U.S. Department of State 96/08/28 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, August 28, l996 Briefer: Glyn Davies ANNOUNCEMENTS Welcome to Visitors ......................................... 1 LIBYA: Legality of Louis Farrakhan's Trip and Monetary Gift ........ 1, 3 Representative King's Ltr to Secretary re Passport/Waiver ... 1-2 Availability of $1 Billion .................................. 4 Sudanese Slaves ............................................. 4 IRAQ: US Troops Exposed to Chemical Weapons in 1991 .......... 4-5 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS: Readout of Dennis Ross' Mtgs in Paris/Ross Briefing/........ 5,7,8-9, US Role/France's Role 21 Chairman Arafat Call for Strike re Israeli Settlements ...... 5-6 Syria-Israel Talks/Senator Specter Mission .................. 6-7 SYRIA/LEBANON: Syrian Troop Build-Up in Bekaa Valley/ ....... 6,7-8,9 Monitoring Group IRAQ: Mediation Efforts with Kurds/Status of Cease-Fire/ ....... 9-11 Asst Secy Pelletreau's Role/Reconciliation Talks in London/ Rpt of Iraqi Troop Movements into Kurdish Areas RUSSIA: Yeltsin-Lebed Talks re Chechnya ............................. 11-12 Renegotiation of Lease on US Amb Residence (Spaso House) .... 13-15 CUBA: Amb Eizenstat's Efforts to Implement Helms-Burton Law ....... 12 Possible French Actions to Counter Sanctions of Helms-Burton 21 BOSNIA/CROATIA/SERBIA: Expatriate Calls Not to Vote ................................ 15 Dissolving Herceg-Bosna ..................................... 15 Status of Starting Open Broadcast Network/Threats Against ... 15-16, Network/US Concerns re Difficulties 17-18, 19 Status of Equip-and-Train/Link to OBN........................ 16-17 Asst Secy Kornblum-Pres Izetbegovic Mtg ..................... 18 Asst Secy Gelbard Briefing Thursday, Aug 29 ................. 21 NORTH KOREA: Status of Opening of Liaison Offices/Spence ..... 19-21 Richardson's Talks in Pyongyang/Issues in Question CHINA: Missile Sales to Taiwan and Relations with US ........... 21
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28, 1996, 12:51 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing, and a special welcome to some visitors. First of all, Mr. Ivan Tong, the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of an independent Chinese language newspaper in Hong Kong, who is here in the United States to learn about freedom of the press and economic reporting in America. He is here sponsored by USIA.
And then, also, some younger visitors, six school children who are attending the briefing today to learn about one aspect of being a network correspondent. They are here as guests, as I understand it, of our own David Ensor. So welcome to you. Glad you could join us.
That's it for my announcements. George.
Q I don't have any questions.
MR. DAVIES: Any other questions?
Q Minister Farrakhan says he's going to leave for Libya, going to get a humanitarian award, and maybe accepting a gift of up to a billion dollars. What does State have to say about the legality, and so forth?
MR. DAVIES: It's up to the Treasury Department to administer the laws that pertain to the Libyan embargo. They are the only government department that can comment on the aspect of the story that involves monies coming from Libya to the United States.
I was asked yesterday whether we had received a letter from Representative King requesting that Mr. Farrakhan's passport be revoked. On that, I can confirm that we did receive the letter; we've got it. But given that it's private correspondence between a member of Congress and the Secretary of State, I'm going to stay out of characterizing it. If he wishes to, he may.
That's really about it. I know there's a great deal of interest in Mr. Farrakhan. If he were to apply for some kind of a waiver of the laws that prevent Americans from travelling to Libya except under certain circumstances, that is something that we couldn't comment on because, of course, there are Privacy Act considerations there. So I can't really help you with that either.
We'll have to see what the Treasury Department says about that.
Q You don't know or can't tell us if he's applied for a waiver?
MR. DAVIES: I can't, under the Privacy Act. Otherwise, the door would be open to telling you all manner of applications that come in.
Q But the law is still, as I understand it, if he does not apply for a waiver and does not use his passport to go to Libya, he's in the clear. Is that correct?
MR. DAVIES: I guess you would have to let the lawyers decide that. That gets us to a third government agency, which is the Justice Department which enforces U.S. laws. They're the ones who would have to make that kind of determination. We might well play a role and make a recommendation there as we are playing a role with the Treasury Department.
Q Does the State Department have a view as to whether prominent American citizens like Mr. Farrakhan ought to accept awards and money from places like Libya, from dictators like Qadhafi?
