Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
96/07/03  Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman

                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                           DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
                                I N D E X 

                         Wednesday, July 3, 1996

                                               Briefer:  Nicholas Burns

   John Kornblum Sworn in as Assistant Secretary ..............  1  
   U.S. Response to Statement by Colombian Foreign Ministry ...  1  
   Town Meeting on July 18 at State Department ................  1-2
   ACDA Report: World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers.  2
   White House Initiatives on Bosnia ..........................  2

   Update on Investigation of Bombing/Ouside Involvement  .....  3-4
   FBI Director Louis Freeh Visit .............................  4
   -- Ensure Appropriate Collection of Evidence ...............  4
   Extradition Treaty .........................................  4
   Indications of Syrian Involvement in Bombing ...............  4

   Status of Karadzic
   --Stepping Down as President; Leader of Party ..............  5, 10
   --Bildt's Efforts to Have Karadzic Step Down ...............  5, 10
   --Testimony at War Crimes Tribunal .........................  5-6, 8
   --Diminishing Influence ....................................  6, 7-8, 9-10
   --Movement without Encountering IFOR/Increased Patrols .....  6-7
   --Military Action/Success of Mission Get Rid of Karadzic .  7, 8-9, 10
   Re-Imposition of Sanctions .................................  8, 10
   Next Contact Group Meeting .................................  11

   Election Update/Vote Turnout/U.S. Response .................  11-12
   Yeltsin's Health ...........................................  12

   Lebed's Appointment/Remarks on Religion ....................  12
   Extradition of Narco-Traffickers/Cooperation Policy ........  12-13, 14
   Bilateral Relations/Stmt Attacking Amb. Frechette...........  13-14
   Barring Samper and Government Officials from U.S. ..........  14-15

   Anniversary of Capture of Hutchings and other Hostages .....  15
   --Joint Statement Calling for Release ......................   15-16

   Letter to ICAO re: U.S. Violation of Airspace ..............  16
   U.S. Request for Action to UNSC ............................  16-17
   Carrying Out Helms-Burton/Discussion at G-7 Summit ....  17-18

   U/S Tarnoff Meetings in Ankara and Athens ..................  18-19, 22
   --Specific Proposals from Tarnoff ..........................  19
   --Extention of "Provide Comfort" ...........................  19, 21
   Albright and Beattie Travel to the Region re: Cyprus .......  19
   Views of New Turkish Government (PM Erbakan) ...............  21-22
   U.S. Bilateral Relationship with Turkey ....................  22

   Nat Sec Adviser Lake and A/S Lord's Trip to the Region .....  19-20
   Secretary's Trip to ASEAN Meetings/Australia ...............  20

   Secretary's Proposal for Regular Bilateral Summits .........  20-21

   New Humanitarian Distribution Plan/Oil Sales ...............  22-23

   Sen McConnell's Bill Ending Investment/Sanctions ...........  23


DPB #108

WEDNESDAY, JULY 3, 1996, 1:05 P. M.

MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. It's nice to see some faces we haven't seen here for a while. Roy, welcome.

I wanted to start by congratulating my colleague, John Kornblum, who was just sworn in upstairs at noon as our Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs. This is a major appointment by the Secretary of State. He was sworn in by Deputy Secretary of State Talbott. Secretary Christopher, who was on the phone with Strobe Talbott just before the swearing in, sent his very best wishes to John.

It's a great achievement for John Kornblum personally. He is one of our very best Foreign Service Officers. He has already probably logged more miles as Acting Assistant Secretary of State since February than most of us log in a year, and he has certainly logged a lot of time with Slobodan Milosevic and has been in the Balkans repeatedly. That's where he's going to be concentrating a lot of his time, as well as, of course, pursuing our interests on European security and our relations with the European countries.

So I wanted to congratulate John on this major distinction.

Second, I just wanted to refer you to a statement that we issued late yesterday afternoon. It is our response to the outrageous statement issued yesterday by the Colombian Foreign Ministry. It's in writing. It was issued a couple of hours after my briefing yesterday. I just wanted to refer you all to it. If you haven't seen it, I'd be glad to go through it with you during the course of the briefing.

Third, I wanted to let you know that we're going to have a Town Meeting here in the Department on July 18. Normally our Town Meetings are in cities outside of the Beltway across the United States. This one is for your colleagues in the media across the United States who do not normally have the pleasure of dealing with the State Department -- can I put it that way -- (laughter) -- with our permission -- on a daily basis.

These will be regional editors, journalists from papers across the United States. We have invited many of them to come here for a full day, July 18, to talk to us and with us about American foreign policy. They'll have many speakers. High-level people from the State Department will speak to them. They'll have an opportunity, I think, to engage with you, and I think all of you should feel welcome to participate as well. It's an on-the-record series of interviews and question-and-answer sessions with our policymakers here, covering all of the geographic and functional areas. That is on Thursday, July 18, from 8 to 5.

I also wanted to let you know that the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency has released today its annual report, "World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfer, 1995." This is the 24th volume in this series. These are statistical tables on military expenditures, arms transfers, the nature and composition of armed forces around the world, covering 172 countries, and it provides charts and rankings for countries in various categories. Copies of this, a limited number of copies, are available in the Press Office after the briefing.

