U.S. Department of State 96/08/16 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, August 16, 1996 Briefers: Nicholas Burns Stuart Eizenstat CUBA Briefing by Stuart E. Eizenstat, U.S. Special Representative for the Promotion of Democracy in Cuba ...... 1-9 Role of U.S. Special Envoy Eizenstat/Consultations .......... 33-35 WTO and the Helms-Burton Legislation ........................ 35 DEPARTMENT Secretary's Travel to Europe September 4-7 ................. 9-10 CYPRUS Concern Over Recent Violence on Cyprus....................... 11,31- 33 --Turkish Foreign Minister Ciller's Remarks re National Flag 32 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Assistant Secretary Gelbard's Trip to the Region ............ 11-12 Secretary's Recent Trip to Europe and Sarajevo .............. 11- 13,16- 17 --Secretary's Meetings with Opposition/Haris Silajdzic ...... 13-14 Silajdzic's Call for Boycott of Elections ................... 13-14 Prospects for Postponement of Elections ..................... 14-16 JAPAN Asst Secretary Larson to Brief on Civilian Aviation Talks with Japan at 3:30 Today .................................. 17- 18,37 SAUDI ARABIA Swearing In of U.S. Ambassador Wyche Fowler ................. 18-21 Saudi Cooperation on Information-Sharing re: Dhahran Bombing 21-26 ARMS CONTROL Status of CTBT/Secretary's Activities ....................... 26-28 Prospects of U.S. Ending Moratorium on Tests ................ 28-31 India's Position on the CTBT/Relations between US-India .... 31 HAITI Reported Revocation of Senior Officials U.S. Visas .......... 35 UNITED NATIONS Reported Comments by UN Spokeswoman on US Campaign Platforms 35-36 TURKEY/IRAQ Status of Agreement on Gas Pipeline ........................ 36 IRAQ Implementation of Resolution 986 ........................... 36-37
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, AUGUST 16, 1996, 12:41 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. It's a special pleasure for me today to introduce to you Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat. As you know, just about 40 minutes ago President Clinton named Ambassador Eizenstat as Special Representative of the President and of Secretary of State Warren Christopher for the Promotion of Democracy in Cuba.
Ambassador Eizenstat's appointment fulfills President Clinton's promise of July 16 to name a Special Envoy to work with our allies in Europe, with Canada and with Mexico, to coordinate our efforts to advance the cause of democracy in Cuba.
Ambassador Eizenstat, who will also retain his duties as Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, is a very distinguished government official with a wealth of experience in both the public sector and the private sector, including service from 1993 to this year as the U.S. Representative to the European Union.
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: Thank you very much, Nick. I'm pleased and honored to serve the President and the Secretary of State as their Special Representative for the Promotion of Democracy in Cuba. This will be a challenging task, but I'm optimistic we'll be able to make progress on the President's goal of forging effective international cooperation on the promotion of a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba.
I intend to work with our allies to explore cooperative measures toward this objective. I'll be working closely in that respect with Ambassador Madeleine Albright and former Congressman Dante Fascell, both of whom bring a wealth of experience and judgment to this effort.
I've already begun to contact members of Congress. I've talked to Senator Helms, Congressman Burton, Congressman Torricelli, Congressman Rangel, Congressman Hamilton, Congressman Menendez, and we'll be contacting many others. I have also already begun contacting leaders in the Cuban-American community to learn their views and ideas.
I'll be working closely with a team that will be headed by Under Secretary Peter Tarnoff, Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs Jeff Davidow and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Anne Patterson.
Members of my immediate State support team will include Bryan Samuel, the new Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs; Mike Ranneberger, Director of the Office of Cuban Affairs, and Kevin Sullivan, the International Affairs Officer in the Office of Cuban Affairs.
In addition, we'll be working regularly with an interagency team, which will include representatives of the National Security Council, the Special Trade Representative's office, the Department of Commerce, in particular Deputy Assistant Secretary David Marchek, and the Department of Treasury.
Most of all, I look forward to serving a President who has already demonstrated his commitment to promoting democratic change in Cuba. As a candidate, he was an early and strong supporter of the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act, and as President he's acted decisively and consistently to increase pressure on the Cuban Government.
The President's initiatives and support of the Cuban people last year were intended to aid those working for peaceful change on the island. When Cuban planes callously and illegally shot down unarmed U.S. civilian aircraft in February, the President took a number of strong steps, including signing the Libertad Act to make clear that the U.S. would not tolerate such behavior.
My appointment and mission are further evidence of the President's commitment to help bring freedom and prosperity to the people of Cuba. I've worked with the Cuban-American community going back some 20 years, during the Mariel boatlift, and I look forward to working with this community in this new role and toward that end will be traveling to south Florida and New Jersey early next week to meet with Cuban-American leaders to continue the discussion of my mission.
I'll work to develop a comprehensive range of cooperative measures and a framework of partnership with our allies in Europe and also in our hemisphere that will advance a transition to democracy in Cuba. That partnership should also include non-governmental groups, private sector companies and trade associations.
Among the areas I will explore in my meetings will be pressing for fundamental changes in the political and economic system, using all available means of leverage; promoting greater cooperation among the U.S. and allied non-government organizations; strengthening civil society in Cuba in part by sending humanitarian aid through non-governmental channels; and by the adoption of voluntary business principles along the lines of the Sullivan principles in South Africa, so that if there has to be an investment in Cuba -- and, of course, we do not favor that, but, if there is, it will at least promote change.
I do not view my efforts in working with our allies as compelling them to negotiate with a gun to their heads. Rather, we're working and hope to work cooperatively on steps we should be taking in any event, regardless of the passage of the Libertad Act.
At a time when the world is moving inextricably toward democracy, Fidel Castro's Cuba is an anachronism. It's one of the worst human violators in the world. The U.S. has taken the lead in condemning this repressive regime, and we will continue under this President and Secretary of State to do so.
The President has made clear that his decision on whether or not to suspend again in January the right to file lawsuits under Title III of Helms-Burton will depend on obtaining concrete results with our allies and other interested governments and with non-governmental organizations and private associations.
It wouldn't be wise to discuss in advance exactly what the outcome has to be, but I can say that we are looking for concrete, specific measures. The U.S. and our allies share the fundamental belief that democracy should be established and human rights respected in Cuba, and my responsibility will be to work with our allies to harness our activities toward these goals and to do so together.
Our allies have already begun to proceed on this course, and I hope to encourage them to do more and for those who have not yet done anything to follow suit. I know there are some who are skeptical that the U.S. and other democracies can put aside our differences on Cuba. I have some experience in working with our friends in Europe, and I'm more hopeful.
I share the President's confidence that our common values and our close ties will allow the United States and our allies to overcome our disagreements over some aspects of the Libertad Act, and to work together to promote freedom in Cuba, as we have done in other parts of the world.
Here let me say something personal. The U.S. has been a partner with our European allies for five decades, since the end of World War II, to protect freedom and democracy in Europe, and more recently working with our European allies to assist Central and Eastern European countries and those of the former Soviet Union to make the transition from the communist past to free regimes.
Even today, the United States as Europe's partner has worked to end the war in Bosnia and is working toward a stable peace in the Balkans. We call on our European allies to work with us and to join us to do more to help bring democratic change to the only totalitarian regime in the hemisphere of which we're a part. We're asking them to do no more than we have done with them in Europe.
Thank you, and I'll be glad to take your questions.
Q Could you be more specific about the cooperative measures you say you are seeking?