MR. DAVIES: David, our general reaction is that we believe that U.S. citizens ought to observe the laws of the land as passed by the Congress and enforced by the Executive. In this case, it's up to the Treasury Department to make a call as to whether or not whether the law is implicated and whether, in fact, he can accept the money or he can't accept the money.
Q The law aside for a moment --
MR. DAVIES: And our views about Libya are extremely well known. We don't view Muammar Qadhafi as somebody who is trustworthy and we can deal with. That is why many years ago an embargo was enacted against Libya. The most egregious example of Qadhafi's support for terrorism, of course, was the bombing of Pan Am 103.
We have yet to get our hands on the perpetrators of that heinous crime. That remains one of the main goals of U.S. policy in that part of the world.
Q In light of that, leaving aside the question of U.S. law and its enforcement, do you have any view as to whether American citizens ought to travel to Tripoli and ought to accept money awards from Qadhafi, or don't you?
MR. DAVIES: American citizens have to make up their own minds about what it is they want to do. It's our view that Qadhafi is not somebody who can be dealt with on any kind of a rational basis.
Obviously, Qadhafi has an interest -- he's expressed it himself back at the time of Mr. Farrakhan's first trip to the region -- has an interest in gaining a foothold here in the United States in some fashion. He himself went on at length characterizing the United States -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- but as a "fortress." Now, we have somebody who gets us inside the fortress and we can fight back from within, or fight the United States from within. That is what he has said.
I can't speak to Minister Farrakhan's motivation. He can speak for himself. But we did take note of what Muammar Qadhafi had to say when this first became an issue. Of course, that kind of talk is not something that we view positively at all.
Q Can I follow up from another angle? At the very time when this government is trying to isolate Libya in the international community with the new sanctions, and so forth, do you view American citizens travelling there and perhaps accepting awards and humanitarian gestures, does that undermine U.S. diplomacy?
MR. DAVIES: In a way, we're speculating. This trip --
Q He did travel there once.
MR. DAVIES: He did travel there once. That's correct.
Q (Inaudible) going again.
MR. DAVIES: He said he's going in. I'm well aware of that. Our policy is so well known. The regime that we have in place that's meant to isolate Libya is so strong in so many respects that I think it's probably a bit much to characterize one trip even by a prominent American as necessarily undercutting our Libya policy. I think that probably goes a little far.
Q What about two trips?
MR. DAVIES: I would have the same response. We have very strong views about Libya. They're very well known. They're expressed in the law, they're expressed in pronouncements by Administrations of both political parties.
We don't think very highly of Muammar Qadhafi. None of that is a secret. I don't think this would change that.
Q A different angle to this. Does the State Department have any assessment as to whether Qadhafi has a billion dollars to donate?
MR. DAVIES: I can't help you with that. I just don't know whether he has something set aside in escrow or --
Q The sanctions aren't working?
Q A different subject. How does --
MR. DAVIES: Is there anything else on this subject? We want to stay with this for a minute.
Q Does the State Department have any credible reports of Sudanese slaves being trucked into Libya?
MR. DAVIES: We have, in the past, spoken about the problem of slavery which still exists in parts of the Sahal of Africa. Our human rights report talks about this to a certain extent.
What I can't do for you right now is confirm the validity of these reports that you're talking about. We're aware of them, and we'll certainly check into them because we have a humanitarian interest in knowing the answer. But I'm not at this time prepared to say whether or not they're true.
Anymore on Sudan, Libya?
Q How does the U.S. Department respond to the claim that the U.S. Government knew back in 1991 of the chemical weapons and the ammunition depot that was blasted by the American troops in Iraq? Now you've got this 150 soldiers or more affected with the Gulf war syndrome.
MR. DAVIES: I'm going to leave the unhappy task of dealing with that to the Pentagon because they really are the Government department that's on the line on that issue. I saw the reports. We were on the mailing list for that particular bit of intelligence information. I can't talk about intelligence matters or whether we've got a particular bit of information or characterize it. So I think I'll just let the Pentagon speak to that.
Anything else on that?
Q Do we have a readout from the meetings in Paris between Dennis Ross and his Egyptian and Israeli counterparts?
MR. DAVIES: I don't yet have any kind of a full readout of Dennis' meetings in Paris. Of course, he was there to talk to the Egyptians and the Israelis about the peace process issues, in general. He's on his way back today, so perhaps we can get something more specific from him.
I think, in general, I can say that he found the meetings useful, and we'll see if we can't characterize the meetings more specifically in the future.
