U.S. Department of State 96/08/30 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, August 30, l996 Briefer: Glyn Davies DEPARTMENT Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, Kennedy Khrushchev Exchanges........................................1 Secretary's Travel to Europe Next Week ..................9-10 PHILIPPINES Peace Agreement with Moro National Liberation Front ....... 1 IRAQ Robert Deutch's Mtg with Kurds in London/Iraqi National Congress Participation......................................2 Status of Ceasefire in Northern Iraq........................2 --Further Discussions/Ambassador Pelletreau's Role .........2 Reports of Iraqi Troop Movements in Northern Iraq ........4-5 MEXICO Violence in Several Mexican States ..................3,11-12 Status of the Mexico's Economy/Performance ...............3-4 U.S. and Mexican Cooperation/Military and Security Issues...4 Mexico's Position on Helms-Burton/Eizenstat's Mtgs .....10-11 U.S. Representation at Zedillo State of the Union Address..11 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Prospects for the Secretary Traveling to the Middle East ...5 Status of the Economic Summit in Cairo in November .........5 Dennis Ross Travel to Paris/Mtgs on Peace Process Issues..5-8 Administration's Efforts re Middle East Peace Process ......8 Israeli Government to Dismantle Palestinian Community Center ......................................14-15 TURKEY/CUBA Reported Agreement to Strengthen Bilateral Trade Ties ......8 --Helms-Burton Impact ....................................8-9 Turkey's Diplomatic Activities/Bilateral Relationships .....9 CUBA Eizenstat's Diplomatic Efforts with Allies/Travel ........9,10 HAITI Recent Violence in Haiti ...................................12 Deputy Secretary's Travel to Haiti/Mtgs with Haiti Officials..........................................12-13 RUSSIA Russian Efforts re Ceasefire in Chechnya .................13-14 NORTH KOREA Reported N. Korean Proposal for Three-Party Talks ...........15 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Situation Around the Mahala/Zvornik Area .................15-16 Status of the Open Broadcast Network .....................16-17 Prospects for Postponement of Elections .....................17 LIBYA Farrakhan To Receive Award/Money From Libya ..............17-18
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 1996, 12:50 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I've got just a few announcements, then I will go to your questions.
First off, to welcome some visitors, Dragos Seuleanu and Dumitru Avram of Radio Romania. Welcome to you. They are in the United States to learn more about the professional and market-driven environment in which both commercial and public radio operate in this country. They are here sponsored by the USIA Visitors' Program.
Secondly, I mentioned this yesterday during the walk- through, but I'm going to take advantage of this more formal setting to mention it again. We have just put out a new volume of the "Foreign Relations Series of the United States." This is a bit different. Usually we publish volumes that go into a great deal of documentary evidence about a period of time and a series of events over, say, a year or more.
This time we're publishing a volume of about 120 different pieces of correspondence between Khrushchev and John Kennedy, and it is the only place you can find all of these -- the complete correspondence between those two important world leaders -- in one place. I draw your attention to the final letter, which is a letter from Jacqueline Kennedy to Khrushchev after the funeral of John F. Kennedy. It's a very moving letter.
Third and finally, to point you in the direction of a statement that we are making today welcoming the agreement in the Philippines between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front. We understand that agreement was initialed today, and it will be signed on Monday. You can pick up the statement for our golden words on that. That's it for my announcements. Jim.
Q Do you have any readout on what happened with the meeting with the Kurds in London?
MR. DAVIES: The meeting is going on today. The meeting that is being led on our side -- sponsored by the United States -- and led by Robert Deutsch -- Deutsch the lesser, the younger -- who is the official in the State Department in charge of our relationship with that part of the world.
We hope very much at this meeting to do two things. One is to consolidate the cease-fire that is under way in northern Iraq, but also to try to move beyond it to a more lasting settlement of the differences between the Kurdish parties.
Q We have a report that the cease-fire appears to have broken down. Does that jibe with what you have?
MR. DAVIES: I can't confirm those reports. I don't know that that's necessarily the case. We've seen some reports sourced to parties in the region that perhaps there's more military activity. I don't know whether this is in fact a generalized breakdown on the cease-fire. What's important from our standpoint is that the talks did begin today in London. Both parties are there talking about how to consolidate the cease-fire with Robert Deutsch. But certainly that's something that we'll be watching to see if in fact the cease-fire holds or doesn't. We hope it does.
