Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
96/08/06 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman

                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                               DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
                                              I N D E X 
                                  Tuesday, August 6, 1996

                                             Briefer:  Nicholas Burns

   Welcome to Visiting Students From The Washington Workshop
     Foundation's Diplomacy and Global Affairs Seminar........... 1
   Bosnian Croats & Bosnian Muslims Sign Agreement on Mostar..... 1-2
   Mostar Agreement:
   --Importance to Upcoming Election/EU's Attitude Towards
     Absentee Ballots............................................ 2
   --Pres Tudjman's Influence, EU's & Member Govts Support, &
     Negotiator Sir Martin Garrod................................ 3
   Travel of A/S Kornblum to the Region.......................... 3
   Syria & Israel's Negotiations Update                           3-10
   --Israeli PM Netanyahu on Issues/Golan Heights................ 4-9
   --Israeli PM's Advisor Dore Gold's Mtgs....................... 7-8
   --Syria's Record on Terrorism/Willingness for Eventual Peace
     Treaty w/Israel............................................. 9-10
   Status of Departure of USG Employee Dependents/US Military
     Moving Their Dependents Out................................. 6
   Security Upgraded for US Military & US Diplomats.............. 13
   Sanctions Bill:
   --Need for European Support & Multilateral Sanctions/
     Possible US Sanctions Relief/US Receives Formal
     Demarches/US Ability to Deter Terrorism..................... 11-13
   --Hopes that EU Will Not Take Issue to WTO.................... 16-17
   --Alleged Turkish Govt Announcement of Major Venture in Oil
     & Gas Fields in Iran/Possibility of Two of Six Sanctions
     To Be Deployed.............................................. 14
   SecDef Perry's Rpt of Possible Iranian-Constructed Mortar
     Found on Ship That Arrived in Belgium....................... 13
   UNSC Resolution 986:
   --Turkey's Application for Exemption/Turkey to Honor Sanctions 15
   --Monitors/Humanitarian Food & Medical Supplies............... 16
   Status Update:
   --President Ntibantunganya's Whereabouts/Amb Howard Wolpe's
     Travel to Region & Europe/Major Buyoya Strives to Maintain
     Constitutional Rule/Prevention of Genocide.................. 17
   UN Report of Burundian Army Activities........................ 17-18
   Ongoing Investigation of Elected-President Ndadaye............ 20-21
   Alleged Rpt of British Providing Advance Radar................ 18
   Alleged Arrest of Former Drug Enforcement Agent............... 18
   Delegation Talks w/US re Narcotics............................ 18
   Alleged Rpt of Transit Visa Issued to Vice Pres Lien Chan..... 18-19
   U/S Spero's Mtg w/Opposition Leader Mrs. Megawati/Mistreatment
     of Demonstrators in Jakarta/Secretary Christopher's Support
     of US Stmt Issued to GOI...................................  19-20


DPB #127


MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Welcome to all of you. We have 12 high school students with us, from across the United States, who are participating in the Washington Workshop Foundation's Diplomacy and Global Affairs Seminar. Welcome to all of you.

The only comment I want to make pertains to Mostar. We saw today a very positive development and that was the signing of an agreement by the Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian Muslims on the issue of Mostar. They have now agreed to go forward with a City Council that will convene a little later on this month that will have at its head a mayor and a deputy mayor; the mayor will be, under the terms of the agreement, a Croat; the deputy mayor a Muslim.

This is because, following the terms of the Dayton Accords, the governor of the canton is a Muslim. You can't have a member of the same ethnic group in both the positions of governor and mayor. It's a very, very positive agreement.

It's an agreement that I think the European Union deserves a lot of credit for. Sir Martin Garrod, the EU Representative in Mostar, worked very hard on this. He didn't give up when they had to go into extra time Sunday and Monday.

There was very strong support by the European governments for this and very strong support from the United States, from both Secretary Christopher and John Kornblum, our Assistant Secretary, who spent a lot of time on this over the last few days. We want to congratulate all concerned.

We hope very much, now that this has been decided, that the implementation of this agreement will be assured by all sides.

You remember the dispute -- there was a dispute over some of the absentee ballots from Germany in the elections in Mostar. The two sides have agreed to submit this to an appropriate court of the Federation for review. They have asked for very quick action by the court on this.

