U.S. Department of State 96/11/01 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Friday, November 1, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Welcome to Visitors to the Briefing ......................... 1 CUBA U.S. Human Rights Officer Robin Meyers Service in Cuba ...... 1-2 RUSSIA Ambassador Pickering's Service/Return to Washington ......... 2-3 SAUDI ARABIA Reports of Arrests in Al-Khobar Bombing in Dhahran .......... 3-5,7 U.S.-Saudi Cooperation on Investigation into Bombing ........ 5-7 U.S.-Saudi Contacts ......................................... 6 U.S. Contacts with Syrian Government re Investigation ....... 7 ZAIRE Update on Situation in Eastern Zaire/Call for Regional Conference/UN Special Envoy's Efforts ..................... 8 Update on Refugee Situation/Update on Fighting/Goma/Bukavu .. 8-10 USG Contacts with Rwanda, Zaire Governments ............. 10-11, 13-14 U.S. Advisory to Americans to Leave Area/Amcits in Bukavu ... 11-12 Reports Zaire Breaks Relations with Rwanda .................. 11 U.S. Efforts/Cooperation with Other Countries/UN re Situation 12,14- 15 Reported Statement by President of Rwanda re Territorial Claim 12-13 Status of the African Crisis Response Force ................. 15-16 Plans for Travel to the Region by USG Officials ............. 16 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Dennis Ross Travel Plans/Meetings/Contacts .................. 17-20 IRAQ U.S. Contribution to UN Appeal for Food Assistance/Terms for Ceasefire in Northern Iraq ................................ 20-21 Iraqi Kurdish Talks in Ankara/Ambassador Pelletreau's Return 20-21, 23-25 Status of Safehaven in N. Iraq/Operation Provide Comfort .... 21 Status of NGOs in Northern Iraq/Status of Evacuees from Iraq 21-23 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Status of Bosnian Deputy Minister of Defense's Removal/Ties to Iran/Status of U.S. Shipment of Equipment ................. 25-30 GREECE/TURKEY Imia/Kardak Dispute ......................................... 31-32
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1996, 1:08 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: I'd like to welcome eight journalists from Macedonia who are visiting the United States through a USIA/AID project. Welcome. Thank you for coming.
MR. BURNS: You have a comment -- I haven't even begun the briefing. I'm welcoming our guests.
Mr. Lambros? Excuse me?
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, you'll have an opportunity to ask a question.
May I welcome our other guests and start the briefing, and then we'll get into the questions.
I have no more tarantulas to --
QUESTION: Hodding threw rubber chickens.
MR. BURNS: I know he did. I'd also like to welcome Mr. Allan Bonner, who is a media consultant who works with the Government of Canada, and Mrs. Pamela Chappell from the Canadian Embassy here in Washington. Welcome to you.
We're not always like this at the beginning of these briefings. Just today.
I want to begin the briefing just with brief remarks about two American diplomats who are in the news today.
The first is Robin Meyers. I don't know if you saw Tom Lippman's piece in the Washington Post today. Robin Meyers is a career Foreign Service Officer who was forced to leave Cuba because she did her job too well. Robin Meyers was the human rights officer at our Interests Section in Havana. She was regularly harassed by the Cuban Security Police because her job was to try to document human rights abuses by the Cuban Government. She did that job very, very well.
She was declared persona non grata and asked to leave. I would commend this article to you for two reasons. One, it shows I think great insight into the problems in Cuba, the fact that this is the last authoritarian regime in our hemisphere, and the fundamental disrespect that the Cuban Government has for human rights -- of the human rights of its own people.
Second, it also showcases the work of an American diplomat, a Foreign Service Officer who did a very good job under very difficult circumstances.
The second diplomat I want to talk about is Ambassador Tom Pickering. I think, as a lot of you know, those of who read the Style Section of the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal today, you know that Ambassador Pickering departed Moscow today after three-and-a-half years as the American Ambassador to the Russian Federation.
Ambassador Pickering has a record of accomplishment in the Foreign Service that may be unequaled in the entire history of the Foreign Service of the United States. He has been Ambassador to six countries and to the United Nations -- seven times an Ambassador. He is the highest-ranking career Foreign Service Officer. He has held the highest rank of a career Foreign Service officer: Career Ambassador. He's held that since 1984.
He has served the last 16 years of his life as an Ambassador overseas. He is heading back today to Washington, back to the State Department.
His career is unparalleled, and his record of service, his dedication, his integrity, his energy, his brilliance, I think is unparalleled. I think Lee Hockstader's article in the Post this morning got it right when it described him in those terms.
He also has epitomized the best of our Foreign Service in Moscow where he has had an enormous number of challenges over the last three-and-a- half years. I know, just speaking personally, when I worked with him while I was working on Russian affairs, I had never worked with anyone who was a better diplomat.
So we welcome him back to Washington. I do want to make it possible for you to see him and meet with him in the coming weeks. I think he wants to do that, too. I wanted to just pay my own personal respects to him today and that of all of my colleagues here in the State Department.
QUESTION: Doesn't that leave a little bit of a vacuum in Moscow at a very critical time?
MR. BURNS: Not at all.
QUESTION: How might you --
MR. BURNS: It's hard to replace Tom Pickering, wherever Tom Pickering is. We have in Moscow, as our Charge d'Affaires, John Tefft, who is a Senior Foreign Service Officer; a very experienced officer on Soviet and Russian affairs for many, many years who is superbly qualified to run that mission until after our elections. Whoever wins the elections determines who will be the next American Ambassador to Moscow. So we have no concerns whatsoever in that regard.
QUESTION: Where is Ambassador Pickering going next?
MR. BURNS: He's coming back to the Department. He'll be here as of next week. I don't believe he's formally announced what his future plans are. I'm going to leave that to him.
As I said, I do want to give you all an opportunity to talk to him in a formal setting or an informal setting when he does get back. He's an extraordinary man, and he deserves a lot of credit for what he's done for the United States over the past 35 years.
QUESTION: He's (inaudible) experienced in several parts of the world -- the Middle East as well as Russia --
MR. BURNS: That's right.
QUESTION: Latin America, in international affairs. Will he in any way assist the Secretary in the Middle East or in Russia?