Q And Assistant Secretary Pelletreau will move into it?
MR. DAVIES: Our hope is that we can agree soon, perhaps at this meeting in London, to a further meeting at a higher level, which would be chaired by Assistant Secretary Robert Pelletreau. That would be a meeting that would take us beyond the cease-fire phase of this conflict and get the parties into discussions for a more lasting peace, a political level settlement of their differences. But I don't have anything to announce about such a meeting.
Q Just one more detail. Did the Iraqi National Congress take part in today's talks?
MR. DAVIES: I can check that. I don't know for a fact if they did or not. I know, though, that it's our hope that the Iraqi National Congress will come to future London talks, headed by Assistant Secretary Pelletreau, along with both of the Kurdish parties.
Q Do you have any reactions to the violent events in three different Mexican states in the last 48 hours, and have you issued a travel advisory or planning to do something like that?
MR. DAVIES: We have not issued any kind of a travel advisory at this stage. What we know is that there were these coordinated assaults on police stations, military posts and public buildings in several Mexican states during the night of August 28/29. Mexican Government officials do report that some 14 people were killed and more than 20 injured. The dead include members of the security forces and members of this group which calls itself the EPR.
We condemn these attacks. There can be no justification for violence in pursuit of political ends in Mexico. However, it's important to underscore that the United States does not consider these actions threatening to Mexican political or economic stability.
President Zedillo recently has taken a number of steps in the direction of political reform, and, of course, Mexican economic performance indicators recently have been on the upswing, so all of that is positive. But as for the attacks, we condemn them, and we hope they're not repeated.
Q Do you have an independent assessment of how powerful militarily they are? Do you see that they can represent in the future a more serious threat to the Mexican federal government?
MR. DAVIES: We don't know much about this group. I'm not sure anybody really does. They first made their appearance -- the EPR first made its appearance in Guerrero state on June 28. That was at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of killings of protesters by security forces in that state in 1995.
But as far as their financing or strength, further information about their origin, that remains for us unclear. We note that a Mexican Government spokesman said the EPR is engaging in terrorism as the armed wing of a radical leftist group, which has been active in Mexico for some time -- one that was most active in the 1970s, and that was a group known as -- I'll mispronounce it -- but Procup -- P-r-o-c-u-p. That is about the sum total of what I've got for you on that.
Q Glyn, you said that there's no effect on the economic status of Mexico, while the peso took a big nose-dive yesterday, I believe related to these attacks. So is it indeed true that these guerrilla activities are not having an adverse effect on the Mexican economy?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not an economist, and I think you'd have to distinguish between short-term and long-term reactions. What's important in the long term as regards the Mexican economy is that they've recently announced impressive economic performance indicators. They seem to be on a clear path toward real gross domestic product growth of at least three percent in 1996. Inflation is lower in Mexico. Unemployment is lower in Mexico. The Mexican stock market has in fact performed robustly over the last several months, which to us signals investor confidence.
President Zedillo's decision to pre-pay approximately $7 billion of the funds owed by Mexico to the United States as a result, of course, of President Clinton's financial assistance program is another sign of Mexico's solid economic performance.
So we don't believe that this group, the EPR, can undermine those basic strong fundamental economic indicators.
Q On Mexico, too. Has the United States received any recent requests from Mexico for increased military or security assistance?
MR. DAVIES: Not that I'm aware of. There's an ongoing program of cooperation between the United States and Mexico that most recently manifested itself in the Secretary of State's visit down there with one of the largest cabinet delegations ever to travel outside the United States, where they discussed a broad range of issues, to include some training for Mexican forces in counter-narcotics efforts. That's why Barry McCaffrey, the drug czar, went along. He had talks on that score, but also to talk about a number of other cooperative efforts on the environment, border issues and the like.
But I don't know of anything very recently by way of new cooperation militarily.
Q I'd like to go back to Iraq for a minute.
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
Q Do you have anything on Iraqi troop movements in the north?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything specifically on that for you. We are, of course, as you would expect, actively watching the situation in that part of the world. We keep a close watch on what's occurring in the north, because of our interest in northern Iraq and the fate of the Kurds.
We would take any aggressive Iraqi moves in the area very, very seriously.
