U.S. Department of State 96/07/12 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, July 12, 1996 Special Briefer: Leon Fuerth Special Briefer: Strobe Talbott Briefer: Glyn Davies ANNOUNCEMENTS Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls...................... 12 Florida Flotilla Planned for July 13 for Waters off Cuba...... 13 RUSSIA Natl Security Adviser to the Vice President Leon Fuerth & DepSec of State Strobe Talbott on VP's Upcoming Trip to Moscow on the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission (GCC) Beginning July 14: --US Cabinet Level & GOR Ministerial Participants............. 1-3 --Agenda/US Binational Commissions............................ 2,5,8 -Heavy Focus on Economic Reform/GOR Request for Increase in Foreign & US Investment................................. 2,10 --Structure, Committees, & Programs of GCC.................... 3-5 Continuing Dialogue on Off-Line Discussions/Relationship w/IMF/ Resources/Pipeline Systems/Caspian Sea/"Win-Win" Approaches to Region/Intl Trade/Counterterrorism/Arms Control.......... 5,7-11 --Army Activities in Chechnya................................. 7 Senior US Official's Dialogue w/Pres Yeltsin.................. 12 DepSec Talbott on Russian Relations: --Crime & Corruption Real Threat to Reform.................... 6 --Cease-Fire Broken Down/Heavy Force Used Against Villages.... 7-8 CUBA Defector Jose Fernandez Pupo in Guantanamo.................... 13 Helms-Burton Law: --Pres Clinton's Decision on Suspension of Title III Expected Next Week.......................................... 13-14 COLOMBIA GOC Announcement on Pres Samper's Plan to Attend Upcoming UNGA Mtg in Sept/US Decision on Visa Revocation............. 14-15 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Pres Milosevic's Role in Dayton Accords/War Crimes Tribunal's Decision in Determining Future of Milosevic................. 15-17 TURKEY, GREECE, & CYPRUS Alleged Turkish PM Erbakan's Proposal re Provide Comfort...... 18 USUN Amb Albright's Upcoming Visit to the Region/ Issues to be Discussed...................................... 18 NORTHERN IRELAND Extradition of Irish Nationalist Jimmy Smyth.................. 19 SAUDIA ARABIA US Level of Satisfaction with Bombing Investigation........... 19 IRAQ Alleged Report of Coup Attempt Against Saddam Hussein......... 19-20 ARMS CONTROL Egyptian Amb's Alleged Stmt on Missile Deal Between North Korea and Egypt/Upcoming Binational Commission Between US/Egypt... 20-21
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JULY 12, 1996, 1:09 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. We are going to start off today with something a little bit special. We have joining us here in the briefing room two officials, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and the National Security Advisor to the Vice President, Mr. Leon Fuerth.
They will, for the next half hour or so, talk a bit about the Vice President's upcoming trip to Moscow to participate in the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation. This is known by its shorthand term, the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission. This will be the seventh session of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, and a very important session, coming as it does in the wake of the Russian elections.
So, please confine your questions to topics that are raised in the presentations that you will hear. Let me turn the microphone over, first, to the Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Thanks, Glyn, and good afternoon to all of you.
As Glyn said, this is the seventh meeting of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, but it does come at a particularly significant moment, because it is the first high-level interaction that our Administration, our Government, will have with the Yeltsin Government, now that it has been reelected.
The Cabinet level participation includes on our side Secretary Perry, Secretary Kantor, Secretary O'Leary, Secretary Shalala, as well as a number of other quite senior officials of the government. It dramatizes, I think, the serious and broad nature of our engagement with the Russian Government through the GCC.
As all of you know, the U.S. has a very broad agenda with the Russian Federation. That includes, of course, security and arms control issues, as well as issues of regional cooperation.
Those, too, will find their way into the discussions that will take place starting this weekend in Moscow, not least because Secretary of Defense Perry will be there. And I am sure that subjects such as START II, CTBT, Partnership for Peace, the cooperation between Russia and the United States, Russia and NATO in Bosnia: all of that will figure in Secretary Perry's discussions with his Russian interlocutors.
At the same time, though, there is, I think very appropriately, a very heavy economic focus to the GCC in general, and there will be that focus during this meeting.
President Yeltsin has made clear, including in a public speech that he made day before yesterday, that he intends to capitalize on the election results and the mandate that he feels he has in order to intensify economic reform.
He has stressed the importance of that economic challenge directly with President Clinton. When President Clinton reached President Yeltsin by phone a week ago today to congratulate him on his victory, President Yeltsin said that it was extremely important to him and to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin that there be a substantial increase in foreign and particularly American investment in Russia.
