have any firmer idea of who might have been behind the bombing?
MR. BURNS: We do not. No.
Q Recently, this bombing incident, most of the U.S. leaders, they made a statement against some terrorism-supporting countries. For example, they included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan. But they are very careful that they never touch Syria, which most of the Middle East terrorists are based in Syria. Why this purpose? Why the United States doesn't want to touch or bother the Syria on this subject?
MR. BURNS: Syria is on the terrorism list that the State Department publishes annually. I think you know that we have a lot of problems with what the Syrians have not done to combat terrorist groups and to limit the activities of terrorist groups on Syrian soil, including some radical Palestinian groups responsible for acts of terror; including the activities of the PKK responsible for acts of terrorism in Turkey and against the Turkish people.
I can tell you in a quite straightforward way that we have those concerns. They continue, and they're in full public view.
Q Are you planning any extra sanctions against Syria or some kind of limit to their access to the Western world, or something like that?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any extra measures beyond the ones that we've already taken which are considerable.
Judd, do you have a question on -- we're moving away from Saudi Arabia; right? No more questions? Still questions on Saudi Arabia? Laura.
Q I have two questions. First of all, you've said that the U.S. will remain in Saudi Arabia. Is there any consideration to a drawing-down of the troop strength, though? Is there any --
MR. BURNS: None whatsoever. None whatsoever.
Q Secondly, you said that you've attributed this attack to a small number of radicals. Do you know how widespread the opposition is in Saudi Arabia?
MR. BURNS: No, I didn't mean to say that we have information as to how many people carried out this attack. No, we don't. We're on the trail. We're looking for that evidence right now.
I can't tell you who these people are, who they represent, what ties they have to other countries or other movements. We'll just have to see where the evidence leads on that question.
Still on Saudi Arabia? Final questions? Judd.
Q Iraq: What is the deficiency in the Iraqi food distribution plan that has led the U.S. to oppose it? I assume it puts in jeopardy the sale of Iraqi oil?
MR. BURNS: The performance of the Iraqi Government -- perhaps we could have predicted it; some people did predict it -- has been fairly ludicrous in trying to convince the United Nations Sanctions Committee that it's time to implement Resolution 986.
You will remember that when the United States voted in favor this resolution, we said -- and we put out a press release to this effect -- and the United Nations said that some very specific steps had to be followed before that oil could be exported, sold, in return for humanitarian food and medicine for the victims of Saddam Hussein. Namely that the Iraqis had to come up with a financial scheme and a transportation scheme and a distribution of food and medical scheme that was consistent with the intent of Resolution 986, that the Iraqi Government not benefit by one cent or one dinar from this action and that the only people who benefit would be the victims of Saddam. Well, that hasn't happened.
The Iraqis came back to the United Nations and they said the following: "We would like to establish a food distribution system that we will control in Baghdad. We'll set up food distribution warehouses in Baghdad and we'll decide when the Kurds in the north get the food." That's ludicrous. The United States will not support it. This plan will not go forward until the food distribution can be put in neutral, objective hands. Not in the hands of Saddam Hussein who practiced genocide against the Kurds in March and April 1991.
Second, the Iraqis have also proposed that in addition to importing food and medicine with the proceeds of the sale of oil, they import as well computers and spare parts for their military machine; including some of their conventional weaponry; including helicopters. This is also ludicrous.
So Ambassador Albright has told the Security Council today, and we are telling the Iraqis and we're telling the U.N. Sanctions Committee, that the United States will not support these outlandish proposals made by the Iraqi Government.
The whole objective of this exercise is quite simple. Help the needy people of Iraq who have been victimized by the dictators -- Saddam -- and not allow Saddam to profit from Resolution 986. We will not allow this to go forward until more serious plans are submitted by the Iraqi Government.
Q Can you give an example of the kind of organization that might be able to take over this distribution? Is this something that the ICRC might do?
MR. BURNS: There are several hundred private voluntary organizations in the world. You and I can probably even complete the list of the 100 who can do this. There's the ICRC. There are U.N. agencies. There are lots of people in the world who can be relied upon to be honest and to have sympathy for the victims of Saddam.