Q New subject?
MR. DAVIES: Follow-up on Iraq?
Q Middle East but peace talks.
MR. DAVIES: Okay, still Middle East. Fine.
Q I just wanted to know if you had anything on -- we have reports that -- there were reports yesterday in the wires that Secretary of State Warren Christopher had planned a trip to the Middle East and then he cancelled it, and that now he could be thinking of going back. Do you have anything specific on that, any details?
MR. DAVIES: All I can tell you is that right now we have no announcements of any trips by the Secretary of State to the region.
Q Okay. Anything new on the meeting in Paris, and also more specifically I was wondering if you could tell us about rumors that the Egyptians were sort of hesitant to hold the summit in Cairo because of what's going on now in the Middle East.
MR. DAVIES: There was the announcement a week ago, I think now, by President Mubarak that cast some doubt on the Economic Summit in Cairo in November.
MR. DAVIES: The United States is planning for that summit. We look forward to it. We expect it to take place. Part of, in fact to get into your first question, what Dennis Ross was doing in Paris was talking to Osama el-Baz, the adviser to President Mubarak, about the Economic Summit meeting. So we're very much looking forward to that summit meeting.
As regards Dennis Ross and his trip to Paris, he went there for a couple of different reasons. The first, as I said before, was to consult with the French. The second was to talk to the Egyptians and the Israelis about peace process issues. While he was there, he had occasion several times to talk to Yasser Arafat on the telephone, and I spoke to that a bit yesterday. He had a couple of conversations, the upshot of which, from Dennis Ross' standpoint, was that he felt they were very useful. As we continue our efforts, the United States continues to try to do everything we can to help the Palestinians and the Israelis bridge their differences.
Q Who requested the meeting in Paris?
MR. DAVIES: The meeting in Paris was agreed to by Foreign Minister de Charette and Secretary Christopher at the Lyon Summit. The notion was that the United States and France should consult more frequently at a senior level on the Middle East, so they agreed to do this.
These meetings will likely continue. And then, of course, the meetings with the Israelis and Egyptians took advantage of the fact that Dennis Ross was halfway to the Middle East.
Q Can I renew the request for Dennis Ross to talk to us?
MR. DAVIES: Absolutely.
Q Why is he not, since there are all these things going on?
MR. DAVIES: Judd, simply put, because he doesn't have anything to report to you that's in our interest to report at this stage. We are actively engaged with Israel, with the Palestinians, to try to help them with these very serious difficulties that are being reported minute by minute by you and your colleagues.
It simply is not in our interests and not in the interests of the process to try to fill in all kinds of detail and nuance, and I had tea and this is what we did. It all adds up to very interesting stories, I suppose, and people can try to conclude things from them. But we don't wish for people to misinterpret what's going on or to leap in --
Q Wait, wait. Don't we run the risk of misinterpreting in the absence of knowledge?
MR. DAVIES: I would hope not.
Q Don't you want accuracy rather than nuances?
MR. DAVIES: I would want you to take me at my word here, that the United States is --
MR. DAVIES: The fact that Dennis Ross was in Paris and had these meetings. We've talked about his phone calls, we've talked about his work. The Secretary of State is very much up on all of this and is taking to Dennis frequently.
What it adds up to is active engagement on the part of the United States in seeking to help the two parties to solve some of their differences. After all, the differences that exist are differences between Israel and the Palestinians. At the end of the day, they're the ones who have to come together on it.
Q I'm confused. If we heard from Dennis Ross, why would be prone to misinterpret?
MR. DAVIES: The point is, we don't have anything to report at this stage that's in our interests to report from an official at that level. It's that simple. He's a busy guy; he's working the phones.
Q On the Syrian track?
MR. DAVIES: Do you have a specific question?
Q Anything new -- do you have something new --
MR. DAVIES: No new developments. Nothing new.
Q -- concerning the Syrian --
MR. DAVIES: Nothing to report to you today.
Q When you say that there's active engagement on the part of the U.S. in seeking to help the two parties solve some of their differences, what is it that the U.S. is suggesting that the two sides do in order to solve some of their differences?
MR. DAVIES: David, that's a more sophisticated version of Judd's question. Seriously, what it does is it tries to draw out from us details --
Q About what you're doing.