The President answered that he is committed to help Russia in this regard if the Russians are able, as we feel they are able, and are determined to improve the climate for investment.
In a sense, the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and its agenda, I think, go to the very core of our overall policy and our overall strategy with regard to Russia. As all of you know, because we have talked about it many times, our policy is to support reform in all of its dimensions in the Russian Federation. But I think it is fair and accurate to say that the fate of reform in general is going to depend to a significant extent on the fate of economic reform in particular.
And just as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission has already been a factor, or I even say a force, for stability and progress in U.S.-Russian relations, the Commission is also a factor that is going to continue to be very conducive to Russian reform, especially in the economic sphere.
And on that note, I would turn the microphone over to Leon Fuerth.
MR. FUERTH: I thought I would talk a little bit about how the Commission actually works, what its objectives are, and then open the floor to as many questions as we will have time to take.
As Strobe indicated, the Commission brings together very senior officials on both sides of the government. They are Cabinet level on our side and Ministerial on the Russian side.
I am just going to quickly run through the structure of the Commission so that you have the full scope.
There is a committee for agribusiness, which is headed by our Secretary of Agriculture; one on business development, which is headed by the Secretary of Commerce. There is another on defense conversion, headed by the Secretary of Defense; another on energy policy, headed by Secretary O'Leary; environment, headed by Carol Browner; health, by Secretary Shalala; science and technology, by Dr. Gibbons, the President's Science Advisor; and space, headed by Dan Goldin of NASA.
Each of these committees operates not just once every six months when we meet but continuously through working groups and contacts in each others' capitals on schedules that are worked out by the parties directly concerned.
What happens as we get ready for one of these meetings is that all of the information about what is going on begins to come together into a tighter, tighter focus. We check to see what is nearly done that could be accelerated. We try to figure out whether or not there are accomplishments that might be pushed forward that might otherwise not be.
Some of the things that have happened to date through the Commission include a great deal of forward progress on oil and energy investment in general in Russia. Oil and gas investment in Russia is potentially one of the largest economic forces available to power the economic transformation of that country.
The potential for U.S. investment alone in the energy sector is upwards of $70 billion, and I think some of my friends in the Department of Commerce might say that is conservative.
There is already a substantial amount of American money invested in the energy sector in Russia, but it is just the beginning. However, in order for it to succeed, many complex changes of Russian law and regulation are needed. It has been the Commission's business to push those forward in close dialogue with the Russians. And progress has been made from one session to the next.
We talked a lot to the Russians about opening markets and about reducing barriers to investment, and we have had a series of successes with them. It requires that you get down to the nuts and bolts in order to follow these issues on a sector-by-sector basis, but the point is that there is a dialogue. It is technical, it is detailed, and it moves forward.
We have a program for purchasing blended down highly enriched uranium that came out of Russian weapons, blended down to low enriched uranium for consumption in U.S. nuclear energy reactors. That program is up and working. We have purchased the equivalent of hundreds of bombs' worth of uranium in a win-win arrangement that removes the HEU from existence as the source of weapons of destruction in the future, and which applies it directly to the generation of energy for peaceful economic purposes. It really is swords into plowshares.
We have extensive programs with the Russians designed to improve the safety of Soviet-era nuclear reactors. And a great deal of progress has been made along that line.
We have programs with the Russians designed to improve the security of fissionable materials in storage, and great progress is being made cooperatively between them and ourselves in upgrading the security arrangements under which these materials are moved and stored.
We have made great strides in working towards common approaches to environmental problems. We have programs with the Russians that address the question of sustainable forestry, programs that are aimed at reducing concentrations of lead in the atmosphere and the surrounding land and water. Programs that are aimed at helping train a new cadre of Russian specialists in policy-making on the environment and in legislation on the environment.
We have been working with them on projects having to do with safe drilling for oil in the Arctic; on exchanges of information previously classified as intelligence data on both sides, now declassified and converted into information for use by environmental scientists.
We are in the process of creating an international space station whose fundamental components are Russian and American, with a contribution of the other partners in the process. And that operation is proceeding in a very businesslike way. We will start to see the actual space station components go up in about a year.
In addition, there have been a series of so-called off-line discussions between the Prime Minister and the Vice President, that cover issues that are not pertinent to economics or too sensitive for discussion in the plenary meetings. It is not going to be possible for me to provide much detail about these because by virtue of their sensitivity, they need to be kept private. But the point is, such a channel exists. It is used by both sides, and it has been productive in helping us move past a number of significant problems.