If we allow this to go forward, we would be giving Saddam a powerful tool to, in effect, exert tremendous leverage over the Kurdish population. We will not allow that to happen.
Q Has the Department of State spoken with the Mexican authorities about what it seems to be the appearance of a new guerrilla movement in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico? Do you foresee this as a new source of important instability for that country?
MR. BURNS: I didn't catch the name in the first part of the question. What kind of movement in the southern part --
Q The guerrilla movement?
MR. BURNS: The guerrilla movement.
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything for you on that issue. I just don't have anything at all.
Q On Guatemala. Regarding the 53-page study of the Intelligence Oversight Board, how serious are the findings of abuses in Guatemala by the CIA after 1984? And what is being done to guarantee that such abuses will not longer occur?
MR. BURNS: I would ask all of you who are interested in this to read this report of the Intelligence Oversight Board. It's quite comprehensive.
What you'll see there, and what is quite apparent, is that there were tremendous abuses by the Guatemalan military authorities against not only its own people but against American citizens; and among them, many of the people who are most prominently mentioned. Certainly against Michael Devine and certainly against Sister Dianna Ortiz; and certainly against the husband of an American citizen, Efrain Bamaca, the husband of Jennifer Harbury.
There were tremendous abuses of the power of the Guatemalan military against these innocent, defenseless people who happened to live in Guatemala during the 1980s. So this is a very serious report, and I think it leads to the conclusion that we must not repeat the type of support that was underway during past administrations for the actions of the Guatemalan military.
I do think you see here a remarkable degree of openness on the part of the United States Government. In addition to the thousands of pages of government documents that have already been released, we have now released an additional 450 documents from the Department of State, 155 from the Central Intelligence Agency, and 270 documents from the Pentagon. All of these documents, of course, have already been given to the United States Congress, and we know that the Congress will be looking into this, and we welcome that, and we look forward to working with the Congress on this issue.
Q Will names be released?
MR. BURNS: Names of?
Q CIA people who have cooperated, say agents or assets?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you this: We have released the information that we felt it was responsible to release. There is a small body of information that was not released publicly but has been given to the Congress, all of this information. So therefore the Congress must make a judgment of all this information. That information that was released, which is very limited -- which was not released, excuse me -- was not released for reasons to protect our intelligence sources and methods and our national security.
But again all this information is before the United States Congress, which represents, of course -- directly represents the American people in all aspects.
Still on Guatemala? Anything?
MR. BURNS: Cuba.
Q Has the United States decided already which action to take with regard to the report that was issued in Montreal last week?
MR. BURNS: The report of --
Q Of the two downed planes that was issued in Montreal by the ICAO.
MR. BURNS: As you know, the ICAO report completely confirmed the position of the United States, the information given to the international community by the United States, and completely repudiated the validity of the information given by the Cuban Government. We believe that this action should now be -- this issue should now be put before the United Nations Security Council, and we will take a very strong position in the Security Council that there must be appropriate measures taken against Cuba. But I'm not willing at this point to identify what they are. We want to work with our allies on this before we talk publicly about this.
Still on Cuba? Yes.
Q Cuba but slightly different. Do you know anything or have anything on the report of two Cuban boxers who defected in Mexico and may be under INS control now?
MR. BURNS: I can obviously tell you that the reports are valid; they're true, the two Cuban boxers have asked -- have defected from the Cuban national boxing team, which I believe was in Mexico. This issue is being handled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service which handles all issues of this kind.
Obviously, this is good news for the two individuals involved. They're seeking freedom. They deserve freedom, and their cases will be handled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. We hope for the day when all the Cuban people will be free from the dictatorship of Castro.
MR. BURNS: Turkey, yes.
Q We have a new government, which the largest part of it is Islamic Party, Mr. Erbakan's party; the other part is Mrs. Ciller's party. The new Prime Minister Erbakan, he announced that he is planning to have a good relation with Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria, your best friends. And what do you think about the new Turkish Government, and do you have any comment on this kind of new foreign relations and foreign ties?