MR. DAVIES: I understand that. We're going to Paris, we're talking, we're working on this. We would prefer, for the time being, to stay out of discussing the advice and the counsel that we are giving the Israelis and the Palestinians privately in our diplomatic conversations.
We think that for the time being this effort is best left in diplomatic channels and best left confidential.
Q (Inaudible) yesterday's wire by Barry Schweid who said the Clinton Administration is stepping up its Mideast diplomacy. Is there a change? Is there something --
MR. DAVIES: It depends on your timeline. It's fair to say that we're stepping it up a bit as against a couple of weeks ago. The Middle East remains an area of very active interests and activity by the American Administration. It has been for many, many years over different Administrations. This Administration is no different.
Q Let me ask you a question you probably can answer. How worried are you about the state of relations between the Palestinians and Israel, Arafat's call and all this? Is this worriesome? Do you see a breakdown in the process?
MR. DAVIES: Arafat's call to --
Q The general strike again, and he called a prayer yesterday.
MR. DAVIES: The good news out of Jerusalem, of course, is that Jerusalem remained calm during the prayers today. They were called by Yasser Arafat. That's positive.
No one in the American Administration is predicting the direst outcome here.
Are there differences between them? Yes. Are they serious? Yes. Is there work to be done? Absolutely, by the two parties and certainly by the United States which is playing a role between them. Beyond that, I don't think it's useful to characterize the situation.
Q Do you have a comment on a report today that Turkey and Cuba -- that Turkey has signed an agreement to strengthen bilateral trade with Cuba? And, if so, do you have any further details?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have details of an agreement that we're not party to. It's between Turkey and Cuba, it would appear by all reports.
We have kept the Turkish Government well informed about the Helms-Burton legislation that those reports were tied to - - does this violate Helms-Burton? They know full well of our policy of discouraging trade and investment in Cuba.
Turkey's level of trade with Cuba is relatively low. It's at about $6 million a year. We are disappointed that Turkey chose to expand its relations with Cuba in this fashion. What we'll do next is evaluate the agreement in the overall context of our bilateral relationship.
But in terms of Helms-Burton, which was the issue raised in the initial reports, Helms-Burton, of course, focused on dealing with trafficking expropriated U.S. property. There's no indication necessarily that this deal is in any way an investment in expropriated U.S. property or would implicate the Helms-Burton agreement.
Q Speaking of Helms-Burton -- do you want to follow- up?
MR. DAVIES: Do we have another one on Turkey-Cuba?
Q Do you see any pattern in the Turkish activity in Iran, Iraq, and now Cuba?
MR. DAVIES: I see perhaps a more active Turkish diplomacy, but I don't know beyond that I would conclude anything.
Q Is the United States consulted in this more active diplomacy? And do you get a chance to stick your oar in?
MR. DAVIES: We consult with the Turks all the time at many levels; have a very active and important diplomatic relationship with Turkey. We've gone over the various aspects of that, starting with an important NATO ally all the way to an economic partnership.
The Turks do not consult with us as they move forward on their diplomacy.
Q Will Mr. Eizenstat go to Ankara in light of this?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think he has plans to go to Ankara. That's something we can check. He is, of course, right now, engaged in some diplomatic work in Mexico and in Canada, and then in September he will go to Europe. But I don't believe that Ankara is one of the posts, or one of the capitals he's headed to.
Q On Helms-Burton. The Secretary will be travelling to Europe next week. To what extent do you think Helms-Burton and the Iran-Libya World Sanctions Act will be the topic of discussion?
MR. DAVIES: I don't expect that it will be a leading topic of discussion. It may well come up. We don't intend to raise it. Our interlocutors might.
Q Do you have any extra message?
MR. DAVIES: Extra message on Helms-Burton?
Q New message for the Europeans?
MR. DAVIES: No. The message is the message that Ambassador Eizenstat is taking to Canada, to Mexico, and eventually to Europe. To the extent that the Secretary discusses Cuban issues at all, he will be making the point that we should build on our one area of agreement on Cuba -- which is that we would all like to see a democratic transition in that country. It's the last remaining non-democratic country in the Western hemisphere.
We are trying now, and Stuart Eizenstat is our man on the job, to try to build on that agreement -- to try to come up with ideas, strategies to bring about democratic change in Cuba. So I think that's what the Secretary will say.
