U.S. Department of State 96/08/05 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, August 5, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Department Releases Reward Posters on Al-Khobar Bombing in Dhahran/Rewards for Previous Terrorist Activities........ 1-4 IRAN/LIBYA President Clinton Signs Sanctions Act of 1996: --War Against Terrorism/Negative Reaction & Retaliation from European Govts/Affect on European & US Relations/Six Types of Sanctions/Presidential Authority/Implementation.......... 4-7,9-11 --Difference Between Israeli Boycott/US Responsibilities to Multilateral Economic & Trade Organizations/Effect of Sanctions/US Retaliation for Terrorist Bombing of Pan Am 101 & other Terrorist Operations................................ 6-8 SUDAN On Terrorism List............................................. 12 TWA FLIGHT 800 Alleged Rpt of Possibility of Iranian Link to Tragedy......... 12-13 COLOMBIA Update of Civil Aviation Negotiations with the US/Unrelated to Counternarcotics Cooperation............................. 13-14 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Bosnian Croats Show No Respect for Elections in Mostar/Need for Pres Tudjman's Support/Ongoing Negotiations & Commitment 14-18 Alleged Plan to Seize Karadzic/IFOR & US Options on Handling Karadzic/Italian Troops Contingent of IFOR Keep Karadizc Under Surveillance................................................ 19 A/S Kornblum's Travel to the Region/Mtg with EU Representative Garrod...................................................... 14-17 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS US Retains Position on Settlements in Israel/GOI Govt Eases Restrictions/Israeli PM's Advisor Dore Gold's Mtgs/New Roads 19-26 Israeli PM Netanyaon for Relief to Be Reviewed by Sanctions Committee......................................... 28-29 NORTH/SOUTH KOREA Alleged Rpt of Sentencing Former President Chun Doo Hwan & Roh Tae Woo................................................. 29 20% of Annual Harvest Destroyed in North/US Provides Food Aid. 29-30
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, AUGUST 5, 1996, 1:08 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have one brief announcement to make before we go to questions. This concerns the bombing in Dhahran.
On July 2 of this year -- July 2, 1996 -- the Department of State offered a reward of up to $2 million for information leading to the arrest and/or the conviction of those individuals responsible for the terrorist bombing of the Al-Khobar Towers near Dhahran on June 25. That bombing resulted in the death of 19 Americans, injured 250 Americans and injured many hundreds of Saudis and Bangladeshis and other foreign nationals.
Today, we are unveiling the posters that will advertise this reward. These posters will be distributed through our diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf throughout the Middle East. We also intend to run ads in periodicals and newspapers that are widely read in the Arab world.
Anyone with information overseas on this attack or any other act of international terrorism against United States interests and American citizens is encouraged to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or nearest American consulate in the Middle East or any place else in the world.
I will be issuing a public statement that provides the E-mail address, provides a toll-free telephone number here in the United States, and I thought I'd show you the two posters.
(Displays English-language poster) This is the poster as it appears in English. Normally what we do in situations like this in terrorist situations is to show the likeness of the individual. Of course, we don't know who bombed the Khobar Towers, and so we have the building itself -- the work of the terrorists -- and we have an 18th century quote by Edmund Burke, which we think has resonance for this situation.
(Displays Arabic-language poster) And this is the poster in Arabic, as it will appear, we hope, in restaurants, public places, all through the Arab world, which has the identical quotation and the identical information, which lets people know that there is $2 million available to any individual or group of individuals who can give us information leading to the suspects in the bombing of the Dhahran barracks.
Q Has the $2 million produced any leads, any interesting phone calls or, you know, would-be evidence so far?
MR. BURNS: I think it's produced, certainly, a lot of information, and the job of the FBI and sometimes from the Department of State in assisting the FBI is to determine if that information is credible. As you know, the investigation into the Khobar bombing has not been completed, and the Saudis have not identified anyone as responsible for that crime.
We are working with the Saudis, and we hope very much that some day soon we will have information given to us that will lead us to the people, the group, the terrorist group that's responsible for this.
Q This has been going on for several days. The Defense Department seems to be taking -- I don't know -- well, a different view from State. It seems to be suggesting the inquiry is near an end, and that there's a good possibility there will be an Iranian component. That's not the State view, is it?
MR. BURNS: We are not aware that the investigation has been completed. I don't think it has been completed. I don't believe the Saudis have determined who is responsible. They have certainly not communicated that to us, and so I think, Barry, we're just going to have to stay tuned here. We're going to have to keep working with Saudi Government to try to find who did this and to bring these people to justice, and there is a considerable inducement now -- a considerable reward -- $2 million available to anybody and of any nationality, of any age, who can lead us to these killers.
Q I assume you're advertising in the Arab world?
MR. BURNS: Most of these. We have printed up 1,000 posters in Arabic, and we've printed up a good many in English as well. Most will be centered in the Arab world but not completely. If anyone in any part of the world -- in Latin America and Africa and Asia -- has any information about this that can lead us to the killers, they will receive this reward.
But given the fact that the terrorist attack took place in the Arab world -- it took place in Saudi Arabia itself -- it seems a likely place to begin.
Q But you did find Mr. Yousef in Pakistan. I thought perhaps you'd be advertising in newspapers elsewhere, outside --
MR. BURNS: We certainly will be doing that. This is a worldwide appeal. This appeal, this $2 million reward, is offered to anyone, anywhere in the world, and you're right. Ramzi Yousef was actually located in Asia. He's from Pakistan but was located in Asia.
So it is possible that these killers have taken flight to another part of the world very far from the Middle East. It's also possible that since the attack took place in the Middle East, there may be people in the Middle East who know something about it; who were told about it beforehand or afterwards, who since have found out about it and are just keeping quiet. There is now a considerable reward available to them to help us locate -- help us and the Saudi Government locate these people.
Q Nick, could you give us a rundown or the status about previous rewards that you -- they announced by the State Department regarding other acts which were perpetrated in the past? Anybody receive from these people who made the collect call and gave the information -- I don't want to say "informer," but -- so were there any monies which were --
MR. BURNS: Has it ever been successful is another way of answering your question. Have we been successful in the past.
MR. BURNS: Yes, we have. Let me tell you, in addition to the $2 million for the terrorists who bombed the Khobar Barracks in Dhahran, we have a $4 million reward out for the two Libyans who bombed Pan Am 103. The reason for the difference is this. The U.S. law says that we can increase the award from $2 to $3 million if there's been an act of sabotage against a U.S. aircraft.
In addition to that, the Airline Pilots Association has contributed funds and has allowed us to increase that reward to $4 million because of the concern over civil aviation safety. So in the case of Pan Am 103, we know who the individuals are. We have their likenesses on matchbooks as well as posters -- they're in the Press Room today -- and, if someone can lead us to those individuals and we can apprehend them, then $4 million will be theirs.
