U.S. Department of State 96/10/09 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, October 9, l996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT/Announcements Assistant Secretary of State Kornblum's Trip to Bosnia....... 1 Secretary Christopher's Trip to Africa....................... 1 --Most Traveled Secretary of State........................... 1-3 BOSNIA/SERBIA Update on President Milosevic's Absence at Parliament........ 3-4 Contact Group Meeting in London on 10/10/96.................. 4, 6 Sanctions & Bargaining Power of U.S.......................... 4-5 Possible Serb Reaction to U.S. Troop Withdrawal.............. 5 Repatriation of Bosnian Refugees from Germany................ 6-7 RUSSIA President Yeltsin's Health................................... 7 PAKISTAN Prime Minister Bhutto's Call for Intl. Conference on Kashmir 7-8 Pakistan Searching for Nuclear Technology.................... 14 CHINA Chinese Nuclear Arms Sales to Pakistan/Chinese Compliance With Non-Proliferation Commitment......................... 8-22 Government Leaks re Chinese Arms Sales....................... 8-11 17-22 Acting Director John Holman's Comments re Chinese Stance on Non-Proliferation...................................... 12-14 NON-PROLIFERATION Status of U.S. Policy on Non-Proliferation Violations........ 14 Failure of U.S. Policy on Non-Proliferation.................. 16 AFGHANISTAN Taleban Fighting In Northern Afghanistan..................... 22 IRAQ KDP Official Visit to Washington DC.......................... 23 Other Governments Involvement in KDP-U.S. Talks.............. 23 Kurdish NGO Employees Update................................. 26-28 Iraqi FM Statements re Kurds................................. 27 Kurdish Fighting in Northern Iraq............................ 28 TURKEY PM Erbakan's Trip to Libya and Nigeria....................... 23-24 U.S. Reaction to PM Erbakan's Statements..................... 24 President Demirel Coming to U.S./Govt. of Turkey-USG Discussions re Erbakan.................................... 24-25 LIBYA U.S. Reaction to Kadafi's Statements......................... 25, 30 Other Government's Reactions to Erbakan/Kadafi Statements.... 25 CYPRUS Amb. Williams Leaving Cyprus................................. 28-30 NORTH KOREA Update on AmCit Arrested..................................... 31-32 PERU Peruvian Request to USG for Help With Air Accident........... 32 SOUTH KOREA 3 Bodies Found............................................... 33 NICARAGUA Daniel Ortega and Democracy.................................. 33-34
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPB #162 WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 1996, 1:25 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I want to remind you that our Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, John Kornblum, departs this evening for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Welcome Barry, Patrick. Nice to see you with us. Assistant Secretary John Kornblum departs this evening, Barry, for Bosnia where he and his interagency team are going to be meeting in Banja Luka, Pale, and other places with the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Government leadership.
Before he arrives there, Assistant Secretary Kornblum, as I told you the other day, is going to be in London tomorrow for a Contact Group meeting on Bosnia. Obviously, we are interested in our discussion with the Bosnian Serbs in making sure that some of the nice statements made by Mr. Krajisnik over the past couple of days are translated into actions on the ground.
It was a very sorry performance last weekend when the Bosnian Serbs failed to show up in Sarajevo at the National Theater for the opening of the parliamentary assembly.
There needs to be a meeting of the presidency. There needs to be efforts to appoint a Council of Ministers for this government by the end of the month. That's the deadline they've set for themselves. Assistant Kornblum is going out to push this process along and, in particular, focus on meetings with the Bosnian Serbs.
Secretary Christopher has had a big day. Barry, I want you to know that I actually delayed. I just sat here kibbutzing about the Red Sox and Jim Leyland and his failure to go to Boston. He chose Florida. I wanted you to hear this because you are the veteran traveller in this group.
Secretary Christopher, today, enroute from Bamako to Addis Ababa, set the all-time international travel record for a Secretary of State -- an American Secretary of State -- in a four-year term. With the completion of his trip into Addis today, the Secretary has travelled over the last four years 704,487 miles. This exceeds -- this exceeds Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, who, in four years, travelled 700,131 miles.
Just in the interest of fairness -- and Barry was going to call this to my attention anyway, I know -- that in six years of office, Secretary of State George Shultz travelled 900,000 over six years. So Secretary Christopher has set the all-time American record over a four-year term as Secretary of State.
I understand from a well-placed source on the Secretary's aircraft, with whom I just spoke, that the Secretary was given a cake by the Air Force crew. It was a yellow cake. It said, "Congratulations, Mr. Secretary, for setting the all-time record." That cake was consumed by the Secretary and the Air Force crew --
MR. BURNS: A cake. It was consumed by the Secretary and the crew and the others on the plane. I even believe members of the press corps on the plane were invited to participate in this historic event.
Needless to say, I think this is a good record to have. It shows that the Secretary of State has been active; that he's travelled all over the world in pursuit of strengthening the United States in pursuing our foreign policy. It's a great day.
Q (Inaudible) and stay a year or two more, do you think?
MR. BURNS: We're just going to have to see what happens in the future, Barry. Anything is possible. In fact, with that record in front of him, who knows. He might be able to travel 200,000 miles just in the next couple of months. You never know.
Q Did the Secretary drink decaffeinated virgin Irish coffee to wash down the cake? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: I have no comment on that, Steve. I'm going to have to check with my sources to see what accompanied the cake.
Q That was an Air Force cake he ate?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I believe the cake was an Air Force cake. It was supplied by the crew.
Q And he's only on the second leg of --
MR. BURNS: He's on the second leg of an arduous trip.
Q Will you keep in touch with us, please?
MR. BURNS: I'm going to have a day-by-day -- in fact, we can even have a three-times-a-day report.
Q The people on the plane were told this, weren't they?
MR. BURNS: The reporters on the plane were told this; yes. I'm sure we'll see some Reuters and some AP reports; USA Today, because their correspondent has a particular interest in culinary matters. I'm sure he's going to report on the cake part of this.
Q Could I make a suggestion? Kornblum is in Washington. Will you tell us that because that would be news.
MR. BURNS: He's in Washington right now.
Q Because telling us Kornblum is going on a trip is like saying --
MR. BURNS: John Kornblum is in Washington right now.
Q -- that Holbrooke has a statement to make.
MR. BURNS: I have no comment on the latter part.
Q Secretary of State Baker did not serve a full four years?
MR. BURNS: He served until August -- if I'm not mistaken -- mid- August 1992, when he moved to the White House to become Chief of Staff. Secretary Christopher has not served a full four-years either. He came into office on January 20, so I think fair is fair.
I think Secretary Christopher has shown his endurance and the fact that he's willing to travel all over the world in pursuit of U.S. national interests.
Q Excuse me, we have a colleague with a filing problem, so can I get in a quick question?
