U.S. Department of State 96/07/10 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, July 10, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Introduction of Foreign Affairs Fellows...................... 1 Helms-Burton Act Notification Letters Sent Out............... 1-2 USUN Madeleine Albright Travel to Greece, Turkey & Cyprus.... 3 New Olympics Identity Card for Athletes, Trainers & Coaches.. 3 Public Affairs "This Day in Diplomacy" Initiative............ 15-16 CUBA Helms-Burton Act: Implementation of Title IV --Notification Letters Sent Out/Who Is Affected, How/Why ..1-5,7-9,12-14 --Background & Formation: --Deterrent Effect Against Foreign Investment/US Obligation to Fulfill............................................... 6-8,12 --Russian vs GOC Illustration of Compensation.............. 10-11 --Cemex Corporation Divests Itself........................... 7 --Companies Financing Sugar Harvest.......................... 9 --Pres Clinton's Decision to Waive Enforcement of Title III.. 9 Status of Olympic Athlete Defector........................... 33 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli PM Netanyahu Visit................................... 16-23 --Mtg w/Secretary Christopher of July 9...................... 16-17 --Mtg w/Pres Clinton: --Centrality of GOI's Relationship w/Palestinians --Implementation of Oslo I & II Agreements --GOI & Palestinian Commitment re closure of West Bank/Gaza Strip --Pursue Peace w/Syria & Lebanon........................... 18,21 Secretary Christopher's Travel to the Region................. 17,23-24 Egyptian President Mubarak's Upcoming Visit.................. 17 Upcoming Economic Summit in November, Cairo.................. 18 GOI & GOS Upcoming Negotiations.............................. 19,23-24 US Role in GOI/Palestinian Negotiations...................... 20-23 US Aid to Israel............................................. 25 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Equip & Train: --Defense Law Ratified by Assembly/Contract with MPRI to be Signed/Training to be Initiated/Shipment to be Arranged/ Monies Provided by Other Countries......................... 26-27 Alleged Report of Former Mujahedin in Mufti.................. 27 Contact Group Mtg, London: --Status of Karadzic/Agreement for Elections on Sept 14 & Financial Support/Amb Frowick to Bar the SDS From Elections 28-29 US Continued Strategy on Possible Sanctions to Get Karadzic Removed/IFOR's Responsibility re Arrest.................... 29-30 Srebrenica Massacre Anniversary.............................. 30-31 GREECE, CYPRUS, & TURKEY USUN Amb Albright/Amb Beattie Trip to Region --Upcoming Discussions/Establish Bizonal Bicommunal Federation/Aegean Issue.................................... 32-33 COLOMBIA No Helms-Burton Act Notification Letter to Pres Samper....... 33 ARMS CONTROL Chairman Ramaker's Draft Text of CTBT........................ 34 World Court's Decision re Nuclear Weapons.................... 35 BURMA Aung San Suu Kyi Continuation of Political Speeches.......... 34 NIGER GON Unorthodox Actions re Elections.......................... 35
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JULY 10, 1996, 1:06 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have a couple of announcements to make and then we'll go to your questions.
We have with us today 17 Foreign Affairs Fellows -- I think on this side of this room and some on this side of the room -- who are taking part in a new, innovative program being sponsored by the Department of State to identify young people who are promising and we hope our future diplomats. They take part in intern programs here in the Department, as these young people are, and also overseas. We hope very much that they will all consider careers in the State Department when they finish this program. I think all of them are college or graduate students here in the United States. Welcome to all of you.
I have an announcement on the Helms-Burton Act that I would like to read to you, and then I'll be glad to take your questions on that following my other announcements.
The Department of State, today, sent out notification letters to advise certain individuals that they have been determined to be trafficking, which is the term of art here, in confiscated U.S. properties in Cuba under Title IV of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act -- the so-called Helms-Burton Act.
Title IV provides for the denial of visas to these people and their exclusion from the United States, and is for any foreign national whom the Secretary of State determines is a person who, after March 12, 1996, confiscates or traffics in a confiscated property in Cuba and claim to which is owned by a United States citizen.
The notification letter state that the individuals who receive them will be excluded from the United States effective 45 days from the date of the letters. The letters are dated July 9, 1996.
The notification letters were sent as part of the Clinton Administration's continuing efforts to implement the provisions of this act in a thorough but also in a transparent manner. If the information warrants, we expect to make additional determinations of exclusions in the near future.
I know we'll have a lot of questions on this. I'm glad to take your questions. Let me just mention a few more things before we get to them.
Q Before we call a filing break, can you tell us who these individuals are?
MR. BURNS: I cannot; no.
Q How many?
MR. BURNS: I can't tell you who the individuals are. I can tell you they are a handful of people and that they all are shareholders and senior executives in one foreign company; that they have received the letters today; that they know of their future exclusion from the United States.
Q And it's one company only?
MR. BURNS: Yes. But I want to explain why I'm not going to identify the company here. We think that we should be respectful of these individuals. We do not wish to embarrass them unduly in a public manner. We think that as we carry out this act, it's also important for us, as we send these letters out, to give them time in those 45 days to reflect upon the ramifications of these letters and to consider if their corporation still wants to take part in these investments.
Q Isn't it kind of silly, though? This is a really public issue. It's a big controversy. We're going to find out anyway, and this is just -- I mean, it's silly.
MR. BURNS: It's not silly.
Q What about the --
MR. BURNS: It is transparent. I'm announcing this today. We didn't have to announce it.
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not going to identify the country. No. No.
Q What country -- France?
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to identify the country. I'm not going to identify the company. I'm not going to identify the individuals. I'm just simply telling you that we've taken this action.
UPI has called for a filing break. It's duly noted. I'll be glad to get onto all the other questions about this when we finish the other announcements.
I wanted to draw your attention to an announcement from USUN yesterday about a trip that Ambassador Madeleine Albright is going to be taking to the region, starting next Monday, to Greece and Turkey and Cyprus. This is to undertake discussions with all the parties to the Cyprus conflict to see if we can help them make progress towards a comprehensive settlement of that problem. I'll also be glad to go into questions on this, should you so wish.
I'm posting a statement after the briefing about the new Olympic identity card being issued by the United States to Olympic athletes, trainers, and coaches from countries all over the world which will facilitate their travel to the United States and securing visas for admission to the games. That's being posted after this session.
I have another announcement which I'm going to hold until the other wires get back. We'll do that at the end of the briefing. So I'll be glad to go into any of these questions.
Q If you don't blame the company, what is the deterrent effect?
MR. BURNS: Because the individuals of this company, they obviously know now that they have been identified; that 45 days from yesterday, they will not be allowed to enter the United States nor will their spouses and nor will their minor children -- children under 18 years of age.
We are carrying out here the law that was passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law by the President on March 12.
Q Does the law provide for privacy for the people who are excluded?
MR. BURNS: The law does not provide for privacy. We are using our best sense here. We're doing what we think is right and appropriate and respectful in this situation.