In the past, we have paid out millions of dollars, I think in over 20 cases, where we put up rewards and information leading to the suspects has allowed us to attain control of the suspects and then bring them to justice here in the United States, including information that led to the arrest of Ramzi Yousef.
Q There was a $25,000 bounty on Aideed's head. Has the man who fired the fatal shot claimed that -- to that money?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe anyone's claimed it. I'm not sure it was operative as well. That was a bounty put in place several years ago.
Q On Iran and Libya, the President signed the Iran/Libyan economic embargo bill this morning. First of all, have you heard recently from the Europeans about what they intend to do about it now that the signature is on the bill? And, two, what exactly is going to be different because of this act?
MR. BURNS: I think we've heard publicly from a couple of European countries -- the French this morning. I'm not aware that the European Union or individual European Governments have informed us here at the Department of State of any action they intend to take in response to the President's signing of the D'Amato legislation this morning and a response to the justification of that, that the President gave in his speech this morning.
I think the President summarized this policy quite aptly by saying essentially you can't do business with countries who by day want to trade with you and who by night want to kill your citizens or kill your diplomats or kill your soldiers. One of those countries is Iran, and the other one is Libya.
We have tried a variety of ways to convince the Iranians and the Libyans to cease and desist from their support for international terrorism, and those efforts have not succeeded. The European Governments have tried a critical dialogue with Iran, an attempt to talk them out of their inclination to support terrorists, and that has failed. There hasn't been one example that the Europeans can show us or show you that where that has been successful.
So we believe that we're in a war against terrorism. As the President said, we've got to take extraordinary measures to fight and win that war. If the European governments are unwilling to stand up with us to do what's in the interests of their own citizens, which is to strike at the heart of state-sponsored terrorism in the world -- that's Iran -- strike at a state like Libya -- and by "strike," I mean with these sanctions -- that is responsible for the Pan Am 103 bombing.
If they're not willing to stand with us, then we have to stand alone for a while, confident that the European governments and publics will come to understand that you can't do business with the current Iranian leadership. They're funding Hizbollah. They're directing the operations of other terrorist groups in the Middle East. We believe that their support has led terrorist groups to strike out in other continents like Latin America, like Asia, not just the Middle East.
This legislation is the product, I think, of the deeply held views of Republicans and Democrats in the Congress, as well as this Administration, that the time has come to do something serious. I would also tell you, Jim, that this legislation is quite narrowly drawn. If you read through the specifics of the legislation, there is considerable flexibility available to the President.
There are six types of sanctions identified for one very specific activity, and that is investments exceeding $40 million in the petrochemical industry in both Libya and Iran. We are not talking here about European countries that invest in other areas of the Libyan and Iranian economy. We're talking about this specific area -- six sanctions listed. The President has the flexibility to choose two of the sanctions to implement.
The President also has the authority under this legislation to waive the sanctions for any country whose -- for the companies of any country if that country had taken or will take concerted action against the terrorist states.
So let me give you an example. If Germany, for instance, decides that it's going to drop the critical dialogue, begin to act much more toughly, as it should, against the Iranian regime, then it is possible - - theoretically possible -- and more than that, that the President could waive the sanctions pertaining to German companies. If Germany decides not to do that, then German companies will come under the purview of this law.
So there's flexibility. It's narrowly drawn. It's striking at the ability of Iran and Libya to earn export income from their largest industry in both countries -- the petrochemical industry -- and it sends a very strong message to Libya and Iran that we're not going to stand by here in the United States and allow our citizens to be attacked or come under threat of these countries. We're not going to allow that to happen anymore. We're going to take action. The European governments will come around to this point of view sooner or later.
Q Do you take their talk of retaliation seriously? Is there a real threat of European retaliation as to American companies?
MR. BURNS: It would be unwise to retaliate because they would be acting contrary to their own self-interest. They would be essentially saying, "Let the United States fight the war against the terrorists. We're going to sit by and let the United States do the tough work here." That's not a lesson that we think the Europeans should draw from this exercise.
Q So how would it be against their self-interest, in the sense that everybody gets hurt in this kind of difficult --
MR. BURNS: It's against their self-interest because we're going to go forward. There's nothing that the European governments can do to dissuade the Clinton Administration from going forward to implement a law that has been passed by both Houses of Congress and with overwhelming support from both parties in the Congress. We'll simply engage in a fight among ourselves -- a rhetorical or economic fight among ourselves -- and allow the Iranians and Libyans to sit back and laugh at us.
If the Europeans don't want to go along with us, they at least should get out of the way.
Q Nick, the threshold of $40 million, many analysts in the oil industry say that's sufficiently high, that this law will have very little effect. A number of companies have quickly, in the last few months, made large investments so as to get around the law to get their investments in before the law takes effect.
Where is this law going to bite? Who is it going to hit? Question one.
Question two is, for years, Spokesmen from this podium denounced the Arab boycott of Israel. The Arabs attempted to organize to prevent their people from having any business with American and other companies that did business in Israel. It was denounced as a secondary boycott. How is this not a secondary boycott?
MR. BURNS: The United States objected to the Arab boycott of Israel because it was unjust. It was unjust. Israel had done nothing to warrant that boycott.
Iran has done something to warrant the sanctions legislation that the President signed this morning. Iran has directed state terrorism against the friends of the United States and has put the lives of American citizens in peril. So I think there is no commonality between the Arab boycott and the legislation introduced -- the very tough actions introduced -- by the President this morning.
Q Can I just follow up on that? Does the United States support the concept of secondary boycotts?
MR. BURNS: The United States objected to the Arab boycott on the grounds that I gave you and also on other grounds.
In this case, we believe that the actions we've taken here as well as the Helms-Burton legislation, which has now been signed into law, do not prevent us from carrying out our responsibilities to multilateral economic and trade organizations like the WTO. We believe we can convince our European partners of that in the very considerable debate that I think is now underway, and it will continue for weeks and months.
We have a very clear difference of view here with the European governments. They prefer to sit back and hope that Iran will be nice. We prefer to be realistic and pursue a policy that will make Iran feel the effect and feel the brunt of our economic leverage.
Q On the first half, where are these sanctions going to hit? How are they going to affect anybody? Oil analysts are saying $40 million is so high, it doesn't make --
MR. BURNS: You are correct that these are prospective sanctions. The act was signed into law this morning. Therefore, any investment starting today exceeding $40 million will be covered by the act. Any investment preceding today will not be. It's prospective.
Forty million dollars in the oil and gas sectors in a country like Iran or Libya is, in effect, an appropriate threshold. Because most companies -- foreign companies -- for instance in Iran, that go in, go in a fairly big way. It costs a lot to set up an investment operation or to keep one going.
We think that sooner or later, this will have an impact on the major companies that are operating there. For instance, some of the companies -- there's a French company, Total, for instance, that replaced CONOCO. When the President prohibited American investment in the petro-chemical industry in Iran in March 1995, the Total Company essentially stepped in behind CONOCO and took up an investment that had been highly profitable for CONOCO.
