U.S. Department of State 96/07/24 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, July 24, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Release of Foreign Relations Volume on Intelligence ........ 1-2 Statement on Assistance to Bosnian Voters Resident in U.S. .. 2 Statement on Removal of Countries from ITAR Proscribed List . 2 BURUNDI President Ntibantunganya at Amb's Residence/Future Plans .... 3, 5-6 Extra-Constitutional Government ............................. 3 Amb Wolpe to Return to Central Africa ....................... 4 Coup Plotting by Tutsi-Dominated Army/Coup Underway ......... 4 Official and Private Americans/Evacuation of Dependents ..... 5 Continuation of Official American Presence .................. 5 UN Peacekeeping Force Contingency Plan/Force Deployment/ U.S. Particiation/Intervention Timetable .................. 6-11 Forcible Repatriation of Rwandan Refugees ................... 7-8 Diplomatic Solution ......................................... 9 BANGLADESH Stabilization of Democracy/U.S. Relations ................... 12-13 RUSSIA Situation in Chechnya/Raised by Vice President Gore/ Agressive Diplomatic Role by U.S./Condemnation by EU and EC 13-14 IMF Delay in Loan Installment ............................... 14 IRAN/LIBYA Passage of Oil Sanctions (D'Amato) Bill/EU Action Against U.S./ Extraterritorial Claims/WTO Implications/Other Countries on Terrorism List ......................................... 14-18 SOUTH AFRICA Vice President Gore Meeting with Deputy President/Friendship with Libya and Iran ....................................... 16-17 TERRORISM Airline Terrorism/Pan Am 103/TWA 800 Investigation/Striking U.S. Businesses Abroad .................................... 18-19 COLOMBIA Visit to Washington of Foreign Minister/Mtgs with Officials/ Improvement of Bilateral Relations/Extradition Discussions. 19-20 LATIN AMERICA Review of Arms Ban Policy .................................... 20 CHILE Amb Guerra-Mondragon re Arms Ban/Civilian Control of Military 20-21 IRAQ Prevention of Facility Inspection by UN Inspectors Team/ UNSC Resolution 986 ....................................... 21 UN Spokeswoman Sylvana Foa Reaction to Jamie Rubin's Allegations Against Boutros Ghali's Improper Use of Staff ............. 21-23 DEPARTMENT Civil Service Participation in Political Campaigns .......... 22 CUBA Refugees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base/Access to Base ........ 23-24 CHINA Secretary Christopher Traveling to Beijing in November/Defense Minister to Visit U.S. in Fall/Davis, Holum, Einhorn Visits 24-25 Trade, Economic, Science-Technology Commissions Established . 25 NORTH KOREA Meeting with U.S. Official in New York/Four-Way Party Proposal 24-25 MEXICO Effectiveness of Drug Enforcement .......................... 25-26
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 1996, 1:04 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I apologize for being late but we are tracking the situation in Burundi and it took some time to establish exactly what the facts are. We'll be going into that in just a minute.
Let me begin by welcoming some visitors from the USIA International Visitor Program.
We have Mr. Dans Bertulis from Latvia who, I believe, is here?
MR. BURNS: No, no. I'm getting to the Ukrainians. I'm sorry. We have a couple of different nationalities. We have Mr. Bertulis who is the Finance Director of the Latvian State Television in Riga.
We have, with the aid of the African-American Institute, Ms. Marie- Roger Biloa from Cameroon, who is seated right here. Welcome to you.
And we have, under USIA's Freedom Support Project, six Ukrainian Information Service officials. So, welcome to all of you. Very glad to have you with us.
By way of announcements, I want to let you know this afternoon over at the National Archives there is going to be a public ceremony that will commemorate the fact that the CIA and the State Department have been working together since the late l940s on freedom of information and on a volume of the Foreign Relations series that we publish here at the Department of State about the emergence of the intelligence community in the second half of this century as part of our national security apparatus.
The Department of State is going to be represented by Under Secretary of State Richard Moose and by the Historian of the Department of State William Slany. And as you know, both the State Department and the CIA have been working together to try to bring greater openness to the issue of the intelligence history of the United States Government. And we are actually now expediting the number of documents that we are making available publicly on this issue as part of the history of the Foreign Relations of the United States Act. And this is a 2:00 p.m. ceremony over at the National Archives.
I have a statement available to all of you. It will be ready after the briefing today concerning Bosnia, and this deals with assistance to Bosnian citizens who are in the United States and who wish to vote in the elections on September l4th. It's a very long statement. I won't read it to you except to say that the United States Government is giving a $460,000 grant to the League of Women Voters and that this is an effort to get out the vote among the Bosnian citizens who are living here.
There are approximately 20,000 Bosnian citizens who are in the United States. Those who will not be returning to Bosnia for the elections have a right to vote by absentee ballot, and the United States Government has given this grant to the League of Women Voters to try to organize these people, try to let them know what their rights are under the elections being sponsored by the international community under the Dayton Accords, and to make sure that everyone who wants to vote from the United States is able to vote. And that will be available to you in the Press Room.
Finally, another statement. We are removing today, the Department of State is ending, restrictions on defense trade with a number of countries from the former Soviet Union, including Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
They are specifically being removed from the ITAR list which, as you know, is the International Traffic in Arms Regulations list. Russia has already been removed and we are now working with Ukraine to see if we can remove Ukraine very shortly from this list.
This will now make it possible for the United States Government but also private firms in this country to contract with these countries, these various countries, for sales of certain defense items.