Has Milosevic played any role at all in this situation since -- we'll call it a "boycott" -- of the ceremony? Has he weighed in? Has he said he would weigh in? He's not the skier, is he? Has he been remote from all this, or what?
MR. BURNS: President Milosevic called John Kornblum on Sunday evening. The basis of that conversation was that he would try to use his influence to make sure that the Bosnian Serbs participated fully in the creation of the new institutions and in the meetings and ceremonies meant to create the new Bosnian state, which is a very important undertaking.
As always with the Bosnian Serbs and the Serbs, we remain more impressed by actions than words.
Q Nick, could you clarify. Tomorrow is going to be a Contact Group meeting. Is there going to be someone from Sarajevo -- Carl Bildt or Bosnians or Serbs? Or is it at ministerial level?
MR. BURNS: It's not a ministerial-level meeting. It's a meeting of the Contact Group political directors -- in this case, the representative of the United States, John Kornblum. I'm not aware of the full invitation list. Normally, Carl Bildt or someone representing him would take part. You'll have to ask the British. The British are organizing this meeting.
Q You said before something about that. But popular opinion would have it that the United States lost its leverage when they allowed sanctions to be lifted on Belgrade. Do you have something precise on your mind when you told us that you have some strength against the Bosnian Serbs in Belgrade?
MR. BURNS: I would say two things. First, the United States said very clearly on Monday from this podium that we would not hesitate to bring the issue of sanctions back to the U.N. Security Council should the Bosnian Serbs fail to comply with their fundamental commitments to the world community under the Dayton Accords.
Second, the Bosnian Serbs, Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina itself -- all of them -- are going to have to be concerned by the reactions of the international community to how this agreement is implemented. Because all of them want international legitimacy, acceptance, participation in European and North American institutions. They certainly need international reconstruction assistance. They will take seriously, and I think do take seriously, our skeptical point of view here, that we're going to be more impressed by what they do on the ground to meet their commitments than we will by the words that they use in saying what they want to do.
So I think we do have leverage. I think the international community together has an enormous amount of leverage to make sure that the Dayton Accords are fully complied with.
Q You leveled that threat on Monday: Instead of a stick, it would be a toothpick unless you had support from other Council members. Have you had a chance to find out if anyone shares the U.S.' sentiments, particularly the Russians?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe we have taken soundings among the allies on this particular question, but they do know our point of view.
Barry, you're right, there's more than one country on the U.N. Security Council, but the United States is a leading member of the Security Council.
In the case of Bosnia, no country has been more involved over the last year and a half than the United States. I think all of these leaders do understand that the United States continues to exert leverage with our allies and that we won't hesitate to do that in the future.
Q Wouldn't the Serbs just be playing a waiting game until the United States -- all of its troops are out by mid-March? In mid-March, Secretary Perry stated that there will be zero troops in Bosnia.
MR. BURNS: It's not just a question of the presence of troops. It's a question of the longer-term commitment that all of us around the world are willing to make.
The economy in that region is shattered, and it needs to be rebuilt. The countries involved -- Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, now united -- do not have sufficient funds on their own to rebuild their economies, their transport system, their infrastructure to even have a chance of spurring economic growth through the creation of businesses and jobs. That kind of assistance will come from the European Union, the United States, Muslim countries around the world who have taken an interest in this matter.
That kind of assistance will not be forthcoming if one of the parties -- the Bosnian Serbs, namely -- fail to meet their commitments.
If the Bosnian Serbs continue to act up, we can go on assisting the Bosnian Muslims -- the government in Sarajevo -- and deny assistance to the Bosnian Serbs. That's what they've got to be concerned about. I think that is leverage. I think it's very effective leverage. Again, they know that we're serious. They know that we're serious because we met all the commitments that we made in 1995 and 1996.
We used military force in back in '95, when we said we were serious. There's no question of that now. But now that we say that we're serious on the economic end, they will listen to us.
Q Is the subject of the follow-up force going to be discussed at the Contact Group meeting in London tomorrow?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if that's a major issue. I think, actually, the major issue is the work that we have to do to help in building cohesion in the construction of these new national institutions and in getting the politicians to move in the right direction.
The issue of a follow-on security force was discussed in Norway last week by Secretary of Defense Perry and his NATO defense colleagues. You know our position on that. That's under study by NATO, but no decisions have been made.
Q Another subject?
MR. BURNS: Anymore on Bosnia? On Bosnia.
Q According to reports, the Mayor of Tuzla contended today German plans to forcibly repatriate 320,000 refugees living in Germany to Former Yugoslavia. What is the U.S. position of this unhumanitarian German plan? Are you going to allow Greece (inaudible) to repatriate more than 400,000 Albanians?
MR. BURNS: I think, first of all, you should know, Mr. Lambros, that the German Government has been fully in touch with all of its partners, including the United Nations, including Carl Built on the German plan on Bosnian refugees.
Second, no country in the world did more for the Bosnian refugee population than Germany since the beginning of the Bosnian war five years ago. No country in the world shouldered a heavier burden financially or in every other way, logistically, than the German Government.
The German Government, we believe, will meet its responsibilities to make sure that any refugee program, repatriation program, is carried out according to normal international norms.
As I said, the Germans have been fully in touch with all the competent authorities in Bosnia, international and national about this.
Q They're going to repatriate 320,000?
MR. BURNS: The German Government will make the decisions that it feels it must make pursuant to its own national security interests. As I said, the German Government has been in touch with a variety of governments on this. So I think your question is more appropriately directed at the German Government.
But I did want to point out the heavy burden that the German Government has shouldered.
Q Nick, there are rumors floating -- I think primarily in the financial markets -- that Boris Yeltsin has suffered a setback, if not the ultimate setback. Have you folks got any information on that?
MR. BURNS: We heard this rumor a couple of hours ago. It seemed to emanate from New York City, for some mysterious reason.
We have checked with the Russian Government, through our Ambassador in Moscow, Tom Pickering. We have seen the statements by the Russian Government press spokesman, and we've checked with the Russian Embassy here.
What we hear from everyone is that these rumors are totally unfounded, they're untrue, and there's no basis for them.
Q There was an agency report on Friday that the U.S. has rejected Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's call for an international conference on Kashmir. When did
Mrs. Bhutto make this proposal, and to whom? And when was it rejected?
One other thing. It also quoted you as saying that Kashmir should be solved through bilateral negotiations. It said that the U.S. stand on bilateral talks indicated great thinking on the part of the Clinton Administration which earlier used the Russians to intervene in all disputes. Will you comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I can assure you I did not say all those things. But let me just answer your question, On The Record and openly.
We did see a report of a speech made by Prime Minister Bhutto in which she suggested an idea of some kind of international conference on Kashmir. It remains the position of the United States that this is a very difficult problem. We've had a long-standing position on it which has not changed.