Q Will Eizenstat be preceding the Secretary to Europe, or will he be there at the same time?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know to what extent one is preceding the other. My impression is that the Secretary may precede the Ambassador to some of the capitals.
Q What is your assessment of the visit of Ambassador Eizenstat to Mexico and the response that he got from Mexico?
MR. DAVIES: He did go down to Mexico and have consultations with the government. He spoke with a number of officials, including the Foreign Minister of Mexico, Foreign Minister Gurria. He put out a statement at the end of his visit to Mexico in which he said pretty much what I've just explained to Carol -- laying out the reasons for his travel to Mexico to try to find areas of agreement, areas we can build on in terms of moving Cuba to democracy.
Of course, Helms-Burton issues did come up. The Mexicans raised them.
Q The question was about the Mexican response.
MR. DAVIES: You can talk to the Mexicans.
Q How do you assess the fact that Mexico ratified the policy of trading with Cuba and calling for the end of the U.S. embargo? How do you react?
MR. DAVIES: It sounds to me like they have not changed their position. He had very frank and useful discussions with the Mexicans. I wouldn't conclude that his mission was a failure at all. He's got a tough job. There's no question about it.
His objective was not necessarily to go down there to have them turn on a dime and reverse their policy on Helms-Burton. His is a longer-term objective. In fact, our policy vis-a-vis Cuba has a very strong longer-term component to it, which is to try to move them toward democracy.
Q Also on Mexico. President Zedillo will be giving his second State of Union message on Sunday. Who will represent the United States, aside from Ambassador Jones? Is anyone travelling there?
MR. DAVIES: For the State of the Union message? I don't know that we would normally send anybody from Washington to a State of Union message. For example, when our President gives a State of Union here, normally, foreign countries are represented by their Ambassadors resident in Washington. There's always that shot of the Diplomatic Corps up there.
I'm not sure that it's normal practice for us to dispatch a higher-level official than an Ambassador.
Q But are you aware of any private delegation like it has happened in the past of Mexican specialists and businessmen?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not aware of any delegation; no.
Q Also on Mexico. Given the violent nature of these recent EPR attacks, some Mexican experts are saying that this group could be significantly more threatening to the stability of the Mexican Government, more so than the Zapatistas. Do you agree with that assessment?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think we, at this stage, know enough about this movement to be making that kind of assessment. Point one.
Point two, if we had such an assessment, it would probably remain at the level of our intelligence community and we wouldn't share it publicly and broadly.
It remains to be seen exactly what this group is and what it's up to.
Q A different subject?
MR. DAVIES: Sure. Do we have anymore on that?
Q Haiti: Do you have an assessment of recent attacks, whether they are isolated incidents or they pose a threat to the stability of the government?
MR. DAVIES: The incidence of politically-motivated attacks in Haiti has actually declined dramatically when compared with the period prior to the restoration of democracy in that country. In fact, the presence of the United Nations and OAS Civilian Mission in Haiti has contributed greatly to that.
So we see, as against the chaotic, very dangerous, conditions that existed that last year, a great deal of progress, certainly, since the democratic government has come into power.
Q Including the recent attacks in front of the President palace by former soldiers?
MR. DAVIES: We deplore those recent violent incidents in Haiti, and we've said that before. We expect that the government of President Preval will speak out strongly against all such acts of lawlessness, and that the Haitian National Police will investigate them fully.
Q Mr. Talbott is visiting Haiti?
MR. DAVIES: He is. He is in Haiti; that's correct. He's gone down there for the day.
MR. DAVIES: He's gone down there -- this is his eighth visit to Haiti. He's travelled down there many times in the past, for a couple of different reasons.
First off, he's gone down to assess the situation on the ground. He has also gone down there to talk to senior Haitian officials and to discuss matters with United Nations officials. Since President Preval came into power, he has been, in a sense, our point person, diplomatically, on Haiti and has been very active. So he's down there to talk to them, clearly, about some of the security incidents that have occurred but also, very importantly, to talk about some of the economic reconstruction efforts that are underway.
Q On Chechnya and Mr. Lebed's return. It's reported, at least by Reuters...can you confirm or comment on these reports that Lebed spoke with Mr. Yeltsin and apparently received some good news through Mr. Chernomyrdin with regard to his peace-making efforts? I believe it's kind of a mixed thing where some of his proposals from the peace talks were approved and some need more discussion, according to Chernomyrdin.
