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

.
Department of State
96/09/03 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman


                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                            DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
                                 I N D E X
                         Tuesday, September 3, l996

                                               Briefer: Nicholas Burns

DEPARTMENT
   Secretary's Trip to Europe, September 4-7/Meetings/Agenda....  1-
2,23-24

IRAQ
   Saddam Hussein's Move Against Kurds in Northern Iraq ........  2-24
   --Status of U.N. Res. 986/Saddam's Actions/U.N. Actions .....  2-
4,18-19-
                                                                  22
   --French Government's Reaction to U.S. Military Reaction ....  4-5
   --Reaction of Other Governments' to U.S. Action .............  5-11
   --Prospects for Further U.S. Military Action Against Iraq ...  8,19-
20
   --Numbers of Americans in Iraq ..............................  9
   --U.S. Position on the Territorial Integrity of Iraq ........  11-
12,14-
                                                                   15
   --Next Steps/Other Actions Being Considered .................  13,19
   --U.S. Consultations with Foreign Governments ...............  13,17
   --Iranian Actions/U.S. Concerns .............................  15-16
   --Continuation of Operation Provide Comfort .................  16-
17,18
   --U.S. Efforts with Kurdish Factions ........................  20
   --Status of No Flight Zone in Southern Iraq .................  22-23

COLOMBIA
   Drug Trafficker Pancho Herrera Surrenders ...................  24-25

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #140

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 1996, 1:31 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have a quick announcement to make, and that is just to review for you the Secretary of State's trip which begins tomorrow.

As you know, the Secretary is leaving Washington tomorrow for Europe. He's travelling to London, Paris, Bonn, Stuttgart, and then back to London.

On Thursday, he'll be having breakfast with the British Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind. That will be followed by a press conference the two of them will have. That will be followed by a quick trip to Paris where the Secretary will be having lunch with the French Foreign Minister, Minister de Charette, and then a meeting with President Chirac. There will also be a press conference with the Secretary and Minister de Charette.

I think in this first day of his trip, in these two meetings with the British and French, obviously, we'll be focusing on northern Iraq given the very high degree of importance we attach to concerted Western action to deter Saddam Hussein. Also the situation in Bosnia, NATO issues, Middle East issues will be among the subjects that the Secretary, the French and the British leaders discuss.

On Friday, the Secretary -- Friday morning -- will be in Bonn where he'll meet Chancellor Kohl. He'll then travel to Stuttgart with Klaus Kinkel, the German Foreign Minister. He's going to give a speech in Stuttgart that commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the "Speech of Hope", which is the great speech given by Secretary of State James Burns in 1946 which essentially established modern American policy, the policy of cooperation and alliance and friendship with the German people and with Germany.

There's a dinner that the Secretary will have with Mr. Kinkel on Friday night in Stuttgart.

Over the weekend, the Secretary will return to London for further consultations and some public events. Also, on Sunday morning the Secretary will be meeting David Levy, the Israeli Foreign Minister, for a very important review of the major Middle East peace process issues concerning the Israel-Palestinian talks -- our very strong hopes that Israel and the Palestinians can continue to make progress in the talks that are currently underway -- and also pertaining to other issues in the Middle East peace process concerning Syria and Lebanon and the very strong wish of the United States that these countries will continue to be open to the possibility of moving forward on Middle East peace process issues.

As you know, the Secretary returned early from his vacation in California. He returned because of the situation in northern Iraq. He spent the last two days -- Sunday and Monday -- in the office meeting with others around town on this situation. Of course, the Secretary very early on, after it became clear what Saddam Hussein was up to, supported a very strong United States response which the President ordered last evening.

In addition to the events of last evening and early today in Iraq, as you know, the State Department issued a public statement last evening advising American citizens to leave Iraq because of the instability throughout the country but particularly because of the instability in northern Iraq.

There's a small number of private Americans who mainly work for non-governmental organizations in northern Iraq. We were in touch yesterday with all of those organizations requesting that they use their good judgment and pull their people out northern Iraq. I believe that at least half of the private Americans who have worked in northern Iraq have now gone to other countries.

With that, Barry, I'll be glad to take any questions you have.

Q Let me ask you about the status of the special arrangement, the exemption from sanctions to permit Iraq to sell -- what? -- $2 billion worth of oil for humanitarian purposes for six months, renewable. It's in suspension now.

Is the U.S. of a mind now to renegotiate or take another look at the terms of that agreement, or is it simply in suspension for various reasons which you and I both know about?

MR. BURNS: The Secretary General of the United Nations has decided, I think for very good, practical reasons, that it's not possible to go forward with U.N. Resolution 986 -- that is the humanitarian sales of oil for food and medicine for the Iraqi people who have suffered under Saddam Hussein. That is a resolution that the Clinton Administration had supported up until the final decision of the U.N. several weeks ago to go forward.

But, frankly, given the actions of Saddam Hussein in northern Iraq, his very clear aggression against innocent people in northern Iraq, the chaos that has ensued because of his aggression, it's simply not possible for the United Nations to put monitors on the ground to ensure the viability of this program. So we support that decision. I think it will obviously be some time before we can get back to any consideration of that program.

Q The program was never based -- at least, the U.S. policy stand was this was never based on any confidence in Saddam Hussein.

MR. BURNS: We don't have any confidence in Saddam Hussein.

