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U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
Wednesday, September 4, l996


Wednesday, September 4, l996

                                                 Briefer: Glyn Davies


  Russian Foreign Minister's Comments re:  Expansion of
    "No-Fly" Zone/Security Council Approval ...............  1-2,12-13
  Resolutions 688 and 678/Saddam's Repression of Iraqi People .   2,10
  Reports of a Large Explosion in Downtown Baghdad ............  2
  Compliance Necessary by Iraq/Pattern of Saddam's Behavior ...  3-4
  Saddam Hussein's Control of Government/Military .............  4-5
  Status of Coalition/Support for Action Against Iraq .........  5
  Other Foreign Governments' Reaction/Support/Concern .........  5-6
  Diplomatic Consultations re Action Against Iraq .............  6
  U.S. Position on the Territorial Integrity of Iraq ..........  6-7,12
  Status of "Provide Comfort" and "Southern Watch" in Iraq ....  7
  Reported Turkish Government Decision re "Land Operation"
   into Iraq Against PKK ......................................  7-8
  Reported Turkish Government Proposal to Set Up "Security
    Zone" in Northern Iraq ....................................  8
  UN Decision on Suspension of Implementation of Res. 986 ...  8-9
  --Statement by UN Representative on Resolution 986 ..........  8
  --Tightening of World Oil Supplies/State Department Position  9-10
  Basis for U.S. Actions Against Iraq .........................  10-11
  Targets of U.S. Strikes in Iraq .............................  11
  Concerns About Iranian and Others' Activities in Iraq .......  12
  U.S. Contacts with Kurdish Factions .........................  12
  Reports Iraqi Planes Flying in "No-Fly" Zone ................  13
  --Countries Participating in Patrolling the "No-Fly" Zone ....  14-15

  Israeli PM Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat Meeting Today ......  15
  --U.S. Role in Facilitating Meeting .........................  15
  Palestinian Donors Conference Begins Tomorrow at Department .  15-16
  --Goals/Prospects for Additional Contributions ..............  16

  Various Guerrilla Actions in Mexico and Colombia ............  16-17

  Possible U.S.-China Foreign Ministers Mtg at UNGA ...........  17



DPB #141



MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I'd like to acknowledge some visitors to the briefing. A group of Foreign Service National employees of the U.S. Information Agency are with us today. They're in the United States with the Media Information Program. Welcome to you on both sides of the room.

I understand that their nationalities are Brazilian, Algerian, Czech, Romanian, Nepalese, South African, Palestinian, Polish, Cypriot, Cambodianand Chilean. So welcome again.

That's it for announcements.

QUESTION: Mr. Primakov, on Iraq, is saying that expansion of the "no- fly"zone requires Security Council approval. What is the United States' positionon that?

MR. DAVIES: The "no-fly" zone, of course, was set up pursuant to a UN Security Council resolution but was not spelled out -- it depends on which one you're talking about. You're talking about the southern "no- fly" zone expansion -- southern "no-fly" zone.

But in point of fact, that "no-fly" zone is a matter between the United States, France, the U.K., and those are the countries that are enforcing the "no-fly" zone that have set it up.

It's set up pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions but is not something that the United Nations needs to consider.

We use the authority we have as the nation, along with others in the coalition who enforce the UN Security Council Resolution, to set it up and to enforce it. The extension is simply an extension of the "no-fly" zone that we, ourselves, set up.

QUESTION: So the position then is that the Permanent Members of the Security Council had no say then in any change in the boundaries of that zone?

MR. DAVIES: We've been consulting with the Russians extensively. In fact, the Russians themselves, I think, described the consultations as constant, around the clock consultations up to the point where this decision was made. We'll continue to discuss with the Russians the actions that we've taken, but the action has been taken. The "no-fly" zone has been extended, and we will in our diplomatic dialogue with the Russians continue to answer their questions and describe the logic behind our extending the "no-fly" zone.

QUESTION: On Security Council resolutions, yesterday Nick brought up Number 688, which demands that Saddam Hussein stop repressing his own people. But it doesn't have any trigger mechanism. It doesn't have any hammer. It just says that if, in fact, it is violated, then the United Nations Security Council will remain seized of the matter. In other words, would have to come back and do something.

