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

.
                          U.S. Department of State
                            Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, September 5, l996

                                              Briefer: Glyn Davies

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS

  Ad Hoc Liaison Committee Mtg/Donors Conference Begins .......  1
  --Background Briefing on Meeting Scheduled Later Today ......  1

DEPARTMENT
  Secretary Christopher's Meetings in London and Paris Today ..  1

RUSSIA
  Reports on President Yeltsin's Health .....................   1-2
  --U.S. Contacts with Russian Officials ......................  16

IRAQ
  Situation Update/Withdrawal of Iraqi Troops from N. Iraq ....  2,3
  Secretary's Meetings with French Officials/Secretary's
    Comments on the Status of Operations .................  2-3,9-10
  Reports of Large Explosions in Downtown Baghdad ...............  3
  Turkish Government Intent to Establish a "Buffer Zone" in
    Northern Iraq/Prevention of PKK Infiltration ...3-8,12-14, 15-16
  Reports Turkish Troops Have Entered Northern Iraq ...........  5-6
  U.S. Position on the Territorial Integrity of Iraq ......8-9,10-11
  Whereabouts of Civilians Arrested by Iraqi Troops ............   9
  U.S. Contacts with Kurdish Factions .........................  13
  Countries Participating in Patrolling "No-Fly" Zones .........  14-15
  Foreign Governments' Reactions to Action Against Iraq .......  16

MISCELLANEOUS
  Islamic Conference in London/U.S. Position on Conference ....  17

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
  Status of Bosnia Elections ..................................  17-18
  Status of Open Broadcast Network ............................  18

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #142

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1996, 1:18 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. A couple of quick announcements, if you'll permit me. Will you permit me, George?

First off, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee is meeting today in the Department.This is a meeting that was scheduled for some time to discuss a variety ofissues, including implementation of projects in Palestinian areas -- budgetary questions, donor coordination, and to look for ways to address the economic situation of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza.

It's one of a series of these Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meetings. Norway is in the Chair. There are a good 15 or so countries represented. The good news for you is that when it's over, we will provide a BACKGROUND briefing right here for you. That could occur around 5:00, maybe earlier or maybe later.We'll see when it wraps up.

Secondly, just to point out to you that the Secretary of State today is performing a diplomatic hat trick. He started off the day in London meeting with Foreign Secretary Rifkind. He had breakfast with Foreign Secretary Rifkind. He did a press availability afterward which some of you have seen.

Then he went to Paris where he had several meetings, including with Foreign Minister de Charette and President Chirac. This evening he is off to Germany. So three countries in one day, as he continues his brief trip to Europe this week.

Finally, on the subject of President Boris Yeltsin's health, some of you have noted the fact that President Yeltsin today acknowledged that he has undergone some routine medical checks. During those checks, his doctors have found something wrong with his heart. His doctors are providing him with some recommendations for how to proceed.

I simply want to say on behalf of the United States that we, of course, wish President Yeltsin well as he undergoes whatever treatment is agreed upon between his doctors and himself. I think Mike McCurry had something to say just minutes ago along the same lines reflecting the views of the President.

With that, George, your questions.

QUESTION: Could you update us on the situation in northern Iraq?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know that there's much of an update to give you militarily. What I can tell you is that the Iraqis have pulled back most of their mechanized forces from the vicinity of Irbil. Of course, the Pentagon can help you with any further comment on the details of Iraqi deployments.

I'd like to make one kind of general point, which is that it's important not to maintain a narrow focus on Iraqi deployments in making any assessment of the overall situation in the north.

Saddam has already done severe damage to the interests of his Kurdish citizens in the area. For example, he's reintroduced a massive security presence in the area under cover of these deployments. This gives him a new, and we think troubling, ability to intimidate Kurds and others in the north. So his troops remain very much a threat to Iraq's civilian population in the north, and we will continue to assess that threat and, indeed, the threat elsewhere in Iraq as we decide on U.S. actions.

QUESTION: You say mechanized troops have pulled out of Irbil. They haven't necessarily gone south of the 36th parallel?

MR. DAVIES: You would want to talk to the Pentagon if you want to get anymore specific information. The information we've got is that they have left Irbil, the city center.