Q You never did. But even so, you have a new experience with him now. Does it cause the U.S. to question whether the program can really move ahead ever and achieve its desired aims?

MR. BURNS: I think Saddam Hussein has shown once again that his capacity for mayhem and for brutality against the citizens of Iraq is really unmatched in modern times.

This program was a program to help the victims of Saddam Hussein. The United States made sure, in protracted negotiations in New York at the United Nations -- in fact, we were the lone country making sure of this in the final stages of the negotiations -- that Saddam Hussein would not profit from this resolution by one penny; that all the proceeds of the oil sales would go to the Iraqi people; that there would be a sufficient number of U.N. monitors in place to ensure everyone, including most especially the United States, of that fact.

He's taken actions now, for whatever reasons, which have clearly made it impossible to continue with that program at the present time. That is the position of the Administration, that we support the decision of Boutros Ghali to delay the implementation of the program.

We'll just have to see at some point in the future when the situation calms down, if it does, what is the best way forward on that program, Barry.

Q Does this program require action by the Security Council now to reinstate it, or can Boutros Ghali do that unilaterally?

MR. BURNS: No. Actually, after the United States was assured there would be sufficient monitors in place to make sure that Saddam Hussein did not profit, it then did not require -- this is now last month, in August -- a decision of the Security Council. In fact, the Sanctions Committee met and the procedures were put in place to go forward.

So I would assume that at some point in the future, if people wanted to discuss this, the proper place to do that would be in the Sanctions Committee and through consultations with the Secretary General.

Q Speaking of U.N. resolutions, the French Foreign Ministry said this morning that the Iraqi military action against Irbil violated no U.N. Security Council resolutions and therefore the implication in the French statement was that the U.S. military reaction was unjustified.

One, is that correct, that there are no U.N. Security Council resolutions which were justified? And, two, what is your reaction to the French reaction?

MR. BURNS: First, I didn't read the French statement that way. I perhaps had a more positive view of the French statement than you have, Jim.

Let me just remind you that back in 1991, when Saddam Hussein sought to exterminate the Iraqi Kurds, the United States, Britain, and France, Turkey, and others in the international community came to the rescue of the Kurdish people. We have been in northern Iraq through "Operation Provide Comfort" for five years in order to continue to protect the Kurdish people.

The decision to establish the "no-fly" zones north of the 36th parallel, south of the 32nd parallel, at the time were decisions made by the leading members of the international community, the members of the coalition that successfully defeated Saddam Hussein. There were no U.N. resolutions that set up those flight zones but they were clear "lines in the sand." Those lines were respected, more or less, by Saddam Hussein for the better part of five years.

He crossed that line, that clearly defined "line in the sand", last weekend. When he crossed that line, he deserved to pay for it. The United States has now taken military action to make sure that he is paying for it, and he has.

The targets selected by the Pentagon were designed to make it hurt, to make Saddam hurt; to devalue part of his military machine; to increase, we hope, the lack of confidence that is clearly present in many parts of the Iraqi leadership, both the military leadership and the civilian leadership.

We're sending a very strong message to Saddam Hussein. The message is very clear: You have got to live up to your international obligations. If you don't live up to your international obligations, the United States will not only be watching, the United States will act to make sure that a price will be paid by Saddam Hussein for his behavior.

Q I don't want to become legalistic about it, but just to put a dot over the "i", in the course of the military action was the "no-fly" rule broken by the Iraqi forces?

MR. BURNS: There have been allegations to that which I believe have not be substantiated; but he sent 40,000 to 50,000 troops across the 36th parallel into northern Iraq. There are reliable reports, and I think agreed-upon reports, internationally, that his security forces murdered several hundred people over the weekend. He clearly has taken actions against the Kurdish people, actions that he ought not to take, that are criminal, and that are very much against the reasons why the United States and its allies put in place "Operation Provide Comfort" back in March 1991.

The justification for this is very clear. This man was a criminal back in 1990-91 when he invaded Kuwait. He was a criminal when he tried to exterminate the Iraqi Kurds. Someone has to protect the Iraqi Kurds. In this case, the United States has taken upon itself to act in our own interest to do so.

So I think the justification for this is clear. You cannot have agreed-upon rules in the international system flouted by international outlaws. That was the case over the weekend, and that was the rationale for the very strong decision by the President to strike back at Saddam Hussein.

Steve.

Q I was wondering, Nick, just to go on further with that bit, though, the coalition that formed up the first time to support the U.S. action against Iraq is noticeably tattered, it seems, right now. The French, while not condemning anything, certainly have not praised the U.S. action. The Turks are relatively silent. The Saudis have not said anything. I believe the Spaniards are saying that they would rather have seen this happen later. In fact, only the British and the Germans of the major allies support the United States in this. How does that make policymakers feel at this point?

MR. BURNS: I think it's very clear to us here in Washington this morning that the international coalition against Saddam Hussein is intact.

As the President said this morning in his statement, in answer to a question, we are satisfied with the consultations that we had with our allies leading up to the decision by the President to strike back at Saddam Hussein.

Let me just remind you that there was a very strong public show of support by Prime Minister John Major this morning in London, a very strong declaration of support by Canada, by Japan, by Germany. I can tell you that despite the fact that others who are allied with us, who are involved with us in the region in the cause of peace and stability, that others have not taken perhaps pro-active statements this morning, I think doesn't hide the fact that we have more in common here in northern Iraq than what divides us. That is very clear to us.