Q There's so many little stories cropping up here and there, going in every direction. Perhaps you've been very good about arranging specialist briefings. Perhaps you could have Mr. Ross come here tomorrow, if he gets over jet lag.
MR. DAVIES: I'll add to the list of briefings. If I can do it, I will. I'll see if it's possible.
Q Also on the Middle East. Have you seen the call by Arafat for a general strike in response to the announcement by the Israeli Government of new settlements?
MR. DAVIES: Yes.
Q And --
MR. DAVIES: And a reaction to that?
Q Yeah, what do you think about it?
MR. DAVIES: In general, I think what we have to do is confine ourselves at this stage to pointing to the process that exists between the Palestinians and the Israelis. We have, of course, an interest in that process, an interest in seeing that it goes forward. To the extent we have any views on where they are in their process, we'll share them privately with both parties. But it really is a matter for the Israelis and the Palestinians to work out at the end of the day.
Q Is the State Department concerned that Syrian troop buildup in the Bekaa Valley, apparently shifting troops near Beirut to the Bekaa Valley? And also special forces around Mount Hermon is destabilizing and perhaps might bode some sort of strike against Israel?
MR. DAVIES: What we've taken note of on that issue is the statements by the Israelis themselves, that the troop movements appear, in the main, to be defensive in nature. We've got no reason to believe that's not the case. So I don't have any particular concerns to express to you today about that.
Q Netanyahu has been sending messages -- various messages to Syria. Last week it was through the Ambassador -- your Ambassador in Tel Aviv, and this week it's through a Senator. Does the U.s. have some sort of position? I mean, the message is always the same, and the Syrians keep rejecting this for the same premises. Does the U.S. Administration have a view on whether they should start negotiating from Point Zero or whether they should go back to take it up where the Labor Government had left it?
MR. DAVIES: We have a view on talks between Israel and Syria, and we've expressed it before, that we are pleased that both nations have expressed a willingness to meet, to negotiate toward peace, and, of course, we hope negotiations will go forward in the very near future and stand ready to cooperate in a facilitative role. But what we can't do is air publicly the views that we're sharing privately with both parties -- the ideas we're sharing about how they might go about doing that.
Q The Senator that's been -- the second message announced from Israel to Syria -- Arlen Specter -- has he got anything to do -- I mean, was this in any way organized by the State Department?
MR. DAVIES: No. He went on his own initiative, and you can talk to him about it -- I mean, if you wish to get a characterization of his mission. We did help coordinate and facilitate his travel, as we do for all members of Congress who travel overseas. But he was traveling on his own hook.
Q Is there any reason why him and not the Ambassador anymore, or why is that?
MR. DAVIES: As I say, we didn't buy him his ticket. He was going on his own.
Q When you help to facilitate travel, I suppose you extended the usual courtesies to a visiting -- traveling Senator. But did you give him any briefings? Did you ask him to find out anything in behalf of the State Department? Is that part of facilitating --
MR. DAVIES: Whenever a member of the U.S. Government of any branch goes overseas, as a general matter we are very interested in what they're doing and try to debrief them and brief them up beforehand, if they're interested at all.
In the case of Senator Specter, I don't know if we provided briefings ahead of time. If we debriefed him afterward, I'm sure that we're in touch with him, but I can't give you the specifics of that.
Q Glyn, you said that you hoped the negotiations will go forward in the near future. Is that based on any new evidence from Dennis Ross or anybody else, or is that just an abstract hope? (Laughter)
MR. DAVIES: Right now I'd say that's more an abstract hope than anything else, but it's a serious hope. We very much would like to see both the parties meet face-to-face and talk. They did so before at Wye Plantation earlier this year and had a number of go-arounds, and we were obviously part of that process.
We remain facilitators in the view of both nations, by their own account, and to the extent we can help them out, we will.
Q Glyn, can I go back -- I didn't quite understand your answer on the Syrian troop movement. Were you saying the Israelis say they're defensive in nature and the U.S. is inclined to agree, or is it the U.S. judgment that they're defensive in nature? I didn't understand. I mean, if they're defensive, what's the threat?
MR. DAVIES: If you want to boil it all down, in our judgment they are defensive in nature -- largely defensive in nature. But what I wanted to do was point to those who are actually on the scene who have in a sense a more direct interest in what the Syrians are up to, and that's the Israelis, and they, themselves, have said that they appear largely defensive and unthreatening. We don't have any reason to doubt that characterization.