Finally -- I hope that's finally; it is finally -- I wanted to draw your attention to three initiatives that were announced by the White House during the Lyon summit that received very little press coverage, perhaps because these initiatives were just overshadowed by everything else that was happening at Lyon.

They pertain to Bosnia -- the three initiatives announced by the President -- and I would refer you to fact sheets that the White House issued. I can give you copies or you can ask the White House for them. But let me just go through these very quickly.

The first initiative by the President creates a Blue Ribbon commission to investigate and document the cases of missing persons from the four-and-a-half years of the Bosnian war. There are 12,000 certified cases of missing people -- certified by the Red Cross. Only a handful of those cases have been resolved.

The President has asked former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to lead the U.S. effort to work closely with the United Nations and other organizations to try to undertake a major effort to locate missing people in the region or to discover the fate of those who are missing from the war.

The second initiative is to help to de-mine Bosnia. You know from the experience of our troops in IFOR that mines are one of the greatest threats not only to soldiers but to civilians in Bosnia, and the United States is going to contribute $15 million to help train demobilized soldiers in Bosnia to de-mine -- take mines out of their towns, villages in the areas. They'll be trained by IFOR troops. This will allow IFOR troops to spend their time on other programs.

Of the $15 million, $5 million will be used to sustain the Mine Action Center for a full year. Another $5 million has been requested from the Congress to fund specific de-mining contracts, and the final $5 million tranche -- these are DoD funds -- will be for training and equipping soldiers in their de-mining activities.

The third initiative of this group allocates $5 million to fund projects to promote the full participation of women in Bosnian society. It is a tragic reality that many women now find themselves without husbands who were killed during the war. They find themselves providing for families, in many cases large families, and we are beginning to start programs to try to train them -- in some cases to retrain them -- for employment now that there is peace.

This was an initiative that, I think, received the special attention of the First Lady, and she remarked upon this when she was in Lyon.

So I wanted to draw your attention to these, because I noticed that there was very little press attention, and I think they do merit some consideration by you, for those of you who are covering Bosnia.


Q Do you have anything on the investigation into the Saudi bombing, with particular reference to whether or not there was outside involvement?

MR. BURNS: I don't have anything for you on that. As you know, we have offered the $2 million reward for information leading to the terrorists who killed the Americans and injured many hundreds of others.

But, George, there's a criminal investigation underway, which is being led by the Saudis and is being assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. You know that FBI Director Louis Freeh is in Saudi Arabia today. He'll be in Riyadh and Dhahran. Also, the State Department, which is participating in this investigation. Until this investigation is completed, it would be irresponsible for me to have any kind of substantive comment.

I've seen the very intriguing press reports -- I guess intriguing to anyone reading them. I cannot substantiate those press reports this morning and particularly one report. We don't know who these people are who bombed the barracks. We are trying to find out.

Because we do not know who they are, we cannot, of course, make any links between the act of terrorism and any other states in the region. We are looking high and low. We're looking throughout Saudi Arabia and beyond Saudi Arabia, but that shouldn't lead you to conclude that somehow we have a lead that a particular country was involved. As far as I'm aware, we have not yet made that determination.

Q Nick, one of the reports says that part of the FBI Director's mission is to make sure the Saudis collect evidence in a way that will be acceptable in a U.S. court; that the United States would like to extradite the bombers if we find them here. Can you talk about that at all?

MR. BURNS: I've not heard that. I would direct your question to the FBI. I've not heard that at all, and I think we've talked about this for a couple of days now. The question of extradition, I think, cannot be answered now, because we don't know who the killers are.

Q Do we have an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia?

MR. BURNS: I believe we do, but I wouldn't lead you in the direction that we're actively planning such a request right now, absent information as to who bombed the Khobar barracks.

Yes, still on Saudi Arabia?

Q Yes. Is there any indication that Syria might be involved in the bombing?

MR. BURNS: I just answered that question. We have no indication that would lead us to believe at the present time that any state was involved in this. We don't know who the killers are. We're looking for them, and they will not be able to hide forever. We will find them. We will find these people.

Slow day, I know.

Q Do you have anything --

MR. BURNS: Roy, I should have -- I'm glad you're back. Nice to see you.

Q Thank you. Do you have anything new on the status of Mr. Karadzic? Is it clarified now whether he has in any way stepped down and whether Mrs. Plavsic has really taken over?

MR. BURNS: I think his status is quite clear. He has not stepped down in any meaningful way from his duties, either as the President of the so-called "Republic of Srpska" or as leader of his political party. This was all a fantasy, I think, on his part to try to lead us to believe that somehow he'd taken meaningful action on Sunday. He didn't take any meaningful action.

I would like to align ourselves here with Carl Bildt in one respect. Carl Bildt tried very hard to convince Karadzic and convince Mrs. Plavsic and the others to do the right thing here, which is to have the war criminals -- the indicted war criminals -- step down. Unfortunately, he was not able to succeed but not because of lack of effort. He tried very hard.

We're in a position now, Roy, where we have to assume that sooner or later Mr. Karadzic is going to either do the right thing and relieve himself of his responsibilities and turn himself over to The Hague or else that will be forced upon him. I can't predict what outcome he will experience.