The United States has the leadership role in this region. Time and again over the last several decades, but most notably over the last five or six years, it's been left up to the United States to be a leader, to make tough decisions, and to take actions -- tough actions.

When clearly agreed-upon international rules are violated by a criminal -- Saddam Hussein -- then, it is up to the United States to display the type of leadership that the world expects.

Steve, perhaps you're not hearing from certain countries vocal expressions of support; but I suspect that if you asked some of those leaders privately, they would indicate support for the United States.

Carol.

Q You're talking of people who are very vocal in their opposition. How about Russia and Primakov, in particular? You're saying that this coalition is intact. Russia is one of the notable vocal opponents.

MR. BURNS: In northern Iraq, in "Operation Provide Comfort," of course, the key countries are the United States, Turkey, Britain, and France. I think we had very open, clear, and good consultations with all of those countries -- the three that I mentioned -- leading up to the decision by the President, including calls from the President to President Chirac, calls by Secretary of State Christopher to Minister de Charette and Minister Rifkind, contacts with Mrs. Ciller in Turkey. So I think we've had good contacts with them, good communication.

We are convinced that this international coalition is intact and will continue to work. If you look at the public statements from the French Government and all the other governments, the focus of those public statements has been opposition to what Saddam Hussein has done over the past weekend, a very clear call for Saddam Hussein to withdraw his military forces south of the 36th parallel, and to stop this criminal behavior of going after the Iraqi Kurds.

The Russian Government made its own statement from Switzerland this morning where Minister Primakov was working. We were in very close contact with the Russians over the last couple of days. There were letters that went back and forth between Secretary Christopher and Minister Primakov. Ambassador Tom Pickering was in the Foreign Ministry in Moscow on several occasions over the last two days.

We did share with the Russians our appreciation of a need for action in this situation, and the Russians were not surprised by our action. What we hope now, Carol, is that the Russian Government will use whatever influence it has in Baghdad with the Saddam Hussein regime to counsel Saddam to withdraw completely from northern Iraq.

Q How do you interpret Primakov's reaction. Is this merely an expected sort of reaction from somebody who has a very close relationship with Saddam and who tried to keep the Gulf war from happening?

MR. BURNS: We were not surprised. We were not surprised by the statement of the Russian Government. We had heard pretty much in private what you saw in public. But I think the main point I'd like to get across to you is that we believe the Russian Government can be helpful in the future in trying to convince Saddam Hussein that once again he has overstepped.

Saddam Hussein never seems to miss an opportunity to reach beyond what is practically possible, and Saddam Hussein once again over the weekend has taken a step that is not going to be accepted by the United States.

Q Did Primakov say he would try to be helpful?

MR. BURNS: I think we've had very good, constructive conversations with them, and the Russians were helpful over the weekend in relaying certain messages to the Government of Saddam Hussein.

Q Is further military action expected?

MR. BURNS: Further military action by the United States?

Q Right.

MR. BURNS: That all depends, as the President and Secretary Perry said this morning, on the actions of Saddam Hussein. We've heard so much drivel from Baghdad, frankly, that we really can't base our actions on the words of the regime. They've consistently lied over the course of the last week about what their intentions are in northern Iraq.

So we're going to base our own actions on the actions of the Saddam Hussein regime. They should withdraw from northern Iraq. They should stop their brutalization of the Kurdish population of northern Iraq. They should comply with the "no-flight" zones, including the extension of the southern "no-flight" zone from 32 to 33 degrees.

David.

Q There have been some suggestions that over the weekend the U.S. may have been trying to get Jordan, Saudi Arabia and/or Turkey to allow planes based on their territory to be involved in operations over Iraq, having to do with what has now happened.

In the event, no planes based in those countries were used. Were any of those three countries asked to allow planes based on their territory to be used in operations against Iraq? And, if so, what was their answer?

MR. BURNS: David, what I can tell you is that I don't believe you've seen any active opposition to the military move of the United States by those countries. We did have a variety of conversations with them preceding the attack. We let them know what, in a preliminary basis, some of our options were as we looked at the situation. And in the final analysis, the President made the decision that his advisers, including Secretary Christopher, felt was the best decision for the United States.

But there was a good deal of conversation leading up to that as the United States considered its options as to what was the best way to use military force against them. What I don't want to do is to violate the privacy of some of those conversations by taking you through them minute by minute.

Q One other small point, if I may, while I have you, which is just -- you mentioned at the beginning the Americans in northern Iraq, and I wonder if you could give us numbers?

MR. BURNS: I don't have good numbers for you, except to say that I think at least for those private Americans who work for non-governmental organizations primarily devoted to humanitarian assistance for the Kurds, there seems to have been roughly 60 to 70 of them, and I think about half have left.

We advise the remaining Americans in northern Iraq to leave Iraq. It's for their own good. The situation is much too chaotic and frankly much too dangerous for them to remain. We issued a public statement last night to that effect, and we certainly reaffirm that this morning.

Q Nick, to follow up on the answer to David's original question, you said you haven't seen any -- you said, "We haven't seen any active opposition from those countries," which you stated -- the Saudis, the Jordanians and the Turks.

MR. BURNS: There hasn't been any active opposition at all.

Q But my question is, on the other hand we haven't seen any active participation with the U.S. either.

