U.S. Department of State 96/07/11 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, July 11, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS OECD Extends Membership Invitation to Poland.................. 1 Fighting in Chechnya Violates June 10 Nazran Protocols/ US Supports OSCE............................................ 1-2 Natl Sec Adviser Leon Fuerth to Brief at Dept July 12 re Upcoming Mtg in Moscow of VP Gore/Russian PM Chernomyrdin... 2 DepSec Talbott Speech on "US-Russian Relations:The Next Phase" 2 Srebreneca Massacre Celebrated by Bosnian Serb Leadership/ Women of Srebrenica Commemoration in Tuzla.................. 2-3 Colombia Pres Samper's Revocation of US Visa.................. 3 COLOMBIA US Visa Revocation Due to Involvement in Narco-Trafficking --Pres Samper's Narcotics-Related Activities & Political Future/ Affect on GOC............................................... 4-8 --GOC's Amb to Mexico Gustavo de Grieff, Atty Gen Velasquez, & Comptroller Gen David Turbay Also Ineligible for US Visas. 6 --Pres Clinton & Secretary Christopher's Decision on Issue.... 6 --GOC's Requirements for Recertification & Possible Future Counternarcotics Cooperation w/USG.......................... 7-8 RUSSIA US Concern & GOR Decision On Fighting in Chechnya/Kremlin Mtg w/Chechyns, Pres Yeltsin & PM Chernomyrdin.................. 9-10 SAUDIA ARABIA Alleged Report on Leaked Document............................. 10 US Issuance of Public Stmt on Security/Threats Received/ Security for Private US Citizens............................ 17-18 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli PM Netanyahu/Jerusalem Mayor Olmert on Palestinian Authority's Violation of Oslo II at the Orient House/ US Continued Support of Peace............................... 11-12 Monitoring Group Progress Made Since PM Netanyahu's Visit..... 15 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA War Crimes Tribunal Announcement from The Hague on Arrest Warrants for Karadzic & Mladic/IFOR ROE Remains Same........ 13-14 --Contact Group Mtg's Agreement Karadzic & Mladic Be Sent to The Hague for Prosecution/Karadzic's Loss of Influence...... 15-16 Possible Imposition of Intl Sanctions Against Serbia & Bosnian Serbs............................................... 13 Srebreneca Massacre --Pres Clinton's Letter to Women of Tuzla/Mass Grave Exhumation Continues........................................ 16-17 CUBA Helms-Burton Act: Implementation of Title IV --Number of Americans Who Had Property Stolen................. 19 --Notifications Letters Sent to Sherritt --Two Executives Resign Prior to Receipt.................... 19,21 --Governments of Canadian & Britain Informed................ 21-23 --US Clarification of Steps Against Those Countries Involved.. 20 --Affect on Cemex Company/Four Sugar Harvest Companies........ 21 --Targetted Companies Invested in US Assets................... 21 ARMS CONTROL Radiation Devices Confirmed Installed on US/Mexican Border.... 23
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JULY 11, 1996, 1:02 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have a couple of announcements to make before we go to questions.
The first concerns Poland. The United States welcomes very much the decision in Paris today by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- the OECD -- to invite Poland to become its 28th member. This invitation represents an important milestone in the process of bringing the formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe into the community of democratic and free-market nations. It is, certainly, a landmark step in fulfilling President Clinton's commitment to seek the accession of Poland and other Central European countries to the OECD.
You know that the Czech Republic and Hungary have already been admitted. Slovakia remains a country that has not yet been admitted but is, of course, part of this process.
I have a statement available in the Press Office about this, should you wish to look at it.
I have another statement on the situation in Chechnya. The United States deplores the upsurge of fighting in Chechnya in recent days. We're deeply concerned by the reports of attacks on Chechen civilians. The fighting violates the June 10 Nazran protocols. It undermines prospects for a comprehensive political settlement in Chechnya.
As the United States has stated, many times, the conflict in Chechnya can only be resolved through negotiations. The use of force will ultimately prove futile in securing peace and stability in the region.
The United States urges both sides, the Russian Government and the Chechen rebels, to refrain from violence and to resume a constructive, peaceful political dialogue.
The United States continues to give full support to the OSCE Chairman in Office and the OSCE assistance group in its efforts to assist the parties in Chechnya to achieve a political settlement.
Russia has just passed a great test in the institutionalization of democracy. The fighting in Chechnya is inconsistent with Russia's development as a democratic country.
One note about tomorrow's briefing. Leon Fuerth, the Vice President's National Security Adviser, will be here at the start of the briefing at 12:30 to give you his thoughts on the next meeting of the Gore/Chernomyrdin Commission. As you know, the Vice President will be traveling to Russia over the weekend. He'll be meeting with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and President Yeltsin next week in Moscow.
This will be another meeting of the Gore/Chernomyrdin Commission which meets twice a year to work on all of the important foundation issues in our relationship: energy development, trade issues, health issues, and a variety of other political and economic issues that are at the heart of our relationship with Russia.