We are also giving them a period of time to perhaps consider privately whether, as corporations, they want to continue these investments in Cuba.
The other note that I should strike here is that we are not talking about any foreigner who invests in Cuba. We're talking about foreigners who have invested in 5,911 companies that were nationalized by Castro following the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and who have not been compensated for that nationalization -- 5,911 individuals and corporations in the United States have not been compensated 36 years later. That's a very serious matter.
It's only foreign investments in those properties that are affected by Helms-Burton.
Q In talking to some wires -- Italian wires -- among these people there are some Italians.
MR. BURNS: I can tell you this. The particular company --
Q The names and details --
MR. BURNS: The particular company in question, which has received this letter today, has, as its shareholders and senior executives, people of various nationalities, including some European nationalities.
This company may choose to go public with this. And if so, I think we'll be in a position to respond, but we're not going to take that first step.
Henry and then Steve.
Q Does it not follow, sir, since there's been considerable protest from various foreign countries, specifically, to the White House and to the State Department about this legislation, that you should identify at least the country so that they can take action as they have suggested to their citizens --
MR. BURNS: I'm quite sure that the country in which this company resides understands what has happened and is aware of what has happened in the sending of letters.
Q Are you saying in that regard, then, that you have notified that country?
MR. BURNS: I believe that has taken place.
Q Their government?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Can we take you back to what you said earlier. In this particular corporation, how many people are we talking about? You used the word "handful."
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q So there are more than 10, 12?
MR. BURNS: Handful. I should ask our lawyers what -- you never know about lawyers. I guess I should ask our lawyers what they mean. A "handful" to me means -- this is very inexact; probably less 10. Two handfuls. But I don't know specifically how many people received the letters. I do know the corporation involved and I do know the names of some of the individuals.
Q May I ask you also, you said before that this would involve minors?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q And I take it that that still holds; that of these handful of people, all their children construed to be minors are not going to be allowed in the United States?
MR. BURNS: Their spouses and their minor children -- "minor" defined by U.S. law is 18 and under.
Q Can you give us the rationale for forbidding the arrival into the United States of minors? It's one thing to have a view against a corporate individual but now we're dealing with minors.
Correct my memory, but even Castro's daughter and Stalin's daughter were allowed into the United States, whatever the country felt about them. Why is it necessary to pick on people who are teenagers?
MR. BURNS: Stalin's daughter defected to the United States and Castro's daughter did as well.
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't put minor children from European countries or Canada into that category.
Q But, seriously, why is it necessary to take action against children when there are no indictments, there are no charges in this particular case?
MR. BURNS: It's a very good question. I understand why you ask it. I think you have to go back to the Framers of this law -- Republicans and Democrats in both Houses of Congress -- and the fact that when this Bill was framed, it was framed, finally, in conference in the wake of the illegal inhumane shootdown of the two Cessna aircraft on February 24 in international air space by the Cuban Government.
President Clinton has said many times publicly that that was the defining moment in the passage of this particular bill through the United States Congress, that after that shootdown, taking into consideration the views of the American people who were outraged by this criminal act by the Castro Government, that we had to do something to express our displeasure and anger and outrage at Cuba.
The "something" was the Helms-Burton Act. The Framers of the Helms-Burton Act believed that by including spouses and minor children, they were more likely to enhance, if you will, expand, strengthen the deterrent effect -- the threat that is contained very clearly in Helms-Burton.
The deterrent effect is the deterrent effect against continuing foreign investment in stolen American property, which is the issue here, is this: There will be a high personal price to pay for investments in stolen American property by those who are in charge of corporations that make the investments. It is somewhat unusual, I will grant you, in at least my international experience, to see something like this.
I think it is testimony to the depth of sentiment on a bipartisan basis and throughout this country about what's happened in Cuban-American relations. We have an obligation to fulfill this law and to put this law into effect and to be true to the letter of the law. The letter of the law states "minor children and spouses."
Q Notwithstanding the feeling that you have against the people that you are denying entry into the United States, do you think the broad mass of American people will support the idea that children are not being allowed access to this country as a result of whatever claims may be made by this government against their parents?
MR. BURNS: I haven't taken any polls recently. I do believe, however, that this law is consistent with the basic American view of our relations with Cuba, and when I say "American," I mean Washington's reaction, Congress and the Executive Branch and the broader sentiment in the American population about Cuba and about what Cuba has been up to for the last 36 years.
It is unconventional. It is very tough action that we are taking today, but it is action that we believe must be taken to make the point to Castro that 5,911 American citizens remain uncompensated for their property and their investments, their assets, the businesses that families and individuals built over generations in Cuba.
Do those people have rights? Should their rights be listened to by their government? The answer is yes. I met someone, by the way, last night who fits into this category whose parents ran a pharmaceutical firm in Havana that was nationalized, and this company has never been compensated. That family's never been compensated for their investment.
The United States Government and Congress have taken combined action here to make the point to Castro that he can't treat Americans like this, even 36 years after his revolution. We hope very much that some of these foreign companies will now reflect, and this particular company, during the next 45 days upon the usefulness and future profitability of their investments in stolen American property.
The Cemex Corporation in Mexico has decided to divest itself of its investment in stolen American property in Cuba. I understand that four foreign companies that are right now active in bankrolling the Cuban sugar operation will pull out of their activities in the Cuban sugar operation. I think we are seeing, at least as a beginning and on a limited basis, now some reflection by foreign corporations that it's just not worth it -- it's just not worth it to invest.
I would say that the sentiment in the United States is it's not fair for Italian or French or Canadian companies to waltz into Cuba and to take up investments that were stolen from Americans. That's not fair, and there has to be a way to redress that problem, and Article IV is one way to address it.
Q Are any of the handful in this country now?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I don't know. I have no way of knowing that. The letters were sent to their addresses in the countries in which they reside. Whether they happen to be in the country now, I don't know.
They won't be barred from being in this country for the next 44 days -- 45 dated from yesterday. But after that they will not be permitted to enter the United States. Now, what means is the following.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has, of course, the ability to talk to people coming into any port of entry in the United States -- whether it's a land border, whether it's an airport, whether it's a seaport -- and these individuals' names will be on a list, and, if they are found to be trying to enter the United States 44 days from now, they will not be permitted to do so.
Should they enter the United States and the Immigration and Naturalization Service should not know about their entry but find them subsequently, they will be deported.
Steve, I'm sorry, you've been trying to ask a question.
Q No, no, to flog this dead horse a bit further and longer, you mentioned how unconventional this legislation is and the action that was taken yesterday. I find it astounding that you would withhold from the American people the names of individuals who are breaking the laws of the land. I just wondered if you would explain why you're doing that, because so far your explanation has been, if I may shorten it, "because."
MR. BURNS: No, because we want to proceed in a way that is respectful of them and that provides the best basis for them perhaps to changing their mind. Steve, the provisions of this law in terms of entry into the United States take place 45 days from yesterday. Forty-five days from yesterday they will not be allowed in.