MR. BURNS: The fact is this was a unilateral U.S. military action. The United States took the action it did because it's in our clear national interest to make sure that Saddam Hussein does not profit by his criminal behavior. There was an important statement by the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mrs. Ciller, this morning out of Ankara, which clearly denounced the actions of Saddam Hussein, and which expressed public understanding and support for the actions of the United States.

The Government of France issued a statement which was clearly directed against Saddam Hussein.

I can't speak for the other governments that you've mentioned except to say that we are quite confident that the international coalition against Saddam is strong.

Let's review what's happened because of the actions of this coalition. Five years ago Saddam Hussein was defeated very dramatically and completely by the international coalition against him. In October 1994, when he threatened Kuwait again, the United States sent military forces to the region, which forced Saddam Hussein to back down.

Because of the efforts of this coalition, including all the countries that you've mentioned and the efforts of Ambassador Ekeus and UNSCOM -- the United Nations -- we have made it very, very difficult for Saddam Hussein to achieve the ambition that he desires, which is to develop a nuclear and chemical weapons and biological weapons capability which he could then use to threaten Israel and threaten his Arab neighbors.

We've worked with France, with Egypt, with Jordan, with Saudi Arabia and with other countries, with Russia, to support that U.N. action. Now once again Saddam Hussein, because of the failure of his own policies, has challenged the international community, and the United States has stood up and said, "No, Saddam Hussein is not going to get away with these actions."

Q Why was it the sole responsibility of the United States, as the President stated this morning? Would others from the coalition have come on board militarily if we had waited, and are any of those from the coalition or from any place else willing to get on board now?

MR. BURNS: All situations are different. In the summer and fall and winter of 1990 and 1991, it was clearly in our interest to develop a broad-scale coalition to wage an air and ground war against Saddam Hussein.

In this particular instance, because the credibility of the United States and the international community was on the line, we felt it was important to have a quick, decisive and forceful military response from the United States.

The United States alone in the region and in fact internationally has the capability within a matter of days to muster the kind of force that you saw -- military assets being deployed from various points around the world, including outside the Middle East -- and to do that very effectively and very capably as our military forces did this morning.

So I think it was really a question at this point in this particular situation of the United States relying on our considerable military power to very quickly demonstrate our opposition to the actions of Saddam Hussein.

Q (Inaudible) of the others in the previous coalition?

MR. BURNS: Countries made their own decision about what they wanted to do, and that I think is just a basic fact about coalitions -- that there will be times when the coalition is absolutely united on all the details, there will be times when perhaps there are some disagreements; but what really matters is, is the coalition still focused on the major goal? The goal is containing Saddam Hussein, protecting the Iraqi Kurds, making sure that international agreements are not being overridden.

I think Jim asked an important question: What is the basis for this action? The basis clearly is U.N. Security Council resolution 688, which clearly prohibits Saddam Hussein from taking actions against his own population and repress minorities within Iraq -- the kinds of actions that we saw over the weekend.

So we not only have international law on our side; we have the compelling, vital national interests of the United States in our favor. That was very good reason enough to take the action that we did.

Q There's one concern beyond Saddam Hussein's individual actions which affect the rest of the country, but, I mean, beyond the fact that there is a confrontation directly linked between Saddam Hussein and the West -- of the whole of the integrity of Iraq. I mean, Iraq's sovereignty has been a concern raised in all the security Council resolutions throughout and after the Gulf war, and this is a concern that many Arab countries, all of Iraq's neighbors, have that Iraq's sovereignty not be meddled with.

Also, the Secretary General of the Arab League, I believe, said this morning that the U.S. action was not justified. What is your reaction to this? I mean, I'm not talking about Saddam Hussein's shooting himself in the foot regularly --

MR. BURNS: Which he clearly does.

Q Which he clearly does. I'm talking about an overview of the region.

MR. BURNS: The United States, since March of 1991, both the Bush Administration and now the Administration of President Clinton -- the United States has never questioned the territorial integrity of Iraq. We do not favor the dismemberment of Iraq. We did not favor that policy -- President Bush did not in 1991. President Clinton has not.

We have always respected the borders of Iraq. In establishing "Operation Provide Comfort" in 1991, we did so and said publicly that we were not questioning the territorial integrity of Iraq. But if anyone has been the principal cause of problems associated with any questions about the territorial integrity of Iraq, it's Saddam Hussein.

If Saddam Hussein had not invaded Kuwait, if he had not threatened Saudi Arabia, if he had not tried to exterminate the Kurds, we wouldn't be talking about this problem. So I would respectfully suggest that if people have a concern about Iraq's territorial integrity, they ought to support the continued efforts of the United States, Britain, France and Turkey, which is effectively operating to provide stability in northern Iraq. If we weren't in northern Iraq, can you imagine the chaos that would be produced?

Q Would you respond to the argument that the Kurds, backed by the Iranians, were threatening Iraq's sovereignty or integrity?

MR. BURNS: The United States will continue to work with the two main Kurdish political organizations of Mr. Barzani and Mr. Talabani to try to get them to work together for the benefit of the Kurdish people. It is a tragedy for the Kurdish people that these two groups have not been able to work together effectively.

As you know, Assistant Secretary Pelletreau and Mr. Deutsch -- Deutsch of the State Department -- worked very hard up until August 30 to try to convince these groups to work together. They have lost a major opportunity over the last five years to promote the interests of the Kurdish people.

