U.S. Department of State 96/10/10 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, October 10, l996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Secretary's Mtgs in Addis Ababa/Travel to Arusha.............. 1 Amb. Ross Statement re: Alternating Venues for Peace Process Talks/Timing of Meetings/U.S. Representation in Absence of Amb. Ross................................................... 1,7-8 A/S Kornblum in London for Contact Group Mtg.................. 2 A/S Lord Arrival in Seoul, South Korea........................ 2 Joint Statement: U.S.-Oman Cooperation........................ 2 Statement on Joint State-Justice Effort re: Child Abduction Across International Borders/ Efforts to Assist Parents Having Custodial Rights/#s of American Children Abducted/ Incidence of Non-U.S. Children Coming to U.S............................. 2-7 NORTH KOREA Swedish Diplomat to Visit Arrested AmCit/Concern for Welfare.. 3-4 CYPRUS NSC Advisor Lake Comments re: Efforts to Resolve Dispute...... 8-9 TURKEY Relations with Erbakan Govt/Reduction in U.S. Economic Assistance/Economic Losses Resulting from Delay in Implementation of Res. 986/Diplomatic Contacts re: Erbakan Statements in Libya......................................... 9-13 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Commitment of Both Delegations Not to Renegotiate Oslo Accords/U.S. Position on Settlements Near Hebron/Plan for Muslim Prayer Hall Near Temple Mount.....................13-17,34 Attendance of Amb. Ross at Negotiations...........................30 No Plans for Secretary to Travel to Middle East...................30 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Amb. Galbraith and Amb. Redman Testimony in Response to Congressional Inquiry re: Arms Deliveries from Iran to Bosnia/Dept. Actions to Comply with Congressional Request... 18-20 Reported Comments by Carl Bildt on Continued Presence of International Forces in Bosnia.............................. 20 Possible Nomination of Richard Holbrooke for Nobel Peace Prize....................................................... 20 Statement by German Minister on Plan for Resettling Refugees.. 21-22 CHINA Distinction Between Illegal Transfer of Classified Information and Discussion on Background with Press Corps............... 23-24 Washington Post Article on Technology Transfer...............21,24-25 Detention of Liu Xiaobo/Abuse of Due Process.................. 26 Issue of Human Rights Raised at Secretary's UNGA Mtg with Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen............................ 27 Secretary's Trip to China Scheduled for November 21-22........ 28 UNITED NATIONS Secretary's Discussions in Africa re: Appt of New Sec Gen..... 30-31 COLOMBIA U.S. Aid to Military/Record on Counter-Narcotics Efforts/ Endorsement of Resumption of Extradition Agreement with U.S. 31-32 BURMA Possibility of Additional Sanctions/Actions by U.S. Municipal Governments to Limit Trade Actions of Local Companies....... 32-24 AFGHANISTAN U.S. Efforts to Discourage Heroin Production.................. 33 EGYPT Economic Summit Scheduled for November 12, 1996............... 33
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1996, 1:18 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Let me just tell you that the Secretary of State had a very busy day in Addis Ababa today. He went over to the Organization of African Unity Center. He toured their crisis center. He met with Salim Salim. They had a very positive meeting. They talked about the Africa crisis response force.
He met with Prime Minister Meles, which was a good meeting. In the course of that meeting, he conveyed the concerns of the United States about press freedoms in Ethiopia. I think all of you know that there was a little bit of controversy about whether journalists could cover the press conferences there, and the Secretary had his own press conferences and invited all journalists to attend. The Secretary also visited an AID project in conjunction with the organization CARE outside of the city.
Tomorrow, the Secretary will be in Arusha in Tanzania. He'll be meeting with President Museveni, President Mkapa, President Moi and former President Nyerere about problems and opportunities and issues concerning our relations with those East African countries.
He'll also be meeting with Justice Arbour, who is the new head of the War Crimes Commissions -- in this case the Rwanda War Crimes Commission -- taking over the duties of Justice Goldstone, who's returned to South Africa.
On the Middle East, I can tell you that we are now just releasing a statement in Israel by Ambassador Dennis Ross, which notes that the steering committee of the Israelis and Palestinians met today; that they have agreed that as of Monday, October 14, they will conduct their meetings on a rotating basis in Taba and in Eilat, both of those being cities on the Red Sea; that both have agreed not to reopen or renegotiate the Oslo accords; that they will discuss the mechanisms and modalities for how best to implement the Oslo accords.
So the agreement is to move to Eilat and to Taba; have the venue rotate between the two, which are very close to each other, and then to negotiate on the basis of not reopening or renegotiating the Oslo accords. That is a step forward. As Ambassador Ross has been saying, he thinks that both sides now do have an appreciation for the needs of the other and are negotiating in good faith.
I can also tell you that Assistant Secretary Kornblum is in London. He's still in a Contact Group meeting concerning the Bosnia situation, and specifically the recalcitrants of the Bosnian Serbs, on a variety of questions. I think there is unity in the Contact Group; that we need to move forward and implement the Dayton accords.
Assistant Secretary of State Win Lord has arrived in Seoul for a three-day visit. He is there in order to conduct comprehensive talks with the South Koreans but also to make very clear to the South Korean public and government and to the North Koreans that the United States stands firmly with South Korea amidst this rash of bizarre and unfortunate incidents provoked by North Korea over the last couple of weeks, including the submarine incident and including the incarceration of an American citizen who's being held unjustly.
I also want to just note two public statements that we are posting in the press room for you. The first is a joint statement on United States cooperation with Oman. You know that Yusif bin Alawi, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, has been visiting Washington. He met with Strobe Talbott, our Acting Secretary of State, yesterday, and he's also met with Peter Tarnoff, our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Excellent meetings between the United States and Oman, and I have a press statement that we're issuing right now that is available for you in the press room.
Finally, another press statement today about a new initiative by the State Department and the Justice Department to try to help American citizens who unfortunately many, many times over the course of a year find themselves involved in child custody and abducted children cases.
It is an unfortunate fact of modern times that in hundreds of cases per year, American children are abducted across international borders, generally by one of their parents. This usually happens when there's an estranged marriage. It usually happens when there's an international marriage -- an American citizen and a foreign citizen married.
Under this agreement, the Justice and State Departments will work together to try to build support for American citizens/parents who find themselves in a position of having their children abducted, and to work with foreign governments where these crimes normally take place to make sure that American parents will have the rights under their laws as well as our laws in order to get their children back.
This is a major problem that our Consular Officers all over the world have to deal with. I would encourage you to take a close look at this, because child custody and abduction cases are part of the work that we do overseas for the American public and an increasingly important part of the work that we do.
Q Nick, on the jailed American, any word on the Swede's efforts to see him?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I understand that the Swedish diplomat, Mr. Lofquist, will visit our American citizen tomorrow, October 11. He last saw him on September 17. We're very grateful to the Swedish Government for the excellent work that they are doing as our protecting power in North Korea.
At the same time, let me just say we hope and trust that the American citizen is in good health, is being given the proper care and treatment that he deserves under international law and regulations, and we hope that the North Korean Government will elect to release him immediately.