Basically, he's gone back feeling he's being supported by the Kremlin. What do we know about this?
MR. DAVIES: We understand from media reports that Lebed has travelled to Chechnya this morning to continue his talks with Chechen rebel leaders. We welcome that fact. We welcome the fact that both sides are upholding the cease-fire that went into effect earlier this week.
We also welcome the commitment that both sides have demonstrated to continue to implement the cease-fire agreement and to try to build on that constructive dialogue that's begun to move toward a broader political settlement.
In terms of what's going on within the Russian Government, I'm not going to comment on it. I saw the Chernomyrdin remarks indicating that the President of Russia was behind Lebed's efforts. We were never in doubt of that and are glad that Lebed is continuing his efforts.
Q So you welcome -- you welcome this public confirmation by Chernomyrdin and Yeltsin of what Lebed is --
MR. DAVIES: The cease-fire continuing in Chechnya is what we welcome. If some are going to continue to handicap -- to talk about the Russian leadership, that's up to them. We're simply not going to engage in discussing whether Lebed has had a conversation with Yeltsin today.
Q But what you're saying, Glyn, is that you're confident, what you just said is --
MR. DAVIES: You're trying to get a scoop out of me, Bill.
Q No, no. Not at all. Not at all. I'm trying to get confirmation out of you that this government is confident that Mr. Yeltsin, Mr. Chernomyrdin, and Mr. Lebed are working in a coordinated fashion on this Chechnya matter?
MR. DAVIES: We're confident that the Russian Government is committed to this peace process underway in Chechnya, and that's what's important because we have relations with the Government of Russia. We don't have relations with individuals in Russia.
Q You may have already -- there may be a comment on the record earlier, but in case there isn't, what is the U.S. attitude to the decision a few days back by the Israeli Government to dismantle a Palestinian Community Center for the disabled in Jerusalem?
MR. DAVIES: Our reaction to that is the same as our reaction to all the other reports of differences between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that is that these are serious problems that exist; that we believe that both sides recognize the seriousness of the differences between them, and that as a result of that we're doing all we can to help them bridge their differences. But I'm not going to --
Q But I'm asking a very specific thing here.
MR. DAVIES: I understand you are. I understand you are, and I'm choosing not to comment specifically on that incident, on Hebron, on helicopters. We're not going to get into that.
Q So the U.S. Government has no comment on the fact that the Israelis have torn down that community center.
MR. DAVIES: We're not going to get into at this stage commenting on every daily/hourly development in that part of the world. We're going to continue our efforts diplomatically to try to help the two parties bridge the differences between them.
Q Do you have any attitude as to whether it was helpful or not to the peace process?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything really to add to what I've said. We've spoken to the issue of settlements. We've described settlements as unhelpful and complicating to the peace process. Certainly, it is one in a series of serious developments over recent days that create tension between the two that needs to be dealt with.
Q What is it precisely that is serious here, though -- the Israelis tearing down the center? Do you view that as serious?
MR. DAVIES: The whole situation between Israel and the Palestinians is a serious situation. That's what we're saying. In terms of that particular incident or any of the other incidents, what we're not going to do is get into setting up a barometer and sort of saying this puts the temperature at 98 degrees, now it's down to 58 degrees. The whole situation is serious, and that's one in a series of serious developments that have occurred.
Q The settlements are something you do have a comment on. A general one, but nonetheless a comment. On this you have no comment.
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any specific comment on this, no.
Any more on the Middle East? No? We can leave it there?
Q North Korea. Do you know the report that North Korea now proposed three-party talks instead of four-party talks?
MR. DAVIES: I can't confirm that.
Q No. So does the U.S. Government have the same stance on four-party talks?
MR. DAVIES: Our policy remains as it was when this was first proposed by the President of the United States and the President of South Korea, which is that we believe a way should be found to put an end to the state of war that's existed for several generations on the Korean peninsula. The way we've proposed to do that is the four-party process. So we await from North Korea a reaction or a response to that proposal.
Q On Bosnia. Can you tell us how the situation -- yesterday's situation was resolved?