MR. BURNS: I would just say simply that the United States supports democracy in Turkey, and Turkey's democratic system now has resulted in the arrival of a new government in power in Ankara. It's been a very difficult period for Turkey of political uncertainty since the last government resigned on June 6, and it's very important for us, for the United States, to have an effective interlocutor in Ankara.
We're satisfied that the democratic process has worked in Turkey, and that a new government has emerged. We await the next step in this process, and that will be for the coalition that has been put together to win a vote of confidence in the parliament. We will obviously wait until that occurs before we begin any kind of concerted series of discussion with the new government.
I would just note as a final point that relations between the United States and Turkey are exceedingly important for the United States, and I believe for the Turkish people as well. We have a broad array of mutual interests that need protecting, and we certainly are at the point after months of political instability, where we need to get those discussions going.
What we will emphasize, of course, in those discussions is democracy, and that's what really unites the Turkish people and the American people. It's a fundamental commitment to democracy, to human rights, which, of course, is also an important issue; and to Turkey's connections to the West -- Turkey's connection to the United States and the West through NATO, which is the bedrock of Turkish security.
Turkey's connections, we hope that will build with the European Union. The United States, in both the Bush and Clinton Administrations, has been a major supporter of Turkey becoming a part of the European Union. We saw with the victory in the Customs Union agreement that the Turkish people do have reason to think that they have a future in Europe. That's where we think Turkey's future lies, and that's what we'll be accentuating in our discussions with the Turkish people.
Q Yesterday, in the southern part of Turkey, we had one suicide attack -- one of the women, female, she wears some kind of bomb, and nine people was dead and more Turkey people -- they were wounded -- and the European broadcast in the Kurdish TV, IZMET TV, they said that PKK takes the responsibility, and they got the order from Damascus with their leader from (inaudible). Do you have any reaction on this attack?
MR. BURNS: We've seen the same press reports about the apparent suicide-bombing attack that killed many people. We do not have any independent information that would put us into a position to comment any further on it.
Q Does that mean that we're going to wait for the vote of confidence? But I believe Mr. Tarnoff is today having talks with the new government. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BURNS: Under Secretary Tarnoff, when he left Lyon, did travel to Turkey. He's been in Istanbul with Ambassador Grossman. I think both of them left today for Ankara. I believe that Under Secretary Tarnoff has an appointment tomorrow with President Demirel, and his visit was planned some time ago, several weeks ago. At the time it was planned, we requested a meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister. There is now a Turkish Prime Minister, and we'll have to see what develops.
I don't know if a meeting between Under Secretary Tarnoff and Mr. Erbakan will actually take place, but, of course, we will be open to one -- open to contacts with the new government. But I think there is an important event that has to take place this week, and that is the vote in the Turkish Parliament, the vote of confidence, in this particular coalition.
Q So you think it's possible that Erbakan and Tarnoff meet --
MR. BURNS: It's certainly within the realm of the possible, because, as I said, when the visit was planned several weeks ago, Ambassador Grossman requested an appointment with the Turkish Prime Minister in his contacts with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and we've not withdrawn that request. If it is met, if Mr. Erbakan would like a meeting, I'm sure he'll find a willing interlocutor in Under Secretary Tarnoff.
Q Under Secretary Tarnoff will also travel to Greece after Ankara. Can you tell us something about the agenda of the discussions in Athens?
MR. BURNS: Yes, and I should have mentioned that. Under Secretary Tarnoff will be in Athens on July 3, just two days from now. These are important discussions. We now hopefully are at the point where there is political stability in both Turkey and Greece. There's certainly that kind of stability in Greece, particularly after the actions of the party congress over the weekend.
Prime Minister Simitis is in a very strong position now. We've already had a very good visit by him to Washington. We have excellent relations with the Greek Government, and Under Secretary Tarnoff will want to discuss all the bilateral issues between us. He'll want to discuss the Cyprus problem. He'll want to discuss issues pertaining to the Aegean, and he's looking forward to very good conversations in Athens.
Q Are you aware that the Russian Government has turned down a visa request from the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of that, no.