We'd like to make it painful for companies to do that in the future.
Q Nick, could I follow a little on David's line of inquiry. Does this sanction, in the eyes of the United States Government, is it, in fact -- do we view it as a retaliation against, one, Iran for terrorist acts that have affected American citizens; or have there been acts against American citizens that Iranians have been implicated in? And, secondly, how about Libya for Pan Am 103? Does this amount to a retaliation or a strike-back, an economic strike against Libya?
MR. BURNS: It is certainly directed against Libya's direct sponsorship of the bombers who killed the 269 people aboard Pan Am 103. We won't be able to effectively retaliate, or, to put it in another way, Bill, achieve justice until those two guys are in U.S. courts facing U.S. prosecutors and are on trial for murder. That will be justice. Justice will be rendered then.
But in order to get to that day, we've got to find a way to influence Libya. That's why the President signed the bill. That's why the other part of this legislation that we haven't talked about would also impose penalties on companies that violated the U.N. trade embargo on Libya.
That embargo was put on Libya because of Libya's sponsorship of the terrorist act against Pan Am 103.
Q What about Iran?
MR. BURNS: The same holds for Iran. Iran has effectively now funded and directed terrorist operations against friends of the United States, and those operations have put American lives in danger.
Q But you won't say that Iran has sponsored acts of terror against the United States?
MR. BURNS: Iran has certainly sponsored acts of terror against friends of the United States. We don't know who placed the bomb at Khobar. We don't know who sponsored them. We don't know, of course, because the FBI and NTSB have not gotten to the end of their inquiry on TWA 800, what caused the crash.
You understand that we are looking at all possibilities right now.
Q Nick, there were attempts by the European Community to possibly find a solution or possibly a compromise between your position regarding the Libyans, especially, and the position of the European community to bring these two suspects to the international court of justice to try them in a different country rather than the United States or England.
What did you reach? Did they have a meeting of minds, or are you still apart in that --
MR. BURNS: They should be tried in the United States court. It was a United States airliner, the majority of citizens on board were Americans. We found these two people. We know they did it. We know that Qadhafi is harboring them. We want to make sure they're tried in a court that will convict them and that will throw the book at them.
Q You mean, they will not be getting the same treatment in the court of justice --
MR. BURNS: We're not looking for half-measures here. We're not inclined to compromise with Muammar Qadhafi. Why should we compromise with him when he's lied to the international community about his government's involvement in this for a very long time? Why should we strike a deal with that's in his interest. He's the one on the hot seat. He's the one that's had U.N. sanctions applied against him. Shouldn't we be tough? Shouldn't we actually try to act out of our own self-interest here? That's why the United States has taken this position. Why should we compromise with terrorists?
Q The European Union is going to be introducing legislation in September that would bar its companies from complying with either this Iran-Libya bill or the Cuban sanctions bill. What do you say to those companies who will face the prospect of violating their own domestic laws if they comply with our law?
MR. BURNS: It certainly puts those companies in a bind, doesn't it? I don't know if the European Union will actually adopt this measure. We've heard some talk that they may do this. I don't know if all the European Union members will agree to this. If they do agree, then, of course, being a representative of the United States Government, I would advise those companies to understand that we mean what we say. We will implement our own legislation. They ought to understand that there will be penalities inside the United States for them should they go forward with their acts.
Q Flight 800, TWA bombing?
MR. BURNS: You want to stay on this? Then we'll go to TWA. We'll stay on this particular issue.
Q The European Union sanctions and the American sanctions. Do you think that this argument has reached the stage where it now will have an impact on the overall climate between the United States and Europe trade relations?
MR. BURNS: It's a very serious difference here in the policies of the United States and of most of the European Governments. I don't want to minimize that because it wouldn't be realistic or honest of me to do so.
We are confident that we are right. We're going to proceed on that basis.
A general maxim that we've put forward concerning both Helms-Burton and now the D'Amato legislation is this: we'd like to see the implementation by the United States of this legislation have a greater impact on the targets of the legislation -- Fidel Castro, the Iranian leadership and Muammar Qadhafi -- than on the European governments -- Canada, Mexico, themselves. We'll work very hard to do that.
The Administration actually worked with the Congress in the D'Amato legislation to make it more narrowly drawn and more flexible so the President would have the authority to distinguish among European countries that are interested in fighting terrorism and those that are not.
I thought it was important to point out to you that if a European country decides in the next couple of months to take concerted action against Iran or Libya, then its companies could possibly receive a waiver from this bill.
Q That wasn't my question. My question was, does the existence of this disagreement, this strong difference of opinion, have at least the potential to affect the overall relationship between the European Union and the United States?
MR. BURNS: I think it is already affecting it. We hope that we can contain the impact of this disagreement. We should. Because there are very important issues that will always unite us with the Europeans - - our NATO alliance with many European countries, our economic relationship, which is important to all of us. But we are in a war against terrorism.
We've now seen very dramatically over the last five or six weeks in the United States the effects of that. We've seen it in Atlanta, we've seen it in New York, and we've seen it in Saudi Arabia.
Should the United States Government just sit back and do nothing in the face of these attacks on the United States, on our citizens, on our soldiers and our diplomats, or should we try to do something to fight it? The President believes very strongly that we ought to try to do something that is effective and strong.
We need to convince the European governments that it's their fight, too; that we can't always fight their battles for them and allow them to reap the economic benefits.
Q Nick, the President has now twice signed bills which impose what critics call secondary boycotts. So having made that decision -- and, as you say, not wanting to by half measures -- why did the Administration oppose Senator D'Amato's original bill which would have imposed sanctions and punishment on companies that exported any oil from Libya and Iran?
Italy, for example, gets 30 percent of its oil from Libya and 15 percent from Iran. That is going to still be possible under this law.
MR. BURNS: We wanted to have a bill that would be effective internationally, that could be implemented successfully and that would allow the European countries to keep open the possibility that they may join us in these sanctions. Because multilateral sanctions, if we can ever get to that point, will be far more effective than unilateral sanctions. We're aware of that. So we think now we've added in our negotiations with the Congress the necessary flexibility into this law and the necessary distinctions about the different types of sanctions that can be applied that will allow us to implement it effectively.
It is important to stand up and have sound tough, have tough rhetoric against terrorists. It's even more important to actually do something that's tough and to be effective. We think the way we've negotiated this bill will allow us to be more effective.
Q Speaking of which, is it realistic for the United States to hope or introduce a resolution extending the sanctions to cutting off oil exports of Libya in the U.N. Security Council?
MR. BURNS: I didn't quite understand the question, Lee.
Q You were talking about multilateral sanctions.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q So is the United States going to push again in the U.N. Security Council to extend the sanctions to be on flying in and out of Libya airplane spare parts to an overall cut-off of oil?