So we'll be following up on this with them. John Kornblum, in fact, as you know, will be in the region in a couple of days. He'll be talking to the Croatian Government. Here, I think, also, President Tudjman deserves some praise for having exercised the Croatian Government's influence on the parties. We talked yesterday about his role. I think you can see that his role was important in this, and the meeting he had with the President on Friday was important as well.

Q The U.S. position -- the EU position seems to be that there aren't enough absentee ballots to make a difference anyhow.

Number one, the U.S. is convinced now this is a done deal; there's nothing the court proceeding can do to unscramble this again? Half of it has fallen apart once in the past few days.

Secondly, what about the question of the absentee ballots? Is that a legitimate reason to hold up the results of the election or even to submit it to a court?

MR. BURNS: First, Barry, we think it is a done deal. We think this is an agreement that is clear. We have now the active and public assent of both parties to it. We think it's going to last. It's important because we have another election coming up on September 14, nationwide, which is more important, obviously, in its scale and its impact on the future than the Mostar election.

But the Mostar election was a very important precedent to that.

Second, the EU, at various points, of course, talked publicly about its own attitude towards these absentee ballots. The agreement here is that this will be submitted by both sides to an appropriate court in the Federation. Let the court decide the question of the absentee ballots.

But that particular issue will not slow up the implementation, we understand, of the agreement that was signed today in Mostar.

Q Do you have anything to say about the Secretary's travels next week regarding that particular region?

MR. BURNS: I don't; no. I don't have anything to say. I told you that John Kornblum will be travelling to the region. He leaves, I think, tomorrow evening. He'll be in the region the latter part of the week. He'll be in Sarajevo and Mostar. He'll also be meeting with President Milosevic, but I don't have anything else for you on Secretary Christopher.

Q Will he be coming back here? When will he be coming back?

MR. BURNS: John Kornblum? I don't know what day he'll be returning. That remains to be seen. When I do know the answer to that question, I'll let you know.

Q How do you know that President Tudjman had an influence in this deal?

MR. BURNS: We understand that to be the case from the people with whom we've been in contact.

John Kornblum, when this agreement appeared to fall apart on Saturday, basically spent the last three days on the phone with Sir Martin Garrod of the EU and with the Croatians and with the Bosnians; also with the Croatian Government in Zagreb.

We understand that as a result of the President's meeting with him, President Tudjman did exert positive influence on this situation, as we had predicted at yesterday's briefing. I couldn't resist just letting you know that.

Q Do you think that Tudjman's influence was pivotal?

MR. BURNS: That's very hard to say. I think the majority of the congratulations here ought to go to the Croat and Bosnian Muslim leaders, but particularly to the European Union. I think the European Union acted decisively and had a very strong influence. It had the support not only of the EU itself, the Commission, but also the member governments, and had a very effective negotiator in Sir Martin Garrod.

Q Could I ask a question about the Middle East?


Q Have you now received any word from the Syrians about whether they are or are not prepared to resume negotiations with Israel? And on what basis?

MR. BURNS: We have not arrived at the point where Israel and Syria have agreed to resume their diplomatic negotiations for peace on the Syria-Israel track.

As you know, we are working very hard. We are, in a sense, an intermediary between Syria and Israel to accomplish that.

What we are hearing privately is interest from both governments, and that is positive, but they have not yet reached an agreement on when this will happen. My impression is, this is a considerable challenge and this is going to take a lot of work to put together, if it can be put together. Therefore, I wouldn't lead you to believe that this is imminent.

Q I'm sorry, you wouldn't --

MR. BURNS: I would not lead you to believe it's imminent.

Q I see. Specifically, what sort of negotiations are you thinking of -- the resumption of Wye talks?

MR. BURNS: That's up to them. That's a decision that they have to make. There are a variety of ways that this could happen; I wouldn't cite that as the only way it could happen. It's up to them -- the level, the place, the time.

But the fact that they are interested in pursuing these conversations -- and Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to this yesterday. He said he was open to these negotiations without preconditions and that he would be willing to discuss any issue, including the issue of the Golan Heights. That was a very strong statement and a very positive statement by the Israeli Prime Minister which we hope will have a positive impact throughout the Arab world, including Syria.

Q This morning, the official Syrian papers were very negative on Netanyahu's remarks (inaudible).

Apparently, Syria is speaking with two voices; one private and one in public.

MR. BURNS: It's always hard to understand the Syrian press. It's always hard to know who they're speaking for at any given point in time.