We're not going to give up on our diplomatic effort to try to convince the Kurdish groups to unite more or less out of their own self-interest to oppose the efforts of Saddam Hussein -- because his participation right now in events in northern Iraq cannot be good for the Kurdish people -- and to oppose the efforts of Iran, which the United States believes very strongly ought to stay out of northern Iraq.

We have warned Iran to stay out of the present instability in northern Iraq. We have warned them quite recently. We've also warned them publicly, and we reiterate that warning today. Our advice to the Kurds is, put aside your differences -- which we understand are long held and quite bitter --, do not accept the offers of either the Iranian leadership or of Saddam Hussein for friendship because neither of them can be trusted and neither of them is going to act in the interest of the Kurdish people.

Q: What if any other actions are being considered with the allies about steps ahead, or does the United States plan to continue to go alone.

MR. BURNS: Frankly, I think Saddam Hussein is on the defensive. His long-held dream of having U.N. resolution 986 passed is now in tatters because of his own actions. The Secretary General has decided not to go forward at the present time with 986. He's not going to get the oil-for-food deal that he so clearly wanted.

Secondly, we have now dealt him a very severe military blow, and I think the residue of that will be felt in the Arab world as well as in Iraq for some time. It's a very clear warning to him. The international community would like him to withdraw. We'll continue our efforts. I understand there will be some discussion in the United Nations, led by the British, later on this afternoon to condemn the Iraqi regime.

We'll continue to work with our Arab allies and Arab friends and also with our coalition partners to keep Saddam Hussein in the box that he clearly deserves to live in.

Q Can you characterize the consultations that went on? Is it the way that the United States and President Clinton had the plan and said to Prime Minister Major, "This is what we want to do. Do you accept it?" Or did he ask him, "What do you think we should do," and on the basis of that a plan was developed? What was the participation of the allies in this decision? Was it to give an okay?

MR. BURNS: Again, I can't go into a great level of detail on this because most of these conversations took place with the understanding that they would not be repeated later in public. But essentially the United States -- President Clinton and Secretary Christopher and Tony Lake and Bill Perry -- saw very early on, after it was clear that Saddam Hussein was bringing major military force to bear in Irbil, that the United States could not stand by idly and allow this to happen without an appropriate response. You saw Mr. Panetta signal that very clearly publicly on Sunday morning.

From then on, it was just a decision as to what was the appropriate response; what should be the mixture of the force, and what the target should be. We engaged in an intensive two days of diplomacy, consultations with our European allies, with partners in the area, in the Middle East, about what should be done, where we clearly indicated that the United States was going to do something, that we were determined to do something and asked for their support. As the President said this morning, we're very satisfied with the support that we've received.

Q Can I ask a question, please, about the same question that (inaudible) was asking about the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq. Do you consider Irbil and these areas as Iraqi territory and Iraq has sovereignty over them and they can do things in them or not. Because today Secretary Perry, when he was referring to these territories, said "Kurdish territory". Could you please clarify what's your policy on sovereignty of these areas?

MR. BURNS: The territory in question that you refer to, Irbil, is clearly Iraqi territory. The United States has always recognized Iraq north of the 36th parallel, as you look at a map of Iraq, to be Iraqi territory.

At the same time, I think it's important to remember what the rules of the road were in March 1991 when Saddam was clearly defeated, when we had blocked his attempts to exterminate the Kurdish people, the Iraqi regime agreed to the establishment of the "no-flight" zones. It did not violate the "no-flight" zones. They also agreed to certain behavior that would not be countenanced north of the 36th parallel, south of the 32nd parallel, and from this day forward south of the 33rd parallel because we've extended by one degree today, and our coalition partners support us in that extension.

Saddam Hussein violated the rules of the road over the weekend, and you can't have credibility as a global power, establish certain limitations on the behavior of other states, and allow those limitations to be violated.

So these are not rules that the Iraqis have violated over the last five years. They've largely complied with them, but now that they have violated them, they've got to pay for that violation.

Q I have another question, please. The Arab League condemned the American action, and except Kuwait, no Arab country came out in support of it; and those who came out criticized it. Could you please tell us from what you said and what the President said this morning, it seems that they're telling you something in private and they're not saying something, or they're saying something different in public. Are they telling you something and doing something else -- the Arab world?

MR. BURNS: As is often the case in situations like this, what one hears in--

Q Are they supporting you in private?

MR. BURNS: -- what one hears in private is sometimes dramatically different from what one hears in public. We would certainly have preferred it if we'd had a unanimous Arab League resolution in support of the actions of the United States. I think that if the Arab leaders would reflect upon what we have done -- we have acted to preserve stability and peace in northern Iraq; we have acted once again to limit the expansionist and aggressive behavior of Saddam Hussein, which is a current threat to his Arab neighbors.

The United States is very confident that what we have done is the right thing, and we'll stand by it.

Q Nick, do you feel like at least summarizing the reservations -- I know you don't want to give the argument against the U.S. policy, but can you give us some idea --

MR. BURNS: I don't want to do that, Barry.

Q But one argument --

MR. BURNS: It's not my job.

Q Well, I wondered specifically about one argument. I mean, you're terribly concerned about the Iranians as well. Aren't you being told that this contributes to destabilization of Iraq and gives Iran perhaps an opportunity to flex its muscles and extend itself? Doesn't that concern the U.S.?

MR. BURNS: I think that rationale is entirely wrong-headed, and I know it's not yours personally, but the one you're describing.

Q No, it doesn't happen to be me at all. (Laughter)

MR. BURNS: I mean, I would never describe your views like that.