Q What gives you confidence that this will happen? I mean, he's lasted a pretty long time, and he always seems to have some trick up his sleeve. You know, elections are coming in a little over two months, and he's apparently on the track to be nominated as the party's candidate. He's also in charge of the Electoral Commission, so I guess he's picking all the other candidates for his party.

MR. BURNS: Well, if nominated, he cannot run; and, if elected, he cannot serve, to paraphrase a famous American. He cannot run in the election. If he's nominated, then his candidacy will not be recognized by the OSCE. The Dayton Accords clearly stipulate that indicted war criminals cannot run for office. They also stipulate that they cannot serve in office.

Therefore, I'm very confident that he will not be a legitimate political actor as a result of these elections. He is an illegitimate political actor right now who ought to be tried for war crimes. I don't know if you've been following the activities in The Hague this week and last, but there's been chilling testimony about the campaign of rape in 1992 and 1993 against Bosnian Moslem women, which was clearly directed by the Bosnian Serb authorities and clearly countenanced by them throughout 1992.

It is despicable, and it just adds to the body of evidence that this man is a criminal, the likes of which haven't been seen in Europe in 50 years. Our sense is that sooner or later, whether by design or whether by his own judgment or whether by the fact that he will make a misjudgment, he will end up in the dock, and he'll be tried for those crimes.

Q He's on the Bosnian Serb television all the time doing talk shows, making speeches and regular appearances.

MR. BURNS: We talked a little about this yesterday. He is increasingly cornered, Roy. I don't accept this notion that somehow he's running rings around everybody.

Actually, his area of movement has been vastly circumscribed just over the last couple of months. He's hanging out in his ski chalet. He likes to don his tuxedo from time to time, and he likes to go before the cameras. But, he doesn't have the influence or ability to exert a lot of influence throughout even Bosnia Serb-held areas, and I think he has diminishing influence in Banja Luka.

He clearly does have a body of people who support him. He continues to give speeches. But sooner or later, he's going to trip up.

Q Does it concern you that he does travel between his ski chalet and the TV studio and that he never seems to encounter an IFOR checkpoint or patrol? In fact, they don't seem to be very active up there. I've heard this confirmed by Carl Bildt's office that he's moving back and forth between his home and his --

MR. BURNS: He does move around a little bit; you're right. There's no question about that. Sooner or later he's going to misstep and he'll pay for it.

Q I thought IFOR was supposed to have increased patrols up there?

MR. BURNS: Yes. General Joulwan and Admiral Smith have ordered increased patrols. I would refer you to the Pentagon on this, but I do believe that the patrols have increased in number just over the last month.

Q The evidence is to the contrary in terms of the last few days. In fact, the embarrassment that caused by his constant appearances on television is, I would think, pretty acute now?

MR. BURNS: I don't share your assessment. I think you have to compare him -- maybe a more accurate base of comparison, Roy, would be a year ago today, when they were poised to invade the safe areas of Srebrenica and Zepa, and today. Basically, he can't move outside of the Greater Pale region, and Pale is not a very big place, as you know very well. He's got to be concerned every time he steps out his front door or his back door or side door as to who may be out there and what may happen to them.

He is a hunted person. He's got to be apprehensive about his ability to show his face in public and that is quite different from the swaggering Karadzic of a year ago.-- quite different. He is a cornered individual. He has vastly reduced political influence although he still has some political influence. I think that's a remarkable change in a year.

We are willing to take the longer term view that sooner or later he's going to end up in The Hague.

Q So, in the meantime, no plans for action such as sanctions or military action to try to catch him?

MR. BURNS: On the second question, I wouldn't tell you if I knew, obviously.

On the first question, sanctions are a distinct possibility -- a distinct possibility.

Q Just to follow on that. I thought the intention of these shuttle missions by John Kornblum and meeting with Mr. Milosevic that this was supposed to bring pressure to bear on Karadzic; that he was going to be increasingly marginalized; that he was not -- I thought there was an agreement reached that he was not going to be on television.

Despite what you are saying about him perhaps being apprehensive and cornered, for the people that he is the leader of -- and, clearly, someone that they support -- he's on television, he's on radio. He doesn't appear to be marginalized. He appears to be even more defiant than before. Is this process working? And at what point is the international community going to decide that the political process is not working?

MR. BURNS: We're not at the end of the process. I don't think we can judge -- you and me -- whether it has succeeded or failed. Our effort to try to oust him from power, he is clearly resisting that effort that Carl Bildt and John Kornblum have been making to try to get him to leave power. He's resisting. We're seeing that. That's why he showed up in the tuxedo at the party gathering the other night in Pale, and that's why he proclaims himself, still, to be the party leader and the president of the republic.

His ability, actually, to influence events is vastly circumscribed. We take a longer view that, in the end, he is not going to succeed and we will succeed. I think he and Milosevic have to wonder about our inclination to reimpose sanctions. We have talked about this publicly for sometime now. We are willing to wait a little longer to see if they will act on their own. But if they don't, I think we have a clear route towards the reimposition of sanctions available to us.