We would just urge the Syrian Government, which, of course, is the more important actor than the Syrian press, to keep the door open. Ever since Prime Minister Netanyahu was elected, that has been our refrain with the Arab governments: Keep the door open to diplomatic contacts and the possibility of negotiations. We are satisfied that is, in fact, happening; that the Government in Damascus is open, at least, to the possibility of some kind of action in the future.

Q You say you've heard interest from both Israel and Syria, then a few minutes later, you're commending Netanyahu for offering to discuss the Golan Heights. You say you hope it elicits positive reaction from Syria. I'm confused as to whether Syria has registered interest with the U.S. Government about negotiations, generally speaking, or whether if they've registered interest in -- if you're still waiting to hear from them about the Golan Heights, which is the main issue?

MR. BURNS: Barry, there are two things that I said here that are pertinent to the discussion. The first is that there is an attempt being made to resume the Israel-Syria political discussions, the negotiations on the Israel-Syria track.

Second, that we don't have a result of those efforts. I can't really forecast for you whether or not we'll be successful. We hope we'll be successful.

I guess the third thing I could say is, there was a very positive public statement yesterday, the kind of thing that we had not heard before from the Israeli Prime Minister, that we welcomed publicly yesterday and welcome again today. That speaks for itself.

Q It's alright if the result of this is going to be refining the impression you left with me.

I thought you had said that both Israel and Syria had registered interest in the Israel and Syrian negotiations?

MR. BURNS: That's right, I did say that. But registering interest does not constitute an agreement to go forward.

Q Well, of course.

MR. BURNS: It constitutes an agreement to discuss the idea, the proposition. That's exactly where we're at.

Q You mean the general proposition? You don't mean something restricted, let's say, to the Lebanese situation? You're talking about negotiations as we know them?

MR. BURNS: That's right, as we know them; kind of open comprehensive negotiations. I don't mean to infer this is on a certain --

Q Level.

MR. BURNS: -- responding to a certain proposal. That's right. The one you're referring to as well.


Q Still on the Middle East. There's a report of a seemingly significant departure of Americans from Saudi Arabia. Can you elaborate on what's going on since the authorized departure was announced?

MR. BURNS: I can tell you this. As you know, the State Department has made available to all American Government employee dependents -- spouses and children of government employees in Saudi Arabia -- the option of coming home to the United States at government expense should they wish to do so.

I understand that very few people who are dependents of State Department employees have taken us up on that offer. Of course, this offer is open-ended. They can elect to do so at any time.

I think I would just refer you to the Pentagon, to Ken Bacon, about the first part of your question. There are reports that I've seen today that the military is beginning to move its own dependents out of the area. I think you'll hear Ken say later today that that is the case; that a much greater number of military dependents will be coming home.

They have a different status, of course -- the military -- and a different role in Saudi Arabia. The military has also been a different kind of target just over the last nine months or so.

As you know, in the Riyadh bombing in November and in the Dhahran bombing of June 25, the U.S. military was the target both times.

We're going to keep our presence there overall. We're not going to reduce the number of official Americans, either diplomatic or military. We're just talking here about dependents.


Q Just to go back to Syria. The two former Israeli Prime Ministers had said, as a statement of policy, that the extent of their withdrawal from the Golan Heights would be parallel to the extent of peace. Is it your understanding that that is the policy of the current Israeli Administration?

MR. BURNS: I think I'll let Prime Minister Netanyahu describe his government's policy. I don't know if he has spoken on that level of detail. I think he should be the first one to do so, not me.

Q Has he spoken to you at all in that level of detail?

MR. BURNS: We've had, as you would imagine, during his visit to Washington, during Secretary Christopher's visit to Jerusalem and Dennis Ross' trip subsequently, we've had very detailed conversations with him, but I prefer to keep those confidential.

Q Does that thought, that policy, somehow come into play in the discussions on when and how to resume the talks?

MR. BURNS: You know, the decision to resume the talks is a very basic decision, and it doesn't entail at this point a great deal of explanation. They made a decision some time ago to have talks. They did have talks when the prior government was in power in Israel. The United States believes that this is the road to peace -- it's the only road to peace -- to have diplomatic discussions. So we're trying to convince both of them to agree to subsequent talks and we hope will be successful.

But I don't want to go into all the aspects of that, and whether or not there are certain agreements reached before they get to that stage.

Q But can you say that there are certain agreements they want to reach before they do resume --

MR. BURNS: No, I don't want to go into any aspect of the discussions in that level -- in that manner with you.

Q You said you had detailed discussions with the Israelis.

MR. BURNS: Yes, and with the Syrians as well.