Along those lines, I wanted to refer to you a speech that Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott gave this morning before the U.S.-Russia Business Council. The speech is entitled, "U.S.-Russian Relations: The Next Phase." We have it available for you in the Press Office -- the full text of that speech.
That speech talks about the opportunity that we have now to consolidate further our relationship with Russia, now that the Russian people have passed through this great test of their electoral process.
Two other announcements -- two other statements. We thought it appropriate today to make a comment about Srebrenica, considering that we are one year past the violation of Srebrenica and its takeover by the Bosnian Serb military.
It is an outrageous affront to common decency, and it is, indeed, despicable that the Bosnian Serb leadership is now celebrating the takeover of Srebrenica, one year ago yesterday and today. This is a twisted view of history. They have blood on their hands -- the Bosnian Serb leadership -- for what they did in the execution of thousands of men and boys, after the fall of Srebrenica.
They now have the additional guilt of their twisted historical amnesia. I would invite you to contrast this despicable "celebration," as they call it, of the takeover of Srebrenica with another commemoration that is underway today in Tuzla -- this is the Women of Srebrenica Commemoration.
After the fall of Srebrenica, thousands of women made their way to Tuzla -- to the airport there and to the town -- where they were assisted by the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees and by the United States. President Clinton has written a letter to the women of Srebrenica, who went to Tuzla, to commemorate their journey away from the barbarism of the Bosnian Serbs. I think that in contrasting these two events today, you get a sense of what went wrong in Bosnia and, perhaps, get a sense of the right way to look towards the future -- that is to build peace and not to remember the barbarism of the Bosnian Serb leaders.
My final announcement, before questions, concerns Colombia. The exoneration of President Ernesto Samper, by the Colombian Congress, has terminated the parliamentary process which addressed the charges related to his acceptance of financing from narcotics traffickers during his presidential campaign in 1993 and 1994.
However, the political crisis in Colombia, resulting from these charges remains, in our view, unresolved. Also unanswered are concerns of the United States and many others around the world -- concerns conveyed directly to President Samper on several occasions, by officials of the United States Government -- that the influx of narcotics-tainted financing, into his campaign, would influence his actions as President of Colombia.
Section 212(a)(2)(c), of the Immigration and Nationality Act, provides for visa ineligibility when there is reason to believe that the individual has knowingly assisted, or abetted, illegal narcotics trafficking. Based on all the available information, the United States has determined that President Samper is ineligible for a United States visitor's visa under this provision of American law.
The United States remains strongly committed to pursuing counternarcotics objectives with the Government of Colombia. There is much that the law enforcement, military and judicial sectors of the Colombian Government can do. They have already achieved many successes, at great personal risk and sacrifice to many officials of the Government of Colombia.
The United States will continue to consult closely with these people on mutually shared objectives, setting out specific benchmarks and time lines. We are confident that the people of Colombia will continue to seek a resolution of their political crisis that confronts their nation and to seek it in a manner that is consistent with Colombia's democratic traditions.
Our message today is clear, and it is simple. People who, knowingly, assist narco-traffickers are not welcome in the United States.
Q Do you know if he has a visitor's visa, or not?
MR. BURNS: He has a visitor's visa in his passport. That visa is now not valid for travel to the United States.
Q How was he informed of this?
MR. BURNS: He was informed of this by our Embassy in Bogota.
Q Nick, does this mean if he wanted to come to the U.N. in September, that he couldn't do that?
MR. BURNS: It means, he's not welcome in the United States for any kind of normal travel to the United States on personal or official business.
Q So that means that if he wanted to come to the UNGA, he could not?
MR. BURNS: I can't anticipate what the United States would do, if we were asked -- IF we were asked -- to give permission for him to travel to the United States for visits at the United Nations.
As you know, Carol, sometimes there are special considerations in place. I do not believe, based on the information given to me by our experts today, that he will be making many requests to come to the United States.
Q A president does not travel in a tourist visa, or in a visitor's visa -- he travels in a diplomatic visa. If President Samper seeks a diplomatic visa, with his official diplomatic passport, will he be denied a diplomatic visa?
MR. BURNS: He's not welcome in the United States, at this time. I can't envision any circumstance where he would need to conduct diplomatic business in the United States. We have an Embassy in Bogota and a very fine Ambassador, Myles Frechette, who is there to continue to work with the government of President Samper.
We are saying today that, in addition to taking this action, we hope, very much, that the Colombian Government will rethink its commitment to narcotics trafficking.
The problem here is this: The information available to us, which is quite substantial, gives us reason to believe that President Samper engaged in narcotics-related activities, by knowingly accepting financing, in a presidential campaign, from narcotics traffickers; and that, in exchange for this financing, he pursued policies designed to protect and further the interests of the drug cartels. That is a serious charge, and that is why the United States, in a nutshell, has taken this extraordinary step today.