Q Doesn't the chilling testimony that you referred to give the Administration second thoughts about waiting a little longer? Doesn't that make you more anxious to put pressure on to get these people in the dock?

MR. BURNS: Obviously, he is no longer in the position where he can inflict that kind of criminal punishment on innocent civilians because the war has ended, and we ended the war and we are now keeping the peace.

But, certainly, yes, Howard, in a larger sense what we have seen in The Hague over the last couple of weeks just re-enforces our strong determination that actually not only should he be out power and out of influence but he should be in The Hague. Yes, it does.

Q So, in other words, there is rethinking of the grace period on sanctions?

MR. BURNS: No, I didn't say that. The testimony at The Hague about the wide-scale practice of rape against innocent women re-enforces our sense of his guilt -- his massive guilt for war crimes committed against the Bosnian people. It re-enforces our determination to see that he ends up in the dock on trial for those war crimes.

Q Let me ask Roy's question in a slightly different way, I think. Does the possibility of some sort of military raid, is that an option to get Karadzic? Beyond just the controls of IFOR?

MR. BURNS: I don't want to discuss --

Q (Inaudible).

MR. BURNS: I don't want to discuss those types of scenario because it's just not in my interest to do so.

Q The overall impression is just more waiting. The clock is ticking for the elections. He's carrying on his process. There's sort of an appearance of passivity here?

MR. BURNS: I wouldn't say so. I don't agree with that at all, Roy, with all due respect for your expertise on this issue, which is far greater than mine. Basically, I look at it at a different way. I know the Secretary does as well.

We've accomplished a lot over the last year. Just think about where we were on July 3, 1995, and the imminent failure of the United Nations mission on July 3, 1995. We stopped the war. We've negotiated a peace treaty. We have implemented it to the following extent: all the forces are separate; tens of thousands of people are crossing the inter-ethnic boundary line on a daily basis; elections have been held in Mostar; elections will be held throughout the country on September 14.

Some refugees -- a very limited number -- have been able to return to their homes, but at least some have. We're working very hard to see that others can in the future. We are looking for the missing. We're trying to reunite families. A lot of positive things have happened.

I think it's important to remember those. That is the longer term perspective that I'm talking about.

Karadzic is on a downward slope. He was riding high a year ago. He had a dream a year ago -- he and Mladic -- of a Greater Serbia. That dream exploded on August 30, 1995, when NATO struck at him and at Mladic. That dream has evaporated. These are defensive, cornered people -- Mladic and Karadzic. They come out from time to time to tease you and tease us with their public appearances, but they will not be the leaders of those people for much longer.

I think it's important to put everything in perspective. We have accomplished a lot because of the leadership of the United States and the actions of NATO, and we're going to accomplish more in the future.

Q Is one of them running circles around the international community --

MR. BURNS: No, we've run circles around them. They were on the offensive a year ago. They thought they could win the whole war a year ago and we cornered them and we beat them back. I don't accept the premise of your question at all.

Q I was just talking to Carl Bildt's office yesterday. They seem extremely frustrated right now at the way things are going. That's where this feeling of being "run circles around" is coming from. It's not my personal characterization.

MR. BURNS: We were frustrated a year ago and we succeeded. We dealt with the frustration and we got on with it, and we did the right thing. We stopped the war and made the peace. We're not going to let a few frustrating scenarios -- Karadzic thumbing his nose at the West on Sunday and Monday -- stop us. He's going to lose in the end.

Q Regarding the refugees. According to (inaudible), two million refugees and just 10,000 returned. That means that they returned to areas where the majority live.

About Karadzic, my own impression is that you are waiting for something but I can't figure out for what, because Karadzic did everything he possibly could to spoil the environment for elections.

So if there is anything to do as soon as possible, would you tell us, what is your intention about sanctions and why are you waiting for it? Because it is obvious that NATO is not going to hunt Karadzic and Mladic.

MR. BURNS: We're holding the threat of sanctions over their heads and we're threatening to reimpose. We will reimpose if they don't, on their own, step aside. That's a very clear strategy that we are now following.

We are willing -- we are willing -- to take a couple of days, a couple of weeks to see this through. But they should be under no illusion about our intentions here. We will reimpose those sanctions if they don't get out of the way.

Q What makes you sure, Nick, that Karadzic is going to do something on his own? Do you have any example before?

MR. BURNS: There's not a lot more I can say about this subject. I think we're basically going around in a circle here. I think I've tried my best to answer your questions and to give you our perspective. We are confident that we are on the right track in Bosnia. The situation is 100 percent improved from a year ago today. As long as we can keep it moving forward, I think we'll be doing our job.

Q Nick, is there a Contact Group meeting coming up?

MR. BURNS: When Secretary Christopher was in Lyon and met with Herve de Charette, the French Foreign Minister, they talked about the need for Contact Group meetings. I think we'll be getting back with the French to plan some. We're just not sure at what level at this point. But I think, clearly, towards the end of this month -- the end of July -- there will be a need for meetings. I know that John Kornblum and Peter Tarnoff will remain very active on this issue.

Q But there's nothing scheduled as of now?

MR. BURNS: Nothing scheduled right now; right.

Q Russia?

MR. BURNS: Sure.

Q Anything on the election today? And then more specifically, anything on Boris Yeltsin's appearance and general state?

