U.S. Department of State 96/10/08 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, October 8, l996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT/Announcements Welcome to American University Students ..................... 1 NSC Adviser Anthony Lake's Speech on Northern Ireland ....... 1 U.S. Condemns Terrorist Attack in Lisburn, Northern Ireland . 1-2 Secretary Christopher's Trip to Africa ...................... 2 --Announcement of U.S. Grants to Mali ....................... 2 Assistant Secretary Lord's Trip to South Korea .............. 2-3,5-6 Confirmation of Deaths of Two U.S. Citizens in Nepal ........ 3 Department of State Website ................................. 3-4 SOUTH KOREA U.S./ROK Relations .......................................... 4-5 --Case of Mr. Robert Kim .................................... 5 NORTH KOREA U.S. Call for Release of American Citizen ................... 6-8 Postponement of U.S. Congressman Richardson's Trip to Region 7 U.S. Contacts w/North Korea ................................. 7-8 Submarine Incident .......................................... 4-8 TURKEY/GREECE/CYPRUS Turkish Fighter Plane Incident .............................. 8-9 Turkish/Greek/Cypriot Military Exercises .................... 9,22-23 Turkish PM Erbakan's Trip to Libya/Remarks .................. 9-14 U.S. Contacts w/Gov't. of Turkey ............................ 10-11, 13-14 ETHIOPIA Request by Comm. to Protect Journalists re: Freedom of Press 14-15 AFGHANISTAN Taliban Discrimination Against Women ......................... 15-18 UNSG's Statement re: UN Relief Programs .................... 15 U.S. Contacts w/Taliban ..................................... 16-17 KUWAIT Parliamentary Election/Women's Rights ....................... 17-18 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS King Hussein of Jordan's Remarks re: Peace Process/ Washington Summit ......................................... 18-19 The Erez Talks/Implementation of Oslo Accords ............... 20-22
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, OCTOBER 8, 1996, 1:20 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. I want to welcome students from George Washington University -- from American University, excuse me -- AU -- who are here with us today. I'm sorry that I confused the schools.
I also have a few other announcements to make. I think some of you know that Anthony Lake, the National Security Adviser, is making a major speech, I think at this moment, at Georgetown University, at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. This speech is on "Prospects for Peace in Northern Ireland and the Role of the United States." I commend this speech to you. I've just taken a look at it. It's a major U.S. policy speech on Northern Ireland.
On that subject, you will have seen the remarks made yesterday by President Clinton and by Mike McCurry, when they were in New England, on the bombing yesterday. The United States joins other members of the international community and particularly, the British and the Irish Governments in condemning the cowardly and despicable terrorist attack on Royal Army Headquarters in Lisburn, Northern Ireland.
We condemn this type of action, regardless of who the perpetrator may be. As Prime Minister Major said, this bombing was particularly evil and cowardly, considering the fact that it seems that the second bomb was intentionally placed and timed to kill or maim those who were injured by the first bomb and the medical personnel who come to the rescue of those who had been injured in the first bombing.
The United States extends its deepest sympathy to the victims of this attack and to their families.
Terrorism, which the United States firmly opposes in all of its manifestations, cannot shake our support for the Northern Ireland peace negotiations, which is one of the messages that Tony Lake is giving in his speech today. This peace process, the importance of the peace process to the people in Northern Ireland and the people of Ireland and the United Kingdom should not be underestimated.
The United States therefore urges all parties participating in the talks at Stormont Castle to remain actively engaged in the pursuit of peaceful future for Northern Ireland, and the United States calls upon the loyalist paramilitaries to maintain their cease-fire.
I also want to let you know what Secretary Christopher is up to today. He is in Bamako for a full day. He met with President Konare this morning. They had a joint press conference. They made some news at that press conference, which I think you've probably seen in the wires, reported by George Gedda and Carol and others.
The Secretary went to the National Assembly and met with parliamentarians. He is now at Samaya village, which is our major Peace Corps project, looking at sanitation and tree-planting projects. While he was with the Malian leadership, the Secretary announced a $700,000 grant to Mali to help the Malian Government prepare for the 1997 elections, which will culminate with a Presidential election in April.
He also announced a $1 million grant -- a United States grant -- to help Mali demobilize a guerrilla movement in the northern part of the country -- a guerrilla movement which has recently agreed to a peace settlement with the government. The Secretary has praised Mali as a standard bearer of the type of country I think that all of us would like to see in West Africa, and that is a country that is democratizing, a country whose leadership is putting itself forward for scrutiny by its press and by its public, and by its public in elections.
So the Secretary will finish up his visit to Mali this evening. He leaves there tomorrow morning. He then travels to Addis Ababa for meetings with the OAU and with the Ethiopian Government tomorrow and the next day.
I also wanted to let you know, if you hadn't seen our announcement, that Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord will be traveling to Seoul, South Korea, from October 10 through 12. He will be meeting with senior officials of the Blue House and of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He will specifically be there to take stock at a rather tumultuous and important time in our relations with Korea of all the issues and all the events that have transpired over the last couple of weeks. Secretary Christopher and Assistant Secretary Lord felt it was particularly important for him to be there and to touch base personally with the leadership of the Republic of Korea.
