U.S. Department of State 96/10/28 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, October 28, l996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Statement Re: Accession of the Republic of Korea to the OECD. 1 Opening of Peace Corps Program in Jordan..................... 1 PEACE PROCESS Progress of Israeli-Palestinian Talks/Possibility of Reaching an Agreement............................................... 1-12 Chairman Arafat's Travel/Ambassador Ross' Consultations...... in U.S..................................................... 1-5,6 New Israeli Settlements...................................... 6-7 Possibility of Secretary Christopher Traveling to Region.... 9 Appointment of EU Special Envoy.............................. 9-10 Need for Talks Between Chairman Arafat and PM Netanyahu...... 10 Presence of Russian Foreign Minister in the Region........... 10 Discussions Centering on Hebron Redeployment and Attendant... Issues..................................................... 11-12 KUWAIT Public Announcement Re: Threats Against U.S. Interests....... 12-13 IRAQ Need for Humanitarian Assistance/Resolution 986.............. 13-14 MISCELLANEOUS Alleged Contributions to the Democratic National Committee... 15-16 TURKEY Meeting with Kurdish Factions/PKK Terrorism.................. 16-18 Status of Ambassador Grossman................................ 18-19 ZAIRE Refugee Situation Due to Fighting/U.S. Efforts in Region..... 19-21 Concern about Regional Stability............................. 21 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Rules of Engagement for IFOR/Arrest of Indicted War Criminals 21- 25,28 --U.S. Efforts to Support War Crimes Tribunal, Bring Peace to Region..................................................... 23-24 28-30 Possibility of Follow-on Security Force...................... 25-27 Transfer of Shipment at Ploce................................ 27-28 U.S. Role in Upcoming Elections.............................. 30 HELMS-BURTON Travel of Ambassador Eizenstat............................... 30-31 CHINA Accusations Against Radio Free Asia.......................... 31
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1996, 2:44 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I want to welcome a special guest, Mrs. de Robillard who is a participant in the USIA International Visitors Program from Mauritius. She's visiting the United States. Welcome to you.
I also want to let you know we have public statements available on the accession of the Republic of Korea to the OECD. This is waiting for you in the Press Office should you be interested.
In addition to that, Mark Gearan, who is the Director of the Peace Corps is in Jordan today to open the first-ever Peace Corps Program that the United States has had with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It's a very important development, and it's something that Mark and his Peace Corps associates have worked hard on. I want to commend that to you, and I'd be glad to give you more information on that should you care to have it.
QUESTION: Strangely enough, we're going to ask you about the Arab- Israeli now suspended talks -- pick your own word. Short and long? I'm asking you short-range and long-range.
Assuming Dennis Ross is on the way back, what, in the immediate future, will the U.S. do? And over the long haul, how does the U.S. hope to get this situation untangled?
MR. BURNS: Ambassador Ross is on his way back. He's leaving, in fact, just about right now from Israel on a midnight flight. He'll be back in Washington tomorrow morning.
He spoke to the Secretary several times throughout the weekend. The Secretary also spoke to Chairman Arafat, and you know about the President's phone calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat.
I think it's safe to say that we think, on the basis of the last three weeks of negotiations, they've come a long way together. They've made significant progress. In fact, they've made progress on most of the major issues but not all.
Dennis Ross concluded that given the fact that Chairman Arafat decided to go ahead with his trip to Europe, to spend six days in Europe, it didn't make much sense for Dennis to stay because Dennis was negotiating directly with Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
So the talks will continue. I understand there's a Steering Group meeting tonight. Ed Abington, our Consul General in Jerusalem, and Martin Indyk, our Ambassador to Israel, will represent the United States at those meetings. There will be meetings throughout the week.
When Chairman Arafat returns, I'm sure Dennis and the Secretary will be in touch with him. At some point, I would think probably shortly, Dennis will be going back to the region. We are confident that this agreement is going to be made between Israel and the Palestinians.
QUESTION: So, as you see it, just simply subtract Dennis Ross' presence and pretty much it's status quo? In other words, you're going ahead. It's just one less American mediator present, the fellow that happen to be dealing with Arafat; but the talks are on, they're ongoing, it's a regular schedule; Dennis goes back. You didn't happen to mention that Dennis tried to ask Arafat not to go back which the Israeli Ambassador told several of us this morning.
But that's it. We've lost the Dennis-Arafat connection temporarily. But, otherwise, are your hopes for an agreement jostled in any way by this --
MR. BURNS: In fact, our hopes for an agreement have been confirmed -- by our expectation of an agreement has been confirmed by the results of the last three weeks, particularly the negotiations over the last week where a significant amount of progress was made.
If you look at the last -- the continuum of the last three weeks, most of the progress was made in the last week and that was after the Israel and the Palestinians asked Dennis to stay the first time he tried to return to the United States.
I think the only difference this week is that the negotiations will continue at a lower level. They won't be at the senior-leader level. That's why Dennis decided to come back for several days and talk to Secretary Christopher and to be back here for awhile. He was dealing at this stage of the negotiations with Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and that's where he will pick up.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) expect Arafat to make a U-turn from Oslo, or wherever his second stop is?
MR. BURNS: You're trying --
QUESTION: To the talks. Do you know how long Arafat will not be there? And has he told Dennis that "count me out for X number of days; count me out for X number of European countries?"
MR. BURNS: I understand that Chairman Arafat is on a trip that will encompass almost all of this week to a variety of European countries. He is in Norway this evening. Because of that, Dennis will be coming back.
When he comes back, he'll get a chance to sit down and discuss strategy with Secretary Christopher. They'll make a decision based on that when Dennis will go back. The Secretary plans to be very actively engaged in this, as he has been all along.
QUESTION: Can we collectively put in a pitch for Dennis to spend a little time with us, perhaps, when he gets a little sleep? Maybe tomorrow, late tomorrow, or maybe the next day?
MR. BURNS: I definitely will not promise him for tomorrow because he'll be getting in the early morning hours. He's had a week where he's had very little sleep almost every night. So we're going to give Dennis a day off tomorrow.
QUESTION: Yeah, but keep us in mind, please.
MR. BURNS: Absolutely.
QUESTION: What does the Administration think about Arafat leaving after Dennis asked him to stay, and some say the President himself asked him to stay?
MR. BURNS: I'm certainly not going to confirm that. I'm certainly not going to get into the details of the President's phone call with Arafat nor the details of Dennis' conversations with Arafat.
The fact is, I think we're very close to an agreement. There will be an agreement, we think. In fact, we're confident of that, there's going to be an agreement.