Q Nick, can you think of any precedent other than the Waldheim case in which this was done by the United States Government?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any immediate historical precedence in my mind -- no, Jim. This is a very serious and extraordinary step, but we're taking it with good reason, because we're convinced that the information that we have is quite damning about the influence of narcotics traffickers and the money -- the dirty money of narcotics traffickers -- on President Samper's government. Because we believe that narcotics trafficking is a scourge around the world -- but, most especially, in our own hemisphere -- we decided to take this step today to demonstrate to the Colombian people, to the Government of Colombia, and to everyone else in our hemisphere, that we do mean business.
Q Specifically, on your last point that he pursued policies that were favorable to narco-traffickers, what specifically did he do?
MR. BURNS: We haven't seen, from the Government of President Samper over the last two years, any kind of fundamental, or energetic, commitment to fighting narcotics trafficking in his own country, much less fighting the influence, or doing something about the influence, of narcotics traffickers in his own cabinet and in his own government beyond his cabinet.
We have not seen the kind of concerted effort that we believe is required, and it's not as if this should be a surprise to President Samper. We have had discussions with him going all the way back to 1993, by senior officials in this Administration, warning him of the influence of narcotics traffickers, of the dirty money on his government and on people close to him. In our view, those warnings have gone unheeded.
So we've taken this step today to send a very strong and direct message to him.
Q Is there any other official, from the Samper administration, going to receive this sanctions on their visas?.
MR. BURNS: I think, as you know, a number of his associates, just in the recent past, have also been advised that they will not be allowed to travel to the United States. Let me give you some examples.
The Colombian Ambassador to Mexico, Gustavo de Greiff; the Attorney General of Colombia, Attorney General Velasquez, and David Turbay, the Comptroller General of Colombia. The three of them have been told that they will not be permitted to travel to the United States in any capacity, professional or for pleasure, because of our belief that they are also involved. They're also involved with the narcotics traffickers.
These are serious charges. And there are others in his government, whom I will not name, who have been given the same message. But, let me point out, we continue to believe, as Americans, that in our hemisphere, there are many people who do want to fight the narco-traffickers, including many people in Colombia -- average citizens and courageous people in the Colombian Government and in the Colombian Parliament who are taking steps to try to rid Colombia of the influence of the narco-traffickers.
Q Is the State Department government going to cancel the visa to the ex-Minister of Defense, Fernando Botero?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any statement for you on that today.
Q Now, about this cancellation of President Samper. That was recommended for Ambassador Frechette from Colombia?
MR. BURNS: This decision was taken by the President of the United States and was recommended by the Secretary of State, Secretary Christopher, and was fully agreed to by all senior officials in our government who work on this issue. This is a very serious step that we're taking today. We do not take it lightly, and the President and the Secretary of State believe it's the right step forward.
Q In that sense, is the United States Government asking, urging Mr. Samper and his government to step aside, so that those who will fight the narco battle can take the government of Colombia?
MR. BURNS: That's not a question for us today. That's up to the Colombian people to decide, not the United States Government, not the American people. Our problem is that the narco-traffickers, who clearly have so much influence inside the Colombian Government, are affecting Americans. They're affecting young Americans who are dying and suffering because of their use of drugs, because of the influence of narcotics on our society. That's why it is relevant and pertinent for us to speak out.
Q Is the United States Government -- if President Samper resigns, the United States Government can be recertified to Colombia?
MR. BURNS: You're talking about the process of certification?
MR. BURNS: I think it's very clear to the Colombia Government what must happen to achieve a positive certification by the United States Government -- a positive (inaudible) of cooperation. I don't want to anticipate what decision we'll make next year when certification rolls around, but I think it's clear to the Colombian Government what must be done to show that they have a better record.
They have a very poor record, and that's why they were singled out this year with a couple of other countries for severe criticism by the United States Government.
Q Do you expect any reaction from other Latin American Governments after this action you've taken?
MR. BURNS: We would hope for support. Because narcotics is destroying many other countries and destroying the lives of young people throughout Latin America. That's the case in the United States. Many young people in our country are being affected because the Colombian Government, among others, refuses to take action against the narco-traffickers. That's why it is right for us and proper for us to speak out today and do what we're doing.
Q Does the U.S. Government suppose that President Samper will resign because of his visa?
MR. BURNS: President Samper will take his own decisions about his political future. The United States Government cannot make any recommendations to him public or private on that issue. All we can do is protect our own citizens and be faithful to our own law, and the sense that we have of the American people that the fight against narcotics ought to be a very aggressive fight. Today's step is meant to demonstrate that publicly.
Q Next week, some officials from Colombia are coming to discuss with the State Department and other officials from the United States about the relations. Do you think with this decision this will help with the discussion between the two governments?
MR. BURNS: We hope so. One of the reasons for this decision is to hopefully make a positive impact on the Colombian Government so that it will improve its counternarcotics cooperation with the United States Government. We're going to keep working with the Colombian Government. Next week's visit is an example of that. We're not going to stop the dialogue between us, but we just need to have a better and much more vigorous effort by the Colombian Government to help us fight the drug traffickers.