Q Okay. When Dore Gold was here last week, there were reports that he -- there was a discussion of the specific Israeli plan. Were the conversations so detailed that they included discussion of an Israeli plan for an agreement with Syria?

MR. BURNS: I think, as Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated yesterday, the Israelis have given us their own ideas on how to move forward. I think it's fair to say the same is true for the Syrians. That's the nature of this kind of conversation when you've got one country -- namely, the United States -- serving as an intermediary and going back and forth between two.

We've played this role, as you know, Barry, for a long, long time, and I know we'll continue to play it in the future, because it's in our very strong interest to help both of these countries reach a peace agreement.

Q Well, let me come at the subject this way, if I could. Netanyahu has been criticized pretty broadly for -- indeed, saying he's willing to talk about things but essentially not willing to give ground on several issues like the Golan Heights -- such as the Golan Heights, such as a Palestinian state, etc.

You say the Israelis talked to you about going forward. Is the State Department saying that what is new about what Netanyahu is proposing is something that involves more than just talking about an issue but giving ground on an issue?

MR. BURNS: No, we're not saying that, because we can't make that decision. Only the Israeli Government --

Q But you can't decide what they do, whether they give ground --

MR. BURNS: -- and the Syrian Government can make those decisions.

Q Indeed, they have to decide, obviously. They're sovereign countries, and they have to decide what they do. But you guys are not innocent bystanders exactly. You consider yourselves the prime mover in this thing. You're the Norwegians of the Israeli-Syrian front, so the question is -- (laughter)

MR. BURNS: I take that as a compliment. Thank you.

Q Well, the Norwegians succeeded.

MR. BURNS: And we're very innocent in many ways, Barry, in the best sense of the word, in the best sense of that word.

Q I'm afraid so.

MR. BURNS: Not in the best sense of the word, the best sense.

Q When you say -- let me try again then. (Laughter) Are the Israelis talking about only talking to the Syrians, or are they telling the United States things they would do about the Golan Heights to bring about an agreement?

MR. BURNS: Let's just put it this way, Barry. We've had comprehensive talks with the Israelis. We've had detailed talks with them and with the Syrians on a variety of levels pertaining to these issues. But it wouldn't be helpful or right of me to go into them, as you know, in any way.

Q Just for the record, if I may, because the air is full of the terrorism -- the issue of terrorism. Just yesterday from that podium you spoke vehemently and eloquently about the need even to go it alone and to punish Iran and Libya, and, of course, you've done what you could to punish Cuba.

Is there any awkwardness in being so deeply engaged with Syria diplomatically when Syria stands just like those other countries on a list of countries accused by the U.S. of sponsoring terrorism, or do you have to sort of set that aside and operate here? How does the State Department feel about that? Is Syria a special case for U.S. discourse and why?

MR. BURNS: As Secretary Christopher said a couple of times last week in his Capitol Hill testimony, the rationale here is as follows. Syria is on the terrorism list, our terrorism list, and we have not shied away from being critical every day of the year about Syria's record on terrorism. Syria has terrorists group resident in Damascus -- it allows that to happen -- including an organization, the PKK, which turns its attention and its fire towards a major ally of the United States -- Turkey; other organizations that have inflicted damage on another friend of the United States -- Israel.

So that is clear, and we have no reason to shy away from speaking very plainly about Syrian support for terrorist groups. It is also true that Syria has said that it is interested in an eventual peace treaty with Israel; that Syria has already embarked on discussions with Israel towards that peace treaty, and we hope those discussions can be resumed.

The Israeli Government of Shimon Peres and now of Benjamin Netanyahu has also said that Israel wants to negotiate with Syria, not because Syria is Israel's best friend but because it is a former adversary and in many ways still an adversary.

As Prime Minister Rabin said, "You don't make peace with your friends. You don't negotiate with your friends. You make peace with former adversaries." So we have to be realistic about the Middle East. Our view is if the Israeli Government is willing to negotiate for peace with the Syrians, we ought to be willing to be the intermediary in those negotiations and support that process.

Q I guess I'm asking as much about the U.S. terrorism policy, because the Europeans are saying you encourage countries to move away from terrorism by having at least economic relations with them. And your approach is -- of course, you've set a floor of $40 million -- but your approach basically is, "We don't want to talk to these guys. We don't want even our best friends to talk to these guys."

So it is a little bit -- there is some sort of a -- what? -- contradiction here?