At that point, I think it will be abundantly clear who these people are. I would expect that these people would -- I would imagine that there will be a lot of public talk from these corporations and the countries in which they reside about this, and, if they choose to go public, I will certainly be in a position to confirm that.
But by giving them what we hope will be some weeks of anonymity, perhaps we are more likely to see a decision by perhaps this corporation or other corporations which are identified to change their minds about their investments in Cuba. So there is a reason behind what we're not saying today.
Q It has been four months now since March. They have been under warning since March, I believe you said, that this was going to happen. They didn't divest. What's the difference, four months or 45 days?
MR. BURNS: I think the difference is that now reality is setting in. The law was passed on March 12. On June 17, we issued specific guidelines that we made public. We did notify several corporations six weeks or so ago that they may fall into the parameters of this law.
Now one corporation has been advised that it has, and that action will be taken in August against that corporation's principal shareholders and senior executives. So I think, Steve, that's the difference; that reality has set in for this one corporation.
Q Can you talk a little more about the four companies which have been financing the Cuban sugar harvest and which you say are now having second thoughts?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I cannot reveal their names, because they've asked us not to. They have asked us not to reveal their names, but they have come to us in a variety of places around the world to say, "We are thinking of pulling out of the sugar industry because of the impact, potentially negative impact of Helms-Burton on our corporation.
Q It seems to me these are European firms. Can you go that far?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q They were -- are.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q You're spelling out a very deliberate strategy under Title IV. Title III of the act, on the other hand, includes provisions that are outside the reach of the U.S. Government. Do you see an argument -- Monday is the deadline for President Clinton waiving enforcement of Title III. Do you see an argument for waiving that section of the act?
MR. BURNS: You're right, Tom, that the President must decide at some point in the future -- and it could be next week -- whether or not to waive, as he has the right to do under Helms-Burton, the provisions of Title III of the act. He has not yet made that decision.
There is a good deal of discussion about that issue here in the State Department, in the White House and in other places around town, and I think we will come to a decision. I anticipate a decision by next week, but, since one has not been made, I really can't go much further than that.
Yes, still on Helms-Burton?
Q Can this company avoid the sanctions by compensating the American property holders?
MR. BURNS: The companies -- under international law, compensation does not work like that. Compensation takes place on a state -- actually the state basis -- the State Department, for instance, negotiates claims of American citizens, on behalf of those citizens, with foreign companies.
The best example I can really give you is Russia. When Lenin took power, when the Bolsheviks took power, they nationalized thousands of assets of American citizens. Czarist bank notes were confiscated. Bank accounts were closed down and confiscated, and the United States Government, beginning with the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, undertook to negotiate those claims on behalf of the citizens with the Soviet Union and now Russia. When we receive compensation from the government -- when "we," the State Department, do, we in turn compensate the individuals.
What has not happened for 36 years is that the Cuban Government, which has compensated the nationals of almost every other country affected, the Cuban Government has not agreed to compensation with the United States Government. American citizens -- 5,911 -- have filed certified claims with the legal adviser's office here in the State Department. Those claims are on file.
We would like to see the day when those people are compensated. So it's not a question of company A, foreign company A, which right now is dealing in stolen property, deciding they want to compensate the heirs of a corporation that existed in Cuba in the 1950s. It has to work on a government-to-government basis.
Q Follow-up. Were any of those -- the claims in Russia -- were any of those Russian citizens who later became American citizens and made claims against Russia?
MR. BURNS: You're talking about the example of Russia now.
MR. BURNS: I can't quite remember from my days dealing with that issue, but I just wanted to use that as a very good example, because it was a revolution, a communist revolution, where capitalists' free-market assets were nationalized by the incoming government.
The Soviet and Russian Governments have shown good faith, at least in the latter part of the Soviet period and certainly the Russian period, have shown good faith in trying to negotiate those claims. But the Cuban Government has not shown good faith.
I think that foreign corporations have to understand how this works. Another very interesting fact is that after the Soviet Union and the Russian Government, after 1991, withdrew many of their investments from Cuba, and some of those investments were in stolen American property. A lot of foreign companies came in -- Canadian, European companies. They waltzed in, and they took over the old Soviet investments that were originally American.
A lot of these investments are relatively new. They date from the 1990s -- from 1991 and '2 and '3. Not from the 60s and 70s and 80s.
These companies knew what they were getting into. They were inheriting and investing in assets that belonged to United States citizens that had been nationalized by Castro and taken advantage of by the Soviet leadership during the 60s and 70s and 80s.
This is not, I think, a question of companies kind of naively stumbling into profitable sources of investment here.
Q I'd like to follow up on that question so we understand your use of history here. The case in the Soviet Union was the Bolshevik Revolution, though, was country-to-country. It was not the United States going after foreign companies, and I don't believe -- correct me, if I'm wrong -- as you used that analogy, that you have any examples of where the United States or any other country, for that matter, has gone after foreign companies. That is the difference, isn't it?
MR. BURNS: I simply meant to illustrate is a way to respond to the question how compensation works on a state-to-state basis. You're absolutely right. I think Helms-Burton is a new departure. It's a new way of trying to protect one's citizens. We have found that way. There is a bipartisan agreement to move forward on it, and we're doing it.
Q I was out, but you said that it was less than ten individuals and --
MR. BURNS: I said it was a handful. The lawyers say it's a handful. My reading of the lawyer's world -- you know, their world, the way they understand things is it's probably less than ten.
Q And various nationalities but one company.
MR. BURNS: Yes. That's right.
Q But one company.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q Could I go back to (inaudible) question just a minute ago. How many of the properties we're talking about were owned by Cubans at the time who then became Americans, and how many were American-owned?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the answer to that question. All I know is this: an American who was naturalized in 1961 or '62 is every bit as American as anyone who was born here and is a native-born American. The United States Government makes no distinction between someone who is born in this country and someone who came to this country as an immigrant.
They have the same rights under the law as you or me. So I think it's not a relevant question.
Q If the property was nationalized when he was a Cuban, you can't really say it was American-owned property, can you?
MR. BURNS: No, American citizens have a right to expect that their government will protect them; and, if they had assets that were stolen -- and I use that word figuratively -- by a communist revolution, they have a right to expect that their government will do something about that.
Q But would you check on that one point? I mean, how much of this property was actually American-owned from the mainland at the time it was seized and how much was Cuban-owned?
MR. BURNS: I have no idea. I don't know if I want to send our lawyers through 5,911 files to find out the answer to that. With all due respect, Roy, I don't think it's a pertinent question. Again, a naturalized American has as many constitutional rights and as many expectations as a native-born American. We don't see the distinction here.
Q (Inaudible) retroactive application of a change of status.
MR. BURNS: And I would bet you -- George probably knows more about this than anybody -- I would bet you that a lot of these cases are native-born Americans. There was a lot of American investment in Cuba.
MR. GEDDA (AP): All of the 5,911 are American-born.
MR. BURNS: Thank you. Thank you very much. I knew that George would be a fount of information on this. Thank you, sir. Thank you. George, are you on the record? (Laughter) You are on the record. This is live, so you're on the record.