Now, let me just give you my appreciation of the situation in Bujumbura today at this hour which is quite complicated and quite chaotic and then, George, I'll be glad to go into questions on these and other matters.
I just came from a meeting up on the seventh floor of the Department that was chaired by Under Secretary of State Tim Wirth. The meeting included Howard Wolpe, who is the President and Secretary of State's special negotiator, special emissary for the countries involved, Burundi and Rwanda; also Dick Bogosian, who is our special negotiator on this issue.
Needless to say, the situation there is quite dramatic, quite complicated. President Ntibantunganya last night spent the evening and is still at the American Ambassador's residence, Ambassador Hughes' residence.
He was there following the events of yesterday when he attempted to go to the town of Gitega in Burundi to the funeral and memorial service for the 300 women and children who were massacred on July 20th. When he was at that service he was stoned. There was quite a great deal of opposition to his presence there. He had to be taken away from the situation by the army, by helicopter.
He returned to Bujumbura, the capital, and he made contact with our Ambassador, Ambassador Rusty Hughes, and by mutual agreement he spent the evening at the Ambassador's residence. He is still in the residence at this hour. I would expect that he would depart the residence quite shortly.
I am not aware, and we here in Washington are not aware, of his future plans, whether he intends to continue as President or whether he will not. That is a decision that he, of course, must make, and we will respect the decisions that he does make in this matter.
Our interests however are quite clear. The United States believes very strongly that the situation in Bujumbura should remain calm and peaceful; that any differences between officials in Bujumbura should be worked out in a stable, careful, calm and peaceful manner.
Yesterday the United States Government made very clear that we would not take kindly at all and would work to isolate any government that emerged in Bujumbura by extra-constitutional means. That statement stands and that message has been delivered to the leading officials of the Burundian Government this morning, an overnight message from Washington.
The United States also believes very strongly that all groups in Burundi need to take much more decisive action to avoid forever the kinds of massacres that we have seen on July 3rd at Teza and on July 20th at Gitega.
The international community has reacted with horror and with outrage to these massacres and we have also sent messages to the government and to others involved that these actions must stop.
We are monitoring the situation there very closely because of our very great humanitarian interest in what happens to the people of that country.
Our Ambassador, of course, is directly in touch with the President, who is currently staying with him. I think -- I know that Ambassador Wolpe will be returning to Central Africa at the end of this week for another round of U.S. diplomacy.
We have been involved for many months in an effort to try to help the various parties in Burundi and Rwanda sort out their problems, help the international community play a strong and constructive role in trying to diminish the problems there, and we'll continue those efforts through Ambassador Wolpe's trips.
Q Do you know of any coup-plotting being done by the Tutsi- dominated military against this Hutu President?
MR. BURNS: George, as I said, it is a fairly chaotic situation there, and we're not exactly sure what the intentions are of the current President. He has had a number of conversations with other members of the government and with the military, and I think, George, the best thing for us to do is to wait and see what unfolds in the hours and days ahead. But I did want to be very clear about the interests of the United States and about the very strong belief of the United States that constitutional procedures should be followed.
Q Nick, so you are not prepared to confirm various reports that a coup is currently underway.
MR. BURNS: No, I don't think it's possible to say that, based on our own understanding of the situation. Based on first-hand reports from our ambassador and based on other information available to us, it is unclear if that is what is happening at the current hour.
What we do know is that, as I said before, there is an unstable situation. There was an attack upon the President yesterday, which we deplore, at the city of Gitega, and we hope that the situation can return to normal as quickly as possible.
There are 80 American citizens in Bujumbura, the capital; l9 are official Americans associated, affiliated with our Embassy; and 6l are private Americans mainly working for missionary organizations and relief organizations, non-governmental organizations.
We have checked with all these people. They are safe and we are not aware of any kind of problem with Americans or any kind of threat to Americans. This is very much a problem the Burundians have to sort out themselves. We are there, as you know, to try to work with others in the international community to put an end to the massacres and to work on a humanitarian basis to stabilize the situation as best we can.
Q No plan to evacuate dependents or anything like that?
MR. BURNS: We have already had an authorized departure in effect for quite some time. This is a post where most of our officers have not brought their spouses or their children or other dependents, so we don't have the problem that we would have in other countries. Given the general instability in Burundi, of course that has been ongoing for quite some time. We have already taken the measure of authorized departure quite some time ago.
Q But the official presence will continue?
MR. BURNS: The official presence will continue. We have no plans to draw down the number of our diplomats in Burundi. In fact, they're carrying out very important work there, and they'll stay at full strength.
Q Nick, you say that you expect the President to leave the Ambassador's residence shortly. Is that his intention, or are you urging him to leave?
MR. BURNS: No, it's very much his intention. Let me just be very clear about this, Patrick. It's a good question. When the President returned to Bujumbura yesterday, there was a conversation between the President and Ambassador Hughes, and there was a mutual agreement between them that he ought to come to the Ambassador's residence for the evening, given what had happened during the day and given the general instability in the capital.
We are not urging him to leave the residence. We understand he intends to leave. That's his own choice out of his own free will.
What is unclear to us, however, is what will happen -- what specifically he intends to do. We'll just have to wait to see what decisions he makes.
Q Why is it unclear what he intends to do? Is there some -- I'm assuming these conversations with the Ambassador have been fairly extensive. Is he indicating that he might flee the country? Is he indicating he might stay? Can you explain that?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I'm just not at liberty to say. I think there isn't perfect clarity in our own minds about his future intentions.