Q Will you agree that this might represent a political death for Samper, like someone --
MR. BURNS: It's not a judgment I can make. I'm not competent to make that judgment. That's up to the Colombian people to decide, not the United States Government.
Q Are there going to be additional sanctions, or will you say that this is a definite --
MR. BURNS: We will continue to judge the Colombian Government based on its performance on counternarcotics. There are other options available to us which we have firmly in mind. This is the only step we're announcing today.
Q Is the denial of the extradition -- the United States has requested of the drug traffickers have to do with the decision?
MR. BURNS: It was certainly a factor. It was one of the factors but not the only factor.
Q Does it mean that now all the communication channels between the U.S. Government and President Samper are closed?
MR. BURNS: No. We'll continue. I'm sure that Ambassador Frechette will continue to deal with people around him and with him personally. We have no choice. He is the President of Colombia. As long as he is the President of Colombia, we'll talk to him. We'll try to work with him.
But by taking this step today -- this extraordinary step of declaring him ineligible to use a visa to come to the United States -- we are saying, we are extremely dissatisfied with the level of our cooperation and with his personal commitment to the drug war. That's a very strong statement. It's aimed directly at him.
Q Your statement on Chechnya. Although you call on both sides to refrain from violence, you do go out of your way to make the point that you have concerns about the attacks on civilians, which, of course, are being done by the Russian army. So it sounds to me as if you're putting most of the onus on the Russian army, or that you have a particular concern about the Russian army?
MR. BURNS: Carol, we cannot hide the fact that we are very disturbed by the escalation of fighting following the Russian elections. It seemed to us that when the Nazran Accords were signed not too long ago, in the early part of June, there was hope and there was an opportunity to end the Chechen war.
So we are dismayed at the recent escalation of fighting and dismayed that there is continued military fire directed at civilians. Civilians have been the majority of casualties -- dead and wounded -- in this war. The tragic irony is that Russian civilians make up the majority of casualties in Chechnya. Not Chechen civilians. That's tragically ironic. That's our message for the Russian Government.
But it does take two sides to make a war. We do call upon the Chechen rebels themselves to find a way towards de-escalating this conflict and a way towards the negotiating table.
Q This statement is obviously a little tougher than the last time you spoke about this issue. I wondered if you have perhaps some new analysis about why the situation has developed? It seems to be no coincidence that the fighting decreased during the period of the Russian election. Now Yeltsin is back in the saddle and the violence has escalated.
What do you think about his intentions in terms of Chechnya? Do you think the effort at peace-making was just expedient?
MR. BURNS: The Russian Government has told us that it wants to end the war in Chechnya and achieve some kind of political resolution of the political and ethnic problems with the Chechen people. We agree with that, as an objective.
We have always disagreed since December 1994 with the excessive and inappropriate use of military force, particularly against the innocent civilian population. To see that happening again, to see a repetition of the killing and the wounding of innocent civilians is disturbing to us. It's hard for me to account, Carol, for a decision by the Russian Government to escalate and to go after civilians.
We obviously will continue to talk to them privately about this. You'll have to go to them for an explanation for why this has been undertaken.
Q You acknowledge that there's been some decision by the Russian Government? It's not just --
MR. BURNS: I think it just stands to reason that there has been some kind of decision in the government to take a different tack because there was a lull in the fighting throughout the latter part of the presidential campaign. There was a very highly public meeting in the Kremlin between the Chechen leadership and President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and others. Now, to see this escalation in the fighting is very disappointing.
Charlie. I'm sorry -- and then Jim, I'll go to you.
Q A different subject.
MR. BURNS: Anybody else on Chechnya before we go to a different subject? Charlie.
Q You saw the report, I know, in the Post this morning on Saudi Arabia.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q While I know it's an intelligence matter and I know you don't like to talk about intelligence matters, can you at least tell us whether or not the State Department was aware of that report or received that report? Not what was in it. Just did the State Department --
MR. BURNS: I will not discuss intelligence matters. I will not reward the leakers by corroborating what they've leaked.
Still Saudi Arabia? Jim was next.
Q Yesterday, at the National Press Club, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Olmert were very specific and angry about what they consider to be a Palestinian violation of Oslo II, by conducting political activity in East Jerusalem -- I gather referring to Orient House. In the U.S. view, are the Palestinian activities in East Jerusalem contrary to Oslo II?
MR. BURNS: We believe that both parties to an agreement must uphold the agreement. I would put the emphasis on "both parties." The agreement will only survive and be solidified and turned into a permanent peace -- the agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis -- if both sides uphold their commitments. The reality is often in that part of the world, as in others, that it does take the concerted efforts of both sides to make peace.
I can't say that we've done a great study of who is fulfilling which commitment and who hasn't. What we've heard from the Israelis, we'll obviously hear from the Palestinians on this.