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: I want to make it clear that we don't have a set of stone tablets with commandments on it that have to be met. We're looking for concrete and specific measures. Among the kinds of things that we will be exploring are greater pressure on the Cuban regime for political and economic reform and respect for human rights; encouraging voluntary business principles for companies doing business in Cuba, like the Sullivan principles; promoting greater cooperation among United States, European, Canadian and Mexican and other Latin NGOs and assisting in the development of a civil society; channeling assistance to groups promoting change in Cuba -- human rights groups, dissidents and independent journalists; using European, Mexican and Canadian and Latin governments and non-governmental groups to channel humanitarian aid through legitimate non-governmental institutions rather than through the Cuban Government itself; working on encouraging political and economic reform; strengthening our cooperation in international fora, such as the U.N. General Assembly that will soon take up, as will the Human Rights Commission, the question of continued Cuban human rights abuses.
Again, these are some of the kinds of things we want to talk about. But what's important is to use this critical six-month period -- the first six-month period of the suspension -- to build a framework of partnership that will last into the future, not a one-shot deal, but a genuine partnership and framework for cooperation, so that we can harness our energies together now and into the future and have some assurance that this will be a lasting commitment to promotion of democracy.
Q When do you expect to go to Europe to pursue this --
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: I am hopeful, although schedules still have to be arranged, that I will be going to Canada and Mexico the week of the 25th/26th of August. I would then intend, again schedules permitting, to begin a European swing Labor Day week, and I'll probably make two separate trips during September to European capitals. We certainly will be starting with the Irish Presidency of the EU and hopefully in the earliest swing possible would want to go to the U.K., to Brussels and to Madrid, but we'll try to do as much as the schedule permits.
Q Why do you think it's been so hard for the United States to lead its allies on this issue?
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: I think, first of all, it's important to understand that we don't start from a blank slate. The European Union has already, as the result of an incident that I'm going to mention, begun to take some action which has positive aspects to it; that is, they're slowing down their desire to sign an economic cooperation agreement and conditioning that on further economic and political reforms.
When I as Ambassador to the EU, I met on many occasions but in particular the day before Manuel Morin's trip -- the Commissioner of the European Commission responsible for the EU's relations with Latin America. He was invited by Castro to come to the island, and his major condition was that he be permitted to meet with the new umbrella human rights group, Concilio Cubano, in an official status; and it was agreed by the Castro regime that he could come under those conditions. He met with the leadership of Concilio Cubano in the Italian Embassy in Havana, because it was the Italian Presidency at that time.
He had a 10-hour meeting with Fidel Castro which followed, and he was doing this as a potential prelude to the mandate that the Council of Ministers had given at the European Summit in December to move toward an economic cooperation agreement. He had barely landed back in Brussels when five of the leaders with whom he had met in the Italian Embassy were arrested. Subsequent to that, 200 human rights advocates, part of the Concilio Cubano, were also arrested.
This preceded the downing of the planes, and I think this drove home to many in Europe the fact that this was a regime that simply could not let loose of the absolute control, even if it meant improved trade relations with Europe. So I'm hopeful that we're not operating on a totally infertile ground, and that this kind of experience is one that will unite us.
We, after all, have common democratic values. We've stood for these for 50 years. There's no reason why Cuba should be an exception to our desire, which we've done so well together, to promote democracy throughout the continent of Europe and the rest of the world.
Q From what you've said, can we understand that if the United States reaches an agreement with allies on alternative measures, or if there is no agreement -- and it's not convenient for foreign policy reasons -- the suspension can be extended after, generally? You said this depends on --
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: The President has to make a decision no later than January 18 under Helms-Burton, as he has to each six-month period if he decides to suspend. That's based on two criteria: That a suspension would be necessary to the national interests, and that it would expedite the transition to democracy.
No one can obviously forecast what issues he will determine fit within that category. What we can say, obviously, is that the more specific and concrete progress we make in setting up this framework of cooperation, then this will be a positive factor in the President's determination. It will not be the only factor; it will not necessarily be dispositive.
The President of the United States alone can make this judgment and balance all the factors. But, certainly, it will be a significant factor that he will consider and whether or not to exercise his power under Helms-Burton to suspend.
I would want to stress to you that this is being done within the context of the Act. The Act envisioned this precisely to give the President the opportunity to see if real change could be brought about in the attitudes of our friends and allies in terms of producing change in Cuba. So that's what we're doing. We're trying to use this time as an effective way. I think the important thing is that we consider this as an exercise we should be doing in any event, quite apart from the leverage that might be accorded by the Libertad Act.
Q Due to the fact that the Rio Group, the European Union, the OAS have all expressed their strong condemnation against this Act, what are you going to sell to the Europeans this time around? Are you going to use any sort of new arguments?
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: There are a couple of things to say to that. First of all, when you mention the Rio Group, I think it's important to recognize, again, that following the arrest of the human rights activists and the downing of the plane, that the Rio Group itself, which had been considering -- and this had been suggested by the European Union -- that they consider an associate membership for Cuba pulled back.
Second, I think it's important for Europeans to understand what Helms-Burton does and what it doesn't do. There's been a lot of misinformation about it.
The fact is that this is something for the protection of U.S. citizens. It deals only -- only -- with those companies that have been using expropriated U.S. property for which there has been no compensation. This is not a surprise to any of the companies involved.
There are 5,911 registered claims that have been in existence going back over 20 years. So those companies have been on notice that they've been using property for which no compensation has been paid.
But I think more broadly, what we want to do is not focus, because that would only give encouragement to the Cubans -- to the Cuban Government. We want to focus not on the details of Helms-Burton but rather on the broader issue of working together to promote democracy.
If that's done, it has a double benefit. One is that it shows the Cuban regime that the West is really united in the one remaining area in the Western hemisphere, which is totalitarian and dictatorial. It also can have the potential benefit -- depending, again, on what the President decides to do -- of mitigating the impact of Helms-Burton. So it has a double benefit.
Q I have two questions. What kind of leverage you're going to have in the meetings with the Mexican authorities and Canadian?
Also, one of the arguments from the Mexican Government about Helms-Burton is regarding the Cuban-Americans. They are probably in favor of the demands from U.S. citizens over the expropriation of properties. But, according to the law in 1988, the Cuban-Americans, they're going to have the right to look to the courts and ask for their properties.
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: 1998.
Q 1998; yes. One of the officials says that the U.S. law is trying to protect the powerful Cuban-Americans like Congressman Diaz-Balart. He's trying to get back his property in Cuba. How do you respond to this kind of accusations to the Mexican Government? How are you going to deal with those guys over this?
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: Again, we understand some of the concerns that have been expressed, particularly about this provision. I think that the best response to that is that to the extent that the Mexican Government can work with us in doing what they believe in elsewhere in the world, which is the promotion of democratic values, that that will be a factor -- a significant factor -- in whether the President decides in January to suspend this right. That will be a decision he'll have to make every six months.
The President took a very carefully calibrated choice. He allowed the liability to accrue. He gave himself the opportunity which the Act accords him to suspend that right. And, as he said himself, that will depend in part on what actions we get from Mexico and others. That's what we want to see.
So I'm throwing the ball back into their court to see what they will do to work with us. We've worked so carefully with Mexico on so many other issues.
Q What kind of -- with who are you going to meet in Mexico?
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: That hasn't been set yet. We're just in the process of setting the meetings up.
Q I spoke with the representative of a group of organizations -- NGOs -- from Canada that are already working in Cuba this morning. They said that they're quite happy to go down to Cuba and do their work, but there is certain work that they cannot do, that only government-to-government aid can effect on a larger scale.
One example he mentioned was supplying paper to schools across the school system of Cuba. There just isn't enough paper. They're urging the Canadian Government to continue government-to-government aid on humanitarian grounds. What would you say to that?
AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT: We feel very, very strongly that the humanitarian aid that goes to the Government of Cuba can never, with any certainty, be assured that it's getting to its intended beneficiaries; that this is a government that is not transparent, that doesn't deal in an appropriate way with funds, whether they are direct monies or in-kind aid.