QUESTION: The President yesterday gave every indication that things have cooled down considerably and the United States is backing off. The French issued a statement just a few hours ago saying that they were assured by Christopher that the operation is over.

Now you're saying that it's continuing. I don't understand which it is.

MR. DAVIES: Did I say the U.S. operation was continuing? I don't think I did. I simply noted the disposition of Iraqi troops, and that they remain a threat to civilians in northern Iraq.

As far as U.S. actions are concerned, the Secretary, in Paris today in his meetings, including with President Chirac, did report that the United States has, for the time being, stopped its air strikes. That's well known to anybody who has followed the news in recent hours.

He also indicated to the French that the United States reserves the right to take any action at any time in the future.

We are very pleased, and the Secretary expressed this, that the French, after having examined the actions the United States has taken, have decided to remain very much an active participant in the coalition's efforts to enforce both "no-fly" zones.

Laura.

QUESTION: You acknowledge that Iraqi forces are still in the area. You cannot -- I'm sure you're aware that the PUK today has said that Iraqi tanks have actually been participating in some of the continued fighting?

MR. DAVIES: We've seen those reports, and I can't confirm those for you. I don't have anything on that.

Bill.

QUESTION: The question was asked yesterday, and there's been quite a bit of confirmation since, about a dozen large explosions in the Baghdad suburbs. Does the United States deny that there was any kind of cruise missile attack against that particular part of Iraq?

MR. DAVIES: Bill, we've denied it several times over the last 24 hours. The United States did not attack Baghdad as part of our recent action against Iraqi air defense installations. We do not know the cause of those explosions.

QUESTION: That was my second question.

MR. DAVIES: Okay. Judd.

QUESTION: Do you have any more formal response to the Turkish notification of their intent or desire to set up a security zone along the Iraqi border?

MR. DAVIES: Yes. The Turks did indicate to us that they intend to set up a very thin, what they call a buffer zone or cordon that would be over the border into Iraq along the Turkish border.

Deputy Prime Minister Ciller has, however, publicly stated that Turkish troops were not preparing an operation into northern Iraq but were preparing to prevent PKK infiltrations into Turkey.

The Turkish Government has assured us that no troops will be stationed in Iraq and that the zone will be temporary. As we've said repeatedly, we recognize the right of Turkey to defend itself against terrorism emanating from the PKK.

QUESTION: Is that a green light?

MR. DAVIES: The United States isn't in the business of giving green or red lights.

QUESTION: But you're not objecting?

MR. DAVIES: It's not our sovereign territory.

QUESTION: But you're not objecting?

MR. DAVIES: We've taken note of what the Turks have indicated to us. We understand and are with them in their fight against PKK terrorism. I think it's important to underscore some of the assurances that the Turks have put out publicly. One, that no troops will be stationed in Iraq; and, two, that the zone will, in fact, only be temporary.

QUESTION: When you talk about "station troops," they assured that troops won't be stationed in Iraq. You mean permanently stationed in Iraq?

MR. DAVIES: It's a temporary zone. So, yes.

QUESTION: When you say temporary, "temporary" could mean 10 minutes, it could mean, as in southern Lebanon, 10 or 15 years?

MR. DAVIES: Sid, we'll have to wait and see. I can't help you with what "temporary" means. That's the assurance they've given us.

QUESTION: So you were satisfied with this vague assurance of no troops temporarily or permanently stationed; and only a temporary presence. You didn't ask how long, how many troops, what are you going to do?

MR. DAVIES: Of course, we're asking the Turks questions about precisely what this means. I'm giving you a preliminary indication based on their announcement yesterday of their decision to set up a very thin buffer zone along the Iraqi border. They've said to us, this doesn't involve any stationing of troops, and this is only temporary in this five-to-ten kilometer wide buffer zone.

QUESTION: Presumably, they could into that zone --

MR. DAVIES: Presumably, they would.

QUESTION: But not stay?

MR. DAVIES: That's presumably what all of this means.

QUESTION: But if they thought PKK terrorists were using that area as a staging ground, they might go in and take action?

MR. DAVIES: They've put this action in the context of their fight against PKK terrorism, and we take them at their word.

QUESTION: And you are with -- as you say, you're with the Turks on this new policy?