Q That's not my view. I have no view.

MR. BURNS: Barry, I think the answer -- I think our analysis is quite clear. If the United States had not responded to Saddam Hussein's military aggression, then it would have opened the field for Iran to clearly back the other Kurdish group of Mr. Talabani and perhaps even to do what it did a month ago, which is engage in cross-border military operations -- operations that the United States at the time condemned.

So we believe that in using military force to make Saddam Hussein pay a price, we're accomplishing several objectives: We are acting to insure stability in northern Iraq; we're acting to continue "Operation Provide Comfort," and all that it does to help the Kurdish people of northern Iraq; and we are clearly acting to send a very strong signal to both Iran and Iraq, "Keep out of northern Iraq above the 36th parallel."

The "Operation Provide Comfort" will continue to be the main international vehicle to assure stability in that part of the world.

Q Nick, can I follow up on this, please? But it sends also the wrong signal to both Iran and the neighbors in the area, because Turkey got into northern Iraq and had the military operation, and the United States had not yet arrived in Turkey. Iranians have been meddling with Talabani in the area and did not do anything against Iran, and now when Saddam Hussein does it, you hit him. What kind of signal is this to the area?

MR. BURNS: The situations that you cite are simply not comparable, and I reject any notion that there can be any comparison between the efforts of Turkey to try to fight terrorism from the PKK and the actions of Iraq of Saddam Hussein to exterminate the Kurdish people.

Q But you --

MR. BURNS: The two are completely different, and I think the actions of Turkey and the actions of Iraq over the last five years have been completely opposite. Of course, we've supported the Turkish Government as a partner in northern Iraq, and we've opposed the Baghdad regime.

Q What do you make of the fact that 50 percent of the Kurds, whom you are trying to defend, are the same guys who called Saddam Hussein's troops into the area?

MR. BURNS: I don't know if 50 percent of the Kurdish people have made that decision. One of the Kurdish groups --

Q I mean, 50 percent -- who supported --

MR. BURNS: One of the Kurdish groups has offered an olive branch to Saddam Hussein. Our advice to that particular group would be, "Remember March of 1991." A man capable of trying to exterminate an entire population in northern Iraq is capable of trying to do that again. He simply cannot be trusted, and our advice to Mr. Barzani is: "Don't be taken in by the blandishments of Saddam Hussein; come back to negotiations with Mr. Talabani; work with the Turkish Government, the British, the French and the American Governments for stability in northern Iraq." There is no solace to be sought in Baghdad for the Kurdish people.

Q Another subject?

MR. BURNS: Other subjects? One more question?

Q You said there were contacts with Mrs. Ciller in Ankara. I was trying to get a better idea of the contacts the U.S. Government had. Did anybody from Washington call her directly, or was it through Ambassador Grossman in Ankara? And in other countries, Prime Ministers at that level, there was a contact established. Why is it a relatively low level in --

MR. BURNS: Oh, we've had very high-level contacts -- there have been letters between the Secretary and Mrs. Ciller. There have been phone conversations -- I believe, when Strobe Talbott was Acting Secretary of State late last week and over the weekend. Ambassador Grossman in Ankara has been in touch with the Turkish Government on an hour-by-hour basis on this.

There has been no problem with contacts. We've had a great number of contacts with the Turkish Government. We've been pleased that the Turkish Government understands and supports the actions of the United States.

Q Was the Prime Ministry contacted?

MR. BURNS: Excuse me?

Q Was the Prime Ministry contacted in Ankara?

MR. BURNS: There have been contacts with all parts of the Turkish Government, including the office of the Prime Minister and the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

Q Could I follow up on that?

MR. BURNS: Yes.

Q Excuse me, but I don't understand what kind of support you're talking about in the case of Turkey. Hasn't the Turkish and French resistance made it impossible to use the "Provide Comfort" air force in Turkey, whose mission is, after all, to protect --

MR. BURNS: I think as Secretary Perry made very clear this morning, the President determined the best way for the United States to demonstrate military force against Saddam Hussein, and it seems to have been highly effective. We reserve the right to deploy whatever assets we deem necessary to make the point that we did.

Q You're saying that the mission of "Provide Comfort" forces is not a handicap for the operation at all?

MR. BURNS: It doesn't seem to have been a handicap to me. Does it to you? You've seen a very effective display of American military power -- from B-52s, from our aircraft carriers, using cruise missile technology. I think the United States has shown that we have military power second to none -- we have a variety of ways to deploy it, and we have many options at our disposal for the future.

Q Nick, you said that you told a man you would have hoped that the Arab countries -- the Arab League, had come up with a resolution to support U.S. action. Why would you expect the Arabs to do that when you didn't even ask the Security Council to come up with a resolution to support that action?

MR. BURNS: There was no need for Security Council action. The United States has clear authority under U.N. Security Council Resolution 688. Certainly considering the understandings that we had with Iraq and the international community in the spring of 1991 -- that set up this "Operation Provide Comfort," -- we had clear authority to take the military action that we did. There was never a question about that.

Q My other question is, why would you expect the suspension of 986 to be a problem for Saddam Hussein when it clearly hasn't been a problem for him until now?