Are you using -- is the U.S. Government using Number 688 as the basis for any of the actions taken during the past 48 hours?

MR. DAVIES: Jim, I think you'd have to look at 688 in conjunction with, I believe 687, if I have it right. There are several UN Security Council resolutions that are relevant here. I'm sorry, 678, which says that all necessary means to uphold and implement the Security Council resolutions should be employed to restore peace and security. That's a paraphrase. That's not a direct quote. But 678 and 688 together, I think, form the basis for the action we took.

QUESTION: Glyn, there are reports of a large explosion in downtown Baghdad. Do you know anything about that and --

MR. DAVIES: Patrick, I've only just seen those reports, and I can't shed any light on that.

QUESTION: Why allow Iraq to have any military flights at all, anywhere in their territory, if our objective is to protect the southern flank, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia? The second question is: Should we not take away any threat from Iraq to Kuwait?

MR. DAVIES: The action that the United States took in striking at some of Saddam Hussein's military facilities was designed to demonstrate that his reckless acts have consequences, to reduce his ability to strike out against his neighbors and to increase our ability -- the U.S. ability -- and those of our coalition partners to deter future Iraqi violence and aggression.

In our view, the extension of the "no-fly" zone by one degree to the southern outskirts of Baghdad is at this time the right kind of measured and firm response that's needed in response to the actions he took.

QUESTION: What does the United States want to see Saddam do?

MR. DAVIES: We've made plain that Saddam has to comply with the "no-fly" zones. He has to cease his oppression of the Kurds, and we've also indicated that the military action he took, which was out of bounds and contravened the will of the international community, he should reverse that. He should withdraw south of Irbil -- move his forces back to the positions they occupied over a week ago.

QUESTION: How far south? How many miles?

MR. DAVIES: South of the 36th parallel where they began.

QUESTION: Just south of the 36th parallel then would be enough for the United States to back off?

MR. DAVIES: It's not a question of laying out a laundry list of things that Saddam Hussein must do. He must comply with all United Nations resolutions that are out there. I'm not going to go through in great detail with you. But it's not simply his military aggression against the Kurds that is at issue here. He continues to pursue weapons of mass destruction. He continues to defy the international community's efforts to get at his weapons of mass destruction program -- this is Mr. Ekeus of the United Nations and his inspection team -- and continues to drag his feet in the face of the various demands that the international community has laid out.

Until he heels to and complies with UN Security Council resolutions, he's going to remain on the wrong side of international law.

QUESTION: Has there been any including of Iraqi threats against their neighbors? You and other representatives of this government have repeatedly cited as a reason for this week's action as threats against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Were there any overt threats or any sense of threats in the last couple of weeks?

MR. DAVIES: Judd, I think what's important here is the pattern of Saddam Hussein's behavior in recent years and the threat that he continues to pose. Have we picked up a particular signal that Saddam Hussein is marching off in a direction to cross Iraq's international borders? I can't confirm that.

But I can clearly take you back half a decade, back to his invasion of Kuwait, his threatening of Saudi Arabia; just several years ago the moves he made again to threaten Kuwait.

QUESTION: Right, but the U.S. beefed up its forces in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in response to that threat and Saddam Hussein backed down. This time your action is different.

MR. DAVIES: In this case, we're talking about a different issue here. We're not talking about Saddam Hussein's threatening Kuwait. We're talking about Saddam Hussein crossing the 36th parallel, going into Irbil, attacking Kurds. There have been civilian casualties. We know that. Changing the situation on the ground in Irbil; unseating one Kurdish faction and installing another; essentially contravening 688, which says, "Thou shalt not oppress the Kurds in northern Iraq." That's what he's done that has led to the action that we took.

QUESTION: Right, and you struck southern Iraq and have also said in the same breath as defending -- as a motive of defending the Kurds is to deter aggression against Iraq's neighbors.

MR. DAVIES: That's correct. That's one of the reasons -- that's correct -- to remove some of his military capability so that he doesn't pose as great a threat to his neighbors. The bottom-line answer to your question is Saddam Hussein is a standing threat to his neighbors.

QUESTION: His very existence is a threat.

MR. DAVIES: That's correct, and his posture and his policies as declared.

QUESTION: Can you assess for us Saddam's hold on power right now -- your view of that?

