U.S. Department of State 96/08/19 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, August 19, l996 Briefer: Glyn Davies ANNOUNCEMENTS Welcome to Radio Journalists From USIA's "Radio Broadcasting In the United States........................................ 1 Dept Releases Foreign Relations of the US, Volume 19, So Asia. 1 CUBA Helms-Burton Law, Title IV: --US To Send Letters to Executives of Groupo Domos Firm....... 1-3 Alleged Foreign Ministry Note re Problems Entering the US..... 3-4 --Status of Migrants from Overturned Vessel................... 4 --Status of Hijacking of 8/16/96.............................. 4-5 --Status of Hijacker Currently In Custody at Guantanamo....... 5 ARMS CONTROL CTBT: --Update of India's Position on Text: --US Continues Talks/ForMin's Letter to the Secretary/ India's Motivations....................................... 5-6 Rpt of Two Germans Arrested for Alleged Two-Year Smuggling Operation/In Accord With US' Non-Proliferation Goals........ 7-8 US Reviews Status of Weapons Sales to Latin America........... 11-12 --Report of Peru's Request/OAS Working on Peru & Ecuador's Border Dispute.............................................. 11-12 RUSSIA Status of Pres Yeltsin's Health............................... 6-7 CHINA Travel of Taiwan's Vice Pres Lien Chan to Europe.............. 8 Alleged rpt of Mr. Stuhigninger's Sentencing re Falsified US Passports................................................ 14 NORTH/SOUTH KOREA Travel of Congressman Tony Hall to the North/Four-Party Talks to be Discussed....................................... 8-9 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Alleged Rpt of Israeli PM Netanyahu To Reopen Talks w/Palestinians re Hebron.................................... 9 Status of Food Riots in Jordan: --Attempt to Meet IMF Targets/US' Economic Assistance with PL-480 Food Aid Process/Situation Calm...................... 9-10 --King Hussein's Allegation of Riots Fomented by Iraqi Sources 10-11 Oil Market Rumor re US/Syria.................................. 10 TERRORISM Alleged New FAA Rules re Passengers Carrying Passports of Identified Terrorist Nations................................ 12 PAKISTAN Dept's Announcement re Possible Violence Against US Interests. 12-13 CYPRUS Status of US Diplomatic Initiatives/Violence in Buffer Zone... 13 MEXICO Article re Local Cocaine Consumption/Dir of Office of Natl Drug Control Policy Barry McCaffrey's Visit................. 13-14
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, AUGUST 19, 1996, 12:53 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I'd also like to welcome to the briefing 12 radio journalists from all over the world who are taking part in a U.S. Information Agency multi-regional project called "Radio Broadcasting in the United States. They are here to learn more about the responsibilities of journalists as well as to learn about the relationship between the government and the media -- a fine relationship, it is.
Secondly, we are putting out another volume in our Foreign Relations of the United States series. This is Volume 19 on South Asia covering the John F. Kennedy Administration. It is the 19th of 25 volumes that will ultimately be published covering the foreign policy of the John F. Kennedy Administration.
This one, as I said, is on South Asia. A major theme of the volume is the Administration's effort to establish closer relations with India without undermining the established alliance at that time with Pakistan.
That does it for my announcements. George.
Q: Do you have anything concerning letters going to a Mexican firm as part of Title IV of Helms-Burton?
MR. DAVIES: What can I confirm for you is that the United States Government has found the Mexican firm Grupo Domos to be in violation of the Helms-Burton Libertad law. We are consequently sending letters to a number of Grupo Domos executives notifying them that they will have 45 days during which time they can get back to us but after which time they will be excluded from the United States.
I really don't have any further details. The 45-day period is a period during which they can come back to us and indicate to us any circumstances surrounding their individual situation.
Those letters -- I can't confirm that they've actually gone out, but our intention is to send them out either today or tomorrow, as soon as they can be prepared.
Q: They have 45 days to divest, is that right?