MR. BURNS: He'll certainly be available to the Secretary and to Deputy Secretary Talbott. He's worked with both of them very closely on a variety of issues. I know he also wants to be present in the public debate about resources, about the future of the Foreign Service. I think he'll be a very, very convincing voice with the public on those issues.
QUESTION: Could I direct your attention to another story in today's Washington Post?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I can't imagine what that story might be, George.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the supposed arrests in Saudi Arabia?
MR. BURNS: I really don't. As you would expect, I think you probably know what I have to say on this.
There is an investigation underway, conducted by the Saudi authorities and by the United States -- specifically, by the FBI -- into the al- Khobar bombing which killed 19 American servicemen. That investigation continues. It has not been completed. Until it's finished, we're not going to have much to say about it.
We're not in a position to confirm a lot of what was in the article. I'm not taking issue. I don't choose at this briefing to debate what was in the article, just to say that since the investigation is not over, it's better for us not to comment.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. Government comfortable with the standards that the Saudis apply for detaining people, trying them, their form of capital punishment, etc.?
If the answer is "maybe," does the U.S. have any influence on the Saudis or trying to apply any influence so that you really get the people who did it?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I don't know if you're asking one question or two different questions.
In general, the United States, as you know, publishes an annual human rights report. You can read, down the hall in our office, what we say about the Saudis on human rights practices and the rule of law, in general.
If you're talking about this investigation, we are working with the Saudis on this investigation. We are cooperating with them. But I don't want to characterize the nature of that until this investigation is over.
QUESTION: But that does imply that the U.S. is trying to see proper standards applied to the investigation?
MR. BURNS: Just speaking in general -- not specifically about the Saudi investigation -- of course, as a democracy, we would like proper procedures, proper law procedures, legal procedures to be in play in the course of an investigation.
But about this particular investigation, which is what you're all really interested in, I really have very little to say; and I shouldn't say anything until it's over.
QUESTION: Can you say anything to what Mr. Smith is witnessing here from government sources -- Saudi sources -- about --
MR. BURNS: I don't believe he identified his sources, just for the record.
QUESTION: I think he's implied. But what he's saying in here is that it's clear evidence the Iranians had something to do with issuing passports to Saudi citizens involved in the bombing. He even comes to the conclusion here that the Iranians gave the orders. It came from the Iranian Government, according to Mr. Smith. Have you any comments on that?
MR. BURNS: All I can say on that is, I would just second what Secretary of Defense Perry said some time ago: when those who are responsible for this are found, and when we have the evidence that's necessary to believe that an individual or certain groups of people carried this out, they will be held responsible for this terrorist act against the United States and Saudi Arabia. I don't believe that day has come, Bill.
The Saudis and the U.S. have not completed their investigation. Once the investigation is completed, the Saudi and U.S. Governments will speak about the results of that investigation, but we're not at that point yet.
QUESTION: What Barry said about evidence, these witnesses might be executed. Are they going to be -- are we going to insist that our FBI people interview these witnesses?
MR. BURNS: You can rest assured that the United States is pursuing this investigation along with the Saudis with a great deal of determination. We want to find those who are responsible for this. I just don't have many comments to make, though, about the nature of that investigation.
QUESTION: You said that we're cooperating with the Saudis. Are they cooperating with us?
MR. BURNS: As I have said before, Howard, we have a commitment from the highest levels of the Kingdom that there will be good cooperation between the Saudis and the Americans. We've had experience with this before. As you know, after the Riyadh bombing, we had a similar joint investigation.
Those are the commitments that have been made. I don't care, midstream in an investigation, to give you an assessment of cooperation. We'll give that when it's done.
QUESTION: Two questions, Nick. The FBI remains in Saudi Arabia helping with this investigation?
MR. BURNS: That's correct.
QUESTION: They haven't pulled up stakes or anything?
MR. BURNS: No, they have not.
QUESTION: Second, could you describe the contacts this morning between the Saudis and the State Department?
MR. BURNS: This morning?
QUESTION: Around the world, yes.
MR. BURNS: Can I describe the contacts? I'm not able to. I didn't have any contacts with the Saudis this morning. We have an Embassy in Riyadh and a Consulate in Dhahran and a Consulate in Jeddah. I assume that we had voluminous -- many, many contacts between Saudis and Americans in Saudi Arabia.
I assume that the Saudi Desk here at the State Department has been in contact with the Saudi Embassy here in Washington. That's normal diplomatic practice. This is normal. I don't have anything unusual to report.
QUESTION: I'm talking about this morning after the publication of that story.
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any contacts. There could have been contacts. I don't believe there were any high-level contacts; certainly, not by Secretary of State Christopher, for instance.
QUESTION: Back to Howard's question about cooperation. If you say that you're not ready to give an assessment in midstream of how cooperative the Saudis have been, that not only leaves open the question but leaves open quite a question about whether they're being cooperative.
Can you not give this assurance now? And can you tell us why not?
MR. BURNS: Roy, I certainly understand why you're interested and why you ask the question. I'm just choosing at this point, as I did the last time -- I think about two weeks ago when there were rumors like this -- I'm just not going to get into assessing the nature of that cooperation.
We have a commitment from the Saudi leadership that there will be good cooperation. We certainly expect that. That commitment was made seriously. It was made to the President and the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. I'm just not in a position right now to give you a mid-term assessment. We'll see where we are at the end of the investigation.
QUESTION: Nick, do you have any indication as to when this investigation might draw to a close?
MR. BURNS: I don't, no.
QUESTION: Can you confirm that there have been arrests by the Saudis?
MR. BURNS: I cannot, no.
QUESTION: Why not?
MR. BURNS: Because it's been our -- we've decided that we're not going to have any comments to make on the course of this investigation: how it's going, who's been arrested, who hasn't been arrested, are we close, are we far from determining with the Saudis who is responsible.
This is a very serious investigation where, of course, we need to operate with some degree of privacy. If I begin answering questions like this, they're never going to stop. So we've made a conscious decision not to get into it.
QUESTION: It wasn't "who" was arrested, but have there been arrests?
MR. BURNS: I simply can't comment on that.
QUESTION: Are they obliged to tell the U.S. if they've made arrests?
MR. BURNS: I would just lead you back, Barry, to the statement I just made, that we have the highest level of assurances of cooperation. I think we all know -- we could all define adequately what that cooperation should be.