Q I've already filed.
MR. BURNS: You've already filed?
Q I've already filed.
MR. BURNS: You ought to be filed. Thank you for providing that information. Is there anything else you'd like to say to us about this (inaudible). (Laughter)
Q (Inaudible) by the way, or until they change their behavior? What is the rule?
MR. BURNS: They're excluded indefinitely. They're not excluded for a period of time. It's an indefinite exclusion.
Q But it's still in conformity with the law.
MR. BURNS: Yes, and the way to -- if corporation A gives up its possession of the stolen American property, then, of course, the law would not apply to that -- would no longer apply to that corporation. There's a way out for these senior executives and shareholders.
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, Sid has asked whether it includes the families. I've said this before. You might have been out. Senior executives, shareholders, principal shareholders, their spouses and their minor children. Any more on Cuba?
I do have one more announcement to make. Can I make it before we go on?
Q One more. One quick one.
MR. BURNS: Yeah.
Q How soon will other letters go out, and will they include those companies that were on your original list?
MR. BURNS: We are reviewing that issue right now. It is certainly a good prospect that other letters will go out, but I don't know when that will happen and how many letters will be sent to how many companies. We haven't made that decision yet.
Q Just to clarify the question of letters. There are two sets of letters: The letter today is one imposing a penalty.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q And do you suspect others of those may go out? But there are also warning letters --
MR. BURNS: That were sent some time ago.
Q That were sent some time ago --
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q -- but it is an understanding of some people that more warning letters will be going out to various countries as well, is that correct?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Well, I think, possibly, in both categories. But, certainly, the firm that received the execution letter today -- the letter that puts into effect the law -- had a warning letter some time ago, advising them that this is a very strong possibility.
In the session that we have when the lights are turned out, we can go into other aspects of this issue that I know would interest all of you.
Q Is there a dollar value associated with this firm's assets?
MR. BURNS: I assume there is, but I can't give it to you. That would help you identify the firm.
Q We know that. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: Listen, can I do one thing before we go on to questions, and this is actually -- some of you are going to roll your eyes at this. I think it's important. This is an important longer-term announcement. I am anticipating some cynicism about this, but it's actually an important new initiative.
We are beginning a new Public Affairs initiative today, and it's called, "This Day in Diplomacy." Every two weeks or so we're going to issue a press statement that talks about a significant diplomatic event that occurred anywhere from 1795 to 1995. The purpose here is to try to bring greater public understanding here in the United States to the question of what diplomats do; what the State Department has done, does now and will d the American people.
We launched this, because we don't think here in the Department -- and this is, I think, a sentiment particularly strong in the Foreign Service here -- that diplomacy is a well-understood profession in our country, but we do believe that it is critical to our present and our future, as it has been to our past.
So, I believe that remembering some of these events is going to help us convey this message to the American people. And, you know, for those of you who are rolling your eyeballs now, it might just be newsworthy. It might be of interest to you.
So, I'm going to be posting, after the briefing, a statement about an exceedingly interesting diplomatic event that took place 201 years ago, and it was the release on July 13, 1795, of the Algiers hostages. These were 100 American sailors who were imprisoned for 11 years by the Bay of Algiers. There was a very impressive, young American diplomatic from Connecticut, named Joel Barlow, who traveled to Algiers, spent over a year there, and, through his very patient and creative diplomacy, was able to secure the release of these hostages.
It was one of the most important diplomatic events of the first generation or so of American history that took place when Washington and Jefferson were in charge of our nation's foreign policy. Barlow, who was a poet but also a diplomat, later died in 1812 when he tried to make contact, on behalf of the United States, with Napoleon -- who was beating a retreat from Moscow, in the winter of 1812.
It is an utterly fascinating story. It's one worth remembering 200 years ago, as an anniversary, on July 13. I think some of you may even want to write about this, or even talk about this on the radio. I see Tom expressing great interest here.
So, I've got a statement. This statement and the facts here have been drawn up by our Historian's Office. As you know, we have a very, very fine Historian's Office who turn out the official history of American diplomacy, and they reside in the Bureau of Public Affairs. Bill Slany, the Chief Historian of the Department, has drawn this up; and, if you are interested, I can direct you to him for more information.
Sid even has a question on this.
Q I was wondering, did President Washington consider sending ground troops to free the hostages? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: You know, President Washington and Secretary of State Jefferson believed that, through diplomacy, we could resolve this crisis, which took place over an 11-year period. The crisis was that American ships in the Mediterranean were being stopped, and sailors were being taken hostage, and these poor guys were held for 11 years.
I believe we lost around 40 of them, who died in captivity. It's a tragic story, as well as a very interesting story.
Q Can we go on to another subject?
MR. BURNS: I think there's more interest in this. Charlie's interested. (Laughter)
Q CBS News.
MR. BURNS: Dan Rather is going to lead tonight with this story, right, Charlie.
Q (Inaudible) the one that's going to call a filing break on this, I'd like to ask about Bosnia.
MR. BURNS: I think Carol has asked about this, Charlie. We'll go on to Bosnia. Carol's got a question first.
Q I wonder if you could be as forthcoming about present-day policy, as about the past. Now that --
MR. BURNS: We do whatever is in our interest to do up here. (Laughter)
Q I understand.
MR. BURNS: Whatever. You know, foreign policy is the pursuit of a country's interest, and we're pursuing our country's interest up here -- you're pursuing your interest, and I understand.
Q And the 1700s are relevant, but there are more things more relevant. Now that the Israeli Prime Minister
has been here and had his official talks with U.S. leaders, can you tell us what the game plan is for pursuing peace in the Middle East? Is the Secretary going back to the region any time soon, or ever, and do you see a need to reformulate your framework?
MR. BURNS: We see no need to reformulate our framework. American policy in the Middle East is based upon the proposition of land-for-peace, which we have said many times. It's based upon the idea that, after 50 years of conflict, Israel and her Arab neighbors must achieve peace, and it's based upon the proposition that the United States can be instrumental working with all of them for peace.
So, we haven't changed the assumptions we bring to this. We haven't changed the policy, and we will continue to be very active, diplomatically, in this process.
Secretary Christopher does intend to return, at some point, to the Middle East for a round of discussions with the primary partners -- with Israel and the Arab countries, the Palestinians -- but he has not yet decided when that time will be.
That will depend on the flow of events. It will depend on his discussions with leaders. We have a very important visit coming up on July 30 when President Mubarak visits Washington. Secretary Christopher, in fact, will be coming back from Asia -- from his Asia trip to be present for that meeting.
I did want to say I had a chance to talk to the Secretary before coming out here. He spent an hour with Prime Minister Netanyahu at Blair House alone yesterday morning. He then participated, I guess, for over two-and-a-half hours in the President's conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Secretary Christopher described yesterday, to me, as a very good beginning -- a day when he felt there were good and substantive talks. Secretary Christopher thought they were highly substantive -- the discussions both at Blair House and at the White House.