It goes without saying that this trip is being undertaken to reflect and demonstrate our very close alliance with South Korea -- the fact that we stand by South Korea in the midst of these provocations by North Korea. These are particularly important talks, and we have great hope for them.
I also wanted to let you know that I can, unfortunately, confirm the deaths of two American citizens in Nepal. Deborah Marshall of Colorado and Rich Davidson of New Mexico were killed in an avalanche in the Himalayas the night of October 4. Several meters of snow trapped them in their tents at 18,000 feet on Mount Annapurna.
The leader of the expedition, Dr. Cleveland Armstrong, an American citizen, was rescued by Nepalese army helicopter on October 6. He is now recuperating in Kathmandu.
American Foreign Service Officers from our Embassy in Kathmandu were able to meet the helicopter carrying Dr. Cleveland and were able to get him transported to a local hospital in Kathmandu, where he was examined and has been released. He will survive.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our condolences to the families of the Americans killed. We would also like to express our thanks to the Nepalese Government for its heroism and its very quick action to save the life of Dr. Cleveland.
Finally, I just wanted to make a note and remind you of the fact that the Department of State has a website, and that website contains, for all of you who are journalists in trying to cover us, a lot of information about U.S. foreign policy. On it you can find Secretary Christopher's speeches, the texts of his press conferences, any kind of public announcement that we've made, texts of these briefings if you want to read over what you may have said during the briefing; and, if you'd like to have access -- because I refuse to use access as a verb -- if you'd like to get access, gain access or have access to our website, you can simply look at www.state.gov and you will find a variety of information there.
In less two years, we've gone from 8,000 hits our first month to three quarters of a million hits last month -- over 700,000 hits last month -- and we've set a goal for ourselves of a million hits by December. So you can help us by gaining access to the Internet and to our website on a daily basis.
I have given instructions to the people in our Bureau that, for instance, if Secretary Christopher makes a statement in Mali, it ought to be up in the Internet within several hours. This briefing is up on the Internet by late afternoon. Sometimes we have technical problems, and it doesn't make it, but that's the norm. And it is an easier way for you to do your job, both to recall what we've said and to recall what the Secretary is saying, particularly when he's traveling and you want to know what business is being transacted during his trips.
So I wanted to commend this to you. It's another effort we're making to modernize ourselves here and try to enter the 20th century before it ends.
Barry. And we have done that, by the way.
QUESTION: On Korea, unless Secretary Lord will be available before he goes, which I doubt, you would be Lord's messenger. I wonder if you could tell us if --
MR. BURNS: The Lord's messenger or Lord's messenger --
QUESTION: Mr. Lord's messenger.
MR. BURNS: Thank you. Because I hesitate to be the latter.
QUESTION: Naturally enough, you and others are emphasizing the strong points of the relationship with South Korea, but there have been reports in the Christian Science Monitor and other publications that there are some frictions with South Korea -- a spy case, meaning the case here -- the need for military exercises or the lack of need for military exercises, etc.
Could you address whether those fall under the "other issues" that are to be taken up, according to the announcement?
MR. BURNS: Thank you for the opportunity to make myself perfectly clear, as a famous American once said. We want to be perfectly clear about one thing. Our relationship with the Republic of Korea is rock solid. It is solid, and it is enduring, and the alliance is important to both of us. It's been an extraordinary time in that relationship, mainly because of the actions of the North Korean Government, because of the provocation and the infringement upon South Korean sovereignty by the North Korean midget submarine last month.
The United States holds North Korea responsible for that incident, and we stand by South Korea in making sure that South Korea is secure and stable in the wake of that incident.
We also, of course, are working with the South Koreans to maintain and uphold the Agreed Framework, which is a vital strategic interest of both South Korea and the United States. We're working together in KEDO where South Korea has taken a leadership role as well as with Japan by the billions of dollars that have been contributed to that arrangement.
We are also working with the South Koreans on the whole question of surveying the food situation in North Korea, where both South Korea and the United States have made substantial contributions to alleviate the human suffering in North Korea just over the last couple of months.
It's true that we do have this case of Mr. Robert Kim. The United States was very disappointed -- very disappointed indeed -- about these developments, but I wouldn't let that case overshadow the fundamental strategic importance of this alliance relationship to both of our countries. I don't think, Barry, it is accurate for anyone to say that this is a time of friction or trouble in the U.S. relationship with South Korea.
I think it's a time when the United States and South Korea have an opportunity to reaffirm publicly the solidity of this relationship, and that's one of the reasons why Assistant Secretary Lord will be traveling to Seoul for meetings with the Blue House and the Foreign Ministry. I think you'll see that. It will be a very harmonious and a strong meeting, and, if we can send a signal to some of South Korea's neighbors of the enduring importance of this relationship, we'll do so.
QUESTION: Nobody is suggesting, I don't think, that there's a disagreement over the submarine incident. The exercises, for instance, are being written about. You know, even relatives/friends have disagreements. You don't have a full accord even with Britain, I suppose, on every issue. Isn't this a stroking trip as much as anything?