Q You've made reference in the past couple of days to a U.N. contingency plan that has been in the works that the U.S. has been participating in, in the event of a crisis in the region. Do you have any details about that? What would the situation have to be for this plan to take effect, and any details --
MR. BURNS: Obviously, what the international community has in mind here -- specifically, the United Nations under the leadership of Secretary General Boutros-Ghali -- were the horrific events of April 1994 in another country in Central Africa, Rwanda.
And given the fact that there has been widespread violence, there have been these deplorable massacres of women and children, 380 of whom have been killed just in the last three weeks, we have been working with the United Nations -- "we," the United States -- to on a contingency basis try to plan for some kind of U.N. group that under certain situations would be deployed to Burundi to try to achieve stability and to protect the civilian population.
It will be up to the Secretary General and to the leading members of the United Nations and to the African states to make the determination about whether or not a force should be deployed. That decision has not been made.
What we have done is commit to the United Nations -- "we," the United States -- that we would be willing to contribute military assets -- some military assets -- to this contingency operation. We would not be willing to contribute American troops but we would be willing to contribute American airlift capacity. We would be willing to contribute logistical support and planning and communications assistance.
We already have American military assistance people in Tanzania. They also travel to other countries in Central Africa to help the African countries think through what it is that the African countries might do within the general rubric of the United Nations. That's an advisory capacity. Again, we are not committing to American troops. I think there's no prospect whatsoever of American troops participating. But there is the prospect of American logistical, communications and lift contributions.
So that's pretty much where it stands, Laura. You asked a good question: "What would be the trigger for the dispatch of such a group?" I think that remains to be seen, in a specific sense.
We would need to listen to the African countries involved, to the host government involved. If we ever saw something develop along the lines of April 1994, I'm sure we'd be very, very quick to react. That's an important trigger, I think that people have in mind.
I don't believe that today's situation necessarily amounts to that kind of justification that you would need to embark on an international effort. But it is very disquieting to see the events that are underway today, and we hope very much, as an outcome, that peace and stability would return to Burundi.
Q Why do you say the United States does not think that the events of today and most recent events require this kind of intervention?
MR. BURNS: At least so far as we can see down the road, Steve, because we think it is still within the capability of the Burundian authorities to return calm and stability to the capital and to the rest of the country -- number one, in a political sense.
Secondly, there has been some limited, recent progress just in the last 24 hours on the humanitarian front. After the remonstrations of the international community, including a direct appeal from Mrs. Ogata, who is the head of the U.N. Human Rights -- the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees -- and appeals from the United States Government, the Burundian and Rwandan authorities have ceased their forcible repatriation of the Rwandan refugees -- many thousands of them -- in Burundi itself.
As you know, Steve, I think now a total of 17,000 of these Rwandan Hutu refugees had been forced to return over the last four or five days to Rwanda from Burundi. Those forced repatriations have stopped. So we hope very much that the Rwandan and Burundian Governments will now do everything that they can and must to treat these people in a humane way.
We have sent Embassy officials, from our Embassy in Kigali, to the Rwandan-Burundian border to try to assess on a first-hand basis the status of these people who were driven across the border. Those Embassy officials and other international observers have not seen any kind of active physical mistreatment of these people. But the fact that they were forced to return, certainly is a violation of their human rights and it's a violation of the agreements that we and the international community had had with these two governments.
Q How many were driven across --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q How many were driven across the border?
MR. BURNS: We believe up to 17,000 individuals. Yesterday, the total I think that we put out, was 13,000; but I believe now the accurate total, given everything that's happened since yesterday, is 17,000.
We believe that more than 6,000 of the Rwandan Hutu refugees in the camps in Burundi itself fled to the hills rather than be forced across the border back into Rwanda.
The United States has believed for a very long time that those Rwandan Hutu refugees should return at some point to Rwanda but only by their own free will and never forcibly. When we saw the two governments, in essence, contribute to this offensive repatriation and forcible repatriation over the weekend, we made very forceful complaints to both governments, as did Mrs. Ogata.
Q Just one more question. Can you be more specific, please, as to what it would take for this intervention -- for the Security Council to actually decide to send in some intervention force? If you go back to the Rwanda massacre in '94, the massacres followed immediately the death of the two, Rwandan and Burundian Presidents. Now would it take the death of a president, a coup d'etat?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary General of the United Nations and the Security Council and other leading members have not established any specific criteria that would, in essence, trigger the dispatch of some kind of international force. We very much have to take this on a day- to-day basis considering what's happening there.
There has been a great deal of contingency planning done over the last three months, so I think that the United Nations has done what it should do, which is to plan a contingency operation. Obviously, the U.N. Secretary General can't order a dispatch of a group without consultations with the major foreign governments involved, including the African governments.
I think what we would like to see happen is a return by the parties here in Burundi to the Arusha peace process. The African countries -- Tanzania and Kenya and some of the other neighboring states -- have done a very fine job at trying to set out a diplomatic initiative to resolve the problems.
The United States, through the dispatch of Tony Lake over the last three months -- Tony Lake, Howard Wolpe, Richard Bogosian, and George Moose -- repeated diplomatic missions -- repeated trips up to the United Nations -- has tried to play an integrative role in this effort to try to make sure that we're ready if something happens. But that's a decision that only the United Nations can make.
Q Is it fair to say the United States still has faith in a diplomatic solution, then, at this stage?
MR. BURNS: We believe that if the political actors involved in Burundi would commit themselves to the Arusha peace negotiations, the peace process, that would be a very fruitful way for them to proceed and a way for them to resolve some of the problems that clearly exist in Burundi itself. That is our present diplomatic advice to the President and the Prime Minister and the other authorities in Burundi itself.