Q According to one account today, that what initially was seen by the Israelis to be inconsequential troop movements are now causing some anxiety, but they haven't registered any anxiety to Dennis Ross in his secret diplomacy or to the U.S. Ambassador in Israel or in any other way or through Washington? You're not hearing --
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any ripples to report to you.
Q Any apprehension ripples?
MR. DAVIES: Not at this stage. No ripples, no apprehension.
Q Is the monitoring group at all following these things or --
MR. DAVIES: Is the monitoring group following them. The monitoring group --
Q And what happened to the monitoring group?
MR. DAVIES: The monitoring group is not a body that necessarily follows things day to day as would a government. The monitoring group is there so that the parties, if they have a complaint about an action that's been taken, they can go to the monitoring group. It's a forum for the parties to get together -- the Syrians, Lebanese, Israelis; and the U.S. and France are part of this process as well -- to talk about it and work it out and issue a report. The mechanism is working. They've met once or twice in the past.
Q You don't have any details at all about Ross -- there are reports that Arafat called him several times; that there were comments about Abu Mazen trying to meet with the Israelis. You don't have anything --
MR. DAVIES: I don't. I made a crack at getting hold of Dennis and I couldn't. He's on an airplane, and he's due back at some point today, and we'll see. If it's in our interest to characterize more fully the results of his discussions, we'll do so.
Q Why Paris?
MR. DAVIES: It's certainly not the room rates. No, I don't know.
Q No, I mean considering -- what's a nice diplomatic word -- considering the distraction that the French Foreign Minister's tooling about the Middle East while Christopher was trying to nail down a very tough agreement, I wonder why the French are the host of this.
MR. DAVIES: Barry, there is a good reason. I was being flip. The Secretary and the French Foreign Minister, Mr. de Charette, agreed some time ago that we ought to consult a bit more fully and at senior levels. The proximate cause of Dennis' going out there was to hold those consultations.
He was doing that in addition to meeting with the Egyptians and the Israelis. I mean, the real reason for his going out there initially was to talk to the French.
Q Wasn't it related to the monitoring group also?
MR. DAVIES: That was expected to come up. I'm sure it probably did since the United States and France are the Western principals in the monitoring group. I'm sure they talked about it.
Q Northern Iraq. Glyn, do you have an update on your mediating efforts with the Kurds?
MR. DAVIES: I do. I have some news there. We've, of course, been in touch, as you all know, with the KDP and the PUK, the two factions in northern Iraq -- we've stayed in contact with their leadership, and we have obtained agreement from both sides to a cease-fire which went into effect at midnight last night, Washington time.
We understand the cease-fire is holding today, and our efforts from now on will be directed at cementing that cease-fire. So we will work with the two Kurdish parties and with the Iraqi National Congress in that direction. We're still looking to convene a meeting of the two parties under the auspices of Assistant Secretary Pelletreau. That would be the next stage in the broader reconciliation process, but I don't today have any dates to announce to you. No agreement has been reached on that meeting.
Q What happened to the last cease-fire, the one that was announced on Friday?
MR. DAVIES: I believe it was broken. It did not hold. I can't say who shot first. I don't know.
Q Did you not get assurances before you announced this cease- fire, and why did it not stick?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know precisely why it didn't stick. I can't analyze that. We're looking forward, though, and we're looking to cement the cease-fire that we have in place, which builds on the cease- fire agreement that we had before, because every cease-fire builds on the other. A good example is Chechnya, where for Lebed the third time was a charm, and he was able to achieve something more lasting.
So we're doing the same thing in northern Iraq, and we're going to try to make this one stick and try to get the parties to London to meet under the auspices of Assistant Secretary Pelletreau to talk about a broader reconciliation.
Q Who is the American go-between, between the two parties?
MR. DAVIES: Robert Pelletreau has done, I believe, the bulk of this diplomatic work himself.
Q By phone or what?
MR. DAVIES: He's done a lot of it on the phone.
Q Is he here?
MR. DAVIES: He's here.
Q Did anybody go to Iraq?
MR. DAVIES: I don't believe we have anybody in northern Iraq right now. I can't state categorically, but Bob Pelletreau did the work.
Q A follow-up on Lebed, since you brought it up, Glyn.
MR. DAVIES: We can go to that part of the world.
Q The parties agreed in principle to meet in London and you simply haven't worked out the dates, or is it still a question of whether they will even do this?
MR. DAVIES: No, the parties have agreed to a cease-fire and that's what we're working on right now. I can't report to you that they've said even in principle that they'll come to London to meet with us. But what we want to do is build on the cease-fire that we have and point out to them the value of engaging in a broader national reconciliation effort, and that would be under the auspices of the Assistant Secretary.