MR. BURNS: I did note the one area of disagreement, which is the case of Mr. Robert Kim. We're disappointed --
QUESTION: What about joint exercises? I mean --
MR. BURNS: From time to time it's important for allies to get together to talk about all the issues on the table. I think, Barry, given the psychology of the South Korean people now and given the aftermath and the profound effect that this submarine incident has had on South Korean public opinion, it's a good idea for the United States to be physically present in the person of our lead sub-cabinet official to talk to the South Koreans and to have us present a common front on the Korean peninsula.
I think that's terribly important, and so I think that is one of the reasons why Assistant Secretary Lord is undertaking this trip.
QUESTION: Nick, do you have any information -- any further information about the American who has been taken by the North Koreans and being charged with spying? Might Lord address this at all with the North Koreans?
MR. BURNS: Winston Lord will be there to meet with the South Koreans. He will not be having any contact with the North Koreans when he's in Seoul. But, Betsy, we continue to maintain contact with the North Koreans in New York through the North Korean Mission to the United Nations, and we are in very close contact with the Swedish Government, which is our protecting power -- the protecting power for the United States in North Korea.
We have no Embassy in Pyongyang. At this time, I'm still not able to give to you the name of the American being held, because he has elected not to give us a Privacy Act waiver. The Swedish diplomats are continuing to try to seek access to him. They have not seen him, I believe, since September 17. That's much too long a time, in a case like this, to go by without the United States Government knowing through our Swedish protecting power that he's in good health, that he's not being mistreated, that he has full access within the limits -- the very strict limits, the very narrow limits -- of the North Korean legal system; full access to any kind of representation if in fact he's being charged.
The North Koreans have indicated to us in New York that this U.S. citizen will be charged with both espionage and with illegal entry into North Korea. Those are very serious charges, and the North Koreans have a responsibility to us and to the international community to give the Swedish Government access to him, so that we can assure ourselves that he is well.
You remember some of the other cases -- prominent cases around the world in the last year or two -- where American citizens have been held unjustly, and it's very important for us to have access to them. So we are calling upon today -- we're calling again upon the North Korean Government to release him and to release him immediately. He is innocent. He is innocent of these charges. He should not be prosecuted, and he should be allowed to travel to a free country outside of North Korea so he can be a free man once again.
QUESTION: Last week at the UN you announced that because of the sub incident that Congressman Richardson's trip to North Korea was going to be canceled. Is there any chance that this trip might be put back on the docket, and this could be dealt with?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware if Congressman Richardson has plans to return to North Korea. He did have plans to do so, but in the course of a conversation with him, we agreed mutually that he would postpone that trip because of the outrageous provocation of the submarine incident.
That might be one way to seek access to the American citizen, but under international law, there are very clearly established diplomatic procedures. When a country such as the United States does not have diplomatic representation in another country -- North Korea -- our protecting power should have the right of access to the person who's being incarcerated, who's in jail, and that's what we are asking the North Korean Government to do. Give the Government of Sweden access to our American citizens, so we can see that he's okay and then release him -- release this man.
QUESTION: Just a couple of footnotes, if you have the information. Do you know where the liaison talks stand right now? Are they dormant with North Korea? Does the U.S. have, as South Korea reliably reported, how many crew members are still missing, and being hunted down?
MR. BURNS: On the second question, I don't know the number of crew members from the submarine who may be missing. I think the large majority of them have been detained or killed or have killed themselves, depending on what happened in that incident.
On the first question, we continue to maintain contact with the North Koreans up in New York. Officers from the Department of State here at Foggy Bottom travel up to New York on a regular basis, and they have contacts with the North Koreans there.
In addition, we use the Swedes as our protecting power to transmit messages, as in the case of this American citizen.
We do have regular talks, Barry, about a variety of issues -- about the Agreed Framework, about the food situation, about the submarine incident. We do have a way to communicate diplomatically even though it's indirect in some cases and unusual in others. But the relationship is frankly too important -- the issues are too important -- for us to have silence, so we do have communication.
QUESTION: Just yesterday (inaudible) maybe we should move on. But do you sense that the arrest of the American in North Korea is an attempt for the North Koreans to try to set up some bargaining arrangement?
MR. BURNS: We have not heard from the North Koreans any direct linkage between the case of the arrested American and any other issues in the relationship.
Let's just choose an issue, for instance, hypothetically, the submarine incident. It would be outrageous and indefensible should the North Koreans try to link the submarine incident with this unfortunate young man who has been arrested. Because the North Koreans were the aggressor and the clear violator of international agreements in sending that submarine down the South Korean coast and then having the crew of the submarine try to infiltrate into the South Korean countryside.
The North Koreans owe the South Koreans an explanation for that. They violated the armistice. They refuse to accept the protest of the United Nations up at Panmumjom because of this violation, so we reject any linkage. There is no linkage. There can be no linkage.
We're going to ask the North Koreans to do the right thing under international law: Give the Swedes access to this American citizen. Release this person immediately.
QUESTION: A Turkish fighter plane crashed today after being intercepted by Greek warplanes in the Aegean. The incident occurred on the last day of the joint Greek-Cypriot military exercises.
According to the Greek Defense ministry sources, more than 50 Turkish violations of the Greek airspace occurred since Monday when the exercises started. What is your reaction on the incident and also on the violations of the Greek airspace?
