U.S. Department of State 96/07/17 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, July 17, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Introd of Elizabeth Burns, Daughter of Mr. Burns.............. 1 Introd of Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord (See Separate Briefing of July 17).......................... 1 Introd of Public Affairs Officer from Tel Aviv Richard Scorza. 1 Assistant Secretary of State Pelletreau Honored by Secretary Christopher for 35 Years USG Service.............. 1 Natl Foreign Policy Regional Town Mtg, July 18................ 1-2 July 18th Marks Return of Peace Corps to Haiti................ 2 White House Fact Sheets/Announcements on Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission Mtgs in Moscow................................... 2-3 G-7 SUMMIT Terrorism: Announcement by Leaders Calling For Follow-Up/ Purpose to Include Discussions on How to Combat............. 3 Secretary Christopher Unable to Attend Due to Upcoming Mtg of July 29-30 w/Egyptian President Mubarak..................... 3 SAUDI ARABIA Bombing Investigation on Khobar Barracks in Dhahran/Possible Syrian Involvement.......................................... 4 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Status of Monitoring Group/US & France to Chair............... 4-5 GOI to Ease Closure on Palestinians in the West Bank & Gaza... 5 Mtgs Taking Place Between Israel & Arab Countries: --Travel of Jordanian PM Kabariti to Israel/Travel of Israeli PM Netanyahu to Egypt/GOI Dore Gold's Discussions w/Chairman Arafat & Abu Mazin.......................................... 5-6 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Update on Amb Richard Holbrooke's Discussions/Travel in the Region: --Mtgs w/Pres Milosevic re Bosnian Serbs Failing in Their Adherence to the Dayton Accords & War Crimes................ 7-9 --Mtg w/Pres Tudjman in Zagreb re Strengthening the Federation/ Train & Equip Agreement/War Crimes/Eastern Slavonia......... 7,9-10 --Upcoming Mtgs w/Pres Izetbegovic & VP Ganic re Trade........ 7 --Talks w/Dick Sklar on Assistance Programs for Bosnian People 8 --Mtgs Inconclusive Due to Lack of Commitment................. 8 TURKEY, GREECE, & CYPRUS USUN Amb Albright's Travel to the Region: --Mtg w/Greek PM Simitis & FM Pangalos & Issues On: Cyprus/Aegean/US Future Continuing Efforts Led By Special Presidential Envoy Richard Beattie/Greek & Turkey/Future Improved Relations Between Ankara & Athens.................. 10 --Upcoming Mtgs & Discussions................................. 10 --Stmt on GOG Exercising Pressure on Ankara re Imia Dispute in Natl Court of Justice.................................... 10-11 --Alleged Article on Action to Turkish Proposal in the Aegean. 11 --CUBA Helms-Burton Law: --Secretary Christopher's Discussions w/Foreign Government Officials re Pres Clinton's Decision on Title III........... 11,13 --President Clinton & Secretary Christopher to Appoint Special US Envoy/Envoy's Future Discussions: --Support of Human Rights Organizations/Non-Humanitarian Assistance/European Allies' Compliance w/Human Rights/ Human Rights Group Concilio Cubano/....................... 11-14 COLOMBIA: US on Terrorism....................................... 14 ROMANIA: NATO Membership........................................ 14
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 1996, 1:39 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Welcome back to the State Department briefing.
I already announced two honored guests. We have a third honored guest; and for those of you who travel with the Secretary, Richard Scorza is here from Embassy Tel Aviv, just back finishing his vacation. Nice to see you; welcome.
I've got a couple of announcements, very briefly.
The first is to say that the Secretary honored this morning at the Senior Staff Meeting Assistant Secretary of State Bob Pelletreau for having reached the pinnacle of 35 years in government service; and he received a pin, which is traditional, for reaching that plateau. As you know, he has been our Ambassador to Bahrain, Tunisia, and Egypt. He's serving as our Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East. And he's a great model for those of us who are Foreign Service Officers. I thought I'd mention that just to honor him.
Secondly: to remind you once again and for the last time, that tomorrow there will be no briefing. We're going to have a full day of ON THE RECORD statements, presentations, and question-and-answer sessions with officials here in the State Department.
Let me give you the lineup.
At 8:40 in the Loy Henderson Room, Secretary Christopher will make remarks about U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. position in the world. He'll talk a little bit about resources that we need to do our job here.
He'll be followed by Ambassador Craig Johnstone, who will talk specifically about the resources issue -- about the problems we have in receiving sufficient funds from the U.S. Congress to fund State Department operations, and to conduct a mature foreign policy.