We will await very anxiously Mr. Lofquist's report. I'm not sure we'll have this by tomorrow, however, because I believe he's got to take a four-hour train ride from Pyongyang to visit the American; and then, of course, communications being what they are in North Korea, I'm just not confident that we'll have a report here 24 hours from now about whether or not his visit was successful.
Q Do you have the location by any chance, and will there be -- has the American had any legal advice or access to legal advice?
MR. BURNS: During the last meeting, which was September 17, sometime ago, the American citizen was housed in a hotel. We believe that is still the case, but we can't be sure that's the case, because we have not had access to him, the Swedes haven't, since the 17th of September.
Certainly, the Swedish diplomat will ask the variety of questions that you would expect him to ask. Is he being well treated? Is he being mistreated at all? Is he aware of the charges filed against him? Does he have an ability to protect himself, to defend himself against these charges?
Given the state of North Korea's legal system and given the nature of the government, we're not at all confident that he would receive a fair trial, should this case be brought to trial; and, since he's innocent of all these charges -- in fact, they're ludicrous charges -- we believe that he should be released immediately. We have an obligation to protect American citizens overseas, and we're doing that in this case, and we're watching North Korea's treatment of this individual very carefully.
Q Could I just ask about your announcement on the State Department/Justice Department -- you know, on abducted children. Could you be a little more specific? What is it that these two departments are going to try to do to build support for the parents?
MR. BURNS: Each year, approximately 1,000 American children are abducted or illegally retained in foreign countries by a parent. But, generally, when a marriage is estranged or the marriage is broken up, and generally in cases where the child is living in the United States with one of his parents, the other parent is living overseas, usually in his or her native country.
The Hague Convention, which is an international treaty that the United States ratified in 1988, does address the problem of international abductions by parents. The treaty provides for the prompt return of wrongfully removed or retained children to the country of where they are living. But this only governs -- The Hague treaty -- only applies when the two countries involved are both adherents to the treaty.
We are going to make a concerted effort to try to convince other countries to adhere to this treaty and to agree to the provisions of the treaty, so that in a hypothetical case when a child is abducted to a country far away in Europe or the Middle East or in Asia, our citizens have a much better possibility under international law of traveling to that country and recovering the child.
The steps that Justice and State will take are the following. We're going to give legal, technical assistance to parents who find themselves in this situation about what their rights are under The Hague Convention. There will be a broader liaison between law enforcement agencies and the United States in international law enforcement agencies and through Interpol to try to trade information about children when they're missing.
The first problem that some parents have in these cases is that they don't know where the child is located. They don't know where the child has been taken. If we can increase the Justice Department's and the State Department's work with Interpol and other law enforcement agencies to make sure that we can rely upon their assistance in finding children, we'll be better off.
In many of these cases where sometimes you have to go through a legal procedure in the country to which the child has been abducted, there's a problem of foreign language translation, and the State Department will give assistance to parents in translating documents and in actually providing interpretation for conversations.
We're going to use posters in countries where children have been abducted -- posters and radio and the media -- to try to bring to the attention of the local population the fact that a child has been abducted, much in the way we use this technology, we use the media, in terrorist cases, where we're trying to find terrorists who have bombed or murdered American citizens.
Finally, some parents simply don't have the money, the financial resources, to travel overseas to find their children; and in cases where parents can demonstrate to us that they are financially disadvantaged, they don't have the money, we hope there will be a way for the State Department and Justice Department to help fund the trips overseas.
This is an increasingly serious problem. When I was a Consular Officer in Egypt ten years ago, there were problems like this -- very, very severe problems, where children are the victims of estranged marriages and where in some cases -- I'm not talking about Egypt here -- but in some cases, other countries don't take this problem seriously. They harbor the people who have abducted the children. They don't give the parent with whom the child is living any kind of rights within that country, and it's a matter of great discrimination. We want to help the American citizens in this case and limit this scourge of abductions.
Q Do you happen to know what percentage of the 1,000 last year, for example, were abducted to countries that are not signatories or are not following The Hague Convention?
MR. BURNS: I know that of the roughly 1,000 American children abducted last year -- of the 1,000 cases last year, about 600 of these children were abducted to 43 countries that currently participate in The Hague Convention. But that means that 400 were abducted to places where the countries did not respect The Hague Convention, and our effort will be to work with those countries where this habitually takes place -- and there are a number of countries where this habitually takes place -- to convince them that they ought to sign up to The Hague Convention -- they ought to work for us that children are not victimized by problems between parents.
Q Nick --
MR. BURNS: I think Howard had his hand up.
Q One last follow-up. Do you have any breakdown on how many countries are signatories to The Hague Convention or otherwise abide by it?
MR. BURNS: I know at least 43 are, but I'm sure the number is probably greater than that. I can ask our Consular Affairs people to get that for you.
Q What do you consider an abduction? I mean, isn't this -- I mean, one parent takes -- claims that the children is theirs or they've split up and they take it to that country, when do you consider that an illegal act or an abducting act?
MR. BURNS: Of course, it's hard to generalize, because each case is unique. But in many, many cases and probably the majority of cases, if there's been a divorce, an American court gives custody to one of the parents. Generally, we're talking about cases where the child is in the custody of the parent living in the United States. The other parent, male or female, comes to the United States for visitation rights, abducts the child, brings that child back to his or her native country, where the custodial parent's rights are not respected.
This is a major problem, and we simply want to try to do everything we can to support American citizens here. The other point I would make about this is that I think this is another way of illustrating the importance of the work that our Consulates and Embassies do overseas. We negotiate peace treaties, and sometimes, as in Bosnia, we stop wars.
But the elementary work of the Foreign Service has always been for 200 years to protect American citizens overseas and to help American citizens who are in trouble overseas. We give out birth certificates. We visit Americans in jails and prisons. Americans who are ill overseas, we help. Americans who die overseas, we become the custodial agent of the corpse. We help American families in trouble.
In this case, some of the most heart-wrenching episodes that we see overseas -- all of us who have served overseas -- are when a child is abducted and held against his or her will, and when an American parent has very little rights in the country. That's what this initiative tries to get at and tries to help.
Q Does the child need to be a U.S. citizen?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we're talking about American children here.
Q Will you be posting -- besides the posters, will you be posting a price for finding or locating the missing children like --
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any financial prize, as we do in the case of terrorism.
Q No --
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not aware of that.
Q Are you aware of any reverse cases, and how many numbers might involve children taken to the
MR. BURNS: I'm sure that there are incidents of that happening every year, but the United States is a signatory and adherent to The Hague Convention, and the United States abides by the terms of The Hague Convention. The terms are quite specific about custodial parent rights and non-custodial parent rights. If the shoe is on the other foot, the United States absolutely has an obligation to uphold international law.
This is, in essence, a matter of trying to broaden the application of an agreed-upon treaty -- The Hague Convention -- to make sure that we are respecting the Convention but that other countries are respecting it so that the rights of people all over the world are being respected.
No one can want to see a child victimized by parents who dispute the custody of that child.