MR. DAVIES: They have 45 days to divest or otherwise change their status, vis-a-vis the law.
Q: How many executives will be affected?
MR. DAVIES: I do have some idea, but until we've actually sent out the letters, I want to make sure --
Q: Less than 10?
MR. DAVIES: It's less than 10. Yes, that's my understanding. Once we've sent them out, maybe we can give you a few more details. We won't be giving out their names, probably, because it really is a matter between the United States Government and those individuals.
Q: Less than --
MR. DAVIES: It's less than 10; fewer than 10.
Q: Could you describe their investment activity?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have detail on the investment that Grupo Domos has made in Cuba for you today. I think what I'll do is wait until we actually send the letters out at which time perhaps we'll be able to give you a little more detail on why it is that we've identified Grupo Domos and those executives for sanction under Title IV of the Helms-Burton Act.
Q: This affects families as well, correct?
MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry?
Q: It affects family members as well of those --
MR. DAVIES: According to the way the law is written, it's not simply the individuals who receive the letters but immediate members of the families; that's correct.
Q: Families who have children in prep schools in the United States?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know. I don't know their individual situations.
Q: This is the second batch of letters?
MR. DAVIES: This is the second batch of letters; that's correct.
Q: Is this the only company affected?
MR. DAVIES: It's the only company affected today, this week, in this batch. That's right.
We are doing this very deliberately. We want to make sure that the process is done correctly so that those who receive the letters have been identified properly under the law; and, of course, our entire effort here is directed at, ultimately, the Castro regime. We're not looking to big fights with people. We're simply implementing the law. The one fight we'd want to pick, I suppose, would be with Castro but he's known about that for years.
Q: Can you tell us something about this company?
MR. DAVIES: About Grupo Domos?
Q: What do they do there?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have much information beyond what we've all seen in the press, that this is a company that has interests in the phone business in Mexico. Because this was a matter that was just breaking this morning, we did not prepare to go into chapter and verse on Grupo Domos.
What we'll do is, once we're in a position to say that, yes, indeed, letters have gone out, we'll see if we can't give you a little more information about Grupo Domos. There's been a fair amount written about Grupo Domos.
Q: On Cuba, but a different subject?
MR. DAVIES: Any follow-up on this?
Q: You're also sending out advisory letters to other companies?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any information to give you on advisory letters. Of course, Grupo Domos had received advisory letters, so this is the next stage in the process, actually sending, if you will, the sanction letters to the executives of the firm.
Q: Do you have anything on the note released by the Cuban Foreign Ministry yesterday saying that their patience was wearing thin on the question of return of Cubans who are attempting to get into this country and are being held? I believe there are now 11 left, and a number were sent home on Saturday.
MR. DAVIES: There have been a couple of recent cases. There was the vessel that overturned, that capsized about a week ago. That's one case.
On that, I can tell you that, in fact, we have repatriated some Cuban nationals. Sixteen of the 27 individuals were returned to Cuba on Saturday, the 17th. That was in accordance with our May 2, 1995 joint statement which addresses how we deal with persons who try to come to the United States illegally.
To give you a final accounting of all of the individuals -- because there were 31 on the vessel -- two unfortunately drowned; eight were brought to the United States for humanitarian or medical reasons. I think of those eight, three for medical reasons and five because they are relatives of the two who drowned. Three were provided protection status and taken to the Guantanamo Naval Base. Their ultimate disposition will be decided later.
The final two members of the original 31 were the mystery two who were in the rubber raft that was seen leaving the vessel. The search has so far discovered nothing about them.
Q: But do you have anything on the statement by the Foreign Ministry?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to fire back at the Foreign Ministry -- conduct diplomacy through statements by spokespeople.
The other case, of course, that perhaps was part of their concern was the hijacking that occurred on Friday involving three Cuban passengers and a pilot. What I've got on that -- and much of this, I think, has already been reported -- is that the three Cuban hijackers and a Cuban pilot were rescued by the crew of a Russian freighter after their plane ditched into the Gulf of Mexico about 35 miles southwest of Fort Myers.