MR. BURNS: First, on the incident, we understand from both the Turks and Greeks this morning that a Turkish F-16 aircraft developed mechanical difficulties, engine trouble, and actually went down in the Aegean. Fortunately, the Greek military came to his rescue and rescued the pilot. The pilot is fine; he's going to live. The aircraft, I think, is probably lost.
This is a good outcome to a very unfortunate event. I think a good demonstration that Greeks and Turks can work together -- in this case, the Greeks working to save a life of a Turkish airman.
On the general question, we are aware, of course, of the annual Greek and Cypriot military exercises, "Nikiforos." I believe it's been conducted from October 4 until tomorrow, October 9. In recent years, we understand that the Greek military has participated in this exercise.
Turkey is also holding a biannual military exercise concurrent with this one.
We've seen some press reports of alleged violations of Greek sovereignty, but we can't speak to those because we're not there. That will have to be an issue that the Greeks and Turks take up together in their talks about Aegean issues and other issues.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) you disagree with the violations of airspace?
MR. BURNS: In principle, the United States believes that countries ought to be sovereign and that their sovereignty ought to be respected. I say that, in principle. On a global basis, I am not capable of answering the question, whether or not Turkey did, in fact, violate Greek air space in the course of these Greek and Cypriot military exercises. Because, again, the United States is not present and the United States has no independent way to confirm these allegations that have been made by a variety of sources.
We've seen the allegations. If there are concerns, I'm sure the Greek Government knows how to contact the Turkish Government in Ankara. I expect that would be the proper place for any concern.
QUESTION: Nick, has Ankara confirmed the remarks -- yesterday said (inaudible) would be prejudiced?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that the Turkish Government has confirmed for the United States Government these remarks. But I can tell you, having looked at this fairly closely and having seen the consistent reporting from the Turkish press, that we stand by our remarks yesterday.
I understand that Prime Minister Erbakan and his party are still traveling. We strenuously disagree with remarks from Prime Minister Erbakan which try to diminish the role and the responsibility that Muammar Qadhafi has for international terrorism which tried to hide the fact that Muammar Qadhafi and his agents are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people, including hundreds of American citizens.
We find it very curious and frankly objectionable that a Turkish leader would make apologies for a Libyan; in this case, Mr. Qadhafi. Furthermore, we just don't believe it's a good idea to have business-as- usual with dictators like the dictators in Tripoli or the dictators in Nigeria, which is the next stop on this grand tour. We don't think it's helpful.
We think that we should have cohesion in the West. Turkey is very much part of the West, as a secular democracy. There ought to be cohesion in the West about these big issues and important issues of terrorism and of dictatorship. We ought to try to promote democracy together in Nigeria and promote an end to terrorism in Libya rather than taking pot shots at the United States.
So these were objectionable remarks. They were heard in Washington. Believe me, they are not welcome in Washington.
QUESTION: Are you planning to do anything? Are you going to present a formal protest?
MR. BURNS: I know that we're in contact with the Turkish Government. We've made ourselves perfectly clear about this matter. It is rather unusual to speak this way about a NATO ally. But, frankly, given the circumstances and given what we were left with, the remarks that were put on the table, we had no alternative.
QUESTION: Did you present a formal diplomatic protest?
MR. BURNS: The fact is that the United States and Turkey had a long relationship. We will find ways to work well together in the future.
When we have problems like this, we normally prefer to discuss them in private, as we will now do. But having received and heard these remarks over the weekend and having digested them yesterday, we had no alternative but to speak up publicly and say exactly what we thought.
Now we're looking forward to a private dialogue with the Turkish Government where we'll express some of these views and seek clarification and seek an understanding of the position of the Turkish Government on important issues -- terrorism, democracy, allied cohesion, and loyalty. These are important issues that I think the Turkish Prime Minister needs to be reminded of.
QUESTION: The Turkish Government doesn't speak with one voice. Mrs. Ciller, for instance, threatened to resign. If the State Department feels so strongly about this, would it go to the point of saying that maybe there ought to be a reshuffling of the government in Ankara, one that's more atuned to the West, one that is more democratic?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I have no comments on the internal political situation in Turkey nor would you expect me to have any comments. No, I don't. But I do have comments about the United States and about attacks made upon the United States in Tripoli over the weekend -- attacks that are untrue, that are off-base, and that are unwarranted. I think we've made ourselves perfectly clear about our unhappiness concerning these remarks.
I'm not going to involve myself or the Department of State in the internal debate in Turkey about these extraordinary remarks.
QUESTION: Although you're saying you don't want to be involved in the internal affairs, at this point, does the United States see this problem as a matter between the leaderships of two countries? Or are you blaming it more on personally the Prime Minister --
MR. BURNS: Again, Yasmine, you know I'm not speaking here about the internal situation in Turkey. But when it comes to U.S.-Turkish relations, we deal with the highest levels of the government. We deal with President Demiral and Prime Minister Erbakan and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ciller. We deal with all of them, and with other officials. Mr. Oymen has been a very good interlocutor of the United States in the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
We have to, of course, pay attention to what the Turkish Prime Minister says. When people say things publicly, they have to bear responsibility for them. It does have an impact on U.S.-Turkish relations. We hope that we can keep these -- if there are disagreements, we hope that they can be aired privately. But, frankly, we weren't given a choice in this matter.