Q In the matter of the Dennis Ross announcement you did from here, can you bring us up to date on (a) Dennis' plans? Might he might be coming home and handing it off anytime soon? (B) Will the talks alternate between those two sites daily, weekly; and (c) what about any breaks for the Sabbath or any other reason?
MR. BURNS: I think there are breaks for the Sabbath. I think there are breaks for both the Muslim holy days and the Jewish holy day.
Second, I don't know if they've decided these are alternate day rotations or alternate week rotations. That's a good question, and we'll try to get that information for you after the briefing.
Third, Dennis is participating in meetings today. He attended a Steering Group meeting. He's also been consulting with the Israeli delegation and the Palestinian separately. He hasn't made any specific plans about when he's going to come back. I don't think he will stay out everyday for the duration of the talks. He'll come back here at some point to report to the Secretary.
When he is away from the talks at Taba and Eilat, we'll be represented by our Consul General in Jerusalem, Ed Abington, and Ambassador in Israel, Martin Indyk, and other American officials.
Savas has a question.
Q National Security Advisor Anthony Lake is at Georgetown University. He described the Cyprus problem as one of the worse, most ten outrageous problems in the world. Do you agree with him?
Also, he admitted the Clinton Administration in the last four years -- they couldn't help to solve the problem. Can you comment on that?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me -- that the Clinton Administration couldn't . . .?
Q Couldn't help to solve the problem?
MR. BURNS: I did read Mr. Lake's speech, which is a very fine speech, and I commended to you -- the speech made at Georgetown two days ago. That speech centered on the problems in Northern Ireland but did talk about other problems around the world. I absolutely agree -- and those of us at the State Department agree -- with everything he said in that speech.
The fact is that the United States would like to be helpful in resolving the Cyprus dispute but their primary responsibility rests with the communities on Cyprus, the Cypriot Government, Greece and Turkey.
As you know, Mr. Beattie, the President's Special Emissary, has been quite active. Ambassador Madeleine Albright has been very, very active and took a trip there to try to stimulate some progress. The Secretary and the President have both been involved, when necessary, on this problem.
The fact is that over 20 years, it's been 20 years -- more than 20 years -- where international efforts have not been successful, but we have to keep trying. We will keep trying. This is a priority for us.
I think you'll see that we'll maintain very active involvement in this.
Ugur had a question and then we've got Judd.
Q Can we stay on Turkey? Today, Jim Hoagland in the Washington Post had an assertion that Washington did not want any stability in Turkey and actually is waiting for the Erbakan government to self-destruct through a looming economic crisis.
I guess it's ridiculous to ask whether you agree or not. What I want to ask --
MR. BURNS: We don't.
Q Why do you think he's wrong? Probably, you'll say you don't disagree.
MR. BURNS: First, we've had a very consistent policy -- "we," the United States. I worked directly on Turkish affairs during the Bush Administration, from the White House. Our policy then was remarkably similar to the policy undertaken by this Administration.
If anything, the Clinton Administration has tried to deepen the role of the United States in linking Turkey with the West. The United States was a major supporter of Turkey's in trying to affect the Customs Union agreement with the European Union. We believe that Turkey should be associated with the European Union.
We believe that Turkey is a secular democracy. It has a place in the West, not only by virtue of Turkey's participation in NATO but, hopefully in the future, by Turkey's participation in the economic institutions of Europe.
There's a lot that can be said about the column because there are a lot of different points made in the column. I can tell you that our Administration remains dedicated to having the closest possible alliance relationship with Turkey.
The Turkish people had an election, and the result of that election was the appointment of Mr. Erbakan as Prime Minister. He's in power, and we will deal with him. We will work with him, and we'll work with Mrs. Ciller and we'll work with President Demirel and other Turkish leaders because the relationship is too important to allow anything else to get in the way of it.
The other day I was asked, what kind of high-level contacts have we had with Prime Minister Erbakan? I was very slow-witted that day and couldn't quite recall in the recess of my mind that Under Secretary of State Peter Tarnoff met with Prime Minister Erbakan the week he took office; and Ambassador Madeleine Albright, shortly thereafter, on a trip to Turkey met with Prime Minister Erbakan.
We will continue to have contacts with Prime Minister Erbakan. We work very closely with Mrs. Ciller, as you would expect; she's the Turkish Foreign Minister. We work closely with the Turkish Foreign Ministry; very closely with the Turkish Ambassador to Washington, Ambassador Kandemir.
I think, frankly, too much was made in the column about who is responsible for what. The fact is that the Turkish people are responsible for what happens politically within Turkey, not the United States Government.
The conditions in Turkey that were described in the column are the responsibility of the Turkish people and Turkish Government.
The United States Government's responsibility is to meet its obligations to Turkey, to have a stable relationship. I can assure you that the President and the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense and others are absolutely committed to that.
Turkey is, without any doubt, one of the priority countries in the world to the United States. I think that's the way I would answer the column.
I don't want to go through each paragraph and take on each specific point. But it was an important column and well done, as usual, well written, but I think we disagree with most of the points made in that column.
Q You said that there has not been any policy change since the Bush Administration. Yet, we very well know that the U.S. assistance in different categories practically went down the sink.
MR. BURNS: That's not because the Clinton Administration did not want to have healthy assistance levels. It's because the United States Congress, in the appropriations process, has significantly cut the ability of the United States, in terms of economic assistance, to extend economic assistance to Turkey.
But in the strategic sense, there is unity between the last two Administrations -- the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration -- on the importance of Turkey, how the United States should relate to Turkey, and the major initiatives that should be undertaken in all respects: Our cooperation with Turkey and northern Iraq; our cooperation with Turkey on Central Asia -- on the five Central Asian countries; our cooperation with Turkey on Bosnia; on the Middle East negotiations where Turkey has played a role and where Turkey, we believe, still has a role in developing a new relationship with Israel.
We encourage the Turkish Government to maintain its new relationship with Israel.
I see a lot of common ground and links between these last two Administrations.
Q Isn't the politics of it are more concrete? May I ask what the Administration did to compensate Turkey for the $27 billion of loss due to Turkey's participation in the coalition-led effort to isolate Iraq?
MR. BURNS: As we've said many times, publicly and as Secretary Christopher mentioned to Mrs. Ciller in their private meeting, we understand the sacrifice that Turkey has made in implementing the international sanctions on Saddam Hussein. Turkey has been a frontline state and has suffered economically. We know that. That's why the United States proposed originally U.N. Resolution 986. It's one of the reasons why. Because we didn't want to see an ally disadvantaged, and we do want to see that go forward at some point in the future.
But the reality is that both Turkey and the United States have a common self-interest in containing Saddam Hussein. The price of that is severe for both countries but it's worth it.
Q Nick, assuming Turkey is still in Europe, could we switch to the Middle East? It's hard to tell sometimes.
MR. BURNS: Turkey is in Europe. Turkey is a European country.
Q Maybe not this week.
MR. BURNS: Just to be fair, we have several Turkish and Greek correspondents here. I want to make sure that in our response to the Hoagland column, I think we've said what we have to say.