I would just say that the United States will continue to advise both parties to work towards peace. The best way to do that is to have private discussions with each other to try to build a relationship of trust and to make sure that both are meeting their commitments. That's been our consistent refrain.
Q Specifically, on this one question, have you, in response to Israeli concerns or your own concerns looked into the allegations that the Palestinians are violating the terms of the accord?
MR. BURNS: These concerns that were raised publicly by the Prime Minister this week have just been conveyed to us as well this week, privately. So I don't believe that our Consul General in Jerusalem has had an opportunity to look into any of them in any great detail.
Q Has he been to Orient House lately?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Has he been to Orient House?
MR. BURNS: Has who been to Orient House?
Q The Consul General.
MR. BURNS: The Consul General? I just don't know. I think you know our practice with Orient House. We conduct official business with the Palestinian Authority in Jericho and in Gaza. We have made it a practice of not conducting official business in Orient House although members of the Consulate General staff have from time to time gone to Orient House for social occasions and for other events hosted by Mr. Faisal Husseini.
Q But the issue that was raised -- following up on Jim -- by the Mayor of Jerusalem is that the existence of Orient House now is a violation of Oslo II?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I think that the United States has always believed that we maintain our effectiveness by not engaging in public debate when there clearly are differences. Here, there is a very clear difference here on this question between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government. We are interested in this issue. We will listen to both sides. We'll not part in the public debate, but we'll be active privately.
Q Nick, I don't want to throw your words back in your face, but just yesterday you were asked the same question in relation to the Congressional certification of the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act which you all do periodically. You said that Palestinians are meeting their commitments and that you have notified Congress of that and you see that there's no change in that judgment as of yesterday.
MR. BURNS: I'm very glad to answer that question again today because nothing I've said today would contradict what I said yesterday.
We have certified in the recent past that the Palestinian Authority is meeting its commitments under Oslo I and Oslo II. We have to make an additional certification, a regular certification, in a very short period of time. We'll be making that.
I'm not aware that there is any basis upon which to change that certification.
Q So if you extrapolate that, that would say that although there is a difference of opinion in the interpretation of the accord, the United States does not believe that the Palestinians are violating it by conducting with the Israelis -- characterized as official business at Orient House?
MR. BURNS: I've already answered that question today and yesterday. I would just repeat one line: It takes both sides to make a successful agreement -- both sides.
Q Nick, the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague has now handed down -- has now issued two international arrest warrants for Karadzic and Mladic. What is your response to this? And can you give us any information about the Contact Group meeting yesterday or further meetings to discuss this?
MR. BURNS: We've just seen the announcement by the Tribunal from The Hague. We welcome the action by the War Crimes Tribunal. We welcome the indictments and we welcome the arrest warrants.
We have made it clear to all concerned that Karadzic and Mladic should leave power. They should be out of office, out of power, out of influence, and in The Hague.
The primary responsibility for bringing Karadzic and Mladic to The Hague rests with the signatories to the Dayton Accords. They know who they are. You know who they are. They are regularly reminded of that responsibility.
IFOR has a very close and constructive working relationship with the Tribunal. IFOR was alerted to the action of the Tribunal before it was announced. IFOR will be working, I'm sure, with the Tribunal to cooperate with this. But I wouldn't expect in that sense any change in the basic position of IFOR, which is that IFOR will detain indicted war criminals when they are encountered.
Q But what if the entities that signed the Dayton Accords are not strong enough in and among themselves to have either the military or the political will to arrest these people? What steps can IFOR or other forces take to ensure their arrest and removal from the country?
MR. BURNS: These parties -- the Bosnian Serb political leadership, the Serbian Government, the others -- will be held accountable by their failure to adhere to the war crimes provisions of the Dayton Accords. As we've discussed many times, including this week, there are a variety of options available to us to respond to that failure if it continues -- and it's currently a failure.
One of them is the re-imposition of international sanctions against Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs. I can assure you that that message has been sent once again this week to both the Serbian leadership in Belgrade and the Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale.
Q So this decision, then, today -- to issue the arrest warrants -- is largely symbolic, in effect, because it is -- I don't think anyone believes that Mr. Karadzic or Mr. Mladic are actually going to venture outside of Bosnia to be apprehended in any of these neighboring countries. If IFOR's mission is unaffected by this, what's the reason for even issuing that?
MR. BURNS: We think it's a good idea, actually, to call attention to the crimes of the war criminals.
What the Tribunal has been doing, as you know, over the past week or two is to remember and make the world remember Srebrenica and Zepa by the personal testimony of people who suffered there and whose relatives died there. That's a very important thing to do.
It's important to, in essence, do what has already been done, and that is to issue these arrest warrants. That was done at the time of their indictment last November. It has been done in the case of Mr. Milan Martic, who was indicted a couple of months ago. It's useful to call attention to this problem.
We very much support the Tribunal in doing it. I wouldn't discount this action. I think it's an important action.