The best way to assure that the people who deserve to have the benefits of humantarian aid -- namely, the people still trapped in Cuba -- is to make sure it goes through non-governmental sources. That's what we'll be stressing. We think that that is the best framework within which to act.
I'll be glad to certainly listen to these groups, but this is our very strong conviction.
MR. BURNS: Thank you very much. Thank you Ambassador Eizenstat. We have a lot of issues to go through today. I've got several announcements to make. What I propose is that we take a 10-minute break. I think that might accommodate the wires. Back here in 10 minutes for the rest of our briefing.
(Upon Ambassador Eizenstat concluding this portion of the briefing, Spokesman Nick Burns resumed the Daily Briefing at 1:27 p.m.)
MR. BURNS: Welcome back. Good afternoon. Welcome back to the State Department briefing. Nice to see some of the refugees from the Secretary's trip who made it in this morning. Betsy is here as well.
I've got a couple of announcements to make. Actually, four announcements, and then we'll go to questions.
The first has to do with the Secretary of State Christopher. He will be travelling to Europe from September 4 through September 7 to give a major address in Germany on European security issues and to discuss a variety of European security issues with our major allies in Europe. He will leave Washington on the morning of September 4. He will travel, first, to London where he'll meet on the morning of Thursday, September 5, with Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind. That's for breakfast.
He'll then fly on to Paris late morning; meeting Foreign Minister Herve de Charette for a lunch, and then a meeting afterwards. He'll also have a meeting with President Jacques Chirac in Paris on September 5.
On Friday, September 6, Secretary Christopher will travel to Bonn where he'll meet with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and with Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel. That afternoon, Friday, September 6, Secretary Christopher will deliver what will be the centerpiece of the trip, and that is a major address at the Stuttgart State Theater on the "Future of European Security."
This speech will mark the 50th anniversary of a landmark speech by Secretary of State James Byrnes speech on the same subject.
On September 6, 1946, Secretary of State Byrnes launched a new phase in United States policy in Europe by signaling America's intention to help rebuild Germany as a democratic and free market ally, rejecting calls by several important people in the United States at the time for a more punitive approach.
Secretary Byrnes praised Germany's repudiation of its Nazi past. He also, by his speech, enunciated a new relationship with the German people from one of occupation to one of partnership.
In the speech, Secretary Byrnes highlighted the importance of a continued, committed U.S. leadership to European security and the inextricable link between American and European economic, political, and social interests.
Secretary Byrnes stated that these shared interests should provide the foundation for a long-term peace, and that is exactly what resulted after 1946 because of the policy put in place by the Truman Administration.
Secretary Christopher felt it was very important to mark that speech and commemorate that speech by being present in Stuttgart 50 years to the day after that very important speech, familiar to all Germans of that generation and, indeed, future generation, and to talk about United States policy for the 21st century in Europe and many of the themes that Secretary Byrnes enunciated 50 years ago are still with us today and still important and vital to U.S. relations with its European allies.
There will be a sign-up sheet available after the briefing for this trip for those of you who would like to accompany us. That sheet will be up all next week. We'll give it a good week for those of you who are deciding whether or not to come.
I have a second statement, on Cyprus, that I'd like to read.
The United States expresses its deep concern over the recent violence on Cyprus and our shock and sadness over the killing of two Greek Cypriot civilians and the injuring of several other persons, including two U.N. peacekeepers.
We particularly deplore the actions of the Turkish Cypriot security forces in firing on protesters two days ago. The use of force on this occasion, as well as during the original incident on Sunday, was disproportionate to the threat posed by the protesters, notwithstanding the then-unauthorized entry into the U.N. buffer zone.
The United States believes that those who were responsible for these acts should be held accountable for them. We call on the Turkish Cypriot security forces and the Turkish military forces on Cyprus to adhere to internationally accepted norms and to avoid the use of lethal force in non-life-threatening situations.
The United States also strongly urges both sides on Cyprus to exercise restraint, to take steps immediately to reduce tensions and to restrain unauthorized entry into the U.N. buffer zones.
The tragic events of the past few days underscore once again the urgent need to reach a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus. The United States will continue its current efforts to seek common ground between the two communities and achieve a lasting agreement on a bicommunal, bizonal federation that will enable all Cypriots to live together at some point in the future, we hope, in a more peaceful and prosperous Cyprus.
I'll be glad to take any questions on that and on some of the subsequent comments that have been made today on this issue by various officials from Turkey and Greece.
I have three other brief announcements. The next is to let you know that as a result of the Secretary's very important trip to Europe this week, where he talked about the Bosnian elections and had some important meetings on those elections, Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gelbard will be travelling to Sarajevo and other parts of the region next week to consult on issues related to security for the elections scheduled for September 14.
Assistant Secretary Gelbard will work with the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with IFOR, with the International Police Training Force, with the OSCE, and with High Representative Carl Bildt to ensure that we are all doing what we can to promote the best possible environment in which to hold these elections.
He will hold discussions, specifically, in trying to upgrade the ability of the International Police Training Force to help to prepare for these elections and to provide security for the elections. He will be leading an interagency team to discuss also with the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina the growing problem of organized crime in that country. This team consists of officials from the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the State Department.
As you know, Secretary Christopher returned last night from his trip, and he returned with a very keen appreciation that all countries involved in the international effort have to combine forces now to make sure that, in particular, the conditions for voting are appropriate for democratic elections.
For those of you who were with us, you know and for those of you who were not, I'd like to tell you again that Secretary Christopher pushed two major issues: Freedom of movement, which very much gets to the issue of security -- freedom of movement for people who want to vote. IFOR is now going to be working very closely with the OSCE and the International Training Police Trainers to try to provide that sense of real, practical security for people as they vote.
The second issue was freedom of the media. I think all of us who participated in this trip were struck by the fact that we heard consistently from the opposition political candidates -- the Bosnian Serb opposition, the Muslim opposition, and the Bosnian Croat opposition -- that there is now a fair degree of censorship of the print media and there is a lack of access by these opposition candidates to the state-run media -- TV and radio -- in Sarajevo, but also in terms of what the Pale authorities are doing.
The Pale authorities are actively preventing the Bosnian Serb opposition parties from speaking out before the elections.
Secretary Christopher returned today with a couple of thoughts. I know he was very impressed by the trip; very impressed by what he heard from some of these political figures yesterday in Sarajevo.
The United States firmly believes -- and, here, I'm reacting to one particular editorial in a major Washington-based newspaper this morning -- that there is no alternative to these elections. What is the alternative to these elections?
If these parties are going to transfer the situation from one of war and the aftermath of war to one of a permanent peace, they have got to have the ability -- the people there -- to vote in a democratic election to identify leaders and to identify the institutions -- create the institutions that will be the foundation of the new state that will emerge from the Dayton peace process.
The elections on September 14 are the central event in the period December 1995 to December 1996. Without the elections, there is no hope -- no hope whatsoever -- for a peaceful and stable Bosnia. There has to be legitimate democratic elections. That was the very firm point that Secretary Christopher was putting forth.
There is unanimous agreement in the Contact Group and unanimous agreement among the people who signed the Bosnian peace accords at Dayton, Ohio, that these elections ought to go forward. We take great issue with some of the sentiments put forward in that Washington Post editorial this morning.
Secretary Christopher, I think, he was profoundly affected by what he saw on the streets of Sarajevo -- the increase in business activity. The fact that the streets of that city are so different from what they were last February -- early in February -- when he was there before. The barricades have been taken down. People are free to walk on the streets of that city. There is a sense of hope -- there is a sense of hope that there can be a better future for the people of Bosnia.
So he comes back, I think, with a renewed determination to push forward on these elections.
Q Nick, is that his answer to Mr. Silajdzic's call for a boycott and insistence that what the agreement does is solidify genocide by -- I suppose he means by permitting the Serbs to remain in areas that were Muslim?