Q Is a U.N. peacekeeping group poised to move in on short notice if conditions deteriorate?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if by "short notice" you mean, you know, a day or two. I think that, if necessary, obviously the international community could react very quickly and rapidly to this. But, obviously, operations of any kind of size that you would think would be necessary for a situation like this would take some time to implement.
Q Nick, a half a million Rwandans died in the space of six weeks in the spring of '94.
MR. BURNS: And we're mindful of that. As you know, back then the United States Government did what we had to do and could do with other countries in Europe and in Africa to try to respond to that situation. We're mindful of that. That's why many months ago we began the contingency planning, to do the advance work in the United Nations, that was not done in the winter and spring of 1994. We've tried to learn from some recent history here.
Q Is it peacekeeping or peacemaking? Chapter VI or Chapter VII?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe any firm decisions have been made. I think it would probably be Chapter VI rather than anything else, but there haven't been any firm decisions made at the United Nations.
Q Why should anybody have any confidence that it would work? I mean, what is there in this planning that should indicate that in fact this force -- whatever the force is, if you could describe it more closely, I'd be grateful -- would actually bring stability there?
MR. BURNS: I think we've seen that when the international community acts with resolution and in a unified way -- and there are many examples of this -- the international community can be effective. Once a substantial number of troops and people were deployed to Rwanda in the spring of 1994, that did have -- did have --a constructive effect on the situation.
Certainly, the example of last summer in Bosnia, Roy, should give you an indication of what we can do if we are united. But I can't be more specific, because the United States is not in charge of any future operation. We will not be contributing our troops. This will have to be an international effort under the authority of the United Nations.
Q But what Bosnia seemed to show is that when the United States does take charge and takes the lead, that it is possible to stabilize the situation. In this case, though, you've ruled out, it seems categorically, any use of U.S. forces, and I don't quite understand how you can be confident, therefore, of having a stable result.
MR. BURNW: Because there are others in the international community who can also act effectively. There are European governments. There are Africa governments, which have acted responsibly over the last couple of weeks and couple of months to try to move this situation back from conflict and towards peace.
We will rely -- I think we in the international community -- on a combination of African and European governments here to take the lead. If it is necessary to deploy any kind of force, the United States will have to limit itself to a support role, but a very important support role.
Roy, I think that the dispatch of American troops is a very serious matter that only the President can decide, and the decision has been made in this case that we will not be supplying American troops. That doesn't mean the operation cannot be successful if it is undertaken.
Q When you say we will rely on a combination of African and European governments to take the lead role, I mean, that doesn't -- who's the lead?
MR. BURNS: The United Nations.
Q Exactly. Who's the lead? I mean, the United Nations doesn't take a lead.
MR. BURNS: Roy, you're asking questions that I can't possibly answer, and you know that. The United Nations is in charge of the contingency operation. I've said that about eight times now. The United States is working on a contingency basis to assist in the planning.
Other governments in Europe and in Africa are centrally involved in this. Just because we haven't given you a blueprint for a future contingency operation doesn't mean that we haven't done serious planning here and doesn't mean that we haven't given it a lot of our attention. I think that your government has done a very good job of trying to help the African countries and the United Nations think through this, think about what the military requirements would be and also think about what the humanitarian principles and interests are here.
We've done an excellent job of doing that, and I think the American people can be proud of what we have done. We're calling today for calm and for peace and stability.
Q Nick, do you know if there are consultations today at the U.N., though? I mean, has it been initiated by the United States or any African government that there actually be some consideration right now of whether or not this contingency --
MR. BURNS: I don't know if there are any formal meetings underway right now. It wouldn't surprise me a bit, because I know there were meetings yesterday, and there has been a great deal of discussion about this.
Q Mr. Arshad.
MR. BURNS: Thank you, Nick, this is Arshad of the Inquilab, turning on to Bangladesh. A couple of quick observations. Democracy now being safe and secure, a resonance of political reconciliation and understanding is being generated through the good will of the Prime Minister, reciprocated by the leader of the opposition, former Prime Minister Khaled Wazir. During this period --
MR. BURNS: Is this a commentary or is there a question, Mr. Arshad?
Q Just some observations before I ask you the question.
MR. BURNS: Oh, some observation. Okay.
Q And before this -- during this period of crisis the United States played a tremendous role in stabilizing democracy in Bangladesh, supporting the cause through its fine Ambassador, Ambassador Merrill.
The fact of the matter is that Congressman Bill Richardson announced a bipartisan caucus in the Senate and the House, which is also a great determination exposed by Bangladesh to us by the United States. Lastly, U.S.-Bangladesh Economic Council has been almost on its way, generated by friends of Bangladesh -- by the United States, especially it has been encouraged by former Congressman Stephen Solarz and former Senator Durenberger of Minnesota.
Nick, on this backdrop, what is --
MR. BURNS: You're into the question.
Q This is the question.
MR. BURNS: Okay, thank you.
Q On this backdrop, what is your comment when democracy has been stabilized and since the role of the United States has been acclaimed in the Congress by the people of Bangladesh. What is your take on that, and how do you foresee that the relation of the United States would be coming forth in the days to come?
MR. BURNS: We will continue to try to be a good friend to Bangladesh and the people there. We have begun a new relationship with a new government. There has been a return, I think, of order and calm to Dhaka and to the rest of the country, and we hope very much that the government will proceed to, in essence, bring greater stability and peace to the country. We do have an Embassy and fine Ambassador there. We'll continue to represent American interests there.