QUESTION: So far, like the statements that Deputy Prime Minister Ciller made yesterday, calling Libya a terrorist country --
MR. BURNS: We agree with that statement.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) for you at all? Is it the belief for this government that there are other voices in Turkey?
MR. BURNS: What we were saying yesterday, and I'm prepared to say again today, is there are UN sanctions -- United Nations sanctions on Libya -- because Libya is a terrorist country, a country that supports terrorist acts against all of us.
Turkey, in the past and to the present day, has been a victim of terrorism by the PKK. The United States has stood by Turkey. Now it's time for Turkey to stand by the United States in our fight against Qadhafi, in our fight to isolate him, to maintain the UN sanctions.
Frankly, if there was any commercial deal signed in Tripoli over the weekend between Turkey and Libya, it ought to be rethought by the Turkish Government. Because we hope that deal, like the gas and oil deal with Iran, we certainly hope it doesn't violate the existing -- in the case of Libya -- international sanctions; in the case of Iran, the very clear wish of the United States that our friends and allies not trade with Iran.
In the case of Libya, this is an ironclad case of the United Nations many years ago voting for these sanctions. They're being honored in large part by the international community. We don't think it's right for Turkey to sign commercial deals which could possibly violate those UN sanctions.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) sanctions against Turkey if he doesn't change his position on Iran and Libya?
MR. BURNS: No. We're talking about sanctions against Qadhafi. We're talking about U.S. sanctions against Iran -- the outlaw, pariah, proto-rogue states. We're not talking about sanctions against Turkey. Turkey is a NATO ally. We're looking for allied unity, cohesion, a common purpose, and loyalty in our relationship.
QUESTION: You haven't been clear that this trade could violate UN sanctions. So in that matter, Turkey could be also subject to sanctions?
MR. BURNS: We hope it doesn't. We hope that this deal -- the Turks have found that Qadhafi is an unreliable partner. Qadhafi made outrageous statements of his own in the press conference with Mr. Erbakan about an independent Kurdistan. Qadhafi took on the issue of the PKK and said the PKK was not a terrorist group.
Qadhafi is -- we all know what Qadhafi is. He is someone who speaks recklessly, who doesn't know what he's talking about and who is a known terrorist.
The Turks, having had a very unfortunate experience with Qadhafi over the weekend, ought to learn that you can't deal with Qadhafi. The Turks know that they can deal with the United States, that we're a good ally, that we meet our commitments. So we're not talking about sanctions against Turkey. We're talking about Turkey coming back to an agreement with the United States, that we ought to isolate Qadhafi; that if we have differences in our relationship, we ought to discuss them privately.
QUESTION: Have any U.S. officials met with Prime Minister Erbakan beyond Ambassador Grossman's level?
MR. BURNS: I know Ambassador Grossman has -- I know the Secretary of Defense Bill Perry tried to meet with him in September when he was in Ankara. Secretary Perry had to return to Washington for a meeting with the President and just missed him.
QUESTION: Pelletreau didn't meet with him?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. I can check for you. I know that Assistant Secretary Pelletreau met with Mr. Oymen and Mrs. Ciller. Of course, the Secretary has met with Mrs. Ciller. He met with her in New York, and we have good contacts with President Demiral. I'll have to check and see if any high-level Americans below the rank of Assistant Secretary have met with Prime Minister Erbakan. I'll check on that for you.
QUESTION: The Libyan visit. Qadhafi and Erbakan, they signed some kind of final statement which they condemned the CIA and the Israeli Mossad. They promised to work against these two intelligence agencies. Do you have any comment on it?
MR. BURNS: I have not seen that statement. I heard about the statements condemning the United States; exonerating Qadhafi from any wrongdoing at anytime in world history; exonerating the PKK from any wrongdoing. We've seen all those statements. We have not seen this statement. We'll have to look into it -- have to look into this particular statement.
You say this was made at the press conference?
QUESTION: Some kind of final statement they signed.
MR. BURNS: No, we've not seen such a statement, Savas; no.
QUESTION: Can I follow that?
MR. BURNS: Ugur is next.
QUESTION: Did you hear from the Turkish Government or any official in Ankara since these events took place? Did you get a response from Turkey since you made this criticism?
MR. BURNS: We are in touch with the Turkish Government on this matter as well as on other matters. We're in touch with the Turks every day. I don't want to go into our private discussions with the Turks. I think the United States has made its views known very clearly.
QUESTION: Your contacts, were they satisfactory when you got in touch with the Turks?
MR. BURNS: Those contacts are ongoing. I'm sure we'll have a full discussion of this matter, but I prefer to keep those discussions private. I think that's the appropriate thing to do. That's what allies do with each other. You talk quietly. You don't make groundless charges in public. Some of the charges that we saw over the weekend were groundless.
QUESTION: Nick, does the State Department believe that Mr. Erbakan and Mr. Qadhafi are philosophically united in their foreign policy and in their mode of government, or whatever? Or is there some kind of an economic deal here? What can you tell us about what unites these two leaders?
MR. BURNS: I think after this weekend, after the very sorry episode of Mr. Qadhafi, I can't believe that the Turks would allow themselves to be united with Libya on anything. The fact is, that Qadhafi came out and was directly critical of Turkey and of Turkey's form of government and Turkey's role in the world. The United States has Turkey as a NATO ally, a country that's European. It ought to be grounded in Europe. It's a secular democracy. Everything that Libya is not.