That will be followed by Dennis Ross at approximately l0:00 a.m., who will speak on the Middle East peace process.
And then at l0:45 to noon, we'll have three presentations in various rooms -- one by Robin Raphel on South Asia issues; one by Charles Snyder on Africa issues; and one by yours truly on Russia, Ukraine, and Independent State issues.
After lunch at l:l5, Jim Steinberg, our Director for Policy Planning, will make a presentation on the trans-Atlantic agenda, European issues.
He'll be followed at 2:00 p.m. by Joan Spero, who will speak about economic security issues.
At 3:00 o'clock, Rafe Pomerance, our Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Affairs, will speak on global environmental challenges.
And then between 4:00 and 5:00 we'll have two concurrent workshops -- one by Jeff Davidow, our new Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs; and one by Kent Wiedemann, our Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Affairs.
If you are interested in individual interviews with any of these people, let me, John Dinger, Glyn Davies, know -- anybody in the Press Office.
A couple of other quick announcements.
Tomorrow marks the return of the Peace Corps to Haiti. Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan will swear in l0 new Peace Corps volunteers tomorrow who will begin service in Haiti. We have not had the Peace Corps in Haiti for five years, and the goal of the Peace Corps is to send 20 additional volunteers to Haiti to participate in what we hope will be a successful transition to democracy and economic freedom for the Haitian people. That is an important announcement from the Peace Corps.
And I've also made available to you -- all in the Press Room -- the White House fact sheets and announcements on the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission meetings in Moscow that have just concluded. This was a particularly successful meeting, marked by agreements in energy and business development and agriculture and health. And, if you're interested, we have all the documents for you.
If you are interested, I can go into the meeting that the Secretary had with Foreign Minister Melescanu this morning, also Dick Holbrooke's trip -- certainly we're prepared to talk about that -- and also the Helms-Burton follow-up. The Secretary of State has been very busy yesterday afternoon and today phoning Foreign Ministers around the world about the President's decision on Helms-Burton.
Q I think there was a very thin announcement out of Paris today about the follow-up to the G-7's interest in terrorism. Could you elaborate who's going from the United States, who will attend -- which countries will attend? What is the goal, what is the aim of it, et cetera?
MR. BURNS: Right. There has just been a senior officials' meeting in Paris about this terrorism meeting. As you know, the leaders at the G-7 Summit in Lyon called for this meeting. The French are still the Chair of the G-7, and they will host it. It will take place on July 30 in Paris.
It will include representatives of foreign ministries and also of justice ministries.
For our part, we have not made any final decisions. It appears, however, that Secretary Christopher will not be able to attend the meeting because he'll be in Washington that day for a very important and long-awaited meeting with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. He'll be visiting Washington on July 29 and July 30, and that in fact is the reason why Secretary Christopher is returning somewhat earlier than he had planned from his Asia trip.
So we will be represented by a senior official from the Department of State and a senior official from the Department of Justice.
The purpose of the meeting is to make sure that the P-8 -- and that, of course, includes Russia -- discuss specific measures that we can take together to combat terrorism in the world. One of the reasons why the G-7 leaders spent so much time on terrorism is because the meeting followed, by a couple of days, the terrorist attack on U.S. forces at the Khobar Barracks.
I don't know if the French, as Chair, have decided to include other countries in this particular meeting on July 30, but I can look into that and try to get you an answer.
Q That was one of the things I wondered about because you remember the Luxembourg meeting was aborted for other schedule problems; and, you know, the G-7 took this up, but terrorism is obviously an international issue and I wonder if there are any arrangements to have some substitute for Luxembourg and/or to expand this to include at least Middle Eastern countries or whatever.
MR. BURNS: That's a very good question. The reason that we could not have the April 22 meeting in Luxembourg was because of the fighting on the Lebanon-Israel border. Secretary Christopher had to, as you remember, rush to the region from Japan to undertake his seven-day shuttle -- which was successful.
That process continues in our bilateral discussions with Arab countries and with Israel. Last week, for instance, with the Israelis, terrorism was a big issue on the agenda. It also is with the Arab countries when we see them.
That will continue, and we'll continue to have what we hope will be a series of good meetings with the Arabs and with Israel on that issue. This is a P-8 initiative, and I just don't know if the French as Chair want to open it up to a broader forum or whether they'll keep it to the P-8.