QUESTION: Nick, has the U.S. had any contacts with the Syrian Government on this investigation?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I do not know the answer to that question.
QUESTION: Another subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on the situation on the Rwanda- Zaire border?
MR. BURNS: Yes, as best as we can. It's a terribly complex and confusing situation.
I can tell you that the political discussion surrounding this continues. Our American Ambassadors in Kinshasa and Kigali have been quite active with the Zairian and Rwandan Governments, urging them to use their influence on the factions in eastern Zaire and in Rwanda to stop the fighting; first.
Secondly, I note that the Kenyan Government has called an international conference for Tuesday, November 5, in Nairobi. The United States supports this call for a regional conference which would include the United Nations and include interested Western countries like the United States.
Third, the United Nations Secretary General has appointed Ambassador Raymond Chretien of Canada to be his personal representative, Special UN Envoy, to this situation. We have a very high regard for him. He'll be in the Department of State on Monday for conversations with Under Secretary Tarnoff and Assistant Secretary Moose and others. We wish him the best of luck, and we give him our full support as he embarks on his fact-finding mission.
That is the extent of the diplomatic action, at least as far as I can report it to you.
On the refugee side, the situation continues to deteriorate quite rapidly. We now have credible reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs. Ogata, that the number of refugees who have left their camps in eastern Zaire is between 6 and 700,000 people.
This is of a total refugee population of 1.1 million Rwandans and 145,000 Burundians who have been in the camps over the last two years. The great majority of those people are heading west, not east; that is, away from the Zairian-Rwandan border, not towards the border.
You'll remember that Mrs. Ogata issued a public appeal for the refugees to return to Rwanda. That is not happening. In fact, these are very sketchy figures. We don't believe many more than 1,000 people of more than one million have returned to Rwanda from the camps in eastern Zaire.
In the middle of this tremendous flow of refugees is a very, very high level of fighting. Innocent people are being killed because of this fighting. The actions of the militia groups who have undertaken the fighting are irresponsible, and we're calling upon, as well as the United Nations, the militia groups to cease fire in eastern Zaire; but that is not happening.
The most relevant and most pertinent question for the international aid agencies is "can we deliver, all of us together, adequate food and medical and water supplies to the refugees who have fled the camps?". The problem is not the availability of those products. The problem is the logistics in getting it to them, and that is a very hard problem indeed.
The United Nations has the lead in this exercise, assisted by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The United States, as you know, has contributed $30 million towards those efforts.
QUESTION: The question was, what is going on now on the border today? I mean, there's a news report that Goma has fallen. Are you aware of that, and --
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that fighting continues, we believe, in Goma today, in the town and around the airport. The United Nations evacuated the remaining 110 expatriate workers in Goma. We have unconfirmed reports of continued fighting around the city -- in a broader arc around the city, not just at the airport and in the town.
I know that there are ten American missionaries who are trapped in Goma -- excuse me, in Bukavu -- and who have been unable to cross the border. We do not have American Government personnel in Bukavu, but we are attempting to communicate with those people to advise them on how they might best protect themselves -- ten American missionaries.
It's an extremely complex and dynamic situation, Roy. You're not going to get the best assessment from here. You're really going to get the best assessment from journalists and some of the local government officials in that part of Zaire.
QUESTION: The question really is concerning Goma and the military actions there. You referred earlier to militias, but it seems like it might be the Rwandan Government and its army who have actually landed in Goma. Since the United States has good relations with the Rwandan Government, perhaps you'd have some information on that and tell us what you're telling the Rwandan Government regarding that supposed landing.
MR. BURNS: It is correct that in addition to the militia activity the Rwandan army, unfortunately, has intervened in this fighting, and at least at one point a couple of days ago certainly crossed the border into Zaire, which was not advisable and which was not a smart thing to do. We have made a very clear demarche to the Rwandan Government that it ought to restrain its own military, which is only adding to the complexity and the difficulty that has produced this fighting and produced this tremendous humanitarian crisis.
QUESTION: Now, if they did this -- your demarche was a couple of days ago, you say?
MR. BURNS: No. Our demarches are daily on this. The American Ambassadors in Kigali and Kinshasa have been in to see their host governments on a daily basis. And not just the Americans. I know that many other Western countries and African countries have been making similar appeals to both governments.
QUESTION: If there was -- I mean, you could almost call it an amphibious landing today by boat from the lake, then this would be an even worse transgression from what you complained about before, wouldn't it? Or would it?
MR. BURNS: If there were to be?
QUESTION: Well, that's what's reported on the wires.
MR. BURNS: I can't confirm that, Roy. I can confirm that a couple of days ago, there's no question that the Rwandan army crossed the border into Zaire. I just can't confirm everything that's happening on the ground today.
We are limited by the following fact. We have a limited number of American diplomats in the region, primarily there to assess the humanitarian problem, which is enormous. We don't have adequate firsthand accounts of the fighting. We are getting that primarily from local government sources and from the news media.
QUESTION: Did they cross contrary to U.S. admonitions, or was it after the fact that you told them this wasn't a wise thing to do?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if we had any knowledge beforehand that they would cross the border. I just don't know.
QUESTION: No, but, I mean --
MR. BURNS: But we have established that since. There's no question about that.
QUESTION: I understand that. You also were saying that you were talking to both governments, and I just wondered if you had -- if they had crossed the line with warning, having been warned not to?
MR. BURNS: And that's what I don't know, Barry.
QUESTION: Okay. And how would you describe -- Roy described the relationship. Is it a -- what adjectives would you use to describe currently the state of relations with the Rwandan Government?
MR. BURNS: We generally have had good relations with the Rwandan Government, and we've tried to have good relations with the Zairian Government. That's been difficult over the years, and you know why. But we do have very senior American diplomats in place in both capitals. We're working on this problem, and well beyond it, because obviously part of the solution here will be whether or not the African countries -- the neighbors to Zaire and Rwanda -- can bring some political leverage to bear. That's why we have a hope that the Nairobi Conference might be useful -- very useful, indeed -- on Tuesday.
QUESTION: Have you seen any reports that the Council or whatever body is running Zaire in Mobutu's absence has broken relations with Rwanda? Does that sound to you like they are on the brink of outright war?