MR. BURNS: Right now the United States, in many ways, is standing alone against Iran and Libya in the fight against terrorism. We have made our wishes clear and our plans clear to the Europeans. We hope they'll join us in the fight against terrorism.
I think were we take it to a vote today, it probably wouldn't pass. But we are content to stand alone, and we are content to adopt these tough measures ourselves because we're convinced that we're right. We're convinced that it's the best way to protect American citizens.
Barry, I'm sorry, you had a question.
Q I do, but I thought you were going to take a TWA question.
MR. BURNS: Because you're going to a different subject?
Q Yeah, yeah.
MR. BURNS: Why don't we go to TWA.
Q Same subject.
MR. BURNS: This woman had -- we should always defer to women in the briefing room.
Q He's on the same subject.
Q On the same subject.
Q Go ahead.
Q Besides with the European countries, there are some other countries in the Middle East doing business with Iran and Libya. Do you have any comment for those countries, too. Besides with the European countries, there are some other countries in the Middle East who are doing business with Iran and Libya. I'm wondering if you have any comment for those countries, too?
MR. BURNS: These sanctions pertain to all countries in the world, not just the European countries. So if there are other countries doing business, their companies would come under the effects of the sanctions as well.
Q What about Sudan?
MR. BURNS: What about Sudan, specifically? What about Sudan's --
MR. BURNS: Do you have a specific question?
Q Yes. Sudan was in the recent past as a safehaven country for terrorists. Why Sudan is not included in this ban?
MR. BURNS: Sudan is on the terrorism list. There are very few countries on it, and Sudan is one of them.
As you know, the United States follows events in Sudan from afar because of the security situation there and also because of our unhappiness with the Sudanese regime. We are effectively working, we have our lines open but we don't have close lines. We think international pressure should be brought to bear against Sudan.
Q Do you have a question?
Q It better be good after all this. Last week, Representative Saxton and this week Time Magazine both suggested a very strong possibility of an Iranian link to the bombing of TWA Flight 800. Are they now a lead suspect?
MR. BURNS: We don't know. The NTSB and the FBI in charge of this investigation have not yet determined the cause of the crash much less who was responsible. It remains to be seen who is responsible.
If this investigation leads to a terrorist attack -- if that's what the FBI and the NTSB conclude; they have not yet concluded that, but if they do conclude that -- then, of course, we, in the Department of State will work with the FBI in trying to determine who it was; whether it was someone inside the United States? Was it an American citizen? Was it a foreign citizen? Was it a terrorist group? Was it a state? We don't know. There's no way to answer that question. There's a lot of speculation but no way to answer it.
Q Speaking of clever transitions, Colombia air travel: you or Transportation. Who is going to tell us about Avianca, or whatever?
MR. BURNS: Barry, Secretary Pena has already spoken out about this. But, essentially, the case is this. The United States and Colombia have conducted several rounds of negotiations, stemming from Colombia's refusal to allow U.S. air carriers to initiate certain air service, links, between New York and Bogota.
Because of that, and the refusal, the United States Department of Transportation has held in abeyance several requests that have been made by the Colombian Government and by Colombian state organizations.
This is in the well-understood area of reciprocity, if you will. If they're not going to entertain our reasonable request, which we believe do fit under the rubric of our civil aviation agreements, then we're going to withhold agreement on their request until we get satisfaction.
We're in the middle of a negotiation. The negotiations are going to resume in a couple of weeks -- this month and the latter part of August -- and we hope that by that time we'll have worked out a better way to resolve this problem with the Colombian Government.
I can tell you -- I've asked a lot of people in this building who are responsible for civil aviation. Our view is that we're not taking this action as another step in our effort to try to get the attention of the Colombian Government on the issue of counternarcotics. This is a civil aviation issue.
We've taken a variety of very strong measures on the counternarcotics side. I do believe we have their attention already on that issue.
Any other questions on Colombia before we move to Israel? Sid.
Q What exactly do you want and what exactly do they want?
MR. BURNS: These are private negotiations. Of course, as you know, in civil aviation negotiations which are done by the State Department, we represent the interests of American air carriers. I think until negotiations are finished, we don't want to talk publicly about the business plans of some of those airlines.
But, essentially, Sid, what it is, is that a major U.S. airline wants to initiate a route between New York and Bogota. The Colombian Government said no. So we've said no to some requests made by the Colombian National Airlines.
Q I think the carrier they originally awarded that route to is the one that they would prefer to have, and you all would like to have them give it to another?
MR. BURNS: All I can tell you is, we're representing, of course, the interests of American companies here. We're also trying to make sure that the Colombians live up to their side of existing international aviation arrangements.
We're in a negotiation. Because you haven't achieved success in the middle of a negotiation doesn't mean you can't by the end, and we hope that the Colombians will come around to understand that there is an amicable way out of this dispute.
Q You say there is no linking between the disagreements over President Samper and the counternarcotic situation and this negotiation? There's no linkage?
MR. BURNS: I'm saying that we've already taken measures that have gotten their attention. The reason for taking this particular action has nothing to do with counternarcotics and everything to do with civil aviation and our wish that American companies be treated fairly around the world.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Nick, what is the State Department doing diplomatically given the failure of the Bosnian Croats to honor the elections in Mostar? It seems to be another setback.
MR. BURNS: The United States was very disappointed over the weekend to hear the decision by the Bosnian Croats not to respect the democratic elections that have been overseen and sanctioned by various international groups, including the OSCE.
Since that decision, John Kornblum has been working with Sir Martin Garrod, the EU representative. We've been hand-in-hand with the European Union to try to convince the Bosnian Croats that they must respect the results of democratic elections.
The EU has not given up. The EU is still in there -- Michael Steiner has taken the lead in the negotiations today -- still in there trying to resolve this problem.
The United States is supporting the European Union. We thought we had certain understandings from the meeting on Friday when President Tudjman was here. We hope that President Tudjman will exert his considerable influence on this situation to make sure that the Bosnian Croats respect the elections.
We believe that there is a way to resolve this. There's a way for Muslims and Croats to work together and to share authority and power in Mostar. It's a very important negotiation today. Because we are about a month away -- we're five weeks away -- from the national elections on September 14.
If this problem in Mostar cannot be resolved, it, of course, will have an impact on the September 14 elections. We believe it can be resolved. We believe that progress has been made just in the last 24 hours.
We checked with John Kornblum just before the briefing. While it has not yet been resolved, we believe it's on the way to being resolved.
Q He's still going out there this week?
MR. BURNS: Yes. John will be leaving in a couple of days; I believe on Thursday. He'll be spending Friday and the weekend and early part of next week in the region. He'll be meeting with President Milosevic at the end of this week. He'll be working on a variety of Dayton issues.
Q This is an echo of the usual question about Milosevic and the Bosnian Serbs. Is the State Department persuaded that Tudjman could deliver the Bosnian Croats if he wanted to, he has the influence to do it? You said you'd like him to use his influence --
MR. BURNS: We believe that --
Q Friday, it sounded like you had it licked, and you don't. So it Mutt and Jeff or is there some disconnect?