I think I should stop here and just welcome your questions.
Q When is the meeting going to take place (a), and (b) how unique is this idea of having a Vice President-led commission? I believe there is one in South Africa, as well. Are they the only two?
MR. FUERTH: No. The meeting will begin, actually, on Sunday evening with an informal one-on-one dinner and discussion between the Vice President and the Prime Minister. That has become a routine. It will shift into high gear on Monday, with another one-on-one session. There will be a meeting between the Vice President, we anticipate, with President Yeltsin. There will be a press opportunity that day following the discussion with President Yeltsin. I thought I would mention that for your notes.
The plenary sessions will begin that afternoon. First up will be defense conversion, business, energy, and then there will be another session the following day that will take care in two bites of all the remaining committees. There will be a press conference at the end of the overall session.
There is a U.S. Binational Commission for South Africa, headed by the Vice President on our side and by Thabo Mbeki on the South African side. In fact, he is coming to Washington and we will have a meeting of this commission this month, I think on the 2lst or 22nd of the month. And there is another Binational Commission with Egypt, and we are anticipating a visit by President Mubarak towards the end of the month. And when President Mubarak and President Clinton have completed their business together, we are anticipating a roll-over into a session of the U.S.-Egyptian Binational Committee. And there are a few other organizations similar to this in existence involving the Vice President that are a little less labor-intensive than these, and not as well-known, but they are there, and they are useful.
Q I had a question about oil and gas investment, but perhaps it best be addressed to Strobe because it refers to something he said yesterday at the Russia-U.S. Business Council.
Yesterday, specifically on oil and gas investment, or in general yesterday you were talking about the need for Russia to deal with lawlessness and corruption. What do you say to a businessman who says that there is something inconsistent about such a policy, and then dealing with Mr. Chernomyrdin who apparently has done very well by himself in ways which were not available to Western investors? How do you explain that apparent anomaly?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I would respond, without accepting the premise of the question, Jim. President Yeltsin has made clear, indeed Prime Minister Chernomyrdin has made clear, including in recent days, that they recognize what we see very clearly, and that is that crime and corruption constitute a real threat to Russian reform, and therefore to the prospects of the success of the Yeltsin-Chernomyrdin program.
One issue that comes very sharply into focus when the Vice President, Leon, and others connected with the Commission talk to the American business community is that crime and corruption represents a real obstacle to the kind of increase in investment that the Russians want to see.
Indeed, there is, if I'm not mistaken, Leon, a new working group in prospect on the issue of crime and corruption under the rubric of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission.
Q What would you say to the businessman who questions why the investments, which apparently enrich Mr. Chernomyrdin, were not available to Westerners -- outsiders?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Again, the question asserts a premise that I know I would not accept in a discussion of the American businessman or, indeed, in our back-and-forth here.
Q Are there any plans, as policy, to channel U.S. investments in the oil and energy sector in Russia with a view to developing the Novosibirsk complex and the pipelines leading to it as the main outlet to Kazakh and Azeri oil?
MR. FUERTH: There is a dialogue on-going with Russia about the general development of Russia's resources and pipeline systems and it's also about the Caspian Sea and its reserves and questions concerning how to develop the riches of the area in a way that will work to the benefit of all the countries concerned, bring in capital, bring on production, assure environmental safety, which is something that the Russian Government is concerned about deeply when it comes to the Caspian, and support of what we would call win-win approaches to the region.
Q So much of the problem is the Russian army's activities in Chechnya. Where does this get mentioned? How strong a position are you going to take?
MR. FUERTH: There is bound to be a discussion of this while we are there. It's one of the kinds of things that would take place typically in the off-line discussions, one-on-one, so that there can be a full exchange of views on both sides.
Q We know that most of the victims have been civilians there. Is there any determination of the U.S. Government whether the Russian Army has committed what are customarily called violations of the Geneva Conventions in a major way -- that is to say, war crimes? And will this come up?
MR. FUERTH: I would defer to Strobe on this.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Roy, I would say that we are going to confine ourselves from this podium to what we know.
What we know is disturbing. Indeed, I think you've heard Nick (Burns) and Glyn (Davies) and others use very strong language. There is no question that the cease-fire has broken down. That is extremely regrettable. Because the cease-fire that was reached during the course of the spring represented a real hope, not only for what we want to see, but what I think the Russian people clearly want to see. That is, the two parties cease trying to resolve this issue by military means and resolve it by political means.