MR. BURNS: On the first question, our Embassy in Moscow and our consulates -- we have consulates in Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg, and St. Petersburg -- are reporting that the voting in those four cities is proceeding normally, without incident.

The Russian Electoral Commission, I believe, will begin to report preliminary results from the Far East at around 3:00/4:00 Eastern Standard Time today. That's when the polls close in Kaliningrad. So we have several more hours of voting left, as we speak now.

The overall turnout reported by the Central Electoral Commission is slightly lower than the first round but it's unclear just how much lower it is.

Obviously, those of us here in Washington are watching this voting with a very high degree of interest given the stakes in U.S.-Russian relations, given the enormous stake that the United States has in the continuation of reform in Russia. I think you all know about that.

I don't believe we'll have much to say from Washington today even though by 6:00/7:00/8:00 p.m. tonight there may be a considerable number of returns in. I think we'll wait until tomorrow morning when there is a more complete picture, when up to 95 percent of the votes have been counted, and we'll just have to see how it goes.

As to your second question, obviously, from all accounts President Yeltsin has not been in as good of health as he would want to be. I think the Russians have been clear about that. He voted today. We were very pleased to see him vote, and we hope his condition will improve.

Q On a related issue. When I was last here several weeks ago, you were fairly optimistic about General Lebed's appointment. I wonder if you've reconsidered that attitude?

MR. BURNS: I can't remember exactly how we reacted to his appointment. I think we said that it improved the electoral math. That was a fairly objective and neutral statement, as I remember it.

I don't remember any optimism creeping into this Briefing Room. Yesterday, I took a question from Sid about some of the truly offensive and outrageous remarks that he has made about Jews, about Catholics, about Mormons. I think all Americans would condemn them, and we find those remarks to be deeply disturbing.

Anymore on Russia before we leave?

Q It seems that reports about him -- about Yeltsin -- suffering from a sore throat or fatigue or turning out possibly to be something more serious. Do you have any information on that?

MR. BURNS: We just don't know. We literally don't know. Obviously, we have a great interest in this issue but we're going to have to leave it to the Russian Government, and the President himself, to describe what his illness may be. They have said that he has a sore throat. That was reported quite consistently over the last couple of days. We are not in a position to know.

Therefore, because we don't know, I cannot comment, really, any further than I have.

Still on Russia? You had the next question. Colombia.

Q Nick, last week the U.S. Government has requested the extradition for four narco-traffickers, indicating you have evidence of crimes committed in this country. Can we know what are those evidence, or what specific crimes they are accused of in this country?

MR. BURNS: We know that narco-trafficking is threatening to destroy Colombia's democracy, and that it has made inroads into all sections of Colombian life, including into major elements of the political establishment. That's fairly well documented and agreed upon, I think, by both Colombians and by representatives of our government.

If you look at the statement that we issued yesterday, I think it really notes the very deep concern we have about the corrosive, debilitating effect that narco-trafficking will have on Colombia's democracy in the future should the government not make concerted efforts to choke it off. That's what we're calling upon the government to do.

We have tried over the last couple of weeks to convince the Colombian Government to work more cooperatively with us. We did make some requests which were not met last week. I think we are now entering a kind of a fundamental stage where we have to make some decisions about the future of U.S.-Colombian relations.

I have nothing to announce today, but I think we need to get to that decision-making fairly shortly.

Q What happened last week when you approached them?

MR. BURNS: I wasn't here last week. I was elsewhere, George, and I can't recite chapter and verse. I know that we have made several requests, as we said we would, of the Colombian Government to try to get them to give us a fuller measure of cooperation on the counternarcotics effort.

We did not receive the full measure of cooperation that we expected.

Q What was outrageous about the statement that they made yesterday? You characterized it as "outrageous" at the outset.

MR. BURNS: The statement by the Colombian Government yesterday really cast stones in the wrong direction. The statement lashed out in a very unprofessional, undiplomatic way at our Ambassador Myles Frechette, who is, in all of our eyes, a distinguished diplomat who is going to remain in Bogota, who is going to remain the President's personal representative. He has the full support of President Clinton and Secretary of State Kissinger.

To see a written statement from the Colombian Foreign Ministry attacking our Ambassador --

Q Christopher.

MR. BURNS: Christopher. Did I say Kissinger? I never even served under Secretary Kissinger. I was in high school when he was Secretary of State. (Laughter)

Fortunately, the Secretary of State is in California and will never hear these words. We'll expunge them from the record. (Laughter) Secretary of State Christopher.

The fact that the Colombian Foreign Ministry would unilaterally attack our Ambassador and to say that the Ambassador's activities were inconsistent with good Colombian-U.S. relations is highly ironic given the fact that the Colombians need look no further than their own doorstep to see the very problems that are plaguing their society. It's corruption, and it's the influence of narco-traffickers.

They've got to deal with their own problems. They ought not to look at scapegoats from the United States to blame for their own problems.

Q If the U.S. Government is asking for extradition, that means this government is not going to use the cooperation policy with the Colombian Government?

MR. BURNS: We want to cooperate. But if we don't receive a cooperative reaction from the Colombian Government, well, then we have to draw our own conclusions and we will do that.