MR. BURNS: As you know, Secretary Christopher met with a group of opposition politicians yesterday, including Haris Silajdzic. Then he met with Haris Silajdzic individually.
Mr. Silajdzic can speak for himself. I think he spoke to many reporters. He is quite doubtful about the elections. I don't know what decision he and his political party have made. They were meeting last night in Sarajevo after we left about their participation.
But I can tell you this. I can't tell you exactly what the Secretary said because that would violate the confidentiality of their discussions, but, essentially, it's the following. If a major political figure and political party don't participate in the elections, they're simply ceding the ground to their opponents and they're giving up any kind of right to be able to participate in the shaping of the new nation that's going to emerge. There's a new state that's going to emerge. It's going to have a presidency and a parliamentary assembly, a central bank and a constitutional court. It needs to be created through legitimate elections.
Those positions need to be identified through the elections. If a political party -- in this case, his political party -- refuses to participate, they're simply ceding the field. That doesn't seem to us to be in their long-term self-interest.
Q What about the idea of a postponement?
MR. BURNS: There is no sentiment whatsoever with those international officials who have responsible on the ground. Here, I'm speaking of Carl Bildt, of IFOR, and Ambassador Frowick, and the OSCE. No sentiment within the Contact Group; no sentiment among the three governments that these elections ought to be postponed.
Frankly, our view is, they've got to be held. They have got to be held. They're not going to pristine elections. It will not look like elections in northern Virgina. It will be an opportunity for people to exercise a democratic right to vote which they have not had for many years.
Q A follow-up on that. I notice -- not having been on the trip, I just want to make sure you've not used the phrase "free and fair." Has that been officially dropped? Do you recognize that won't happen?
MR. BURNS: I think that Mr. Frowick, who is the senior international official in charge, has basically talked about a reasonable basis for democratic elections.
I think Secretary Christopher was very clear this week, Charlie. These are unique circumstances. There is a sense that these people have not escaped the aftermath of war, very certainly. There is a sense of economic deprivation and ethnic tension that is quite strong. Certainly, after five years of war, these elections will not be pristine and they will not look like elections in most democratic countries.
So we are using words that we think are directly applicable to these unique set of circumstances. But democratic elections are far better than the status quo, where the institutions and people who were responsible for the conduct of the war are still in place. The people of Bosnia ought to have a chance to identify their leaders.
I think if you take as precedence some of the democratic elections in war-ravaged countries like Cambodia and countries in central America over the last 10 years, you see sometimes the people surprise the political experts in terms of who they vote for.
We got a sense yesterday in Sarajevo that many of these opposition parties are quite vigorous and quite determined to wage a campaign.
Our view is that the Bosnian Government in Sarajevo and the Bosnian Serb authorities in Pale have a responsibility -- indeed, a commitment -- to give greater access to the media to these opposition parties. They currently are not doing their job. They're currently not consistent with their Dayton peace accords on those issues.
Q On the other side of the country, the ruling party -- the Bosnian Serb side -- is asking opposition candidates opposed to candidate Plavsic to stand down to make it easier for him to win. OSCE observers are, as I'm sure you're aware, are saying that other candidates are being intimidated and harassed.
Should any other candidate stand down? And is it a violation of the Dayton Accords to ask them to?
MR. BURNS: They certainly ought not to stand down. They ought to contest this election freely. Secretary Christopher met yesterday with the two main Bosnian Serb opposition parties, the two parties that have stood publicly against the interests of Mrs. Plavsic and her cohorts in the SDS.
We talked to them at length after the meeting. They intend to, and they are, waging a very vigorous campaign. They believe they have a shot at getting some seats in the Assembly and perhaps even doing better than that. Our only point is, both to President Izetbegovic and to the Pale authorities, you all have a responsibility to give these opposition parties greater access to the media. Secretary Christopher made that point personally to them in Geneva on Wednesday, and he made the commitment yesterday in Sarajevo to the opposition political figures that we would continue to stand for that. These people's voices have to be heard.
Q Nick, you didn't mention anything about Herceg Bosna and about Croatian leadership -- Zagreb and Mostar -- and do you have any idea about a situation in Herceg Bosna and particularly in Pale? You said to David that the situation is a bit different. But my impression is that you push so hard, which is good, on Sarajevo Government -- which is good -- but they already had about 35 parties in Bosnia control. They have some parties in Pale and some in Croat parts of Bosnia.
Do you have any idea about the situation after the elections? Some people say that it is going to be just (inaudible) or ethnic cleansing. Could you comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I think the two most practical achievements of the daylong series of meetings on Wednesday in Geneva were the following: (1) That President Tudjman and President Zubak of the Federation and the other Bosnian Croat leaders agreed that the institutions of Herzeg Bosnia would be dissolved completely by August 31, just a short time from now; and, that the Federation would then be put into place -- the institutions of the Federation would be fully put into place.
That is a prerequisite the elections themselves and for the aftermath, which gets to your second question. Secretary Christopher was able to get a very clear, firm, public commitment from Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic that following the election the institutions of the new country, the new state, that Dayton clearly calls for would be established; and that these three political leaders had publicly committed themselves to honoring the results of the elections and to making sure that those institutions were in fact set up. What we stand for -- what the United States stands for, very briefly, what we hope the situation will lead to -- is a multi-ethnic Bosnia Herzegovina.
The United States believes that that country will be more stable and more peaceful if that is a result of these elections, and, of course, we will do everything we can, using our considerable influence on the ground and politically with these parties to make sure that that in fact is the spirit of the country after the election.
But fundamentally, it's not our decision. It's the decision of the Bosnian people, voting -- all the ethnic communities voting to produce the state that they need and we hope it's multi-ethnic.
Q After Washington, you are talking about August 8, dissolving Herceg Bosna. Now it's August 31. After all, what make you sure that Tudjman is going to do something regarding Herceg Bosna and war crimes?
MR. BURNS: Our experience with all these parties over the last year is that there's a one step forward, two steps backward quality to negotiations. We have a public, written commitment by President Tudjman and by Mr. Zubak -- written commitment signed yesterday by Zubak in Sarajevo at the United States Embassy that these institutions will indeed be dissolved.
Actions are much more important than words, and we'll be watching very closely around the 30th and 31st of August to make sure that those institutions are dissolved on the ground, and that the Federation is completely assembled.
Q Nick, you speak about freedom of movement. I don't have any idea how IFOR is going to do something about freedom of movement.
MR. BURNS: Yes, I think I understand your question. When we met with Secretary General Solana in Brussels on Tuesday and General Joulwan on Tuesday and Wednesday, they pledged to us that IFOR would create and has in fact already created a joint operations committee with the OSCE; that there would be daily meetings so that the OSCE would be able to tell IFOR what practical things needed to be done to insure freedom of movement before and during the September 14 elections.
We heard from IFOR that they intend to help in the construction of polling places. They intend to provide security in particularly tense cities and towns where there's more than one ethnic group present, and they will provide security in the places where refugees want to return to vote.
It won't be possible for each refugee to have a soldier accompanying him or her to the ballot place, because there aren't sufficient numbers of soldiers to do that. But I think that IFOR and the OSCE have a fairly good idea of where the problem areas are, and they'll concentrate the troops in those areas.
This is a very serious and important commitment that has been made by IFOR, and I can tell you that Secretary General Solana believes this is a central responsibility that IFOR must undertake, and we're very pleased about that.
Q New subject?
Q You had another --
MR. BURNS: I had two other -- why don't I just get to these two other very, very brief announcements, and we'll go onto other issues.
The first is that Assistant Secretary of State Al Larson will be available to you today at 3:30 p.m. to give a briefing on the U.S.-Japan Civil Aviation talks, and he'll be available here in the briefing room at 3:30. He'll be ON THE RECORD. Just briefly, I think as you know, these talks ended in Tokyo today, and they ended it without agreement, and no date set for future negotiations.