MR. BURNS: I saw some press reports about criticism from the Zairian Prime Minister this morning, Prime Minister Kengo, of the Rwandan Government, but I have not seen any official communique.
QUESTION: We have a report that there are a hundred foreigners at a church in Bukavu. You say you don't have much in the way of assets out there, so you probably don't have anything on that. But if you do come across something, could you let us know?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I did refer to the ten American missionaries in Bukavu.
QUESTION: It could be that the ten are part of --
MR. BURNS: They might be part of a larger group, that's right, and I do understand that that group, at least the Americans among them, wish to leave. The United States called for its own citizens to leave this region more than a week ago because it's obviously a very dangerous place to be.
We would like to reaffirm that call to American citizens who may be in the midst of this fighting, that they ought to leave the area as best they can.
QUESTION: Do you have any details on these missionaries? Who they're affiliated with?
MR. BURNS: I do not, no.
QUESTION: Nick, in past crises, the U.S. has taken steps to help evacuate Americans. In that vein, any plans along those lines now?
MR. BURNS: The vast majority of Americans who had been in that region have left that region. We're talking now, I think -- if you're talking only about American citizens, a very limited number of people remain in this general area, which is quite large.
QUESTION: We've also acted in tandem with other countries to --
MR. BURNS: That's right.
QUESTION: -- evacuate other foreign nationals. Do you have any kind of (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: You're right. We have in the past worked with the French, the British, the Canadian Governments and others, and I'm sure that we will do whatever it takes to protect the foreign community there.
I'm not aware of any specific plans by any country at this point to use their militaries to evacuate foreigners. That could be something that comes into play in the coming days and weeks, but right now I don't believe it's a relevant question.
QUESTION: This morning the French radio quoted the President of Rwanda making territorial claim on eastern Zaire. Is the United States going to condemn that statement? And, secondly, the Zairian parliament yesterday has decided to break relations with Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda because of the same issue. What is the position of the United States Government?
MR. BURNS: I have not heard about this statement by the Rwandan President. I have not heard of the statement. We'll have to look at the statement before we can issue a response to it, if there is going to be a response from us.
Secondly, we recognize, as do all other members of the United Nations, the current borders of Zaire; and they ought to be respected by all of Zaire's neighbors.
QUESTION: How concerned are you about Zaire now, with the President ailing in Geneva and it looks like a whole portion of his country going up in flames?
MR. BURNS: We have had ongoing concerns about stability -- political, economic, social stability in Zaire in general, and we've had a long- standing discussion with President Mobutu and with his government about this.
As you know, we've worked very well with the Prime Minister of Zaire -- Prime Minister Kengo -- and we've had our own set of discussions with President Mobutu. These concerns, as I said, have been long-standing. I think present events just reconfirm that those are concerns that are strongly held.
We do believe that maintaining the territorial integrity of Zaire is important, not only for the people of Zaire but for regional stability in that part of Africa.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary called in the Ambassador to Rwanda to request an explanation for his government's actions over the last few days?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary has not met with the Ambassador of Rwanda, but both diplomats from the Department of State here in Washington and more importantly, our Ambassador in Kigali have addressed themselves to the Rwandan Government on our unhappiness with some of the issues that we've talked about.
QUESTION: Ordinarily, you'd do this at both ends, wouldn't you? If it's a cross-border --
MR. BURNS: We normally do, but not in all cases. Not in all cases.
QUESTION: But isn't that a signal that you're not so worried about it?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so at all, Roy. The fact is our Ambassador in Kigali is a very senior person. He's the President's representative. When the Ambassador goes in with a demarche to any government, that's serious and it's high level. It's also true when senior American diplomats from this Department engage Embassy officials here, that's serious as well.
I think we've shown a great deal of concern here, Roy. The United States has put a lot of money up -- nearly $1 billion -- in the last two years in humanitarian relief to Central Africa -- to Rwanda, Burundi and now eastern Zaire. That is a record that's unmatched by most governments, and I think it speaks well of the commitment we have to try to do our part to stabilize the situation.
But we have to remember one thing: the United States and European countries are not in control of the situation in Central Africa, nor should we be in control. The governments in that region have responsibility for social order. They have a responsibility to try to end the fighting.
We can try to be helpful. The United Nations can try to be helpful. But it is in essence an African problem. We're very glad to help on that problem, and I think the contribution of nearly $1 billion in humanitarian assistance in two years speaks volumes about our interest as well as our political involvement. But we have to come back to that central fact.
QUESTION: A lot of the reason for spending that much money is because the last time it got out of control -- because when it was in African control, nobody acted until it was very late. Now you have what looks like a tremendous crisis, and so I'm just wondering whether you're planning to send anybody senior out to the area, for example to get an on-site --
MR. BURNS: We have senior people in the region, first, in the persons of our Ambassadors. Second, Boutros-Ghali has appointed Ambassador Chretien, who is a very senior diplomat in the Government of Canada and who has the full support of the United States.
Third, I can assure you there's very high-level attention here in Washington. Secretary Christopher was briefed twice today on the situation in eastern Zaire, and that has been the pattern over the last week and a half.
We are paying attention. We do want to be helpful. We hope that this conference in Nairobi will be successful.
QUESTION: Is any one particular country taking the lead? You mentioned several -- some maybe more experienced than the United States in Africa. Is this an instance where perhaps France would be the lead player, or is it sort of a shared UN type responsibility? You're clearly in the lead with humanitarian, but, I mean, in a diplomatic sense.
MR. BURNS: No, we're not in the lead in the humanitarian sense either.
QUESTION: Well, you may not be --
MR. BURNS: The United Nations is in the lead politically, and the appointment of Ambassador Chretien I think is an important appointment and a timely one. The United Nations is also in the lead on humanitarian assistance. The United States is contributing to that, and we want to be very much involved; but we need to be realistic. The United Nations is the proper organization to be in the lead in both respects -- politically and with humanitarian relief.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. able to work with France well on this issue, given the recent --
MR. BURNS: We're working very cooperatively with France -- which is our NATO ally and the longest standing U.S. ally the United States has in the world, going back to the late 1770s -- on this issue.
QUESTION: And special expertise, too, would you say?