Q Last week Ambassador Frechette declared to Europe Agency News that the Cali cartel leaders are directing the operation from jail. What impact has this accusation in the relations between Colombia and the United States?

MR. BURNS: I don't want to speak to a specific allegation. I've made our views abundantly clear in the written statement that we issued last evening and in reaffirming it today.

Q What remedy is there in barring Samper and the ministers of his government from visiting this country?

MR. BURNS: I've not talked about that today nor did I talk about it yesterday.

Q So what's your reaction to this as a move? The Colombians are saying that confidence is decreasing and the relations are worsening? How do we --

MR. BURNS: We hope to improve the relationship but it takes two to tango. We need a partner here. We don't have one right now.


Q Tomorrow, I believe, is the first anniversary of the capture of Westerners by militants in Kashmir. Do you have any reaction, any statement? Is there any progress on this?

MR. BURNS: July 4, 1995, six people were taken hostage by the al-Faran organization in Kashmir. Among them, Donald Hutchings, an American citizen from the state of Washington; Keith Mangan and Paul Wells, British citizens; Dirk Hasert, a German citizen; Hans Christian Ostro of Norway, who was later murdered by the al-Faran organization. A sixth hostage, an American, escaped, fortunately, several days after he was abducted.

This is a truly tragic situation. We continue to operate under the assumption that these hostages are alive, and we continue to work with the Indian Government in an effort to find them and to have them released.

Mrs. Jane Schelly, who is the wife of Donald Hutchings, is currently in Kashmir. She has been meeting with a variety of people in an attempt to gain some information about her husband's whereabouts and his well-being.

I think, Judd, as tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of their abduction, we should call again today for their release and for information as to what happened to them. We are doing everything possible to find them.

We will be releasing, about 12 hours from now, a joint statement with other governments about this. But since you've asked, I think it's appropriate for us to call again for their release and to hope very much that this despicable act of terrorism will end. There can be no gain from taking six people hostage.

Terry Waite spoke out today from Britain. Terry Waite, who spent so many years in prison, spoke out and called upon this group to release these hostages.

Q Can we have that statement on an embargoed basis, considering it will be 1:00 in the morning when you release it?

MR. BURNS: I'll make every attempt to get it to you -- yes, on an embargoed basis. We're going to release this simultaneously with the governments of the men who have been held captive. I'll be glad to get that to you by the time we close up this afternoon; embargoed until a certain hour tomorrow morning, given the fact that tomorrow is a Federal holiday.

Q On Cuba. Are you aware of a complaint filed by the Cuban Government with the International Civil Aviation Organization? The complaint alleges that Cuban air space has been violated on a number of occasions by aircraft of the Government of the United States and it warns of the danger that this threat would impose?

MR. BURNS: I'm aware of this only through the efforts of a very responsible news organization in the United States which gave us a copy of a letter from a senior Cuban official to the ICAO.

I can say, in reading through this letter, I find it highly ironic that a representative of the Cuban Government would fault the United States for its civil aviation procedures. This is a government -- the Cuban Government -- which was found by the ICAO to have violated all pertinent international civil aviation regulations in shooting down the two Cessnas and murdering four Americans who were in international air space.

So I think you have to consider the source here. The United States takes its civil aviation responsibilities very seriously. The Cuban Government does not, and they're obviously trying just to deflect attention from their international crimes.

Secretary Pena was up in the United Nations today. He spoke to the press after his meetings at the United Nations, and we are formally asking the United Nations Security Council to take action against Cuba; to debate this issue; to consider the ICAO report, and to take action against their flagrant violation of international civil aviation procedures and the murder of four Americans.

I find no other way and no other words to describe what they did on February 24. It was murder in international airspace. For Mr. Alarcon to release the letter to a major American news organization, which attacks the United States, is laughable, considering their record.

Q What are you asking the Security Council? What action would you like the Security Council to take against Cuba?

MR. BURNS: What we decided to do is hold our fire on specific prescriptions for what the Security Council should do. What Secretary Pena did today was to have some preliminary conversations with U.N. officials about this matter and to speak privately about what we think should happen. But since the Security Council obviously operates under its own rules and guidelines, and I think since we believe that our diplomacy would be more effective should we keep our prescriptions private, we're going to keep them private for now. But we do want action to be taken against Cuba.

How can we tolerate a country very close to the shores of the United States, to Florida, which does not pay attention to international civil aviation standards and which takes the lives of four Americans. Something's got to be done about the Cubans, and the United Nations is the place for that to happen.

Q Change the topic?

Q Could I stay with this for a moment? Speaking of specific prescriptions, what are the intentions for carrying out the Helms-Burton Act following the Lyon summit, which seemed to take a very negative attitude -- or the other members of which -- toward implementation?

MR. BURNS: There was really nothing new discussed at Lyon. It was really more of the same type of conversations that we've had with our European friends over the last couple of months, since March, when the bill was signed into law.

We sent advisory letters, as you know, Roy, to a handful of companies, warning them that their activities were being looked at under Title IV of the Helms-Burton Act. We then published guidelines that make very clear who will and will not be covered under Title IV, and I think very shortly we'll get to the next stage and that is specific letters to specific companies saying that they indeed have been found to be in violation of Title IV, and therefore their executives and some of the children of the executives will not be able to enter the United States.