MR. DAVIES: This is not our buffer zone. This is something that they've set up. We have not raised any objections to the action that they've announced. No.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: But according to reports, the Turkish military forces already invaded northern Iraq today at the request of the Massoud Barzani group, and the prior approval -- that's the most important part -- of Iran and Iraq. Would you approve this Turkish invasion against innocent Kurdish people?

MR. DAVIES: Mr. Lambros, I can't help you with any Turkish invasion of northern Iraq. The information I have is that Turkish troops are not preparing any kind of an operation into northern Iraq.

What this buffer zone precisely means, whether or not Turkish personnel are going to go into the buffer zone or not, we can speculate and I've already done so, always dangerous to do. It may, in fact, mean Turkish troops or Turkish individuals working for the Turkish Government will be going across there. I don't know precisely. They have told us that this does not mean invasion. That is our understanding.

QUESTION: How do you describe, this is not an invasion, this is not an operation. What type of operation it is?

MR. DAVIES: Mr. Lambros, it's up to them to describe the operation. I'm simply giving you our understanding of it, and I've already give it to you.

QUESTION: But you are already in the area and --

MR. DAVIES: (Inaudible)

QUESTION: But you are already in the area, and you are taking various actions against other aggression. How -- why didn't you approve the other one?

MR. DAVIES: We do not view this as anything like the action that Saddam Hussein took. This is not at all in the same category. We take the Turks at this stage at their word that what they're talking about here is responding to the threat of PKK terrorism, and I have no information about any Turkish invasion of Iraq.

QUESTION: One more question. Did you notice that in that area at this very moment there are PKK members fighting against any group in that area? So you are justifying the Turkish action?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not justifying the Turkish action. I'm giving you the United States' reaction to what the Turks have told us and what they have said publicly. That's all I'm doing at this stage.

QUESTION: But did you notice PKK guerrillas in the area?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not in a position to give you an intelligence brief on what is occurring in the five to ten kilometers along the border between Turkey and Iraq. I'm just not in a position to do that.

QUESTION: I was going to ask about that. That's the figure given to you? Five to ten kilometers? (Inaudible)

MR. DAVIES: I have that information from press reports. I don't know specifically what they're talking about in terms of the depth. All I know is that it's been characterized as a thin buffer zone, and that's what we understand it to be.

QUESTION: And although you don't call it a "green light," Turks interpret this as a green light, and there are reports that Turkish troops are already over the border and so are the planes. After which the Russians said -- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivanov said today that they would call it an invasion, and they would require a U.S. Security Council decision on that. So I was wondering if the U.S. would consider any kind of Security Council action on this?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not aware that the Russians have made any call for the Security Council to meet to discuss this. That's new information for me, and I haven't seen any press reports that indicate that that's their intention.

QUESTION: But you wouldn't view it as a matter to be discussed at the Security Council?

MR. DAVIES: If the Russians make a formal call for the Security Council to consider this, we'll deal with that when it comes up. But I don't have any information that they've done that.

QUESTION: When the Turks communicated to you their intention to create this what you call "thin buffer zone," did they indicate that they would go no further into Iraq? Because, after all, a little more than a year ago 35,000 Turkish troops poured into northern Iraq to rout PKK terrorists -- guerrillas.

MR. DAVIES: Given that we're less than 24 hours from the point at which they announced this, I'm not in a position to kind of walk you through all of the sub-strata of questions that pertain to this. I'm not sure that tomorrow or the next day we'll want to get into that degree of detail about our diplomatic dialogue with the Turks. I certainly don't have anything like that to report to you today.

What we're underscoring here is that they've said they are establishing a thin security zone along the border, and we, of course, are seeking further information about it, and we will over the course of coming days.

QUESTION: My question is that they showed no compunction in the past of sending thousands of troops -- tens of thousands of troops into northern Iraq in pursuit of the PKK. Why sort of -- why delineate a limited buffer zone that would presumably limit their own action?

MR. DAVIES: You'd have to ask the Turks.

QUESTION: What would appear as what they've communicated to you?

MR. DAVIES: I mean, I can't help you with the Turkish logic on this, except --

QUESTION: No, I understand, but --

MR. DAVIES: They've said that they've done this. They've set up this security zone or buffer zone in order to combat PKK terrorism, and certainly on the question of the PKK, we have said many, many times that it's a terrorist organization and one of the most vicious, and that the Turks have the right to defend themselves against it.