MR. BURNS: We've learned two things, Barry, over the past 12 months in our experience in the Balkans. One is, it's the Balkans. Sometimes agreements you think you have disappear in the middle of the night. That's what happened on this one.
The second lesson we've learned is not to give up -- not to give up. When countries do not comply with the agreements that they've already made, to go back to them and to use whatever influence you have to use, whatever leverage you have to use to convince them it's in their self-interest to comply. That's a lesson that I think Carl Bildt and the United States have learned and have now put into practice.
We're not giving up, and I believe we'll be successful in convincing the Bosnian Croat community to respect the democratic elections.
Q You haven't answered Barry's question. Did Tudjman not deliver because he couldn't or he didn't want to?
MR. BURNS: President Tudjman has considerable influence to bring to bear on the situation. We trust, as a result of his conversation with President Clinton and Secretary Christopher, that he will do so.
Q You said that -- I'm paraphrasing what you said -- you said, I think, the problem is on its way to being resolved?
MR. BURNS: That's our understanding.
Q On the basis of this negotiation that took place last night for six hours without results, you think that is going to be the basis of it, that the Croats will accept the election results on the condition that there still will be certain investigation about some voting irregularities alleged?
MR. BURNS: Until an agreement is reached, I don't want to go into the specifics of what is being worked out, obviously as a compromise here.
But I do want to lead you in the direction that some progress has been made by the European Union and the United States over the last 24 hours. Just today, John Kornblum and Michael Steiner and Sir Martin Garrod have all been active. While we cannot yet declare a victory, we believe that one is within sight.
Let's go back to Barry's rule, number one. This is the Balkans. Please don't blame me --
Q It used to be the Middle East.
MR. BURNS: It used to be the Middle East, now the Balkans. If 24 hours from now we're all sitting together discussing the need to resolve this, don't be surprised. But I think the situation is heading in the right direction.
Q Nick, the European Union threaten August 4 to be out of there if the agreement wasn't reached. Do you support them in making declarations that they don't follow up on?
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't characterize the European Union's position that way. I think, first of all, the European Union deserves the thanks of all of us for having played the role it has played in Mostar very effectively.
Secondly, the European Union negotiators are very skilled negotiators. They have adopted a technique that we used at Dayton. We went into extra innings at Dayton. We went over our own deadline, but we dragged them across the finish line anyway. They're now in extra time, if you want to use a European football analogy.
Just because you're in extra time doesn't mean you're not going to succeed in the end. I think Sir Martin Garrod has been a very adept, very skilled negotiator and leader on this issue.
Q As far as I understood, on Friday, you were pleased. Now, you say that agreement has disappeared. It is a Balkans matter. Anyway, what was the promise which was Tudjman's commitment?
According to the White House, the main discussion took place after the conclusion of the President's meeting. It means that there was no commitment by Tudjman in the meeting with President Clinton? Is that correct?
MR. BURNS: Let's be clear about something. The people who have to make this agreement are the local Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Muslim leaders of the city of Mostar. They're the ones who have to sign on the dotted line, who have to make the final understandings. They have to make those commitments.
President Tudjman has influence to bring to bear. So does the United States. So does President Izetbegovic. We expect that all of us will work towards a resolution of this.
Q But the problem is, you told us on Friday that Tudjman agreed on everything. They agreed about Mostar and about Herceg-Bosna.
MR. BURNS: Again, remember, this is the Balkans. Let's not judge the results until the results are in. Let's not judge it until extra time is finished, or this match is over.
Q He was agreed, or --
MR. BURNS: Our very strong impression, as a result of Friday's conversations -- both those with President Tudjman and his advisors -- was that the Croatian Government understood the need to resolve this problem. They understood the elementary principle at play here, which is, you don't have the right in a democracy to choose which elections you're going to respect and which you are not going to respect. That's fundamental.
Q Also, Nick, two hours after the meeting in the White House, President Tudjman said, "There is no change in our position."
MR. BURNS: If the Croatian position all along was that there should be a mutually satisfactory arrangement in Mostar, then that's good news. We'll just have to see what results.
Q Did President Tudjman, or did he not, give a firm commitment that he would use his considerable influence to --
MR. BURNS: My understanding is that he did.
Q That he did give a firm commitment?
MR. BURNS: Yes. And I would just respectfully say, since this is the Balkans, we're in extra time. Let's wait 24 hours and see what results. If we haven't made progress in 24 hours, let's have this debate over again tomorrow.
Q Are you going to bring it closure soon?
MR. BURNS: It's extra time. We have to bring in -- like a sleeper, a wing. The closure is in our Dayton analogy, but that's okay. When we use extra innings, it confused the European reporters who aren't, unfortunately, familiar with the great game of baseball. So we've tried to give a football -- European football -- terminology to this so it's understood in Europe. The Croatians understand basketball, so it's overtime.
Q Is your team prepared for everything?
MR. BURNS: We're on a winning streak. We've been successful for 12 months now. We're kind of undefeated. So we're confident of victory.
Q I have a Bosnia question but it's not on this specific issue. Go ahead.
Q The same kind of issue we've been debating. Is it possible there's another thing at play -- notwithstanding the best efforts that everybody in the Administration has made on this -- that you've over- estimated the abilities of Mr. Tudjman on this issue -- and Mr. Milosevic on the issue of delivering Karadzic -- to deliver? Is that also a possibility?
MR. BURNS: These are commitments. It's not just the inclinations of a particular leader like Milosevic or Tudjman. These are commitments that they've made. They are commitments that these countries have made to respect the elections. There is a commitment that Milosevic has made to turn over war criminals. He's in violation of those commitments.
I'd prefer to use that terminology, Charlie. I think that's the more realistic terminology.
David, you had a question?
Q For the record, could I get your reaction to the London Sunday Times report about U.S. plans to kidnap Mr. Karadzic?
MR. BURNS: My reaction is, I know nothing about such plans. But I would say this, David. There is an agreement in place, engineered by Dick Holbrooke, which calls upon Mr. Karadzic not to participate in the electoral campaign; to step down from his party leadership position and his Republic of Srpska presidency. He has done all of that.
We are closely monitoring his compliance with the election campaign. I think that was very definitely a step in the right direction. We took him out of power and out of influence.
We will not be content until he is in The Hague, tried for war crimes.
Q Is the option of arresting him being held in reserve in case he doesn't fulfill that agreement?
MR. BURNS: There are many options available to IFOR and to the United States and the other countries involved there. As for the London Sunday Times report, I'm not aware of any such operation.
I would hasten to tell you, were any such operation in place, we wouldn't tell you about it publicly anyway. So, Mr. Karadzic, while he puts on his tuxedo everyday and paces back and forth in his house, because he can't really go out anymore, when Mr. Karadzic reflects on his own position, he should wonder about what options are available to the Western community.