This is an action again -- the third action we have not yet taken, but I think we are very close to taking that action.

Q Everything is still full speed ahead, and there's no change in any way following Lyon?

MR. BURNS: None whatsoever, no. The President and the Secretary of State gave as much as they got on this issue; explained the background, explained the incident on February 24, the shootdown of the two Cessnas; explained the bipartisan consensus on this issue, the sense of outrage among the American people, and the fact that it is American law, and therefore we must abide by American law.

Q Under Secretary Tarnoff concluded his visit to Ankara and today is visiting Athens for discussions with the Greek Government. Could you give us something on the outcome of the discussions in Ankara, and also on the agenda in Athens?

MR. BURNS: I'd be very glad to, and this will just serve to supplement the very good press conference that Under Secretary Tarnoff had in Ankara yesterday. In Ankara, he met with President -- Under Secretary Tarnoff and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Jan Lodal and Ambassador Marc Grossman met with President Demirel, Prime Minister Erbakan, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ciller, and the Under Secretary, Onur Oymen, of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

During these meetings, Under Secretary Tarnoff followed a very consistent theme, and that is that the United States wishes to work closely with the new Turkish Government to expand our political and economic and business relations; to support democratization and human rights.

Under Secretary Tarnoff underscored Turkey's very important place in the West, connected to the United States, to Europe through the Customs agreement that we all worked so hard on through NATO, which is the bedrock of Turkish and American security.

They also emphasized the important role that Turkey plays in the region as really the only democratic and secular Moslem state in the region, and the important role that Turkey has throughout that region in the Caucasus, in the Middle East, in the Aegean and in Europe itself pertaining to its NATO responsibilities.

Specifically, they discussed the situation in the Aegean, the Cyprus problem, the issues concerning our mutual security dependence, including issues like the frigates, like "Operation Provide Comfort." They discussed the Middle East situation, and Under Secretary Tarnoff emphasized our continued willingness -- the willingness of the United States to act as a facilitator to resolve problems between Greece and between Turkey.

So a very good set of meetings, a very full set of meetings, and I think what we've heard from the Turkish side, including from Prime Minister Erbakan, was the Turkish Government does desire a very close relationship with the United States, close security ties, political ties, and we're looking forward to building on them.

In Athens today, Under Secretary Tarnoff is going to be seeing President Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Simitis, Foreign Minister Pangalos and, of course, the leader of the opposition, Mr. Evert, to have similar talks with the Greek Government about the full range of issues in U.S.-Greek relations, including issues concerning the Aegean.

As you know, Madeleine Albright and Mr. Beattie will be traveling in just a couple of weeks to the region to work on the problem of Cyprus and some of these Aegean issues. So the United States is really now giving, I think, a lot of commitment to both Greece and Turkey to try to resolve some of these problems. We're in a position to do so now, because at long last there is a stable government in Turkey as well as a stable government in Greece.

Q The Secretary gave to the Turkish and also he will give to the Greek Government any specific proposals regarding Cyprus and the Aegean?

MR. BURNS: I'm not sure that Under Secretary Tarnoff delivered specific proposals on those issues. They had good discussions on them, and he'll certainly want to have similar discussions with the Greek Government, as he did with the Turkish Government.

Q Wait for the traveling of Mrs. Albright and Mr. Beattie about the proposals?

MR. BURNS: I think so, for the most part, yes.

Q Is there any different views between Washington and Ankara, including "Provide Comfort"?

MR. BURNS: I think, as Under Secretary Tarnoff said publicly yesterday in Ankara, we expect "Operation Provide Comfort" to be extended. The Turkish Government supports that. There are some important details that have to be worked out, some important questions that have to be answered that have been raised by the Turkish Government and by parliamentarians in Turkey, and we respect that, and we'll work through them.

But I think in the final analysis, we would fully expect this to be extended.

Q I'd like to ask about Mr. Lake's visit to Asia. In Beijing, is he going to talk about the possibility of regular summit or regular cabinet ministers meeting? And also, North Korea could be on the agenda with Japan and South Korea?

MR. BURNS: The real secret here is that Tony Lake is going to flee Washington because the Boston Red Sox are 84 games out of first place. He's a very, very big Boston Red Sox fan. He's even more vociferous than I am.

Actually, I can't talk about his visit, because I don't believe there's been a formal announcement by the White House. There has been today? There's now been a formal announcement. Let's talk about the visit. (Laughter)

As you know, the White House announced this morning that National Security Adviser Tony Lake will travel to China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan, and he will be accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Winston Lord. I think this trip has been planned for a long time, and I refer you to whatever Mike McCurry and David Johnson said today in describing this trip.

We have important relationships with all of these countries but very different relationships, and there's a lot to discuss. This trip will be followed by a very important trip to Asia by Secretary of State Christopher. I'll announce it formally next week, but I can tell you that Secretary of State Christopher will be traveling to the ASEAN meetings in the third week of July, and then on to Australia: there are very important set of meetings that he'll be having out there, including a bilateral with the Chinese Foreign Minister.