Q If you can get something on that, I would appreciate it.
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to look into that.
Q Boris Yeltsin's health?
MR. BURNS: On the state of President Yeltsin's health? No, we have no independent information on that issue. I would simply note the comments made by various government spokesmen in Russia over the last three days on that question, but we're not in a position to comment ourselves with our own views.
Q Boris Yeltsin is riding pretty high in the polls at the present time, but he is reputed to be incapacitated by illness once again, and the cover for that is the same as it has been on previous illnesses, Nick. You cannot comment on either his political position or his possible ill health?
MR. BURNS: I cannot go any further than I went on the question of his health. On the question of the election, we're just going to have to wait and see what the Russian people decide to do on Wednesday. They're voting on Wednesday. It's a very important election, and we would hope that the Russian people would certainly take it as seriously as they did the first round. There's a lot at stake here for Russia and for the United States.
Q Nick, do you have any --
MR. BURNS: Still on Russia? I think Sid has a question on Russia.
Q Have any American officials in Moscow or here spoken to Boris Yeltsin in the last four days -- spoken directly to him in person or over the telephone?
MR. BURNS: No.
Q Nick --
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q On the Middle East --
MR. BURNS: "Yes," in answer to the question, for those who are transcribing this -- not "yes" in answer to the last question. The answer to the last question is "no." The answer to Abdul Salam is, "Yes, I'd be glad to take your question." (Laughter)
Q Okay. The Israeli Defense Minister has issued terse warnings to the Palestinian Authority lately, saying that not to issue any Palestinian passports to Palestinians in East Jerusalem and for the Palestinian Authority officials and VIPs and the ministers not to move around a lot between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, even between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and to fight terrorism, among others things.
This is, instead of making a reconciliation about the relations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, they are coming with the tough language, including the statement that was in The Washington Post interview with Lally Weymouth yesterday by Mr. Netanyahu that they are going to build in that area settlements in the West Bank, when he was talking about the West Bank. Do you have any comment on such positions?
MR. BURNS: That's a lot of questions, Abdul Salam. I thought we'd ask one question. I can't, and you would not expect me to, comment on these issues. These are issues that clearly must be resolved between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority. The Oslo accords in fact provide for a mechanism for them to discuss all these issues pertaining to Jerusalem, which are basically all those issues that you mention.
I can tell you that Secretary Christopher believes that he had a good set of discussions in both Jerusalem and Cairo last week. As Secretary Christopher said last week in both capitals, we believe the Israeli Government desires a continuation of the peace discussions with the Palestinian Authority, with Jordan, with Syria, with Egypt and with other Arab countries.
It's clearly a new day. There's a new government in power with new thoughts and sometimes different views about all these issues. But the Prime Minister said quite openly in public last week that he wants these discussions to continue, and after Secretary Christopher departed, you saw that Mr. Gold, the Prime Minister's adviser for national security affairs, met with Chairman Arafat, and I'm sure they discussed some of these issues.
So there is a discussion underway between the Israelis and Palestinians. We ought to allow them to have that discussion.
Q One last point. One member of the Parliament, I believe from the Likud Party, the partner of Mr. Netanyahu, called on the Israeli Government to lift the closure of the Palestinian territories, which has been imposed since February. Will you join the voices of these people calling for the lifting of the closure and facilitating the lives of the Palestinians to be much better than they are now?
MR. BURNS: I think it's fairly clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu has indicated publicly as well as privately to us that there are a number of issues on the agenda with the Palestinians that remain from the agenda of the last Israeli Government; that he is looking at all these issues, and that now with the meeting having been held with Chairman Arafat over the weekend, with previous meetings with Abu Mazin and Mr Gold, all these issues are in play.
It would not be helpful for us to be commenting upon them publicly when they clearly are already being discussed by the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Q Nick, the U.S. Government does have a position on settlements, doesn't it?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Would you care --
MR. BURNS: And that position has not changed in any way since the elections in Israel on May 29.
