U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, July 29, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak Washington Visit ............1-2 -Mtg w/ Secretary Christopher, President Clinton ..........1 -Peace Process Momentum/Egyptian Role .....................1 -Gore-Mubarak Commission Meeting Tuesday, 7/30/96 .........1-2 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Specifics of Discussions with President Mubarak: ............2-5 -Land for Peace; Status of Talks; Bilateral Issues ........2 Arab Governments Open to Netanyahu Government ...............2 Israel PriMin Netanyahu Remarks on Settlement Expansion .....4 Syria-Israel Track of Peace Talks ...........................9 Readout From Dennis Ross Regional Travel ....................9 Reported Syrian Call for Boycott of Israel ..................9 EGYPT Scud Missile Transfer From North Korea ......................2-5 -MTCR, U.S. Sanctions Law Compliance/MTCR Signatories .....3-4 Terrorism Threat to Americans in Egypt/Travel Warning .......5-6 -Investigation of U.S. DIA Employee Stabbing in Cairo .....6 Reported Strains in U.S.-Egypt Bilateral Relationship .......6-8 UN Secretary General Not Discussed in Mubarak Meetings ......6 Egypt-Libya Bilateral Relations/Qadhafi .....................8 TERRORISM P-8 Ministerial Conference in Paris: Purpose, Goals ........5,11 SAUDI ARABIA SecDef Perry Travel Postponed/Bilateral Relations Good ......8-10,12-13 Threat to Americans in Saudi Arabia/Authorized Departure ....10-11 Payment for Cost of Potential U.S. Troop Relocation .........12 IRAQ Reported U.S. Involvement in Failed Coup Attempt ............9 OLYMPICS No Visa Request from Cuba President Fidel Castro ............13 Heads of State, Government Attending the Atlanta Games ......13 BURUNDI AID Funds to Buyoya Foundation in 1994-95/Use of Funds ......13-17 Situation in Bujumbura; President Ntibantunganya Status .....14-15, 17-18 U.S. Activities to Resolve Current Situation ................14-15 Amb. Howard Wolpe's Regional Travel, Attends Arusha Summit ..15 Safety of American Citizens, Assurances of Protection .......15 Suspension of U.S. Assistance to Burundi ....................16-17 HUNGARY Budapest Conference: U.S. Position on Ethnic Autonomy .......18-19 IRAN/IRAQ Alleged Iran Troop Incursion into Northern Iraq .............19-20 INDONESIA Human Rights: Govt Troops End Peaceful Assembly at PDI Hq ...20 Transfer of U.S. F-16s: Possible Abuse .....................20-21 U.S. Bilateral Relations/Areas of Discussion ................21 IRAQ Provide Comfort: Territorial Integrity/Threat to NGOs/PKK ...21-22 Dialogue Between Iraqi Kurdish Groups and Iraqi Government ..22 TURKEY Upcoming National Assembly Vote on Operation Provide Comfort22 TWA 800 CRASH Cause of Crash/State Department Role in Investigation .......22-24
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JULY 29, 1996, 1:08 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I just want to let you all know that Secretary Christopher has returned from his trip to Asia -- to Jakarta and Sydney. This morning, he met with President Mubarak of Egypt at Blair House. They had a one-hour meeting which Secretary Christopher characterized to me as excellent. It was preparation for President Mubarak's meeting with the President tomorrow.
They both agreed on the importance of maintaining the kind of diplomatic momentum in the region to maintain movement in the peace process, and they agreed that there have been some good steps taken in that direction just over the past couple of weeks when you think about the meetings that Prime Minister Netanyahu has had with his Arab counterparts.
The Secretary also believes that Egypt continues to have a very important role to play in the Middle East peace negotiations. It's a very timely meeting by President Mubarak here to have these meetings with the President because it comes on the heels, as I said, of some important meetings in the region and important meetings to come in the region.
In addition to peace process issues, they discussed a variety of bilateral issues between the United States and Egypt. The Secretary is going to be participating in the President's meeting tomorrow in the Oval Office.
In addition to that, the Vice President -- Vice President Gore -- and President Mubarak will meet tomorrow afternoon to continue their own exchanges in the Gore-Mubarak Commission to talk about economic and technological cooperation between the United States and Egypt. They will hold discussions with the Egyptian and American members of the President's Council, which is the private sector group that provides advice on strengthening our bilateral commercial ties with Egypt and promotes private sector development in Egypt.
The President's Council is part of the U.S.-Egypt partnership for economic cooperation and development, and this is the Gore-Mubarak Commission that was formed in 1994. So we do have a heavy emphasis on Egypt this week in Washington.
Q: Could you be more specific about the discussions? Did the words "land for peace" cross their lips in any way, shape, or form?
MR. BURNS: As always, I think I'll keep with our practice of not giving you a verbatim transcript, or rendition of their meetings this morning. The majority of time was spent on the peace process issues, the various negotiating tracks where both Egypt and the United States have a continuing interest to see if we can help to move those negotiations forward. There was some talk about the bilateral issues.
The Secretary is pleased, looking back on the events of the last month, to see happening, what we called for directly following the Israeli elections -- following the election of Prime Minister Netanyahu; and that is, that the Arab countries are keeping their doors open to the Israeli Government -- to the new Israeli Government.