The four Cuban were then transferred to a Coast Guard cutter where they were interviewed by Immigration Service personnel.
One of the alleged hijackers was medevaced to the United States for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash. The pilot asked to return to Cuba. We are working to facilitate that return.
As to the three hijackers' ultimate disposition, it remains under review by appropriate U.S. Government authorities. No decision has yet been made on the final disposition.
Q: There was one man who had hijacked a plane several months ago. Is he still on Guantanamo?
MR. DAVIES: He is still in Guantanamo; yes.
Q: Did you say on the 16th -- in the previous case -- the 16 were sent back to Cuba?
MR. DAVIES: What I've got is that it happened on Saturday, the 17th.
Q: Can we also check in on the pilot in Guantanamo, the Interior Ministry officer?
MR. DAVIES: I think that was the question I had -- this gentleman who has been in custody now for a couple of months. We checked into it late last week. We're told that he is still in custody; he's still being questioned, and there has been no final disposition in his case.
Q: Another subject, Nick. Do you have anything new on CTBT in India?
MR. DAVIES: I don't. Obviously, there isn't a great deal of time left in the process that is still playing out at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
Our position hasn't changed on a Comprehensive Test Ban, on doing it through the Conference on Disarmament and on ultimately getting it to New York from the conference and open for signature in the Fall.
We continue to talk about this with the Indians and with others, and we hope very much that India will change its position and allow the Conference on Disarmament to go unanimously to move this treaty to the United Nations in New York for signature. But I don't have any happy news to report to you at this stage.
Q: Have you received any response from India's Foreign Minister to his letter?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know of a particular response. That is, I'm sure, an issue where, if we receive a response, we wouldn't try to characterize for the Indians what their view is. You can certainly check with them. Our position is very well known on this. We'd like a Test Ban Treaty signed -- we and the vast majority of the international community.
We think that it's important to take this big, big step in disarmament since it's within our grasp.
Q: Are you saying that the Secretary did not receive a letter from --
MR. DAVIES: I'm not aware of a response. He may well have received one.
Q: There was an editorial in the newspaper today which suggested that the real reason that the Indians are delaying or obstructing this treaty is that they wish to go on testing nuclear weapons. Does the United States believe that to be the case?
MR. DAVIES: I read some of the commentary over the weekend. You really would have to make up your own mind in talking with the Indians about what their motivations are.
Regardless of Indian motivations at this stage, we think it's very important to move ahead with a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, now that the vast majority of the international community think that it's a good idea; now that procedurally we have this treaty 99 percent of the way there. But in terms of the Indian security situation, how they view their position on the sub-continent, vis-a-vis China and all the rest of it, those are big, grand geo-strategic questions around which there's a great deal of debate. But I don't think it's useful for me to lay out a U.S. policy on that at this stage.
Q: New subject. Russia. Do you have anything on Boris Yeltsin's health, and have the Russians approached the United States on anything regarding treatment or anything of that nature?
MR. DAVIES: The Russians have not approached the United States to ask that the President come to the United States or otherwise receive any kind of treatment from us. We follow all of these reports with some interest. We'd certainly wish President Yeltsin well as he works to recover from a grueling Presidential campaign, and there are health issues associated with President Yeltsin that are well known.
But as regards special requests from the Russians, I don't have any to report to you.
Q: You have no knowledge of any serious medical crisis?
MR. DAVIES: Serious medical. I don't have any knowledge, no, I do not.
Q: You don't have his EKG or --
MR. DAVIES: I don't have his EKG, don't have his blood count, don't have any of that stuff.
Q: I guess that answers my question, but let me ask it again. Time Magazine reports that his health is worse now since the elections and, as reported, is seeking medical help outside of Russia. But you have no knowledge of his health worsening, is that correct?