We said, when these negotiations started, three weeks ago yesterday, that these are going to be tough negotiations and they would go on for sometime. We're not at all surprised it's taken three weeks to get to the current point. It may take a week or two or three or four more to get to the next step, which is a complete agreement.
QUESTION: Without going into the diplomatic conversations, the fact is, Arafat left at a time when you all thought you were close to an agreement. It looks like a rebuff to me. What do you all think about him leaving?
MR. BURNS: I think it's an absolutely wrong conclusion to draw. One of the things that the United States has tried to do is be discreet. We're going to continue that practice today.
Second, we don't believe that one of the parties is more responsible for the other because of the fact that there's no agreement. I wouldn't blame the Palestinians and I wouldn't blame the Israelis. They're in this together, and they're going to make this agreement together. So we're not playing the "blame game" today; not at all.
QUESTION: Nick, would you say that Arafat has hardened his position in any way because of the support he's received from the Europeans, including the French?
MR. BURNS: Not at all. In fact, I wouldn't say that either side is hardening its position because they've made more progress over the last seven days than they did the previous 14 days. That's Dennis' assessment. I had a long talk with Dennis a couple of hours ago about this.
His assessment is that they've actually moved more in the last week than at any other time. So I don't think anyone is hardening their position. You know that the Palestinians and Israelis still want the United States to be the sole intermediary or facilitator -- pick your word -- in this process. That stands true today and it will be true next week.
QUESTION: If they've made more progress in the last week and they're so close to this agreement that you can confidently stand up there again and again, day after day, and say that you're sure there will be an agreement, then why didn't Arafat stick it out and finish up?
MR. BURNS: Carol, negotiations are complex. Sometimes it requires more than three weeks to complete negotiations. It's also true in the Middle East, as in most other negotiations, that even if you're very close to an agreement, you're not there until it's over. That's true of all negotiations.
Chairman Arafat felt it was important for him to take this trip to Europe. I wouldn't blame -- I think it's wrong, and I think it's also just not consistent with the facts to point at Chairman Arafat and say, "He's the guy holding these talks up, or had he stayed, these talks would have succeeded today or tomorrow."
The Israelis and Palestinians are in this together. I've seen a lot of the press coverage, commentary, from Israel which has everyone pointing the finger at the Palestinians. I wouldn't do that. I would just look at both of them and say they're both responsible. They're only going to get an agreement when both of them cross the line together.
QUESTION: Nick, did either side or both sides try to reopen in the last hours matters that had been agreed upon earlier, say, in the last week or even earlier than that?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of that. I'm not aware of that at all.
QUESTION: Each side is accusing the other --
MR. BURNS: We've seen that. It's also not unusual to see, in this context, public diplomacy going on. It's probably quite natural to see that. I wouldn't put too much stock in that. I would just wait until the end of these negotiations and see what the results are.
We're confident. Secretary Christopher, having looked at this this morning, is confident these negotiations will succeed.
QUESTION: They're down to just very little, minute details; is that the conclusion --
MR. BURNS: They've made a lot of progress. They have overcome many of the hurdles but not all of them. I don't know if I would use the word "minute details." I think there's still some issues to be overcome. There's still some issues to be overcome on these negotiations.
QUESTION: Nick, have the Palestinians indicated to the Americans that they imagine, after the election, President Clinton will exert stronger pressure on Israel?
MR. BURNS: I've not been told that. I've talked with Dennis almost everyday of these negotiations. I don't believe that that's been communicated to the United States.
QUESTION: Does Dennis believe that Arafat is in a difficult political position persuading the Palestinian public to accept whatever deal he's able to get?
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't leap to that conclusion. I can't stand up here and analyze Chairman Arafat's political position in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. You can probably do that better than I can. I don't think it would be helpful if I tried to do that.
I do think you may all be leaping to conclusions that should not be leapt to, and that is that somehow, there's been a breakdown in these talks. There hasn't.
The fact is that when Dennis -- before he went out -- we said that he would be at the table when he could; that he probably wouldn't be there everyday. I was just keeping that commitment to you that we made. We like to keep our commitments. He's going to be back here for a couple of days and then he'll be going back.
QUESTION: You say that this idea of the American attitude will probably be changing after the elections has not been communicated, but it has been communicated publicly by several Palestinians, including Mrs. Ashrawi in Washington last week and Mr. Erekat in several broadcasts.
Whether it has been directly communicated to you, do you think there is any merit in it?
MR. BURNS: First, it has not been communicated to us privately, to the best of my knowledge. That's much more important than public statements.
Secondly, American policy is not going to change on November 6 from November 5 or November 4. Our policy is constant. We're going to continue our efforts to try to broker this agreement, and we're going to be successful in this. I think you should draw -- wait and see what happens in these negotiations.
We don't want to encourage anyone to think that the day following an election, should President Clinton be victorious, American foreign policy is going to fundamentally change.
QUESTION: Another point. Do you see any connection in this time out on the part of Arafat and the Israeli announcement of opening up 3,000 new settlement dwellings?
MR. BURNS: Do I see a connection between this?
MR. BURNS: I can't draw a connection between them.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the opening up of these 3,000 dwelling units?
MR. BURNS: My only comment would be that we have a well-known position on settlements. It hasn't changed.
QUESTION: Nick, the description you've given us over the last ten minutes or so -- everything -- it's not one side's fault nor the other; how confident you all are -- is all this based, if not directly -- the precise words -- but is all this based on -- is this Dennis Ross' assessment you're giving us?
MR. BURNS: This is the Secretary of State's assessment. I spent a lot of time with him this morning talking about this issue. Both of us had conversations -- he talked to Dennis early this morning. I talked to Dennis probably at around 10:30/11:00 a.m. this morning. I've had two or three conversations with the Secretary about this. He is convinced that these talks are not only going to go forward, they're going to succeed because enough substantive progress has been made to allow us to think that.
We also have a renewed commitment from both the Israelis and Palestinians that they're going to remain at the table until the talks succeed.
So it's the Secretary of State's assessment. It's also Dennis Ross' assessment; yes.
QUESTION: There seems to be a lot of attempt to correct a view or an impression. I have never heard the State Department even predict that tomorrow is Tuesday. You, here, are predicting --
MR. BURNS: We'll predict that tomorrow will be Tuesday.
QUESTION: But you've done more than that. What you said is after talking to Dennis and talking to Christopher --
MR. BURNS: I also (inaudible) the World Series.
QUESTION: -- the Secretary talking to Dennis, and you've stood there and told us there will be an agreement in one, two, or three weeks?