We think that India and Pakistan, if they're concerns on the part of the Pakistani Government, perhaps the best way to move forward is to have direct contacts between India and Pakistan which have not been held at senior levels, as you know, for quite some time.
That's really as much as we can say about this.
Q Nick, the Washington Times which tracks such things avidly has a fresh report today of a Chinese nuclear technology sales, or at least providing such technology to Pakistan, saying it's been verified by the State Department and by the CIA. We've dealt with this subject before. It's kind of a circle, and the Chinese deny it usually. I don't know if they've denied this one yet. Is there any basis for that report, do you know?
MR. BURNS: I just have a couple of things to say, Barry. First of all, I want to go back to a theme that I've put forward before, and that is that the United States Government is not going to confirm the contents of alleged intelligence reports, nor are we going to confirm the contents of alleged diplomatic discussions between the United States and China.
The second point I would make is that it appears that there's been another leak of a highly classified intelligence report to a major United States newspaper -- American newspaper here in Washington -- the Washington Times. I focus these remarks on the people who leaked the document, and it is illegal for a United States Government employee to take a highly classified document and give it to a reporter. It is illegal, and there's a very heavy penalty associated with anyone prosecuted for this type of action.
It is also in my own personal view -- and this view is shared by all of my senior colleagues here with whom I've spoken this morning -- highly unethical for any U.S. Government employee to engage in this type of activity. It is not done by the overwhelming number of employees in this government. It is done by very few.
It is harmful to our diplomacy. It is harmful to our ability to conduct stable relations with any country in the world, including China and Pakistan. I wanted to repeat those views, because they're very strongly held by my superiors here in the Department of State as well as by myself.
As to the substance of this issue -- and I think this issue, of course, is fair game; the general issue that we've talked about for a long time -- as is very well-known, the United States opposes assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. As you know, on May 11, the Chinese Government made a statement that it will not provide assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.
When we have questions and when we have concerns about this issue, we raise them directly with the Chinese Government. Secretary Christopher normally raises this general issue with the Chinese leadership, as he did in New York two weeks ago when he met with Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen.
On the specific charge, based on information currently available, we have no reason to believe that China is acting in a way that is inconsistent with the statement that China made on May 11, and that is as much as I am really willing to say about this issue.
Q Well, nevertheless, let me see if we could parse that last remark, because I can think of at least three interpretations of it. I thought perhaps you'd want to be more specific, because they routinely deny that they have violated agreements, and, when you look at these things, there's usually some wriggle room. Their definition of a medium-range missile isn't exactly the same, for instance, as others. You know, they play at the edges of these things, and it's been going on for years.
You haven't said, have you, that China hasn't provided the technology reported in this article. You've said that they say they're not violating agreements. Number one, I don't know if they've provided technology that they say doesn't violate the agreement. I don't know if they've provided technology the U.S. thinks might violate the agreement, or if such technology doesn't violate the agreement. There are all sorts of constructions.
I know you've lumped together, of course, leaking those documents with simply diplomacy with other countries, because that's what we do all day. We ask about diplomacy with other countries.
MR. BURNS: Right. But we don't --
Q And you have no problem with that.
MR. BURNS: No, I don't have any problem with talking about diplomacy with other countries. I do have a problem. This is a very important point.
Q With leaks, yes.
MR. BURNS: With leaks of highly --
Q Well, classified documents.
MR. BURNS: -- classified --
Q I understand.
MR. BURNS: -- documents, that's the distinction here, and it's a felony, and there's a very heavy penalty to pay if people are prosecuted. It's a crime, and all of us who have access to those documents sign statements saying, "We won't do this." And the vast majority of people in this building, in the CIA, in the Pentagon and the White House don't do it -- the overwhelming majority of people.
Q I get your point on leaked documents, but I don't know what it is you're saying that the Washington Times has reported that is or isn't true.
MR. BURNS: I want to be clear about something. I am not restating here Chinese Government views --
Q No, I know.
MR. BURNS: -- and let me just say this. Senior level people in this government have looked at these specific charges, and based on the information available to us, we do not conclude that China has violated the commitments it made in its May 11 statement. We do not conclude that to be the case.
Q Well, just to button it down -- the last thing that would button it down is have they provided that technology, and the conclusion here is it's not violative, or have they not provided the technology and therefore, of course, there's no violation?
MR. BURNS: I really can't help you out specifically. I have chosen my words very carefully. I've thought about what I was going to say, and I don't feel a particular responsibility, given the circumstances of this particular charge, apparently a leaked document -- I don't feel a responsibility to discuss this in great detail.
But I think the statement that I've made is very, very clear about what we think of the charge that China has engaged in activity that violates its May 11 statement in actions subsequent to that statement, and I think that's an important point.
Q The underlying meaning of your complaint about the leaking of a secret document is that if there was such a document and it is being accurately quoted. Is that not right?
MR. BURNS: I have made two points here, basically. One is we object to leaks of documents of this nature. Two is we've given you a very clear, I think, substantive reply to the question that was raised in the article of the basic charge that China has engaged in activity that is inconsistent with its own commitments.
Q Then what you're saying, I think, then is that this specific technology -- this oven and whatever else is involved -- is not necessarily directly concerned with proliferation matters. Is that right?
MR. BURNS: Actually, I am not being specific at all, in answer to the specific technology that was cited in the article, because I choose not to reward the leaker by going through, frankly, all the detail of this matter, which we, of course, have heard about in the past -- charges similar to this.
Q I'm making a point here about timing, and I noticed you used the phrase "action subsequent to that statement." Are you saying that anything that might have happened perhaps before that statement was made?
MR. BURNS: I can't confirm anything that happened before the statement, but, as you know, when we made our own statement back in May about the ring magnets case and China made its statement on May 11, we acknowledged the fact that there had been before May 11 some shipments of concern to us.
Of course, there was a decision made here that for a variety of reasons in the ring magnets case, it wasn't necessary or appropriate or advisable to go forward with sanctions, based upon the circumstances of that case.
But since May 11, China has agreed -- since it issued that statement -- that certain activities will not be undertaken, and my statement today I think is very clear about the charges that were made.
Q Nick, are you prepared to say anything at all about what has happened -- what happened before May 11, specifically with regard to the ring magnets --
MR. BURNS: Well, boy, I gave a press briefing back in May that went on for about 45 minutes on the ring magnets case, and everything I said then I stand by today, and we can get you the transcript of that press briefing.
Q But can you make a definitive statement about these others allegations, including M-11s, ring magnets and the factory for M-11 --
MR. BURNS: We've talked in the past about M-11s. We've talked in the past ad nauseam about ring magnets. We've given on-the-record press conferences. I read a statement by the Secretary of State back in May on the ring magnets issue, and we said everything we have to say about it -- everything we have to say about it.
In the article this morning there were some new charges, if I'm not mistaken, reading the article, and I'm trying to reply to those charges.