MR. BURNS: It seems to be something that he desires very much. Now he's wrong about one thing -- it won't help him at all, because the United States has made sure through our very tough diplomacy at the United Nations -- that if 986 is ever implemented in the future, it will be done in such a way that every single penny of the proceeds from those oil sales will go to the innocent people of Iraq -- the people who have been shut up in prisons, the people whose families have had people executed, the people who have had their rights denied for a long time -- for several decades, by Saddam Hussein.

They are the people that the international community would like to help with humanitarian food and medical supplies.

Q But wouldn't it be more in the interests of the international community to still support 986. Denying something to Saddam Hussein --

MR. BURNS: It's just not practically -- as the Secretary General of the United Nations said over the weekend, it's not practically possible to implement this resolution at a time when Saddam Hussein has deployed military force in northern Iraq and produced the instability that exists today.

Q Secretary Perry said this morning that the behavior of Saddam Hussein in the coming days and weeks would be only one factor that the United States would take into consideration when deciding whether or not to take further military action or other punitive action against Saddam Hussein. What might be some of the other factors the U.S. will take into consideration besides the behavior?

MR. BURNS: As both the President and Secretary Perry said this morning, the actions of Saddam Hussein will be one of the prime determinants in answering the question of what happens next. Clearly, the United States always has to think about what's in our own best national security interests. And that decision, of course, of any future use of force -- can only be made, depending on what happens and how it affects our interests. So I think it's a decision that the President will have to make at the time.

What we hope is that we won't be in that position; that Saddam Hussein will cut his losses, put his tail between his legs and retreat to Baghdad. Then we'll have stability in northern Iraq.

Q In which case there will be no further U.S. military action?

MR. BURNS: I'm not saying that. The United States reserves the right to take whatever action necessary in any situation.

Q What are some of the other factors that the U.S. will take into consideration in making that decision besides the behavior of Saddam Hussein?

MR. BURNS: I think as both the President and the Secretary said, the prime factor will be the actions of Saddam Hussein. But certainly another factor will be, are the interests of the United States -- the national security interests -- involved in that part of the world, are they being served by the present course of action? Do they need to be buttressed by another use of force? That's clearly an option at our disposal.

Q What are those national security interests?

MR. BURNS: Pardon?

Q What are those national security interests?

MR. BURNS: To maintain a sense of peace and stability in northern Iraq.

Q But if Saddam Hussein left, would that be served?

MR. BURNS: We'd have to see what else Saddam Hussein was up to. If his military withdraws, he still has the capability to affect the situation in northern Iraq.

Q One Kurdish faction against another; is that what you're suggesting?

MR. BURNS: We believe that situation can be resolved if the Kurdish groups would turn away from Tehran and Baghdad and turn back to discussions with the Turkish Government -- the United States Government, and others.

Q My question, Nick. For the last five years you've been trying to bring the Kurdish factions together and have a peaceful co-existence together. You have not been successful because the Kurds have been fighting each other for the last how many years.

What is the solution now? Are you going to go back to trying to convince them? It didn't work before. Is there a solution to the Kurdish problem in the north?

MR. BURNS: It's a very tough problem, as you've seen, and a bitter one and one of long-standing. The United States will continue its efforts with the major Kurdish organizations to try to get them to understand and realize that their own best interests are served by working with us and not with the Iranians or the Iraqi Government.

Q You said many times from this podium that 986 will help Turkey because Turkey has been hurting and Turkey, in fact, put in an application to the U.N. to have a special exemption with Iraq. What's going to happen now in terms of Turkey and in terms of that special exemption to the U.N.? It seems less likely now that they'd even get that.

MR. BURNS: It's very clear that 986 would help Turkey, because Turkey is in a position to reap some of the economic benefits itself.

All I can do is point you to Boutros Ghali who maintains -- and we agree with him -- it's just not practical to go forward with 986 when there's a violent situation that has been produced by Saddam Hussein.

Q What about an exemption for Turkey to trade with Iraq like Jordan does? What's your view on that?

MR. BURNS: I think we've said many, many times in the past, we don't see much that can be served by trade with Saddam Hussein. We would like to see his regime isolated.

Q Could we just go back to Barry's question that he opened up with, which is, does the U.S. want to renegotiate 986? Yes, we know Boutros Ghali has suspended it, but there's a difference between suspending it and renegotiating the terms.

MR. BURNS: 986 is frozen right now. Think of it as frozen.

Q It's frozen.

MR. BURNS: It's an operation that would require a tremendous amount of people on the ground -- not Iraqis but U.N. personnel -- to implement it, to run the program, to monitor it so there would be no cheating by Saddam Hussein. You simply can't implement a program like that and take care of the security of the people who would have to work on it in a situation where he's put 40,000 to 50,000 troops over a line. We cannot in good conscience -- none of us in the international community -- go forward with that. I don't believe there's any country that is asserting right now, beyond perhaps Iraq, that 986 should go forward this week or next week, for those very practical reasons.

Q There's a difference between halting it and freezing it and going back to the terms that the U.S. agreed upon a few weeks ago. Barry asked you, you were going to --

MR. BURNS: There's no need to renegotiate anything right now. The program is frozen. Until the Secretary General decides to resurrect it, there really will be very little international conversation about that.

Now if he decides to, we'll obviously have to have a full discussion about this. But that time is clearly not now.

Q Can you be specific on how the United States intends to continue its diplomatic efforts with the Kurds?

MR. BURNS: We think it's in our best interests and theirs not to give up on the idea that the best solution for the people -- the Kurdish population -- is to have some kind of renewed understanding between these two groups. They have had, over the past five years, to be fair -- times when they've cooperated moderately well; they've had times when they've been fighting each other. Now is one of those times.