Q Nick, what if one of these patrols did arrest Karadzic or Mladic, would they then hold them and turn them over to local authorities? There would be no effort by IFOR to spirit them out of the country or to actually arrest them?
MR. BURNS: I don't know what the rules of engagement say, from soup to nuts, on that. I don't know at what stage IFOR actually gives up physical custody of them to some responsible authority. You can ask IFOR. I'm sure it's clear to them what that is.
The important point is that NATO has said and IFOR has said consistently: if we do confront them, we will detain them. We detain not for the purpose of letting them go a day or two later but for making sure that once detained, they will be sent, transported, in handcuffs, probably, to The Hague because I'm sure that would be necessary in that case.
Q Doesn't the action today compel all nations to actively try to arrest these people?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I was watching the live coverage of the reading of the announcement. It was quite long. I have not yet seen the paper they've issued, so I can't tell you exactly, in all of its dimensions, what is being asked of the international community.
But our general understanding, because -- the Tribunal talks to IFOR all the time. Our general understanding about this is that they are seeking our cooperation -- IFOR's cooperation -- but that it doesn't necessarily change the rules of engagement as they have existed now since IFOR arrived on the scene in December.
Q Information: Anything on the Monitoring Group now that the Israeli Prime Minister has been here? Any meetings to set up the rules of the road for it?
MR. BURNS: I know that Secretary Christopher believes that after the discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu this week, we have made progress on the issue of the Monitoring Group, and that we hope to achieve a final agreement of the detailed responsibilities and rules of the road shortly. The Secretary believes that we've made progress. He looks forward to a final completion of this agreement after many months.
Q You've worked out differences with Israel over contentious issues?
MR. BURNS: We believe we've made progress. As you know, Judd, the reason I'm saying it like that is because where there are five parties that are involved here, it's a complicated set of negotiations. We've just met with one of the parties this week. But based on those discussions and based on our chairmanship of these negotiations, we believe that progress has been made and we think the way is forward towards an agreement. I'm not announcing an agreement today, obviously.
Q Did Prime Minister Netanyahu make travel plans by the people in this building to go to the region?
MR. BURNS: No.
Q Nick, let's go back to Bosnia for a while. You used pretty strong words describing the situation in Pale and Tuzla regarding Srebrenica. It is obvious that Karadzic is pretty secure what he is doing. Is it fair to say that London's meeting-conclusion without conclusion encouraged the Pale leadership?
MR. BURNS: Actually, I believe that the London meeting of the Contact Group political directors yesterday was an agreement that Karadzic and Mladic and the other more than 50 indicted war criminals should be sent to The Hague for prosecution.
The issue of how to arrive at that result was the big part of the meeting. I cannot draw you to any specific course of action that was agreed to, but there is a statement -- the Chairman's statement -- out of London that I can show you that I have here. It says, "It's important to continue to marginalize Karadzic. The transfer of his state functions was a first step, but he must also be removed from power and influence." The meeting discussed proposals to bring this about. That was really the crux of the discussion.
I'd just like to take issue with your first statement. His influence is vastly diminished from what it was a year ago today -- vastly diminished. He had a dream of a Greater Serbia. That's finished. He now has to worry when he walks out his front door. He's a different man. He's an increasingly hunted man. He's on the defensive. He's on the losing side. He lost. I would not try to build up or exaggerate the position that Mr. Karadzic is in or that Mladic is in.
These guys are cornered, and they don't have a bright future. I think it's important to keep that in mind as we look at this. It is frustrating to a lot of people that they aren't now in The Hague, but they will end up there some day.
Q "Marginalization" is a magic word.
MR. BURNS: It's an important word because we don't believe that he should exercise political influence on the September 14 elections. That is why we support Ambassador Frowick's decision to keep his political party out of the elections.
Q One last one. President Clinton sent a letter to Tuzla -- he sent a promising letter to Srebrenica's women?
MR. BURNS: President Clinton sent a letter -- and I would refer you to the White House on this -- to the women of Tuzla -- to the women of Tuzla; basically, a letter of sympathy for what those women went through a year ago this week. They lost their husbands and sons and brothers and cousins -- thousands of them. Their bodies are now being exhumed by very courageous Finns and Dutch teams, others working under the supervision of the United Nations and IFOR.
It is a symbolic week. We are marking the worst massacre in Europe since the Nazis this week. The bodies of the victims are being exhumed. You have these malicious commemorative events by the Bosnian Serbs, twisted despicable events, and you have a proper commemoration underway in Tuzla by the victims and the survivors of the tragedy.
I think that really puts in a nutshell what is right and what is wrong about the situation in Bosnia today.
Q If we're done with Bosnia, I just need -- wanted to go back to Saudi Arabia for a moment. Is the State Department satisfied that the "expat" community in Saudi Arabia is taking appropriate measures for their security, given your understanding of the threat from the Saudis?