Q On those new charges, can you just clarify, does the State Department believe that China sold a special furnace and diagnostic equipment to Pakistan?
MR. BURNS: I've answered that question. We've looked at this question, at this matter very closely, in great detail, and based on the information currently available to us, we do not conclude that China has acted in a way that's inconsistent with this May 11 statement, which is the operative statement, of course.
Q And also, the CIA believes that Chinese leaders, unlike in the case of the ring magnets, probably approved this latest transfer. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I never comment on anything pertaining to the intelligence community.
Q Okay. And also, there's the issue of Chinese officials discussing or indicating that they plan to falsify end-user certificates. In light of that information, is it the Department's position -- do you support what John Holum said today that China is evolving -- its stand towards non-proliferation is evolving in a very positive, constructive direction?
MR. BURNS: Mr. Holum is in China on a five-day visit. I don't think it's fair for you to pick out one sentence that he uttered in a press conference on a variety of issues, because a lot of the questions that he was asked -- in fact most of the questions he was asked had nothing to do with the particular charges that were in your newspaper and your article this morning.
They had to do with other issues in the U.S.-China security relationship, and Mr. Holum, as I read the news report, gave a very general assessment of the overall U.S.-China security relationship and whether or not we were pleased with the types of talks that we're having with the Chinese. Of course, we stand by what Mr. Holum said. He was asked something --
Q Do you agree with what he said?
MR. BURNS: Of course, we stand by what Mr. Holum said.
Q Even in spite of the fact that you --
MR. BURNS: And I hope that's not taken out of context in tomorrow morning's newspaper -- either my statement or Mr. Holum's, because we've had a lot of that in the past.
Q But you're admitting you sent a protest note --
MR. BURNS: Now, going on, Mr. Holum was asked specifically about the charges that came to light in your article this morning, and he made exactly the same statement that I've made, with slightly different words but certainly the same meaning.
Q Do you agree that China's behavior related to proliferation is "very positive and constructive"?
MR. BURNS: I think you're taking Mr. Holum out of context.
Q I'm asking you.
MR. BURNS: Let me just be straight here, because I don't want to be misquoted in the Washington Times, which has happened in the past. I wrote a letter to the editor about the Washington Times about the number of times that I've been misquoted in that newspaper and misrepresented, so I want to be clear about this.
As I understand it, John Holum was responding to a question on an entirely different range of issues. Okay? We stand by his statement. You've asked this morning -- others have asked -- about this specific statement. I've given you two or three times our statement on that, and that's all I've got to say.
Q Nick, lots of countries have taken the pledge not to be proliferators, some a part of various regimes, to -- that's an interest, a strong interest of the
United States to halt proliferation, at least slow it down as best you can.
Does the U.S. routinely quiz countries whether they're behaving right, or can I assume that if you look into something, it's because at least somebody has some reason to maybe be concerned and wants to find out whether there is a basis for concern.
MR. BURNS: Countries are obligated to maintain the commitments they've made internationally. That's the way treaties work. When concerns are raised, specific concerns, about particular countries, we look into all of them, including the variety of charges that have been made about China and Pakistan, over the years. These are not new charges. They are very similar to charges that have been made in the past.
Q Can I ask about Pakistan very briefly. Pakistan. Is Pakistan actively looking for nuclear technology? What is the U.S.'s appraisal of Pakistan's behavior?
MR. BURNS: We have had some concerns. We have had concerns in the past and up to the present about some activities, as you know, of the Government of Pakistan. We've made those concerns known directly to the Government of Pakistan. We've discussed some of those concerns publicly as they arise in newspaper accounts, and I'm sure we'll continue to have a very active dialogue with the Pakistani Government on this issue.
Q Has China backed down since May 11 on any of these other proliferation issues -- the missiles, the ring magnets? Have they said to us that they will desist?
MR. BURNS: I think the Chinese -- you ought to look at the May 11 statement. It's a public statement, and I think it speaks for itself. China has committed that it will not engage in certain types of activities that the United States believes would be injurious to the international community, namely a transfer of certain types of technology to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.
We have a common international interest in trying to stem the proliferation of these technologies, and certainly in the case of Pakistan, which is the relevant case today, those concerns are ongoing, as I said in answer to Barry's question.
Q Can they perform on their commitment -- in other issues besides this one about the furnace?
MR. BURNS: I answered a specific question today about the allegations made in the Washington Times' article, and I gave you a very clear answer to that, and I have answered a variety of other specific questions since May, and our opinion hasn't changed. We'll continue to look into these reports, but we're not aware of any activity that violates China's commitments.
Q Nick, does this equipment mentioned in the newspaper article, if not in the classified document, have an innocent purpose in terms of proliferation?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me, an innocent?
Q Yes. In other words, could it be used for purposes other than advancing proliferation?
MR. BURNS: I'm not an expert in these technologies. I couldn't give you a credible answer as to the possible alternative uses of the type of equipment mentioned in the paper. I just couldn't. I'm sure that people in this building can do that, but I'm not willing to do it based on my own background and knowledge.
MR. BURNS: Oh, certainly. Listen, this issue was looked at the highest levels of the Department and in a discussion of this issue, all of our experts were involved. We looked at this very seriously. This is a very serious charge, and we're confident of the statement we've made today. Absolutely confident about it, yes.
Q Nick, you said several times that based on the information you now have, China has not violated its May 11 agreement. Now, does that mean there might be information out there that you're not aware of yet?
MR. BURNS: We can only act based on the information that's before us. We can't know what the universe of information is out there, so we make the best judgment we can, based on the information that's been presented to us or that we have developed independently, and we have a variety of ways of determining -- of developing information, as you know.
Q Considering the range of proliferation activities that China has engaged in, in just this year alone -- I mean, the press reports alone show that there's clearly a track record of missiles, factories, parts, components to a number of countries. Is it your position that China -- and this has raised questions among critics that the Administration's non-proliferation policy has failed. What's your response to that?
MR. BURNS: First of all, I have a process point, and I have a substantive point. The process point is that I am not going to allow myself to accept the ground rules here that somehow all of the information in the press corps is true; all of the information points the finger at a certain country.
The fact is that we can debate the information and the manner in which the information is obtained is itself under question, and I've already spoken to that. The fact is it's illegal for people to transfer this type of information to the press corps is a very serious point.
On the second question, I challenge anybody to a debate about the success of our proliferation policy. If you look at what we've done in freezing North Korea's nuclear program; what we've done since January 20, 1993, in reducing the number of nuclear powers in the former Soviet Union from four to one; in stemming proliferation problems underway in Kazakstan -- a very notable success of the Administration in Russia and Ukraine; and if you look at what we have done in the case of Pakistan and India and other countries, we have been vigilant -- this Administration.
