U.S. Department of State 96/11/08 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Friday, November 8, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Visiting Journalists from Cote D'Ivoire and Members of the Press Section of the Croatian Embassy.............. 1 Amb. Mondale Resigns..................................... 1 Secretary's Trips to Cairo, Beijing, Shanghai, Manila ... 2-3 State Dept. Officials' Visits to the Former Yugoslavia... 3 Press Statement on U.S. Contribution to UNHCR............ 4 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Participation at the Economic Conference in Cairo........ 4-5 Middle East Development Bank Idea........................ 4-5 BOSNIA/SERBIA/FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Arms Smuggling Into Bosnia/Train & Equip................. 5-6 Intent of Arms Smuggling................................. 6-7 IFOR and the Future of Arms Smuggling.................... 7-8 Role of Croatia in Arms Smuggling........................ 8 Cost of Delayed Train & Equip Arms Shipment.............. 9 SSIC Report.............................................. 9-10 Secy Christopher's Meeting w/NATO Secy Gen Solana........ 10 Serbian Arms Sales to Libya in Violation of Sanctions.... 10-11 Follow-on Force to IFOR.................................. 11-13 ZAIRE/RWANDA Political Objective of UN Intervention................... 13-15 U.S. Humanitarian Action--Dropping Food Aid.............. 15 French Article Criticizing U.S. Policy on Zaire.......... 15-16 U.S. Assistance to UNHCR................................. 16-17 U.S. Policy on Different Intervention Options............ 17-22 U.S. Ground Troops in Zaire.............................. 20-22 Rwandan Refugees Returning............................... 22 CUBA CNN Bureau in Havana and State Dept. Permission.......... 22-24 NORTH KOREA Missile Test Canceled................................... 24-25 Status of AmCit Hunziker................................. 25 Agreed Framework and South Korean Nuclear Technicians.... 25-26
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 1996, 1:15 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I want to welcome four journalists from Cote D'Ivoire who are visiting the United States under the auspices of the Delphi Foundation International. Also, some members of the press section of the Croatian Embassy who I believe are seated right here. And, most importantly for me, the Mahoney family from New Hampshire -- huge Red Sox fans -- who are here with us today.
I have a couple of announcements. The first is just to note what you have all seen, and that is the United States Ambassador in Japan, Walter Mondale, has announced that he'll be leaving his post as of mid-December as U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo. He and Mrs. Mondale plan to return to Minnesota where he'll take up again his legal career.
Former Vice President Mondale has had an unparalleled career of service to the United States Government. You all know about his distinguished service as Senator from Minnesota, as Vice President of the United States, as a candidate for the Presidency, and he's been a very distinguished and effective United States Ambassador to Japan. He's been involved in every aspect of our relationship, from the trade issues to our very deep political ties, to the military issues; the very difficult issues that we've had to resolve with the Japanese on Okinawa.
Secretary of State Christopher has asked me to say publicly how much he, the Secretary, is going to miss the services of Ambassador Mondale. As you know, they have had a very long friendship. They've been in politics together. They've also worked together when Mr. Mondale was Vice President and Secretary Christopher was Deputy Secretary of State.
Secretary Christopher admires Ambassador Mondale and believes he's been an outstanding Ambassador to Japan -- certainly one of the most outstanding American envoys ever to Tokyo, and he'll be very sorely missed there.
I also wanted to let you know -- just confirm for those of you going with us -- the Secretary is leaving Sunday evening on a trip to the Middle East and to Europe. He's going to be leaving Sunday evening for Cairo. He'll be arriving there late in the afternoon on Monday.
He'll be attending on Tuesday the Cairo Economic Conference. He's looking forward to seeing many of his Arab interlocutors and representatives from the Israeli Government. We hope that this Cairo Economic Conference will serve to continue and deepen the economic ties that Israel and the Arab countries have been able to put together over the last couple of years.
There will be representatives of, I think, over 1500 businesses there. There will be government representatives from a number of Arab countries and from Israel, as well as Western countries. The Secretary will be having some bilateral meetings on the margins of this.
He looks forward to it as a good opportunity to get back into Middle Eastern issues and hopefully to push this process of economic normalization forward.