Q Nick, do you have anything to say about the situation in Chechnya, which has again reverted to the state of fighting that existed before the elections drew near in Russia?
MR. BURNS: This is an issue that the Vice President raised during his trip to Russia last week. We would suggest that Russia and the Chechens go back to the June 10 agreement, which was a very hopeful agreement, and go back to the negotiating table. That has been our advice since December 1994, and we have been dismayed to see a return to fighting by both sides and dismayed to see the continued indiscriminate use of military force against civilians.
Q There have been some congressional suggestions that the United States take a more aggressive diplomatic role or some sort of mediation effort. Any consideration being given to that?
MR. BURNS: This is an internal conflict. Chechnya is part of Russia. It is up to Russia and the Chechens to try to figure out a peaceful end. The United States has supported the OSCE, which does have a mission there and has from time to time taken on a mediating role. Neither the Chechens nor the Russians have asked for the United States Government to play a mediating role. Without the two, we would not be successful in any attempts, so we're not going to try one.
Q The international community has come out with strongly worded condemnations, more than we hear from this podium, notably today the European Union and European Council --
MR. BURNS: I find that very hard to believe. The United States took the lead in December -- with all due respect to the question -- I know you're just relaying an observation. The United States took the lead in December 1994 in criticizing the Russian military action there.
I'm not aware of any government -- and I'd like to do -- I mean, you're free to do a Lexus on this -- search -- any government that has spoken out more consistently and more forcefully about the need for a negotiated change and a negotiated solution than the United States Government.
I would direct you to the public statement that we issued two weeks ago tomorrow on this issue. So we don't take a back seat to anyone in our concerns for the situation.
Q Let me ask -- some of this -- about a year ago it was stated here that the United States would stop supporting Russia's request for loans and credit from international institutions unless there were some progress on the Chechnya issue. Nothing much happened. However, this week we've seen the International Monetary Fund delay for stated economic reasons the next installment of its loan to Russia. Is there any room here for some political or diplomatic substance to the statements that were made to the position that was taken here previously?
MR. BURNS: I just don't recall those statements at all. I understand that the IMF action was taken for purely economic reasons, having to do with the IMF's $9 billion credit arrangement with Russia; that the Russian Government is now taking the IMF concerns seriously, and I would expect the IMF and Russia to work out a resolution of this temporary freeze on the IMF credit transmissions to Russia itself.
Q What can you tell us about the Administration's position concerning the Iran/Libya sanctions deal which passed the House yesterday?
MR. BURNS: As you know, the President has said before that he will sign this legislation. Now that there is a bill that has been passed by both Houses of Congress, I would expect the President to sign the bill. Once he signs it, this bill will become United States law. It will be the obligation of those of us in the Executive Branch of the government to implement it.
There's very good reason to take this action. There is bipartisan frustration in the United States Congress, and the Clinton Administration agrees with this, with the continued perfidious lack of action by the Libyan Government on apprehending and turning over to the United States for prosecution the two Libyan citizens who placed a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988, and killed over 260 Americans.
The Libyan Government has an obligation to turn those people over for prosecution in the United States. There is a bounty out for those two individuals. The State Department has offered several million dollars for information that would lead to the arrest and apprehension of those two people. The fact that Libya is stiffing the international community and the United States and the families of all these people who died, I think indicates that we need to take stronger action against Libya. The way to do that is to discourage foreign investment in certain sectors of the Libyan economy.
Iran is another problem. Iran is a country that has consistently financed attacks upon the United States, upon Israel, upon other countries in the Middle East and has consistently opposed the Middle East peace negotiations. It is time that the international community took tougher action against Iran. You know we've had a long running discussion about that with European governments, and this bill that the President will sign will do just that.
We think there's ample reason for the President to sign it and for the United States Government to implement it. We hope it leads to increased pressure on both Iran and Libya for their many sins against the international community.
Q Nick, the European Union has suggested taking more forceful action against the United States as a result of this bill --
MR. BURNS: They've got it all wrong.
Q -- not against Iran or Libya.
MR. BURNS: They've got it all wrong. The European Union and other governments around the world ought to look to the source of terrorism. The source of terrorism around the world, the leading source, is Iran. A major secondary source is Libya. The United States is one of the leading countries fighting terrorism, and sooner or later -- I think the United States has found this out through bitter experience and through long experience -- sometimes governments have to do unpopular things.
Sometimes governments have to actually be tough rather than talk tough, and it's a very good lesson, I think, for some of the European governments which are criticizing this, to learn.
Q So how tough or how inclusive does the State Department think the implementation should be, especially in the case of Libya? Is it going to be including the trade as well as investment?
MR. BURNS: As you know, in the case of Libya the bill is slightly different, because the bill talks about the fact that there will be a threshold of foreign investment beyond which sanctions would be triggered.
Also, if companies violate the existing U.N. sanctions, then they would fall under the purview of this legislation.
In the case of Iran, of course, as you know, the threshold is a $40 million investment. There are six prescribed sanctions in this bill, and the President would choose two of the six for implementation.
Q I have a question on Iraq. What does the United States --
MR. BURNS: I think we have a follow up on this legislation; then we'll go to Iraq.
Q I was just wondering, what are the extraterritorial claims made in this bill, and how will you address the WTO implications?
MR. BURNS: I think we've already seen in the press that some of the European Governments and others around the world are saying -- are accusing this bill of actually exceeding some international agreements to which the United States is party.