Sid.

QUESTION: What does this say about your support for Iraqi territorial integrity? I mean, yesterday -- the other day you expanded the "no-fly" zone by a notch, and now you're letting -- you're giving Turkey the green light to take a little slice on the --

MR. DAVIES: I'd like to get away from the traffic signal business here. I mean, we're not --

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

MR. DAVIES: This is a world map. It's not a traffic signal. No, this doesn't change our view of Iraqi sovereignty in that part of Iraq -- in northern Iraq or southern Iraq or anywhere. We recognize Iraq's borders as they're generally understood. That's not the issue here.

QUESTION: The issue is Saddam's sovereignty over Iraqi territory?

MR. DAVIES: You're getting into a larger question, which is the boundaries that the international community has placed on Saddam over the last six years, based on the aggressive actions that he's taken over the years -- not just the Gulf War but since, in '91 and in '94. In various fashions he's gone against his own people. He's gone against Kuwait in the wake of the Gulf War; made menacing military moves towards Kuwait.

Because of all of that, the international community has set up a regime that's defined in a number of Security Council resolutions that is meant to constrict him, constrict his behavior and constrict his activity.

QUESTION: So you do draw a distinction between the territorial integrity of the country itself and Saddam's sovereignty over that territory.

MR. DAVIES: Maybe you're inventing kind of a new gradation of sovereignty. I don't know. But there is --

QUESTION: Well, generally the leader of the country has sovereignty over his nation. What you all are saying or doing is limiting his sovereignty over his nation, not the country's territorial integrity.

MR. DAVIES: We, the international community, in a manner of speaking that's a fair way to describe some of the Security Council resolutions that have been passed with regard to Iraq.

Howard.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea -- it's a day or two later now -- how many people were taken away by Saddam's forces and what their fate has been?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have any kind of a solid number. We've seen a lot of reports of his security forces going door to door. We've heard of arrests. We've even seen these reports of some summary executions.

I can't help you with any detail on that, because, of course, we weren't invited in to observe this particular action. It certainly has the ring of truth, given Saddam's past behavior, that his forces have engaged in this kind of brutal activity.

QUESTION: You said here yesterday that one of the things he has to do now is cease oppression of the Kurds, and then you just said today that while the tanks may be pulling back, he's left behind this massive security apparatus.

MR. DAVIES: Right.

QUESTION: How do those fit together?

MR. DAVIES: He remains a menace. Saddam Hussein and his forces remain a threat regardless of where the main body of his forces are. Saddam Hussein is a threat, and that's why it's important that the international community continue to enforce the "no-fly" zones, continue to implement UN Security Council Resolutions such as 688, which are meant to prevent him from going after his own people.

QUESTION: And if this is the case and the U.S. responded with missile strikes to this sort of behavior, why has the Administration been so quickto sort of call a halt or declare it a "mission accomplished"?

MR. DAVIES: What we did in conducting the missile strikes -- we responded to Saddam Hussein's aggression. Our action was meant to demonstrate that he will pay a price when he resorts to force. It was in effect a strategic response to a tactical move that he made -- a very aggressive tactical move that he made.

The response we chose was one in our own interest, and it was meant to weaken Saddam militarily, to send him a message, and to enable our forces and those of the coalition with a greater degree of safety to enforce the "no-fly" zones.

QUESTION: Haven't you -- getting back to Sid's question, haven't you de facto introduced a notion of limited sovereignty, that as soon as Saddam Hussein, who officially is the head of the sovereign Iraq of which this territory is a part according to the U.S. and United Nations -- you're all over him. But if Turkey or if Iran, as was the case earlier, make some kind of incursions into this Kurdish conflict, you say nothing. I mean, doesn't Saddam Hussein have a right as the head of his country officially to intervene in the conflict in which other countries are involved in his sovereign territory?

MR. DAVIES: Saddam Hussein does not have a right, according to UN Security Council 688, to attack his own people and to act aggressively against his own civilian population. 688 was set up to prevent Saddam from continuing the kinds of depredations against his own people that we saw, for instance, in 1991 when thousands of Iraqi Kurds were gassed by Saddam. We all remember the pictures of women and children lying dead as a result of his efforts to wipe out entire villages.

You have to put what he did in the context of his actions over the years in order to understand why the United States acted as it did.