MR. BURNS: Actually --
QUESTION: I can't get a prediction out of the State Department as to whether Christmas will fall in December. And you're predicting that there's going to be agreement? That's really wild --
MR. BURNS: I wish this were new news. The fact is that last week and the week before we said the same thing: There's going to be an agreement. We said the same thing last week.
QUESTION: Arafat went off to Oslo.
MR. BURNS: We're confident of our judgment here. I'm just trying to push back a little bit on the judgments that I hear inherent in your questions, implied in your questions, and that is that somehow we're at a fundamental negative turning point.
I can tell you, based on the discussions here this morning that the Secretary's had with Dennis Ross, we feel these talks are going forward and will succeed. That is consistent with the conversations that the President, Secretary Christopher, and Dennis all had with Chairman Arafat. Each of them talked to him in the last 48 hours.
I wouldn't be up here saying that we're confident of success had I thought that those conversations were going in the opposite direction. They're not going in the opposite direction. Just stay tuned.
QUESTION: And you won't confirm that Dennis suggested to Mr. Arafat that perhaps this agreement is more important than his trip to Europe and that he ought to stay and wrap it up? This didn't happen?
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to confirm it. I'm not going to discuss it. I'm answering the question that way, because it's been my practice and Dennis' practice not to get into any of the details of the conversations because we put a premium on discretion on the part of the United States.
QUESTION: When you're asked if Arafat tried to -- or the Palestinian delegation tried to reopen issues that were pretty much wrapped up --
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that any issue is wrapped up.
QUESTION: -- you're not aware of that?
MR. BURNS: No, not in the last 24 hours.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary considering going over there next week, or within the --
MR. BURNS: He has no plans -- no, he has no plans to go there next week.
QUESTION: -- in a meeting with Netanyahu and Arafat?
MR. BURNS: He has no plans to go there next week.
QUESTION: How about the following week?
MR. BURNS: He has no plans to go there the following week.
QUESTION: But is he discussing it? Is it a possibility?
MR. BURNS: At this point he has no plans. I mean, he has no plans to do any of that. His plans are to -- he's got several trips scheduled, as you know, in November and December -- important trips -- but he has no trips planned on this agreement. He's going to have to talk to Dennis Ross when Dennis gets back to see what makes the most sense.
The Secretary has been very much involved. That's why he called Arafat on Saturday. He talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu late last week, as you know, and he'll remain centrally involved. He has said before, whatever it takes -- if it takes the Secretary going to the Middle East to resolve this, then, of course, he'll consider that, but he's made no specific plans to do so right now. No plans whatsoever to do so right now.
QUESTION: Nick, the European Union today appointed a special envoy to the Middle East. Is it your assessment that this will be helpful or will it confuse the peace process?
MR. BURNS: We encourage the European Union to play a strong role in the Middle East, because they're already doing that economically, and we work very closely with the European Union and with its individual member states like the French Government and the British Government, to be specific about two.
I would not want you to conclude, however, that this is going to change the format of the current talks. It's at the insistence of the Israelis and the Palestinians that the United States is the sole intermediary. A lot of progress has been made in the current negotiations because of that position by the United States -- the role that we've played -- and I would say over the last three years we've been the indispensable country in the Middle East, and we'll continue to be so.
QUESTION: You conveyed in the last few days -- two weeks ago actually -- a sense of urgency about getting results. You repeated the word "results" and "results now." The second point that you conveyed was that it's better to do it in the high level possible between Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and then it's going between them.
Now, is it correct for me to assume that you do not have this sense of urgency now, and this pause -- this may be a week or more between the two sides -- that there will be a vacuum; there will be nobody going in between than on a higher level is not actually dangerous?
MR. BURNS: No. We still have a sense of urgency that these talks should be concluded as rapidly as possible. But the beauty of the talks is that the United States is not going to dictate the day upon which the agreement is made. That's determined by the Palestinians and Israelis, and ultimately it's going to take talks between Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu to resolve this. That hasn't happened yet. Once it happens, we're confident that there will be success. But getting there is part of the process.
We do still have that sense of urgency. I don't want you to think that we're complacent or that we think these talks should be slowed down. We would have been delighted to have had an agreement at anytime, any day of the last three weeks.
QUESTION: Nick, have you noted that the Russian Foreign Minister is in the Middle East? Is that a helpful thing to do -- for him to be in the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: Russia is a co-sponsor of the Madrid process with the United States. Russia has been involved in the past. It will be involved in the future. The United States does not have any reason to object to the presence of the French President or the Russian Foreign Minister or the British Foreign Secretary or a new negotiator or new representative of the European Union.
Europe is involved in the Middle East and should be, and we want that to be the case. But I don't think anyone is under any illusion that the United States is going to be supplanted in these specific negotiations by anybody or even joined by anybody -- any European country or by the European Union. It's not going to happen, because Israel and the Palestinians don't want it to happen. It's as simple as that, and the talks are going along just fine with the United States as the intermediary. We're very satisfied with the role that we've played, and we are confident of success. I want to say that for the 15th time, because we are.
QUESTION: Wouldn't you be able to state that with a little more conviction if there were a certain date for Dennis to return to the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: Mark, let me just say this, and let me -- I normally don't do this, because whenever I'm speaking on the record, I'm speaking on behalf of the Secretary and this Department. Let me just give you a personal viewpoint.
Let me tell you that it's my very firm personal conviction, having talked to the Secretary and Dennis Ross - whatever this is worth to you -- that there's going to be an agreement, and that's based upon my reading of our senior policy-makers and their views and the way these negotiations have gone.
I'm not up here just parroting some line for someone else's pleasure. We believe collectively and individually that this agreement is going to be made, and we're not panicking. You all can do that if you want. You can go out and write whatever you want today about this. You can leap to conclusions that probably you shouldn't do. You can do whatever you want to do.
I'm just trying to advise you that we think these negotiations are ongoing. Mark, the answer to the other question is this: Dennis and the Secretary will determine when Dennis goes back. He's not waiting for an introduction by Chairman Arafat or Prime Minister Netanyahu. In fact, I think they would have preferred had he stayed. But he decided he hadn't been home in three weeks; that he's now at that stage of the negotiations where he's dealing almost solely with Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Why stay in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv for five or six days when Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu will not be engaged.
Why not go back to Washington for a couple of days, get a good day's sleep, see his family, talk to Secretary Christopher and others, and then go back. That's the way it's going to happen. The Secretary and Dennis will decide the date of his return.