Second, Roy, we know that heavy force has been used in recent days against several villages and that there have been significant civilian and military casualties. Obviously, this kind of loss of life is deplorable. We are going to continue to do what we've been doing for some time both in public and also through the private channels that are available to us, which is to urge, in the very strongest terms, that all the parties return to a cease-fire and to the search for a political settlement.
Q Had the use of force exceeded that which is permissible under the so-called "laws of war" to the point that you could speak of violations of them and war crimes?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I think I'll stop with what I've already said on that subject. Obviously, we are very disturbed by what is going on. We're disturbed, particularly, that the two sides in this conflict have allowed the dynamic to reach the point where the cease-fire has broken down. We hope that they will see it in their mutual interest to get back to the bargaining table. But I don't want to take it beyond that in the way we characterize the fight.
Q Can I just follow up on that a minute? What do you think the intention of the Russian Government is? Do you think that the intention of the cease-fire was just to get past the election and that, really, they see no long-lasting peaceful solution with the Chechens and that eradication or total military victory -- even though you say that's not possible -- is what their intention is?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Carol, I understand why you're asking the question. I hope you understand that in answering it Leon and I are not going to go beyond (a) telling you what we know, and we've done that; and (b) what our policy is.
Q What about the Caspian Sea basin production? Is this Administration still pursuing a multi-route policy towards the main export pipeline issue to be decided next year? And is it on the agenda in Moscow?
MR. FUERTH: I did not hear the second part of your question.
Q Is it going to be discussed in Moscow, the main export pipeline issue?
MR. FUERTH: I expect that there will be a discussion concerning Russia's thoughts about the Caspian as well as our own views.
As I said, we are looking for win-win strategies. We tend to believe that multiple pipelines is a way to make sure that that happens.
Q That win-win strategy mainly includes the United States and Russia, right?
MR. FUERTH: No. In my opinion, we tend to use a shorthand in which you say something like "U.S. and Russia." But when the United States goes into these discussions on these issues and on international trade issues in general, the principles that we advocate are the principles on which general international trade runs. In other words, what we're looking for would not only be potentially good for U.S.-Russia binational economic relations but good for anybody's economic relations with Russia.
It's up to our businesspeople to be competitive. It's up to our government to try to work with the Russians to create an arena in which they can compete with others.
Q And what of the counterterrorism issue -- specifically, that of Iran -- the cooperation that Russia is giving to Iran in their nuclear programs, and another little follow-up in a minute?
MR. FUERTH: President Clinton and President Yeltsin asked the Prime Minister and the Vice President to take on that issue some time ago. They have. There has been a continuing dialogue about this question -- again, in the off-line sessions. That's about all I can really say about it other than to tell you that it is a useful dialogue and we think has helped to permit both sides to very clearly understand the concerns of the other.
Q Yes, Leon, can I follow?
MR. FUERTH: Sure.
Q On the issue of nuclear materials from Russia, can you comment at all on press reports of Russian nuclear materials possibly being smuggled into this country and our government putting radiation detection devices on our southern borders, would this have to do with detecting radiational-type threats or other-type threats? Can you comment?
MR. FUERTH: We and the Russian Government take seriously the risk of diversion of fissionable material -- ours as well as theirs. We continuously scrub our system to look for vulnerabilities. In fact, we have, at various times, discussed with the Russians things that we need to fix up on our own system. It's a two-way discussion.
With respect to the Russians, nuclear disarmament which is going on -- the rapid reduction of nuclear weapons, the physical destruction of the warheads generating a lot of fissionable material -- we are working hard with them to make sure that this material is accountable and stored well and is not vulnerable to theft or terrorist attack. That's a jointly held objective. Both governments have been continuously deepening what they do and accelerating it in that area.
Q About the Caspian Sea? Will the issue of the division of the Caspian Sea be addressed -- I mean on the sectoral or the condominium basis?
MR. FUERTH: I should just limit my answer to what I've said before, which is that there will be a general discussion of that along with other energy issues.
Q To what extent are you going to get into arms control and non-proliferation issues? And, specifically, which ones?
MR. FUERTH: These issues tend to be things that wind up on the off-line agenda rather than as a systemic part of the discussion. For example, the Defense Committees are talking about how Russia is going to go about down-sizing its defense industry and converting portions of it to the private sector and what we can do to assist that as well as other areas of defense-to-defense cooperation that have turned out to be very fruitful.
What comes our way in the Commission will tend to be issues that are politically significant to both countries but that people have not been able to resolve at lower levels. So they get bounced up.