So we would like to try to use our influence, working with the Turks and others, to get the situation back to that point.

I'm not in a position to announce any specific meetings. I think we ought to let the dust settle a little bit before that's going to be possible. But I do want to reaffirm our interest in going forward with those discussions.

Q What was your decision to extend the no-flights over southern Iraq? Also, are you seeing unilateral action like military action? Did you discuss --

MR. BURNS: Let me say very clearly that the decision to extend the fly zone in southern Iraq from 32 to 33 degrees is being supported by all of our coalition partners -- by Turkey, by Britain, by France; that they have renewed to us their commitment to work with us to enforce the "no-flight" zones, including the extension of the southern "no-flight" zone.

Q Does it need to be sanctioned by the U.N.?

MR. BURNS: Excuse me?

Q Does it need to be sanctioned by the U.N.?

MR. BURNS: It does not need to be sanctioned by the United Nations, no. And the United Nations has not sought that --the United Nations has not sought that since 1991. This is an agreement put in place by the coalition partners, and we will continue to enforce it. I believe there is allied unity and unanimity on that question this afternoon.

Q Does the southern "no-fly" zone include also the rule of no movement of troops, or something like that?

MR. BURNS: Clearly, if it's a "no-flight" zone.

Q No flight?

MR. BURNS: It's a "no-flight" zone. It is what it means to be, when it says it is.

Q (Inaudible).

MR. BURNS: Excuse me?

Q In the north, it's something --

MR. BURNS: There's a "no-flight" zone in the north; there's a "no-flight" zone in the south.

Q And there's a no (inaudible) line 32?

MR. BURNS: Excuse.

Q There's a no-drive zone for Iraqi troops?

MR. BURNS: Secretary Perry answered that question this morning.

Q (Inaudible) how the Secretary will use this trip to Europe this week to discuss this issue?

MR. BURNS: The Secretary planned this trip almost a month and a half, two months ago. It is a trip designed to touch base with three of our most important allies in the world -- United Kingdom, France, and Germany -- about the leading issues that all of us have to work on together this autumn on Bosnia, on the Middle East, on NATO issues, on certainly our relationships with the former Soviet Union -- including the Russian Government, which are quite good -- all three governments having good relations with those countries.

I do want to point back to the speech that the Secretary will be giving on Friday in Stuttgart which will be a major reaffirmation of our policy towards Germany and our European policy.

Having had Saddam Hussein undertake this military gambit, the issue of northern Iraq now becomes a major issue for the trip the Secretary will take starting tomorrow. I would expect in London, in Paris, in Bonn -- that there will be very detailed discussions about what we can continue to do together to implement the "no-fly" zones -- to maintain "Operation Provide Comfort" and to maintain the very clear international pressure that currently exists to condemn Saddam Hussein -- and to try to beat him back to withdraw his troops.

What was very positive about the French Government statement this morning was that it was very clear that the French Government does not countenance the military activities of Saddam Hussein and wishes him to withdraw. We certainly support the French Government in that desire.

Q Will the Secretary discuss the future of Boutros Ghali with the allies?

MR. BURNS: That issue often comes up in our discussions. It wouldn't surprise me if -- I don't think it's one of the major issues -- front-line issues, but it certainly, I think, will come up.

Q About Colombia. Do you have any reaction about the Cali cartel kingpin, "Pacho" Herrera who surrendered last week in Colombia?

MR. BURNS: We congratulate the Colombian National Police for keeping sustained pressure on Mr. Herrera and forcing his surrender.

As we've noted in past cases, traffickers sometimes continue to run their business operations out of prison in Colombia. They don't lose their illegal proceeds and they're able to sometimes negotiate quite negligible prison sentences.

We are urging the Colombian Government to keep its eyes focused on that particular problem. When people are arrested; it's a very good thing when drug kingpins are arrested. But the Colombian Government needs to take better care to make sure they don't continue their drug operations from prison.

President Samper, when he took office, promised to address these problem. We would very much hope that the Colombian Government would do so -- but we do congratulate the Colombian Government on this action.

Q Did the U.S. Government request to be extradited?

MR. BURNS: We certainly remain convinced that the best interim measure -- in the case of jailed drug kingpins, would be to extradite them to the United States because we know that in the United States they would receive a fair trial, but they would receive a trial which we would hope would focus very much on their illegal actions. They would receive swift and sure justice in the United States.

Q My last question, Nick. Does the U.S. Government consider this to be the end of the Cali cartel?

MR. BURNS: I don't think anybody can declare the end of the Cali cartel with any degree of confidence. But, clearly, we hope that the Colombian Government will continue its fight against the Cali cartel. As you know, the United States Government is quite willing to participate in that fight with the Colombian Government.

Q Can you just clarify --

Q Nick, a follow-up.

Q No, this is Colombia, too. -- U.S. policy with regard to the FARC guerrillas in Colombia that Ambassador Frechette recently made a statement indicating that there was no connection between this guerrilla activity and the narcotics trade in Colombia, whereas Barry McCaffrey has, on numerous occasions, also indicated that the guerrillas in the south -- FARC, in particular -- are involved in --

MR. BURNS: I'd like to take that question and get you a considered response.

Q Thank you.

(Press briefing concluded at 2:23 p.m.)

(###)

To the top of this page