Q From Turkey's point, if they want the U.S., bluntly put, to put their money where their mouth is -- despite all these tremendous losses, nothing is coming through other than the rhetorical help, reminding that Turkey is a frontline state and all that, which is part of what Mr. Hoagland is saying.
MR. BURNS: There's one person responsible for this situation: Saddam Hussein. If he hadn't undertaken his wreckless aggression in northern Iraq, U.N. Resolution 986 would have been fully implemented by now and the pipeline would be filled with oil. Saddam Hussein is the one that the Turkish Government and the Turkish people should blame for that.
MR. BURNS: I've already said that.
Q The U.S. went out of its way to help Jordan, and the question --
MR. BURNS: I would also say -- I would also say . . .
Q What did you do for Turkey?
MR. BURNS: . . . there has been no better and no more consistent ally of Turkey on all of these issues in the United States on the PKK issue, on the cross-border problem, on the issue of Turkey's role and place in Europe.
The United States has been the most faithful ally, and we'll continue to be the most faithful ally to Turkey.
Q On the same subject.
MR. BURNS: Yes, Mr. Lambros.
Q Since you said earlier that the Turkish Government is responsible for the present political system in Turkey, what would you advise them?
MR. BURNS: I have no advice to offer the Turkish people. The Turkish people are sovereign. They are free. They are free to make their own political decisions.
We comment on issues that are international,
Mr. Lambros, like the situation in Libya the other day. We had very strong comments on that. But we're not going to offer advice to the Turkish people on electoral politics.
Q One more question. Since the victorious "Roman Commander," Necmettin Erbakan (inaudible) yesterday, I'm wondering if the Turkish Government has given any explanation to the U.S. Government regarding its detrimental statements against the U.S., as you said the other day?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We have under review, in our diplomatic context, the incidents that were objectionable to the United States in Libya. We stand by everything we've said. Our concerns are well-founded, but we've decided to carry that on now in private since for two days running, we had a very public display of our unhappiness.
Q (Inaudible) "Commander" so far to the U.S. Government?
MR. BURNS: We're having an active conversation about it. We've transmitted messages to each other and had conversations about it, yes; both here in Washington and in Ankara.
Q Nick, when you announced the talks moving to Eilat and Taba, I think you said it was a major step that both sides have agreed not to reopen -- previously agreed upon in the Oslo Agreement. Wasn't that decided in Washington last week? Haven't you been saying that for a week? Was this --
MR. BURNS: Prime Minister Netanyahu committed last week in Washington that he would not attempt to reopen or renegotiate the Oslo Accords.
As you know, the reality is that this has been the talk of these negotiations in the margins and the newspapers and the airwaves. To have both of these delegations commit through Ambassador Ross, who is making this official statement from Israel, is a good sign and a step forward.
Dennis Ross has said over the last two days, obviously, these are difficult negotiations, and they'll continue to be very complex negotiations.
But his sense is that they are negotiating in good faith with each other. They have a sense of each other's needs and concerns. That's a very important first step along the way towards an agreement, and we're confident that an agreement will be reached.
Q But substantively they haven't progressed beyond Washington?
MR. BURNS: Well, substantively, we're in radio silence and TV silence on the substance. I'm just talking about the process and the atmosphere and the tone.
Q Nick, this morning the BBC, in London, made the statement or attributed the statement to Mr. Netanyahu saying that he is going to build more Jewish settlements around Hebron no matter what it takes. Do you consider this as another attempt to steer or foment the feelings of the Palestinians at the time that Israel should begin confidence- building measures to allay the fears of the Palestinians?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of that statement,
Mr. Abdulsalam. We'll look into it. Our position on settlements are well-known and hasn't changed.
Q If this is the case and you find the credible source of this statement, you will also find that such -- I know your position about the settlements. But do you find that such measures of building more settlements will be against and contradictory to the terms of the $10 billion U.S. loan guarantees to Israel?
And, by the way, did you get the information that Jim Anderson was looking for --
MR. BURNS: Yes, we did, and it's available to every reporter in the room.
Q Did you post it? Is it available?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if we posted it (TO STAFF), Charity. This is the question asked last week about the amount of money returned under the loan guarantee program, and so forth, in comparisons with years. We had it as a taken question last week.
Two points. We can't be drawn into a specific discussion of this. We have a very clear policy on settlements -- very, very clear policy on settlements that have not changed at all.
Since I've not seen the Prime Minister's remarks, I just simply can't comment on them.
Q I know you will check on that. Let's just follow from this. Do you consider that this -- I don't think the BBC was making a false statement about this. But if this statement is there, do you consider that this is a behavior which is conducive to try to create more good environment for continuous talks between Taba and Eilat in the next 20 days?
MR. BURNS: Since I haven't seen the statement, I'm not going to comment on it in any way.
As you know better than anybody else in the room, what is so much more positive this year than, say, ten years ago about the Israeli- Palestinian problems, is that the Palestinians and Israelis have a place to talk about these disputes. If there's unhappiness about a statement made on the BBC, there's a negotiating process, there's a table to sit down to, to talk about it directly.
The United States does not have to be the intermediary from the State Department podium with the Palestinians and Israelis. That's a real step forward from, say, ten years ago where there was no such venue to discuss these issues. So I haven't seen it, can't comment on it, but the Israelis and Palestinians can talk about this if it's of concern to the Palestinians.
Q But you'll look into it?
MR. BURNS: Even if I look into it, I'm not sure I'll have much to say. Our position on settlements is clear, well-known, and hasn't changed.
We choose not to intervene publicly in public disputes between the Israelis and Palestinians. We do it privately at the negotiating table, and we don't talk much about it in public because that's the way we remain an effective facilitator/intermediary/partner -- whatever words you like; whatever word of the week you would like to choose.
Q With due respect, Nick, there is an involvement of $10 billion of loan guarantees by the United States not to build anymore settlements ever since --
MR. BURNS: And the United States adheres to that law. That's an American law. The United States adheres to the terms of that law. We returned $60 million -- we withheld $60 million -- excuse me; and we've now (inaudible) on September 30th of this year because of some of this settlement activity, and that is consistent with our understanding of the way Congress wrote the law. We've met all of our commitments here.
Q Nick, the Muslim plan for a new prayer hall at the Temple Mount?
MR. BURNS: We've seen the press reports of this. They're quite confusing because there are various claims and statements being made both factual and rhetorical about this. What we'd like to do first is get a sense of what the issue is because we have not been advised by anybody officially about what plans the Islamic Wafd -- the Muslim religious authority -- and the Haram al-Sharif, what plans it has. Until we get our own facts straight, we can't comment.
I would also say, Barry, even when we get our facts straight, we can't comment.
I would also say, Barry, even when we get our facts straight, again, there is a place where Palestinians and Israelis can talk about issues pertaining to Jerusalem that are in dispute -- religious issues or political issues.
We understand there are religious sensitivities on both sides. We understand that very, very well, given the religious and physical juxtaposition of the Jewish sites and the Muslim sites. We're just not in a position to comment on the reports this morning.