We don't share that point of view. What we will do is sit down with those who make that charge and take them through the bill as it has emerged from the House and the Senate, and I hope we'll be able to convince them that there's no cause for concern there.
I do expect this to be an issue, because they've already raised it in public, and we are ready for this discussion with them. I think the broader point here, Roy, is that critical dialogue and diplomatic discussions with terrorist states sometimes aren't effective, and we haven't seen any benefits from the critical dialogue with Iran.
We agree with the Congress -- Democrats and Republics in the Congress -- that it's time to take tougher action. We're ready to do this. The President's ready to sign the bill.
Q The Deputy President of South Africa has been here for the last couple of days, and he's been meeting with Vice President Gore. As I understand it, the issue of South Africa's close friendship with Libya and to a lesser extent its friendship with Iran did not come up during these talks, even though there was ample opportunity to raise it.
If you don't have an answer written down, could you take the question?
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to take the question. Thank you, George.
Do you have a follow-up? Yes.
Q I do. There are seven countries on State Department's list of state sponsors of international terrorism. Why does the Administration single out Iran and Libya and leave the other five out, including Syria?
MR. BURNS: I think if you look at the source of this particular legislation, I think there is a special reason to try to single out Iran and Libya. Iran because of its lead role in supporting terrorist groups in the Middle East and in actively working against the Middle East peace negotiations.
Libya strikes very close to home here in the United States. There is a consensus in the Congress and the Administration and among many Americans that Libya's failure -- its abject and complete failure to accept its responsibility for the bombing of an American airliner that killed over 260 people is something that cannot be ignored. It can no longer be ignored by the American people.
If you ask Victoria Cummock, who is the President of the Pan Am 103 Families Association -- ask her about this bill. She testified on the Hill in support of it. Ask Hans Ephraimson, the President of the KAL 007 Families Association. These are people who have lost family members because of terrorism, and I think that the look at the pattern of terrorism around the world, they look at the failure of the Libyan Government to do anything about this. They are harboring the two people who we know put the bomb on the airplane.
They need to turn those people over to United States authorities for prosecution here in the United States. If they do that, then that will be a good first step forward. They've failed to do that for a number of years, and there is a reward out there for anyone who can help us secure these two people for trial in the United States. I think that's the crucial difference here.
The fact is that there is a very strong public reaction in the United States to these two terrorist countries. We do have concerns about the others on the State Department's terrorist list, and we have taken action against the others. But you don't always take the same action against all countries. You try to figure out ways to expand your leverage and pressure on certain countries to achieve what you want.
What we want from Libya is justice. Justice is the two guys who killed the Americans turned over to the United States to be put on trial here.
Q Could I follow, please. You put KAL in the same category as --
MR. BURNS: I put it in here for one reason. That is an issue that has been dealt with by the Soviet Government in 1990 and 1991 and subsequently on a very cooperative basis by the Russian Government. I just meant to illustrate the emotional impact on families who have lost individuals through terrorism. The KAL Families Association has played a leading role in bringing to public light some of these issues of air safety and of terrorism and what all of us around the world need to do to fight terrorism. And they've worked with the Pan Am 103 Families Association on these issues, and they've testified on the Hill in support of those issues.
But the direct family members involved here are the Pan Am 103 family members.
Q And speaking to that issue, if I could, Nick, the Pan Am 103 bomb killed 270 passengers on Pan Am -- killed a number of our officials that were on that plane.
MR. BURNS: They killed three American officials whose names are on the plaque downstairs at C Street, that's right.
Q And it put Pan Am out of business. Now, do you see any parallel -- possible parallel between what was done to Pan Am and what was done to TWA as an attempt to strike out at an American --
MR. BURNS: Bill, there's no way I can answer that question, because the FBI has not determined what caused the crash of TWA Flight 800. I'm not linking the two. I'm not drawing any comparisons. We don't know what caused the crash of TWA Flight 800. We know what caused the explosion on board Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie. It was a bomb placed on board by Libyans, and the Libyan Government knows who these people are and is protecting them, and, therefore, it's time we got tougher with Libya, and that's what this bill does.
Q But couldn't this strike against TWA 800 be a strike at the airlines and a strike at the U.S. business interests abroad?
MR. BURNS: Bill, we just don't know. We don't know what caused the crash, and the FBI and the NTSB are working hard on that.
Q Nick, Colombia. The Colombian Foreign Minister is in Washington for an official visit. What is the U.S. Government expectation about this?
MR. BURNS: She's here for a visit to talk to Administration officials about how we might try to build better relations with Colombia. The central issue is narcotics. That will be the central issue that she faces in all of her discussions here. It will be raised in every one of her meetings.
We'd like to see a much greater effort by the Colombian Government, from President Samper on down, to the fight against the narco- traffickers. She'll be seeing in 45 minutes Assistant Secretary Bob Gelbard, who is the senior official in this building dealing with counter-narcotics.
She'll see John Shattuck. She'll see Jeff Davidow, our Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. She'll see officials at the National Security Council, and she'll see General McCaffrey.
So she's going to receive a very clear message. We need to work together. We need to continue that. We need to see a much greater commitment from your government on this issue.
Q Is it possible to improve relationship between both countries? The question is how?
MR. BURNS: How? It's easy. The way forward is very clear. If the Colombian Government wants better relations, arrest more drug traffickers. Throw the book at the narco-traffickers. Don't give them three years like Ochoa got. Give them much longer and harder sentences. Don't have them live in country club prisons. Make the Colombian Government's fight against the narco-traffickers more serious, more effective and tougher. That's how.