MR. DAVIES: I can give you a little bit on the situation there. This was the situation that developed around Mahala and the Mahala/Zvornik area. Both incidents, of course, have ended in Mahala. IFOR initially detained a group of 25 Bosnian Serb policemen for weapons violations after they tried to evict a group of Muslims who had returned to their war-damaged houses. The Muslims threw rocks at the Serbs as IFOR was disarming them, prompting the Serbs to fire back over the heads of the Muslims. Scuffles then broke out, injuring 10 Muslims, one of them seriously.
IFOR confiscated a number of weapons, including some long-barreled weapons that belonged to the Muslims. This then led to another 40 or so Serb police officers arriving from Zvornik to reinforce the initial group of 25. IFOR contained that group before it arrived at the scene, and no further violence occurred.
In Zvornik, a crowd of 600 surrounded the office of the IPTF -- the International Police Task Force -- and would not allow them to leave. IFOR, in coordination with the IPTF, maintained surveillance throughout the incident, as well as contact with those in the building. Although IFOR forces were ready to intervene, they didn't need to. They did not want to inflame the situation, and that situation also ended peacefully.
Q What further action is being taken, though? The Serbs who were detained by IFOR in Mahala -- they've been released, but their weapons were taken from them. Have their names been taken down? I mean, what is to prevent a situation like this from happening again?
MR. DAVIES: As I understand it, IFOR authorities used this incident -- the occasion of this incident, once it was over, to make a very strong point to both Bosnian Serb authorities and to Muslim authorities. As reported to me, General Walker, who's the ground commander of IFOR, actually took the weapons confiscated and brought that physical evidence to Madam Plavsic in Banja Luka and also laid it at the feet, figuratively, of Bosnian officials.
So what's being done, of course, is that IFOR is going to continue very robustly to maintain its presence to try to enforce the provisions of Dayton that call for freedom of movement in the runup to the elections. We'll continue to make the point to the leadership on both sides that these kinds of incidents should not occur and will not be tolerated.
Q The Muslims in Mahala, are they staying there? They now no longer have their long-barreled weapons. Do they have --
MR. DAVIES: Some of them. I don't know that they were all armed. I don't think that was the case necessarily.
Q Okay. Are they under some sort of IFOR or other Western protection at this point? Are they there or not?
MR. DAVIES: I can't tell you how many Muslims are in Mahala right now. I simply don't know. My impression is that they are no longer there. I can check that. I can find out what the situation is.
Q The elections are two weeks from tomorrow. Any news on the Open Broadcast Network?
MR. DAVIES: My understanding is that in fact a way forward has been found, and the Open Broadcast Network will open up, as scheduled, in time to broadcast prior to the election.
MR. DAVIES: Their scheduled opening was in fact not until the end of the first week in September. That was the original plan. September 7 sticks in my mind. And remember, this is a network of, as I understand it, four independent TV stations, all of which have been operating. But the network aspect of it would increase their range and enable them to broadcast more hours of programming.
Q Mindful of your pledge -- I'm not going to tell you, you've said this -- but there's been a call for a delay in the elections in view of the situation. Do you reject such an idea?
MR. DAVIES: We believe that the elections should take place on September 14. We have this week in fact made available to you a couple of different officials at senior levels to talk about preparations for those elections. We believe that the elections will occur in as free and fair a way as possible. U.S. officials are doing all they can within the context of the international community to insure that conditions exist.
These elections are extremely important from the standpoint of the Bosnian people to create the institutions that Bosnia needs to begin a longer-term process of ethnic reconciliation.
Q A call for a postponement of the elections, one would have no merit in your view and would halt this process of momentum?
MR. DAVIES: There are no plans to postpone the elections. Elections will go forward on September 14.
Q New subject?
MR. DAVIES: Yes.
Q Louis Farrakhan is apparently going to get his award and a quarter of a million dollars in the process. Any comment?
MR. DAVIES: It's like all the tough issues are kind of poured in today, so I --
Q Well, it's an obligatory question.
MR. DAVIES: You know, it's Friday. You've got three days of no chance to get at us --
Q Are you going to meet him at the border?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to speculate about what may or may not happen in that case. Everybody's seen, read the Treasury letter, so the view of the U.S. Government on his accepting/not accepting any gifts from Libya is well known, and we've talked about the passport restriction for travel to Libya.
Q Thank you.
MR. DAVIES: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:28 p.m.) ###
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