MR. BURNS: I don't think so. I would describe it this way. All terrorist states are not created equal, and what I mean by that is the following. We have terrorist states on our list, and we're severely critical of them. But we have a terrorist state, Iran, that rejects the Middle East peace process; that rejects any kind of diplomatic discussions between Middle Eastern countries and Israel; that actively funds and directs terrorist organizations to take their aim at Israel and the United States; and, most notably, if you look at the terrorism statistics for 1995, Europe, over 260 acts of terrorism in Europe last year. In the United States? You can count them on one hand.

The Europeans have an interest in this fight against terrorism. There is a very great difference between Iran, in this case, and Syria. Now, Syria is a state that harbors terrorist groups, but, as Ambassador Wilcox said a couple of weeks ago in his Congressional testimony, we have no evidence that Syria since 1986 has actively participated in a terrorist incident, and Syria is willing to make peace with Israel. Iran is not.

The Israeli Government wants to negotiate with Syria but not with Iran. There is a difference here, and I think that the European Governments understand this difference.

Q Nick, did you mean to suggest yesterday that Germany and other governments would have to drop their intensive dialogue with Iran if they are to avoid the President's -- if they are to get the President to suspend the terms of this new law that was signed yesterday?

MR. BURNS: Actually, let me go over once again what we were saying yesterday, because I think it's very important. I think this message needs to be understood in Europe. What we're saying is that we're asking the Europeans to join us in the President's call for sanctions against Iran and Libya; that we will implement the legislation, the D'Amato bill that the President signed into law yesterday, and nothing at this point can dissuade us from implementing American law. That is the obligation that we in the Executive Branch have now that this law has been passed by Republicans and Democrats, by a large majority, and signed by the President.

But we'd like to cooperate with the Europeans. We'd like them to become a partner of us, and we'd like not to see this debate turn into a European/American debate. We'd like to see the focus of both of our anger on Iran, and we'd like to see Iran feel the pressure of this bill more than the Europeans.

I did not mean to suggest -- but looking over my transcript, I can see how some might have taken this this way -- that the EU has to give up its critical dialogue with Iran before it could be eligible for a relaxation of sanctions by the President, which, of course, as you know, is built into the D'Amato legislation. We have not made that a condition of our implementation of the D'Amato bill, nor do I expect that we will.

We have made it very clear that if any country in Europe -- any country in Europe; I don't mean to single out Germany, it could be any country -- decides to take a tougher policy against Iran, then the companies -- that country's companies could receive sanctions relief from the United States. There are waiver provisions in effect.

So we'd like to turn this debate from a debate between Washington and European capitals into a Western debate -- a Western action, I should say -- concerted Western action against Iran and Libya. Those are the two capitals, Tripoli and Tehran, that should feel the brunt of Western pressure.

Q (Inaudible)

MR. BURNS: We'll go to Terry first, then Bill.

Q That said, just for the record, have you received formal demarches from any of the European allies or others today or yesterday in the aftermath of the signing of the legislation?

MR. BURNS: Oh, yes, we have. You've seen the public comments from the French Government and the British Government and others, EU representatives, and we have had very clear differences in view in private as well.

There's no question that we have a disagreement with the EU and with many of the member states of the European Union on this issue, and the United States is going to go forward. We're going to implement this bill, and, as I said yesterday, if we have to stand alone against Iran and Libya to fight terrorism, we will do that.

We'd much prefer if the European governments would join us in multilateral sanctions, particularly targeted against the petrochemical industries in Iran and Libya. That's where they derive most of their export earnings.

Q Nick, on this matter of the D'Amato bill, I understand the Administration sees this as a penalty, specific penalty, against terrorist -- sponsoring terrorism by two states. Does the Administration see this is adequate deterrent to prevent further acts against the U.S. military and U.S. overseas air carriers, Nick, or are there other measures that are in the works as far as deterring?

MR. BURNS: We're going to take every step that we have to take to protect our soldiers and our diplomats overseas. That's a fundamental responsibility we have. Our ability to deter terrorism from Iran and Libya will be strengthened if the European governments join us. They have a self-interest to do so.

As I said, if you look at our report on patterns of global terrorism that we issue here, take a look at that report. Look at where terrorism was centered in the world in 1995. It was in Europe. Some of that was home-grown -- in Spain and the United Kingdom, most unfortunately, and we've criticized those terrorist groups.

But we believe that a substantial part is directed by terrorist organizations emanating from the Middle East, and that we think we know who the sponsors of those terrorist organizations are. So we would appeal to the Europeans out of their own self-interest to join us in this fight.