If the Colombian Government would do that and cooperate with us in a much stronger way, then I think the Colombian Government will see that our relationship will improve.
If it does not, we'll continue to have a variety of options at our disposal to make it clear to the Colombian Government that there will be a price to be paid for inaction on this issue.
Q Does this include extradition?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q It includes extradition?
MR. BURNS: I didn't -- extradition? Are you asking, are we going to raise the issue of extradition this week?
Q You say the conversation includes the extradition issue?
MR. BURNS: Yes, the extradition issue, I'm sure, will be a part of some these conversations. Yes.
Q On Latin America: The State Department is reviewing the arms ban for Latin America. Are you taking into account how subordinated is the military to the civilian authorities to grant this lifting? And if you can also specify in the case of Chile, because this lack of full control over the armed force has been mentioned by U.S. authorities as a problem?
MR. BURNS: I'm glad you asked that. There was a question yesterday about the statements of our Ambassador, Ambassador Guerra- Mondragon, in Santiago. The Embassy in Santiago -- our Embassy -- has issued a statement that explains the unfortunate circumstance that his quotes were misunderstood and taken out of context on this issue.
I can give you this press release from our Embassy. We obviously stand by what the Ambassador said. He was misunderstood. We stand by him personally. He's a very effective Ambassador.
The United States Government is reviewing this policy. This policy has served us well. It's been the right policy for a great number of years.
One of the factors that is crucial to ascertaining whether or not the policy should be adjusted is the question of civilian/military relations within a democratic government, and the accountability that clearly should exist in a democracy by the military to a higher civilian authority.
That relationship exists in most countries in our hemisphere. Civilians are clearly in charge of military affairs in most Latin countries, but not all. We are looking at that question quite closely.
Q So do you have any concerns for Chile having enough control over the armed forces? Any concerns?
MR. BURNS: I would just refer you to our 1995 human rights reports that states that Chile is a multi-party democracy in which the armed forces are constitutionally subordinate to the President through an appointed Minister of Defense. That's what our human rights report says.
Obviously, we're looking at that question, in the case of Chile and other countries, because it's a relevant question as we undertake this review.
Q On Iraq. I have actually two questions. One is on Iraq. I wasn't here yesterday. I know there has been a reaction to what -- Iraq has been preventing the U.N. inspectors to visit some facilities. Does the U.S. intend to take any measures or any action regarding that?
My other question has actually got to do with Boutros Ghali and today's Sylvana Foa's reaction to Jamie Rubin's allegations that Boutros Ghali is ordering his staff to campaign for him?
MR. BURNS: Okay. On the first question, I spoke to it yesterday. The short answer is, Saddam Hussein is about 300 feet down in a ditch and he's still digging. He's dug a big hole for himself. He's refusing to cooperate with the U.N. Special Commission led by Ambassador Ekeus.
The United States will do the following. We will stand in the way -- we'll stand in the door and block any attempt by anybody in the Security Council to argue that sanctions should be lifted on Iraq. Iraq's behavior is reprehensible; clearly against the will of the United Nations and the international community. Therefore, it will be a long, long time before Iraq gets sanctions relief.
Q (Inaudible) taking back 986, or is that not possible, or is that not --
MR. BURNS: 986 was actually suggested by the United States and Great Britain -- United Kingdom -- and other countries to help innocent Iraqis who are being victimized by Saddam Hussein. We'd like to see it go forward because we think it will help the victims of Saddam Hussein and he won't profit from it.
On your second question. I regret very much the intemperate and unhelpful language of the U.N. Spokeswomen. The United States is a leading member of the United Nations. We are the founder, we are the host, and we're one of the permanent members of the Security Council.
We have a right to expect that proper procedures will be followed by U.N. employees during the next several months as we undergo the selection of a new Secretary General. We have a right, especially considering we contribute one out of every four dollars that pays the salaries of these people and that funds U.N. operations.
Let me just draw a parallel between our government, our laws, and our election. The American people have a right that a career civil servant of this government -- someone like myself -- not work in a political campaign. I'm not going to be working for the Clinton campaign or the Dole campaign. It's against the law. It is clearly against the guidelines of the United Nations for any U.N. employee to actively campaign on behalf of the current Secretary General in his bid to have a second term of office.
Jamie Rubin was only stating what is obvious, what is rational, and what is expected. For the U.N. Spokeswoman to argue that Jamie Rubin doesn't have a right to say that is clearly wrong. For her to allege this is some kind of McCarthyite attack on the United Nations is laughable. I would suggest she go back and read about the McCarthy period and read about what really happened back then.
It has nothing to do with our right in the United Nations to speak out on this issue.
Q Do you have anything on some Cubans turning up in Guantanamo?
Q Do you want to just spell out exactly what campaigning has been done on behalf --
MR. BURNS: If the U.N. Spokeswoman had taken the time to understand exactly what Jamie said in an informal conversation with reporters, she wouldn't have made this intemperate outburst. The fact is that Jamie didn't accuse any individual of anything. He just said, "We would expect in the intervening period, between now and the time that a new Secretary General is selected, that no U.N. employees will be asked or will volunteer to campaign on behalf of the current Secretary General." That would clearly be inconsistent with their status as international civil servants.
He was very clear. He didn't name any names. He didn't launch any unsubstantiated charges. He simply said what the United States should say in this situation.
Q So there really is no case known to you of somebody actually campaigning for Boutros Ghali?
MR. BURNS: I don't think he would have taken the opportunity to stop by a group of journalists and talk about it had we not had some general concerns which we will keep private and relay to the United Nations as appropriate.