Q What do you mean "he can't go out?"
MR. BURNS: Pardon?
Q You'd have to pull over the threshold --
MR. BURNS: It's hard to go out and play soccer in a tuxedo. It appears --
Q Oh, oh, I get it.
Q Is he under surveillance?
MR. BURNS: The Italian contingent of troops from IFOR is patrolling up in Pale. John Kornblum, by the way, was up in Pale last week and saw the Italian soldiers. He's certainly under surveillance. Certainly under surveillance by that and other means.
Q Can we do the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Do you have one more on Bosnia?
Q (Inaudible) Israel?
MR. BURNS: I want to defer to this gentleman because he asked the question. He's been patiently waiting. Then we'll go to you, Mr. Abdul Salam.
Q I don't know if you did it on Friday, but you can skip it if you did. Do you have a reaction to the Israeli Government decision on Friday to resume construction activity on existing settlements to build new roads? Do you think this is a violation of the Oslo agreements as well?
MR. BURNS: What I said on Friday -- and I'll be glad to repeat it for you; Barry wasn't here -- is to say that our long-standing position on settlements hasn't changed. We think they are complicating and unhelpful to the peace negotiations, they are a final status issue. That's point one.
Point two: As we read the public announcement issued from Jerusalem on Friday, it appears to tell us that the Israeli Government has decided to ease restrictions on existing settlements, but it is not a decision to go forward with new settlements. It points out there are budgetary factors that work here. It points out that there would have to be a meeting of the full Cabinet. It points out that the Defense Minister is given personal responsibility for this issue.
As we read that statement, it does not appear to us to be a dramatic departure -- dramatic departure -- from the previous government. We retain our position on settlements. We have not changed our position that settlements are a complicating factor and unhelpful and that they ought to be resolved by the Palestinians and the Israelis in the final status talks.
Q Have you talked to the Israelis about your concerns?
MR. BURNS: Well, Dore Gold, the Prime Minister's top advisor, was in the State Department on Friday morning and we did discuss this issue with him.
Q I don't see that it's a departure at all from the previous government. I see it as the identical policy on settlements of the Peres and Rabin Administrations. What do you see as a departure here.
MR. BURNS: I think we're in agreement here. I said it's not any kind of dramatic departure. I think that they are signaling that there are perhaps some activities. If you look at the way that it was explained in Jerusalem, that could be undertaken on existing settlements that were not permissible under the prior government.
But this clearly was not a decision to go out and build new settlements. As we read the statement, it has nothing to do with that issue.
Q What about new roads in (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: We're looking at that. We've seen statements by Minister Sharon about his inclination to support two roads. It's not at all clear to us that this is yet a government decision. It's not at all clear to us that the government has decided to do this. It appears to be a proposal by one minister. As you know, President Clinton, in reacting to this the other day at a press conference, said we'd be, of course, wanting to know what this proposal was, whether or not it had been adopted by the full government. We would want to know whether it violated any of Israel's existing commitments; because the thing that has been very important for us to hear since the Israel elections is that the Netanyahu Government intends to fulfill its commitments to its Arab partners.
On that score, Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Jordan today and made a very important statement at the press conference with King Hussein. He said that Israel not only would keep its commitments to the Arab countries and Arab partners like the Palestinian Authority, but that Israel was open to negotiations on any issue with Syria, including the Golan Heights. That is a significant public statement from the Prime Minister of Israel.
Q During the Gold visit, did the -- let's call it the "Gold visit" -- Gold's talks there -- didn't you get an explanation on highways or their rationale for highways? One that we certainly heard (inaudible) --
MR. BURNS: Barry, there are a variety of issues here.
Q But everybody uses highways.
MR. BURNS: There are a variety of issues here. I believe Minister Sharon has made a proposal about two new highways. We have heard other Israeli Government spokespeople talk about perhaps widening existing highways. For instance, the highway that leads from Jericho up to the Sea of Galilee, a road that serves both Palestinians and Israelis. So I think what we want to do is be educated by the Israeli Government about these specific plans, and we want to make a distinction between proposals that are being made publicly and decisions that have been made by the government.
I believe on the issue of road construction, they've not yet made any decisions. They're simply looking at proposals.
Q Nick, this is -- on terminology, which is important in that region as elsewhere. This is at least the second time you've used adjectives that are less explosive or less critical in describing settlements. If you don't mind me pursuing it with you, is calling a settlement "unhelpful," is that the same thing as calling a settlement or settlement activity an "obstacle to peace," which was the position of this government, as every previous government, but the position that I haven't heard since the Likud Government moved in.
MR. BURNS: Actually, the language that I have used for the last year and a half and Mike McCurry has used is complicating; that we believe that settlements are complicating and unhelpful. This language, of course, is language that pertains to the fact that there is a declaration of principles. There is a negotiating process set out and agreed to by the Palestinians and the Israelis, and there's a place for settlements, clearly, in the final status talks.
Previous governments -- you're absolutely right, previous American administrations, the Bush Administration is an example -- used different language. But there's a different reality in the Middle East that this Administration deals with, and that is the fact that the Palestinians and Israelis have come together and decided that settlements are an issue, and that they will be talked about by them.
So we've not wanted to intrude as much on that negotiation, but our position hasn't changed. We are not enthusiasts. We have said it's complicated and unhelpful.
Q There's another possible approach, which is that there have been negotiations and the other Administrations didn't have that fact on the ground. There have been negotiations, and, you know, somewhat productive negotiations, even with settlements.
But you're coming up to a new phase, which you would hope would be the final phase. So the question still is, in that final phase of negotiations, as Israel and the PLO approach it, does the U.S. consider settlements or settlement activity an obstacle and a hindrance to an overall settlement or simply unhelpful?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I think you're right to point out that the Clinton Administration is dealing with a much different set of facts and different realities than the Bush Administration did, because of the progress that has been made by Yasser Arafat and the Israeli leadership.
Second, you, more than anyone else in this room, understand that words have meaning. Sometimes words are loaded in the Middle East peace negotiations context. When we say that settlements are a "complicating factor and unhelpful," we mean what we say, and everyone understands what we mean by that.
Were I to choose some other language from the late 1980s or early 1990s, I would be departing from the reality that currently exists. So I'm going to stick with our language.
Q Nick, Mr. Netanyahu, when he explained the lifting of these restrictions on the settlements, he was talking about ideological things. He said that there was something, injustice which deprived the Jews, the Israelis, from going wherever they want and building wherever they want to build.
So there was an element of ideology and compliance with his coalition partners, and this is why this issue has been raised. Do you see what the ideology or ideological preferences of Mr. Netanyahu for raising this issue to correct injustice, like he said, that the Jews will not be allowed, that has been done by the previous Administrations?