QUESTION: A follow-up. What if there were outside forces involved in the conflict which also involved a section of the Kurdish population on Iraqi territory? Would he then not have a right to meet that, or would he be restricted? And if so, is that not some form of limited sovereignty in that territory --

MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to get into theoretical questions of limited sovereignty. I'm not going to get into theoretical questions of "what if Saddam did this or that."

QUESTION: But that's not a theoretical question.

MR. DAVIES: Pardon me?

QUESTION: That's not a theoretical question. A foreign country did intervene on behalf of one Kurdish faction twice this summer.

MR. DAVIES: That's right. The Iranians did come in, that's correct, in mid-July.

QUESTION: Yes. So it's not a theoretical question. I mean, it's in fact what happened.

MR. DAVIES: Right. But what you're trying to do is equate the situations of various neighboring countries to that of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and that's what I'm saying simply doesn't -- you can't do that. Saddam Hussein has demonstrated over a period of years --

QUESTION: No, but is it not a strange standard to say that other countries can intervene in Iraqi sovereign territory but the Iraqi Government can't.

MR. DAVIES: We haven't said other countries can. We've called on Iran not to.

QUESTION: But you haven't taken action against those other countries, and you have against Iraq.

MR. DAVIES: Because we decided that it was in our interest in this instance to take action against Saddam Hussein, given his nature and given his past actions.

QUESTION: Why didn't you take action against Iraq when he decreed, for instance, that he would cut the ears off the deserters? That was also something he was doing against his own people, and this was --

MR. DAVIES: That he would cut the ears off his deserters.

QUESTION: Well, there was this decree, he started -- you know, the law in Iraq about deserters.

MR. DAVIES: Yes, I think --

QUESTION: This is some action against his own people, and I think there's been a great confusion here between Security Council Resolution 688, which says Saddam Hussein cannot attack his own people, and the allied-imposed "no-fly" zone which is not mentioned in the resolution.

MR. DAVIES: The allied-imposed "no-fly" zone was set up pursuant to 688.

QUESTION: Yes. But it is not a provision --

MR. DAVIES: It's a means of enforcing 688 --

QUESTION: But it is not written --

MR. DAVIES: And no country has done more than the United States to stand up to the aggression of Saddam Hussein who is arguably the most bloodthirsty leader in the world today.

QUESTION: Yes, but there's a discrepancy between the action taken and --

MR. DAVIES: Because you have a list of things we should react to --

QUESTION: No, the list of things you're saying, I'm taking from what you said. You just said Saddam Hussein under Resolution 688 is not allowed to attack his own people. He's been doing that constantly since he's taken power, basically. It's only when he goes into northern Iraq, which is the allied-imposed "no-fly" zone, that it causes a problem.

MR. DAVIES: It sounds like these are objections that you perhaps might have raised back in 1991 when all of this was done.

Anyway, yes, Steve.

QUESTION: Glyn, put this another way. Isn't there a concern that if Turkey sets up a buffer zone, if Iran continues to be involved, given this split between the two Kurdish factions in Iraq, that there's increasing instability in the north?

MR. DAVIES: That's not our conclusion.

QUESTION: You don't think that the buffer zone could either push the PKK further in, cause any sort of rifts, any further instability?

MR. DAVIES: As we understand it, as has been explained to us by the Government of Turkey, the notion of setting up this security zone was that it's a defensive action to protect Turkey further against the PKK. I don't have any analysis to share with you about what it will do internally within northern Iraq, but I can report that there's no great concern at this stage, based on what we know and what we've been told, that the Turkish action is going to be in any way destabilizing in a larger sense in northern Iraq. We certainly hope it won't be.

George.

QUESTION: I take it from your previous answers, you are unable to elaborate on what you mean by "massive security presence" left behind by Saddam Hussein in northern Iraq.

MR. DAVIES: I think for the time being I'll simply let that stand. What he did was he changed the situation on the ground markedly. He came in on the side of one faction, the KDP, and unseated the control of the PUK in Irbil. He changed that situation completely. The reports we're getting are that he did not simply vanish into the night in a benign fashion, leaving nothing behind; that in fact Saddam Hussein's footprint remains very much indelibly placed over that region of northern Iraq.

QUESTION: You can't go into numbers?