Q No commitment at all?
MR. DAVIES: I can't report a commitment to you today. No.
Q One more on northern Iraq.
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q The PUK put out a statement today saying that they have reports -- confirmed reports, they say -- that Iraqi troops have moved into Kurdish areas, including artillery and tanks. Have you seen any reports which would back that up?
MR. DAVIES: I've seen those same reports that you've seen, so I can't say with certainty that that is in fact occurring.
Q You've seen the PUK statement, you mean. You haven't seen anything --
MR. DAVIES: All I've seen are press reports, so I've seen no original material on this at all.
Q But the American Government doesn't have any separate information which would --
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to announce to you right now. I'm sure we have lots of people working on it, but nothing to announce.
Q (Inaudible) clarify these reconciliation talks in London. What will be the purpose?
MR. DAVIES: Stage one in a conflict like this is to stop the guns from firing. We're at that stage as of midnight last night, Washington time. The guns stopped and that cease-fire appears to be holding.
Step two is to go beyond a cease-fire and to actually get the parties together in face-to-face talks and facilitate a broader settlement that is political in nature. That's what we're talking about doing here.
The objective would be to get them to see the benefit of setting aside their differences and working together in northern Iraq. It's in no one's interest, certainly not in the interests of the Iraqi factions, to continue fighting in northern Iraq. It's better they should get together, because there are threats in that area, to include Saddam Hussein.
Q Lebed and Russia.
MR. DAVIES: Lebed, Russia. Okay.
Q The New York Times article today had a disturbing report that Mr. Lebed has been stonewalled for three days by Mr. Yeltsin's staff, has not --
MR. DAVIES: My record is ten days? (Laughter)
Q Well, three days since he brought this last treaty forward, Glyn. Also, that he's been asked to drop it off, and he'll get a reply in writing or maybe a phone call. But there's speculation also in this article that it may be that Mr. Yeltsin is not getting any details of this treaty.
MR. DAVIES: My information is a bit different. We understand, for instance, that Alexander Lebed spoke with the President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, on Tuesday on the phone. So I wouldn't keep going in that direction, that there's absolutely no communication between the two.
Q All right. I'll retract that as better information than this article has. But what more can you tell us about the content of that -- the substance of that conversation, and what is the take of the State Department on the fact that Mr. Yeltsin is not meeting with him on this very important matter?
MR. DAVIES: Bill, I wasn't in on the conversation. It's up to the Russians to organize their own affairs. What's important is that the cease-fire in Grozny is holding. The civilians are getting the respite that they need to try to get out from under some of the guns, and that we have a foundation for possibly a political settlement in the future, which is to say the Russians and the Chechen rebels do. We've called repeatedly -- I'll do it again today -- on both of those parties to work toward some political accommodation, because that's the way to put an end to the Chechen crisis once and for all. You can't do it through fighting.
Q Ambassador Eizenstat is now on his trip to Canada and Mexico and then Europe to discuss the implementation of Helms-Burton. So what kind of specific measures would come up with our allies?
MR. DAVIES: He's not traveling -- is not going on this trip to discuss the implementation of Helms-Burton. Helms-Burton is going to come up, obviously, when he talks with the Mexicans, the Canadians, the Europeans -- they'll raise it with him.
The purpose of Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat's trip is to talk about the challenge that is posed to all democratic nations by a non- democratic nation, Cuba, the only non-democratic nation in the Western hemisphere that continues to exist, and how we might get together, put our ideas together, put our efforts together, to try to bring about change -- democratic change -- on that island, which has been so resistant to it because of the policies of Fidel Castro.
So that's his message. That's the message that he's putting out as he travels around, and, of course, people will raise Helms-Burton. He's prepared to discuss it. But it's a Cuba democracy trip; not a Helms- Burton trip.
Let me go first to Betsy.
Q Back to Russia. Is the U.S. planning on renegotiating the lease on the U.S. Ambassador's house, Spaso House, in Moscow? It seems that with the devaluation of the ruble, we've got such a deal in the real estate market there -- for about $22.50 a year we are renting this enormous estate.
MR. DAVIES: Spaso House is a wonderful residence that represents the American people well. It's a great place to represent America and we've had it for a number of years. It's true that the rapid devaluation of the ruble has left us with a very nice situation in Moscow, because we have a level of rent on Spaso House -- which is a big structure, for those of you who haven't been there -- that is quite low.
In point of fact, we are talking with the Russian Government about this. So those efforts are ongoing to discuss what is in fact a fair level of rent for Spaso House.