So I think after this, you'll just have to ask that question of the Turkish Government. I can't imagine why they would want to have Qadhafi as a friend after the way the Turks were treated over the weekend by Qadhafi.
QUESTION: Nick, the Committee to Protect Journalists has asked the Secretary to make a point of press freedom -- lack thereof when he's in Ethiopia. Do you know if that was brought to his attention? He does make that point as he goes --
MR. BURNS: We've seen a press release by the Committee to Protect Journalists about the situation in Ethiopia. We have transmitted that press release. I believe it came from here in Washington to the Secretary's party, the Secretary's advisors on the trip. I'm sure that this issue is going to be brought to the Secretary's attention.
It would be normal for that to be brought to his attention given the fact that he'll be in Addis for almost two days. I'm sure the Secretary will just have to consider what should be said to the Ethiopian Government about this. I'm sure the issue will be brought up by us in some fashion with the Ethiopians.
QUESTION: Something else -- there's a hand. Sorry, Betsy.
MR. BURNS: Betsy.
QUESTION: Nick, do you agree -- in the New York Times this morning, there is a story that Boutros-Ghali has said that the UN may cut off aid programs to Afghanistan. Many of those UN programs help women.
The Afghan Government has just levied some pretty strong -- some pretty harsh conditions on women. Would it be fair of the UN to pull back on these programs which aid these women? Is this a good move?
MR. BURNS: The United States supports the efforts of Secretary General Boutros-Ghali to ensure that the United Nations can perform essential duties according to the UN Charter and to be effective in carrying out relief programs and other UN programs in Afghanistan. We applaud the statement made by the Secretary General yesterday which, coincidentally was nearly identical to the statement made by the State Department, and that is, that the directors of the Taliban to keep women out of the workplace and to keep young girls out of the schools are wrong and they will not be effective.
You cannot run a modern economy or any kind of economy without women. Women have a right to work and young girls have a right to go to school. That's a commonly-held belief and principle all over the world. There are very few societies that would deny one-half of their population the right to an education or the right to work and to contribute outside of the home.
We are very concerned by what we have seen on television and what we know of, and reports coming from Pakistan -- neighboring Pakistan -- about these directives that have been very harsh against women since the Taliban took power in Kabul just a couple of weeks ago. We've made this known to the Taliban. We have contacts with them. We thought it was very important to make it known publicly, and we do support the United Nations, and the statement that the Secretary General made yesterday.
QUESTION: Have I missed it, that the U.S. diplomat has gotten to Kabul? Has he left?
MR. BURNS: No, he has not yet traveled to Kabul. I don't have a date for when he will do that, but we do have continuing contacts with the Taliban. There are Taliban representatives not just in Pakistan but in other places in the world. We do find a way to maintain contact with the Taliban, and we'll continue to do that.
I do want to mention, in addition to what I've said, the point that I made yesterday. Despite the fact that the United States is opposed to the policies of the Taliban concerning women, contacts with the Taliban are going to be important for the United States. If we hope to influence them -- if we, in the international community, including the United Nations hope to have any kind of effect on the Taliban's leadership, on its thinking, on its treatment of its own population, on its own contacts with other factions, on efforts to end the war there -- then we're going to have to have contact. We are doing that. We're carrying out those contacts and we'll continue them, but we have not yet sent our diplomat into Kabul.
QUESTION: What can you do, though, aside from jawbone to affect the behavior of Taliban? And aren't you in somewhat of a diplomatic tight spot here, because they seem to have an opening to the United States and they have apparently shut down some of those terrorist camps that were being run by Hekmatyar, and so forth and so on? In other words, isn't the United States torn a bit about how it approaches the Taliban?
MR. BURNS: I don't think we're torn at all, Steve. I think we have to approach this situation -- this very complicated situation -- in as direct a way as we can.
The facts of the matter are the following. There is no sovereign government that has yet established itself in Afghanistan. There are several factions vying for that honor and for that responsibility.
The United States has not yet recognized any of these factions as the sovereign body responsible for affairs in Afghanistan. There is no one sitting in the Afghan seat in the General Assembly at the United Nations. We have no embassy in Kabul, in part, because of that fact. That's the first point.
Second, the Taliban, if it is going to continue to be a dominant force in Afghanistan, if at some day the responsible authority in Afghanistan, and that situation is not clear. The Taliban is going to have wonder about the level of international support available to Afghanistan, after more than a decade of civil war where there has been a horrifying amount of destruction -- economic destruction, deaths, landmines, maimings -- they're going to need billions of dollars to rebuild Afghanistan over the next decade or so. That money will come from the United Nations, from Western countries and others like the United States.
But if we continue to see policies that absolutely restrict the right of women and girls to be normal people, it will have an affect, as we said yesterday, we think, on the ability of the international community to lend and to give assistance.
This is an extraordinary decision taken by the Taliban, the extent of it, to discriminate against women and against girls. I think the Taliban at least has to be concerned with that. I think it's the fundamental reality. It's not a threat; it's a reality of international life that there's a lot of money available in the international community for countries that would like to dig out from wars.