What is actually happening is that the Vice President and the Prime Minister have to form an assessment of how forward each side is prepared to go just a hair beyond where the negotiators may go in order to reach an acceptable closure on an issue.
So, for example, we have dealt very successfully with technical problems involving honest differences of interpretation of verification language in START I. It's painstaking. It has people sitting down for months at a time in Geneva. It has proposals coming forward and then, finally, it has closure. It's that kind of thing.
Q President Yeltsin has again recommitted himself to the program of economic reform but he also, earlier before the election, made a commitment to a social program in paying back wages and the like. There are many economic problems facing him where the Central Bank Chief yesterday, I believe, said that they might have to renegotiate the IMF loan in order to pay off some of the campaign debt, or the debt accumulated during the campaign. Will this be a subject of discussion at the Commission meetings, or are you leaving that up to the Russian Government to work out -- the trade-off?
MR. FUERTH: One of the things that the Commission, including the off-line process can allow, is a candid talk about where the Russian Government visualizes its next steps, both near and in the longer term -- in terms of the general economy as well as management of their revenue system and handling their relationship with the IMF.
They have been very successful. It's a key point in doing this. Based on their track record, I think they will continue to be successful.
I remember that at their first encounter the Prime Minister told the Vice President that so long as President Yeltsin and he were in office, they would not go back on the process of economic reform and modernization. They have, of course, had to tack from time to time because they've been dealing with very difficult problems.
But when you look at the general figures for the Russian economy, they're quite startling. Larry Summers was at a briefing for the Vice President the other day. He went down a list that said the inflation rate is two percent a month. Still a monthly total but it's two percent. It's low considering where they have been. It got there as the result of discipline and a macro-economic policy that works.
There are now more people working in the private sector in Russia, on a percentage basis, than in a number of West European countries. About two-thirds of their economy is now generated in the private sector.
A foundation has been laid already for what we hope will be the next phase of expansion and consolidation of their reform and conversion into a market economy. People do not normally notice what is going on.
But I want to stress that one of the themes of this visit on the Russian side is that they're open for business; and on the American side, is that we think American business should get in there while the opportunities are at their best.
Q Do you feel that these trolly-bus bombs that have been going off in the past couple of days might be meant as a signal to you folks among others?
MR. FUERTH: I'll restrain myself on that and let Strobe's comments stand, and I'd appreciate maybe one more question, if there is something, on the Committee.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I won't even come to the podium. We have absolutely nothing on the joint responsibility for this bombing.
Q Who was the last American official who has seen President Yeltsin?
MR. FUERTH: How many points do we get for the answer to that one?
Q (Multiple comments)
Q Well, it's been quite awhile, right? So you haven't had a firsthand assessment of how President Yeltsin is for quite a while, is that right?
MR. FUERTH: The Presidents have been in touch by telephone, and the dialogue has been as lively as at any other time. But if what you're asking, is the Vice President going to be the first senior American official to be in the same room with President Yeltsin in a while, I think the answer to that is yes. But the answer is, fine. What they will be talking about is business.
MR. DAVIES: Thank you very much.
(Mr. Leon Fuerth concluded his briefing at 1:30 p.m., at which time Mr. Davies immediately began his briefing of the press.)
MR. DAVIES: We'll check into that and get you a definitive answer. We think the answer is April, the President, at the anti -- or at that nuclear summit in Moscow. But we'll check into that to make sure.
I've just got two quick announcements, and then I'll go to your questions. The first, just handed to me before I came out, is an announcement that we'll be putting out on the Wassenaar Arrangement on export controls for conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. A meeting has just ended in Vienna, Austria, which brought together representatives of 33 countries to establish what is known as the Wassenaar Arrangement on export controls.
The purpose of the Wassenaar Arrangement is to contribute to regional and international security by promoting transparency with regard to transfers of conventional arms and dual-use items. Meetings and exchanges of information will begin under this framework in September, and the participating states have agreed to a 1 November 1996 date as a target date for implementation of the control lists of goods and technologies.
What's significant here is that for the first time we will have a global mechanism for controlling transfers of conventional armaments and a venue in which governments can consider effectively the implications of those transfers.
I'd also like to draw your attention to a statement that was issued this morning by the White House. We will amplify it with our own statement. These are statements regarding the flotilla that's planned to waters off Cuba for July 13. So, very shortly, the United States notes that the organizers of this flotilla of privately-owned vessels from Florida, accompanied by aircraft, have planned to conduct a protest in international waters close to Cuban territorial seas and airspace. They'll do that on July 13.