MR. DAVIES: Probably not with any great degree of specificity. He appears to be very much in power. I'm not a student of Saddam Hussein and Iraq specifically, but I don't think there's much question in people's minds that he remains very firmly in control in Baghdad.

QUESTION: So you think he has firm control over the military? It's pretty clear?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to get into describing the wire diagram of the Iraqi regime and to what extent certain of his lines of command might be weak or not. He appeared quite capable of giving an order to 30-40,000 men to cross the 36th parallel and attack Irbil.

QUESTION: Can you give us any sense of where things are moving with the Persian Gulf coalition in terms of support for what we're doing there? I mean, it seems as though the Germans now are -- who approved the missile attacks -- are not happy about expansion of the "no-fly" zone. Are we seeing any movement in one direction or the other?

MR. DAVIES: I can't help you with that. I mean, the coalition remains very much intact; indeed, by our estimation was strengthened by the recent action, because what the United States did was step up very solidly and quickly to punish Saddam Hussein for having taken this action against the Kurds in northern Iraq.

So that was a demonstration of the resolve of the international community not to allow Saddam Hussein to act with impunity. The coalition is very much up and running and doing its work.

QUESTION: I don't understand how you define "intact" when several of the leading members of the coalition have been very outspokenly opposed to the missile attack.

MR. DAVIES: A coalition, as Nick discussed yesterday, is not a grouping of nations that will move in lockstep on every single issue that comes before the coalition. A coalition of nations acts based on certain basic principles. What you saw in all of the statements made by France, by Germany, and so on, was condemnation of what Saddam Hussein had done in northern Iraq.

You can all ask questions about the coalition and try to parse the words of one ally or another or their actions, but in point of fact we're all agreed quite solidly on one thing: Saddam Hussein is the problem, and his behavior was out of line.

QUESTION: The reaction seems to range, at best, from cool to tepid. There was very little endorsement beyond the British and --

MR. DAVIES: We got some solid endorsement -- Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, NATO, Germany.

QUESTION: What about in the region itself?

MR. DAVIES: There was endorsement from Kuwait. Others chose not to speak out too strongly in favor of the action that was taken. That, frankly, is immaterial to our having taken the action and to remaining on the course that we're on, which is to contain Saddam Hussein's aggression and to prevent him from becoming a threat to the stability of the region, because we all have -- and certainly the United States has -- a number of very key interests in that part of the world.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that the lack of enthusiasm, especially among states in the region, does not bode well for gathering all the forces together next time should the need occur?

MR. DAVIES: I don't think there's any particular concern in Washington that the reaction to the action we took spells any kind of broader trouble or longer-term trouble for the coalition.

Yes, Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: What is the State Department's reaction on the refusal of the Turkish Government not to allow the U.S. military forces to accomplish this operation against Iraq from Turkish soil?

MR. DAVIES: You weren't here yesterday, Mr. Lambros, were you?

QUESTION: No, I was not.

MR. DAVIES: You were not. Okay. We've really addressed this. We've walked through the action that the United States took and why it took that action. We're not going to be getting into the specifics of our diplomatic dialogue with various partners as we consulted with them in the run-up to the action that we took. We were satisfied with the consultations that we had and we're very satisfied with our rationale for having the action we did to stand up to Saddam Hussein.

QUESTION: Do you support an autonomous Kurdistan in northern Iraq?

MR. DAVIES: The action we've taken says nothing about our basic position on the territorial integrity of Iraq. That position hasn't changed.

QUESTION: Is "Operation Southern Watch," though, and "Provide Comfort," those are both going on as they always have? There's been no pause or suspension by any of the allies who allow you to operate that off their territory?

MR. DAVIES: My understanding is that both operations continue.

QUESTION: So the Turkish air force is still flying missions with the U.S., the British, and the French --

MR. DAVIES: Sid, I'm not aware of any change. I'm not aware of change.

QUESTION: In the south, the Saudis and so forth are allowing us to continue to use our -- to fly missions over Iraq?

MR. DAVIES: Again, I'm not aware of any change in their support.

QUESTION: Didn't the headquarters and staff of the liaison group pull out of northern Iraq?

MR. DAVIES: That's correct.