Q When you say "there's a place," I suppose you mean, or do you mean it's a final status issue?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if it's a final status issue. They decide -- the Palestinians and Israelis -- what a final status issue is.
Q The tunnel last week --
MR. BURNS: If any of these issues are final status, in theory, hypothetically, then there's a place to discuss them -- the final status talks.
If they're not final status talks, Israelis and Palestinians are now meeting all the time. Therefore, they can discuss the issues. They've got to decide what's final status and what's not.
Q I didn't mean the distinction between current and final status. I mean a unilateral action. You had a tunnel entrance opened a couple of weeks ago. Now you have a plan in Solomon's Stables for a new prayer hall -- Muslim prayer hall.
A lot was said about a -- a lot was said a lot of rocks were thrown over the tunnel entrance, opening. I thought the Administration's position, although it was somewhat nuanced and subtle, was that this is the kind of thing the two sides ought to talk about.
Is the Muslim prayer hall the kind of thing that the two sides should talk about?
MR. BURNS: If it's of concern to either side. For instance, if it's of concern to the Israelis, then they ought to talk about it. They ought not to fight about it. They ought not to have any kind of violence in the streets about it. They ought to talk about it.
Barry, I'm a little bit limited today because I know that our Consulate in Jerusalem and our Embassy in Tel Aviv are not fully apprised of the facts. So, therefore, I've got to be a little bit restrained in how I answer your question.
Q Not to beat it to death, you're not suggesting that somebody has to notify the U.S.? These are unilateral things that are being done.
Netanyahu didn't tell you he was going to open the entrance; and then this Muslim group, I don't suppose told you about this plan?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the answer to that question. We do have Consulate officers in Jerusalem. I don't know if they know or not. I don't know, and, therefore, I can't speak about it.
Whether we knew all the facts or didn't know all the facts, they have an ability to talk to each other about these issues. They can exercise that right at any time.
Q Of course, they have an ability.
MR. BURNS: Right.
Q I thought the U.S. was concerned about unilateral actions that seem to bear on religious sites. I thought the U.S. had a preference that these things not be done without them being discussed. In fact, there was a venue for such discussions.
MR. BURNS: That was one of the points we made in public when the tunnel issue was raging three weeks ago. But since I don't have the facts about this particular episode, I have to limit my comments today.
Q Bosnia: Ambassadors Galbraith and Redman find themselves under attack on Capitol Hill today. A group of Republicans have charged that there was wrongdoing, or there may have been wrongdoing either on their part or on the part of American officials in connection with the flow of weapons from Iran to the Bosnian side during the war. Do you have any comment on what has been said on Capitol Hill today?
MR. BURNS: I do have a comment, yes. For those of you who may be in the dark about this, there was a -- I don't know if you call it a press conference, but there certainly was a press opportunity where some of the majority members of the House stated that there had been wrongdoing, and they made all sorts of charges about this conflict, this two-year old conflict about Iran and Bosnia.
I have a couple things to say. First, I think that the message that all members of Congress should understand and accept as fact is that the policy of this Administration has succeeded. We stopped the war in Bosnia. The
United States stopped the war in Bosnia in 1995.
We then successfully negotiated with the parties a peace agreement in Dayton, Ohio, that is succeeding. We deployed more than 15,000 American troops to enforce that peace treaty. We are succeeding. We've stopped the bloodshed. We've help them make the peace.
Through the elections, they now have an opportunity to put this war behind them.
I think, rather than negotiating to death small issues from several years ago, they ought to reflect on that basic fact.
Secondly, the people who made the Bosnia policy and who are now subject to this incredible scrutiny by some members of Congress are honorable people and they are honest people.
Some members of Congress are questioning their honor and their honesty and their integrity, and it's wrong. These people, for whom I work and with whom I work, are dedicated public servants. Their actions should not be questioned.
Third, the Administration has cooperated fully with the Congress in this matter. I think, in order to defend ourselves, I need to give you a sense of how we've cooperated.
The Secretary of State instructed the Department of State to cooperate in every possible way with the Congressional inquiries. Indeed, the President requested all Cabinet agencies to do so.
The State Department made available in an expeditious fashion over 600 documents in response to an urgent request from the subcommittee as well as from other Congressional committees reviewing these issues. Thirty- nine current and former employees of the Department of State took time to meet with the subcommittee and respond to their questions. Some of these people were under oath, and they included Acting Secretary Strobe Talbott, Under Secretary Peter Tarnoff, former Assistant Secretary Dick Holbrooke, Ambassador Peter Galbraith -- all people who have served honorably and successfully in leading us on this policy.
Our embassies in Zagreb, in Prague, and elsewhere supported staff delegations from the Congress who undertook missions to Europe to look into this matter; all types of hotel and logistical and car and personal support.
At the request of the subcommittee, the Department twice transmitted requests for interviews to third-country governments and facilitated specific interviews with individuals -- Serbs, Bosnians, and Croats.
The Department of State undertook a thorough, prompt declassification review of classified documents. We declassified them. Several of them were highly sensitive, and we made them available to the Congress.
We coordinated two staff trips to Europe, the second of which was cancelled at the last moment by the subcommittee. We assisted the subcommittee in identifying phone numbers, locating individuals that they wanted to talk to.
We figure that, in total, the Department of State personnel probably spent over 2,000 hours just over the last couple of months in fulfilling requests from the Congress on this issue. We've cooperated. We've done everything we can to turn over information and to talk to the Congress.
But the facts of the case are that the policy has succeeded. If anybody in the Congress is concerned about the Iranian presence in Bosnia, it was the United States who got the Mujahideen and Iranian fighters out of Bosnia over the last nine months. No one misled anybody. Everything was done according to the law.
I don't think that public servants ought to be subjected to grandstanding. If these concerns were widely felt in the Congress, perhaps they should have been made in October 1995 rather than October 1996. I would ask you to pause and reflect upon those two dates. Everything that is known about this policy was known in October 1995, so it's now being raised in October 1996. I don't believe that's a coincidence.
Q Nick, do you have any information about this Contact Group meeting?
MR. BURNS: No. I'm sorry. I don't know if you came in late. I said that John Kornblum was there. The meeting was ongoing. It has not concluded. The meeting has not concluded.
Q Do you have any sense of what's going on there?
MR. BURNS: No, the meeting has not concluded. Ambassador Kornblum has not exited from the room to call me, so I have nothing to report but perhaps I will later in the day.
We work hard in these Contact Group meetings. Sometimes they go all night. I remember one in Noordwijk that went until 3:00 in the morning. Remember that meeting -- a press conference at 4:00 in the morning? I'll never forget it.
Q Do you have any reaction to Bosnia --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Carl Bildt had a news conference where he said an international force might be needed in Bosnia through 1998?
MR. BURNS: I just saw the press reports. I have really no comment to make. The United States has a well-known position on that particular issue, which has not changed in the last 24 hours since we last met.
Q Do you have any information about Richard Holbrooke as a Nobel Prize winner?
MR. BURNS: I have no information. I'm not Norwegian. I'm not on the committee. I've not talked to anyone in Norway, and I couldn't possibly have a comment on that issue.