Q I mean, you're trying to -- the U.S. is trying to see how it can pay more for Spaso House?
MR. DAVIES: We're responding to the --
Q It should be easy to do --
MR. DAVIES: We're responding to the request --
Q -- which is to give them more money.
MR. DAVIES: We're responding to the request of the Russian Government to re-engage on this issue, absolutely.
Q Re-engage means they want more money.
MR. DAVIES: We've got a good deal.
Q I know. They've got a good deal too with all the aid --
MR. DAVIES: I hope Senator Helms has taken note of the fact that we have a wonderful property in Moscow -- big property -- that, in fact, we're getting for dirt cheap right now.
Q No, but this doesn't fall into the trade-off ledger? I mean, you give them all this aid and they give you a good deal --
MR. DAVIES: In point of fact -- and this Ambassador Pickering himself underscored when he was asked about this -- for a number of years we overpaid for Spaso House -- considerably, considerably, because of the artificial exchange rate. So I don't want to talk about ongoing high-level diplomatic negotiations, but I imagine that's a point we'll be making to the Russians, that, "Hey, for a number of years because of the artificiality of the ruble/dollar exchange rate, we were in effect overpaying for this wonderful residence and lately that it's been more favorable to us. Maybe we ought to just kind of work out some kind of a balance sheet over the last couple of decades and figure out who owes who what." But we'll see.
Q I hear Helms thinks $22.50 is too much. (Laughter)
MR. DAVIES: Get down to a dollar a month maybe.
Q When were Russian requests made to discuss this?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have specifics on it. I don't know when. They've been concerned about it, I think, for some time, and, of course, we're quoted in that wonderful article in The Washington Post saying that they've wanted very much to engage on this.
Q I'm a little confused by your answer to Barry. Does that mean the U.S. Government doesn't think it owes more or is willing to pay a little bit more but maybe not as much as the Russians ask the --
MR. DAVIES: The U.S. Government is quite pleased with the situation as it currently exists.
Q So you'll talk, but you're not going to pay more.
MR. DAVIES: We'll talk; we'll see. We'll talk, and we'll see. Maybe they have an argument or two that they can lay on us that makes sense, but we may have a few arguments of our own.
Q I mean, everybody wants things as cheap as they can. That's a given.
MR. DAVIES: Yes. Have you ever been to Spaso House?
Q I've seen it.
MR. DAVIES: $22.50 -- (laughter). It's a nice piece of real estate.
Q On Bosnia, there were apparently calls by several political parties to the expatriate community to not vote in the elections in September if irregularities are found to be still out there. Is this another blow to the electoral process there?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think that -- I mean, first off, it's not in the interests of the Bosnians or anybody else to boycott this vote, so that's the bottom-line message that we're giving them.
The international community, the United States, all who are engaged in the Dayton peace process, are encouraging all Bosnians, all eligible voters, to vote. This is their opportunity to shape their future. We are disappointed if, as has been reported, any of the political parties is urging any of its members not to vote.
All they're doing is denying themselves the opportunity to play a significant role in the future of their country. This vote is important, and that's the message that we're sending them.
Q Can I ask you for a little advance? One of Kornblum's purposes is to come up against that Saturday deadline on the dissolution of Bosnian-Croatian offices, but do you have a little preview of it? Is it going according to promise and according to calendar requirements? Are they in step?
MR. DAVIES: Barry, I sure don't have any information that leads me to think that it's not in step. We expect that by the end of the month they'll make good on their promises and dissolve that entity.
Q Glyn, can I ask some questions about the TV-IN -- the Independent Television Network that is supposed to be coming on the air in Bosnia in ten days' time?
MR. DAVIES: The Open Broadcast Network?
Q Right. Let me ask you this. Can the Izetbegovic Government assume that if it somehow manages to prevent that television network from going on the air before the election, that there will be nothing more than words from Washington?
MR. DAVIES: That gets me a bit out ahead of where we are right now. Where we are right now is we are urging the Bosnian Government to cooperate fully with efforts to establish the Open Broadcast Network. We're disappointed that the Broadcast Network is not yet functional, and we continue to push hard to resolve all of the problems surrounding the startup of the OBN. There are logistical problems. There are some political obstacles that exist.
A project like this requires a great deal of coordination, a lot of touching of bases and organizing, and it's plain that not all of that has yet happened. So we remain hopeful and expectant that the OBN will be up and functioning in time for the elections, to play a role in spreading the word to up to 80 percent of the population, which is --
Q May I just ask, what do you base your -- you say you remain hopeful. On what basis are you hopeful? I understand today that the police have once again surrounded the building site. They did that over the weekend. They were threatening the workers there.