MR. BURNS: The French do not have an historical role in Zaire, but the French have a lot of influence in Africa. The French have been involved in situations like this, and we're cooperating very well with France, with the Government of Canada, with the United Kingdom, with the Belgians and others.
But the lead role is being taken by the Secretary General of the United Nations, and that's appropriate.
QUESTION: Nick, where do you stand with the force that's supposed to deal with this -- the African Crisis Response Force? Where does that stand now?
MR. BURNS: Unfortunately, I don't believe that sufficient progress has been made in creating that force and gaining African agreement that there ought to be such a force for it to be useful in this particular situation.
But certainly this situation, as well as that of the spring of 1994, lead us to believe that the creation of this force is a good idea. As you know, Secretary Christopher had talks in each of the five African countries which he visited about this.
We have followed up since his trip with all of those governments and a host of others in Africa, we followed up with the French Government, other European governments and the UN. We believe that the United Nations and the African countries ought to take steps quickly to create this force so that not in a couple of years but in a couple of months this force will be ready to intervene in situations like this.
QUESTION: Nick, a U.S. military officer -- I think his name is General Jamerson -- is going down to the region from Frankfurt early next week. Do you know why he is going? Has the UN asked him to go? Are we considering logistical support for humanitarian aid for these people?
MR. BURNS: I understand from the Pentagon that General Jamerson will not be taking this trip. He had scheduled, I think, some time ago before the present crisis erupted, a trip to central Africa. But I understand that that trip has now been called off.
QUESTION: Will anyone else be making this trip?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that any Pentagon official will be traveling to central Africa. I think it's a fairly good bet that some State Department officials will be traveling, probably next week.
QUESTION: AID officials or on the level of George Moose?
MR. BURNS: We already have an AID team -- what we call a DART team -- an emergency assessment team -- in eastern Zaire. We do have Americans on the ground, and we have our Embassy officials from Kinshasa traveling in that area. That's the extent right now of the U.S. Government presence.
QUESTION: Who else would join them?
MR. BURNS: That decision hasn't been made, but I think it's a fair bet that there will be some people going from Washington next week.
QUESTION: On what? AID or State Department?
MR. BURNS: On a diplomatic level.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: There's no transition, so we'll just have to turn the page; we're done with this. It's about the point of the week where Mr. Ross was going to be checking in with Yasser Arafat. Maybe tomorrow's the time. Has he, and, you know -- you know all the obvious questions that go with that. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: Sure.
QUESTION: Can this be left to technicians, technocrats, or -- I'm just so tired of asking the same questions (laughter) -- will Dennis be going back to the Middle East, you know? Is Arafat going back to the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: I think Arafat's back from his vacation.
QUESTION: Good, terrific. (Laughter) What's the prospect for a settlement as we head into a restful weekend?
MR. BURNS: It's hard for me to improve on the brilliant presentation that Dennis made you all the other day. I know you were overcome by it, and let me just review the bidding.
I think Chairman Arafat is back. We are in constant communication with him as well as the Israeli Government through our Ambassador Martin Indyk and our Consul General in Jerusalem, Ed Abington.
Dennis Ross will be having discussions with the Israelis and Palestinians by telephone diplomacy, as you know. Sometime after our own elections next Tuesday, probably late next week, Dennis will be returning to the region to take up again in person his conversations with the Israelis and Palestinians to try to bring to closure the Hebron redeployment discussions.
Until that happens, there will be these daily meetings, and they've been underway all this week, where we are represented by the two individuals -- our two diplomats whom I cited --
QUESTION: Are they meeting on Friday and Saturday?
MR. BURNS: Except for Friday and Saturday because those are the Moslem and Jewish holy days. That's where it stands, and we have not given up on our effort to try to convince the Israelis and Palestinians to close as rapidly as possible, because we believe they've made a tremendous amount of progress since the discussions began nearly four weeks ago.
QUESTION: So Dennis hasn't talked to Arafat yet?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if he's talked to him today.
QUESTION: And the fact that he -- okay, the fact that he's going back would seem to suggest that what he told us the other day that perhaps these can be settled -- you know, can come to closure on this lower level -- perhaps is no longer the case, that you want to go back to a Ross level. Is that right?
MR. BURNS: I think he'll be centrally involved, and, of course, Secretary Christopher will also be involved, as he has been throughout these negotiations.
QUESTION: But Dennis said he would go back if he were needed. He left open, as Barry suggested, the possibility that it could be completed by technicians.
MR. BURNS: That's why I referred you to his brilliant presentation to you.
QUESTION: But you just said he's going back late next week.
MR. BURNS: It's my expectation that he will be going back. Obviously, he's in control --
QUESTION: You don't know for sure?
QUESTION: Is it a firm date to go back?
MR. BURNS: He does not have a firm date to go back. I did not give you a date. Let's just review the bidding here. It's my expectation that he'll be going back. I did not tell you that he'd be going back Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday -- sometime late next week.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: He will go back in sometime late next week.
MR. BURNS: I'm just trying to review what I've told you today so there's no misunderstanding, because we get into this a lot.
QUESTION: Explain why there was a misunderstanding.
MR. BURNS: We get into this a lot. I expect that he will be going back. When he decides to go back -- when he chooses a date, I'll tell you about it. I'll come out here, and I'll say he's going back on this day or that day, and we'll continue to work the problem.
QUESTION: You don't know for sure he's going back, and you don't know even that -- you don't know for sure he's going back, nor are you saying you expect he'll go back sometime next week after the election.
MR. BURNS: I didn't say that. (Laughter)
QUESTION: I didn't say you did.
MR. BURNS: I need the tarantula. (Laughter)
QUESTION: If I heard you right, you expect -- and, you know, generally in diplomatic language, "expect" means it's going to happen --
MR. BURNS: It is my expectation that he will be returning. I believe those are the words --
QUESTION: Next week, after the election?
MR. BURNS: That's right. Those are the words I used.
MR. BURNS: Now, that reserves for Dennis the right to decide when to do it, and ultimately he can change his plans. He can decide it's not worth going back if he doesn't believe the conditions are sufficient. But I think it's generally assumed here that he will be going back.
QUESTION: Well, you see now, the way you put it, "worth going back," you're making it evident -- perhaps you don't want to -- but the inference clearly is that if he went back and the fact that he's thinking of going back means that there's some problem that needs a higher level representation. "Worth it" means worth the goal.