Q Where does the Secretary's proposal for regular summits stand with the Chinese?

MR. BURNS: You mean Secretary Christopher, not Secretary Kissinger.

Q Yes. No. Or Secretary Baker. (Laughter) No, Secretary Christopher.

MR. BURNS: Where does his proposal stand?

Q Yes, he made that proposal a couple of months ago.

MR. BURNS: The proposal made by the Secretary in New York, that there be regular summit meetings in capitals between American and Chinese leaders, is something he believes in very strongly. What he'd like to do is sit down with Vice Premier Qian Qichen and discuss a schedule to make that happen. That will be his intention in Jakarta when he meets him.

Q Do you think the Chinese are receptive?

MR. BURNS: No, I don't believe the Chinese have formally accepted. We would like to secure their agreement to this. That's one of the issues that will be taken up when they meet in Jakarta.

Yes, Yasemin.

Q Go back to Turkey for a second. If I didn't hear you wrong, did you say that the new Turkish Government is supposed to continue the "Provide Comfort"? Is this the impression you got?

MR. BURNS: I think the very strong sense we got, that Under Secretary Tarnoff received from the conversations, is that both governments -- our government and theirs -- are committed to making this work. But I did say that some important discussions -- some important questions have to be dealt with first, and we are working through them. But the sense we got was that the Turks do want to move forward on this.

Q The Turkish Prime Minister called the U.N. refugee camp in northern Iraq -- the (inaudible) camp, a terrorist headquarters. He talked about removing all the "Provide Comfort" facilities out of Iraq and everything. So this didn't give you any impression of his, you know, specific changes in the Turkish policy?

MR. BURNS: There are a number of important questions that were raised even before Mr. Erbakan came to office, by the Turkish authorities concerning "Operation Provide Comfort." We have tried to answer the questions that we've had and to negotiate some of the different points of view that we've had on this.

I don't believe that we came to the end of that discussion during the last couple of days. It continues.

Q Is this one of the cases in which, the U.S. Administration is making a distinction between the rhetoric and the practice? I'm talking about the new Turkish Government, since now we have a Prime Minister for the first time who is openly anti-American, anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, pro-Iranian? I mean, you know, he has made all these comments, including, until very recently,... (interrupted).

MR. BURNS: That's quite a description, Yasemin. (Laughter) Would Mr. Erbakan share that description, do you think?

Q Well, he has made these statements publicly.

MR. BURNS: Actually, I think it's important to judge a government -- we think it's important to judge governments by their actions. We find that, all over the world, sometimes things are said in political campaigns that are not translated into government policy once governments take office.

In this case, I think Prime Minister Erbakan is well aware through his long experience in the Turkish political system of the important relationship that the United States has with Turkey, and the fact that we have been a defender of Turkish sovereignty when times were tough during the Cold War. That continues, and we have a mutually-supportive relationship that benefits the Turkish people, as well as, the American people.

I think you heard what Under Secretary Tarnoff said. He felt he had good meetings with Prime Minister Erbakan. He feels we're off to a good start. We don't need to agree on every issue. We never will with Turkey, or any other country, but we're off to a good start.

I think it was a well-timed visit, and Under Secretary Tarnoff is pleased with the meeting he had with the new Prime Minister.

Q One last thing. So after yesterday's meeting, can we say that this Administration is planning to continue to have contacts with the Prime Minister in Turkey as well as the Foreign Minister, on all levels?

MR. BURNS: The United States will absolutely have regular contacts with the Prime Minister, his office, and his associates. The Turkish people have put him in that position. We are a democracy; we respect that. Ambassador Grossman will be very active in working with the new government -- the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.

Q On Iraq, do you have any new information from yesterday on when the Iraqis are expected to submit a new humanitarian distribution plan and subsequently when we can expect the humanitarian oil sales to begin?

MR. BURNS: The ball's in Saddam's court. Madeleine Albright has made it very clear what the United States can and cannot support. The Iraqis understand that, and they've got to decide how they're going to respond. It's up to them to take the next step.

Q You haven't had any indication on when a new plan might come in?

MR. BURNS: I didn't hear anything from our mission up at the U.N. today that would lead me to believe that we've received a response from the Iraqis.

Q And just another question on Burma. Last Friday, Mickey Kantor was in Thailand, and he was asked about Senator McConnell's bill that would end US investment in Burma, and he made some comments that sounded a bit more closer to supporting the bill, such as, "We feel Burma is a place where sanctions would be effective." I know that Mr. Wiedemann testified about a month ago about the Department's position on the bill, but has there been any change in that position?

MR. BURNS: We've had very good discussions with the principal sponsors of the legislation, including Senator McConnell. I think we see eye to eye on the need to increase pressure on the SLORC, on the dictators who rule Burma. The Administration believes, however, that our diplomacy might be more effective should we have the freedom to decide on, an Executive Branch basis, when those punitive measures should be taken. We would not like to see a bill emerge in final form that would dictate the time and nature of those sanctions. We believe that we ought to -- the Executive Branch, the President, who the Constitution gives authority to in this area -- have the ability to decide those tactical questions. I think, strategically, we do agree with the Congress.

Q Thank you.

MR. BURNS: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:56 p.m.)


To the top of this page