Q If I can indulge in just one more quickie: Syria wasn't part of the process, but there are reports that the Saudis think Syria may have had something to do with the Dhahran terrorist attack. Are you talking to Syria as part of this process with the Arabs, and what can you tell us about the possibility of Syrian involvement? Was there any possible involvement?
MR. BURNS: You know there's a criminal investigation under way on the Dhahran bombing. I just cannot speak to any aspect of that. I have no information that would lead you in that direction, but then again we have no information to deliver on any aspect of this.
At some point we will catch these people, and if there is a foreign link I'm sure it will be established publicly as well as privately. But at this point I don't believe the investigators have drawn any such conclusions.
Q I was thinking of southern Lebanon. Where exactly does the Monitoring Group stand? Is it meeting yet? Is it in place; when will it be in place?
MR. BURNS: We announced on Friday afternoon that the Monitoring Group --
Q Yeah, I heard that.
MR. BURNS: -- negotiations had been completed, that the five countries have agreed on the rules of the road for the Monitoring Group.
It will take a couple of weeks, probably, to set up now the physical mechanism -- the people who will be on the ground -- but, in essence, we have the responsibilities clearly defined and in place; and if there are any incidents, the Monitoring Group can respond quite quickly.
Q And has the duration of the rotating Chairs been resolved finally?
MR. BURNS: Yes. There has been an agreement between the United States and France. The United States will be the first Chair. There will be a rotation after a period of some months, when the French will assume the Chair.
If I could refer you, perhaps we could even -- somebody --
Q How many?
MR. BURNS: Five -- someone could look -- it's five months, five months.
Still on the Middle East? Any others on the Middle East?
I would just like to say -- I mean because I have not been asked about it, but I think we should say it -- that the United States is pleased at the decision by the Israeli Government to ease the closure on the Palestinian people. We have long been concerned by the effects of the closure on the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
We hope that this announcement and the steps taken by Israel will help those who have suffered in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
This is an issue that Secretary Christopher raised in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Netanyahu and that the President and Secretary Christopher raised last week with him when he was in Washington.
We've also been pleased to see that there are now meetings taking place between Israel and the Arab countries. Prime Minister Kabariti of Jordan was in Israel last evening. He made some, I think, quite positive and constructive public remarks after that meeting. And now we have the Prime Minister of Israel traveling to Cairo for a meeting with President Mubarak.
This is the kind of process that the United States has had in mind since Prime Minister Netanyahu's victory in the Israeli elections -- that both Israel and the Arabs should keep the door open to meetings of this kind, that there is no substitute for discussion among countries.
Q Nick, about the last statement you made, I'm not sure it's the same process you had in mind or that the previous Israeli Government had in mind. This Israeli Government evidently has decided to select Arab countries that it feels it can have productive negotiations with, and, you know, at least put aside for a while negotiations where they don't think it will be productive.
Does the U.S. Government approve of the strategy being used by the Israeli Government, which essentially at this stage is to have peace talks with two countries with which it already has peace and not to rush into talks, for instance, with the PLO or to try to open talks with Syria? Is it all right with the U.S. that Israel as a sovereign state decides who it wants to talk peace to, or should it talk to everybody on all fronts?
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't describe Israeli policy in that way, Barry. I think it was clear --
Q You'll describe it how you wish. I mean --
MR. BURNS: I will.
Q Is that what you think of it?
MR. BURNS: Thank you. I would describe it, based on our meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu, as the following: he has clearly indicated that Israel will engage with its Arab neighbors. He is doing so with Egypt, which is a very important Arab country and very crucial country for the peace negotations.
Dore Gold has met with Chairman Arafat and met with Abu Mazin and we very much hope and expect that those discussions will go forward, and Prime Minister Netanyahu gave us every indication that they would.
With Prime Minister Kabariti's visit to Jerusalem, there is now an engagement between Jordan and Israel, which is quite important. At some point, we hope that there will be an opportunity to make progress on the Israel/Syria track and the Israel/Lebanon track.
So, you know, I think you have to -- it's important to give these countries some time to work out their new relationships and new arrangements, but it seems to be happening, and that in itself is a positive first step down the road towards resuming the peace negotiations.
Q Do you have more information on Holbrooke's visit to Belgrade?
MR. BURNS: Well, I had a long talk with Dick Holbrooke just before noon today. I can give you a little bit of information on his travels and on his thoughts.
He did have, as he said to the press, a four-hour meeting with Slobodan Milosevic. He reported it as inconclusive, very tough, very direct discussions between the two men on the primary issues at stake here, and that is the failure of the Bosnian Serbs to adhere to the Dayton Accords to fulfill their commitments under the Dayton Accords.