There are very important diplomatic discussions underway concerning all of the tracks, and that's good to see. That's why it's timely to have President Mubarak here. Because in addition to the United States, there are few other countries, other than Egypt, that have done so much to support the peace negotiations over the last decade or so.
Q: The topic of Scud missile sales to Egypt from North Korea, can you say how that played into the conversation this morning?
MR. BURNS: This allegation that has been made that there have been such transfers, the allegation was raised both yesterday and today with the Egyptian delegation. There were some telephone conversations last night that members of our delegation had with theirs, and there were some meetings that were held yesterday in addition to the meeting this morning. So that issue has been raised over the last 24 hours.
I really can't take you beyond that, Sid. As you know, the United States has not made a determination that these allegations are such that they require the imposition of U.S. sanctions.
Q: You say there were three meetings about this topic since Sunday?
MR. BURNS: Discussions. I know there was a meeting yesterday between members of our delegation and members of the Egyptian delegation, basically, to set up the -- to discuss the meetings today and tomorrow, and there were some phone conversations.
Q: Has Davis got a meeting?
MR. BURNS: People at all levels. From the Secretary on down.
Q: Can you say, did it push the ball forward as far as you're concerned? Did it put the allegations to rest?
MR. BURNS: It continued the discussions we've already had. As you know, when Secretary Christopher was in Egypt over a month ago, in Cairo, he did raise this issue at that time with the Egyptian leadership. I can assure you it's been raised again.
But, I can't point to any movement on it because we continue to look into these allegations, but have made no determination that any U.S. action is required.
Q: You were there in Cairo when Foreign Minister Moussa answered a question, saying that we had the right -- basically, we had the right to arm ourselves any way we see fit as long as Israel has nuclear weapons. He repeated that on Friday at a news conference here. Was that sort of the flavor of what they're telling you?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to go into the nature of the discussions. I think you've heard the Egyptian point of view. I don't know if those are verbatim quotes or just characterizations of them.
The bottom line for us is this: When activity occurs, on proliferation, in any part of the world -- not just Egypt; in any part of the world -- does it violate the MTCR commitments - - the Missile Technology Control Regime commitments -- that any country has, number one, or any other aspect of international agreement?
And, secondly, does it violate U.S. sanctions law, which is very specific? We've been through this, of course, as you know, with China, with Pakistan, now with Egypt, North Korea. So there have been various allegations made in various parts of the world.
The obligation that we have here in Washington is to make sure that our own actions are commensurate with U.S. law. We always have that in mind, and we will follow U.S. law. If we believe that any kind of transfer is in violation of U.S. law or the MTCR commitments, then we will take action. But we've not made that determination in the case of Egypt.
Q: Has either Egypt or North Korea signed onto MTCR?
MR. BURNS: I can check for you in the case of North Korea. I believe Egypt has. I don't know about North Korea. I can check on that.
Q: Also, without direct reference to the talks this morning, have you seen the statements out of Jerusalem today that Prime Minister Netanyahu has assured a settler's group that the settlement process will be accelerated? There's an announcement of some new large roads, infrastructure, being added at this point.
One, did those come up in the meeting? Two, do you think they're helpful at this time?
MR. BURNS: We have just seen the press reporting this morning out of Jerusalem on that. We have not, as far as I know, been briefed on this by the Israeli Government. Until we are, we'll withhold comment.
Q: On the previous line of questioning about the missiles as to Egypt. You started by calling them "allegations." But it seemed to me you went beyond that by talking about the bottom line to the U.S.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I take it there's no question that there was some activity. The only question is whether it violates MTCR or U.S. law and deserves --
MR. BURNS: Right. That's exactly right. In fact, when I referred to "allegations," I meant the allegations in a Washington-based newspaper that these transfers were in violation of U.S. law.
Q: But the U.S. doesn't --
MR. BURNS: That's an allegation.
Q: But the U.S. doesn't question that there were transfers?
MR. BURNS: Egypt -- as Sid referred to, in the press conference in Cairo more than a month ago, I think the Egyptian Government made very clear that these transfers had taken place.
Q: Terrorism and Egypt.
MR. BURNS: You want to stay on Egypt?
Q: No, no, terrorism in Egypt.
MR. BURNS: Okay.
Q: I understand Mr. Mubarak is here, to some extent at least, to talk about counterterrorism in the Middle East. There is a group in Egypt called the Jihad that's claimed to send -- I believe they've threatened to send Americans back canned in coffins -- American personnel. I take it other American assets are threatened. Is there going to be a traveler's warning for Egypt? Are we in a heightened state of alert? I guess, basically, what do we hope to accomplish with Mr. Mubarak on counterterror?
MR. BURNS: You will understand that given the events of the last couple of weeks, obviously, terrorism is on the minds of everyone here in Washington.
The President, as you know, will be meeting with a group of Congressional leaders later on today to talk about that. We also have Under Secretary of State Tarnoff and Ambassador Phil Wilcox and Attorney General Janet Reno heading off to Paris tomorrow for the P-8 Ministerial Meeting on terrorism. So there's a lot of focus on that.