Q Do you have anything on when the monitoring talks will resume?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that Secretary Christopher had a number of discussions about this in the Middle East, certainly in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Netanyahu. In Lyon the other day, the Secretary had a very good lunch with Foreign Minister De Charette. They discussed the monitoring group again, and I think that as soon as Ambassador Dennis Ross can pull together all of his various interlocutors among the five countries -- among the five members of the Contact Group, then we'll see some more forward movement on that.
Q Do you expect that this week or not til --
MR. BURNS: I don't know if that will be this week or next week or the week after. It depends, really, on the travel schedules -- actually on the travel schedules of the individuals involved. We have representatives of France, United States, Syria, Lebanon and Israel involved.
Q One more question on North Korea. The North Koreans are threatening to pull out of the nuclear agreement, because they feel that Congress is not willing to fully fund the U.S. contribution which would pay for oil. Do you have any reaction to this?
MR. BURNS: I've seen one wire report on this. We are fully confident that the North Korean nuclear activities, frozen in 1994, remain frozen. We are fully confident that they will be frozen forever in the future, because we intend to adhere to the commitments that we made, the Japanese Government made and the Republic of Korea made in this agreement.
The agreement calls for the delivery of 500,000 metric tons of oil per annum, and that will take place. We do have a problem with the American Congress. The earmark is for a $13 million American contribution to KEDO for the oil. The need is for $25 million. If you look at this as a major national security issue, clearly the difference of $12 million can be bridged to the satisfaction of the Administration.
This is a very important issue, and, as Secretary Christopher has said, the President would not be afraid to use his veto power on this issue.
Q I have a follow-up to that. What do you make of the reported overheated rhetoric from North Korea on this topic? Can this be seen as a bargaining ploy or --
MR. BURNS: You might see it like that, but I think that everyone should rest assured that President Clinton and Secretary Christopher are treating this as a very important issue -- our commitments to KEDO -- and we'll continue to make that case, we hope effectively, to the American Congress.
Q Nick, are you saying we'll come up with the money whether -- from somewhere, whether Congress --
MR. BURNS: We will meet out commitments. We hope we can meet our commitments quickly through the positive action and reflection of the American Congress to give us the additional $12 million. Again, if you look at the national security interest here, which is not trivial but vital -- and there are very few truly vital national security interests that one can point to around the world really. The national security of the American people dictates a continuation of the freeze on North Korea's nuclear activities, on a peninsula where we have thousands of American troops stationed to preserve peace there.
The American Congress ought to see that this is worth $25 million a year at a time when the Japanese and South Koreans are paying up to $4 billion to help fund the activities of KEDO. The American share is quite small, compared to our allies, and the American national interest is quite high and vital. The Congress, I think, if it reflects on this, will see it in those terms.
Q But if they don't see it in those terms, will the Administration find a way to come up with --
MR. BURNS: I don't want to assume that our efforts to work with the Congress will fail. I have to assume they'll succeed.
Q But you don't want to assure the North Koreans who are putting out this rhetoric today, that one way or the other the United States will meet its obligations?
MR. BURNS: It's not helpful for the North Koreans to make the statements that they did today. It's not helpful, and it's not mature, and they should be patient, an they should assume that we're going to carry out our commitments, because we will carry out our commitments.
Q Any comments on the elections in Mostar?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We paid close attention to the elections in Mostar, which were held yesterday. From the reports of two of our Embassy observers and the reports of many of the international observers, these appear to have been fairly good, straightforward and open elections. There are no reports of disturbances. There are no reports of any irregularities.
In fact, the turnout in four of the districts on both sides of the river exceeded 50 percent, which I believe, under the circumstances is quite high, and we await the results of the election, which I believe will be announced tomorrow.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: I think -- wait a minute. We have another question.
Q This is (inaudible) Colombia, South America. We have learned about some new names of Colombian citizens whose visas were removed, cancelled, from the United States. We also have reports that Ambassador Frechette has requested the cancellation of the visa of President Samper. Is there any information about this, something you can deny or --
MR. BURNS: I have no information to give you on either of those questions. No information whatsoever.
MR. BURNS: No. Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:03 p.m.)
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