I know this from experience, because I worked in the White House in the prior Administration on this issue. This Administration has put more time into it, more money into it, has made it a stated high-level goal of its foreign policy. The President has talked about it in State of the Union addresses; in addresses to the United Nations. No other American President has ever done that.
No other American President has ever formed an interagency working group that is solely devoted to nuclear smuggling and to proliferation, and President Clinton has done it. I challenge anybody to debate the record of this Administration.
Q What about on China? What's the record on China?
MR. BURNS: On China, I think we have been open with you about every single charge that anyone has leveled against us or any questions that have arisen about China's conduct. We have been concerned, as you know. We've been concerned about this problem. We've asked questions. We've raised issues, and I think in the understandings that we have reached with the Chinese Government in the fall of 1994 on the missiles, in the spring of 1996 on the ring magnets case, I think we have worked to push the Chinese Government towards a more serious commitment to join us in fighting proliferation.
I think we've made this a first order issue with the Chinese publicly as well as privately. I'm not embarrassed at all about our record with China.
Q Nick, the part where is no -- a problem of the definition. You know, there's a definition.
MR. BURNS: I don't think so in this particular case. I can tell you in this case we looked into this very carefully --
Q What's new technology (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: Very carefully, we looked into these charges, and I think the statement I gave you, which is crystal clear, speaks for itself.
Q (Inaudible) the Chinese and the U.S. Do they speak the same language now so far as --
MR. BURNS: I think we do now. I think because of the agreements that we've worked out in 1994 and 1996, there's no question that they understand what we understand to be a violation of MTCR commitments, of U.S. sanctions law. We understand what the May 11 statement says. They understand what our statement on ring magnets said.
I think we have a clear understanding in terms of the terminology and the words that one uses, and the lines in the sand that ones draws. We have an understanding about what we're talking about here.
Q It seems to be you're being more reactive then proactive on this issue.
MR. BURNS: On the issue of proliferation in general?
Q Well, with China, in the way that some of these charges have been put forward.
MR. BURNS: Here's what's happening. Here's the dynamic. Somebody, not in the State Department, I believe, is leaking classified -- highly classified intelligence documents on this particular issue to the Washington Times; and that means when the articles are printed in the Washington Times, all of you come to the briefing, and you ask all these questions, which you have a right to do.
I am reacting to those questions, but I can tell you that we are proactively raising this issue in our private meetings with the Chinese. Ambassador Sasser is doing so on a regular basis, and Secretary of State Christopher is. The press corps, as I remember, didn't ask him to raise these issues two weeks ago in New York City. He did it on his own volition, because it is a major issue in this relationship. So I don't feel in the least bit defensive here, but I am answering the questions.
Q Are you doing anything about investigating the source of this leaked document?
MR. BURNS: As always, that's a matter for law enforcement agencies in this government, and I can tell you, based on the continual stream of leaks, there have been, I think, inquiries made by law enforcement agencies into who might be leaking these documents illegally.
I'm not just saying that for the record. I'm saying it personally speaking, it's wrong to do this. It's a violation of the oath you take as an officer in this government, and everybody I know agrees with that.
Q Would a document like this circulate to the legislative branch?
MR. BURNS: I don't know about a particular alleged document. There is a relationship and a commitment that the intelligence agencies have to give certain documents to the Congress. I am not insinuating in any way that the leak is coming from Capitol Hill. I don't know where it's coming from. I don't believe it's coming from this building.
Q But if someone received a document, they -- really, I don't know -- I mean, have they violated some law? I mean, would you try to prosecute --
MR. BURNS: I'm not talking -- I've been very careful this time and the last couple times not to point the finger --
Q What is --
MR. BURNS: Not to point -- let me just be clear about this.
Q What's the liability of the press here?
MR. BURNS: Since I'm not a lawyer and I haven't read the entire law, okay, so I've been very careful not to point the legal -- point out the legal problems for the reporters. In this case, a colleague of ours is sitting here. I've been very careful not to do that.
What I've done is -- because I have taken an oath and all other officers of the government have taken an oath -- to point out that we are prohibited by law -- we, who serve in the government -- from passing on these documents to you in the press corps. It is not a minor offense. It's a major offense. So that's my answer.
Q I didn't mean (inaudible) but that's okay.
MR. BURNS: I thought that's what you meant, Barry.
Q You do not object, Mr. Burns, to the publication of this information, or do you? Should it not be published?
MR. BURNS: We do object to it. We don't think that highly classified intelligence information or summaries of it should appear in national newspapers. The reason why you have a system of classifying information from Top Secret to Secret to Confidential to Unclassified is you want to protect that information for national security reasons.
If we had a government where every document was available to all you in the press, democracy couldn't function, and we couldn't function. There would be utter chaos, and we would not have an effective foreign policy. So, therefore, some information has to be kept out of the public eye.
Q So it is the responsibility and incumbent on the press not to let this information out to the public -- to turn it back.
MR. BURNS: I am focusing my remarks on individuals who work for the U.S. Government. You in the press corps have to make your own decisions and examine your own ground rules as to whether or not you print information like this. I am just talking about government officials. You'll have to answer these questions about whether journalists should be printing the information.
Q What is the policy of the Secretary on this?
MR. BURNS: I've stated it. It's not a question of policy. It's a question of law. The law made by the Congress makes this illegal, and everyone in the government knows about it.
Q I have one more on this one.
MR. BURNS: You've got one more on this one.
Q You've been repeating several times a statement and saying that it's crystal clear, but you're not answering a number of questions. Just for the record, am I right, you are not going to answer the following questions.
Number one, is there a type of special furnace and diagnostic equipment which has solely nuclear use, or are there other uses this equipment can have?
MR. BURNS: I'm not answering that question. Right.
Q And, number two, do you have any information suggesting that the Chinese may have sold to Pakistan prior to May 11 the kind of equipment described in this article?
MR. BURNS: We've talked in the past about concerns we had, and I've mentioned this at the beginning of this incredible dialogue that we've had today. We have had concerns -- ongoing concerns prior to May 11 and after May 11, and we've noted -- in fact, when we announced the ring magnet decision, there was no question about whether there had been a transfer of ring magnets. There was a transfer of ring magnets.
The question was -- related to the question of sanctions -- was there knowledge by senior-level people, and we answered that question.
Q Why would you --
MR. BURNS: So we have answered that question before.
Q Excuse me, why would you have concerns after May 11? It could be because the track record before May 11 was questionable, or it could be because you came upon some information that raised concerns.
MR. BURNS: We've had concerns, and, when we have those concerns, we look into them, and we examine questions.
Q I mean, you don't question Britain's commitment to proliferation --
MR. BURNS: No, we do not.
MR. BURNS: No, we do not.
Q Or, you know, or Mali, but if you're concerned about the Chinese --
MR. BURNS: Mali? The Secretary -- thank you for that opening. We're going to shift the conversation to Africa.