You know, he is going out there. Ambassador Holbrooke is there to talk to the Croatians, to talk to the Bosnian Government, to talk to the Serbian Government.
The primary problem, however, is with one party to the Dayton Accords, the Bosnian Serbs, who on the issue of war crimes and on many other issues are failing in their adherence to the Dayton Accords.
Now, Dick right now is meeting with President Tudjman in Zagreb. They are discussing ways to strengthen the Federation, and there was an important agreement yesterday signed in Sarajevo to begin the equip and train program with the Federation military forces.
They are discussing the issue of war crimes and the responsibilities that Croatia has to turn over indicted war criminals to the tribunal. They are discussing the issue of Eastern Slavonia.
After this meeting, Dick will spend the night in Zagreb. Tomorrow morning he will travel to Sarajevo for further discussions with President Izetbegovic and with Vice President Ganic. Vice President Ganic will be undertaking an important mission to Belgrade next week. It will be a trade mission. This is the first attempt to reestablish significant trade linkages between Bosnia and Serbia. This is an issue that Dick talked to Mr. Milosevic about and talked to Ganic about yesterday.
Following the meetings in Sarajevo tomorrow morning, he will then - - he, Holbrooke -- will then travel back to Belgrade for an additional round of meetings with Milosevic, focusing on the issue --
MR. BURNS: Tomorrow afternoon -- focusing on the issue of war crimes and the failure of the Bosnian Serbs to meet their commitments.
I would then expect he'd return to Washington some time on Friday, hopefully in time to brief Secretary Christopher before we depart Saturday morning.
A couple of other notes. Dick had a long conversation -- Dick Holbrooke -- with Dick Sklar last night on the U.S. attempt to energize and expedite a number of the assistance programs for the Bosnian people, and he has been active with Carl Bildt, with Michael Steiner and others as you would imagine. So he is midway through his trip.
I think the trip so far, the results are inconclusive. We won't know if he is successful in pushing this process forward or not probably for another day or two.
Q Can you tell us what's inconclusive about it, and what areas is it inconclusive?
Q Well, okay. Then I had another question.
Q I mean, on the core issues of: what? Eliminating them from political control, your war crimes suspects? What's inconclusive?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I can say very little because I want to preserve the confidence --
Q He's on television all the time, we can probably catch it later from him. (Laughter.) But can you tell us, because sometimes it is very verbal and very --
MR. BURNS: Watch TV and watch the wires. He is talking to the press.
Q We are the wires. We'd like to get it faster.
MR. BURNS: He is talking to the press. He is saying publicly very little about the substance of his negotiations for tactical reasons. To preserve the confidentiality of his discussions, I am going to honor that. But I will say that this meeting was inconclusive because we have not yet received the kind of commitments that we need to assure us that the Bosnian Serbs will be meeting their commitments under the Dayton Accords. And that is the crux of this week's deliberations. That is the focus of his trip.
We are not trying to spread the criticism of the parties equally here, because it doesn't deserve to be spread equally. The vast majority of our concerns lie in Pale with the actions of the Bosnian- Serb leadership.
Q Is this Holbrooke mission a one-off thing, or is he going to be involved now on a regular basis?
MR. BURNS: I know of no plans for him to return to the area, but I can't discount the possibility either, because he is, I think, uniquely positioned and qualified to work on these issues, particularly in the field, and we'll just have to see what Secretary Christopher decides when he returns. But nothing to announce certainly at this point.
Q You said he discussed in Zagreb with Tudjman war crimes issues at well, I believe, and if that's correct, did he do so because of his discussions previously with Milosevic? Was Milosevic complaining that others were not meeting their commitments as well?
MR. BURNS: He is in the middle of his meeting with President Tudjman. I talked to him before he went in. He intended to raise this for the following reason. A number of the indicted war criminals are Croatians. Some of them have residence in Croatia itself. Therefore it is the responsibility of President Tudjman and his associates to turn them over to The Hague.
This is a longstanding concern that we have had. It doesn't date from the meeting in Belgrade.
Yes, Mr. Lambros?
Q Did you say that --
MR. BURNS: Judd has one more, I'm sorry.
Q You partially answered this, but you stressed that Holbrooke was talking to Milosevic about the failure of the Bosnian Serbs to live up to their commitments, but the Serbs have been -- Milosevic himself has failed also, has he not? And has that question come up?