Of course, terrorism has come up in the discussions with the Egyptians and I'm sure it will come up tomorrow given that it's a backdrop to much of what is happening in the Middle East.
We have seen the press reports from Cairo this morning about the threat that this group made against the American presence in Egypt. I can't substantiate it. I can't confirm that this is a threat that we have received directly from them. It appears to be a threat that they have made publicly as opposed to some private communication that they've sent to us.
This, unfortunately, is not unusual. As you know, there have been a number of terrorist groups operating in Egypt. There have been a number of attacks over the last couple of years on foreigners. We take all threats, including ones that we receive via the media, very seriously. We'll obviously try to do whatever we can -- will do whatever we can -- to protect our official American presence there and to work with the Egyptians to protect private Americans who travel in Egypt.
We have had for sometime now a warning out to American citizens. I believe it dates from July 1995 about the fact that there has been violence in Egypt directed against foreigners, about the presence of some groups that are inimical to the Egyptian Government and to the United States. I think it's no secret to most people who are travelling there, and certainly to all people who are living there -- foreigners -- that this is reality that one has to bear in mind when travelling to Egypt.
Q: Does the United States still accept the Egyptian Government's explanation of the stabbing and death of the American DIA employee, that it was just a madman on the loose and not an organized act of terrorism?
MR. BURNS: That is the explanation given by the Egyptian authorities who investigated this crime. We continue to investigate it with the Egyptians. That is the working assumption right now, that it was an act of an insane person as opposed to the act of a terrorist group which plotted to murder her for political reasons. We'll continue to look into this.
Q: There are some observers, Nick, who would say that relations between the United States and Egypt, that they're most strained in years given the allegation, given the transfer of missile parts; the Egyptian perception of the United States is not pushing Netanyahu at all to live up to his commitments. And the issue of Boutros Ghali, Egypt is continuing to lobby in favor of him, and you know the position of the United States.
Can you comment on strains in the relations right now between Egypt and the United States?
MR. BURNS: The issue of Boutros-Ghali was not raised in this morning's meeting between President Mubarak and Secretary Christopher.
Second, the United States has worked very hard with the Israeli Government and with Israel's Arab neighbors since the election of the Prime Minister to make sure that there is continued momentum in a forward direction for peace and for the peace negotiations. I think you've seen that Prime Minister Netanyahu has volunteered time and again, including the first day after his election, that Israel would meet its commitments.
Third, Sid, I would just say if relations were as strained as you -- as some of the people who are asking these questions believe them to be -- I don't mean to insinuate that you share this opinion -- then President Mubarak wouldn't be here on an official visit as President Clinton's guest. He's staying in Blair House. He's going to see the President. He has a major meeting with the Vice President. He's had a very important meeting with the Secretary of State.
We are treating him as one of our closest partners in the Middle East. Egypt continues to be a keystone for stability in the Middle East and a keystone for forward movement in the peace negotiations. Egypt has played a very important role, and we think will continue to. It was President Clinton's idea to invite President Mubarak here because of that critical role that Egypt plays.
I don't believe that the relations are as strained as some people think they are. If you go back, certainly, to the 1970s, we've had a remarkably stable and productive relationship with Egypt, which continues today; and it's not just on Middle East peace process issues. Egypt, as an African country as well as an Arab country, has influence far beyond its borders on a lot of regional issues in both Africa and the Middle East, and we rely upon Egypt -- we rely upon our discussions with the Egyptians in many of these issues to guide us and to help us meet our own objectives in both continents.
I think Egypt will continue to play that role under President Mubarak's leadership, so I vigorously disagree with that characterization.
Q: But there is a flip analysis to that -- that the President invited him here because he was concerned. The relations were fraying; that President Mubarak, who has by all accounts been a very close advocate of U.S. policies in the Middle East, is feeling a bit isolated and a bit betrayed, that he's out there by himself and he's not really getting much.
MR. BURNS: I think both those words don't characterize the relationship in any way. They're completely opposite from what we feel in the relationship, and I think you'll hear that from President Mubarak over the course of the next couple of days when he speaks out.
When you look around the Middle East, there are few relationships like this that have withstood the test and the pressures of the last couple of decades throughout the twists and turns of the Middle East peace negotiations; and the U.S.-Egyptian relationship has withstood that test of time.
Egypt remains the second leading recipient of American assistance anywhere in the world. There's a fundamental American commitment to Egypt that will not be reduced, and we do see eye-to-eye on the need for the Arab countries and Israel to continue their peace negotiations. We see eye-to-eye on the need to fight terrorism together. President Mubarak has been a leader in that respect.
So that's why he's here, and I'm sure this relationship is going to continue in a very, very positive and cooperative direction.
Q: Do you find troublesome his gestures of friendship toward Qadhafi?
MR. BURNS: We don't agree with the Egyptians on every issue. We don't agree with Canada or the United Kingdom or Japan on every issue, to name three very close allies of the United States. But on most issues we are in concert with the Egyptians, and on the really important, vital issues, we are as well.
Q: I'm sure that's true, but did the issue of Qadhafi come up?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe it came up this morning, no.
Q: Nick, still on the Middle East and also this issue of eye-to-eye. Are we still seeing eye- to-eye on things with the Saudis? Is there any explanation for Secretary Perry cancelling or putting off his trip?