MR. BURNS: As you know, we issued a public statement last night -- a public announcement here from Washington and also in Saudi Arabia itself. We have 40,000 Americans in Saudi Arabia, outside of our diplomatic and military officials, who number in the thousands themselves, and we have a responsibility to them to give them our best sense of the security situation following the two bombings.
That's why we issued the rather detailed announcement that we did. We think there is a threat to Americans. We have received a number of threats -- threat warnings -- just in the last couple of weeks. We can't know if some of these are serious or whether they are not serious, but we can't take the risk that American citizens there may be ignorant of the general situation as we appreciate it.
That was the reason behind the public announcement, and we do work very closely -- we in the State Department -- with ARAMCO and with Mobil and with all of the other major corporations that have a significant number of people there to advise them of security procedures, to advise them of how best to protect their own people. Ultimately, this objective lies with the Saudi Government to protect foreigners in their country, but we have to do what we can to help in that effort, and we take it very seriously.
You know that Secretary Perry has been reviewing how to protect our soldiers. Secretary Christopher has talked to our Charge d'Affaires in Riyadh about how to protect our diplomats. We're taking measures to do that, and I know that the various companies, American companies, are doing the same thing. That's why we issued the statement that we did last night.
Q But, Nick, who do these private citizens rely on for their security -- the Saudi forces?
MR. BURNS: I think that the private companies have to -- they provide for their own security. They have to work privately with Saudi security organizations. They also have to expect that law enforcement is in the hands of the Saudi Government, both local, municipal and national. This is true in any country. It's true of the United States as well. You know, we have a responsibility to make sure to do the best we can to protect foreigners in our own country. That goes with diplomats and civilian foreigners here.
Q Given the recent Saudi record of protecting -- you guys, do you think the private Americans are at more risk now than the military -- U.S. military or diplomatic personnel?
MR. BURNS: I cannot make that judgment. I think, obviously, Americans are targeted. I would assume as a matter of logic, that official Americans probably represent a different kind of target, a higher level of target than private Americans do. But the reason we issued the announcement was to let all those 40,000 people know about the obvious risk, given the fact that there have been two bombings and that we have received threats.
Q Do you think that the Saudis are capable of protecting private Americans?
MR. BURNS: We have full confidence in the willingness of the Saudi Government to do whatever it takes to protect people who are guests in their country. You've heard that from Prince Saud and from Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador. They take their responsibilities very seriously. They do not want to see a repeat of what happened in Dhahran or in Riyadh. Neither do we. We're working together with them.
In a situation like this, Sid, the United States is not in control. It's a foreign country. We must work with the Saudi Government, and we're doing that, and we're taking steps to upgrade security at all levels.
Q But willingness and capability are two different things, and you specifically said you have confidence in their willingness. What about their capability?
MR. BURNS: We have every reason to believe that the Saudis will do what they must to protect guests in their country. That gets to capability as well as willingness.
Q Two --
MR. BURNS: George. George had his hand up, Bill, I'm sorry. He's also the senior correspondent in the room. I have to defer to him, plus he knows more about Cuba than I do.
Q For good reasons.
MR. BURNS: By the way, can I just draw attention to something? We did this on background yesterday. There was a question yesterday of the 5,911 Americans who have had their property stolen by Castro. The question was, "How many of those people were naturalized American citizens." George was right. Every single one of them at the time of the expropriation, the corporation or individual was an American citizen, not someone who subsequently became an American citizen and filed a claim.
So George once again proved correct on this issue. We're going to invite him to do the next Helms-Burton briefing if he wants to. (Laughter) Better you than me, George. (Laughter) I'll ask the questions. I'll sit right there.
Q Well, until that glorious day, I have a couple of questions. (Laughter) I understand that two of the letters sent out to Sherritt were erroneously sent, because the people on the receiving end had severed their association with Sherritt, or something like that.
MR. BURNS: Well, I'm not sure. I mean, this is a very interesting question. I'm not sure they were sent erroneously in this sense. We understood there to be a certain number of shareholders and, you know, senior executives of Sherritt, and I can say "Sherritt," because Sherritt has said that they received the letters. Sherritt has "outed" itself, so I'm glad to say that Sherritt is the corporation in question here.
We understand that two of the executives very recently decided to give up their positions on the Sherritt board. Now they'll have to speak for themselves. I don't even know their names, but it seems to us this was a very wise decision, and it doesn't seem to be a stretch to say that these individuals were influenced by the impending sanctions on Sherritt, that Sherritt was warned about over a month ago by the U.S. Government.
This kind of decision is positive. It actually gets to the intent of the framers of the legislation, and that is to exert some kind of influence on foreigners who insist on investing in stolen property. I want to be clear again, especially to the Canadian audience and the Mexican audience that might have access to this briefing. We are not taking steps against Canadian or Mexican firms that are investing in Cuba, of which there are many.
We are taking steps against firms that invest in stolen American property in Cuba. There's a very important distinction to be made there.