He believes that this is a good beginning, and it provides a basis to move forward, which I believe gets to your question. I would also say, having talked to Dennis Ross and others, that we believe that the discussions yesterday allow us, now, to continue our efforts to try to pursue peace. The discussions confirmed that there is common ground between Israel and the Arabs, on a number of issues; that there is equally important a mutual desire by Israel and the Arab countries to move forward; and that there's certainly a belief in Israel and the United States that we need to deepen our own bilateral relationship.
With regard to Arab-Israeli issues, both the President and Prime Minister agreed on the centrality of Israel's relationship with the Palestinians -- with the importance of implementing what has already been agreed to in the Oslo I and II agreements, between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
In that regard, we believe that -- and, especially considering the discussions yesterday -- it is essential that Israel and the Palestinians meet the commitments that they have already undertaken in those agreements. In particular, the President and the Prime Minister agreed on the need to ease the effect of the closure on the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
They agreed on the need to continue the effort to bring economic assistance to the Palestinian people, so that they see some practical, real-life, every-day benefits of peace. They also agreed, yesterday, on the need to pursue peace with Syria and Lebanon and to work towards a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.
These are the foundations of American policy for the last generation in the Middle East. They have not been changed, and our assessment, based on the talks yesterday, is that they should not be changed. I would add one more element here, Carol, and that is that based on the discussions yesterday, we are particularly concerned that we continue with the economic discussions that deepen Israel's peace with the Arabs -- that includes the establishment of a Middle East development bank.
It includes our commitment to the economic summit, the next of which will be held in, I think, the second week of November, in Cairo. So, we walk away from the discussions with the firm view that we've got to continue to have a long-term view of this process -- that we need to keep the doors open. Israel needs to meet its commitments. The Arabs need to meet theirs, and no one should close the doors to discussion or negotiations at this point.
Q But, I mean, there's a lot of abstract rhetoric here. Specifically, how will you go forward with Syria? I mean, is your intent to let things sort of settle for a while -- try to encourage all sides to tone down their rhetoric. Do we want the Arabs to tone down their rhetoric and hope that, at some point -- you know, six months from now, a year from now -- the Israeli Government will be, you know, inclined to get into negotiations with Syria again? Or, are you going to go to Syria and take a tougher line against them in some way? Can you be specific about how you see yourself going forward with Syria?
MR. BURNS: In the Middle East, as you know, rhetoric and words do matter, and they matter as well as actions. They do matter. And, in the history of the peacemaking there, since the late 1960s, words have often been central to the resolution of disputes. So I don't believe that words, even if you consider them to be abstract, are unimportant.
In terms of actions, I think what you heard from the Israeli leader yesterday and what you obviously saw during our trip -- Secretary Christopher's trip to the Middle East -- is the belief that there has to be a very quick and active engagement on the Israel-Palestinian issues. A number of them need to be resolved. A number of commitments need to be met.
There's certainly a willingness on the part of the Palestinians to engage in active discussions and negotiations. We were gratified to see, in the wake of Secretary Christopher's trip, that Dore Gold went and met Arafat two days after the Secretary left the region, and that he has continued his discussions with Abu Mazin and with others in the Palestinian leadership.
Concerning Syria, the Syrian question is a very difficult and important question, and we hope that both Israel and Syria will remain open to negotiations and will elect, at some point down the road, to proceed to negotiations, but I cannot predict for you when that will be.
Q (Inaudible) to delve into the minutiae is important. When you speak of land-for-peace being a U.S. policy, I assume you're referring to 242 and 338.
MR. BURNS: Since words matter so much and since words often have loaded meaning, I choose to say today that the concept -- the idea that land-for-peace is central to the peace negotiations -- has been a bedrock American idea for a long time and continues to be a central assumption -- an element of U.S. policy.
I don't want to get into dissecting all the words behind that, because they're loaded terms, a lot of them. If we go down that road, I'll be saying more than the President said yesterday, which is not my intention here today.
Q Without getting all the words, the second part of that thought is generally that Israel has the right to live within secure borders. The White House said yesterday that the Prime Minister had a very "nuanced" view of that -- of those words. Is that the State -- the Clinton Administration's view that, while they believe land-for-peace is the policy, Israel's right to live within secure borders is also part of that policy?
MR. BURNS: You can be absolutely reassured and assured that the United States is one of the great defenders of Israel's right to exist and its security. It continues to believe that we should do everything we can to strengthen Israel's security. The President talked, specifically, about that yesterday in some of the announcements the President made about our bilateral discussions on terrorism -- about some of the military cooperation that we're going to be undertaking.
Q Does one take priority over the other Does one of those two elements take priority -- I think that's --
MR. BURNS: I think, you know, we all agree that both are important. Security is bedrock, and it's fundamental to any country. It must be. Peace is also important, and the two are obviously linked. I don't see any problem there between the United States and Israel, in understanding what those linkages are.
Q Also on Jerusalem, do you believe, as the Prime Minister does, that the Palestinians are violating the accords by doing diplomatic business out of East Jerusalem?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to just implicitly or explicitly agree with the assumption that somehow the Israeli view. I will just say this: We have an excellent working relationship with the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority is making a very great attempt to meet its commitments to prevent security threats to the State of Israel. Chairman Arafat has made a number of steps in that direction, especially since February of this year. The Palestinian Authority remains very interested in negotiations to complete their peace arrangement with Israel. So, I think we expect that Israel and the Palestinians will be very actively engaged together on these questions.
Q By law you report to Congress, sometimes it's every three months, sometimes it's every six months, on whether the Palestinians are violating their accords. The last couple have not even mentioned doing business out of East Jerusalem -- diplomatic business out of East Jerusalem, which the Prime Minister said, publicly yesterday, was one of the "systemic" -- his words -- violations of the accords.
Will the U.S. notify Congress -- has the U.S notified Congress that they are violating their commitments in that way?
MR. BURNS: The United States has notified Congress -- the government and the Clinton Administration -- at several junctures, as we have been asked to do under the law, to certify that the Palestinians are acting appropriately and within the confines of their commitments, and we have certified that they have been I see no reason to change that judgment today.
Q To follow up on that point, I think Mr. Netanyahu was referring to Orient House and the use of it -- he referred to by the Palestinian Authority. I think -- I recall that an American Secretary of State was once going to go to Orient House, in fact, to meet Palestinian officials there. I think it was James Baker. I don't believe it took place, but it just leaves the question, is Orient House within the scope of the Oslo agreement? Is it legal? The Palestinians say they have a complete right to do it. They have legal, written assurances that it's okay. Netanyahu says it's an outright violation. The United States is here in the position of mediating. What can you tell us about this?
MR. BURNS: I can't tell you much. I don't have a copy of the Oslo agreement with me, so I can't look it up, as to whether or not it's specifically included or not. It's an issue. It's clearly an issue between the Palestinians and Israel.
The important thing, especially for a country like the United States, which is not a direct party to these talks -- but a friend of both sides -- is to let Israel and the Palestinians negotiate this issue and discuss it. That's what's beginning to happen in the diplomatic contacts underway.