Q You are hoping that --
MR. BURNS: I couldn't possibly have any comment on this issue.
Still on Bosnia? Yes, Mr. Lambros.
Q Do you have any comment on Germany's Minister of Interior's statement yesterday that Germany is not a land of (inaudible) against thousand of helpless refugees from the former Yugoslavia; that the (inaudible) creates additional problems to the Dayton agreement?
MR. BURNS: This was a statement by the German Minister, you said?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any particular comment on that because I'm just not aware of that. I would just repeat what I said yesterday, that Germany accepted almost half the total number of Bosnian refugees -- 320,000. Germany paid $2.8 billion annually -- annually -- for the support of 320,000 refugees.
The German effort was unprecedented. It was superior in size and scope to any effort made by any other country. The German Government and German people ought to be commended for that they've done to harbor refugees.
That said, the United States Government fully supports the lead role of the U.N. High Commission on Refugees which sets the timing and scope and pacing of refugee resettlements. We are encouraging the German Government, of course, to work with the UNHCR. I'm sure that's happening.
Q The protest from the humanitarian groups and also from the U.N. High Commission for Refugees to this -- German plan?
MR. BURNS: The German record on refugee return is excellent, it's humane. I know that October 1 is the official starting date, but I don't believe that Germany expects a large-scale repatriation until sometime next year.
Q They're fighting for peace. According to the (inaudible) deportation of Albanians from Germany would provoke a new war in the Balkans?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that will be the case. I don't believe there will be a new war in the Balkans. Germany is working with the international community to exercise its responsibilities in a highly appropriate way.
Q So after the U.S. Government approved the German plan for deportation --
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, for two days running now I've given you our views. Today, I noted that Germany is working, and should work, with the UNHCR which has the lead in establishing the scope and pace and timing of refugees.
Q To remove all of them from Germany to the former Yugoslavia?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q To expel 320,000 --
MR. BURNS: No one is talking about expulsions here. The German Government is doing what it is doing in concert with international organizations.
Q Nick, can we skip back -- two things I want. They're different areas. Let's do China. Deja vu all over again. Yesterday was technology; today, there's some Chinese pro-democracy citizen who thinks maybe -- asked the communist party to uphold free speech rights, and he ends up with a three-year prison sentence. Has anything changed in Beijing with all the U.S. conversations with the Chinese about proliferation and today's quest would be with all the discussions with them about human rights? Is their record any better than it has been?
MR. BURNS: On which issue, Barry?
Q Human rights. We did technology. Today, it's human rights.
MR. BURNS: Ad nauseam.
Q Tomorrow, it's likely to be technology again. You found a change in the technology behavior --
MR. BURNS: I would refer you --
Q I wonder if you found a change today in the human rights behavior?
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to speak about the human rights issue if I can digress for one sentence.
MR. BURNS: I'd refer you to the Washington Post article on the technology issue this morning, which I found highly substantive --
Q Alright, let's get into the Washington Post article.
MR. BURNS: -- and inaccurate.
Q Oh, inaccurate. There, again, let's --
MR. BURNS: I want to be clear about the pronounciation here: "And accurate in many respects."
Q Did the U.S. official -- because the reporter is a responsible specialist on arms control issues -- did the official, or the official sources, who told the Washington Post that this transfer took place before the
May 11 pledge, which makes the Chinese look a little better than they did yesterday -- is that an official subject of prosecution?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I don't know who the officials are who spoke to the Washington Post ON BACKGROUND. I did not speak to the reporters ON BACKGROUND. I don't know who did.
All I'm saying is that as we look at this very complicated issue, we have two reports -- newspaper articles -- juxtaposed to each other.
As I look at this morning's report in the Washington Post, I found that to be a fair and comprehensive look at the question, which I thought really gave a more illuminating picture of all the factors involved here -- of all the factors involved.
Q Did it take place before the pledge?
MR. BURNS: I couldn't possibly comment on that. I didn't yesterday and I can't today. I'm on the record. I'm not able to do that.
Q But an official told the Washington Post that, presumably based on information he had gleaned for officials even -- more than one. Is it going to be a (inaudible) to find them and prosecute them for burnishing China's record a little bit?
MR. BURNS: No. Actually, there's quite a distinction between talking to reporters ON BACKGROUND about policy and facts versus giving a reporter a highly classified intelligence document. Right?
MR. BURNS: The illegality concerns the transfer of classified information to anybody -- not just a reporter -- anybody who does not have a security clearance. There's nothing illegal in general about talking to reporters on background. We do that all the time. I do that all the time with you guys.
Q (Inaudible) since there's not a security issue here, are you able to tell us?
MR. BURNS: But I have no idea who all these people are who are talking to the Washington Times.
Q Okay, if it's not a security --
MR. BURNS: And I wish we knew who's talking to the Washington Times and giving -- illegally giving documents to the Washington Times.
Q Well, we have you here, and since it's not a security issue --
MR. BURNS: Let's talk about human rights.
Q No, let's do this first. (Laughter) Since you wouldn't be subject to prosecution --
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry I digressed. That was a huge tactical error on my part.
Q No, it wasn't. You reminded me that I wanted to ask you about the Post article. But can you tell us then since no security issue is at stake in your addressing this question --
MR. BURNS: I'm never going to digress again with Barry. It's a major mistake.
Q Was the technology transferred before the Chinese took the pledge? I shouldn't say "transferred." Was the agreement --
MR. BURNS: As I said --
Q Was the agreement reached? It may not have gotten to Pakistan. Did China enter into an agreement with Pakistan to provide technology that could be used in a nuclear weapons program prior to the May 11 pledge? It sounds like Alcoholics Anonymous -- but the pledge.
MR. BURNS: I do not know the answer to that question.
Q But you do say the article is accurate, and the article says that.
MR. BURNS: What I thought was good about the article was it was a broad overview of all of the complexities surrounding this issue rather than some sneak attack using an alleged highly classified intelligence document, which is a very narrow look at the issue.
Q You won't say what part of the article is accurate.
MR. BURNS: Oh, no, I'm not going through the article -- the very fine article in The Washington Post this morning in detail. I'm just saying it was more satisfactory from my perspective as a reader than the first one, which relied upon this highly dubious source. You know, you have a paper that consistently just prints or regurgitates or summarizes intelligence documents, or alleged intelligence documents. I don't think that's a proper way to take a complete look at an issue. I think reporters have an obligation to have several sources, broader sources, and I think the report in the Post certainly reflects that.
Q Nick, there was another article in the Washington Times this morning, and it raises another -- on this subject, and it raises another question that I have for you, which is did the State --
MR. BURNS: I thought we were going to back to human rights.
Q We'll get back to human rights, but we're still on arms. Did the State Department or the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on September 28 of this year send a demarche or a protest to the Chinese concerning the subject of arms shipments to Pakistan?
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to answer that question. I'm not going to answer it because our diplomacy needs to be confidential, and I'm not going to reward leakers who allege that meetings took place on this day or that day. That would be rewarding the leakers and encouraging them to leak some more, and I'm not going to do that.