The Secretary had a very positive --
Q No, I know. (Laughter) I heard he might stay a third day, because he couldn't get it all done in two days, but --
MR. BURNS: In fact, he went to a village where we have our Peace Corps volunteers, and it was a terrific visit, and the Malians welcomed him with open arms. We have an excellent relationship with Mali, and I'm glad to make the transition, because we've gone over this.
David, do you have any more questions you want to ask about this?
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
Q No, I just want to ask really about the Chinese thing and maybe end it. I mean, it's the last thing I want to ask. And that is why did you have concerns -- what aroused your concerns after May 11 -- previous track record?
MR. BURNS: This is a very serious issue which is one of the priorities for this Administration, as I said in answer to Bill's question. Therefore, when questions arise, we look into them seriously.
Q The questions did arise then?
MR. BURNS: When they do arise.
Q But they did.
MR. BURNS: When they do arise.
Q Wait a minute, you raised -- you had concerns after May 11, and you say you have concerns when questions arise.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q So your concerns --
MR. BURNS: In July, we had concerns. In August we had concerns.
Q I can only draw one conclusion, questions arise --
MR. BURNS: In September we had concerns. And each time a reporter said, "Do you have concerns," I said yes.
MR. BURNS: We look into all allegations made. We take all allegations seriously. The specific question of today is -- and we're going to get out of this conversation in about two seconds -- is what is our reaction to the Washington Times' report, and I gave it. I gave it three times.
MR. BURNS: Thank you, Charlie. Yes, Afghanistan.
Q Do you have any reports on the apparent stalled drive of the Taliban and also the status of our diplomat who may or may not have left for Kabul?
MR. BURNS: We certainly understand that Taliban troops and troops loyal to Ahmed Shah Masood have engaged in a firefight -- have been fighting each other in the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul. We do not know the extent of the casualties. We don't know which side came out best. We've seen reports of a Taliban retreat.
Frankly, since we don't have American Government people in the area or even reliable press reports at this point, we don't know who's winning this current round of the fighting.
Our very strong belief is that the various Afghan factions should discover that they're not going to resolve their problems on the battlefield; that they have to try to engage in some kind of effort to stop the fighting and deal with their problems politically among themselves, and that's the recommendation we've given to all the factions -- Masood faction, Dostam faction, the Taliban and others.
We will maintain contact with all of them, including the Taliban. But I've nothing to report about the trip of the American diplomat into Kabul, because it has not yet happened.
Q First of all, on Iraq, is there any truth to the report that Mr. Barzani or some other high-ranking KDP official will be coming to Washington to meet Ambassador Pelletreau next week?
MR. BURNS: As I've said a couple of times, we have had discussions with Mr. Barzani. I don't believe he will be coming to Washington, but some of his KDP colleagues will be coming to Washington. I am not aware that we have set a date for their visit. I can check into that for you, Yasmine. I'm just not aware. I think my knowledge is as late as yesterday on this that we have set a date.
Q Do you know if French and Turkish officials here will be participating in the talks? Excuse me -- British and French.
MR. BURNS: I don't know what Ambassador Pelletreau has in mind here, whether these will be strictly talks -- American-Kurdish talks or whether Turks or Brits in the case will participate.
Q Could I ask you about Turkey. Your Turkish counterpart this morning dismissed your remarks, criticizing Prime Minister Erbakan's trip in Africa, as unacceptable, and he also said that the U.S. has not conveyed its concern through diplomatic channels. It looks like, you know, you're making a statement from this podium here, and it's being answered by another statement from another podium in Ankara. It looks like you're not preferring the private news or discussion in this. Is this public discussion producing any results? Have you heard anything from Ankara that is a relief about your concerns about the trip?
MR. BURNS: First of all, I stand by everything that I've said over the last two days, as do my superiors in the Department of State.
Secondly, we hope that what we have said publicly -- and it was unfortunate that we had to go public, but let's remember who went public first -- it's unfortunate that we had to resort to this kind of public debate, but it was necessary to defend the interests of the United States and to defend the truth.
Third, we have raised this issue privately.
And, fourth, we hope that this issue can be resolved privately, as disagreements among allies normally are, and that's how we intend to operate in the coming days.
Q Just to be sure, because your counterpart said it wasn't discussed privately, but you're saying it's still being discussed privately.
MR. BURNS: Certainly, it is.
Q In Ankara or here or both?
MR. BURNS: I believe both places, yes.
Q Nick, 3,000 of South Korean citizens were --
MR. BURNS: We're just going to stay on this subject for a minute, and then we're going to go to South Korea.
Q Do you have anything on Erbakan who upon his return to Ankara today from his grand tour stated provocatively the following: "We have returned like victorious Roman commanders." (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, I have not seen that statement, and so I can't --
Q It was in the Reuters dispatch. It is all over. Still he is provoking the USA, the West and everyone, so I would like you to comment.
MR. BURNS: I've not seen the statement; and, as I've said, we have been very clear in the past few days about our own unhappiness with Mr. Erbakan's statements, and we'll continue to discuss this privately with the Turkish Government.
Q (Inaudible) information that you're in process to invite here Suleyman Demirel for a decision.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me, who has been invited? I didn't quite make that out.
Q The President of Turkey, Suleyman Demirel.
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that there's been any invitation to President Demirel, no, to visit the United States. I'm not aware of one, no. But we'll continue to have close contacts with the Turkish Government on this issue and on others. Turkey is a NATO ally.
Q What has been their response? In 48 hours, do you have any official response from them?
MR. BURNS: From the Turkish Government?
MR. BURNS: I think we've seen a variety of statements from the Turkish Government publicly and privately, and this is a big internal issue in Turkey. I think it's appropriate to allow the Turks to discuss this privately among themselves.
We said what we did, and we stand by it, because it was important that we spoke out on that matter.
Q Erbakan's party -- some member of Erbakan's party, they claim that the Turkish -- American reaction for the visit is too big and too speculative, because they said that the President of Egypt, Mr. Mubarak, has a very good relation with Libya, which they are the biggest U.S. aid --
MR. BURNS: President Mubarak has consistently criticized the Libyan Government for its involvement in Pan Am 103, as have most other leaders around the world.
Q How about Tunis?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
MR. BURNS: I think most of the North African governments and the Arab governments -- they carry on contacts with the Libyan Government, but they certainly understand that there are U.N. sanctions in place against Libya, because Libya was directly involved in the shootdown of Pan Am Flight 103, December 21, 1988 -- 269 people dead, among them many Americans -- among them three State Department employees whose names are on our memorial plaque in C Street. See, we don't forget these things, and that's what the Libyans need to understand. We're never going to forget this incident until the two individuals who are currently living in Libya, with a $4 million price on their heads, until they're delivered to the United States for prosecution in a U.S. court.
We can't forget it when Americans are killed by terrorists, and our allies need to understand that. This is very serious business for the United States, and not just for those of us in the government -- for the American people. That's what was at issue over the last 48 hours. That's why we responded the way we did.