I have a copy of a letter here from the office of the High Representative to President Izetbegovic complaining about threats made by the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Trade, Mr. Skopljak. He made threats to the Bosnian contractor about their license, their ability to do business at all if they continue constructing this facility. On what basis do you remain hopeful?
MR. DAVIES: David, there is a dispute on-going about the opening of the OBN. There's no question about it.
It's our position and the position of the international community that the network should be opened up. It should be opened up in time to play a role in advance of the Bosnian elections. We're into that season, so that means soon. We want to see it opened very, very soon.
Q Let me ask you a related question. At what stage is equip-and- train, at this point?
MR. DAVIES: Equip-and-train is going forward. We understand that, in fact, a shipment under the equip-and-train program is due to arrive at some point this week in Bosnia.
Q Should that be delivered to a government that doesn't allow a free press before the elections?
MR. DAVIES: David, I don't have any linkage to report to you between equip-and-train and the OBN.
Q And none will be made by this government?
MR. DAVIES: We'll use whatever diplomatic pressure we can along with the other members of the international community because, remember, it's a mistake to think the OBN is just a kind of U.S. project even though it's one that we believe strongly in.
The international community, international organizations have a great interest in this as well. So we are all pushing together to get the OBN open.
Q Didn't you announce in Geneva -- didn't the Secretary of State announce -- not a complete agreement....
MR. DAVIES: The Government of Bosnia, in Geneva, made an undertaking. They said that they would work toward the opening of the OBN. We strongly urged the Bosnian Government to cooperate fully with the efforts to establish it and remind them of the undertaking that they made two weeks ago in the presence of the Secretary of State.
Q But are they working toward it? From David's description, it doesn't sound like they're being very helpful.
MR. DAVIES: There are definitely problems with the opening of the OBN. There's no question about it.
Q So they reneged on an agreement? Was that a good-faith pledge?
MR. DAVIES: What I tried to get at a little earlier is that there are a number of issues surrounding the opening of the OBN. This is not an issue, as it has been explained to me, that is necessarily, at this stage, cut-and-dry; repression is preventing the opening of the OBN. That's an aspect of it. It's a serious aspect of it. There's no question about it. But there are also other aspects of this.
We're talking about a series of television stations. Do they all have their licenses in order? Are the proper frequencies made available -- those kinds of things.
Q According to this letter, which is signed by Mr. Frowick, Admiral Lopez, and Carl Bildt, they do. They have their licenses all in order. They have everything they should have, according to this letter which I can give you which was addressed to Mr. Izetbegovic yesterday. Everything is in order. According to the letter, they have no right to interfere, no right for police to be there, no right for threats to be made over the phone by Interior Ministers and Deputy Telecommunications Ministers.
What gives you the hope that you expressed earlier? Why is there even any hope left that this government will allow a free press and a fair election next month?
MR. DAVIES: This is absolutely a disconcerting development. I don't mean to minimize that. The fact that the OBN has not yet opened is of concern to us because two weeks ago the Bosnian Government said they would see that it happens. They've since raised other concerns. I don't know whether that's directed to the United States or to some of these other actors who are more directly involved in this matter.
We are engaged diplomatically to try to sort this out because it's our position that the OBN should be opened up, should be open and operating before the elections in time to play a role in disseminating information about the elections. There's no question.
Q It's three and a half weeks away.
MR. DAVIES: It is. Absolutely.
Q The question was ten days --
MR. DAVIES: It should happen very soon. It should absolutely happen very soon. There's no question about it.
Q Is it on the agenda, do you think?
MR. DAVIES: I'm sure it will come up.
Q A minor matter, but he spoke of talks in Sarajevo but never said -- he said Milosevic, he said Tudjman, but he never said Izetbegovic. Is he going to see Izetbegovic?
MR. DAVIES: I can confirm that, but I believe he is seeing Izetbegovic. I'd be surprised if he went and didn't see him.
Q Can I ask you about my original question which was, does the United States feel strongly enough about this issue of a fair election, a free press for Bosnia, that it is prepared to do more than write letters and make statements?
Are there other ways of putting pressure on the Bosnian Government, and time is short.
MR. DAVIES: There are all manner of ways of putting pressure on the Bosnian Government. I have every confidence that every one of those ways is being explored to ensure that the OBN is opened on time to play a role in the Bosnian elections.