QUESTION: That doesn't hinder the operation?

MR. DAVIES: You're getting into some very technical kinds of military questions. Is it better to have those couple of dozen people there to do the job they do? I'm not totally conversant with what they were there to do other than, in general, to support that operation. So I suppose if I were in the military, I would have preferred to have kept that cell there doing the job they did. But, no, the work goes forward.

QUESTION: The Turkish Government announced that they were considering a land operation into northern Iraq. Do you know if there have been consultations with the Turks on the matter?

MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry, who was considering a land operation?

QUESTION: The Turkish Government announced that there could be a land operation into northern Iraq against the PKK organization.

MR. DAVIES: That is news to me. I've not seen those reports.

QUESTION: A follow-up to that, please?

MR. DAVIES: Sure. Please. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Turkish officials in London say that they have decided to set up a security zone in northern Iraq. The KDP has been called in in Ankara to be told that that is true. Do you have any information about that? And, if so, do you have any reaction to it?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have any information about it. I'm happy to look into that, but I don't. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: If Iraq should meet the three conditions you outlined before, would that be sufficient for the U.S. to agree to the oil deal to go through? Or, if not, what further steps would have to --

MR. DAVIES: The decision by the United Nations, which they made to suspend implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 986, the so- called "oil-for-food" deal, was made based on the inability of the United Nations given the circumstances in northern Iraq to insert the kind of personnel to do the work of implementing 986 -- the monitors, and so forth.

That situation is a bit different from what Saddam has to do vis-a-vis the position the United States has taken on this aggression. In point of fact, we'll just have to see whether conditions down the road warrant getting back to 986 and implementing 986 and putting monitors in place. But Saddam Hussein has really shot himself in the foot by doing what he's done. He is the one who has prevented 986 from going forward now and prevented the monitors from being put in place and prevented this oil from flowing which, of course, would be needed in order to purchase humanitarian goods and food for the Iraqi people.

So he has changed the situation. We'll simply have to see whether he will reverse himself, whether he can, once again, create conditions for 986 to go forward.

QUESTION: Didn't the U.S. say at the UN yesterday that negotiations would have to be reopened on the agreement?

MR. DAVIES: We'll simply have to wait and see. There was a statement put out by Ambassador Skip Gnehm who briefed the Security Council on the actions that were taken. But, again, Saddam Hussein has taken 986 and he has very brusquely swept it off the table for now.

Much of this is up to Saddam Hussein, as it was during the negotiations on 986 itself. Of course he dragged his feet for many, many months as the international community tried to work out with him how we could implement 986 sufficiently well to assure ourselves that Saddam was not going to take some of these funds and spend them on commodities other than those needed for the humanitarian relief of the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: A follow-up to that question. Just this morning the Deputy Energy Secretary, in testimony before the Senate, noted that oil supplies are very tight, inventories are low and the market had been counting on this Iraqi crude coming back into the market later this month. Since that's obviously not going to happen probably for a few months, is the State Department concerned at all about tightening world oil supplies and tightening supplies here in the U.S.?

MR. DAVIES: I can't report to you any concern at the State Department about that. That's not something that I've asked specifically about, so I don't want to mislead you.

QUESTION: Or whether it's true? Or the State Department knows it's true and doesn't care? Which is it, that you don't care?

MR. DAVIES: This is all prospective. We're talking about "ifs, thens" and we're talking about speculating --

QUESTION: It's not really an "if, then" because the market had been anticipating this oil would be flowing later this month. Mr. Curtis said this morning it's not going to flow for at least 60 days, which takes us to after the election which other people are saying it's a key point. It's not an "if." The market is going to be tight.

We saw what happened earlier this year with the rise in gasoline prices and the Administration got involved. Are we going to see a -- is the State Department concerned at all about that?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not a petroleum analyst, and I haven't specifically asked the question. What I can't do is take you into how our econometricians and chaos theorists have looked at the -- I mean, I just don't know.

QUESTION: When the Department decides at the UN and gives some advice to Madeleine Albright, does it take into concern the energy implications?

MR. DAVIES: I don't mean to be flip. There are plenty of people in this building who do important work, many of them work on petroleum issues and the petroleum sector. I'm certain that those people are following this very closely and are working out what kinds of policies the United States should adopt.