Q Nick, could you provide an update, possibly, if this is an occasion for it, those Kurds that worked for various U.S. Government offices -- remember, that were being taken out. I think we lost track of that.
MR. BURNS: Roughly 2,100 Kurds and members of other minority groups in northern Iraq who worked directly for the United States Government were taken to Guam. They are being processed in Guam for asylum into the United States.
There is another group of people in northern Iraq who worked for American private voluntary organizations not associated with the U.S. Government. The question is, what should we do to protect them?
We don't believe that this particular group of people are in any immediate threat because we don't believe Saddam Hussein's influence stretches as far northward as most of them are. But we do believe in the long term, since Saddam's security forces have engaged in such outrageous, objectionable behavior in the past, we do believe in the long term that we have to at least consider what their long-term security threats may be -- the rest to them may be, excuse me -- therefore, we are studying the possibility of trying to help these particular people leave northern Iraq and make their way to safety elsewhere in the world.
This has been under active consideration in our government. We've not made any final decisions on them.
Q How many people are there, approximately? Do you know?
MR. BURNS: This is a larger group of people which would exceed the number of the first group. I don't have an exact number because, I think, actually that's one of the questions: What is the size of people who might potentially benefit from a U.S. Government assistance program to help them leave northern Iraq?
Q Do you have the numbers of the first group that have been taken to Guam in terms of processing? We know how many went there, but I'm talking about from there. Have any come to the U.S. yet?
MR. BURNS: I'll have to check for you. I don't believe so. The processing takes a while -- several weeks, several months, in some cases. Let me check with our Refugees Bureau.
Q To see if maybe 10 or 20 or 100 --
MR. BURNS: Right, right. Dimitrios.
Q Yes, I have a question.
Q The Iraqi Foreign Minister --
MR. BURNS: Why don't we stay here.
Q The Iraqi Foreign Minister seems to be holding out an olive branch. Does the Administration have any response to that?
MR. BURNS: It's nonsense, frankly. We saw this naive statement by the Iraqi Foreign Minister offering us sweetness and beautiful relations. The Iraqi Government knows what it's going to take to have normal relations with the United States.
What happened to the 600 Kuwaitis who Saddam's security goons took into custody in August 1990 who have disappeared? Why doesn't the Iraqi Government stop its persecution of the Kurdish population in the North, and the Shi'a population in the South? Why doesn't Saddam stop trying to build nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons? Why doesn't he stop trying to invade his neighbors as he has done consistently since 1990 and threatened his neighbors?
If the Iraqi Government can show us by word, but more importantly by deed, that it's interested in acting responsibly on those issues and others, then there's a possibility that we might reconsider our current policy. But I can't imagine Saddam Hussein ever qualifying under the standards that we have put out for him, which are reasonable and which protect and American and Arab interests in the region.
Q A follow-up on the Kurds -- the second group. Has anything happened that made you change your mind about the urgency of their situation? Because when this was raised with the Turkish Foreign Minister by the Secretary in New York two or three weeks ago, it looked like it was an urgent situation, and a second evacuation operation was imminent.
Why are you saying now that you are not sure that they are under immediate threat?
MR. BURNS: Actually, when the Secretary raised this with Mrs. Ciller -- I was present at that meeting -- it was pretty much in the terms that I've set out for you. This is an issue that we think we should look at to be responsible. We need to get a better handle on the number of individuals involved, where they're living, what the immediate and longer-term security threats to them may be; what any operation would entail. We need to work closely with Turkey on all those questions.
When the Secretary raised it in that tone in that way, he did not say it was urgent, that it needed to be done that day. He did not indicate what decision, finally, we would make. So I think we've been consistent publicly and privately on this.
Q Is the screening process a problem for you at this point?
MR. BURNS: I think we can develop a screening process that will work. We did in the first group of 2,100 people; a screening process that made sure that no Iraqi agents or terrorists were involved. I know that's a concern of Turkey, and that's a legitimate concern of Turkey.
Q A follow, Nick. Does heavy fighting continue between the forces of Mr. Talabani and Mr. Barzani up in the North? And does that not threaten those people who were working for the NGOs?
MR. BURNS: We're not aware of heavy fighting. There is some fighting going on, but I wouldn't say it's heavy. Nothing approximating the fighting in the earlier part of September.
Q I have a question on Cyprus. Is it true that the Special Coordinator of the Department, Ambassador Williams, will depart his position very soon? And if it's so, why? And who will be replacing him?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that Ambassador Jim Williams is going to move onto other duties in the State Department after what we all believe is very distinguished service as Special Cyprus Coordinator.
This change in no way signifies any lessening of the Administration's resolve to be helpful to the parties on Cyprus, to Greece and Turkey and the Cypriot Government itself. It is simply a change in normal rotation in Ambassador Williams' duties.
As you know, those of us who are Foreign Service officers normally serve two or three years in a job and then move on. That's consistent with Ambassador Williams case.
Richard Beattie, the President's Special Emissary on Cyprus, continues to be the Administration's point person on Cyprus.
Secretary Christopher had lunch with him a week and a half ago to discuss Cyprus. He remains very actively involved. We also have our excellent Ambassador Ken Brill, our Ambassador to Cyprus, as well as Ambassador Tom Niles in Athens and Marc Grossman in Turkey. So we have no shortage of people who are working on this issue with determination to see what the United States can do to help.
Q You will not have any successor to Ambassador Williams as the State Department --
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware, at this point, of who may succeed him. In the interim, we have Ambassador Beattie, who works for the Secretary of State as well as the President. We have the three Ambassadors, particularly Ambassador Brill whom I've mentioned. The Secretary has absolute confidence in Ambassador Brill as well as Mr. Beattie.
Q Nick, the problem isn't of the sort that requires a special -- this was symbolic as well as significant that you had someone specially assigned to that. In fact, Holbrooke was going to take that on as his last problem and left before he got to it when Bosnia tied him down.
What are you saying? Are you saying that the situation in Cyprus isn't as tense or as difficult as it was? We've had special mediators for Cyprus for a long time now. He's not the first.
MR. BURNS: Mr. Beattie is the President and Secretary of State's Special Emissary. He works out of New York. He's frequently here and frequently in the field. He continues his duties as Special Emissary along with our Ambassador to Cyprus.
The only other point I'm trying to make is that I don't want anyone to think that because Ambassador Williams is now following a normal rotation to another job in the Department, this somehow sends a political signal of diminished interest.
Q I thought you were suggesting he wouldn't be replaced.
MR. BURNS: I don't know who is going to replace him. I don't know when that decision will be made, and I can't speculate on that.
Q So he will be replaced, but you don't know who? Or you're not sure --
MR. BURNS: As you know, we've had a Special Cyprus Coordinator, and it's really an issue that's been worked out with the United States Congress. But at this point, I'm just not in a position to say who is going to replace him and when that's going to happen.