QUESTION: Is it possible that other subjects than Hebron have been mentioned in the last three weeks? There's been an indication from both sides that perhaps they ought to be talking about a broader final status negotiations than just the very narrow Hebron --
MR. BURNS: No, I believe that the Hebron redeployment issue and the attendant issues have been the sole issues discussed in a formal way during the last three weeks. In fact, I don't believe that the United States has raised any of the final status issues. Those issues are not currently on the table. There will be a time for those issues once these have been settled.
QUESTION: Couldn't I correct you on that? They have been on the table since May when the meeting was first held on --
MR. BURNS: The first meeting was held, that's right --
QUESTION: -- on final status.
MR. BURNS: -- on May 5, I believe --
MR. BURNS: -- for the final status talks, and those talks adjourned that evening. I don't believe they've been formally put on the table since, and I can tell you I don't want to correct the record, because very specifically during the last three weeks, these issues have not been on the table -- on the particular table of the Hebron redeployment discussions. They're not being discussed right now. There will be a time for those.
QUESTION: New subject.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: The Gulf. Can you give us some more on the warning for U.S. citizens in Kuwait? Was there a specific threat? Who received it?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that over the weekend and prior to that, our Embassy in Kuwait did receive some threats against American interests in Kuwait. As you know, the United States Government cannot be in a position and will not be in a position of having a double standard here, where we and the United States Government are apprised of threats to American interests and American citizens who do not work for the government are not.
So it's our obligation when we have threats against American interests to publish them; to let the American community in Kuwait know about them; to let any Americans traveling to Kuwait know about them. We did put out on October 27, yesterday, a public announcement. You can read it. It just advises American citizens on what they should be doing as a matter of course to protect themselves and to defend themselves in Kuwait.
I can tell you that there were several threats against American interests, and based upon our evaluation of those threats, we felt it was important to touch base with the American community.
QUESTION: Nick, another subject unless --
QUESTION: No. What was the nature of the threat?
MR. BURNS: I can't go into that. We normally don't go into that, Steve, for obvious reasons, because we want to be effective in deterring or containing any threats that are posed against United States Embassy, United States facilities, American diplomats or private American citizens.
Still on Kuwait, because David has been waiting.
QUESTION: Not Kuwait but --
QUESTION: You seem to be indicating that these are against private interests and not against the government.
MR. BURNS: I didn't say that, and I can't say that, Betsy. I'm going to have to be very general for security reasons and just say that they're against American interests. American interests are both public and private in Kuwait.
QUESTION: On a related topic, Nick, three officials of the United Nations held a news conference this morning, including Mrs. Ogata, saying that some one million Iraqis are in immediate prospect of starving unless something drastic is done about allowing food aid in quickly.
Does the United States share that view, and is the United States prepared to allow such emergency shipments?
MR. BURNS: First, the United States is not in a position, I think, to evaluate the degree of the crisis in Iraq, because we don't have American diplomats on the ground. We are represented there by Poland. Poland is the protecting power.
We have a lot of respect for Mrs. Ogata, the head of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, and we have felt for a long time that the Iraqi people have suffered because of Saddam Hussein's rule. That's why we co-authored UN Resolution 986, which attempts to bring humanitarian food and medical assistance to the Iraqi people, but UN Resolution 986, which was to have gone forward in the latter part of September, was scuttled, at least temporarily, by Saddam Hussein.
Now Saddam Hussein is not working cooperatively with the United Nations in trying to resurrect the implementation program for UN Resolution 986, which makes it very difficult for the UN by its own admission to go forward. There is a way to correct the problem of Iraqi malnutrition and deprivation on the part of Iraqi citizens. That's for Saddam Hussein to start caring about what happens to his people, instead of building 15 palaces, enriching his family with overseas bank accounts. If he stopped doing that and started taking some of that personal fortune and maybe spending on his own population, then I think the Iraqi people would be better off. If he didn't throw roadblocks in the way of the United Nations, UN Resolution 986 could have gone forward long ago.
QUESTION: I think the point of their news conference was that they don't see any prospect of Saddam Hussein changing his modus operandi. In the meantime, there is an imminent threat to a million or more Iraqis of starving to death. On that specific point, would you be prepared to do anything short of waiting for Saddam Hussein to change his personality?
MR. BURNS: Jim, we would have to look at the analysis upon which this is based. That's a very dramatic statement that a million people may be in danger of starvation. If that's what you think was said this morning, we'll have to talk to them, which I'm sure we'll do; see the analysis upon which it is based, and then draw our own conclusions.
We are not insensitive to the suffering of the Iraqi people. In fact, we're sensitive to it, and we feel badly for the Iraqis Shi'as and Sunnis and the Kurdish population that has to live -- the Turkoman population -- under the influence of Saddam Hussein.
If the situation is going to be fixed in the long term, I think the issues I've raised today about Saddam Hussein's perfidy and his recklessness towards his own people are appropriate issues.
QUESTION: Kurdish factions will be meeting --
MR. BURNS: Actually, you know what I'd like to do?
QUESTION: I'm sorry, go ahead.
MR. BURNS: I'd like to go back. David has tried to raise a question.
QUESTION: Well, it isn't in the Middle East.
MR. BURNS: We can go back to the Middle East.
QUESTION: What can you tell us, if anything, about allegations that one Mr. James Wood, a then political officer in Taipei, raised financial -- raised money for the Democratic National Committee while a political appointee in the Taipei office?
MR. BURNS: Let me just set the facts straight, if I could, just for a moment. James Wood is the head of the American Institute in Taiwan, but the head of the office in the United States, I think just across the river in Arlington, Virginia. He does not hold a position in the Institute's office in Taipei itself -- in Taiwan.
The position in Taipei is held by a Foreign Service Officer, Daryl Johnson, who's a Senior Foreign Service Officer. You know we have a somewhat unusual arrangement concerning Taiwan. We don't have official relations. We have unofficial relations, but since 1979 we have had a presence of diplomats who have resigned their positions in the U.S. Foreign Service to take positions as part of the American Institute of Taiwan. That's who they are. That's who Daryl Johnson is.
That Institute has an office in Washington. Its board is headed by James Wood, who I believe was appointed to that office in 1995. We've seen the allegations against Mr. Wood reported in Newsweek today and in other places, and I can tell you that in June of this year, similar allegations were made to our Inspector General's Office here in the Department of State. As soon as those allegations were made, the allegations were passed on to the Justice Department.
I understand that our Inspector General did not feel it was appropriate for the Inspector General here to look into those charges. It was more a matter for the Justice Department, and I believe that's where these allegations reside.
QUESTION: So it's up to the Justice Department to comment further at this point on the status of an investigation that's ongoing?
MR. BURNS: That's right, because as soon as the State Department's Office of Inspector General heard about the allegations in June, they were passed on to the Justice Department.