After the Cairo conference, the Secretary intends to travel to Paris on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday and Thursday, he'll be participating in the Bosnia Peace Implementation Council discussions on both days. He will have conversations with the three members of the joint presidency from Sarajevo; also a lot of meetings with Minister de Charette and other Western NATO foreign ministers.
This conference has been called by the French Government to try to reinvigorate and push forward the Dayton peace process, specifically on economic reconstruction issues and on issues that have to do with the formation of the joint government in Sarajevo.
The Secretary plans to return to the United States on Thursday evening. He'll be in the office next Friday, and he'll have one day off next Saturday, a week from tomorrow. Then on Sunday, the 17th of November, he'll be leaving the United States again for Asia.
He'll be traveling to Beijing for very important meetings with the Chinese leadership, and then to Shanghai, where he'll give a major speech on U.S.-China relations. He'll also have some discussions about American economic and investment opportunities in China.
Shanghai seemed to be the appropriate place to do that, because it is the economic hub of China, especially of the economic growth that has been so noted in China..
Following his visit, his several days in China, the Secretary will be traveling to Manila, where he'll participate for two days in the APEC Ministerial meetings. These are the meetings that take place between Foreign Ministers before the heads of state arrive. He'll be there for about two days on his own while the President is in Australia. He'll be meeting with all of his APEC counterparts, both collectively and have a number of bilateral meetings.
Then the President will arrive on Saturday evening, and the Secretary will participate in the APEC leaders' meeting with the President. At this point, the Secretary is expecting to return to the United States from Manila and not to go on with the President for the meetings in Bangkok.
So that's the Secretary's very busy schedule. Then he gets to come home for a couple of days over Thanksgiving, and then, as you know, there will be a European trip around or about the first or second week of December, although we've not set dates for that.
I also wanted to let you know that Assistant Secretary John Kornblum is leaving tomorrow for the Balkans. He and his interagency team will be traveling to Sarajevo, Belgrade and Zagreb. They'll be working very hard with these countries on human rights issues, on war crimes issues, on Dayton compliance issues of a wide variety. Then John Kornblum will be joining the Secretary in Paris for his own Bosnia meetings next week.
You know that John Shattuck, our Assistant Secretary for Human Rights, just returned last evening from a trip to the Balkans where he had discussions with President Milosevic, President Tudjman and President Izetbegovic and others on the issue of war crimes.
As a result of those conversations, we are hopeful but cannot yet confirm that the four indicted war criminals who ended up as members of the police force in the Republic of Srpska will be relieved of their duties. We think that's a minimal step. We think that the Bosnian Serbs need to go beyond that and make sure that these indicted war criminals are transported to The Hague for prosecution by the War Crimes Tribunal. That is the American objective here, and I think Assistant Secretary Shattuck had a very successful trip.
Two final notes: I have a press statement that we're issuing today you can find in the press room after the briefing. It concerns a $90 million financial commitment that the United States is making to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees.
This is part of our 1997 program of support to the UNHCR, and it is a global support. Of that, $29 million will be going to Africa. This is in addition to the $30 million that the United States has given to the UNHCR for programs in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, which specifically concern the refugee crisis underway in eastern Zaire.
Finally, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman held a press conference this morning where he discussed the United States objectives for the World Food Summit, which is taking place in Rome between the 13th and 17th of November.
Secretary Glickman will lead the U.S. delegation, which will include Under Secretary of State Tim Wirth. If you're interested in the U.S. objectives for that, I'll be glad to go into them.
QUESTION: Nick, can I backtrack with you a little bit. First of all, on the Cairo conference, what sort of Palestinian representation do you expect? Will it be on the same level as Israel and some of the Arab countries? Secondly, will there be any countries absent that the U.S. would like -- would have rather had present?
MR. BURNS: I don't have a tally for you. I can only say, Barry, that we expect that the Palestinians will be represented at the very highest level. We hope so. I haven't seen any public commitments by the Palestinians. Perhaps they've made them and I've just missed them.
We also would expect that the Arab countries that attended the summits in Casablanca and Amman over the last two years would also be in Cairo. There's no secret that the peace negotiations have been troubled over the last five or six months. We've been very open about that. We're trying to push them forward.
But that doesn't mean just because there are some temporary problems, we hope, with the peace process, that Arab countries would stay away from Cairo or should come at a lower rank, because peace has got to be comprehensive; it's got to entail economic steps as well as political steps.