Q If, who or when?
MR. BURNS: I think there's probably going to be someone who takes up his duties. I just can't tell you who that is.
Q On Turkey. Just for the record, Muammar Qadhafi, in the presence of Erbakan, stated that "Turkey is under occupation by Western powers. Turkey, a country under American control, has opened up its oil to American bases. Turkey has concluded an accord with Israel, the enemy of Islam."
My question is, could you please comment on this, the Qadhafi-Erbakan connection --
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, as Yogi Berra once said, this is deja vu all over again. (Laughter) The fact is, I answered this question on Monday and on Tuesday, and I kind of answered today indirectly. You can't trust Muammar Qadhafi.
Q You saw the newspaper today that said the Administration keeps up attack on the Turkish Prime Minister. You have a shot at a third day getting into the Washington Post. (Laughter) You don't want to try?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing new to say.
Q The Post loves the story.
MR. BURNS: The Post does, and I don't blame the Post for liking the story. We have nothing new to say to add to the very clear, consistent statements that I made over the last 48 hours, supported by the Secretary of State, the Acting Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, Ambassador John Kornblum, and Ambassador Marc Grossman. We have nothing new to say to that statement.
I don't want anyone to think that --
Q You haven't changed your mind?
MR. BURNS: -- we've changed our mind, because we haven't. The only thing I can say to Mr. Lambros' question is this. Qadhafi is an unreliable, untrustworthy person. The sooner that our friends understand that, the better off all of us will be.
MR. BURNS: Yes, gladly go to Korea.
Q The American detained and charged in North Korea?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I can tell you that yesterday in New York City, American diplomats from the State Department met with North Korean diplomats attached to the North Korean Mission to the United Nations. As part of a variety of subjects that they talked, the American diplomats raised the issue of the young man who is incarcerated in Pyongyang.
The United States strongly urged in the meeting yesterday that this man be freed. He is innocent. There is no reason to hold him. We will continue to make this point to the North Koreans at every opportunity. We have an obligation. The State Department has an obligation to this man to give him our support, our help, our consular protection through our protecting power, the Swedish Government.
The Swedish Government continues to seek access to him. We hope that the access is granted as soon as possible, tomorrow. They haven't had access -- the Swedes -- since September 17. We want to make sure that this young man is okay, that his health is adequate -- at least, adequate -- and that he's being given the proper food and the proper medical care.
One cannot make the assumption that conditions in prisons are good, especially in a country like North Korea. We're concerned about this.
The best way for the North Koreans to handle this situation is for them to release this individual to a free country. That's what we want.
Q The North Koreans are saying up there that the U.S. made its argument on humanitarian grounds. Of course, that's part of your argument. Did the U.S. also make these other points yesterday, that he's innocent?
MR. BURNS: Absolutely. Absolutely, and there's no question about that.
Q You said you hope that the Swedes gained access as soon as possible, and you said tomorrow?
MR. BURNS: The Swedes; yes.
Q Do you have any reason to believe that they're going to?
MR. BURNS: The Swedes have made a request to get in immediately to see this individual in jail. It's the North Korean obligation to allow diplomats access to individuals under their responsibility. The Swedes do have responsibility for American citizens in North Korea.
The North Koreans have an obligation here. They must meet their obligation. They must give us access. The easiest way for them to resolve this problem with the United States -- and it's a big problem -- is to release him.
Q Tomorrow, the meeting by the Swedes is going to take place -- do you think it's going to take place? Or are you just hopeful?
MR. BURNS: We don't know. The Swedes have requested a meeting. We're hopeful that there will be a consular visit to this individual. Until it happens, I don't want to predict that it's going to happen because we know how opaque a society it is that we're dealing with.
Q How did the North Koreans respond to the American diplomat in the meeting yesterday when the American --
MR. BURNS: I don't want to go into the details of the conversation or even the tone. I want to maximize our possibility of having him released as soon as we can.
We're going to resist the temptation to go back to Erbakan just for a minute. (Laughter) I feel very comfortable talking about Asian issues now. We've exhausted the China issue, the Erbakan issue, the Bosnia issue. Barry needs to go and file.
Q I just wanted to go to America for a minute.
MR. BURNS: I need to have lunch. There are a couple of other issues.
Q Have you received a request from the Peruvian Government to assist in the removal of the wreckage of the Aero Peru plane? There was a U.S. Navy team that discovered the location of the plane today, apparently.
MR. BURNS: I don't know. We can check into that and get back to you on that. I don't know the answer to that.
Any other questions on Asia?
Q Three bodies were found in South Korea. They seem to be murdered by North Korean spies, instigators. So what is the Department's position? What is the Department's view on this incident?
MR. BURNS: We have seen the press reports. The United States is not in a position to corroborate these charges that have been made. This is a matter for the South Korean law enforcement agencies.
Q You chose two times to criticize Daniel Ortega as apparently no valid candidate or someone that you cannot have cooperation, a good relationship. I was wondering why, if he takes part in the fair and democratic elections and he has changed at least part of his old policies, what does he have to do in order to be an able candidate or an able president of Nicaragua?
MR. BURNS: As Tammy Wynette once said, this is a day of standing by your man, and I don't mean Ortega, I mean me. I'm going to stand by my statements that I made last week.
I was asked by Mr. Ensor of the American Broadcasting Corporation whether or not I would use the words "good democrat" to describe Daniel Ortega. Those words don't rush to mind when we think of Daniel Ortega. I would not use those words to describe him. He has a past. His past is an anti-American past in many respects. We remember the past, so I would not use words to describe him in that manner.
As you know, as I also stated on the record yesterday, the United States Government objects to the fact that in the current political campaign he and his political party have used images of him with a U.S. Congressman to insinuate that somehow Daniel Ortega has a beautiful relationship with the United States Government. I can tell you that that's not the case.
Q What does he have to do in order to open a new chapter between you and him?
MR. BURNS: I would refer you to a Wall Street Journal article this morning which talks about his cozy relationship with Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qadhafi, for starters. Actions -- actions -- are always more important than promises when dealing with people who have been adversaries of the United States in the past.
We really can't go back to Mr. Erbakan. We've done that subject.
Bill, you have a question.
Q Daniel Ortega. In the 80's -- especially 1984 -- he played host to most of the terrorist nations on this planet, to many of the then- communist regimes on his July 19th anniversary, Nick.
Back to this man's question --
MR. BURNS: Barry, the rules are, if the senior correspondent asks for another question to be asked, you have to stay and listen to this.
We've done Erbakan. My short answer is this.
Q Has this guy changed his spots?
MR. BURNS: I think I've answered the question. I think we've been explicit about Mr. Ortega. Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:29 p.m.)
-32- Wednesday, 10/9/96
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