We're disappointed that the OBN is not yet functional. We continue to push and push hard to resolve the logistical and political obstacles that exist.
This is an important matter. It's very important to the United States. We're very concerned about the issue of openness, freedom of the press in Bosnia. The degree of openness and freedom of the press will be instrumental in ensuring an open and free election, which is so important for the people of Bosnia.
Q What pressure is being brought? Are there any sanctions?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not out on the ground so I can't tell you precisely who is talking to whom, what the precise messages are. I've given you the general message, which is that we would like to see this up and running soon; very, very soon.
Q You said that you're confident that all pressure is being exerted.
MR. DAVIES: I am confident, I am confident.
Q How so?
MR. DAVIES: Because I've spoken with people who are more directly engaged in this, who have given me that assurance, who have given me some detail which I've tried to pass on about some of the difficulties confronting the opening of the OBN.
Q North Korea. It seems another deadlock with Liaison Office talks. So what is the U.S. approach to North Korea? The U.S. is just waiting for North Korea to co-sign? It has been almost two years since --
MR. DAVIES: Are you asking about the opening of the Liaison Offices?
Q Liaison Office.
MR. DAVIES: Our approach is to keep raising the issue and to continue to try to work out with the Government of North Korea these issues that remain between the U.S. and North Korea that are preventing the opening of Liaison Offices, because we want very much to open Liaison Offices in both capitals.
Given the fact that we haven't had a relationship with North Korea for two generations, there are some issues to work out. We are still engaged in working those issues out. That's one of the reasons why Spence Richardson, who travelled out there recently, stayed behind from the Hall visit -- Representative Hall's visit -- to talk to the North Koreans.
So he got into those issues, to some extent, with the North Korean Government. But I, unfortunately, don't have a breakthrough to report to you.
Q He got to South Korea yesterday. So have you all had a briefing from him as to what happened in those talks?
MR. DAVIES: I can tell you that the talks were businesslike, they were useful, but the technical issues remain. Once the issues are resolved, we are prepared to open Liaison Offices.
Q Was there any movement? Any incremental --
MR. DAVIES: I can't report any movement to you, but they were useful talks.
Q What about the technical --
MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry?
Q The technical issues?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to get into the middle of all the various issues. We've spoken in the past about the kinds of issues that are on the table right now. They involve things like leases on buildings and how you move diplomatic mail and how you accredit diplomats -- all of the many thousands of details that go into opening some form of diplomatic presence in another nation. It's a fairly complicated task. We have been at it for some time.
We'd like to go the next step and actually open the offices. So we're going to keep at it with the North Koreans. I don't have a blast to level at North Korea for you today.
Q Glyn, the AP correspondent in Beijing yesterday reported that despite the criticisms of Mr. Shen in his press conference of the U.S. sale of missiles to Taiwan, he did not warn Washington that the latest arms deal would damage relations. Instead, he noted that "relations are, in fact, moving ahead in a stable manner." Is this the way the State Department sees this, as no damage to relations with the PRC over this missile sale?
MR. DAVIES: It is.
Q It is?
MR. DAVIES: Anything else?
Q On Helms-Burton again. The French are apparently going ahead with some legislation to counter the sanctions against foreign firms that would kick in. Do you have any comment on it?
MR. DAVIES: I saw the report. Helms-Burton is not legislation that's directed against our partners. It's legislation directed against the Castro regime. It's meant to underscore the seriousness with which we viewed the shooting of two unarmed aircraft by the Castro regime earlier this year.
If and when the French legislature actually comes up with some legislation, obviously, we'll have to deal with it. Beyond simply saying that I've seen the reports, and that we'll obviously be discussing this with the French, there really isn't any news I've got for you on that.
I have one thing to tell you about tomorrow. Apropos of Bosnia, we have arranged another briefing On-the-Record here at 12:30. This time, by Assistant Secretary Bob Gelbard who is our Assistant Secretary for International, Narcotics, and Legal Matters. He, of course, was in Bosnia last week working on issues such as arrangements to provide security for the elections and working on crime-fighting initiatives with the Bosnians and international actors. So you'll have a chance to talk to Bob Gelbard tomorrow.
Q Will your briefing follow, Glyn, or will you --
MR. DAVIES: I'll do something afterward. I might do it, as we've scheduled for this part of August, back in the bullpen or here.
Q Will it be Dennis Ross tomorrow.
MR. DAVIES: We'll see. I can't reach Dennis. He's on a jet plane right now. We'll see about Dennis. I don't know if I can get him for you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:35 p.m.)
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