MR. BURNS: That is true. I think we have said before, and I will say again today, that Serbia needs to do much more to meet its own commitments. But I would focus the largest share of the blame here on the Bosnian Serbs.
Sorry. Are you still on Bosnia?
Q (Inaudible) -- Holbrooke is going to ask Tudjman the same questions and the same expectation with Milosevic? Or is there a different color of conversation in Zagreb and Belgrade.
MR. BURNS: There are some issues that are common and there are some issues that are not, that are quite different. In the case of Croatia, there is a need to talk about Eastern Slovenia, for instance. So the agendas are not exactly similar.
Q Do you have any readout on Albright's visit to Athens regarding the Cyprus and Aegean issues?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Ambassador Albright met this morning with the Greek Prime Minister, Prime Minister Simitis and with Foreign Minister Pangalos. Among the topics they discussed were our efforts and our hope to bring a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
These were exploratory discussions. She is bringing with her and Ambassador Beattie some ideas from the American side that we are sharing with the Greeks, the Cypriot communities, and with the Turks. I think she stated publicly after one of her meetings that the United States will continue efforts on this front in the coming months led by our special presidential envoy, Richard Beattie, who is accompanying her, as you know.
They also discussed Greek/Turkish issues, Aegean issues, and the very strong hope that we have that there could be an improvement of discussion, now that there are two new governments in Athens and in Ankara, on those issues.
We believe that improved relations between Ankara and Athens can help facilitate a solution on Cyprus. So in some ways, these issues are linked, and that is why she is raising them in such a high profile way on her trip.
She is going next to Cyprus. She will be two days in Cyprus, and then to Turkey for meetings with the senior Turkish leadership. I expect she will continue discussing both of these issues along the course of her trip.
Q Since Ambassador Albright stated in Athens today that the Greek Government is exercising a lot of pressure on Ankara to address the Imia dispute in the International Court of Justice, I'm wondering if you are involved, as you said, why the Turkish Government hesitates so far to proceed to this effect?
MR. BURNS: Well, again, Mr. Lambros, we have been over this territory many, many times. We are taking an evenhanded approach to this. We are going to work with the Greeks and Turks on a, hopefully, mutually satisfactory basis to resolve that particular problem.
Q Last one: A Greek-American professor named Dimitrios Kousoulas who wrote the constitution of the Greek junta in Athens in 1968, appeared yesterday with an article in The Washington Post, proposing reaction to the well known Turkish proposal in the Aegean. Greece should abandon her right to extend the 12-mile limit of the territorial waters in the Aegean and in exchange the Turkish Government will recognize Greek sovereignty over the Greek islands in the Aegean. How do you assess this proposal?
MR. BURNS: I didn't read the proposal.
Q But there was an article yesterday in the Post.
MR. BURNS: I don't always read completely the Op-Ed pages, and I didn't read that particular proposal.
Q You mentioned that Secretary Christopher had been polling around, explaining the Helms-Burton state of play. What sort of general response and reaction has he been getting from the other Foreign Ministers?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary has called Foreign Minister Primakov and Foreign Minister Gurria, Malcolm Rifkind, Herve de Charette, Klaus Kinkel, Foreign Minister Dini, Foreign Minister Matutes and I hope I'm not leaving anyone out. But he's been active, explaining the President's decision, asking for the cooperation of our European allies, of Canada and Mexico. He tried to reach Foreign Minister Axworthy who was in Bangkok and was not available to take the call.
We would like to work with them, and here's how we're going to do it. As you know, the President and Secretary will be appointing a special American envoy to travel in Europe and in North America to discuss ways that we can cooperate better on Cuba.
First and foremost, we need to get our European allies, Canada and Mexico, more involved in the effort to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba. This could include a couple of possible actions. We could agree over the next six months, for instance, to put additional pressure on Castro and his regime to respect human rights and to provide the Cuban people with more political and economic freedom. We could do it because we might decide to promote certain groups within Cuba that stand for human rights, human rights organizations, that promote a better measure of human rights compliance by the Cuban Government.
The United States Government has given, as you know, support to these groups and has given them a chance to work with us, and we believe that the European countries should take the initiative now to do the same thing.
We are funding private organizations that do have human rights concerns and human rights programs in Cuba. We'd also like to see our allies decide that they will withhold non-humanitarian assistance from Cuba until the Cuban Government engages in some meaningful improvement in the human rights and democratic reform area.