MR. DAVIES: I simply don't have anything that I can share with you about Boris Yeltsin's health. I mean, again there are a welter of rumors and reports and what-have-you out there about his health. I don't have any particular knowledge to convey to you. We hope that he recovers from his campaign, which took a lot out of him, and to the extent he has any medical difficulties, we hope that he comes out of them in the rest period that has been prescribed for him. But again I don't have anything in particular about it.
Q: Do you have anything on reports of the arrest of two German businessmen by German authorities for either successfully shipping high tech equipment to Libya to be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons or not being successful but trying to do this. It's unclear to me exactly what the status is.
MR. DAVIES: This was brought to my attention literally minutes ago that there had been arrests in Germany; that this was the end result of what appears to be a lengthy investigation into a two-year smuggling operation. I have asked the question of our experts in the building what this means and whether this is a positive development. I assume it is. It seems to be in accord with our non-proliferation goals, but again just based on the Reuters item that I've got, it's a little difficult for me to be too conversant with precisely what happens.
Q: You're just reading from the Reuters report.
MR. DAVIES: Yes. I've got the Reuters report. It's been highlighted.
Q: So you're not offering any independent confirmation.
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any independent confirmation. I've just seen the reports, and from the reports it looks like a blow for non-proliferation and something we would welcome if the reports turn out to be accurate. But I don't have anything independent on it, so I can't help you too much.
Q: New subject?
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q: Taiwan's Vice President, Mr. Lien, has reportedly changed his schedule in New York City; that instead of boarding a plane to go back to Taipei, he boarded a plane to Europe. Does the U.S. Government know anything about this?
MR. DAVIES: We know that he went to Europe. I mean, we know what you know about it. Are you looking for anything more specific than that?
Q: Do you think that this is a breach of the mutual understanding between the U.S. and Taiwan concerning Mr. Lien's transit in the U.S.?
MR. DAVIES: I don't believe it is. I don't see quite how it would be. The understanding that we have with Taiwan authorities pertains to their activities in the United States and the circumstances under which we grant transit visas. It has nothing to say about whether a traveler changes his or her mind and decides to go to another destination. I mean, that's up to them.
Q: In a free country like the United States, unlike China, a traveler is free to choose his own itinerary, isn't he?
MR. DAVIES: Sure. I mean, again if he decided to go to France instead of just Taiwan, it's all the same to us. It really doesn't make much difference. What's important to us is how he conducts himself here in the United States, and as far as I know, he's met the terms of the agreement that we had with the Government of Taiwan when he applied for the visa.
Q: Representative Tony Hall has announced that he'll be making a trip to North Korea. Will any State Department personnel be accompanying him or briefing him on that trip?
MR. DAVIES: I imagine that in some fashion we'll support the trip, and I know that in the past when members of Congress have traveled to North Korea, we've gone so far as to actually detail an expert to accompany the member. That may well be the case in this instance, but I don't know. That's something I'd be happy to check for you, to see whether he's going accompanied by someone from the Administration. I just don't know..
Yes. Is that a follow-up on that?
Q: If you were to brief him on this trip, would you like him to bring up opening liaison offices?
MR. DAVIES: I wouldn't want to foreshadow everything we would share in confidence with the Congressman, but certainly any time any American official of any branch goes to that country, we'd like very much for them to raise the issue of the four-party talks proposal that the President has made.
We think it's important to move ahead to put an end once and for all to essentially the war that took place in the Korean peninsula decades ago.
Q: Have you seen the reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to reopen the negotiations with the Palestinians regarding Hebron?
MR. DAVIES: I haven't seen those reports, no.
Q: From what you know of the negotiations, is that -- as the Americans are mediating, is that a permissible procedure to reopen an issue which has been settled?
MR. DAVIES: Jim, you know our policy on the territories and on Jerusalem and on the rest of it. I don't have any change in that policy to indicate for you today, and what I'm not going to do is speculate or kind of wander off to talk about any proposal that Prime Minister Netanyahu might have made on Hebron, the details of which are not familiar to me. So we can look into it and see if there's anything to say, but I doubt at the end of the day we will have anything to say about it.