Q But you accept that it could be a violation of the Oslo --
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to pronounce myself on whether certain acts by a country are violations or not. This is what negotiations are for.
Q We're not talking about a country. We're talking about the Palestinians.
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to pronounce myself on that question. This is what negotiations are for, between the Palestinians and Israel.
Q (Inaudible) from now everything will be much more difficult in terms of the peace process. Don't you think that the three points -- security, reciprocity and particularly democracy -- are a big change?
MR. BURNS: I don't. I think what the Prime Minister was referring to, in his speech to Congress this morning, was what he believes the pillars of the peace process should be. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, since the day after his election -- I believe the day after his election -- that there should be no preconditions in Israel's future negotiations with the Arab countries and with the Palestinians.
He continues to assert that, and we continue to believe that is the Israeli position, based on our discussions with them yesterday. No preconditions. I wouldn't read too much -- I wouldn't misread what you heard this morning in that respect. We don't believe he was announcing preconditions, or new conditions, for the negotiations. His very clear and consistent position has been no preconditions.
Q Nick, also --
Q You're probably right, but at the same time, I was so surprised to see the Prime Minister taking so strong a stand in his speech on Capitol Hill. It seemed to me that these are kind of conditions that he put.
MR. BURNS: We don't believe so. Secretary Christopher and Dennis Ross were both at the speech. A number of people here who are experts listened -- saw it on television, on CNN. We believe that the Israeli position is no preconditions. That's a very important understanding that we have.
Q Can I go to Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: I think Sid has another question, and Laura had a question before this.
Q Also on Jerusalem, the Prime Minister in his speech to Congress today made a very strong and completely unequivocal statement about his intentions to keep Jerusalem united and undivided. U.S. policy is that, I believe, it should be settled in negotiations.
MR. BURNS: Thank you. (Laughter) You just answered the question. I don't have to answer the question.
Q That's a huge difference between the two, and it's also a huge precondition, as is demanding Syria stop the katyusha --
MR. BURNS: Sid, let's remember something.
Q -- out of south Lebanon.
MR. BURNS: When the Palestinians and the previous Israeli Government agreed on the basis for the final status talks -- which began, I believe, on May 4 of this year in Taba -- they agreed that a certain number of issues, among them the most difficult issues concerning peace between Israel and the Palestinians, should be included in that basket of issues -- among them Jerusalem.
Therefore, it's not going to be a surprise to Palestinians or Israelis that Jerusalem is a final status issue, and that there are clear differences on that issue between Israel and the Palestinians. I didn't take that as a surprise, I wasn't surprised by that. It's a long-held Israeli position.
If you talk to the Palestinians, they have a different position. They need to negotiate it. They need to resolve it together.
Q That sounded like a precondition to me, as did the Prime Minister's demand that before he sits down with Syria the katyusha rockets stop coming out of south Lebanon, as is his demand for security before he resumes negotiations.
MR. BURNS: Let me just restate again. This is a very important point, and I know you're all going to be writing about this today. Having seen the speech, watched the speech and reflected upon the speech this morning, the United States believes that Israel continues to assert that there are no preconditions to their future negotiations with any of their Arab partners -- the Palestinians, the Syrians or anyone else. That is our very firm understanding based on our private discussions with the Israeli Government yesterday.
Q Do you expect the next trip for August or September?
MR. BURNS: For?
Q Next month?
MR. BURNS: For? Excuse me, I didn't -- for the --
Q The trip. The Secretary's trip.
MR. BURNS: Oh, the trip. The Secretary hasn't decided on the dates for a trip to the Middle East and will not, I believe, until we move a little bit further along.
Q He will meet the Syrian President?
MR. BURNS: He has not decided when he would go, and he certainly has not yet reflected upon what the best itinerary would be.
Q Was Dennis Ross in the meetings with Netanyahu?
MR. BURNS: As I understand it -- and Mike McCurry, since the meetings took place there, would be a better source, a more definitive source than me.
Secretary Christopher met with him at Blair House. Dennis Ross was involved in that meeting.
Q Dennis was in the room?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Then at the White House there was a very brief one-on-one, relatively brief one-on-one, and then a smaller discussion. Of course, Secretary Christopher participated in that. So he was in almost 90 percent of the day's meetings -- Secretary Christopher was.
Dennis Ross was involved in the lunch, of course -- the lunch discussion.
Q In regards to Dennis, there's a story floating around that he tried to arrange for a telephone call between Clinton and President Assad yesterday. The intention was to get a commitment from him and from the Prime Minister to resume the Monitoring Committee talks, but that the Prime Minister said he did not want to participate in that arrangement.
MR. BURNS: The President answered a variation of that question yesterday. I just would direct you to President Clinton's words on that.
Q It didn't necessarily get up to the President's level?
MR. BURNS: No. In the press conference, the President answered a question very similar to that. He just said there had been no phone call. I can't give you anything beyond that.
Q I was there, I know what he said. The question was whether Dennis had attempted to arrange this thing and the Prime Minister said no.
MR. BURNS: I have no idea. I can't substantiate that story, and I wouldn't urge you to run with that story.
MR. BURNS: Because I don't believe it's accurate.
Q How much aid did Israel receive from the United States this year?
MR. BURNS: If you're looking for the last dollar and cent amount, we can get that for you. It's a combination of both military and economic assistance, as you know. Israel continues to be the leading recipient of American assistance worldwide.
Q One more.
MR. BURNS: Then we'll go to Charlie's question on Bosnia.
Q It was also reported --
MR. BURNS: Poor Charlie. Fifty-five minutes into the briefing; he's waiting very patiently back there. He's thinking about putting Mr. Barlow on CBS News tonight, our American diplomat from 1795. But he needs to do Bosnia, too, so let's give him a chance.
Q Maybe (inaudible) peace process. Another story was published --
MR. BURNS: He's a Red Sox fan, though. That's why I have a soft spot in my heart for him.
Q -- a Middle East paper is that the President asked the Prime Minister not to resume settlements and the Prime Minister refused?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I'm not going to touch that question. Discussions between the President and the Prime Minister are confidential. It will remain confidential.
Q If Israel does resume settlements, will you go back to -- or continue settlements --
MR. BURNS: Hypothetical.
Q -- go back to the formula of docking them in their financial assistance loan guarantees?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to answer a hypothetical question. It's not in my interest to do so. Our position on settlements has not changed.
Q Bosnia: A problem almost as old as Mr. Barlow's diplomatic problems. Can you bring us up to speed on equip-and-train? Is MPRI on the way? Have they signed the contract? Again, how many weeks do you expect it will be before equipping and training actually starts?
MR. BURNS: There's a very good White House press statement on this. I would refer you to that. The sequence of events, very roughly, would be the following.
Now that the Defense Law has been ratified by the parliament -- by the assembly -- the contract with MPRI, I would expect, would be signed in the next couple of days. Following that, they would try to initiate training of the Federation military forces, I would think, in the next couple of weeks. I can't be more specific than that because it's MPRI that will organize it.