QUESTION: And which allegations precisely was it that were brought to the State Department's Inspector General and then passed on to --
MR. BURNS: I cannot tell you, since I have not seen the report or talked to the person in the Inspector General's Office who received them in June. I can't tell you exactly which allegations, because there have been a number made, were brought to the Inspector General's Office. I can just say that we're familiar with some of these allegations, and those made in Newsweek today are some of the same allegations that were made several months ago back in June.
QUESTION: Is Wood a political appointee?
MR. BURNS: He is not a career diplomat. He's not a Foreign Service Officer. I understand he held a position in the Department of State in our Legal Adviser's Office before he gained the position in the American Institute of Taiwan.
QUESTION: Is he still in office pending the result of the investigation?
MR. BURNS: I believe he is in office, yes.
Still on this issue? Any thing more on this issue?
MR. BURNS: On this issue? No, I want to go back to Turkey.
QUESTION: Kurdish factions will be meeting this week in Turkey, probably tomorrow, in Ankara. What are the items on the agenda of Mr. Pelletreau?
MR. BURNS: Bob Pelletreau will be chairing a meeting on Wednesday in Ankara to begin the reconciliation talks among the Kurds. The two major Kurdish factions -- the KDP and PUK -- will be at the table. Also at the table will be the Turkish and British Governments.
The objectives are the following. The United States would like to convince them that they ought to maintain and continue well into the future the cease-fire that they have agreed upon. That cease-fire, by the way, is holding. It held over the weekend, and it's holding today in northern Iraq.
Secondly, that they ought to agree to some kind of process where they resolve the political problems between them, which are considerable. In that sense, we will be as helpful to these parties as we can, understanding that if they can come together politically, at least to discuss their problems, then that can be a major force for stability in northern Iraq and for a relative peace in northern Iraq.
It has the added advantage of maintaining a distance between Iraq and Iran from the situation in northern Iraq. You know the United States believes that neither Iraq nor Iran have any useful role to play there.
QUESTION: About this objection and after the Ankara meeting, Mr. Talabani went to Tehran. It means -- it shows that he's still trying to draw Iran in these two Kurdish factions' meeting or discussions of the problem. But what's your reaction on this subject?
MR. BURNS: I have no particular reaction, except to say it's no secret that Mr. Talabani has been in touch with the Iranians and that Mr. Barzani has been in touch with the Iraqis. But I think you should look at who's meeting in Ankara on Wednesday to understand who's really influential in northern Iraq. These talks are not being held in Tehran, and they're not being held in Baghdad, and the facilitator is neither Iran nor Iraq. It's the United States and Turkey and Britain. That tells you about who has influence in northern Iraq these days.
QUESTION: Are you 100% confident that it's going to take place on Wednesday?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Because there are reports in the region that both Kurdish parties asked for a postponement of the meeting.
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of them, and we have every reason to believe at this point that the talks will take place, yes, on Wednesday.
QUESTION: Nick, will the PKK terrorism be on the agenda?
MR. BURNS: It almost always is in our discussions with these two factions, because we think they have a responsibility to work together to stem the terrorism that has been threatening Turkey on Turkey's southeast border.
MR. BURNS: Sure.
QUESTION: On the same subject.
MR. BURNS: The same subject, Mr. Lambros, yes.
QUESTION: In which capacity the Turkish Government is going to function in northern Iraq to keep the order, pushing Iran and Iraq from the same area?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me, Mr. Lambros?
QUESTION: Under which capacity Turkey is going to function in northern Iraq? It's a part of Turkey -- northern Iraq? I understand that (inaudible) --
MR. BURNS: No. Northern Iraq is not part of Turkey. Northern Iraq is part of Iraq.
QUESTION: That's exactly -- (inaudible) --
MR. BURNS: Turkey has an interest in Iraq because of all the problems that have threatened Turkey from northern Iraq. Turkey has been a founding member of "Operation Provide Comfort." Turkey has had a security interest because of the terrorism that comes across Turkey's border. So I think there's every reason for Turkey to be involved in this situation with the United States and Great Britain.
QUESTION: In fact will the involvement -- (inaudible) deploy forces in the area or just politically?
MR. BURNS: This is one area where I think Greece and the Greek people probably understand Turkey has a role to play. Greek's a NATO ally of Turkey. Greece wants to see Turkey maintain it stability. Greece doesn't want to see Turkey the victim of terrorism by the PKK. So I think most Greeks, if you ask them, probably would understand why Turkey has to play a role in northern Iraq.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Marc Grossman (inaudible)
MR. BURNS: He's in town today and tomorrow.
QUESTION: Was he in town in weekend?
MR. BURNS: I think he was in town over the weekend. I know I saw him this morning, so I know he's in the State Department this morning on consultations.
QUESTION: Nick, there are allegations that he's going to be called back for good.
MR. BURNS: I would not encourage you to pay any attention to those allegations. Turkey's a NATO ally of the United States. We need to have an American Ambassador there.
QUESTION: no, no, no ...
MR. BURNS: We need to have --
QUESTION: Just to be replaced by someone else.
MR. BURNS: Let me just be very clear, because Sid is asking a quite different question than you're asking, Yasmine. Let me answer your question first then I'll be glad to answer Sid's.
QUESTION: What I meant to ask was, is he going to be replaced soon?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware he's going to be replaced soon. In fact, I know that in fact Ambassador Grossman's presence here was made known to the Secretary, and the Secretary plans to meet him, I think tomorrow or Wednesday, to get an update on the situation in Turkey, after which Ambassador Grossman will be returning to Turkey.
Ambassador Grossman has done an outstanding job. He has the confidence of the President and the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State reads his cables, talks to him on the phone and is close to him. Ambassador Grossman will serve out his tour of duty in Turkey, and I want to make that perfectly clear. Perfectly clear.
MR. BURNS: Steve had a prior place here.
QUESTION: I'm just wondering if the United States was giving any consideration to altering its policy as the ethnic conflict between the Tutsis and the Hutus spreads into Zaire? Last I understood it, the United States was willing to offer tactical assistance in getting aid and assistance to those people, but was not going to involve its armed forces in any other fashion. Has that policy changed, or is there consideration of changing that policy?
MR. BURNS: You're talking about the situation right now in eastern Zaire?
MR. BURNS: As opposed to Africa in general?
QUESTION: Right. Into the Great Lake's region in general, but as it has spread into eastern Zaire in particular.
MR. BURNS: First, the situation deteriorated over the weekend. In addition to the roughly 250,000 refugees caused by the fighting last week, we think that that number probably more than doubled over the weekend because of fighting in several locations just in the last couple of days. This is a humanitarian crisis and certainly still has the potential to be a humanitarian disaster.