MR. BURNS: Dennis Ross has been asked by the President and the Secretary of State to shepherd these particular negotiations. He said at the beginning four weeks ago that he would not be present every day, and he has kept that commitment to you that he made. He's come back for a couple of days. He will certainly re-engage in these negotiations personally to try to lead them to a successful conclusion. That's his commitment.
QUESTION: Has he got a commitment to be on a talk show this weekend that you know of?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any talk show commitments. I would be aware of them.
QUESTION: Interview --
MR. BURNS: Under our new rules of engagement here, I am now aware of all media opportunities. You would think that would be part of my job.
QUESTION: I mean "Meet the Press" can't just kind of kidnap him and take him up the street and put him in front of a camera.
MR. BURNS: I would assume that the Sunday talks shows will be focusing on our elections.
QUESTION: No, no, there's always the offbeat approach. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: Call the talk shows and ask them.
QUESTION: Nick, just a leftover from yesterday. You announced the other day that there was a seven point something million dollar --
MR. BURNS: $7.3 million.
QUESTION: -- point three million dollars humanitarian aid program, and then a day later you announced that there was an agreement in Ankara to extend the cease-fire. I'm just wondering if you could establish whether there are any connections between those two announcements?
MR. BURNS: None whatsoever. The United States Government has decided that we want to be helpful to the United Nations in assisting the Iraqi people who are victims of Saddam Hussein and his family, and the fact that they've taken all the money out of the economy for themselves and left the people of Iraq to suffer. So we contributed the $7.3 million.
Separately, Ambassador Pelletreau chaired the talks in Ankara, over the last 48 hours, that have produced a continuation of the cease-fire; an agreement that the Kurdish parties will meet again with the Turks, Brits and the Americans on November 15; an agreement that Iraq and Iran will not be invited in in any way to participate in the affairs of the people of northern Iraq.
That's a very substantial agreement, and Ambassador Pelletreau will be returning to the United States. He talked to Secretary Christopher last evening by phone, gave him a full brief, and we will prepare ourselves again with the Turks and British for the November 15 talks.
But if you look at where we've gone now from the last two days of August to the present day, we have now been successful in achieving a cease-fire, political reconciliation talks and a commitment from the Kurds that the Iraqis and the Iranians are not invited into northern Iraq, and those are significant achievements.
QUESTION: The two announcements are just a coincidence then.
MR. BURNS: There is no connection that I know of that would link them.
QUESTION: Nick, is there now a safehaven in northern Iraq, or what is the status there? How would you describe it?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if since March 1991, the United States has ever used that word. We have established "Operation Provide Comfort" that denies the Iraqi military the ability to fly above the 36th parallel, and this effort by France, the U.K., Turkey and the United States also provides humanitarian support to the people of northern Iraq.
Most of those operations were interrupted by the Iraqi incursion above the 36th parallel in the first week of September. I'm happy to say that the situation has now returned to one of relative stability. There is a cease-fire in place. There's a political reconciliation process in place that has a long way to go. I don't want to exaggerate that particular achievement.
Certainly, the people of northern Iraq -- the Turkomans, the Assyrians, the Iraqi Kurds and others -- now do not have to face the prospect of Saddam's tanks in their cities, and that's a very good thing.
QUESTION: Well, if that's the case then, I take it you don't want to evacuate the AID workers. You said that yesterday -- and their families, those who are still there?
MR. BURNS: If you're asking me to repeat what I said yesterday, I can do so.
QUESTION: I just wanted to make sure that that's still the status today.
MR. BURNS: I think the way you phrase your question is not consistent with what I said yesterday.
QUESTION: That you're still studying the matter is the way you put it yesterday.
MR. BURNS: That the security of people at risk in the north is of great importance to the United States, and that the cease-fire and the return of relative stability has certainly helped the situation, but we're keeping this situation under review at all times.
QUESTION: Because if it's safe enough for them to stay, then isn't it safe enough for the people who have already evacuated to go back?
MR. BURNS: The people who have been evacuated by the United States to Guam are people who have chosen to leave because of their very close -- in the case of 2100 people -- their very close identification with the United States and their fear of persecution at any time.
Secondly, 600 Iraqi oppositionists who have chosen to leave. The United States is a country that keeps its commitment to people who have worked directly for us. In the case of the 2100 people, that was their relationship to us.
In the case of the Iraqi oppositionists, we felt that we should honor their request to leave northern Iraq.
QUESTION: I mean, I'm trying to ask -- figure out just how stable the situation is now that you've achieved, as of yesterday's agreement. If it's not stable enough for people to go back or to stay or of this other nature -- those who have already been evacuated -- I don't see why it's stable enough for the aid workers who also can be -- and who have already been singled out by the regime. It seems like there's a big inconsistency.
MR. BURNS: Which group are you referring to now, Roy?
QUESTION: The aid workers, the employees of U.S. aid organizations, for example, who themselves got all their income from the U.S. Government, so they were indirectly U.S. Government employees.
MR. BURNS: No. The people who work for the United States have already been evacuated. They worked for the U.S. Government or directly U.S.-funded operations. The second group of people are a variety of people who worked for American or European non-governmental organizations. They're a different category of people.
Their situation is of great importance to us, and we keep their situation under continuous review, as I said yesterday.
QUESTION: But you see no inconsistency in the way you've handled these groups?
MR. BURNS: Not at all, because it makes sense -- it's common sense that a government like ours would have a fundamental commitment to people who work directly for us as opposed to people who did not work for us. That's the logic. I think the logic is irrefutable.
QUESTION: They worked for the U.S. Government indirectly is what I said earlier, because --
MR. BURNS: No, they did not.
QUESTION: -- they worked for aid organizations --
MR. BURNS: They did not.
QUESTION: -- who were totally funded by --
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry.
QUESTION: I'm talking about the American aid organizations who were totally funded by the U.S. Government.
MR. BURNS: But the group in question are a variety of people who worked -- some of them worked for American organizations. Some of them worked for European organizations. Some of those organizations had funding from the United States and other sources. They are a different group of people.