What I can't do for you, because it's not something I've looked into, is help you with that in any way. Sorry.


QUESTION: I'm still trying to pin down the basis for the U.S. action. As I understand it, the U.S. position is that the territory of Iraq, as far as the United States is concerned, is still what it was. The Government of Iraq has overall sovereignty over that territory; is that right?

MR. DAVIES: That's correct.

QUESTION: As to the --

MR. DAVIES: But the sovereignty is not complete, clearly, because the United Nations, to a certain extent, has put in place conditions to bound Saddam Hussein's behavior. One of the conditions is spelled out in 688. It says he should not do anything to oppress the Kurds.

QUESTION: But it doesn't say anything in 688 about not going north of the 36th parallel. Do I understand correctly that what the United States is objecting to is not that the Iraqi troops have gone north but what they have done after they have arrived there?

MR. DAVIES: Just in terms of -- that's correct. I don't believe 688 says anything about Iraqi troops movements, per se, or where they can or can't go. But that's not the issue here. The issue is that Saddam Hussein has moved in a very aggressive way. He has attacked a city in northern Iraq -- Irbil. Kurdish civilians have been victimized by Saddam Hussein.

We called on him before he took that action not to do it and warned him that there would be consequences. So he was quite clear on that.

In the wake of the action he took, the message to Saddam Hussein is: You should abide by UN Security Council resolutions, including 688 -- according to which he should not be conducting any oppressive actions against the Kurds. There's been some redeployment. I can't speak to that. I'm not an intelligence analyst and don't have that information to share with you.

I can't report to you today that Saddam Hussein has returned Irbil to the status-quo ante and has removed his forces to their former positions.

QUESTION: How exactly did the U.S. Government convey to him the warning to avoid certain actions above the 36th parallel?

MR. DAVIES: We were asked all those questions kind of in the event, when all this was going on, and we chose and I choose again today not to get into the mechanics of how we did it.

What I can assure you is that they had the message in no uncertain terms. They knew the seriousness with which the United States viewed the situation. They knew that there would be consequences.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. asked any Gulf members of the coalition to pay for this air strike?

MR. DAVIES: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: From the U.S. point of view, is the possibility of the internationalization of the conflict an issue? Say, now you have the possibility of Turkish invention, but it's also the regional interests of Syria and Iran?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have any concerns to report to you along those lines. One of the reasons we took the action we did was to prevent Saddam Hussein from continuing to be as great a threat regionally as he was before.

QUESTION: To the north? You have prevented him to move to the south but not to the north. Syria and Iran are to the north.

MR. DAVIES: What we've done -- officials from the Defense Department have explained this in great detail -- we have attacked Saddam Hussein's center, his strategic center, the assets that are most precious to him -- command and control assets, anti-aircraft assets. We chose to react to the events of recent days by choosing targets that were in our interests to destroy. Those are the targets we destroyed. They weaken Saddam Hussein. They weaken him militarily, and, in a general sense, they reduce his ability to pose a threat to the region.

QUESTION: What I'm meaning to ask is not the possibility of Saddam Hussein to act aggressively. This is also the situation where the whole web of problems is stirred. The Kurds are also inhabitating those regions in Syria and Iran and Turkey as well.

MR. DAVIES: What is your question? We've called on both Iraq and Iran not to stir up the Kurdish pot in northern Iraq. We've made that call on both countries.

QUESTION: Since, as you stated, you do not support the formation of an autonomous Kurdistan in northern Iraq, who then is in charge of the territorial integrity and who exercises sovereign rights in that crucial area?

MR. DAVIES: The situation in northern Iraq is a very complicated one, quite clearly, Mr. Lambros. Iraq, formally speaking, has sovereignty over that territory. But the international community, through the coalition in which the United States participates with other countries, has in recent years been acting on a humanitarian basis to assist the Kurds in northern Iraq to avoid starvation; to the extent they've been able to do it, to try to get together and avoid internal conflict. We saw a very dramatic development in this invasion by Saddam Hussein, which is to say that the inter-Kurdish conflict flared up again and made much more complicated the task of effecting a reconciliation between the two. That remains the long-term goal of U.S. policy, however.

QUESTION: Has this Administration had any direct contacts with the KDP leadership after the strikes started?