The United States has been talking to Mrs. Ogata, the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, over the weekend and today, following her appearance at the United Nations on Friday in New York. We're very concerned about the situation.
We continue to do the following. Our Ambassadors in Kigali in Rwanda and in Kinshasha in Zaire continue to talk to both the Zairian and Rwandan Governments about the need for those two government to exercise some influence on the warring militias to get the fighting to stop.
Second, we have been involved in discussions at the United Nations -- UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali is concerned about the situation -- and we'll stay in touch with all of our partners in the Security Council.
Third, we have talked specifically to the United Nations about the refugee problem and what we can do to help. As you know, the UN is free to draw down on $30 million in financial assistance from the United States to the Great Lakes region. We're particular concerned about the food and water situation. There seem to be supplies that would last into early November. The problem may be in getting those supplies to the places where the refugees have camped.
There is a possibility of a severe lack of food and water in eastern Zaire because of those logistical problems. There is still a 68-truck convoy held up along the Zairian border. I don't know what the particular problems are; perhaps one could guess. This is on the Zaire- Uganda border, and we would like that convoy to be released immediately, as would the United Nations, so that those supplies can get through to the refugees.
So the situation is quite severe, and it's being followed closely. It was a number one issue in Secretary Christopher's staff meeting this morning. There was a long discussion about it.
QUESTION: But no further discussion about the possible introduction of U.S. force or troops to aid the situation beyond what you've talked about before, and that is just tactical assistance with airlift and that kind of thing.
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that there was ever any discussion over the last week or so that the United States might put forces into eastern Zaire. This is something that we think the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross ought to take the lead in. They have relief workers on the ground. The United States does not have anyone on the ground. We have a few diplomats from our Embassy in Kinshasha who have made their way to these to these towns where the refugees have fled. They're trying to monitor the situation and to give Washington a sense of what's happening there.
QUESTION: Nick, also on Zaire. Does the United States have a long- term plan for what it would do, if anything, if Zaire falls apart?
MR. BURNS: First, Carol, the United States does have contingency plans for most parts of the world. That's just prudent. It's good common sense. I can't tell you about any contingency planning, however, that we have for Zaire. Obviously, one has to be concerned about the stability of Zaire from a number of vantage points, but we're not expecting or not assuming that this scenario that you pose is going to take place. We just have to take things with each country on a country- by-country basis. We can't possibly have a policy that assumes the worst for any situation.
If the worst should happen, we'd obviously react, because Zaire is a centrally located, very important state, if you look at the stability of all of its neighbors. There would be tremendous consequences for all of Zaire's neighbors should the situation be further destabilized in Zaire. We're not actively planning upstairs for this to happen, and that's about as much as I can say to a hypothetical question, I think, and try to answer it at the same time.
QUESTION: Nick, can I move to Bosnia? We've gone over this question quite a few times before here, but today a column by Antony Lewis in The New York Times talks about a visit to the Bosnian Serb territory of a professor from Purdue. Maybe you read it. He was in Pale and he was in various parts of the territory.
He was with personnel from IFOR. He saw former President Karadzic go by in cars. He had his house pointed out to him, and it was described to this professor by a number of different IFOR and other Western officials that they could easily arrest Mr. Karadzic any time they wished, but that their orders were not to do so.
Mr. Lewis ends his column by saying, "bowing to evil, which is what the decision to let a mass murderer go free amounts to, has had fatal consequences, fatal for Bosnia and fatal for the rule of law and the world."
I wonder if you'd care to respond to the column?
MR. BURNS: Very tough point. I didn't get a chance to read the column, but I can tell you this. The rules of engagement for IFOR personnel have not changed since IFOR brought the troops in last December. The rules of engagement are quite clear. There are no rules of engagement that I am aware of -- and I think the Secretary of Defense has spoken to this, as has the Secretary of State, consistently over the past ten months -- that would tell soldiers not to arrest indicted war criminals.
The rules of engagement with which I am familiar tell soldiers that they ought to arrest indicted war criminals when they encounter them, and that's the position that the United States has supported and that all other IFOR countries have supported.
QUESTION: But, Nick, I mean, there's not only this column. I and many other journalists have talked to soldiers at all different levels, but particularly at the working level -- colonel and lower -- and they have all told us and told every journalist that they have orders not to arrest these people. So I think there's a disconnect here, and I wonder how much longer the administration can go on pretending that the soldiers in IFOR do not have orders to avoid Mr. Karadzic.
MR. BURNS: I'm not pretending. I've never heard any U.S. military official tell anyone in the State Department that the rules of engagement for IFOR forces are to refrain from arresting indicted war criminals. That policy of arresting indicted war criminals when they are encountered is a policy that the President and the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State have all spoken to, and they've all said that they believe it's the right policy.
When asked consistently over the last ten months, would you agree with the policy that we ought not to arrest indicted war criminals, the answer from everybody in a responsible position in the U.S. Government here in Washington and in the field has been, "No, we wouldn't agree with that policy. Our policy should be to bring them to justice."
Let me just remind you that the United States has done quite a lot to raise the focus of this issue. We haven't shied away from it. We haven't swept it under the rug. In fact, we have regularly told you that we support the UN War Crimes Tribunal. We've got more than 20 State Department employees supporting the work.
I can tell you Secretary Christopher, in his meetings with President Tudjman in Croatia and Milosevic in Serbia, has made a point of saying, "You're not doing enough to arrest the war criminals living on your soil." In fact, the sanctions on Serbia, placed on it by the United States, are being maintained in part because of Serbia's failure to live up to its commitments on war crimes.
I would also tell you that Mr. Karadzic, who was thumbing his nose at the West about a year ago, is no longer doing so, because he was defeated in the war by NATO. He also had his people -- the people who represented him -- sign the Dayton accords. They have committed themselves to a unified state.
Mr. Karadzic was not able to run in the elections in September because of the insistence of the United States. So I don't want to sit up here and allow myself, allow my government, to be put on the defensive. My government has the best record of any government I know in the West about this issue. We have raised it consistently, and we have done something about it, and our belief is that sooner or later these guys are going to end up in the dock at The Hague. That's where they belong, because they are indicted war criminals.
QUESTION: If I may, just one more question on this. Mr. Lewis makes the point in his column that when you are asking powers such as Serbia and Croatia, for that matter, which also has war criminals wandering around its streets, to arrest these people, the fact that you -- "you," your forces, U.S. forces -- could easily do it and are within yards of the people involved and don't do it, sends a clear message to those powers that they don't need to either.