MR. DAVIES: No, I'm not going to go into intelligence information.

QUESTION: Is the United States doing anything to try to patch up the rift between the two factions?

MR. DAVIES: The United States remains very committed to the notion that eventually a solution can be found to the problems in northern Iraq. But recent events make it very, very difficult to get back to the process that we had worked on for so long between the two factions to try to bring them to terms. We had a cease-fire, and we thought we could go beyond that to a degree of political reconciliation. Saddam Hussein's invasion prevented that.

QUESTION: Is there more to the U.S. policy than simply retaliating, punishing Saddam for his moves near Irbil? Specifically, I'm referring to in early July there was an attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein, after which he made threats of vengeance against the United States. He implicated the United States in this plot. And I'm asking this: Based on what he may be doing in instigating terrorism against Saudi Arabia or other places, is the United States trying to get rid of Saddam -- assassinate him?

MR. DAVIES: No, the United States is not trying to assassinate Saddam Hussein.

QUESTION: To go back to the Turkish buffer zone, the question about the buffer zone as a cause for possible further instability in the region. Both Kurdish parties, KDP and PUK, are against this plan. Isn't this a concern for you that the Kurdish parties there are also worried about the war?

MR. DAVIES: Actually, I'm not privy to the Kurdish parties' reaction to the action that's been taken by Turkey. It wouldn't surprise me that they're not wholly in favor of it. But that's, at this stage, given the situation in northern Iraq, not something that we're going to greatly concern ourselves with.

QUESTION: Let's go back to the meeting in Paris today. You say the French will continue participating in the "no-fly" effort.

MR. DAVIES: They've said so. They issued a communique today.

QUESTION: Yes, but it wasn't exactly clear. Is it your understanding they'll --

MR. DAVIES: Oh, it's clear. I can't do the French because I don't have it, but it says in English -- our translation -- "France will continue to participate in the surveillance operations, 'Provide Comfort' and 'Southern Watch.' Concerning 'Southern Watch,' France's participation will take place south of the 32nd parallel." That's what it says.

QUESTION: South of the -- and that means to you the full -- even the extra zone. They will be patrolling --

MR. DAVIES: No. No, because the 60-mile-wide additional degree's worth of latitude, they will not be patrolling in that latitude.

QUESTION: Do you consider that a successful outcome, that they've withdrawn from your new arrangement?

MR. DAVIES: We're very satisfied that the French remain with us in patrolling the "no-fly" zones. Very much so.

QUESTION: But they're not going along with your new strategy.

MR. DAVIES: The French remain a member of the coalition and will continue to patrol both "no-fly" zones as they have in the past. That's significant, and that's positive from our standpoint.

QUESTION: You don't see that as a fairly serious split in the coalition?

MR. DAVIES: I don't.

QUESTION: I mean, there's a complete rebuff of your new strategy.

MR. DAVIES: I do not. We announced that -- we, the United States -- the southern "no-fly" zone would be extended to the 33rd parallel. We're perfectly capable of patrolling that additional space ourselves and are very pleased that the French will remain at our sides as we patrol both the southern and northern "no-fly" zones.

QUESTION: At your sides until you get to the 32nd parallel, then they peel off and you go --

MR. DAVIES: It's a decision for them to make. They've made it and they've announced it.

QUESTION: To go back to the Turkish buffer zone.

MR. DAVIES: This is going to be the last question on the Turkish buffer zone. Maybe tomorrow we can come back to it, or later today.

QUESTION: In terms of international law, I know you said you didn't know whether action would be taken at the Security Council to discuss this issue. But in terms of international law --

MR. DAVIES: We're not going to be asking for it.

QUESTION: How does it -- you won't be asking for it. But how does it work? Can a country just decide to establish a buffer zone? Have there been precedents, apart from the Israeli one in southern Lebanon, of course. What sort of precedents are there for this sort of action? Wouldn't this create a precedent for -- again, if Iran decides it wants a buffer zone again between Iraq and Iran, would that be okay?

MR. DAVIES: I'm not an international lawyer so I can't take you back to the defenestration of Prague --

QUESTION: You don't need to go that far.

MR. DAVIES: -- and tell you what the history is of such actions. It's temporary. That's important, and they've said they're not stationing troops in northern Iraq. I think those are both very significant points.