Q: Do you have any insight into the food riots in Jordan?
MR. DAVIES: Jordan is struggling with meeting some IMF targets. We are certainly very supportive of King Hussein in his efforts to try to bring to the people of Jordan a better quality of life. He's done, we think, much in that regard.
The United States for its part has done a fair amount to try to improve the economic situation in Jordan. We forgave a large chunk of Jordan's bilateral official debt. We, of course, maintain an active economic assistance program bilaterally with Jordan, a big part of which is the PL-480 food aid process.
This year we have made available to Jordan $21 million in PL-480 food aid, which is a jump of $6 million over last year's $15 million PL-480 level. So we've done what we can to alleviate the situation.
I'm happy to report that our indications are that now the situation is calm in Jordan. We're pleased that the situation was restored to one of calm without any loss of life by all reports. Our Embassy in Amman has worked with Americans in Jordan during this difficulty to insure that they were informed of the situation.
We take note of the Jordan Minister of Information's statement that the arrests that were made during the riots will be handled through the judicial process.
Q: Do you have anything on oil market rumors that the United States may in the next few days prohibit U.S. companies from taking crude oil from Syria?
MR. DAVIES: I don't, and the last thing I'd want to do is jump into the middle of oil market rumors. That's always dangerous.
Q: Can you deny it, at least?
MR. DAVIES: I just don't have anything on it at this stage.
Q: Can you take the question?
MR. DAVIES: I'll be happy to look into it for you. Sure.
Q: Back on Jordan. Some members of the Jordanian Government -- I think the King himself -- said that the riots were fomented by Iraqi-connected sources. Do you have any information to support that?
MR. DAVIES: I can't confirm whether or not those riots were fomented by Iraqi sources. We've seen the claim that he made. I think what's best to confine ourselves to right now is simply noting the Jordanian Government's own statement that those who were arrested will be treated with due process and given all of their rights under the Jordanian Constitution.
But I don't have any independent information that would indicate that Iraq was or wasn't involved in those riots.
Q: Glyn, is the Administration now prepared to offer major weapons systems to Chile and some other countries in South America? This has been under review for a long time.
MR. DAVIES: There has been a review of the status of U.S. weapons sales to Latin America; and, as you know, for many, many years there were very few major systems transferred. I don't know that we've made any hard and fast decisions that would result in dramatic announcements of a change in our policy necessarily, but we constantly review the situation of states who request from us weapons systems to determine whether introducing those systems into that state or into that region would create further volatility or destabilize the situation.
What has happened in the last decade in Latin America, of course, is that we've seen a strong trend toward democratic governments and the rule of law, and all of this makes it easier to look favorably on requests for bilateral assistance of all kinds.
Q: Is it true, as has been reported, that Peru is on its way to buying some advanced MiG's?
MR. DAVIES: I understand that Peru has made some requests. I don't know whether I can say that they're on their way or not. The United States is very concerned and has played a role regionally through the OAS in working to find a long-term solution to the Peru/Ecuador border dispute, along with Argentina, Brazil and Chile who are the other states engaged in the process.
So we've been very careful as we review requests from those two states -- Peru and Ecuador -- to make sure that introducing any weapons systems into that region won't exacerbate the situation that exists between those two countries.
Q: Same subject. The Post said there's been a policy change in the sense that there no longer will be automatic opposition to requests from Latin American countries for advanced weaponry, and you're suggesting that not much of anything has happened. Are denying the Post story?
MR. DAVIES: What I can't do is deny that there has been a particular decision on weapons sales to Latin America. That's something I'm happy to look into. But what I was trying to do was kind of set out for you how there has been an evolution, if you will, in recent years that would make it easier for the United States to look favorably on requests for assistance, including military assistance from those countries.