The United States is very disappointed at this failure in this round, as in the previous round, to make progress, and we are currently reviewing our next steps and our options. We entered these talks with an affirmative, positive agenda. We're strongly committed to negotiations which would provide each side's airlines with expanded opportunities and create new services for the traveling public.
However, we believe that Japan is now preventing us from moving forward. This affects the traveling public. It affects Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and Federal Express, and we're going to now consider what next options we have available to us. Assistant Secretary Larson is available to speak to you at 3:30.
Finally, I just wanted to note that the President, of course, that the President, of course, has appointed Wyche Fowler as United States Ambassdor to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and later this afternoon at the White House, Vice President Gore will be swearing him into office. Secretary Christopher intends to attend that ceremony.
As you know, Mr. Fowler was elected to the House of Representatives in 1977. He was elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia in 1986. He's a very distinguished former member of Congress, and the Administration is very, very pleased that he'll be able to go out to Saudi Arabia in the next couple of days to take up an Ambassadorship which at this stage is one of our most important Ambassadorships anywhere in the world, considering everything that we have at stake with Saudi Arabia and considering the aftermath of the Dhahran bombing.
Q Nick, as you know, there are lots of questions being raised these days about Saudi Arabia: some in context of succession; some in context of terrorism; sometimes together; whether indeed the monarchy is moving as it should toward a liberal democracy. Mr. Fowler was quite a prominent liberal Democrat in the House. Do you suppose his instincts for liberal democracy will carry over into a role which is usually reserved for an Arabist who just kind of stays out of such matters and pretty much, you know, is a specialist on the field instead of a specialist in American democratic institutions. What do you expect Mr. Fowler to contribute to this debate?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I'm surprised, given your almost legendary encyclopedic knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs and the American presence there. You know that Mr. Fowler's predecessor was --
Q Yes, was Ray Mavis -- yes.
MR. BURNS: -- was Ray Mavis.
Q He was unusual, too. Usually --
MR. BURNS: -- was a former Governor of Mississippi, who did --
Q Indeed, and a liberal Democrat.
MR. BURNS: -- who did an outstanding -- I don't think his politics have anything --
Q Oh, I think it has a lot to do with who you send to Saudi Arabia.
MR. BURNS: -- has much to do -- let me just finish my answer, and then we can kibitz. But basically, Barry, if you ask the professional diplomats in this building -- the Arabists, the Middle East experts, and you and I know a lot of them -- they'll tell you that Ambassador Mavis did a very fine job.
Q I didn't say he didn't.
MR. BURNS: And that in the past Saudi Arabia has been one of those Embassies -- our Embassy in Riyadh -- where we've had both political appointees and career Foreign Service officers; and, frankly, as a Foreign Service Officer, I think most of us not only have nothing against political appointees, but in fact many of our most outstanding Ambassadors today around the world are political appointees. I would cite Ambassador Harriman in Paris and Ambassador Mondale in Tokyo as two very prominent political appointees who are doing excellent jobs in very important countries.
So President Clinton and Secretary Christopher obviously have a lot of confidence in Ambassador-to-be Fowler. They wouldn't have named him to that position -- a very key position at an extremely important time in U.S.-Saudi relations -- had they not had a high degree of confidence that he will do an excellent job.
Q You did not answer the question. You --
MR. BURNS: I tried very hard to answer the question.
Q You turned this all around as if somehow this is a criticism of making a political appointment.
MR. BURNS: I have to respond to charges as I see them.
Q The appointment is perceived to be opposite. In this case the President chose to appoint a former member of the House and a former Atlanta Congressman --
MR. BURNS: A former Senator.
Q -- and a former Senator who had along tradition of being a liberal Democrat in a period when some might say liberals are a little bit on the run. I'm asking you if Mr. Fowler in his post, which usually goes to an Arabist without any known political views is likely to try to transmute the institutions in Saudi Arabia to have a more democratic flavor.
MR. BURNS: Barry, I'm going to have to push back a little bit here. On a factual basis, these posts usually aren't reserved for Foreign Service Officers or political appointees. It just so happens that we now have a run of two political appointees, and there's no problem with that.
As for Ambassador-to-be Fowler's views, he's an American, and he is an American citizen. His job there is to represent American national interests, which are fairly well defined. The primary vital American national interest in Saudi Arabia is to continue to work economically to insure the export of oil from the Persian Gulf to Western Europe, Japan and the United States. That is a vital national security interest.
We have a continued interest in the stability of the Kingdom and a continued close relationship with the Kingdom and its leadership, with King Fahd and the other ministers of his government. It's crystal clear that we're going to continue the policies that have been so successful over 30 years in promoting that relationship.
I don't think his previous political views and political posture as a member of the House and Senate have anything to do with the way he's going to comport himself on this job.
Q It sounds like you're saying that the economic relationship and the U.S. oil interests are best served by allowing and permitting and deferring to the Saudis to go at their own pace. Isn't that a good translation of what you said?
MR. BURNS: The President's policies toward Saudi Arabia -- President Clinton's policies -- which Ambassador Fowler will implement are very clear. They will not be changed. We put a very high priority on relations with that government.
Q Nick, on a related --
Q Nick, despite the repeated statements about the close ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia, there continue to be reports that the Saudis may not be sharing all the information they have on this bombing investigation with the United States. Can you tell us what the status of that is, and are you aware yet of any arrests that you can talk about?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any arrests. What I can tell you is that King Fahd made a pledge -- a pledge made public by the Saudi Government, a pledge to President Clinton in a day or two after the June 25 bombing -- that Saudi Arabia would cooperate to the fullest extent with the United States in apprehending those responsible for this terrorist attack and the murder of 19 Americans.
We have common ground here between our two governments. We both want the same thing. We want to see those responsible for this apprehended and brought to justice. I can't give you any details on this investigation. I've been saying that now since June 25 that this investigation is being run by the Saudi authorities and the FBI, and it's not in our interests to give out in public any details about this investigation. But I think the objective, which is mutual, is quite clear.
Q Does the United States feel it's being kept totally informed about what's happening?
MR. BURNS: I'm just going to stand by what I said. I think that represents what I can and should say about this issue.
Q You'll not answer that question, though?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q You will not answer that question directly.
MR. BURNS: I feel very comfortable standing by my first answer to your first question.
Q Where you said they can't make --
MR. BURNS: I think it's an all-purpose answer which will provide at least my satisfaction in my response to your questions about this today.
Q Nick, the question -- you told us what was said publicly -- that the Saudis have pledged to cooperate. The question was whether the Saudis are holding back information. You weren't asked if they'd taken the pledge nor -- you know -- you were asked whether indeed they are fulfilling the pledge. You weren't asked for details of the investigation. You were asked if they were holding back any details of the investigation. I think we'd be satisfied in knowing if the Saudis are turning over to the United States all the substantive information that's come into their hands --
MR. BURNS: Well, Barry --
Q Thereby fulfilling the pledge --
MR. BURNS: No, I understand --
Q Implementing the pledge.
MR. BURNS: I understand the question.
Q Well, they say that they pledge to cooperate. We can find that in the files. Of course, they pledged to cooperate. Are they cooperating?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I thought I'd just be helpful and just reaffirm that to you --
Q Well, we wonder --
MR. BURNS: -- before you had to look up in the file, you know --
Q But are they cooperating, or are they doing something less than a full cooperative job?
MR. BURNS: Barry, what I can do and what I have done from this vantage point over the last month or two is to tell you what has been pledged. What I have not done to date and will not begin today is to get into the details of this investigation or to analyze it for you or to characterize it: are we up; are we down; have we caught someone; have we not caught someone? I'm not a member of the FBI investigating team.