QUESTION: On the same subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: In these Kurdish talks in Ankara, did they reach any agreement on Kurdish organization PKK (inaudible) de Abdullah Ocalan that was the main reason for Turkey to participate in those talks?
MR. BURNS: I would refer you to the statement that was made yesterday by all of the groups that met in Ankara. I haven't committed it to heart, but let's look at that statement and see if the answer to your question is there. I'll be glad to take the question.
QUESTION: Nick, what are the issues that could not be brought up or concluded during this set of meetings that will be taken up on November 15?
MR. BURNS: I would just say that the process of political reconciliation between Mr. Barzani and Mr. Talabani has not yet been achieved. The process has only begun.
Given the huge gap that divides them politically, there has to be a continuing effort to engage in these talks to produce some kind of agreement not to fight, to have a cease-fire, and to work together for stability in northern Iraq. It's an on-going process. Two days of conversations cannot resolve all the problems between them.
QUESTION: Has there been a clear understanding on the sharing of revenues which has been a sticking point in the past?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if they've made progress on that or not yesterday, but it's certainly one of the questions they have to iron out.
QUESTION: You mentioned relative stability in the region. Does that mean that the oil-for-aid, Resolution 986, can move forward sooner rather than later?
MR. BURNS: That depends on Saddam Hussein. It always has and always will. The United Nations is in charge of that. The United States is ready to go forward if the United Nations can work out a distribution regime with the Iraqis.
The Iraqis are causing tremendous problems now, throwing up roadblocks in the face of that.
QUESTION: The two rival Kurdish factions, I heard that the Turkoman will play as peace force. The Turkish Government, they promised to provide money and also training. Are you joining the Turkish Government on this subject?
MR. BURNS: I'll have to check. These are very complex negotiations. All we have at this point is a joint statement until Ambassador Pelletreau returns to Washington.
QUESTION: What did you mean by "political consultation talks," exactly?
MR. BURNS: I think we've described that many, many times over. They need to agree to a cease-fire, to work together, to live together without fighting.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate more on that?
MR. BURNS: I don't really care to except to say, it's obvious. They need to stop their fighting, produce some kind of understanding which enables them to work together so Iraq and Iran can be kept out of northern Iraq and the Kurds can live peacefully.
QUESTION: A Bosnia question?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: I heard Ambassador Sacirbey is coming down this afternoon. Do you know anything about that?
MR. BURNS: I know nothing about that at all. Are there other Bosnia issues you'd like to address?
QUESTION: Do you have something there?
MR. BURNS: You have to ask a question.
QUESTION: Is there progress on equip and train?
MR. BURNS: Ah! Is there progress on equip-and-train? Let me just say that I'm going to depart from my normal practice here. I'm going to name a name.
The United States has determined that the Bosnian Federation Deputy Defense Minister, Hassan Cengic, personally maintains close ties to Iran. He has also obstructed development of the Western-oriented defense structure in the Federation and he's worked against a democratic Federation, in general.
While senior Bosnian officials have assured us that Mr. Cengic will be replaced, the United States has decided that the $100 million worth of equipment, some of which is on the ship anchored just outside of Ploce, will not be delivered to the Federation until Mr. Cengic is relieved of his responsibilities, formally and publicly.
We've decided to go public with this today. As you know, I've been withholding his name for a week now because we have a commitment from the Bosnian Government that he will be relieved of his duties, but we've not seen any action towards this.
I want to be specific here. The concerns we have are about Mr. Cengic's personal ties with Iran which, given his current position, we believe makes it impossible for the equip-and-train program to go forward, given his personal ties with Iran. There's an inconsistency there which must be rectified by the Bosnian Government.
QUESTION: What do you mean by "personal ties." Can you be more specific?
MR. BURNS: I can't be more specific except to say that we have grave concerns about his personal relationship with Iranian Government officials, about his past actions, and about the roadblocks that he's thrown up in front of the democratic military structure that's emerging in the Federation.
If the Bosnian Government wants the United States Government to turn over $100 million worth of defense equipment that will enable them to level the playing field with any possible adversary in the future, which I would think would be probably the primary and strategic objective that the Bosnian Government could have, then they have to pay attention to our views on this.
QUESTION: Is he the only Bosnian Defense Ministry official you have a problem with?
MR. BURNS: He's the Deputy Minister of Defense. He's the one that we would like to focus our spotlight on. There are some other issues having to do with how the joint defense structure has been put together that are of concern to the United States and to a number of other countries, I should add.
QUESTION: No other personnel issues?
MR. BURNS: This is the only personnel issue that I care to focus on today, Judd; yes.
QUESTION: The Croat -- in the nation of Croatia, is there also one you want to be removed?
MR. BURNS: I think we have told them about possibly one other case. I don't care to identify that person today. Mr. Cengic is certainly the senior person that we're focusing on.
QUESTION: You're talking about two people -- one Bosnian and one Croat?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if I can give you numbers. There is at least one other that I'm aware of that is in question here.
QUESTION: An Iranian also?
MR. BURNS: I can't describe that person for you.
QUESTION: Nick, how does this man's ties with Iran -- what is the threat you see in giving them the arms while this man remains in power?
MR. BURNS: Because we believe that the Iranian Government has, to put it mildly, no useful role to play in Bosnia. In fact, the involvement of the Iranian Government, especially in its support for the foreign fighters who have now largely left Bosnia, has been quite negative.
As we look to the future, the strategic objective in train-and-equip has always been, for a year now, to make sure that there is no military inducement for any of the parties to return to war once the Western forces have left. That day will come sooner or later.
The United States has made a major $100 million commitment. We have not gained support of any of our European allies on this issue, with the exception of Turkey. We're very grateful for Turkey's support.
So we've really gone to great lengths to help the Bosnian Government. We think that maintaining this particular person in the chain of command is fundamentally inconsistent with what we're trying to do strategically.
QUESTION: But you're not saying that you fear these weapons might somehow fall into the hands of Iranian mercenaries if he remains in power, are you?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to be anymore specific than I've been. I've done an adequate job, I hope, in describing to you our concerns.
QUESTION: You've described the sort of overarching concerns. Completely understandable, but the specific concern with this one person, is it that the weapons will be diverted somehow? Or his influence might bring Iranians --
MR. BURNS: We don't want to see the Government of Iran have high- level influence on the military of a country that we are giving such a substantial amount of assistance too.