MR. DAVIES: We continue to maintain contacts with both the KDP and the PUK.

QUESTION: What's the demand from --

MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to get into our discussions with both of those parties, but we remain in contact with them.

QUESTION: Glyn, how does the United States Government respond to Russian Government criticism, specific criticism, that the United States is claiming the role of supreme arbiter? And then the issue that's already been raised, the United States is attempting to replace the Security Council which has the exclusive right to sanction the use of force, according to the Russians. How do you respond?

MR. DAVIES: We've responded at a number of different levels yesterday and today to those kinds of charges. We took the action we took from the standpoint of the interests of the United States. We have interests in that region, including the flow of oil to the United States and our allies, the stability of the region.

We took the action within the context of UN Security Council resolutions, which set up boundaries to Saddam Hussein's behavior. So we have a solid rationale and a solid basis in our own interests for having taken the action we took. We've explained that to our partners.

QUESTION: So the United States is not claiming the role of supreme arbiter? We reject that criticism by the Russians?

MR. DAVIES: I don't think there's any need to reject something like that. It's obvious that the United States is acting within an international context here and is not acting outside the realm of UN Security Council resolutions.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. DAVIES: Sure. Great. Any more on Iraq? Yes?

QUESTION: There are reports that the Iraqis are flying in the "no-fly" zone. What is American --

MR. DAVIES: I've not seen those reports. As of noon today, local time, any Iraqi planes that take flight in the "no-fly" zones are doing so at their own peril.

QUESTION: I must be slow-witted, but why, when the Iraqi movement took place to the north, did they extend the fly zone from the south?

MR. DAVIES: What I'm going to do to spare your colleagues is -- I mean, you can go back yesterday to what the President had to say, what Nick Burns had to say.

QUESTION: I know (inaudible).

MR. DAVIES: I mean, we took --

QUESTION: You must think I'm slow-witted.

MR. DAVIES: No, no. Let me encapsulate it real quick. We took an action that was in our interest when we extended the "no-fly" zone and when we hit the targets that we hit in central Iraq. The idea is to further weaken Saddam Hussein's ability to pose a threat to his neighbors and to strengthen our ability to enforce the "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq, and frankly, to send a message to Saddam Hussein -- a very direct message -- that the aggression that he embarked on could not go unanswered. So it was a direct answer to his aggression as well.

QUESTION: What countries are participating in the patrol of the new "no- fly" zone?

MR. DAVIES: You'd probably have to ask the Pentagon precisely what's been happening since it was set up. We're talking about a "no-fly" zone --

QUESTION: There's only two other countries that are flying it. Are both those countries -- France, Great Britain -- flying missions with the United States in the new "no-fly" zone?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to report to you that would help you on that. As far as I know, the "no-fly" zone has been set up and it's being enforced.

QUESTION: By the United States and its allies, or just by the United States? A pretty pertinent question, actually.

MR. DAVIES: It may be a pertinent question. What I can't do for you right now is shed any light on today what planes have actually participated in that. I mean, we've seen some statements out of Paris, for instance, that the French may be looking at the implications of the extension of the "no-fly" zone from their standpoint. But France remains very much a valued partner of the United States. They've played an important role in the coalition, and the Secretary of State in the next 24 hours will in fact be in Paris to discuss this latest action with the French.

QUESTION: Could you just take that question, as of today, what countries are patrolling the new "no-fly" zone? Just a fact.

MR. DAVIES: It really is a Pentagon question. I'm happy to look into it for you to see if we can get something for you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) would you expect both of those other countries to be assisting us in patrolling the extended "no-fly" zone?

MR. DAVIES: The Secretary of Defense said as much today.

QUESTION: The Pentagon said this morning that the French would be participating, but then there was an announcement in Paris that they were not participating. So there's a clear contradiction in that. If you could really take the question.

MR. DAVIES: You would have to ask the French what the state of play is within their government today. What I can report to you is that France remains a member of the coalition and that we will continue to discuss with the French this matter in the coming hours and days.

QUESTION: Would you take the question?


QUESTION: What does the U.S. think about the Netanyahu-Arafat meeting?