MR. BURNS: It's a fair question, but I'm not going to do it. Back to human rights.
Q If a nuclear bomb falls on you, your human rights are dead. But in any event, how about human rights? On anyone, I mean. How about human rights in China? How about this activist protest, asks freedom of speech be allowed, ends up with a three-year prison sentence. Deja vu, right?
MR. BURNS: We've seen reports that Chinese citizen Liu Xiaobo has been assigned by the Administrative Justice System in China to a three- year term of detention in a re-education by labor camp for writing a letter expressing his political views.
The official decision to arrest and sentence him as quickly as possible highlights the abuses -- the due process abuses in China's re- education through labor system, which is a distinct system from their criminal justice system.
The United States is very concerned about this reported detention of a respected individual. It underscores the gross intolerance in China for the airing of divergent political views, no matter how peacefully these views are expressed -- in this case very peacefully.
The Chinese constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have provisions regarding freedom of speech, freedom of petition, and we call on the Chinese Government to honor those rights and to allow their citizens to exercise those rights.
We urge the Chinese Government to release without delay this individual and all other political prisoners, dissidents, who are languishing and suffering in Chinese jails solely because of their political views which they have expressed peacefully.
I should also say that we are deeply concerned about another case -- the reported decision by the Chinese Government to formally charge Mr. Wang Dan, who is a noted democracy activist, after having held him for a lengthy period of time.
This case has been raised by the most senior officials in our government with senior Chinese leaders. We're very concerned about his condition. We're very concerned about the conditions under which he is being held, and we will continue to follow this case as well as Mr. Liu's case and others.
Q Was this -- perhaps you even knew it was about to happen to him, but was this case discussed in -- I know this exists. I mean, with the Soviets, too. You do these on two levels. The Secretary or some other senior official will make a general presentation and then listen, etc. It will be taken up by the people who work the area -- the subject.
Was this brought up in New York, either in the context of the Secretary's meeting with the Foreign Minister or on the periphery?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q It was.
MR. BURNS: Yes. The Secretary --
Q Was it the second case?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary raised the issue of human rights, detentions of people for expression of their political views, with Vice Premier and Minister Qian Qichen. Assistant Secretary Winston Lord in other meetings with Chinese leaders also raised specific cases. We normally do this at meetings with the Chinese leadership.
Q Well, can you say whether either of these cases, you --
MR. BURNS: I can check and see if these specific individuals were raised in particular.
Q Okay. And is their answer the stock answer that it's their internal affair, and that human rights are just going swimmingly in China?
MR. BURNS: I don't --
Q Which is what we heard in Amsterdam in a public news conference.
MR. BURNS: I would not venture to describe the Chinese position. I will leave that to my counterpart in Beijing. But I think I've adequately described and hopefully very forcefully described the very strong opposition of the United States to these practices.
Q It's a very clear position. I don't think you need to tell them that privately, but did the U.S. happen to tell the Chinese in any formal, diplomatic way the sort of things you've told us?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Yes, we have.
Q Nick, is this of such concern to the U.S. Government that you would ask Ambassador Lord who is in Seoul just a couple of inches away on the map to go to Beijing and discuss this now, or perhaps this is of such concern that it might impact the forthcoming visit of the Secretary?
MR. BURNS: First, I don't believe Assistant Secretary Lord has any plans to travel to China. I believe he has plans to return to the United States after his visit to Seoul.
Second, the Secretary's trip is going forward on November 21-22 to China. We have a major, important, strategic relationship with China. We have a number of differences with China. The best way to pursue those differences and hopefully to have some ability to have an impact upon them is to meet and talk. We've learned that, I think, both China and the United States.
It is a relationship that is second to none in its importance. We must pursue it, and, when we get together, we talk about our agreements and our disagreements, and these human rights issues are front and center in those discussions.
Q Nick, while you talk about an inch -- while Charlie is raising a point about an inch away on the map, if I'm not mistaken -- I may be -- it sounds like Ross' schedule has changed. A two-part question. It sounded the other day like Ross was about --
MR. BURNS: How close is the Middle East to China? (Laughter)
Q You'll get the -- I'll make sense in a half a minute. (Laughter) It sounded like yesterday like Ross -- well, some people think that area is in Africa.
MR. BURNS: (Inaudible) Jerusalem and China -- we don't demarcate the countries here, but I think that's several thousand miles.
Q A lot of us think those countries are in Africa.
MR. BURNS: Israel -- no. Israel is in the Middle East.
Q No, you don't think it is.
MR. BURNS: It's not an African country.
Q You think it's Middle East. You don't think Egypt is in Africa.
MR. BURNS: Egypt is an African country.
MR. BURNS: But Israel is --
Q But Taba is in Africa, isn't it?
MR. BURNS: Taba, yes.
Q Okay, so here's the point.
MR. BURNS: But Dennis Ross right now is in Jerusalem.
Q I know where Dennis is, but I know where the Secretary of State is, and it sounded to me yesterday like Dennis was booking a --
MR. BURNS: The Secretary of State is right there.
Q I know where he is. It sounds to me like Dennis was booking a flight home. Today it sounds like Dennis is going to hang around a little bit longer -- maybe a lot longer -- and it struck me there are two possibilities at least. One is that talks are going so well that Dennis' efforts should be extended.
Another is when you refer to him reporting to the Secretary, wouldn't it be fairly convenient that inch away for the Secretary to go there and get Dennis' report.
MR. BURNS: On Sunday --
Q You're leaving that door open as the Secretary --
MR. BURNS: On Sunday, the Secretary is going to be down in --
Q I know, but he's trying for -- he's going for a new mileage record, so --
MR. BURNS: -- southern Africa. He'll be in southern -- But he's got the mileage record.
Q It's a chance -- yeah, but he's going --
MR. BURNS: He's the champion. He's the all-time champ. (Laughter)
Q But he's going for Shultz's record. He's going for Shultz's record. He only has two more months, I mean.
MR. BURNS: Not Shultz's record. You know, this is the four-year record. The four-year record is the big record to aspire to. All Secretaries of State enter office thinking, That's the record, and the Secretary got it.
MR. BURNS: He's nearly 71 years old, and he runs in the morning, and he plays tennis, and he's more active than anybody on his staff. He's doing a great job.
Q He's in better shape than Bennett, I know.
MR. BURNS: He's in better shape than Bennett and better shape than --
Q (Inaudible) the food is what's happened.
MR. BURNS: Donilon. Better shape than Burns, any of us.
Q Well, Bennett's there, you know --
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any (inaudible).
Q Is Ross staying on longer than we were led to believe yesterday and, if so, why? And, second, is there a chance that he will report to the Secretary some place other than in Washington?
MR. BURNS: First question: Dennis, when he set out last Saturday, did not know when he would be returning. He left that up in the air. He still doesn't know when he'll be returning, but he certainly won't be there for every day of the negotiations. He'll return at some point fairly soon, but I don't know when that will be.