Q Those aren't the questions. The questions were, are they withholding information --
MR. BURNS: How do we characterize, are we satisfied, are they withholding information.
Q That would sort of answer the question.
MR. BURNS: I can't answer those questions.
Q Ah! So you can't say whether the U.S. is satisfied that the Saudis are implementing their promise to be fully cooperative.
MR. BURNS: For this reason. If I begin to get into the investigation, characterizing the investigation, our level of satisfaction, I'm going to be trampling on the confidentiality of this investigation, to which both of our government are currently pledged -- the confidentiality of this investigation.
Q Nick, it would be a simple matter if you were satisfied to just say, "We are satisfied," and you are pointedly not doing that, which leads us to deduce that in fact you are not satisfied.
MR. BURNS: Carol, I wouldn't lead you in that direction, and I wouldn't encourage you in that direction. I am doing something very important here. I am electing to do what I've done every single day, and I think what Glyn has done when he's been up here, and that is to say we can't help you on giving you details or levels of satisfaction on this investigation. It's a confidential, private investigation whose success may depend on people like me not getting into the details in public. That's exactly what I'm saying.
I'm not trying to give you any private signals that we're satisfied or not satisfied.
Q But this is --
MR. BURNS: I'm trying to uphold the basis for a public conversation on this that everybody has agreed to: Mike McCurry, Ken Bacon and myself, as we speak about this.
Q This is not a situation of nosy reporters trying to poke around and --
MR. BURNS: I didn't say anybody was nosy.
Q Well, you said you can't help --
MR. BURNS: You're just doing your job.
Q No, no, we aren't doing our job. Even if we are, we're not --
MR. BURNS: You are doing a job, Barry.
Q We're not talking about our job. The U.S. -- Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks. The U.S. public has a strong interest in knowing if the Saudis, who have been given number one priority -- you know, who are -- the lead position in the investigation are indeed -- because Americans, I think, would be a little more comfortable if they knew their own investigators were sharing the information -- whether the Saudis who are in the lead position are sharing freely with the United States all the information, all the substantive information that comes into their hands. And a simple "yes" or "no" -- you know, you say you can't say that, because it would begin to peel the onion.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Fine. But that's the question. The question isn't helping us or not helping us. The question is telling the American public if Saudi investigators are cooperating fully with the United States. That's all that's being asked.
MR. BURNS: Right. And the most relevant and helpful thing that I am able to say to you is that King Fahd has given a public pledge of full cooperation to President Clinton. That is an important fact. That's a very important fact, and we believe that is the case. Thank you.
Q If there are corroborative reports to --
Q (Inaudible) believe that is the case. (Inaudible) that he made a statement.
MR. BURNS: No, it's an important fact.
Q Oh, it's an important fact. Okay.
MR. BURNS: It's an important fact. Look, all we've said --
Q The case floated in --
MR. BURNS: -- since June -- the bombing was on the 25th. Secretary Christopher visited on the 26th. I believe the phone conversation between the President and King Fahd took place either the 26th or the 27th. Since that day, we've had a consistent public line, and I'm going to hold to it.
Q Nick, don't you have to concede at this point that there's a question we're asking you here -- it's a "yes" or "no" question -- and you are not answering it.
MR. BURNS: David, I concede that point, but I'm choosing not to answer it for my own very good reason, and I feel perfectly comfortable standing exactly where I am on this and not giving in to the temptation that you're trying to lead me into --
Q No --
MR. BURNS: -- to say more than I want to say.
Q But nobody's asking you to tell anything about the nature of the investigation, the nature of the information --
MR. BURNS: I'm sure you'd be delighted to know about the nature of the investigation --
Q We would, but we're not asking that.
Q Nick, there's a corroborated report --
MR. BURNS: Bill, haven't we covered this? Do you have anything else you can contribute to this?
Q No. Well, let me go at it a little different way. Maybe I should yield to -- I'll yield to Steve in a moment. But there have been corroborated reports, at least three that I've seen, saying that the full cooperation from the Saudis is not being given to the FBI --
MR. BURNS: Who's corroborated those reports?
Q -- into the FBI. I'd be happy to show you. There's a source here in Washington --
MR. BURNS: Oh, sources.
Q -- a source in Washington --
MR. BURNS: Unnamed sources, right.
Q -- a source in London --
MR. BURNS: And who corroborated them?
Q No, this was published yesterday. I'll show you.
MR. BURNS: Okay, Bill, let me just help you with an answer. I think the appropriate person to talk about this is the Director of the FBI, Mr. Freeh. I'm not Louis Freeh. I can't give you this kind of --
Q I've called the FBI, and they say, "We have nothing for you and, when the time comes, you'll get it."
MR. BURNS: Well, that's Mr. Freeh's right, and it's probably a very sensible policy, and we support him in it.
Q But just let me ask you -- let me just ask you this. On these corroborated reports, Nick, can you refute those reports and say that there is no difficulty --
MR. BURNS: You know, since the day I took this job, I've never confirmed on background comments by people I don't know. I've never done that. I think we should move on to the next issue, because I have nothing more to say.
Q Did you have one more announcement? Did we --
MR. BURNS: I finished my announcements.
Q What about the CTB? Where does it stand? What's the U.S. -- today is there any change; any new assessment, appraisal; how you might move; what the outlook is for success, etc.?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher received a briefing this morning from John Holum, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, at the Secretary's 8:30 senior staff meeting. It was a fairly detailed briefing which took into consideration some of the events of yesterday afternoon in Geneva.
It's our assessment, Barry, that the situation hasn't changed much since we left Geneva two days ago. There is still a considerable amount of discussion and debate and negotiations in the Byzantine corridors there at the Conference on Disarmament among 160 countries.
I can just tell you that the United States' objectives are very clear. This treaty ought to be signed, and those standing in the way of the treaty ought to get out of the way of the treaty, because this treaty expresses the will, we think, of people all over the world to have the five nuclear powers declare and commit in writing that they will no longer at any point into the future conduct nuclear tests on a zero-yield basis.
We are trying, obviously, to find a way to be responsible about this, to try to meet the concerns, if we can, of some of the dissenters. But we like the Ramaker draft text. We like it. We're not in a position to entertain negotiations to change that text. They've had enough time at the Conference on Disarmament to change that text, and we'd like to see the outcome be the following: that countries would get together in New York in September, and that leaders would sign this treaty, and that public pledges would be given so that this treaty can go into effect.
That will help every country in the world. It will help people all over the world sleep better to know that nuclear tests are no longer going to be conducted by any nuclear power. Very important.
Q What is the Secretary doing to try to weigh in at this time?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher has followed this issue day by day over the last couple of weeks -- not just when he was in Geneva talking to our negotiating team but also just back here in Washington, including today. As you know, the Secretary will be going off for a couple of weeks of well-deserved leave to California, but I know that Acting Secretary Strobe Talbott will be also looking at this on a day-to-day basis.
We are in constant touch with Ambassador Ledogar through Ted McNamara here in the Department and Ambassador Holum, and we're going to stay in their punching and hope that the result is going to be what I said to Barry, and that's the treaty signed in New York in September.
Q Well, at this critical point when this whole thing could be actually going down the tube, are there any plans for the President to do anything to show leadership?
MR. BURNS: I think the President has shown leadership. The President has stated many times over, including as long ago as his address to the United Nations last October when he was up in New York, that this remains one of the central foreign policy objectives for 1996. You can be assured that he is fully up-to-date on this and will be active when that is necessary in these negotiations.
Secretary Christopher has met in recent weeks with the Russian, India and Chinese Foreign Ministers. He had two very good meetings with the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers. We've seen a lot of progress with those two delegations.