We recognize the right of the participants to engage in this peaceful protest against the Castro regime, and we have reminded the Cuban Government of its obligation to exercise restraint in dealing with this and not to use excessive force. But we do wish to urge the democracy movement and all the participants in Saturday's flotilla to observe U.S. law and refrain from entering Cuban territorial waters during this event.
Those are the announcements I've got. George.
Q Also on Cuba, the Cubans initially indicated that either extradition or prosecution by the United States of the defector would be satisfactory to them, but now the Cubans are saying or the Cubans are insisting that he be returned to Cuba. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have an update to give you on the hijacker, the defector who's now at Guantanamo base -- our base in Cuba. The gentleman, Jose Fernandez Pupo, is still in custody. He's in the brig at Guantanamo. We haven't made any decisions regarding his status. We're still reviewing what it was he did. So I think for the time being it's inappropriate for me to get into that.
We'll make a decision about Mr. Fernandez once the review has been completed, and then, of course, the other place you can pose questions on this is at the Justice Department.
Q Do you have anything on Title III of Helms-Burton? Any decision imminent?
MR. DAVIES: No. According to the way the law is structured, the President will decide -- should decide, must decide by mid-month this month, which puts us to about Tuesday/Wednesday of next week. I think there may be an announcement Wednesday of next week out of the White House of the President's decision. He'll have to make that decision by Tuesday, by the end of the day on Tuesday. So in a sense, that's a question that you could address to the White House.
Q But has the Secretary of State made a recommendation to the President yet on this issue?
MR. DAVIES: Carol, I think what I'll do is stay out of the business of trying to track paper, track recommendations, decisions, as the U.S. Government goes about its internal deliberations on this matter. The Secretary will play, obviously, a key role in advising the President on his decision, but I'm not going to tell you where that stands. There's been no decision, I can tell you that.
Q But you're not even willing to say whether or not the Secretary has made a recommendation?
MR. DAVIES: It's just not something that I think is in our interests to get into; you know, who's made a recommendation, and then the follow-up is, "Well, what was the recommendation." The point is that the government will make a decision on this. It will be announced mid-week next week.
Q On Colombia. The Government of Colombia has announced that President Samper is planning to attend the U.N. meeting in September with visa or without visa. The Government of the United States are trying to stop him if he plans to attend the United Nations meeting? I mean, in terms of order, chief of state Castro has been attending those meetings in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
MR. DAVIES: Okay, I guess that's a question. We don't have any visa application from the Colombian Government on behalf of President Samper. The action that was taken and announced yesterday, we were very explicit about it. It deals with his ineligibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act for a business or tourist visa. It doesn't go directly to the question of his coming here as a head of state with a diplomatic class of visa.
We stick by what we said yesterday. He's not welcome in this country. If the Government of Colombia makes an application on his behalf for him to come here to the United Nations General Assembly, we'll look at that.
But what's important to underscore here is that our action to revoke his visa was directed at an individual, Ernesto Samper, someone we believe has aided and abetted drug traffickers. It was not directed against the Colombian nation as a whole. We don't consider our action in any way to be an intervention in their internal affairs.
We consider it an action to defend our affairs, to defend our nation. We're a sovereign nation as well. We have the right to determine who may or may not enter our country, and to the degree that a government is permitting the flow of drugs into our country, it's a violation of our sovereignty.
He, in his statement, made an important point. He reiterated his intention to fight against narco-trafficking, so we hope to continue to work with those individuals and institutions in the Colombian system that have demonstrated through their actions rather than their rhetoric their commitment to fighting the drug scourge.
Q Does the United States believe that Milosevic should be investigated for war crimes?
MR. DAVIES: We leave to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague those questions. That's why it was set up with the very great support of the United States in the first place. It's up to that independent body to make determinations about who is to be indicted as a war criminal and who is not to be indicted. So that's a question you would have to put to them, I think, at this stage.
Q I think it was indicated in issuing the warrants that it's now time to make the investigation of him a formal one. Is the U.S. bound to cooperate in this?
MR. DAVIES: What we understand they've done is in this warrant they have reconfirmed earlier indictments. The warrant does not by its own terms direct the prosecutor to issue any new indictments. That's our understanding of it. We fully support the Tribunal's commitment to bring to justice those who have committed these atrocities, but the bottom line is we respect their independent efforts, and they have yet to issue any further indictments along those lines.
Q But my question didn't go to whether or not they should indict him, it went to whether they should investigate him for war crimes, and you have no opinion about that?