MR. BURNS: Frankly, with all due respect, I don't want to put myself in the position of being responsible for articulating someone else's ideology. The Palestinians have an ideology. The Israelis do. We have an ideology in our own government. That's not surprising. We have points of view.
Q And you said something --
MR. BURNS: But let the Israelis and Palestinians describe their own position.
Q And you said something about his trip to Jordan and his meeting with King Hussein. The only significant thing that we saw this morning that is coming out is allowing 5,000 more Palestinian workers to go inside Israel.
But do you have an idea when the resumption of the talks, the final talks, between Israelis and the Palestinians will come?
MR. BURNS: We are working right now to try to use our influence, because we've been asked to, to help the Israelis and Palestinians move forward on their own talks. We have been asked to work on the Israeli- Syrian talks, to try to restart them.
It's up to the Israelis and Palestinians to make the final decisions and to make the announcements when these talks resume, and we hope that we do.
I tell you something, though, Mr. Abdul-Salam, what's really important about the climate in the Middle East since the Israeli elections is this: There was a great hue and cry after the election that somehow all the peace negotiations would end. That didn't happen, and now you have Arab leaders -- King Hussein, President Mubarak, even Palestinian leaders -- understanding after some initial conversations with the Israeli leadership that there is a prospect for future negotiations.
That's all the United States has ever wanted, from the first day that Prime Minister Netanyahu took power; that is, an open door in the Arab countries and in Gaza to continue contacts with Israel, and a commitment by Israel to keep its own commitments that it's made to the Arab countries.
That all appears to be happening now. So we believe that the situation is actually going, perhaps slowly, but going in the right direction, moving forward, and we're relatively content with where things are right now.
I think if you listened to President Mubarak last week or King Hussein, you'll hear pretty much the same analysis.
Q (Inaudible) is like Zbigniew Brezezinski in his article in The Washington Times yesterday. He said something that Mr. Netanyahu is planning to relegate the whole peace process, the whole talks, with the Palestinians to a different direction and dealing with Jordan over the Palestinian issue.
And here when you are talking about not continuing what was going on before the Israeli elections, which were stopped -- the final talks with Mr. Peres and Mr. Arafat, and they were suspended until after the elections -- that Mr. Netanyahu is not picking up on this, and this is creating more urgency than the issue of Syria and Israel. This is what is the concern of the Palestinians.
MR. BURNS: We think the situation is headed in the right direction.
Q Nick, you described Netanyahu's statement in Amman today about being open to negotiations on any issue, including the Golan Heights. Is this different from what he was saying here in Washington a couple of weeks ago?
MR. BURNS: It's not fundamentally different than what we have understood the Israeli position to be in private. What is significant is that he said it with an Arab leader beside him. He said it publicly. Again, it contributes to the positive forward momentum that we see.
Without trying to oversell or exaggerate the progress that has been made, clearly the situation is much different than it was when a Labor Government was in power -- just the climate of negotiations. But we do think that now that Prime Minister Netanyahu has had his initial round of discussions with the Arab leaders, what the Arabs are saying in public is positive -- relatively positive, relatively more positive than was the case directly after his election, and that is a good thing.
Q Just to dot the "I." Are you saying that Netanyahu did say privately in Washington that he was open to negotiation on any issue, including the possible return of the Golan Heights?
MR. BURNS: I think what he said today publicly is consistent with what he's been saying privately, yes.
Q Nick, He also said, apparently, that he had conveyed to Syria, through the United States, some proposals, could you confirm that?
MR. BURNS: The United States, Secretary Christopher and Ambassador Dennis Ross have been in touch with both Syria and Israel over the last couple of weeks in an effort that they have requested us to undertake to try to convince both to agree to the resumption of negotiations.
We have not yet been successful in convincing both to do so. We hope we will be successful in the future. It's very difficult for me to prophecy when that will be, but we're going to work on it in a very, very hard way.
Q Nick, as the chief sponsor of the peace talks in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Arabs, you don't see any urgency, at the present time, for Israel to resume the final talks with the Palestinians?
MR. BURNS: What we've found to be most helpful is when the United States works very closely and is very frank with the parties in private, but allows them to take the lead publicly. I think they're headed in the right direction, both the Palestinians and Israel, and we hope very much that they'll reach an agreement to resume their talks -- the final status talks -- as well as deal with issues like the redeployment from Hebron, which is an issue that must be dealt with.
Q I want to follow up. But Israel began its campaign of closing Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem just in the last 24 hours. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I know that's an issue that's being discussed right now by the Palestinians and Israel. I think it would be unhelpful if the United States intruded on that issue publicly.
Q A follow on about the language.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q You said that the Israeli decision was not a dramatic change, and you referred to new settlements as a complicating factor. Would you say that expanding the settlements is a less complicating factor than building new settlements? Do you have a different reaction to expanding them or building new settlements?
MR. BURNS: Actually, our view is that the settlements by themselves, the existing settlements, are a complicating factor in the negotiations and our unhelpful. But we said that for a very long time, and we mean it. We are not enthusiasts in this process.
It's up to the Israelis and Palestinians, however, to decide this issue in the final status talks. It will not be decided by the United States, and it's in the proper place for negotiations.
Q A complicating factor, but it's not a dramatic change at the same time.
MR. BURNS: I'm just saying you have look very carefully at the public statement by the Israeli Government on Friday. It is very explicit. It says certain things and doesn't say others, and I think it behooves all of you, who are reporting on this, to just look at it, as we did, quite carefully.
Yes, and then Sid.
Q On Turkey.
MR. BURNS: You're still on the Middle East?
Q One more question.
MR. BURNS: Still on the Middle East, and then we'll go to Turkey.
Q Is the Secretary using any special envoys -- any envoys -- to carry messages on his behalf between Israel and Syria?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary, as you know, is fully engaged in this. He met with Dore Gold on Friday morning. From time to time he speaks with Minister Shara. He's had a number of conversations with him in the last month. The Secretary is fully engaged and is in the lead on this issue.
Q Is he also using other avenues -- envoys -- Russia, Lebanese Americans--
MR. BURNS: As you know, Dennis Ross took a trip two weeks ago.
Q People who aren't part of the Administration.
MR. BURNS: Dennis Ross took a trip two weeks ago and served as the Secretary's representative to the Syrians and Israelis. I'm not aware that we've used any other people to put forward our own point of view. I think it's just been the Secretary and Dennis, as far as I know.
Q Are there any other envoys involved, not necessarily putting forth your point of view but working with the Secretary, working with Dennis, meeting with Assad, meeting with Netanyahu and maybe in Jerusalem?
MR. BURNS: From the American side, the Secretary of State is in the lead and Dennis Ross is the Secretary's representative from time to time. We're in touch with the French Government. Minister De Charette made a trip to the region. President Chirac was in touch with the Syrians and others last week, and we're working very well and very amicably with the French on this.
Q Do you have an idea about promoting thoughts or idea of Lebanon first, which has been now in the media?