MR. BURNS: I hope Mr. Lewis isn't making excuses for the failure of the Serbs and the Croats to adhere to their Dayton commitments. I don't think he should do that. You'll have to ask him whether that's what he wanted to do.
The ultimate responsibility for this peace accord rests with Bosnians and Croats and Serbs. The United States did the following, and I'm going to mention this, because some pretty tough charges have been leveled against our government today.
We stopped the war, and we made the peace, and now we're securing the peace through the efforts of 15,000 young Americans. There would be no peace in Bosnia without the United States. No country has done more to raise the issue of the war criminals and to expose them than the United States.
I think you ought to reflect on those comments and at least make sure that's a factor in any reports that are done on this particular conversation or this issue.
QUESTION: How do you explain the fact that Karadzic and others have not been picked up?
MR. BURNS: You may have an explanation, too, Carol. You'd like my personal explanation?
QUESTION: I'd like a government explanation.
MR. BURNS: My personal explanation is and the government's explanation would be the following: The people who signed on the dotted line in Dayton have failed to meet their commitments -- the Serbs and the Croats -- specifically Milosevic and the Croatian Government in Zagreb.
We know that there are indicted war criminals running around in Croatia as well as Serbia, and the two governments have an obligation and a commitment to arrest them. That's how I explain it.
QUESTION: All right. Well, that's an explanation for the other governments, but what's the explanation for IFOR not doing it?
MR. BURNS: IFOR has standing rules of engagement that have not changed one iota since last December. Those rules of engagement remain in force. If IFOR troops encounter Mladic or Karadzic or anybody else, who's an indicted war criminal, they are to arrest them.
QUESTION: There has to be an encounter. They cannot go after them. Is that what you're saying?
MR. BURNS: That's how I would describe, and we've described it this way about a thousand times -- the rules of engagement. We have said in the past that IFOR would not form posses and ride up into the hills on expeditions of this kind.
We've said that IFOR troops encountered them in the course of their duties, they are to arrest them. Those rules have not changed -- those rules of engagement.
QUESTION: But it's getting harder to accept that if there was a true intent on the part of IFOR to be effective in this manner, that the troops could not effect this arrest. You talk about official policy, but, clearly, there are tactical decisions on the ground which are at odds with official policy?
MR. BURNS: I can't account for that. All I can do is tell you what the leadership of this country has decided should be our policy, and that's our policy.
The United States is successful in its Bosnia policy. We have been a success. This situation is heading in the right direction.
We have never said any day in the last 365 that the situation is perfect. We would much prefer it if Karadzic and Mladic were in jail right now, or under trial at The Hague. That's where we want them. We are frustrated that they have not been put on trial -- that they've not been brought to trial -- by the people who are primarily responsible for bringing them to trial -- the powers: Serbia and Croatia that signed the Dayton Accords.
We don't like the fact that these people are at large and that they're living with some degree of freedom. They ought to be in front of their accusers. They ought to answer to the charges of mistreatment of human beings, of indiscriminate killing of humans -- Bosnians especially -- over the last four or five years. That's where they ought to be. So we're not pleased with the present situation, but we've done quite a lot to support the War Crimes Tribunal more than anyone else, and we've done more than any other country to bring peace to Bosnia. There is peace in Bosnia, I should remind you of that.
QUESTION: Nick, speaking of IFOR, there's a sort of an odd series of stories and denials over the weekend and into today regarding their deployment in the Balkans.
American elections are about a week away now. Would you care to explain to the American people once and for all exactly what the President of this country intends to do with American troops in the Balkans, regardless of what you call their deployment.
MR. BURNS: You sound like you're a prosecutor -- "once and for all," as if we've been holding back on this. I'll give you the answer that I gave on Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, and Monday of last week, and probably everyday over the last three months. That answer is this: That the NATO leadership has not made a decision as to whether or not there should be a security follow-on force to follow IFOR.
I did tell you last week that that issue is under discussion. It's under discussion in NATO. NATO is looking at four specific options, as Secretary Perry said in his statement on Saturday and once those options are ready, once NATO has finalized, basically, its development of these options, then the NATO leaders will talk about it and NATO will make a decision.
I also told you last week that following the OSCE decision to postpone the municipal elections that postponement would certainly be a factor in the eyes of the NATO leaders when they make this decision. We're not hiding anything here. We have a process to follow, but we haven't been ducking this either.
I've been open to questions on this everyday. Still open to it. We don't need to finally fess up to the American people about anything. We've been open with the American people. I've said what we can say on this issue. I've said what we can say on this issue.
QUESTION: You have not been that open with the American people --
MR. BURNS: I disagree with you, Sid, very respectfully.
QUESTION: I, respectfully, as well. But why does this Administration get so upset to the point of ruling out the Secretary of Defense to deny a story when the story is about the U.S. considering leaving troops in the Balkans beyond the one-year commitment that the President gave? Is that not true?
MR. BURNS: Sid, we have been open and we've been available to answer any question on this: Ken Bacon, Mike McCurry, and myself; and people far senior to us: Secretary Perry and Secretary Christopher. We'll continue to answer your questions as best as we can.
QUESTION: Is it not true that the Clinton Administration is considering leaving American troops in the Balkans past the end of the year?
MR. BURNS: Let me be very precise. What we are saying is that IFOR -- the departure of IFOR forces, including the American contingent in IFOR, will be leaving on schedule.
You remember the schedule set by the President and others -- about a year. That would take us to about mid-December. We've also said that one of the central questions that needs to be discussed is whether or not there should be a follow-on security force to IFOR -- meaning, should the United States put troops into Bosnia -- additional set of troops -- in 1997, we said we should discuss this issue.
We said we're studying it at NATO. There are four options at play. We will make a decision on this sometime in November, after the NATO staff presents these issues and these options to the NATO leadership. We've been very open about that.
QUESTION: So you are considering it?
MR. BURNS: Of course, we are. Secretary Perry and Secretary Christopher said this. Secretary Perry, I think, in his public statement -- let me get it out. I think I've got it right here. I think he says that there are four options and that we're going to be looking at those four options.
I'm quoting from Secretary Perry's statement: "NATO military advisors are currently considering four options. First, is complete withdrawal of IFOR. The second is the deterrence force to prevent the outbreak of fighting. Third, a sustaining force to provide security in Bosnia. Fourth, is a continuation of the current IFOR mission."
There you have it. We are considering this question. It's a very important question. We would not be doing our job if we didn't consider it.