MR. DAVIES: It's up to the Tribunal to do that. What we don't want to get into is advising the Tribunal about, "Why don't you go look at this person, go look at that person." President Slobodan Milosevic is an important individual, obviously, from the standpoint of the Dayton Accords. There's no question about that. He's a signatory. He signed the Dayton Accords as a guarantor on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs.
So he has from our standpoint this role to play. He should fulfill all of the requirements of the Dayton Accords; live up to his commitments as he's made them in Dayton. And as to whether or not the War Crimes Tribunal wants to look into Milosevic or not -- and there was some language in their indictment that seemed to indicate that they would be looking beyond the two individuals who are the subject of their work in the last week -- that's up to them.
Q What do you think the impact would be on Milosevic, though, if he were --
MR. DAVIES: That's speculative. I mean, let's wait and see what the Tribunal does, and we're happy to react to whatever decisions they take, whatever direction they go in.
Q Would you be able to meet with someone who was indicted? Anyone who was indicted? We won't be surprised because he's indicted. Would you meet with any --
MR. DAVIES: I can't imagine that if an individual were indicted, we would be meeting with that individual. I mean, I think that's very straightforward.
Q It would put a crimp in getting enforcement of Dayton.
MR. DAVIES: Again, I mean, you're taking me down this kind of speculative path about Slobodan Milosevic, and we're just not there, and I don't know that we will be there. That's up to the Tribunal to chart -- they've got to chart their course in their very, very important work, and they haven't said that they're seeking any further indictments.
Q I'm going a few steps back on that path. If indeed they are saying it's now time to formally investigate his possible culpability, is the U.S. bound to assist them in the investigation? Where do things stand? I mean, I know behind the scenes they've already been looking into this.
MR. DAVIES: Again, we have a premise problem, because they haven't said that. They haven't said that they're seeking further indictments. They haven't said explicitly that they're --
Q I'm not talking about indictments; whether it's time to investigate.
MR. DAVIES: They haven't said explicitly that they're going to be investigating him. I don't know how many times we've done this from the podium, but we've many, many times underscored the degree to which the United States has been a supporter of the War Crimes Tribunal, both in our rhetoric but more importantly in terms of the money and the personnel that we've made available to the Tribunal, and the information that we've made available to the Tribunal.
We work closely with the Tribunal, as does IFOR, and if they make a request of us for information, we'll do our level best to meet that request.
Q On that point, you suggest that the process is that they request the information on a specific individual, and then you provide it. But in the past, that's not the way it's worked. The way it has worked is the United States has supplied raw data; they have investigated it, and then decided if they want more information or that this is sufficient for an indictment.
In other words, in the past you haven't required a request. You have turned over information, which the United States believes is germane.
MR. DAVIES: Okay.
Q So why don't you do it in this case?
MR. DAVIES: We do. We do provide all the information that we think is germane, that we can provide, given the strictures of the intelligence information that we have that we collect, and our bottom line on this process is let the chips fall where they may.
We will give the War Crimes Tribunal everything we can possibly give them, but it's up to the War Crimes Tribunal, and it's important to preserve their independence -- to carry out investigations, to at the end of the day issue indictments -- if their investigations lead them to that, and we respect and support their work.
Q But the difference is they used to make it public. They used to hand out pamphlets filled with information on crimes committed in Bosnia.
MR. DAVIES: Well, but again --
Q You haven't done that in about three years.
MR. DAVIES: I'll look into the pamphleteering and why perhaps we haven't -- you know, let's chalk it up to the budget. We could go that route, that it's our budget that's preventing us. No, I don't know the answer to that, if in fact we're not giving out as much information publicly as we have in the past. Let me look into that.
Yes, did you have a question?
Q I have a question about Turkey, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Erbakan. We heard that he sent some proposal to Washington about suggesting that, if the "Provide Comfort" command control center moves from Zakho to inside of the border of Turkey, they will support the extension of this "Provide Comfort" timetable. Did you hear, or did you get this kind of proposal?
MR. DAVIES: I haven't heard that proposal, but that certainly falls squarely within the realm of our privileged diplomatic dialogue with the Government of Turkey. Everybody knows our position on "Provide Comfort." We'd like it to continue.
If such proposal is made, obviously we'll work with the Government of Turkey, but I don't think we'll be, kind of, trading positions in public, as we move forward with it.
Q Would you describe this kind of position as acceptable, or not?