We'd like to see humanitarian assistance channeled through independent groups rather than the Castro regime. We hope to promote a system of business practices in Cuba similar to the Sullivan principles in South Africa. This would include respect for workers' rights to organize; to express themselves freely in the work place. It would include non-discretionary hiring practices. These are very important elements of democracy and human rights that currently do not exist in Cuba.
In essence, we'd like to see our European allies show the same concern for the human rights of the Cuban people that they show for the human rights of others around the world. We'd like to see our European allies, Canada and Mexico give the same energy to that effort as they have given to the effort of arguing publicly and privately against the Helms-Burton legislation.
There is now six-month opportunity for the Europeans, the Canadians and the Mexicans to begin to work with us. We know this problem fairly well. We've had to live next-door to this regime for 36 years. It is a communist dictatorship that has consistently and up until the last couple of days consistently violated the rights of its own citizens.
Just couple of months ago it ruthlessly put down the Concilio Cubano, an emerging human rights group within Cuba itself. So why shouldn't the European countries, in addition to arguing against the legislation, now join us in an effort to fight back and to try to support those people who simply want freedom -- economic and political freedom in Cuba?
That is the American plan. When we send our envoy around to the European capitals, these are some of the suggestions that he or she will be making, and these are already some of the suggestions that we're giving to them in our initial conversation.
Q What was the initial consensus of reaction that Secretary Christopher received?
MR. BURNS: The initial reaction I would say was constructive by most of his interlocutors. I think that they fully understand what the President has done. I think many of them are perhaps relieved that the ability of claimants to sue in U.S. courts will not go into effect for at least six months, and perhaps they also recognize this is an opportunity for us to lower the rhetoric, defuse some temperatures on both sides of the Atlantic -- the temperature of the problems between us -- and to work together, which is what the United States would like to do.
Q Nick, can you quantify in any way -- in these steps that you're asking the Europeans to take on humanitarian assistance or non- humanitarian assistance. Do you know how much they now funnel into Cuba?
MR. BURNS: The Europeans?
MR. BURNS: I do not. I don't have figures like that. I would maybe approach the European Union representative here in Washington who probably could give you some of those figures. I did see a very curious quote in the wires by a spokesman for the European Union saying, "Well, if the Americans appoint an envoy, it won't mean much. They'll just log a lot of frequent flier miles."
I hope that kind of cynical knee-jerk response on the wires is not indicative of senior-level officials in the European governments. We would hope that now that we've made a good-faith effort to try to engage them on this issue that they would take up that offer and work with us responsibly and in a non-cynical way on this issue.
Q Did I hear you say two minutes ago that the U.S. is supporting human rights groups in Cuba?
MR. BURNS: We're supporting organizations like Freedom House that support the issue of human rights in Cuba, including with financial grants, as you know, and the White House pointed that out yesterday.
Q This envoy -- do you already have a name or --
MR. BURNS: We don't, no. When we have a person that the President and the Secretary of State agree to, then we'll announce it. We don't have that yet.
Q What's in the bargain for Europeans if they cooperate more in this field with the U.S.? Is there something you're offering in return for a softening of the Helms-Burton effect or --
MR. BURNS: It's the right thing to do. If they're so interested in Cuba, if they really want to see human rights return to Cuba and political and economic freedom take root there, then they ought to work with us. We have very serious concerns in this country that will not disappear and there's a bipartisan consensus to implement Helms-Burton, and Helms-Burton is being put into effect.
If the European governments want to work with us, they've got to meet us half way, and beyond the speeches and beyond the cynical comments from some of the spokesmen, we need to see a better measure of cooperation.
Q Yes, Nick. The question is, how does our government view the threat of smuggling of terroristic weapons and the operation of terroristic groups through Colombia, through Mexico, in that these governments -- Colombia is on the payroll of the Cali cartel; the Mexican Government is much reduced -- their law enforcement is much reduced in its effectiveness. Does this smuggling and the success of the cartel --
MR. BURNS: We're against it.
MR. BURNS: We're against it.
Q But does this increase the threat of terrorists using those nations to operate against the U.S.?
MR. BURNS: We're against it, Bill. (Laughter) We don't favor it, and we're going to continue to fight it.
Q Nick, was the Secretary being polite to the Romanian guest standing beside him when he talked about early consideration for Romania, or was Romania really considered to be in the first rank of countries?
MR. BURNS: We've never identified any group of countries that is in the first or second or third rung. Romania was the earliest participant in the Partnership for Peace, a very active one, and will remain a very important part of that effort and will certainly be considered for NATO membership when NATO decides that it will expand its membership.
(The briefing concluded at 2:09 p.m.)
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