Q Nick, since you've raised the issue of these two director/shareholders of Sherritt, did you speak to them on this issue of why they left the board, or are you surmising that?
MR. BURNS: Put it this way --
Q You're guessing or you know.
MR. BURNS: We have reason to believe that their decisions were made because of the impending threat of sanctions against Sherritt.
Q Can you amplify "reasons to believe"? Did you speak with them?
MR. BURNS: Well, I'd prefer not to, and I think you should be free to go and -- I mean, I'm sure you will be free, and you will want to go question these people, and go see for yourselves and see what they say. What we've decided to do, even though we've "outed" Sherritt today, we're not going to mention the names of the individuals who received the letters.
Q But in fairness, Mr. Burns, you have -- you're aware of the interest in this in both Mexico and Canada and in other countries, and now you've suggested that your Helms-Burton bill has frightened shareholders and directors of a company into taking an act. It's true that anybody can go and talk to these directors, but it seems since people are watching you, and indeed some of them live, that you have an obligation to at least suggest whether you have actually spoken to these people, or are you guessing at their decision?
MR. BURNS: We're not guessing. We have reason to believe that that's why the decisions were made. We also know that Cemex, the Mexican company, has given up its investment in Cuba. We know that four companies -- European companies involved in financing the sugar industry -- have decided to opt out of that.
These are limited, given the total number of foreign companies involved, but it is positive to see, because this was actually the intent of the Helms-Burton legislation to have this kind of effect -- not on investment in Cuba, but on investment in stolen American property in Cuba.
Q One other question --
Q Do you have an estimate on how many potential targets there are? You talk about a lot of companies. How many companies are you talking about?
MR. BURNS: Companies that have invested in American assets?
Q That's right.
MR. BURNS: Let me -- I'd rather ask our experts in the Latin America Bureau about that before I even venture to guess. I could take a shot, but I might be off by a margin.
Q (Inaudible) what is erroneous then, if they have resigned?
MR. BURNS: Because we couldn't have known that these people resigned. These were not public announcements. We know that until very recently, just in the last couple of days, these people were executives of this corporation, so I wouldn't fault us. I think our batting average is still pretty high.
Q But they can get their visas back, assuming they did resign.
MR. BURNS: Oh, yes. If one resigns from the Sherritt board or resigns from a position of a senior executive at Sherritt, those people will have no trouble entering the United States, and the provisions of this law will not affect them.
Q Has there been communication between this Department or the Administration with the Canadian Government --
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q -- today? And, if so, at what level; which individuals were talking?
MR. BURNS: We informed the Canadian Government yesterday, before we sent the letters by Federal Express to the individuals, the handful of individuals on the Sherritt board, that we were taking this action, and that we would in fact be announcing it publicly yesterday at the State Department briefing.
We also informed other governments who have nationals who were affected, who are members of the Sherritt board, and I think you know that the British Government is one of those governments.
Q But subsequent to that, have there been any discussions? You're undoubtedly aware of statements made by various cabinet ministers in Canada and indeed in other countries and the suggestions of retaliation against the United States. Have there been discussions at any level between --
MR. BURNS: I don't know, Henry, whether in Ottawa or Washington we've had discussions today. I would assume there have been some, given the high-profile nature of this issue, but I can't be sure. I would say this in one last attempt to convince you or perhaps convince the Canadian people of the logic of this.
I think the Canadian people ought to understand that if they were in a situation where they had a 36-year battle against one of their neighbors -- we've had it with Cuba -- and where almost 6,000 Canadians who had investments in that country were denied compensation, how would the Canadians feel? Would the Canadians think it was right for Americans to invest in stolen Canadian property?
I think that's a side of the issue that maybe the Canadian public needs to hear, and maybe it's not being presented by the Canadian Government.
Q Well, since you ask me and I don't wish to personalize this, but since you did ask me a question and you have a bit of a bully pulpit advantage over me, I think the indication in response to your question is that there is an indication that Canadians are still quite angry at the United States, based on what they are saying today and --
MR. BURNS: Well, we'll keep working to convince the Canadian people, who are our close friends, of the logic of our position.
Q (Talking over briefer)
MR. BURNS: And thank you for that.
Q The best I could do on short notice.
Q What you said about contacts with Ottawa is also true of London?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Yes, we contacted the British Government before we issued -- before we sent the letters and before we made the public announcement.
Do we have any more -- Bill, do you have one final on a separate subject?
Q The question from Tuesday for you. Nick, are you constrained for national security reasons, as was Jamie Gorelick at Justice this morning, or can you speak out on this matter? There was a CNN report last week that NPR picked up about radiation detection devices going in at our borders?
MR. BURNS: Actually, I can say that such devices have been installed --
Q They have?
MR. BURNS: -- simply for the reason of trying to pick up those who are engaged in nuclear proliferation and transporting nuclear materials across national borders.
Q They are installed at our border checkpoints.
MR. BURNS: Yes. Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:50 p.m.)
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