Second, I don't believe the Secretary has any plans after he visits South Africa and Angola on Sunday and Monday to then return to the Middle East. There are no plans. He expects to return to Washington next Monday evening, October 14. He'll be here in the office on Tuesday, October 15.
Q Good day for a news conference here, but --
MR. BURNS: We'll see. Actually, we've got a couple of questions here. We've got a couple of hands up.
Q There were a couple of contradictory reports about Boutros Boutros- Ghali, and renewing -- according to The Washington Post, renewing his term for a year or two. This is the story that came from John Goshko from New York. And I read in the last 24 hours some stories that Mr. Christopher is in Africa to look for a new candidate for the United Nations to replace Mr. Ghali. Can you comment on these two --
MR. BURNS: One of the issues that the Secretary's been discussing in Africa is the selection of the next U.N. Secretary General. We expect that Secretary General Boutros-Ghali will leave office in December, and we expect that some other person will take his place. As the Secretary said in Mali the other day, we understand the sensitivity that Africans feel about this. They'd like to have Africa retain the seat, and we're willing to consider candidates from Africa.
I think this issue is being raised as the Secretary travels from Bamako to Addis to Arusha to South Africa.
Q So he's interviewing candidates now?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any interviews that he's had, but it's being discussed with various African officials.
Q On Colombia, a couple of questions. One, do you have any reaction to the newspaper story that voices human rights groups' concerns that U.S. aid to the Colombian military might produce more human rights violations in that country? And, second, is there any reaction to the Colombian Government's endorsement or recent endorsement to resumption of extraditions between your two countries?
MR. BURNS: I think we've seen some recent positive actions by the Colombian Government to fight narcotics. As you know, at the UNGA, President Clinton announced that he'd notified Congress on September 14 of his intent to direct two drawdowns of defense articles, services and training for anti-narcotics assistance to a number of countries, including Colombia.
Colombia will receive $40 million in defense drawdowns, including helicopters, observation aircraft, flight support equipment, field equipment, communications gear and river patrol boats. The equipment will go to the Colombian military and the Colombian national police, elements that have responsibility for counter-narcotics.
The Department of State and the Department of Defense have an existing program in place. We review the use of this equipment. We review it carefully. We are certainly encouraging the Colombian Government to do whatever possible to interdict the production of drugs, narcotics, there and their shipment outside of Colombia to the United States and other countries.
Q The bit about resumption of extraditions, that you're announcing, too?
MR. BURNS: Yes. This is positive, and it's the kind of thing that has to be done to fight narcotics.
Q Burma. This is a two-part question, Nick. Senator Helms has said the Administration should impose sanctions on the Burmese or that the Burmese have taken actions (inaudible). And, secondly, there are a number of localities, one state, I believe, and a couple of cities, that have begun the process of banning business dealings with companies that trade with Burma, etc., selective purchasing orders. Does this hinder State Department diplomacy, or is this something you favor?
MR. BURNS: On the first question, the recent legislation passed by the Congress gives the Administration a lot of flexibility to determine when various sanctions should be applied, should that be necessary. The President took the step last week to deny members of the ruling military dictatorship to travel to the United States -- members of their families that travel to the United States.
We are watching the situation closely, and it is an open option for us whether or not to apply additional sanctions, but no decisions have been made on that.
As to your final question, I'm just simply not up to speed. I know that there are some towns in Massachusetts that have undertaken their own unilateral municipal measures to ban their companies from trading.
We in Washington in the federal government should never, ever be in the position to discourage local and municipal governments from exercising their political rights, from saying what they want to say, from passing decrees that they want to pass.
Having said that, to be effective internationally, the United States for the most part should act as one voice and have one major decision- making locus, and that is the federal government. But I'm speaking very generally, not with any benefit of intimate knowledge of these local municipalities' plans.
Q Nick, the U.N. issued a report in the last couple of days, saying that poppy production in the Afghanistan province of Helmand has increased and comprises 80 percent of the poppy production in all Afghanistan. Now, this particular province has been under the control of the Taliban for about one year. I was wondering, is that of concern for the U.S. Government, and has this problem been raised in our contacts with the Taliban to try and stop the production of heroin?
MR. BURNS: Yes and yes. We're concerned, and we have raised this particular issue with the Taliban. We've told them in addition to human rights and the treatment of women, the narcotics problem, which is so critical in Afghanistan, it's going to be an important factor in whatever relationship we develop with the Taliban. Yes, it's an important issue.
Q Second, there are also reports that in Jalalabad, Osama bin Laden, who has been connected to a variety of terrorist operations, is there now. I think the U.S. earlier, when there were rumors that he was in Sudan, had expressed concern that Sudan was becoming a free haven for terrorism. Now he's said to be in Afghanistan. Is there also concern here, and have we also broached the question with the Taliban?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we're concerned about him personally and his activities, and we have noted that in our discussion not only with the Taliban but with other factions in Afghanistan.
Q And also in conjunction over other terrorist groups around the world, including the Middle East -- Hamas and the Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah and others -- is there an attempt by the United States to put a -- like all-points bulletin, whatever it is, to corner him, arrest him, because he's one of the biggest masterminds of terrorism in the world.
MR. BURNS: We are working with governments all over the world to try to deter people from funding or directing the operations of terrorist groups, and I think you know who some of those people are, and we do, too.
Q Nick, two quick questions. Economic summit in Egypt still on track November 14?
MR. BURNS: Yes, it is. November 12. The Secretary is planning to attend.
Q Secondly, the Marwani Mosque in Solomon's Stables, that is considered to be by Hussein under his jurisdiction under the Israel- Jordan peace treaty. Has the United States cautioned both parties to be careful before they cause a second outbreak?
MR. BURNS: Barry asked this question previously -- earlier in this briefing -- and I answered the question. I'd be glad to go into it with you.
MR. BURNS: No, but the general question.
Q Well, the general question, but, I mean, that opens a whole area that you don't --
MR. BURNS: We could go on forever this afternoon on this. Would you like me to --
Q Well, I mean --
MR. BURNS: -- consider another aspect of this that I haven't covered in the past?
Q Well, really, there's a basic question here, whether, you know, the control of the administration of holy sites is up for grabs, in the U.S. view, under Oslo, or certain things have been resolved, and the U.S. prefers them remaining status quo.
MR. BURNS: These issues are worked out by local officials -- by the local Jewish and Moslem officials, and the Government of Jordan has a relationship with the Moslem officials, and it's not up to me to describe that relationship. But there is a very clear line of demarcation on most of these issues over who has control of what territory.
When that's not clear, the Israelis and Palestinians and others have a venue to discuss that.
Q Speaking of that issue --
MR. BURNS: Okay, very quickly, because we really have to move.
Q Following criticism by King Hussein, Mr. Netanyahu had some kind of an interactive television interview with Moslem leaders, I believe Moslem journalists, to build, I take, trust and credibility, Nick. Is this a just and, how do you say, effective thing that the United States would support or does support?
MR. BURNS: I'm just not aware of the interview you're talking about, but you know what we support: peace, reconciliation, negotiations. Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:24 p.m.)
-34- Thursday, 10/10/96
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