I think that there is an essential agreement among the nuclear powers -- the Perm Five -- that this treaty
ought to go forward. If other countries have a problem with it, they ought to reflect upon their responsibilities here to the international community. Do one or two countries want to hold this up? It's not, we believe, in their interest.
Q Well, at least one of those countries --
Q Can I just finish. What happens if it doesn't go forward? Will the United States resume testing?
MR. BURNS: President Clinton has announced that the United States has undertaken a moratorium on those tests, and that, having made that decision, the next step is for a CTB. I can't and don't want to anticipate what may happen if this effort fails. We don't think it will fail, frankly. I think Secretary Christopher came back from Geneva with the understanding that this is very complex. It's very difficult. It's very Byzantine. But that this is an achievable goal in the next month, and he's given instructions to those who will be here in Washington over the next two weeks to make this a daily, abiding priority.
Q Nick, you said the text won't be changed. You also say the U.S. is trying to find a way to be reasonable to meet the views, or whatever the word was, of some of the dissenters. Now at least one prominent -- I don't know if you would call it -- I don't know "dissenters" is the precise word that should be used -- but because that country, India, very much shares the U.S. objective of banning nuclear tests. It happens to be more pro-disarmament, in a sense, in its position than the U.S. is by insisting you go further. You don't think it's practical right now.
Can you -- can there be some compromise with India that doesn't change the text but some sort of a side statement or letter or some other form that indicates the U.S. is willing to proceed down the road that the Indians ask the five powers to do?
MR. BURNS: We're comfortable with the draft text, with the draft text of Chairman Ramaker. We'd like to proceed with that text. We believe that there's been sufficient time to negotiate that text. We like the text as is.
On your first point, I know you weren't trying to provoke me at all --
Q No, no.
MR. BURNS: But on the first point --
Q But, I mean, they're dissenters. Iran and India are not in the same --
MR. BURNS: No. On the first point about who's doing what on nuclear disarmament, let me just remind you that the START II Treaty, which the U.S. Senate has now ratified, will reduce the number of nuclear warheads between the United States and Russia to 6,500 by the year 2003; that President Clinton was the one who came forward with a moratorium on nuclear tests by the United States; that no country on a practical basis has done more than the United States to promote effective and practical nuclear disarmament in this decade.
That is an objective fact which is unassailable. The United States believes that it is not practical to promise that in X number of years there will be no more nuclear weapons on the face of the earth. That is an illusion, and we prefer, Barry, because we are interested in the practical security of the American people not to deal in illusions.
We prefer to build practical treaties that will actually bring down the threat of nuclear war or a nuclear accident by bringing down the number of nuclear weapons and by declaring an end forever to nuclear tests. The United States' position here is unassailable on our commitment to this type of disarmament.
But we prefer not to be hopeless dreamers. We prefer to be practical, and that's what these negotiations can be if they succeed.
Q Nick, the United States is not disarming under this treaty. The United States is doing what a lot of proponents of nuclear weapons favor, to get down -- to save some money, get down to a tidy up-to-date nuclear arsenal. The United States will retain, if everything goes through, as you know so well -- I know you weren't trying to provoke me -- enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world --
MR. BURNS: I would never provoke you.
Q -- several thousand times over.
MR. BURNS: Barry --
Q So wait a minute.
MR. BURNS: I think we agree. I think you and I agree.
Q You are locked in an argument. We're talking about India. We're not talking about Iran. You're locked in an argument with a country that for decades has been in the forefront of real disarmament, and the U.S. is being asked to forego nuclear weapons entirely, along with the four other members of this elite club, which are known and declare their nuclear weapons.
Now you say there's a possibility of working something out with them. Can you tell us, give us some idea, of what kind of formula -- if you can't get into the text again, what can you do? Can you take the pledge?
MR. BURNS: Which pledge, Barry?
Q The pledge to really move toward disarmament.
MR. BURNS: The United States has done more --
Q To get to the end of the road.
MR. BURNS: -- to reduce the level of nuclear weapons --
Q That's true.
MR. BURNS: -- and reduce the probability of a nuclear altercation has done more than any other country.
Q Because it has more nuclear weapons than any other country.
MR. BURNS: No, because of the political will that President Bush and President Clinton have shown on that.
Q And President Reagan.
MR. BURNS: On the other --
Q And President Carter. But the point is --
MR. BURNS: On the other question, Barry, I've already said it is not practical to commit oneself to destroy all nuclear weapons when that is clearly not going to happen. We need to negotiate here on a practical basis, and we are doing that.
Q Why is it -- does the American public need nuclear weapons? You made some reference to --
MR. BURNS: There is certainly support in this Administration, certainly support in the Republican party, certainly support in the United States Congress and among the American people, I would wager, for the United States to continue to have a nuclear deterrent, yes.
Q May I follow that up? Follow that up. What's the -- the majority party in the Congress, the Republican party, has said that it is opposed to the CTBT and does that mean that India -- when the treaty is approved, it will not be ratified by Congress because it's the majority party in the Congress.
MR. BURNS: I have every reason to believe that this treaty, if approved and signed, will in fact be accepted by the majority of the American people and the majority of members of Congress.
Q On the Cyprus statement?
Q One more question on that. One more on that. It has been stated by the Foreign Minister of India that the CBTB is not a bilateral issue but multilateral issue and that the differences on the issue between the two countries will not affect the bilateral relations between the two countries. Do you share that?
MR. BURNS: It is very much a multilateral effort. The vast majority of countries in Geneva want to move forward with the treaty text. Point one.
Secretary Christopher had a good meeting with Foreign Minister Gujral in Jakarta. We have a very good relationship with India. We want to maintain that relationship. It has an economic and political dimension as well as this common interest in nuclear reductions and in testing.
We hope very much that India could see its way forward to join the rest of the world -- rest of the international community -- and to work with us to try to end nuclear tests forever on a zero-yield basis.
Q On your Cyprus statement. How worried are you about Cyprus? Rocks and bullets have now been exchanged. What diplomatic steps, beyond the statement you've put out, are being taken by the United States?
MR. BURNS: David, the situation is very worrisome on Cyprus. We have been in contact just over the last couple of days with all the parties, and with Greece and with Turkey, as you would expect.
You know that the United Nations has issued a report on the events of August 11, and you know that that report is quite critical of the Turkish-Cypriot police who participated in the fatal beating attack against the Greek Cypriot.
The U.N. says that these acts were deplorable. The United States joins the United Nations in that assessment.
We are calling here for full accountability, first and foremost. Secondly, we're calling for restraint by both sides so that this kind of violence will not continue.
We have worked over the last couple of days with the parties to try to get them to accept a reduction of tensions and the possibility of discussions about these considerable problems between them.
The United Nations, as you know, has called for certain restrictions of activities in the buffer zone. These measures include a ban on live ammunition, a prohibition on the firing of weapons within sight or hearing of the buffer zone, the demanning of military posts along the zone where the two sides are in close proximity.
Our Ambassador in Nicosia, Ken Brill, is meeting today with President Clerides and with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Raouf Denktash. He is urging both of them -- he is urging both of them that there should be meetings between the military commanders to take practical steps like some of the ones that I mentioned to reduce tensions.
Ironically enough, when Madeleine Albright and Mr. Beattie, our Special Envoy, were out in Cyprus about a month ago, they called for some of these specific steps because we anticipated that the current state of affairs might lead to conflict. We're very, very sorry to see that it did lead to violence.
Let me also say this. We know there are some comments by the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mrs. Ciller, this morning about the sanctity of flags. Well, the United States bows to no one in our respect and deference for national flags. This is the sentiment shared by countries all over the world.
But, frankly, protection of a flag cannot excuse the horrible events of August 14. Human life and the sanctity of human life are ultimately more important than protecting a piece of cloth.
The reaction by Turkish Cypriot security forces were entirely disproportionate to the events.