MR. BURNS: Our view of that is that it makes sense for Israel to make peace with Lebanon and with Syria, but it's a two-way street, and we hope that there will be success, ultimately, on both tracks. As to how it happens, that really is not something that I can address publicly. It's really a decision that the Israelis and Lebanese and the Syrians and others need to make.
Q Would you answer the story which was also last week that some Syrian official met with Mr. Netanyahu in Israel --
MR. BURNS: I can't add to that, no. I said last week I know nothing about that.
Yes, on Turkey?
Q I have one more on --
MR. BURNS: On, Lee, I'm sorry.
Q Could you elaborate a little more for the benefit of our readers and viewers on the critical U.S. role in these Syria talks? For example, did the Secretary call President Assad or call Foreign Minister Shara after the Dore Gold visit? Have there been other efforts of involvement by the Secretary or by Dennis? Do you expect the Secretary to return to the region this month?
MR. BURNS: Lee, on the last part of your question, the Secretary has said before that he will return at some point, but he hasn't made a decision of when that will be, and he'll return at some point, but he hasn't made a decision of when that will be, and he'll return when he thinks he can play a useful role in the region.
In the meantime, he is in direct contact with both Israel and Syria, and Israel and Syria have asked the United States to, in effect, play an intermediary role here. They've asked the United States to work with them to see if they can agree together to resume their diplomatic negotiations. That's a role that we play, I think, quite well. The Secretary has a lot of experience in this area, and he's had a lot of success with this.
He takes it very seriously and is working very hard at it, and we hope we will be successful. But I can't tell you now when that will be.
Q In this role, did he contact Foreign Minister Shara or President Assad after Dore Gold came to visit?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if there's been a personal contact since Friday night -- I don't believe there has -- but I know that we've been in contact with the Syrian Government.
Yes, now we have Turkey. I think you were --
Q Yes. Last week I had asked you if you were aware that Turkey was going to make a request to the United Nations, asking for special exemption with regard to sanctions on Iraq. They wanted to trade with Iraq and get a special hardship exemption. At the time you weren't aware of that. Have you heard anything more on that? Has Turkey contacted the State Department?
MR. BURNS: About Turkey's action?
MR. BURNS: I can just tell you that I believe that there is a Turkish application; the United States and other members of the Sanctions Committee will review that application.
One consideration in this review will be the impact of the sanctions on Turkey's economy. We're pleased that Turkey has very recently assured us that it continues to comply with the U.N. Sanctions Regime. The United States' position remains that sanctions should be in place; they should remain in place; they should be observed by all countries.
Saddam Hussein's defiance of the United Nations, his disregard for the suffering of his own people, led to these sanctions in the first place.
We also continue to support U.N. Resolution 986 on which progress is being made and has been made, over the last couple of days. Resolution 986 provides for the sale of Iraqi oil through the Turkish- Iraqi pipeline, which will bring a substantial economic benefit to Turkey. This resolution, as you remember, is a resolution drafted by the United States, which we hope when implemented will benefit Turkey and benefit the Iraqi people but not benefit Saddam Hussein.
We've made some progress. We hope that we'll be able to complete our discussions and negotiations at the United Nations very soon and go forward with 986. We have asked the U.N. Sanctions Committee and the Secretary General, however, to tighten up their implementation of 986, so that Saddam Hussein has no chance to enrich himself, and that's been our bottom line all along.
We've been encouraged by some of the modifications made in the plan by both the U.N. Sanctions Committee and the Secretary General.
Q If 986 goes forward, let's say, in the next few days and that Turkey may not need the hardship exemption because they'll be getting lots of money from the Turkish-Iraqi pipeline --
MR. BURNS: Turkey was affected very seriously by the closure of the pipeline after Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, and, if we pass 986 and put it into effect, that will redress a substantial part of Turkey's concerns.
Q Turkey's asking to make use of the same kind of flexibility Jordan has been using. Do you think the Jordanian model is applicable at all?
MR. BURNS: It's hard to say. We do have just, I think, in the last two hours now, an application by the Turkish Government. We'll have to study that application and see exactly what the Turks have in mind. But I do want to point you to 986 as a way to resolve some of the concerns of the Turkish Government.
Q On South Korea trial?
MR. BURNS: Did you want to stay on Turkey, Yasmine?
Q Actually, I wanted to ask something about the Amway question.
MR. BURNS: Let's go to South Korea first.
Q Today the South Korean prosecutor asked Judge in Seoul (inaudible) criminal to sentence former President Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo to death peanalty or prisoner for life on charge of 1979, coup d'etat and bribery. Do you have any comment on this trial?
MR. BURNS: This is an obvious tragedy for the individuals involved, and it's obviously an internal matter for the people of the Republic of Korea. I think it's important for us maybe not to comment and to let this play out in South Korea itself.
Q Another on Korea. Nick, there's a wire here today, basically stating that the floods of last month destroyed about 20 percent of North Korea's annual harvest. Apparently they're in worse shape than ever. The U.S. policy -- South Korean policy is that no aid should go to the North until it accepts the four-party talks.
Is this policy going to remain in effect? And a second question is, are we going to allow that other parties may provide food relief for North Korea?
MR. BURNS: Bill, as I said on Friday in response to an almost identical question, there is no appeal from the World Food Program for additional food aid. The United States has pledged $6.2 million. The ship with the bulk of those food commodities will arrive on August 22, and we will go forward with the current food aid. There's no request for additional food aid by the World Food Program.
Q Are you accepting the premise of the question, though?
MR. BURNS: I wasn't paying attention to the premise as I was to the end.
Q We won't provide food aid until the North Koreans agree to the four-party talks.
MR. BURNS: No. The United States is currently providing food aid at a time that North Korea has not yet agreed to the four-party talks. We're providing $6.2 million in food aid.
Q I take it this means that we won't provide any more food aid or any more aid until the four-party talks are agreed to?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not saying that. No. We've made no such commitment. I don't know what you're reading from, but hopefully it's not one of my transcripts.
MR. BURNS: No, Bill, let's just get it straight, and we can clarify this quite quickly. We're going to provide food aid, regardless of what happens on the four-party talks. Should the United Nations come forward with additional requests for food aid, we can make no commitments, but we would not reject that request. We would look at it.
So we are de-linking the two issues here. We're not linking them, and we've been very clear about that.
Q I think this is an error. In that case, are we withholding other types of aid from the North Koreans?
MR. BURNS: We have no aid program with the Koreans. We have given them humanitarian food aid to help individuals in North Korea.
Yes, last question from Yasmine.
Q On one question. An individual's name was brought up in the wire stories on Friday, namely, George Nader(?), I believe, was acting as a go-between for Israelis and the Syrians. Is he someone who has any kind of consent of this government?
MR. BURNS: I have no idea. I have not seen that name in public, and just really have no comment to make.
Thank you very much.
(The briefing concluded at 2:17 p.m.)
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