But the international community is not willing to support policies that are fundamentally restricted and discriminatory.
QUESTION: Speaking of women's rights, they don't have the right to vote in parliamentary elections in Kuwait, nor do men who can't trace their ancestry back at least some 70 years. The U.S. fought a war to pull the Sabah family out of a disaster. In fact, I thought I remembered on trips there and otherwise hearing pledges that women's rights would be protected -- would be affirmed in Kuwait.
Do you have any reflections on that ally, almost client state's mistreatment of women?
MR. BURNS: Barry, of course, we note the fact that Kuwait has held a parliamentary election on October 6. That election did continue the steps that Kuwait has taken towards expanding participation in the political system. The issue of women's suffrage in Kuwait, obviously given the history and culture there, is a quite sensitive issue.
We can be encouraged by one thing, and that is that women were allowed in a relatively free manner to debate this issue on the streets of Kuwait, on the Kuwaiti media, before the campaign. Nevertheless, we continue to offer our advice to the Kuwaiti Government on this issue, and you know the position of the United States. We believe that women ought to vote in elections all over the world, and Kuwait is no exception to that.
QUESTION: It was a turnout of 15 percent of the electorate. I mean, it's not only women who were -- you know, it's a one-family state, and apparently doesn't -- considers a newcomer anybody who arrives after 1920 --
MR. BURNS: Yes. I have not described Kuwait as a Jeffersonian democracy.
QUESTION: Well, I don't even know --
MR. BURNS: And I don't believe we've ever said that it is. Kuwait is what it is. It's a state in the Middle East which is important to the United States for a variety of reasons. The political system is very different from ours. It is not a representative democracy in any sense.
It is a country, however, that did have an election; that had broadened political participation. So at least the trend is in the right direction, although, of course, to meet a Western standard of participatory democracy, they need to go a lot, lot further, particularly on the issue of women's suffrage, which is a very important issue for the United States.
But contrast that trend, which at least is positive, with other trends that we've talked about in this briefing, which are going in the opposite direction, where women's rights are not just being infringed upon, they're being restricted in a uniquely discriminatory manner, and that's Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Middle East? Nick, there's a report of King Hussein speaking publicly, saying that in the current situation if we do not stride strongly forward to achieve peace, everything imaginable can happen. And then at the end he says that the summit only bought us some more time. Can you make any comment at all regarding the King's perspective on the seriousness of the situation in Israel?
MR. BURNS: King Hussein is a valued partner of the United States, and the President and the Secretary of State had excellent discussions with him last week. I think the President particularly applauded his leadership at the Washington summit. We listened very carefully to his views, because he is the most experienced leader in the Middle East by a long shot -- by a long margin, given his long reign.
Of course, we have a strong relationship with Jordan. We want to continue that relationship. He will continue to be a big part of the Middle East peace negotiation, because of his leadership, because of the soundness of his views, his vision, his courage, and I think we'll just have to let his particular remarks -- his specific remarks -- I mean, those are his remarks -- I think they stand on their own. But I did want to note the very close relationship and the respect that we have for King Hussein.
QUESTION: There's an urgency. Does the U.S. Government feel there's an urgency that the King speaks about here in the (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: I think the U.S. Government has said what it has to say. President Clinton and Secretary Christopher have said that the United States wants peace; we want negotiations; that there can be no justification for anybody using violence as a political tool, whether it's the Israelis or the Palestinians; that we want there to be a peaceful resolution between of the problems between the Palestinians and Israelis.
They're down to business. Contrary to some of the cynicism in the United States about the Washington summit, the Washington summit seems to be paying off. There is very little violence right now in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The cycle of grievances that really prohibited any kind of normal political conversations has been broken because they had political conversations here in Washington -- Netanyahu and Arafat.
They've got five sub-groups negotiating. The Hebron sub-group, which is probably the most important, met for a second time today. Dennis Ross said that those conversations are ongoing. They're serious and businesslike, and that he and other Americans remain at the table.
So the situation is heading in the right direction because of the Washington summit, and it gives me a little bit of satisfaction to be able to say that, having faced the onslaught of criticism last week, because that criticism was unjustified.
QUESTION: Nick, one of the leaders of the Sunni Moslems in Cairo yesterday or today said, "We must confront Israeli arrogance and encroachments on Jerusalem by force, with stones and with bullets," and there were some similar viewpoints expressed by others at this particular conference. How do you respond to that?
MR. BURNS: That statement is wrong and inadvisable. The United States is not going to agree with anybody -- religious or political figures -- who call upon Arabs to resist Israel or to attack Israel by violent means. The United States stands for one thing. Peace is made at the negotiating table. That's where it's always been made in the Middle East. It's never been made on the streets, and that's the recommendation that the President and Secretary of State gave to the leaderships.
Israel is a friend of the United States. The United States wants Israel to be secure. We want the Palestinians be secure. It can only happen through negotiations, not through calls by religious or political leaders to have people take to the streets to exercise their grievances. That's never been an answer to the problems in the Middle East.