Q Is there more deterrence to come was the point of my question.

MR. BURNS: Bill, I mean, I can offer you nothing except to say that we think multilateral sanctions would be more effective than unilateral sanctions. If we have to have unilateral sanctions alone now, we're content to rest there, but we'd all be better off if the Europeans joined us.


Q Secretary Perry spoke a couple of days ago about the danger of a new type of wide-bore mortar that apparently is being constructed in Iran and distributed, and one was apparently taken out of a ship that arrived in Belgium.

Do you know anything about this mortar, and has its existence on the world scene required any changes in the security arrangements for American Embassies and Consulates and other facilities?

MR. BURNS: I have very little to add to what Secretary Perry said. I saw what he said, and a lot of this, of course, is in channels that we don't normally discuss in public -- the intelligence channels.

Q Has security at American diplomatic facilities in Saudi Arabia been upgraded since the bombing there?

MR. BURNS: Yes, they have. As you know, Secretary Perry, I think, told a group of reporters the other day that the Defense Department has taken very specific steps to upgrade security for our military personnel, including at Khobar in Dhahran in extending the security perimeter.

The Department of State has asked our Embassy and our two Consulates in Saudi Arabia and all of our missions in that part of the world to take steps to upgrade security for our diplomats, because there is a heightened state of alert, and there are specific threats against both out diplomats and our soldiers.

Q Did you tighten the security perimeter around the building?

MR. BURNS: We do not normally say exactly what we do, because we don't want to give information to potential terrorists or people who are planning operations against us. But they should know that we'll take whatever steps necessary to protect our people. And should terrorist actions be carried out against Americans, I think you saw President Clinton's very strong determination yesterday to seek those people out and to bring them to the United States and to prosecute them here.

Q Well, widening the -- extending the -- pushing the perimeter back is a visible thing.

MR. BURNS: I'm just not going to talk --

Q In general, you're not, but, I mean, you know, somebody -- those of us who were there --

MR. BURNS: In general, I'm not going to talk about specific things that we're doing.

Q Those of us who were there saw how close that --

MR. BURNS: Barry, David was not referring to Dhahran. I took his question to be American diplomatic facilities.

Q Oh, all right.

MR. BURNS: There's no question we announced publicly within a day of Secretary Christopher's visit to the Khobar Barracks, that we would be extending out to 400 feet the security perimeter at Khobar.

Our Embassies and Consulates have been asked to take other measures, additional measures, to protect themselves, to protect their people and their facilities. But I'm not going to detail what those measures are. I don't want to give any assistance to potential terrorists.


Q About the sanctions. Turkish Government has announced that they're about to launch a major joint venture in oil and gas fields in Iran. How will this new law be applied in case of violations by a state authority rather than private companies?

MR. BURNS: There's no distinction between state-owned companies and private companies here. We're talking about companies. As you know, the D'Amato legislation that the President signed yesterday is prospective. So any future investment into the oil and gas industry in Iran, for instance, from any country, anywhere in the world -- not just Europe -- that exceeds $40 million will be covered under the sanctions.

The President will then have to decide which of the six sanctions -- which two of the six sanctions -- should be deployed to counter and to discourage that kind of investment. I have not seen any announcement out of the Turkish Government on this, but I know that the Turkish Government is aware of the bill and aware of our determination to implement it.

Q Related question. Yesterday you said that you were aware that Turkey had made application to the U.N. for special exemption with the sanctions on Iraq. We've seen reports out of Ankara that Turkish diplomats have been assured that they will get U.S. support for this application. Do you have anything to add to what you told us yesterday on this application?

MR. BURNS: I really have nothing to add. We understand that the Turks about 24 hours ago submitted an application in New York to the proper authorities at the U.N. It's being looked at. We understand the reasons why Turkey has taken this action. Turkey has borne a considerable weight of the responsibility and the pain -- the economic pain -- for implementing the sanctions against Saddam Hussein.

We are heartened by the fact that Turkey has told us they will continue honoring the sanctions pending any action whatsoever, positive or negative, on this request.

We also think that Resolution 986 will offer Turkey substantial sanctions relief, because the Turkish pipeline will be opened for oil exports, and we continue to talk to the Turks about the benefits of Resolution 986.

I checked with our Mission to the United Nations just about a half hour ago before coming out here, and I'm told that 986 is moving along. We're not quite there yet, but we're moving in the right direction, very close to an agreement, and we hope to have an agreement soon.