QUESTION: Anything new about Pardew's mission in Sarajevo? Anything new about the Deputy Minister of Defense and Minister of Defense regarding the resignation of both of them? The Bosnian Government stated that you asked for both resignations?
MR. BURNS: Nothing new on the general issue that you raise, Envira. We're waiting for the Bosnian Government to do the right thing. When it does, the shipment at Ploce will be transferred to the authority of the Federation.
QUESTION: Is it true that the U.S. Government asked the resignation of the Minister of Defense -- that Croat guy Soljic.
MR. BURNS: We have raised some personnel issues of concern to us with the Bosnian Government, but I don't want to be specific about them.
QUESTION: Just a little bit more specific. Is that a high-level official --
MR. BURNS: I don't think it would be right for me to do that. We'll be more effective if we lower the temperature on this.
QUESTION: Just a last one. I've heard David and Carol ask and they were trying and trying so hard and you said that there is nothing new. Finally, the answer is, there is nothing new.
You are talking about -- you did what you possibly could, and your obligation -- I'm talking about the U.S. Government, actually -- according to Dayton is, to do something about the War Crimes Tribunal. No one is accusing you, and don't take a defensive position.
My question for you is, is it possible that during one year no one can see or encounter Radovan Karadzic? Is it possible? Sixty thousand troops in Bosnia, one guy, hanging around day-by-day, is it possible?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if he's hanging out. We don't know where he is day to day. I don't believe he is hanging around street corners waiting to be picked up by NATO because if he were, he would have picked up long ago.
Karadzic and Mladic will be brought to justice, and they ought to be brought to justice.
QUESTION: Nick, it's such a farce to talk this way. I'm sorry, I don't usually do this, but you know that Karadzic regularly goes through checkpoints that are sometimes manned by American troops. The troops actually withdraw from the checkpoints sometimes before the convoys go through. Honestly, I don't know this first-hand; I know it from other journalists, but they've seen it happen.
MR. BURNS: David, I don't accept the fact that you're presenting this as a farce. The fact is, I don't know what you expect the United States to do, especially in a forum like this. I don't know what you expect us to do.
We have resolved, on our own, 90 percent of the problems of Bosnia, but the tenor of your remarks and the tenor of a lot of the questions here is if to say, the United States is single-handedly responsible for everything that goes wrong --
QUESTION: No, not saying that.
MR. BURNS: when a lot of you rarely give us credit for what goes right. The fact is, we've done more to support the War Crimes Tribunal than just about anybody, and I'm unwilling to call this a "farce."
QUESTION: A lot of people would grant that.
MR. BURNS: We say in public what we can say in public. On other basis, we say what we can say -- on those basis. I'm on the record and I'm in public. I'm saying what I can say on this issue, and I'm saying what I'm willing to say on this issue.
QUESTION: I would respectfully submit that you are not being put in a very good position by your own government. They've been obliged to come out and say that the U.S. Government will take him if they can find him, and it's not doing anything to avoid taking him.
I'm telling you, and so is Anthony Lewis and a lot of other people, that that just isn't the way it's working on the ground. I don't think you're being fairly treated by your own government.
MR. BURNS: I cannot agree with that assessment, and I don't. I understand why you might say it but I can't agree with it at all. At all.
QUESTION: This is not to, in any way, quarrel with general policy in Bosnia. It's a very specific question.
MR. BURNS: The facts are that we would like these people to be arrested, and we'd like to see them in The Hague. That's the bottom line. There are some countries in the Contact Group who are unwilling to say that, who don't believe that to be the case. Who don't believe that these people should end up in The Hague. We do.
The facts are that we've done more to support The Hague -- the War Crimes Tribunal than anybody else. The facts are that there are rules of engagement for NATO troops.
David, I can't change those rules of engagement for you. Our leadership has made them. We are supporting those rules of engagement, and we believe that one day these people are going to end up in the dock. That's all I can say.
QUESTION: Opposition leaders in Serbia are accusing the United States for trying to help Mr. Milosevic fix the coming elections in Yugoslavia. The idea is, according to them, to save the present regime in Serbia and to keep in charge Mr. Milosevic's who has proven to be a very valuable ally in current U.S. initiatives in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia. Any comment about that?
MR. BURNS: It's false. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have no dog in that fight. We're not supporting anybody in the elections. We wouldn't dream of supporting anybody in those elections.
These elections, we hope, will be monitored by the OSCE. There will be U.S. monitors from the United States Embassy in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia.
I would just remind you that the United States has directed $200,000 this year alone to programs to support democracy in the former Yugoslavia. Those charges are absolutely false.
There are more questions.
QUESTION: The Turkish Ambassador here in town wrote in the International Law Journal recently said, " Serbian victory would have opened the way for orthodoxy supremacy in the Balkans, effectively cutting off Turkey from Europe."
Since you are in the Balkans, could you please comment on this in the usual statement which circulates the Turks' mentality vis-a-vis the Balkan peninsula?
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, I haven't seen the statement so I don't wish to comment upon it. We have excellent relations with Ambassador Kandemir -- if that's who you're referring you -- excellent relations with him. I have to look at the statement first before I could comment.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the trip to Europe of Ambassador Eizenstat?
MR. BURNS: I don't. As you know, he's currently on the trip. I don't have a status report. If you're interested, we can try to get one for tomorrow.
QUESTION: Same subject, same subject. The EU apparently has agreed on retaliatory measures, vis-a-vis Helms-Burton. That happened shortly before you came out. Do you have anything to say about that?
MR. BURNS: I'm aware of it. We have a well know American position on this, and that is, we believe that Helms-Burton can be implemented in a way that satisfies our international obligations -- those of the United States.
We don't believe it's appropriate for the Europeans to retaliate, and we wish the Europeans also had an interest -- expressed public interest -- and made a priority the situation of the many, many people in Cuba whose rights are being denied now by the Castro Government about democracy in Cuba. We'd like to see more talk from the Europeans about democracy in Cuba.
QUESTION: One quick one on China? Radio Free Asia: Has the United States received a formal or otherwise informal protest from the PRC regarding our broadcasts?
MR. BURNS: We've seen some accusations, some serious accusations launched against Radio Free Asia. We reject them all.
Radio Free Asia's goal is to provide accurate information about the world of the Chinese people. We don't believe anyone should impede with the free flow of information. We think we all ought to remain concerned about human rights in China and about the ability of the Chinese people to receive information openly and accurately.
Radio Free Asia is going to continue. It's got the full support of this government.
QUESTION: Nick there are other things that haven't gone right. Do you have a comment about the Yankees?
MR. BURNS: Maybe another time.
(Press briefing concluded at 3:44 p.m.)
To the top of this page