QUESTION: And it's okay if it's a unilateral action?

MR. DAVIES: Pardon me?

QUESTION: It's okay that's decided unilaterally by the Turks?

MR. DAVIES: They've made this announcement. We've taken note of it, and we're not raising any particular objections based on what the Turks have told us.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. DAVIES: Can we go to a new subject? Please.

QUESTION: A new, old subject?

MR. DAVIES: A new, old subject.

QUESTION: Same subject. Speaking of international law, the Chinese Government condemned the U.S. actions, violation of international law. What would you say to this kind of criticism? You don't think the U.S. action is against international law?

MR. DAVIES: No. I've spent a lot of my life recently explaining why the U.S. action is perfectly consistent with and supportive of Resolution 688.

QUESTION: You're taking about UN resolutions. But in international law -- you don't think it's against international law? So how do you respond to those kind of condemnations?

MR. DAVIES: We certainly take note of all of the various reactions from all around the world. We're very pleased that a number of nations, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Japan, and others have spoken out very positively in support of what we've done.

QUESTION: Yeltsin: You just made a short announcement wishing him well.

MR. DAVIES: Right.

QUESTION: Has any Russian Government official communicated anything to this government about Yeltsin's health and what the procedure is and prognosis, etc.?

MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to report. We're checking through our Embassy in Moscow. Of course, we have a standing offer out there to the Russians that if they would like to call upon us for any assistance in this matter, we'd be very pleased to do what we can to help.

In the last few hours since President Yeltsin's rather dramatic announcement, no, no developments to report.

QUESTION: There's now on-going a conference in London, an Islamic conference which has been characterized by the Egyptians and other Arab countries as a gathering of terrorist-controllers. Names have been named in al-Ahram and other newspapers. Is there not also concern on the part of the United States that this is allowed to occur in Great Britain, and have we made a diplomatic demarche or anything with regard to the holding of this conference?

MR. DAVIES: The concerns of the United States about the international terrorist movement are very well known, and the United States has worked very hard to do all possible with our partners to try to lessen that menace and defeat that menace.

In terms of this gathering in London, I really don't have anything in particular on it. I don't know that it's causing any difficulties in our dialogue with the U.K. I don't think so.

QUESTION: Has it been brought up at all?

MR. DAVIES: I don't know if it has. It may have been brought up in our diplomatic conversations with the U.K. I just don't know.

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

MR. DAVIES: I'm happy to look into whether we've raised it or not.

QUESTION: How is the Bosnia election campaign going?

MR. DAVIES: It's going, as we understand it, strongly in the run-up to the September 14 elections which are very important for the people of Bosnia because they will create the institutions that Bosnia needs to begin the process of reconciliation at the national level that Dayton set up and that we look forward to.

QUESTION: A leading figure on the American scene called it a sham and said that the balloting ought to be put off. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. DAVIES: There have been a number of opinions expressed about whether or not the election should be held on September 14. John Kornblum has spoken to this. The Secretary and others have.

We believe it's important to hold the elections as they were scheduled in the Dayton agreement in order to get these institutions created and underway -- the presidency, the parliament. There are a number of institutions derivative of the presidency because the presidency will create and appoint other institutions.

It's those institutions that hold the promise, should the people of Bosnia take up that promise, to begin to chip away at some of the distrust and hatred that was built up over four and a half years of war.

QUESTION: Anything to report on the Open Broadcast Network?

MR. DAVIES: What I know about the Open Broadcast Network is that it is to open up this weekend as was scheduled in the planning for the Open Broadcast Network. It may be that sometime after the elections there will be some technical issues to work out with the Government of Bosnia as regards frequencies and some of the other objections that they had. But we have an undertaking from the Government of Bosnia that it will open up.

QUESTION: It will be available for all the parties next week for the election campaign?

MR. DAVIES: It will reach 80 percent of the Bosnian population and will provide a new, more robust mechanism for members of all political parties to get the word out to the Bosnian people.

These are four independent stations that have been strung together in a network, so it will provide more hours of programming and it will reach a larger percentage of the Bosnian population.

It's a big step toward a more open political dialogue. So it's a very important development.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. DAVIES: Thank you.

(Press briefing concluded at 1:53 p.m.)

(###)

To the top of this page