MR. BURNS: I think I'll leave to Ken Bacon a detailed explanation for why the trip was postponed. I believe he is there just setting new dates for it. We're still seeing eye-to-eye with the Saudi leadership. We're working together with the Saudis on the investigation into the Dhahran bombing. We're working with the Saudis on Middle East peace process issues.
So I can report to you again there, and I'm glad to calm any fears of tension in U.S. relationships across the Middle East. Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is very good, similar to our relationship with Egypt. We can talk about Jordan or Amman or Morocco or Tunisia, or any other countries with which we have very good, stable relations in the Arab world.
Q: Just to follow --
MR. BURNS: I think Steve had a question, Bill, and then we'll go back to you.
Q: President Mubarak seemed to hint this morning that there was something in the works that could lead to a resumption of talks between Israel and Syria. What with Dennis Ross back now and having briefed all of you folks, can you add anything to his comments on the likelihood of those talks restarting any time soon?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing to say about the possible resumption of talks between Israel and Syria, certainly nothing to announce. Dennis Ross did have a very good trip. He came back, briefed the Secretary and briefed a number of us and felt that his discussions had gone very well in all capitals. He was carrying a letter from President Clinton that described two things: our reaction to the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister to Washington; and, second, our continued belief that there is a window here open for forward movement in the various peace negotiations, including on the Israel-Syria track.
But it's going to be a tough nut, Steve. As you know, there are some significant differences, very significant, between Israel and Syria. I wouldn't look for any immediate results on that score, but certainly our objective in the medium- and long-term is to help Israel and Syria get back to the point where they want to resume their discussions. I wouldn't look for that in the short term.
Q: On that topic, there are reports out of Damascus today that Syria is calling for a renewal of the boycott against Israel. Have you seen those reports?
MR. BURNS: I have not seen those reports, no.
Q: Nick, last week you were asked about an alleged coup in Iraq -- or coup attempt in Iraq. There's been some more reports now about these ones alleging that the United States was involved in this attempt. Do you have any response to that?
MR. BURNS: I don't. I've seen those press reports. I have no comment to make on them.
Bill, you had a follow-up?
Q: Yes, I had a follow-up. On the Saudi Arabian trip of the Secretary of Defense, Nick, it was reported in the Times today that some fellows -- some, I believe, those who claim to have terroristic intent had been casing American facilities in Riyadh recently, and I understood that Mr. Perry's trip was to have been a clandestine trip with no itinerary given. I take it that's for his security. Can you comment to either of those?
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't use the word "clandestine." Secretary Perry had intended to visit. That visit has been postponed. I'm sure it will be rescheduled. I wouldn't read too much into this, and, obviously, for any further detail on this, you ought to ask Ken Bacon or Mike Doubleday at the Pentagon.
Q: I will, but I ask you about this, because I understand, Nick, that State Department is still offering to bring U.S. dependents back free of charge from Saudi Arabia. Does the State Department take seriously the threat in Riyadh of another bombing?
MR. BURNS: Bill, as you know, we issued a public announcement about three weeks ago, very detailed and specific, about the continuing threat to Americans, public and private, in Saudi Arabia. That was one of the reasons but not a primary factor for us offering the authorized departure to the families of American employees, military and civilian, in Saudi Arabia a week ago today.
That offer has been made. I don't believe there has been a tremendous response to that offer. I think some people are electing to stay, but, nonetheless, we are willing to bring families back at U.S. Government expense.
There is a continued threat to security of the American presence in Saudi Arabia. The military, the diplomatic and the civilian presence, and all of the more than 40,000 Americans who live there are mindful of that, and we are doing everything we can with the Saudis to make sure that our people are protected.
It's a joint responsibility. It's always the responsibility of the host country. We try to do as much as we can.
Q: Do you think this is why this is still a voluntary thing for U.S. dependents to come home? It's not necessary that it be mandatory to further protect them?
MR. BURNS: No, we don't believe the threat is sufficient to warrant a mandatory or ordered departure of American families from Saudi Arabia. It's authorized, meaning it is voluntary on their part, and we're maintaining our diplomatic and military strength, as you know, within Saudi Arabia itself.
Q: Would you comment on those reports in Riyadh of people casing American facilities?
MR. BURNS: I have no comment on those reports, other than to say that we will continue our very strong efforts to do everything we can to protect people. I will tell you this, Bill -- I think you've asked a series of good questions -- that the lesson that we're drawing from the Riyadh and Dhahran bombings is not to leave, but to stay.
The United States has vital national interests, strategic, economic and military interests in Saudi Arabia. We will stay. We will not draw down our presence. We will not diminish our support for Saudi Arabia or for stability of the oil exports from the Persian Gulf area. We're staying. We're not going to let a few cowardly terrorists drive the United States out of Saudi Arabia.
Q: Can you tell me what the U.S. hopes to achieve or to get out of this terrorism conference in Paris this week?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I should also refer you to a briefing that's underway at this moment at the White House where Phil Wilcox and Mark Richards, the Deputy Attorney General, are briefing over there -- I believe also with Sandy Berger -- on our hopes for this conference. This is being organized, as you know, by the French Government, which is still in the G-7 chair.