MR. DAVIES: Again, to go back to where I started, since I'm not familiar with that particular suggestion, I can't help on that score. But we can check into whether a proposal like that has been made, and how we might react.
Q How about Ambassador Albright's visit to Greece, Cyprus, Turkey? Would you characterize this visit within the framework of the U.N., or is she going in there in her capacity as a cabinet member?
MR. DAVIES: I'm sure she's going there in both capacities. She is going there, obviously, to pay calls on the leadership in that region, to add some impetus to the process that's been underway some time, to try to find solutions to the problems in the Aegean and the problems of Cyprus.
But, whether she formally took off one hat and put on another, on her way out there, I don't think, is actually all that germane.
Q Along with Cyprus and the Aegean, is she going to be discussing oil-for-food, Ankara-Baghdad relations, and "Provide Comfort"?
MR. DAVIES: She'll be discussing a broad range of issues. She won't only be wearing her U.N. hat, I think it's fair to say. She'll also be talking about the range of issues that concern the United States in that part of the world.
Q Glyn, there's an Irish nationalist, by the name of Jimmy Smyth, in San Francisco, who escaped from Maze Prison in 1983. He was picked up by the FBI in 1992, and who has fought extradition through the courts -- winning at a lower-court level -- on the grounds that if he were returned to Northern Ireland, he would face persecution, and then, he lost on appeals. He's still fighting it.
Is this a case that has come to the attention of the Secretary of State, do you know, and is he going to recommend on it? Is he going to take any action?
MR. DAVIES: I was alerted to this issue and looked into it a bit.
One of the areas that we stay away from much comment on, of course, is the question of extraditions. I think, suffice it to say on that issue, the extradition process that's underway, obviously, the State Department plays a role in. We'll be playing that role, but I don't have any particular comment to make about whether the Secretary is aware of it or not.
Q On the subject of Saudi Arabia, do you have anything to say on the investigation -- how it's going? Are you still satisfied with the level of cooperation you're getting from the Saudis? Do you know if anyone has been arrested?
MR. DAVIES: We've been satisfied all along and remain satisfied with the level of cooperation that we're getting from Saudi Arabia. They stepped in a very good and strong way from the get-go on this to helping us out. Obviously, we have an FBI team out there that's rather strong. Louis Freeh has been out there, along with two Cabinet members.
What I'm going to steer clear of is getting into where we are in the investigation; whether it's going well or not, or what leads there are. You can try across the river, at the Pentagon, with those questions -- but I doubt, as long as it's an on-going investigation, we'll have much to say, publicly.
Q Have you heard anything about reports of a recent coup attempt against Saddam Hussein?
MR. DAVIES: I have not. I have not. We hear those occasionally, though.
Q What about his execution of several of the coup-plotters today?
MR. DAVIES: I've just seen those reports, and don't have anything to add.
Q (Inaudible) on scud missiles. The Egyptian Ambassador, in Washington yesterday, said -- and I'm quoting him -- that "Egypt has the right to arm itself and defend itself, and that North Korean scuds are not the only such missiles in the region." He was, actually, answering a question about reported U.S. objections to this North Korean-Egyptian deal.
What is your reaction to this statement? And, on what ground, actually, did you base your objection to this transaction?
MR. DAVIES: Our objection to the missile deal between North Korea and Egypt?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to add to what the Secretary of State said when he was out in the region recently. He was in Cairo. Many of the journalists in this room were with him, and I think that question was put to him.
I don't think I'll be adding much beyond saying, of course, that we take reports of missile proliferation quite seriously: I'll look into them and follow up.
Q Will this issue be raised when President Mubarak comes here at the end of the month?
MR. DAVIES: We'll have to wait and see. I don't have any kind of a listing of the agenda items for that visit. That visit will touch on a number of issues. I'm sure, at some level -- though, I don't know with the President directly -- we will talk about our concerns as regards missile proliferation.
Q Does this Binational Commission, between Egypt and the U.S., have any defense, or security, component to it?
MR. DAVIES: I believe it does, but that's something I can check for you -- to let you know exactly what makes up the agenda of that Commission.
Q Has Egypt signed up for the MTCR?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if Egypt is a member of the MTCR. John, do you know? We'll check.
Q Because the Egyptian Ambassador said yesterday that the acquisition of missiles is a matter of sovereign right, as far as Egypt is concerned, and that Egypt is not the only country, in that area, that has that sort of missile.
MR. DAVIES: Sure, I'm happy to check into it. As I rack my brain, I seem to recall that they're not a member, but I'll look into it.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:59 p.m.)
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