Q Can you give us a specific day as to when you hope to have an agreement?

MR. BURNS: No. I don't want to. I'm not that much of a gambler. I don't know. These things -- sometimes when you say "soon," it can be a matter of hours, it can be a matter of days, sometimes weeks. But "soon" is we want an agreement. We're not trying to hold an agreement up. The United Nations has resolved our major problem, which was the presence of monitors. We are looking forward to voting in the U.N. Security Council positively on U.N. Resolution 986 as soon as the last details of these negotiations can be completed.

Do you have a follow-up on this?

Q Yes. Is this linked at all to the Turkish request for the reasons you outlined?

MR. BURNS: I don't believe it's formally linked, but we believe that if 986 can be passed quickly and implemented soon, it can provide the type of relief that Turkey is seeking.

Q Did I understand you to say that you have reached agreement on the number and placement of monitors?

MR. BURNS: We had objections on the original number of monitors in the original draft plan by the United Nations. That objection has been met. They have responded to the United States. They've added more monitors on the export of oil, on the intake of humanitarian food and medical supplies, and we have a couple of remaining details to work out.

The United States would like to see this go forward. We just wanted to make sure -- and I think this bears repeating -- that Saddam Hussein did not enrich himself in any way, shape or form as part of this deal.

Q Can you say what these few things are?

MR. BURNS: Actually, I believe they're technical details in the wording of the resolution that need to be worked out. We believe we're very close to an agreement, yes.

Q Getting back to Iran and Libya for a moment, if the EU takes this new law to the WTO, how confident are you that the United States will prevail?

MR. BURNS: We hope that the European Union will not take this issue to the WTO. We don't think that's warranted. Should it choose to do so, we'll obviously contest that, and we're confident that we'll succeed in that.

Q If you don't, will you back down?

MR. BURNS: You know, this is a law here, and the United States, when there are laws passed by both houses of Congress by a substantial margin, signed by the President, we have an obligation to implement the law. We in the Executive Branch do not have the flexibility to decide we're not going to implement a law. We have to do it, and so the United States is going forward, and we're asking the Europeans to join us, not to fight us.

Q So it's essentially an all-or-nothing proposition?

MR. BURNS: United States law is United States law. The Congress makes the laws. We implement them.

Q Another subject?

MR. BURNS: Yes. Other subjects. Betsy.

Q Do you have a situation on Burundi? Is the President still in residence?

MR. BURNS: Yes. I can tell you that President Ntibantunganya is still with his wife residing in the residence of our Ambassador in Bujumbura.

The situation on the ground has not changed substantially since when we left it last week. The new government has quickly named a cabinet. It's functioning.

The United States takes note of the fact that both Kenya and Tanzania have closed their borders with Burundi.

We have supported the action of the central African and east African states here. Howard Wolpe was with them in Arusha last week. He's now travelling in Europe on this issue as the President's Special Emissary.

We hope very much that Major Buyoya will make every effort to restore constitutional rule and to try to stabilize the situation.

Our primary interest remains the prevention of a genocide in Burundi. We would like to see the Tutsis and the Hutus resolve their ethnic problems. Or, if they can't resolve them, at least not fight over them. That's our primary interest.

Q But the U.N. has said that there were many more people killed than had been revealed previously. What hope is there that there will be a solution?

MR. BURNS: We understand there is a U.N. report that details the activities of the Burundian army between April and July of this year. We, as of this morning, had not received a copy of that report up at the United Nations or here in the State Department. We'd like to see a copy. After we've read it, we'll be glad to comment on it publicly.

There's no question there have been a horrific number of killings and massacres of women and children. We've talked about them. We've denounced them. They deserve denouncing in the severest terms. That's the kind of thing that must be stopped by the new government, working with the Hutus. That's what we hope that Major Buyoya can accomplish now.

Q There's a report out that the British are about to provide China with advanced radar. The funky British call it the "rascal," and this would raise -- would necessarily -- would naturally lead to other Asian countries asking the United States for better war planes to overcome the radar -- the usual military buildup that goes on all over the world.

Does the U.S. have any information of such a deal in the works? If it does, does it approve of what the British company is about to do?

MR. BURNS: I haven't read the Washington Times thoroughly this morning. Financial Times? I haven't read the Washington Times thoroughly. That's where these reports generally show up. Perhaps I should read it more thoroughly. I don't have anything on that, Barry.