The idea for the conference was spawned at the Lyon summit where the P-8 leaders got together and, in the wake of the bombing attack against our facility in Dhahran, and talked about the need to fight terrorism. The French have called this to see what we can do together to agree on common measures that can be taken to fight terrorism worldwide, both in terms of our analysis of what terrorists are doing and planning and also the specific steps that can be taken to combat them; because there is one cardinal truth about this fight, and that is that it's global. It's not national. It cannot be carried out on a bilateral basis country- to-country; it's got to be multilateral.
The fact that the P-8 leaders want to make this a common fight and a continual agenda item for their meetings I think is a very good sign.
Q: Nick, do you expect the Saudis to pay half of the relocation costs of American troops?
MR. BURNS: I think if there is to be any relocation, that's a decision that I would not announce, but the Pentagon would. Then obviously we'd have to work out the terms of it with the Saudi authorities, and since those discussions are underway, I am going to direct you to the Pentagon on that. This is a purely military matter, Sid. It doesn't have any impact on the American diplomatic presence there.
Q: There's a certain degree of diplomacy involved in this. I suspect you all have some role in it.
MR. BURNS: Certainly. But we don't talk about negotiations while they're ongoing for the most part.
Q: So you're saying that nothing has been decided at this point about this cost sharing?
MR. BURNS: There's no announcement yet on whether or not the United States will be transferring its troops to another location within Saudi Arabia. Those talks are being handled by the Department of Defense, and I direct you to Ken Bacon and Mike Doubleday on that.
Q: This raises the possibility that this -- Perry's trip would have been to announce what we would like to do vis-a-vis that, and that Perry, Secretary Perry, didn't have an answer for Prince Sultan. So, he decided to -- I mean, General Peay has been there over the weekend, trying to work out which of the three options the Saudis have presented us with.
MR. BURNS: I should have worn my bow tie today. I would have been --
Q: Well, he's not that --
MR. BURNS: -- better placed to answer these questions. I can't answer questions like this without a bow tie, so that's why I can't answer all these questions.
Q: Well, he's not answering any questions today.
MR. BURNS: That's his prerogative. I support him 100 percent, too. One hundred percent.
Q: Well, then don't criticize stories you see tomorrow about why he cancelled his trip, because you all aren't going to speak about it.
MR. BURNS: I'm going to let the Pentagon spokesman speak for the Secretary of Defense. That's always a good policy, I've found.
Q: Another area. Have you had a request -- has the U.S. Government had a request from Fidel Castro for a visa to come to the Olympics?
MR. BURNS: No, we have not. As far as we know, he's still following events from afar in Havana; has made no move to apply to our Interests Section for a visa. That would be the normal process. If he'd like to see the United States defeat Cuba in the Gold Medal game of baseball, that's another question. I don't know how we'd respond to that request, but he hasn't made it yet. That's my prediction as well. Yesterday's game was just a warmup -- kind of like Red Sox-Yankees, you know, July. We'll get them in the end.
David, welcome back.
Q: Thank you. If you're going to start (inaudible) you're in trouble.
Q: This has got to be a Red Sox fan. (Laughter)
Q: (Multiple comments)
Q: I'm just wondering whether you have a list of -- or anybody ever totaled up how many heads of state, how many Prime Ministers have gotten visas and are attending the games?
MR. BURNS: I think we probably do, because one of the State Department responsibilities in Atlanta has been to provide security for a lot of the visiting officials from other countries. Our Diplomatic Security has over 100 agents in Atlanta right now working on the games. I'm sure we have a list some place in the building. If you're interested, we can try to get it to you, but he's not on the list -- Castro.
Q: Did you see the story this morning about the new leader of Burundi having received some AID money for the promotion of democracy in Burundi?
MR. BURNS: I have seen that story. I have something to tell you on that story, by the way. I've checked with our sources at the USAID. I can confirm that USAID provided approximately $145,500 to the Buyoya Foundation between 1994 and 1995. These grants - - they were grants -- were made to the Buyoya Foundation in an attempt to find domestic solutions to Burundi's problems.
As you know, before he came to power last Friday morning, former President Buyoya was generally considered to be a moderate by most members of the international community in Burundi. In fact, he portrayed himself as being influenced by the example of former President Jimmy Carter in looking for peaceful solutions to ethnic problems.
I understand that the Buyoya Foundation hired both Tutsi and Hutu officers as well as research associates, and in general this was part of our effort, which was also an effort of the European Union of various other European Governments who also made grants to this foundation, as well as the United Nations to try to look for indigenous organizations within Burundi that stood for national reconciliation and stood for Tutsis and Hutus working together on these problems.
So that was the justification for having made this grant. I can break the grant down into increments for you, if you'd like. We can do that after the briefing, if you'd like. It seemed to us at the time to be a positive thing to do with the money that we have to try to encourage people to turn away from the bloodshed that has characterized central Africa over the last many, many years and to turn towards peace. I'll be glad to answer any questions on this.
George, on Burundi in particular, on the situation there, essentially the situation remains somewhat fluid politically. Happily, the situation in the city itself, in Bujumbura, is calm; has been throughout the weekend; rather stable. The airport has reopened.