Q Nick, this Department has called everyday this week for restraint on both sides. Now, you're doing it again today, which suggests to me that your calls are being unheeded. Have you gotten any assurances from either side that they're going to heed your words?
MR. BURNS: They are responsible for their actions. They are primarily responsible, let's not forget, for transforming the situation into something better, into one that's calmer and more stable and more peaceful.
Q I understand that, but --
MR. BURNS: I prefer to wait for a report from Ambassador Brill about the results of his conversations with President Clerides and Mr. Denktash. Those meetings are on-going today. I do not have a report, so I can't tell you how these two sides are reacting to us except to say that we have an obligation because they have asked us to be involved to give them our frank advice. Our frank advice is, take specific steps to lower the tension and to move people away from each other in the buffer zone.
Q In separate meetings?
MR. BURNS: Separate meetings.
Q But they have not started -- they have not done that so far?
MR. BURNS: I can't say. I'm not on the ground. I can't describe for you the situation on the ground with any reasonable degree of accuracy, as it stands right now given the time difference.
But I can tell you, if you're interested, we can try to give you a follow-up report later this afternoon. I know that Glyn (Davies), when he briefs next week, will be also available to take any questions on this.
Q I just want to clear up on a few things on Cuba I didn't have a chance to ask Mr. Eizenstat. Is he going there specifically to have the Europeans accept the Helms-Burton bill? Or is it just to put more pressure on Cuba to make reforms?
MR. BURNS: Ideally, if the Europeans would come forth -- Canada and Mexico -- to support the implementation of the Helms-Burton bill, we'd be delighted. Since we do not expect that will happen, we'd like to see, essentially, Europe and the United States, Canada and Mexico, agree that we're going to work together on the issue of human rights in Cuba.
The Europeans governments often speak out about human rights all around the world. Sometimes they speak out about human rights in the United States. Wouldn't it be nice if they spoke out about human rights violations in Cuba which is the last totalitarian dictatorship in our hemisphere?
Q For example, the human rights argument is, they have never accepted because they say, for instance, that the United States trades $25 billion worth with China, which has the worst human rights record. How does Mr. Eizenstat -- how is he going to present this argument in such a way they accept it this time around as opposed before? Because they haven't accepted that argument.
MR. BURNS: I think he's going to make a general appeal that we try to identify some common efforts that we can all agree on -- Canada, Mexico, the United States, and the European countries -- to try to influence the behavior of Fidel Castro. It can't be business as usual. Some Europeans would like it to be business as usual. But we live in this hemisphere. We have to live next door to Cuba.
Many Americans have suffered because of the policies of Castro, including four people killed, by the way, illegally in international airspace on February 24. So we respectfully suggest to the Europeans that instead of carping about the bill, we find ways to work together. So we've got our hand outstretched to them -- stretched out to them -- and we want to work with them.
Q Is his post limited to dealing with European allies, or is he going to work with the Cuban officials as well?
MR. BURNS: This is the envoy to our neighbors -- Canada and Mexico, and to our allies in Europe -- to talk about what we can do together to try to end totalitarian rule in Cuba; but, at a minimum, have some common policies to stand up for human rights. There's a political opposition in Cuba that's being put down very harshly by Fidel Castro.
All of us in this hemisphere and in Europe ought to be concerned about that.
Q Finally, my last question. If the World Trade Organization decides that the Helms-Burton law is in violation of its principles, how is the U.S. going to act?
MR. BURNS: I just don't want to look ahead and anticipate a negative decision and then tell you what we're going to do. We always try to think positively and optimistically here at the State Department.
Q Like Bob Dole? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: Like a lot of Americans, Steve. Touche, Steve; like a lot of Americans.
Q I have one on the same subject. This month in Rio, the Inter-American Judicial Committee is discussing the request by the OAS General Assembly on Helms-Burton. Is Ambassador Eizenstat going to visit any other Latin American country?
MR. BURNS: Right now, he expects principally to spend time with Canada, Mexico, and the European governments. As you know, we have a very effective Ambassador to the OAS, Hattie Babbitt, and a very effective new Assistant Secretary for Latin America, Jeff Davidow. All of them will be involved in this effort as well, as Ambassador Eizenstat said this morning.
Q A different subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q I just heard that several dozen senior Haitian officials have had their U.S. visas revoked. Do you have any comment, or confirmation?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe I have a comment. I'm not aware. Glyn, are you aware of anything? Glyn said we can get back to you after the briefing. I'm just not aware of that.
Q Nick, in the past few days, a United Nations spokeswoman has been making specific comments on the Republican Party platform. How does the State Department view United Nations bureaucrats' comments on the internal politics of the United States?
MR. BURNS: Not favorably. This wouldn't happen to be the Spokeswoman of the United Nations?
Q I believe it is the Spokeswoman.
MR. BURNS: It is. I respectfully suggest that people who represent international organizations, including the prime international organization -- the United Nations -- refrain from comments on American politics, in general, and specifically on this campaign, whether it's criticism or positive comments made about either political party. It's not right. We don't go around making comments -- extending comments about the elections in other countries. In fact, every time you ask us about elections in other countries, we have a stock answer: We're not going to comment.
I think those people who are living in our country and representing international organizations ought to take the pledge and not involve themselves in partisan politics because I don't think the American people have much tolerance for that, just as they wouldn't have much tolerance if people like Glyn and myself involved ourselves in partisan politics here, which we're not going to do this year, by the way.
Q Can I ask some more U.N. questions? On Wednesday, in Baghdad, Turkey and Iraq announced plans to build a natural gas pipeline that could be used to transport gas after the sanctions are lifted.
The U.N. said this may be in violation of the embargo on Iraq. Do you have any comments on that as to whether --
MR. BURNS: I've seen the reports. We certainly are going to seek further information from the Turkish Government, as we are with the gas activities with Iran as well.
A second subject: We need to know more information on both issues. Now, they are different issues, of course. The issue with Iran is, do Turkish actions violate the Iran-Libyan Sanctions Act? The issue with Iraq is, there are very prescribed activities that concern the implementation of U.N. Resolution 986, which is a humanitarian resolution.
Turkey will obviously benefit from that by the opening of a pipeline, but Turkey should not go beyond that and engage in activities that are not permitted by U.N. Resolution 986.
Q Turkey should not go beyond that. So, in other words, is the feeling that this is against the sanctions?
MR. BURNS: No. I think our very strong belief is, we need to get the facts from the Turkish authorities before we can comment either way.
Q And on another question on 986. Are there measures that the State Department and Treasury together are taking in terms of monitoring and licensing U.S. companies to put in applications to buy Iraqi crude?
MR. BURNS: U.S. companies are eligible to participate in the implementation of 986. It's the U.N. Sanctions Committee that will monitor the observance and the implementation of that resolution.
Q For instance, we've heard that the State Department is considering asking Treasury to acquire individual licenses for each time a U.S. company buys Iraqi crude rather than a general license?
MR. BURNS: I'd have to refer you to the Office of Foreign Assets, Controller of Treasury on that issue.
Q They said to talk with you.
MR. BURNS: They did. Perfect. We've got you exactly -- no, I'm just kidding.
I think that's probably a Treasury issue. If you can't get satisfaction there, I'll check with our folks here in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.
Q Could you repeat briefly the U.S.-Japan aviation talks? What is the subject, or content?
MR. BURNS: Ambassador Larson is going to be here in about hour and seven minutes to give you an On-the-Record, on camera briefing on that. He is the expert. I'd rather let him do it. But I very generally said, the United States is very disappointed at the outcome of these talks because we don't believe that Japan is negotiating in good faith with us. We want a positive, mutually satisfactory agreement that benefits the airlines of both countries. Frankly, we don't think that our airlines are getting much of a benefit.
Ambassador Larson will tell you about that in an hour and six minutes from now.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:24 p.m.)
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