I've not seen the report. I've never heard of anything like this.


Q Thank you, Nick. On Mexico. Reports yesterday that Mr. Cordero, the fellow who has been in the news the last couple of weeks -- a former drug enforcement agent in the Tijuana area, head of a group down there and I think known well by the FBI and the DEA -- has been jailed. I think he was signing some books that he had written in Mexico City and was hauled off to prison, charged with some charges that he had leveled against those in the Lozano Administration.

Does the State Department have any comment about this man's jailing? There was a general also who was muted because of his criticism.

MR. BURNS: Bill, I'm just not aware of the conditions of his detention or his arrest. I don't know anything about it. Last week, we spoke about the problem of corruption and the problem of narcotics in Mexico. The Mexican Government sent a high-level delegation here to have talks with us. We think that President Zedillo is determined to fight the narcotics problem.

Barry, we have a question behind you here.

Q Taiwan paper reported that the United States has issued a transit visa to the Vice President Lien Chan. Can you confirm it or deny it?

MR. BURNS: I don't want to do either. Do I have a third option? I'd like to select box number three.

Q I would like you to explain your general position on issuing a visa to Taiwan high-ranking official?

MR. BURNS: I'd like to just take that question, meaning I will look into that question and get back to you on that.


Q In Indonesia, Ms. Megawati has agreed to come in for questioning. Is there some way the United States would like to see her treated?

MR. BURNS: As you know, Under Secretary Joan Spero met with her during the Secretary's recent trip. The Secretary met with the human rights organization himself. We have severely criticized the treatment of the Indonesian opposition -- some of the human rights groups and some of the political opposition groups last week.

We know that Mrs. Megawati has had to decide whether or not she wants to comply with the order to talk to the government authorities.

We expect that she will be treated well and humanely and that her rights will be respected. We believe that's the minimum that should be expected in this type of situation.

Barry, you can leave.

Q No, no.

Q Could the United States perceive any conditions under which she would be detained or arrested as a result of this interview, this interrogation?

MR. BURNS: We're not there on the scene. I don't know if she's being charged or questioned. We just don't know the conditions under which she's been asked to go in to talk to the government, so it's very difficult to answer that question.

But I would just go back to the very strong statement we made a week ago yesterday about the disturbances in Jakarta and the way that the demonstrators were treated by the government, which we felt was unjust.

Q Just out of curiosity. When the Secretary was asked about this last week on the Hill, he offered nothing resembling strong criticism of the Indonesian Government. Can you say why?

MR. BURNS: Sid, I think I answered the same question on Friday, and I think I gave you a perfectly satisfactory answer. The Secretary of State, Sid -- you asked me a question -- authorized and personally cleared the statement condemning the actions of the Indonesian Government. He's in charge of our foreign policy. He stands by what we say publicly.

You choose, I think unfairly, to take -- he's got five hours of testimony; six hours on Capitol Hill. Because he doesn't give a complete answer on every question, somehow this has policy meaning? I don't think so. Not when he authorized a very strong statement two days before his Congressional testimony.

Q (Inaudible) economic relationship with Indonesia and there was only one question in the whole six hours on Indonesia.

MR. BURNS: The Secretary took the opportunity to have the Department of State issue a strong statement that speaks for itself. He still stands behind that statement, fully stands behind it. So I thought I answered the question Friday. I think you're asking too much of someone who is up on the Hill for five hours answering questions to expect that every answer is going to satisfy you in every way, frankly.

Q It's not a matter of satisfying me.

MR. BURNS: Can we end this meeting on a more positive note. We'll end this more positively. Yes.

Q I'd like to take you back to Burundi. The initial investigation, which was ordered by the U.N., was about the killing of President Ndadaye four months after he was elected. If the U.N. finds that the military were -- in fact, it was the military who killed him -- if they find people around Buyoya were involved with the killing, is the United States going to ask for the punishment of those people?

MR. BURNS: I know that there is an on-going investigation into the events that took place three years ago, the murder of the elected President. I don't know that the United Nations or any other body has come to any definitive conclusions. Therefore, it's very difficult for me to make any statement.

To answer your question, obviously, if people are found guilty or thought to be guilty of massacres or assassinations, they ought to be brought to justice. But this has to be done properly. There has to be a proper inquiry which is international and objective. That's what's underway.

I don't think we can get ahead of that inquiry, however.

Q Thank you.

MR. BURNS: Thank you.

(Press briefing concluded at 1:48 p.m.)


To the top of this page