President Ntibantunganya continues to be a guest of Ambassador Hughes in Ambassador Hughes' residence in Bujumbura, along with his wife and his sister-in-law. I believe three of his associates who were also there up until last Friday evening have now left permanently from the Ambassador's residence.
Essentially, we believe that all of us need to work to minimize bloodshed, and that has to be right now the primary United States objective: working with the Europeans, working with the United Nations, to try to work with these various parties to this conflict to minimize the risk of bloodshed. All of our activities over the weekend have been directed towards that direction.
We have tried to facilitate some meetings between the new people in power and the government that we still recognize to be the Government of Burundi. We essentially believe that President Ntibantunganya should either be allowed to participate openly and without threat to himself in these national reconciliation efforts, or he should be allowed to leave the country.
I think up to this point the new people have not made a commitment either way to him, but that is our position. The President and Secretary of State's representative, Howard Wolpe, has been in East Africa. He's arriving, excuse me, today in East Africa.
He will be attending the summit meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, on July 31 at the invitation of the various African governments, including the Tanzanian Government, which is represented by former President Julius Nyerere. We will continue looking for a regional solution to the problems of Burundi as well as the problems of Rwanda.
In terms of American citizens, all of the nearly 90 Americans who are in the country -- all of them are safe. We're not aware that any of them have been threatened in any way. We have received a specific promise from Major Buyoya that American citizens will be protected and will not come in harm's way. We are in regular contact with all of the Americans there and in fact have encouraged the eight American missionaries who were living outside of Bujumbura to come in to that capital city.
Q: I have two questions on Buyoya and his receipt of funds. What did he do with the money, and do you feel that you misjudged him in singling him out for --
MR. BURNS: At this point I cannot say that we misjudged him in seeking him out for a grant. The fact is that there are few people who have political influence in that society who have quite consistently throughout their careers stood for a reconciliation between the Tutsis and the Hutus. He is one of them. He is the person who paved the way for the democratic elections of 1993. He voluntarily gave up power when he was not successful in those elections.
So I think that even from the hindsight of the fact that he led a coup a couple of days ago, I don't think we believe that in hindsight -- which is always 20/20.-- that this was a terrible mistake to have made, because I think he was a logical person to go to if in fact one of the core objectives of our program there was to seek out these people.
I will say, George -- and I can give you the specifics on this -- we have now suspended all United States assistance to Burundi. We took that step over the weekend and informed Major Buyoya and his associates. So the $3 million in development aid for democracy and government programs and the $50,000 for the IMET -- the International Military Education Training Program -- has been suspended.
On the IMET, we only had one Burundian military officer in the United States. He is still here. The program has been suspended, so his own status here is under review.
The first USAID grant of $145,000 was a $20,000 grant to study and make recommendations on the refugee situation. A second grant of $51,000 was to provide Burundian analysis on the challenges of how to make public institutions function better in terms of trying to bring Tutsis and Hutus together.
A third grant, again of $51,000, was to have programs to try to improve the operations of the justice system and to make specific recommendations for improving it.
And the remainder of the funding was a USAID grant to the National Democratic Institute. NDI supported the Buyoya Foundation to conduct a conference on democracy earlier this year, and this conference was postponed twice due to instability in the country. I believe NDI also funded Buyoya to travel to South Africa to observe the elections there.
He doesn't appear to have taken away from the latter two activities any strong lessons, because he acted unconstitutionally and illegally to overthrow the democratic government late last week.
Q: Do you know when the last grant was made to them?
MR. BURNS: These are grants made, I believe, between 1994 and the beginning of this year. I don't know when the last grant was made. You mean what months in 1996? I don't know that. I'm sure that's an answer we can get you, though, from USAID.
Q: And you say that $3 million was for humanitarian aid? This sounds like something other than humanitarian aid.
MR. BURNS: I did, and I believe now it's a combination of the two, and that makes sense. I've just given you a sense of $145,000 that we've spent. This is not humanitarian aid.
Q: No, no, I'm referring to the $3 million that you were talking about.
MR. BURNS: Yes. It's a combination of humanitarian but also some other democratic governance aid. The programs that I've just reviewed for you clearly fit into that category of democratic governance aid.
Q: That was what Buyoya's Foundation was founded to do, though -- the three things you mentioned?
MR. BURNS: Yes, it was. I gave you a breakdown of $20,000, the two $51,000 grants, plus the remainder of funding was to the Buyoya Foundation, and these are all democracy- building projects.
Q: And humanitarian -- the $3 million in humanitarian aid, that would have fallen under it?
MR. BURNS: What George was asking, was that $3 million purely humanitarian. As I had described it on Friday and what I'm saying is I think it was a combination of the two.
Q: But was this Buyoya Foundation donation part of the $3 million?
MR. BURNS: It's part of that pot of money that came out, yes.
Q: Do you still recognize Ntibantunganya as the President of Burundi?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we do. He's the democratically elected President, and the coup leaders, including Major Buyoya, acted unconstitutionally to overthrow him. We think now -- as I said, Patrick, that the answer is for the coup leaders to allow Ntibantunganya and his associates to participate in the political process.
They shut it down last week. They banned the political parties. They shut down the National Assembly. That should all be undone. The political process should be liberalized and opened again, or they should let him leave the country, should he wish to leave the country. But they should not keep him in this state of limbo, where he has to continue seeking refuge in the United States Ambassador's residence.