Q Have you conveyed these to Sylvana Foa, who is, to my knowledge, a pretty effective and fact-oriented speech maker?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if we've conveyed privately to Sylvana Foa, but we'll convey them at the appropriate channels when it's necessary.
Q Have you done it already? Or is this waiting to be done?
MR. BURNS: I think we have made our point privately as well as publicly, yes.
Q In other words, when she was speaking, did she not have the allegations before her, the actual allegations?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I think she should not have made these allegations against the United States. I don't know what information she had or didn't have at the time.
Q Can you tell us what you know about Cubans showing up in Guantanamo?
MR. BURNS: There are six individuals who have taken refuge at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. We are currently talking to these individuals. The Cuban Government had charges pending against them for violations of Cuba's migration laws.
I think it's very important for us to remember that the May 2, 1995 Migration Accord between the United States and Cuba does not convey any immunity from prosecution for charges brought against those who attempt to immigrate to the United States.
However, the United States does not consider that the Cuban law on illegal entry and illegal exit is such a violation. In fact, we believe that when people are charged with violating that law, that is inconsistent with Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We think the Cuban Government is not justified in prosecuting people for illegal exit and illegal entry.
It appears to us, George, that at least some of the people who have come to Guantanamo Bay have in fact been harassed by the Cuban Government because of their prior attempts to flee Cuba. And that is not right and the Cuban Government should not follow that course of action.
So we have made a very strong diplomatic protest to the Cuban Government urging it to reread the May 2, l995 Migration Accord and to take no action against these individuals.
One of the individuals, Mr. Ramirez, has been imprisoned, we believe, by the Cuban authorities for attempting to flee, and so we are looking very carefully into this, into his case, and the other cases and we have insisted that the situation be resolved immediately, and we are not going to take any action in regard to these six migrants until we can be reassured by the Cuban Government that no action will be taken against them should they return to Cuba -- to leave the base and return to Cuban territory.
Q How did they get there?
MR. BURNS: I am not exactly clear. There are ways for people to, in essence, -- I think walk in is probably too delicate a term -- jump the fence is another way of describing it. I think that may have been the way that they got into the base this time.
MR. BURNS: Yes. Any last questions? I think we should go back here for a minute, Bill. Yes.
Q Nick, do you have anything on the Christopher/Qian meeting, and do you have anything to say on the Secretary's proposed visit to Beijing later this year?
MR. BURNS: Well, I think there is a -- we will soon be getting a finished transcript of the press conference that Secretary Christopher and Minister Qian gave that will answer some of your questions.
The major announcement made by Secretary Christopher is that he will be travelling to Beijing in November of this year. He will be going out with the President to the APEC summit in Manila, and during that trip he will travel to Beijing for meetings with the Chinese leadership.
We also expect the Chinese Defense Minister to visit the United States in late autumn. In addition to that, I would expect that Under Secretary Lynn Davis, Acting Director John Holum, and our Deputy Assistant Secretary Bob Einhorn, would each make individual visits to Beijing in the coming months to talk about the arms and export control issues that are at the forefront of our agenda.
We have also established three new commissions with the Chinese Government to try to accelerate our work with the Chinese on trade, commerce, economic issues and science and technology issues.
So they had a very good meeting, I understand, from one of the participants in the meeting. It was the fourteenth meeting that the Secretary of State has had with the Chinese Foreign Minister over the last three and a half years.
Q Do you expect the host of the exchanges to result in any bilateral agreements or communiques on issues like Taiwan or arms control?
MR. BURNS: We'll have to see what develops and transpires in the course of these various visits.
Yes, last question? One more on Asia?
Q A question on North Korea?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q According to the South Korean newspaper, the officials of the United States and North Korea met in New York yesterday and the North Koreans proposed they would accept joint briefing on the four-way talks by the United States and South Korea if the United States gives some more additional food and ease economic sanctions against North Korea.
MR. BURNS: Well, I can tell you the State Department diplomats did meet in New York yesterday with North Korean officials who are attached to the United Nations; that this is one of the regular series of meetings that we have had.
I wish I could tell you that there was this agreement. I am not in a position to say that. All I can tell you is that they did discuss the four-party proposal, and the United States continues to believe that North Korea should accept this proposal and begin discussions.
Q Nothing -- no -- ?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing to announce on that, no.
Q I have a question on the Rubin testimony yesterday about Mexican drug enforcement, if I could? While they were having that -- Mr. Rubin and Mr. Murkowski were having a debate over the effectiveness of enforcement, Nick, the former Attorney General in Mexico, Ricardo Corderro, was testifying also, and he said, I quote, "It's a joke for the people of Mexico and for the people of the United States who think Mexico is fighting drugs. The only thing they are fighting for is to make them disappear from the newspapers." End quote. He was cut off by Mr. Lozano, the now Attorney General, while he was making this speech.
Nick, I have asked this question to you a number of times. Is drug enforcement in Mexico really effective? Many in the Congress don't believe it.
MR. BURNS: I don't think that any of us in this hemisphere are satisfied with any of our efforts to fight -- fight the narco- traffickers -- including American efforts. We need to do much more. We need to be more effective in fighting the narco-traffickers. We will continue to work with the Zedillo government to improve the Mexican government's ability to fight the narco-traffickers.
As an international effort, Bill, though, it can't be just put on the shoulders of the Mexicans. They need the help of the United States Government. They need the help of the Colombians and others, and they need the help of all of us to decrease demand here for drugs in the United States.
(The briefing concluded at 2:02 p.m.)
To the top of this page