Q: Evolution in recent years. Can you point to any sales?
MR. DAVIES: In recent years, what I was saying and what I think the Post reports says is that for the most part we haven't transferred major weapons systems to Latin American nations. We haven't gone on any kind of a binge of meeting their requests for weapons systems, and that is a continent that has seen a lot of progress. There's been a great deal of evolution, and, since we followed this situation closely and it's in our back yard and we are all members of the OAS and have an interest in maintaining regional stability, we constantly review the situation with Latin America. In light of some of these developments that have occurred, perhaps we can look more favorably on some of these requests.
But what I can't do for you today is say that on such and such a date the Secretary or the President or somebody else made a decision about weapons systems in Latin America.
Q: Do you have anything on -- I was just handed a note -- do you have anything on new FAA rules, looking into passengers who carry passports of the identified terrorist nations?
MR. DAVIES: I don't. I mean, you could ask the FAA about that. I just don't.
Q: You had an announcement on the 15th about your concern that there is danger to U.S. citizens in Pakistan, and you also said that there are some people with a history of anti-Americanism may be planning to conduct violence against U.S. interests.
MR. DAVIES: Right.
Q: Are you talking about people in Pakistan or some Asians or some other place like Afghanistan are coming in?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know the answer to that. I saw, obviously, the announcement we put out and I asked a couple of questions about it. That was a very specific announcement; both specific in place and in time, because it's really only for the balance of this month. It's based on information that I simply can't go into.
I don't know whether we're talking here about something indigenous or a threat imported from outside Pakistan. I just don't know.
Q: Can you, Glyn, give a status report on the U.S. diplomatic initiatives on Cyprus that Dick Holbrooke earlier called for a big push, and this was met somewhat negatively by the Greek and I believe also British and French Governments? Where does it stand now after the various visits to the area?
MR. DAVIES: Our interest remains in helping the parties on Cyprus to find a long-term solution to their differences.
In recent days -- certainly, last week -- pretty much all of our diplomatic activity was centered on doing what we could to help diffuse the crisis that occurred along the buffer zone. Of course, we were pleased that ultimately things did calm down and that the situation is now calm on Cyprus. There haven't been any events since August 14.
Our Ambassador remains very active. We are looking for opportunities to get back into the longer term process of encouraging a direct dialogue between the sides on Cyprus and achieving, ultimately, a peace agreement between them or a settlement that will put an end to these types of incidents.
It may be that in the near future we will have an announcement to give you on dispatch of a team to Cyprus, but I don't have anything on that yet today.
Q: Glyn, in the Wall Street Journal today, in Diane Sully's article, there's a terribly disturbing statistic here on cocaine consumption in Mexico -- in Mexico City -- by young people six or seven times increasing in the last decade.
MR. DAVIES: I saw the article.
Q: Up to where 30 percent of the respondents to this survey said they had used cocaine. So now Mexico is not traditionally a pipeline for U.S. drug consumption. It has it's own habit, it says in this article.
MR. DAVIES: Right, Bill. I saw the article.
Q: What is the State Department's reaction? I understand Barry McCaffrey was down there lecturing some of these students.
MR. DAVIES: Drugs are a scourge, cocaine is a scourge. Our reaction is that we should all redouble our efforts to try to choke off the supply of cocaine as well as the demand for cocaine. That's what the United States Government is working to do on both the demand and the supply side. Barry McCaffrey is our point person on that issue. He's the so-called drug czar and advises the President directly and works with the Department of State and Department of Defense and all others who have a piece of this important effort to try to put an end to the flow of drugs into Mexico and the United States and all other nations with which we're friendly.
Q: Finally, on another aspect of smuggling across the U.S. border. A Mr. Stuchiner was recently sentenced in Hong Kong for providing falsified American passports. I believe this gentleman was a State Department employee in Honduras. Have you any comment on that sentencing?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on that, no. I'm sorry.
Q: Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:24 p.m.)
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