QUESTION: After initially deciding not to identify him, what prompted you to decide to go the other way?
MR. BURNS: The fact that this question has gone on for far too long. President Izetbegovic was informed of our concerns personally more than a week ago. We were assured that action would be taken. It has not been taken.
QUESTION: Since Germany has a critical dialogue --
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros --
QUESTION: Since Germany has a critical dialogue with Iran, did you ask the German Government to accept an influence over to the Iranians not to get involved in Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: I don't know whether we've addressed that particular question to Germany. I don't know.
QUESTION: So why don't you just set a deadline and pull the ship out?
MR. BURNS: Charlie, we're just going to proceed as we wish to proceed. Thank you for the advice, but we're doing fine, thank you. We stopped the war. We made the peace, and now we've got 50,000 NATO troops there. We're doing a very good job, all of us together -- the United States, Canada, and our European allies.
QUESTION: Then get rid of a Deputy Defense Minister.
QUESTION: I was wondering if he is removed and the equipment is released to the Bosnians, what assurances do you have that he won't be reinstated at a later time?
MR. BURNS: That is obviously the assurance that is understood here; that if he is relieved, he is relieved permanently, not temporarily as a fig leaf; a permanent relief of his responsibilities.
QUESTION: You seem to be associating this man with the policy to the extent that he incorporates it. And if he leaves, then I guess you assume the policy has changed, but, clearly, the policy of the Bosnian Government is the policy of the Bosnian Government and not just Mr. Cengic. Why do you personalize it to this extent --
MR. BURNS: We believe the --
QUESTION: Can I just finish?
MR. BURNS: -- fact that --
QUESTION: It's not usual diplomatic practice to do what you've just done.
MR. BURNS: No, it's not but this is an unusual situation and sometimes one has to resort to unusual practices to be effective. We believe that this will be effective.
He is a very high level official, and he's got ties to Iran that are of concern to us. We think it's appropriate for us to raise those concerns.
QUESTION: My question is about -- isn't it the policies of the Bosnian Government that he is carrying out, of which he is a part, is the problem? Or is it the personality of Mr. Cengic?
MR. BURNS: No, it's his ties to Iran.
QUESTION: But isn't he doing this on behalf of his government?
MR. BURNS: We have been assured at the highest levels of the government that there will not be an intimate military relationship between Iran and Bosnia. His presence there, we think, is a very worrying factor. By removing the presence -- his presence from at least that position and getting him out of the government -- those worries will have been relieved. It will allow us to go forward.
QUESTION: Is he maintaining a private relationship with the Iranian Government?
MR. BURNS: No, I believe it's been public as well as private.
QUESTION: Separate from the government, is what Roy means? Separate from the policy --
MR. BURNS: Listen, I've never met the man. I can't tell you everything that's going on in his head. I think I've described our position.
QUESTION: Nick, just to follow up on that. If the Deputy Defense Minister of this country which is a senior position, is having an open relationship with the Iranians, isn't it a given that he's doing that at the direction of the President of his country?
MR. BURNS: I thought you meant this country. You mean that country?
QUESTION: I mean that country.
MR. BURNS: Because the Deputy Defense Secretary of this country would not have that kind of relationship with Iran.
All I can tell you is that we've spoken to the highest level -- highest political level -- in Bosnia, President Izetbegovic, and we have an understanding and we're confident it will be carried out.
QUESTION: You're not concerned that he has ties to Iran?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I'm just limiting my comments here to Mr. Cengic. I thought that would be interesting enough to write stories and move on from there.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: You're aware that John Kornblum, when asked specifically about this man, explained yesterday on the record, explained why we want him to leave?
MR. BURNS: And John Kornblum is our senior-level official. I would encourage you to write about what he told you.
QUESTION: It's sort of the same thing.
MR. BURNS: John's comments yesterday and mine today are perfectly complimentary and consistent.
QUESTION: Is military and technology transfer a part of this issue, or a major part of this issue?
MR. BURNS: I think I've explained the issue. It's the gentleman's ties to Iran.
Yes, Mr. Lambros.
QUESTION: According to reliable sources, the Secretary of State to be, Richard Holbrooke, was searching --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me? Mr. Lambros, the Secretary of State --
QUESTION: To be.
MR. BURNS: To be. Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were making an announcement of something that I was unaware. (Laughter)
QUESTION: After the elections, I mean. They say that Mr. Holbrooke was assessing the status quo) agreed to the Dodecanese Islands as Assistant Secretary months ago, prior to the Imia crisis, in full consultation with Turkish officials.
I have to repeat, all this activity by Mr. Holbrooke, prior to the Imia crisis. I would like to know if it's still yes or not?
MR. BURNS: What is true? (Laughter)
QUESTION: Not to become Secretary. But as far as if he --
MR. BURNS: I cannot confirm the first rumor. We have to have elections here in this country. We have elections. The American people elect a President, the President gets to decide these things, not me. He gets to decide who is -- we have a Secretary of State, and his name is Warren Christopher. Let's put that to the side.
We've said what we have to say on Imia/Kardak. I couldn't possibly improve upon the 82 times that I've commented upon this issue.
QUESTION: Do you know if Mr. Holbrooke is still a consultant to the Department of State on the Greek-Turkish matters, too?
MR. BURNS: Ambassador Holbrooke is a friend to this Administration, is in frequent contact with many of us and often does consult with us on issues, advise us on issues. But I don't believe it's predominantly in that area since he resigned his post on February 22, 1996.
QUESTION: Do you know if Mr. Richard Perle, the former Under Secretary of Defense for International Security, is a consultant to the U.S. Government on Greek-Turkish matters, too?
MR. BURNS: He is an individual who is well known to us. I have a very good relationship with Mr. Perle. I don't know if he's consulting with us or not.
QUESTION: We need an answer because (inaudible) Holbrooke and Perle appeared --
MR. BURNS: This sounds like the "MacLaughlin Group." It really does.
QUESTION: -- appear to the Turkish media --
MR. BURNS: You could be Jack Germond and --
QUESTION: -- totally unacceptable on several statements against Greece and Cyprus.
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, we want the Greeks and Turks to get along. We want these issues to be resolved. You know that. There's really not much I can say.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you very much.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:04 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page