MR. DAVIES: We welcome it. This is a very positive development from the standpoint of the United States. It's a very important step in creating the kind of atmosphere that we believe is necessary for successful implementation of Israeli/Palestinian agreements. It also shows a commitment on the part of the Israelis and the Palestinians to work to resolve their differences through negotiations.

We, the United States, will continue to facilitate those efforts in any way we can. This is a very positive development.

QUESTION: What sort of pressure did the U.S. have to apply to facilitate this meeting?

MR. DAVIES: It's not useful from our standpoint to get into our role in the dialogue between the two. We've tried where we can to be helpful as the Israelis and the Palestinians worked to get past some of the very serious differences that have arisen in recent weeks and months.

We plan to continue to play that role to the extent the parties would like us to, but today is a very good day on that track of the peace process.

QUESTION: On the U.S. role, there are reports from out there that the United States informed Netanyahu that if he didn't meet with Arafat, he should forget about his meeting with President Clinton next week. Is that true?

MR. DAVIES: Jim, what I can't do is take you into our confidential diplomatic dialogue with Israel. I'm not going to sit here and give you chapter and verse on our dialogue with the Israelis. To me that sounds a little bit blunt for the kind of high-level dialogue that we maintain with the Israelis.

QUESTION: Does the Palestinian donors conference start tomorrow? Do you have anything to say about that?

MR. DAVIES: Nothing, except in general that in fact it does start tomorrow -- the Palestinian donors conference. It will be here in this building. I believe -- I've checked this because I was asked -- that Dennis Ross will be in the Chair for the United States. Perhaps tomorrow we can give you more detail on it.

QUESTION: What are the goals of the --

MR. DAVIES: It's another step in the process that has been underway for some time to look at ways to promote the development of the Palestinian areas economically, and the United States has been very involved in that process, as have been a number of other nations.

QUESTION: What sort of things do you think the -- need to happen in those areas for the Palestinians to develop themselves economically? More money, better management, less closure?

MR. DAVIES: We'll be sharing our ideas with our partners tomorrow as we work through these issues. But in general the United States has been very active in seeking ways to develop those areas. I can take you back, for instance, to the Amman Economic Summit in the fall of last year where a major effort was made to find public/private partnerships; to find investment for Palestinian business opportunities, and in other ways to try to set up regimes that would help the Palestinian people develop themselves. This is part of it. It's a longer-term process. Tomorrow is not the be-all and end-all of the process, but we'll keep working at it tomorrow.

QUESTION: Will the U.S. be donating any new money to that effort?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to report on that.

Anything else?

QUESTION: Are you having any success in having Chairman Gilman remove his hold on the $10 million for the Palestinians?

MR. DAVIES: Unfortunately, I don't have any success to report to you, and we've made clear that we believe that hold should be lifted. But, as far as I know, it's still the case that there is still a hold on those funds.

QUESTION: I have one more on Mexico and Colombia, if I may. Glyn, within the last week there's been a terrible setback by communist guerrillas in Colombia. Over 100 Colombian troops killed or capture. Also, in Mexico another slaughter by Maoist/Leninist communist guerrillas.

Does the State Department have any knowledge of any collusion or cooperation between these two particular groups; that they should be hitting these governments in a coordinated way?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have any information on that, Bill. I really don't.

Any other questions?

QUESTION: It was reported today in The Wall Street Journal that a senior official in the Mexican Government blamed European terrorists for the recent rebel attacks in various parts of Mexico. Do you have anything on that?

MR. DAVIES: I really don't. I can't help with that kind of a link.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on U.S.-China foreign ministers' meeting in New York?

MR. DAVIES: I don't. Do you have a more specific question? I mean, whether one will occur during the UNGA upcoming?


MR. DAVIES: I believe it's our position that we would like very much to have such a meeting, but I can't at this stage give you a date and time or confirm that one will take place.

QUESTION: Which subjects will come up?

MR. DAVIES: That's awfully speculative. We have a real broad relationship with the Chinese, everything from intellectual property rights to human rights to China-Taiwan relations, to regional issues. I don't need to go through the laundry list. Every time we meet with the Chinese, we go through quite a long list of subjects, and I expect that if Secretary Christopher meets with Qian Qichen in New York, which I believe we hope will take place, he'll go through the whole list.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. DAVIES: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:54 p.m.)


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