During this period from now -- in the next couple of months, we will be arranging the shipment of a variety of military hardware to the Federation, so that we can achieve our strategic objective of military equilibrium once IFOR departs.
That's very rough, but the White House fact sheet is excellent. It talks about the amount of money involved, it talks about 46,100 rifles, 1,000 machine guns, 80 armored personnel carriers, 45 tanks, 840 light anti-tank weapons, 15 helicopters. It's very specific here. If you don't have a copy of that, I do, so I'd be glad to provide it to you.
Any more on equip-and-train?
Q Yes. The Post had a little mention today about some unidentified country that has pledged $120 million to this program. Which country is that?
MR. BURNS: I'm just a fount of information today. I can tell you that $140 million in cash has been provided for this effort from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, and Malaysia.
The United States is providing $100 million. There is another country that is providing a very large donation. That particular country has asked that we not make that contribution public. We will therefore respect their wishes.
Q I thought you guys had said that this program would be transparent?
MR. BURNS: It's relatively transparent. We're doing our best here. I gave you the name of five countries plus the United States. That's six. Turkey. That's seven. We're up to seven.
Q Funding sources in presidential elections are open and transparent for a reason. So why can't --
MR. BURNS: I'm not sure there's a law on the books in the United States that says that we have to divulge all the information about the equipping and training of the Bosnian army. There isn't a law like that. There are campaign finance laws, though, on the other side that do require full transparency. We'll be as transparent as we can.
But if a country comes to us and says, "We'll participate on the condition that you do not divulge our name," -- well, it's more important to have that country in than out, so we'll abide by that request.
Q Is it Iran?
MR. BURNS: I can state categorically the country is not Iran. You can exclude Iran, Libya, Cuba, North Korea -- all the bad guys. They're all out of the picture. In fact, part of the rationale for the equip-and-train program is to keep Iran out of Bosnia and to diminish future Iranian influence. The Iranians are a bad influence on the Bosnians. We are a positive influence, I would submit to you. So it's definitely not Iran.
Q Do you know whether there are still Mujahedin?
Q (Inaudible) Canada --
MR. BURNS: Absolutely not. Canada is a NATO ally and IFOR partner of the United States.
Q Have you determined whether there are this large number of former Mujahedin now in mufti going around the country?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if they're in mufti or not. We know that there are a number of individuals who fit that description, no longer in organized fighting forces, married to Bosnian women and living in Bosnia. We do not believe they present a threat to American troops presently.
Q So the story in the Post is something that doesn't settle the matter?
MR. BURNS: I think we settled it. We had a very long discussion Monday, Tuesday.
Q To set a date on the efforts to remove Dr. Karadzic from his positions of influence?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you the Contact Group met today in London. Rudy Perina represented the United States. Issue number one was the status of Radovan Karadzic.
I think the British Government has issued a statement on this. I have not seen it. I heard that they have. I don't believe that there's any final agreement on a course of action that should be taken but there was agreement that Karadzic -- his final resting place should be The Hague, The Netherlands, for trial.
There's Contact Group agreement on that. There's agreement on the need for elections on September 14 and financial support for those elections. They did discuss measures to remove him from power.
As you know, Ambassador Frowick has announced a very strong and, I would think, even dramatic decision: Bar the SDS from the elections should Karadzic continue to remain at the helm of that political party. He was just renominated and revoted into that position.
The United States Government firmly supports Ambassador Frowick's decision.
Q You will stick with that even at the risk that it could jeopardize the elections themselves which the United States has put so much emphasis on?
MR. BURNS: We believe it's the right decision, because we don't believe it's appropriate or wise to allow Mr. Karadzic to exert political influence on these elections by the fact that he lives in Pale. He's the Chairman of the party and was just renominated for that position. We don't believe that leads you directly to any kind of dramatically negative effect on the elections themselves.
What we hope will happen -- and we'll have to see if this happens -- is that the members of his party will conclude it's more important for them to survive than him, and that they will somehow find a way to convince him to leave his party position or they will oust him from that. That's what we hope will happen.
Q If the SDS leadership chooses not to participate under those conditions, does that mean that is a failure of the process?
MR. BURNS: I think it will mean that they will be shooting themselves in the foot because they will be leaving to their competitors the entire field of the elections. The elections will be binding. The elections will produce a new set of institutions that will run the country. If they want to be part of that process, they have to go through the elections.
There is an incentive here in Ambassador Frowick's decision, obviously. You can argue whether the incentive will work. We hope it will, and we support his decision.
MR. BURNS: I believe there is discussion of that. I don't believe the British included that in the statement, so therefore I don't know if there's any final judgment from the Contact Group. I don't expect that there was on that issue.
Dick had a question.
Q A month ago the strategy was to threaten Milosevic with sanctions to get Karadzic removed. Have you just given up on that?
MR. BURNS: No. That's still part of the strategy. It's an element in our strategy. Sanctions are a live possibility, to be reimposed on Serbia and the Bosnian Serb entity. Mr. Milosevic knows that. He's been told that directly.
Q At what point might that come to a head?
MR. BURNS: It will come to a head when we become convinced there's no other alternative but reimposition. We've not yet come to that conclusion.
Q Admiral Smith has been saying in the past couple days that he's fully able to arrest these two indicted war criminals but he hasn't been given the order.
MR. BURNS: Right.
Q And he won't do it without the order. So could you tell us what is the thinking in the Administration about giving that order?
MR. BURNS: There's been no change in the thinking that has dominated the policy since November-December that IFOR should not -- IFOR's first responsibility should not be forming posses and arresting people, but that IFOR does have the responsibility to arrest if they encounter. No change in that well-known position.
Q Is there any attempt to make it impossible for Karadzic to have access to the media by travelling up in Pale from his chalet to the television studio -- just do anything -- otherwise there's an appearance that they're avoiding him rather than maintaining these --
MR. BURNS: We're not avoiding him. Whenever he leaves his chalet, whether he's in a tuxedo or not, he risks capture by NATO forces.
Q He doesn't care very much, though.
MR. BURNS: He risks capture. He's got to consider that. That's also a disincentive for him from participation in the election campaign.
Still on Bosnia? Dimitris has got a subject -- he's had his hand up for a long time.
Q On Bosnia. It's almost the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the fall of Srebrenica. I believe the Dutch Government has, or the Dutch have sounded out the Security Council in some formal or informal way about an investigation to determine the role of the international community, including the U.N., in that terrible event.
Where does the United States stand on this? Do you support having an investigation to find out who really made the decisions that allowed Srebrenica to fall?
MR. BURNS: Today, tomorrow, the next day are the anniversaries of the three days when the U.N.-protected enclave was violated, taken over, and where the thousands of men and boys were executed by the war criminals -- the Bosnian Serbs -- under orders of Karadzic and Mladic, we believe.
This was one of the great and dramatic failures of the United Nations. There's no question about it. We said so at the time of the London Conference, July 20, last year. I am free to say so again today.