But we will not ask him to leave. We will keep him there as long as he wishes to stay. But clearly Major Buyoya and his associates have a responsibility to do what's right here and allow him to be free, to act as he wishes.
Bill. Still on this, Bill?
Q: I don't believe the coup group has threatened the President. Does he know something we don't?
MR. BURNS: The President is someone who lost his first wife in a massacre a couple of years ago. He continues to have refuge in our Ambassador's residence, because I believe he fears for his security, should he leave there. I think he's probably the best judge of that. It's up to the coup leaders to create an environment and to give him the necessary assurances that would allow him to leave the Ambassador's residence and to stay in Bujumbura or allow him to go overseas or to go at least to another country, should he wish to do that. That's his decision to make, now that he has effectively been overthrown in this coup.
Q: So you're looking for some sort of specific assurances about his safety, like the major gave about Americans in public in specific?
MR. BURNS: That's right. We absolutely are.
Q: Public and specific?
MR. BURNS: We absolutely are. As you know, we facilitated a meeting over the weekend between President Ntibantunganya and Major Buyoya. They discussed this, among other topics. We facilitated that meeting, and we hope there are further meetings.
Q: I'd like to come back, for a while, to a Hungarian question on the Budapest Conference I was asking last week because there has been a new development in this matter. The Slovak Government gave to the American Ambassador in Bratislava, Ralph Johnston, a memo that advised strongly, disagreed with the conclusions. Romania said it was unacceptable.
So my question would be, what was the United States position overall to this conference calling for ethnic autonomy for Hungarians abroad?
MR. BURNS: In general, the United States hopes that the Central European governments, including the Hungarian Government, will take steps to produce, in their countries, a climate of peace a climate of stability, and also good relations between majority ethnic groups and minority groups. That goes without saying, but that is our general position.
Second, I would note that the Hungarian Government has stated specifically, in answer to your question, that the document produced by the conference does not represent a change in the policies of Hungary and that Hungary will not press and does not press for territorial change in Central Europe to accommodate certain minority groups, including minority Hungarian groups, outside of the borders of Hungary itself.
The United States, of course, fully supports the efforts of ethnic minorities in Central Europe to preserve their cultural heritage and to participate freely and fairly in the political process of the countries, where they are citizens.
As we've said repeatedly, we do not support ethnic-based territorial rights. That's a very important principle in the post-Cold War climate in Central Europe and in the former Soviet Union.
We haven't changed our policy. I believe the Hungarian Government has made it very clear what its own policy is in the aftermath of this particular conference.
Q: So nothing has changed on the United States position -- negative position -- to ethnic autonomy?
MR. BURNS: Nothing has changed. We don't support ethnic-based territorial autonomy as a right or as a right to separate as an ethnic group from a particular state.
Bill, you had a question. I'm sorry. Yasmine.
Q: Do you have anything on the Iranian incursion into Northern Iraq?
MR. BURNS: The Iranian incursion in Northern Iraq -- I don't have anything at all.
Q: Is this seen as a legitimate right of the governments in the region to have a hot pursuit of terrorists?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if we've ever spoken, in general, about that principle. But I know that in the case of Turkey, there have been a number of instances over the last 18 months where we have understood the reasons why Turkey had to pursue its fight against the PKK into Northern Iraq. But we, of course, had always wanted those missions to be limited. In fact, they were. In each case, Turkey withdrew. I just don't have any comment because I don't have the facts about any Iranian -- you asked about Iranian, right?
Q: I asked about the presence of Iranian troops in Northern Iraq; it does not pose a threat to the "Provide Comfort" personnel?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that there are Iranian troops in Northern Iraq. I don't know the facts. If there are, of course, we would look askance at that, very negatively, because of our long-standing well-known policy towards Iran, which is negative. We believe that Iran is not a helpful state at all in any way, shape, or form.
Q: On a different subject?
MR. BURNS: No more on Turkey. Yasmine?
Q: Pearls of wisdom about what's going on in Indonesia?
MR. BURNS: As you know, the Secretary was in Jakarta last week. He and members of his delegation had a variety of meetings with a variety of Indonesians. We've closely monitored events there.
We're seriously disturbed by the use of violence to end what had been a peaceful assembly on July 17 in the attack that was made on the PDI headquarters.
The United States Government, as you know, supports the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press, respect for the rule of law and democratic processes. We're deeply concerned by the apparent violation of these rights during the events in Jakarta over the weekend.
We call on the Indonesian Government to ensure that these rights are protected in the future and to guarantee that those arrested and detained in connection with these events are given due process of the law.
Q: (Inaudible) might be selling the F-16s, too?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I've just given you a very straightforward, very clear statement about our reaction to events over the weekend. We are seriously disturbed by them.
If you're asking a broader question about Indonesia, I can give you an answer.
Q: My point being that there were concerns that this was not the kind of weapon that a country that abuses the rights of its citizens should have. There are some fears they might potentially use them against the people in East Timor. I'm just wondering whether those fears have come to the forefront.