QUESTION: Do you have any details on the Hebron talks? I mean, apparently Israel requested that its security forces be allowed to be on four hills overlooking the town and --
MR. BURNS: We're giving out very few details on purpose. We do not believe that the talks can be held in a constructive atmosphere if we give you a detailed rendition of them on a daily basis. These will be private talks -- there will be very little information given out by the United States Government on them. Obviously, they're difficult -- they're going to be difficult with lots of challenges. We think they can be successful.
QUESTION: Well, if you don't care to be specific, I would ask you if the Prime Minister's refinements -- if I can call them that -- of his views on Hebron. I wondered if that in any way jarred the U.S. Government or have found their way into the negotiations. He seems to be a little bit more cautious, a little bit more -- I guess cautious is the word -- about that redeployment than he did a day or two earlier.
I mean, obviously, things go up and down, but you remember we were talking about adjustments and not renegotiating. I guess if I boiled it down to a single question it would be: Are the Israelis seeking now to renegotiate that provision?
MR. BURNS: No, they're not. We will base our own understanding of these negotiations on Secretary Christopher's conversations on Sunday and Monday with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. It was crystal clear from those conversations that the Israelis and Palestinians agree that the Oslo accords, the peace accords that are being negotiated -- that are being discussed at Erez -- will not be renegotiated. They will not be renegotiated. Israel agrees. The Palestinians agree.
What they are talking about at Erez is the implementation of those accords and an agreement on the implementation that has not been reached. We all know that. The Labor Government of Prime Minister Shimon Peres postponed the redeployment of the Israel Defense Forces from Hebron in March.
The new government of Prime Minister Netanyahu is now grappling with this issue with the Palestinians, and that's what they're talking about; the implementation of the accords, not the renegotiation.
QUESTION: They just want to take everything. The fact that Peres wouldn't move -- the fact that Netanyahu is reluctant to move, suggests that since they are on opposite ends of the spectrum suggests there's some consensus in Israel that moving troops out of Hebron may not be good for the health of the Jewish settlers there. Has the U.S. come around to that view, or do you feel that somehow this can all be worked out with minor adjustments?
MR. BURNS: The Oslo accords -- the interim accords, which are the agreements being discussed at Erez, clearly commit the Israelis and the Palestinians to certain actions -- clearly commit Israel to redeploy from Hebron. The question is not whether they will redeploy. The question is what will be the conditions? Can the Jewish population of Hebron -- and there's been a continuous -- well, there's been a population in Hebron, a Jewish population, for a long, long time -- will that population be protected.
Those are legitimate issues to raise, and Secretary Christopher acknowledged the legitimacy of those issues. But there is a very clear difference between talking about how you implement an agreement and how you get it done and how you begin it; and renegotiating an agreement and commitments that have already been made.
The difference is a mile wide, and I think in his press appearances on Sunday and Monday in Israel, Secretary Christopher made it clear that he had a good, clear understanding of those differences and that distinction with the Israelis and Palestinians.
QUESTION: Do those people (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: Pardon?
QUESTION: In the U.S. view, there is a way to protect those people?
MR. BURNS: Yes, there should be, and it should be arrived at by the Palestinians and Israelis, working together at Erez. That's our point of view. But no one's arguing about the presence of the Jewish community in Hebron. There's a very important religious site there to Moslems, Christians and Jews -- the Ibrahimi mosque, which has also a place in it where Jews worship -- and there's been provisions made over the years since 1968, going back to Moshe Dayan, for Jews to worship there.
No one's talking about that. What we're talking about is how can the redeployment be affected in such a way that meets the concerns of Israel and the Palestinians working together.
I'm glad you raised it, because I've seen a lot of confusion in the press about this point. There's no confusion in our minds about it.
Yes, Mr. Lambros.
QUESTION: Yes. On Greece and Turkey. Could you clarify the U.S. position vis-a-vis to those Greek and Turkish military exercises in the disputed areas of the Aegean, since you are mediating for a solution?
MR. BURNS: Well, Mr. Lambros, I'm not an expert on exactly where these exercises have been held by the Greeks and Cypriots and Turks and where they have not, so I'd prefer not to pronounce myself on this matter -- myself on this matter.
QUESTION: On the same subject. According to sources, for unknown reasons the Turkish navy and air forces, after the expiration of the moratorium during the summer, are ready again for a massive exercise in the Aegean, conducted excessive military exercises, violating Greek national airspace, territorial waters, and infringing the Athens FIR.
Since the Imia crisis, I remember very well that you are monitoring the situation over this, and I'm wondering if you're still monitoring the same area today.
MR. BURNS: The United States is involved when the Greeks and Turks ask us to be involved, but fundamentally it's up to the Greeks and Turks to resolve these problems in the Aegean together. They're allies -- they're NATO allies. They're pledged to defend each other, after all, under the articles of the Treaty of Rome.
So I think we should allow the Greeks and Turks the opportunity to discuss this privately. When they want the help of the United States, we'll certainly be there to give it to them.
QUESTION: And the last question: According to the same sources, the Greek and the Turkish Governments, via your mediation, most recently reached an agreement on the military level of exchanging information of military flights over the Aegean, flying into the Athens FIR. Could you please comment on your involvement on this particular case?
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, I'll have to check into that. I'm not aware of specifically what involvement the United States had in that.
QUESTION: Nick, thank you very much.
MR. BURNS: Thank you, Barry.
(The briefing concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
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