It is one of the greatest crimes committed in Europe since the Nazis, the execution of the men and boys of Srebrenica.
You've seen what the Finns and the Dutch are doing now, today. They're exhuming the bodies of these people who were executed. It is grisly business, but it is a reminder and it is solid evidence of the guilt of the Bosnian Serb military and political leadership.
So I think, Roy, what we ought to do is look forward to the prosecution of Mladic and Karadzic for these war crimes. We ought to concentrate our efforts on that. I don't believe the United States is participating in any kind of investigation of what happened a year ago. The Dutch have done their own. There's been a lot of talk about it.
But what we did in the wake of the massacres is the following. Secretary Christopher and Secretary Perry and General Shalikashvili went to London on July 19-20, and they led the effort to throw away the dual key, which failed the United Nations and all of us, to end essentially the United Nations' responsibility for military involvement in the country; to draw a line in the sand in front of Gorazde and Bihac and to execute that on August 30, and to conduct the NATO air campaign. Then, to follow with the diplomacy led by Ambassador Holbrooke, which resulted in the Dayton Peace Accords.
I'm just taking you through this -- you know it better than I do -- as a way to say, since July 10, 1995, the United States and NATO have stopped the war and brought peace for Bosnia at long last. I think we ought to concentrate on cementing the peace and bringing the war criminals to justice.
Q But my question concerned whether there would be an investigation of the -- as you say, it is a tremendous failure for the international community and, yet, we don't know precisely how that failure came about. How can you learn lessons from it if you don't investigate it?
MR. BURNS: I think at the London Conference we all agreed the dual key failed us; the irresolute nature of the international involvement failed us, but that NATO then took corrective measures. You've seen the positive results.
Q If someone comes to the Security Council and says, "We would like to have an investigation to determine the role of the individuals and everything specific about the U.N.," will the United States support this? Because it might cost a little bit of money to do an investigation.
MR. BURNS: Roy, I don't know if that's an active question. I don't know if it's been proposed to us. I can't anticipate what our exact response would be.
We have more interest in securing the peace and in prosecuting war criminals than we do in looking backwards at a great tragedy.
Q It sounds like you don't want to have the investigation.
MR. BURNS: No. I'm not Ambassador Albright. I'm not our representative to the United Nations. I don't want to lock them into a position. I don't want to anticipate, in response to a hypothetical question, what we would do. But we are exhuming the bodies, and we're trying to bring the war criminals to justice. I think that is the most important thing we can do here.
Q The trip by Ambassador Albright to Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey. Does the Ambassador take with her any specific American proposals to the governments in the region regarding the Aegean and Cyprus?
MR. BURNS: Ambassador Albright's trip, along with Ambassador Beattie, follows President Clinton's very positive, encouraging meeting with President Clerides. I believe that was on June 17.
Ambassador Albright and Ambassador Beattie will try to inject into the Cyprus situation some ideas to try to resolve the more than 20-year-old diplomatic problem.
Our overall goal for Cyprus remains the same: The establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in which the political and human rights of both communities on Cyprus are assured. We continue to support Cyprus' accession to the European Union as a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
Q Does this mean that the Ambassador will launch the initiative by the American Government on Cyprus?
MR. BURNS: I think she'll have private discussions with the Cypriots -- Greek and Turkish Cypriots, with the Greek Government, with the Turkish Government about this. I don't know if she'll unveil a formal, public, diplomatic plan, but, clearly, she's going there not for tourism. She's going there to try to make progress on Cyprus.
Q On the Aegean -- do you have something on the Aegean?
MR. BURNS: The Aegean questions, we believe, must be focused in the Greek-Turkish relationship. If we can be helpful to them both, we will do so.
Steve was next, Carol.
Q A different subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Knowing your love of baseball and your volubility about things Cuban, do you have anything about a member of the Cuban team defecting?
MR. BURNS: I hope he ends up with the Boston Red Sox, we need the pitching. He's a good pitcher. (Laughter) He's 32, but most of our pitching staff is over 32.
Q Suppose he has investments in confiscated property?
MR. BURNS: I doubt that he has. If he does, I'm sure he'll quickly divest himself, become a member of the Red Sox, join us for the stretch drive. It will be a dramatic come-from-behind race in September. Is that what you're looking for, Steve?
It looks like he has defected. He said he had. He said it was a very painful decision for him. We respect that. I anticipate that he'll receive a very positive welcome here in the United States.
Q By any chance, did one of those letters you mentioned go to Ernesto Samper?
MR. BURNS: No. I don't believe he has investments in nationalized property in Cuba -- Ernesto Samper. That is a different issue.
I may be in a position to say something about that in the coming days but not today.
Q Has the United States decided, formally, whether it's going to accept the draft text on the CTBT that's on the table?
MR. BURNS: You're referring to Chairman Ramaker's draft text of the CTBT.
MR. BURNS: We have been discussing with a number of countries that draft text. We are very, very busy this week in private discussions around the world about this particular issue.
I can't say what our formal conclusions will be as a result of this round of discussions. I don't want to commit ourselves to full acceptance or partial.
I can just say that we are ready to go back to Geneva on July 29. This is now, for this summer, one of our highest foreign policy priorities -- to negotiate successfully a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to sign it in September at the United Nations.
Q But do you see the necessity of more negotiations when the talks resume in Geneva?
MR. BURNS: Certainly more discussions and negotiations, yes.
Q What's your overall expectation about the possibility of achieving a treaty --
MR. BURNS: We continue to believe, based on our diplomatic conversations with a variety of countries who are on the record on either side of this issue, that it is still possible to achieve a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty agreement this summer, for signing by President Clinton and the other heads of state this autumn.
Q Have you done Burma yet?
MR. BURNS: We have not.
Q Do you have anything on the possibility of sanctions against them?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything new to say. I would just note that Aung San Suu Kyi continues to exercise her basic political right to speak out about the constitution of her country, about the future of her country, and we fully support her and the National League for Democracy. But nothing would change in our position, and that is that it is a possibility. We have some discussions with Congress underway, but we've made no decisions on that issue.
Q Have you commented on the World Court's decision regarding nuclear weapons?
MR. BURNS: Yes, I have. I basically said that our interpretation from a legal standpoint of this interesting set of decisions is that the ruling would seem, from our perspective, to state that the use and the threat of use of nuclear weapons can be justified and can be legal under current international law.
MR. BURNS: Yes. We were very distressed by the extremely unorthodox actions of the Niger Government in Niamey, in the middle of elections, to try to change the rules -- actually the day that the votes were being counted. We issued a public statement on this, a very strong warning to the Niger Government. The American Embassy in Niamey -- our Ambassador -- has been very active in trying to support the opposition, who only want a free election and their votes to be counted. We've taken a strong position on this, as you know, publicly, and I'll be glad to refer you to our public statement, which I believe we issued yesterday afternoon on this issue.
(Press briefing concluded 2:15 p.m.)
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