MR. BURNS: We have an active human rights discussion with the Indonesian Government. Secretary Christopher, of course, was engaged in this in his bilateral meetings with the Indonesians last week. Under Secretary of State Joan Spero, who had a very important meeting with some of the opposition leaders last week; she spoke to this, including Mrs. Megawati.
We also have a very strong relationship with Indonesia on other issues -- on ASEAN issues, on economic issues. As in the case of many countries in this situation, you need to be open about the differences that you have, and we are with Indonesia. We also need to acknowledge what is going right in relationships with these countries and what is positive, and there are a number of elements.
Q: Northern Iraq again. Last Friday, the White House issued some statement about Northern Iraq and "Provide Comfort." In this statement, the United States supports the Iraqi territorial integrity. Also, they said that they're not supporting any separate Northern Iraq, any government or statement.
In the same statement, it carries out some kind of warning for some NGOs, which operate in northern Iraq. Do you have any concern? Is there some NGOs? Is it helpful for the PKK terrorist organization?
MR. BURNS: I can just say that since March 1991, the United States has believed -- the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration -- that Iraq should not be dismembered; its territorial integrity ought to be respected. "Operation Provide Comfort" was established within that framework, so that at some point in the future when Saddam Hussein is gone from the scene, Iraq could re-emerge as a stable country in the region, intact.
We, in the last two Administrations, have never supported any kind of fracturing or dismemberment of Iraq itself. I don't have anything specific to say about the non- governmental organizations, who are working there. As you know, we have a long- standing and clear policy on the PKK.
Q: (Inaudible) any negative reaction from the Turkish Government about this statement?
MR. BURNS: Since it was issued, it was an important and clear statement. I hope that we had a very good reaction from the Turkish Government. We expect nothing else in this matter.
There's an important vote coming up -- I believe it is tomorrow -- in the Turkish National Assembly on "Operation Provide Comfort," and we're looking for positive action from the Turkish National Assembly. We believe it's in Turkey's interest to see this operation continue. It's certainly in the United States, United Kingdom, and French interest.
Q: There was a reference to Resolution 688 in the Declaration of the White House. It was widely interpreted in Turkey as an encouragement of the dialogue between the Iraqi Kurdish Party and the Baghdad Government. Would you think such an interpretation be accurate?
MR. BURNS: We have actually worked through our "Operation Provide Comfort" to protect the Kurdish groups in Northern Iraq from the objectives of the government in Baghdad, which has been to destroy them. They tried to annihilate them, as you know, just after the Persian Gulf War. So I don't believe it would be correct to interpret the White House statement in that direction. We hope the situation can remain stable there, but we understand the nature of the Saddam Hussein regime and its attitudes towards the Kurds as well as the Shi'a population in the south.
Q: Yes, Nick. My final question on terrorism. It was learned this weekend -- at least made public -- that the TWA 800 Flight was, how do you say, violently severed somewhere in the first class section; the nose cockpit area going down on the Kennedy side of the rest of the debris, very similar to the Pan Am 103 which the cockpit went down by itself, severed.
Nick, my question is this: If there, indeed, continue to be parallels, as many experts think, and indeed the Pan Am 103 bomb-down was an inspiration for this particular TWA bomb- down, should there not be some penalty, assessed for this attack on Pan Am 103, some retaliation?
MR. BURNS: Bill, as you know, the FBI has not yet determined the cause of the crash. The FBI is working very hard on that. Until it does, I can't be in a position of trying to trace the blame anywhere, either here in the United States or around the world. That's the FBI's job.
We are working very had to support the FBI; the State Department is. We've worked very hard to make sure that all of our embassies and consulates are aware that they ought to be looking out there in the world for any kind of explanation for this on the chance that it is a terrorist act. But the FBI has not determined that yet.
As you know, everyone is waiting for some kind of development in this search and we'll just have to stand by.
Q: Can you give us a little more detail on the State Department's role, if any, in the investigation?
MR. BURNS: The State Department is not in the lead. The lead is the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board. But we have been asked, from the first hours after the crash, to participate, on an interagency basis, in the effort. We are supporting the FBI.
When the FBI has questions or a request to make of us to track down certain information, we are helping. We've also pulsed our system here in Washington and around the world, through all of our embassies and consulates, as I said, to try to see if there's any kind of evidence out there in the world that would help us explain the tragedy of TWA Flight 800.
At this point, we need to wait for the FBI and the NTSB to make a determination about the nature of the crash, what caused it. If it turns out to have been a terrorist attack, then, of course, the State Department will be heavily involved if the FBI believes that that terrorist attack was caused by groups or states beyond our shores. If it turns out to be a terrorist attack launched by American citizens along the lines of Oklahoma City, then the State Department will have a much more limited role.
So at this point, we're acting in a support basis. But we have mobilized our system here to look through all the information available to us to see if we can be helpful on tracing any kind of a foreign link to this.
I can tell you, of course, David, in the first couple of days after the crash, there are a number of rumors about involvement of different groups around the world, and the State Department played a big role along with the FBI in trying to determine the credibility of those reports. So that's the kind of way that we're being helpful to the FBI. But they have the lead, and we have to rely on the FBI to do the job -- the terrific job -- that it is doing to look into this very complicated investigation.
Q: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thanks.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:59 p.m.) Monday, 7/29/96 (###)
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