QUESTION: Is the bank idea still viable?
MR. BURNS: Are you talking about the Middle East -- well, we certainly hope it is. The United States has been a major supporter of it, as you know. We've gone through a number of years of conversation about it. It's certainly not ready to be a full-fledged bank, but we remain committed to that idea, yes.
QUESTION: Specifically, will Syria and Lebanon be attending?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I don't know which countries have made commitments. I think I'd have to ask you to address those questions to the Egyptian Government, the host of the conference.
QUESTION: Nick, on Bosnia, is there any truth to The New York Times' report today that the Bosnian Government has been smuggling artillery in violation of the Dayton accords? And, if there is, or if you're not sure if there is, what impact might this have on equip-and-train?
MR. BURNS: Let me tell you we read the article very closely. We have been in touch with IFOR on this issue, and based on a preliminary set of discussions that we've had in the region today, we don't believe that there's been any smuggling of large-scale weaponry that would violate the Dayton accords.
We can't say, obviously, at this point, David, that there has been no smuggling in that environment. That might be very surprising indeed, were we to make that statement. IFOR is conducting an investigation into these claims. IFOR has told us this morning that their view is similar to ours. Neither IFOR nor the United States has any information that would back up these claims, but they're serious charges, so IFOR is looking into them. I think we will be very interested in seeing the results of that investigation.
I thought it might be useful just to review the facts. The facts are that the Bosnian Government can legally import heavy weapons. However, if such imports bring their holdings above the arms control ceiling in any particular category of weaponry, then they're obligated to destroy an equal number of older weapons to bring them back down to the arms control limit set by, I believe, Article 4 of the Dayton accords.
So we're very clear about what the legal obligations -- the international treaty obligations -- of the Bosnian Government are, and we certainly will hold the Bosnian Government responsible to meet those obligations. But we can't provide any confirmation of these reports.
QUESTION: In the event that they have violated them, would the amount of assistance to be provided be reduced to avoid making one side -- giving one side sort of an offensive war capability?
MR. BURNS: The fact is that we have not confirmed, and we have not decided that they have violated their Dayton treaty commitments. Should there be a violation, that would be a very serious matter, and we'd certainly take it up at the highest level, and we'd be very concerned about it. But, as I said, we have not determined that there has been a violation.
The train-and-equip program is a transparent program. Everything that the United States is doing in our $100 million program to help the Bosnian Government is transparent. We want the second major shipment currently on board the American Condor, an American ship anchored just off Ploce harbor -- we want that shipment to be delivered, and we're waiting for the Bosnian Government to take the remaining steps to relieve Mr. Cengic of his responsibilities as Deputy Defense Minister of Bosnia.
We have been assured just in the last couple of days that that will take place. But our shipment is not going to be delivered until they take that step.
QUESTION: Nick, were you unaware of these charges until The New York Times reported them today?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so, no. I think these are allegations that were made actually some time ago that we were aware of and that we addressed to the Bosnian Government and to IFOR. I believe when The New York Times got onto the story, they did talk to a number of American officials in Sarajevo about the story.
QUESTION: There's another element of that story, and that is that the intent of this smuggling is to build up a Bosnian army that is outside the Federation; and you acknowledge or you at least say it's conceivable that there is some smuggling going on, given the Balkans. But do you see evidence or are you concerned that the Muslims are in fact trying to build up a military force that is outside the Federation?
MR. BURNS: Carol, that would be a very serious issue, were that to be the case. I am not aware of any attempt by the Bosnian Government to do that. The Bosnians have committed themselves to a federation and a joint defense structure within that federation. We have, perhaps, along with Germany, been the leading country trying to push that Federation together and make the defense structure work. We do not want to see an attempt by any of these parties to go out on their own unilaterally in a way that would be clearly inconsistent with the commitments made as part of the Federation and with the Dayton accords.
QUESTION: To date, you do not see any effort by them to do that.
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any effort by the Bosnians to do that.
QUESTION: When and if IFOR goes out of business, what would there be to -- what force or any -- what would you have? What mechanism to guard against smuggling?
MR. BURNS: IFOR is certainly the main international organization that has a role in matters like this, and that's why IFOR is taking the lead in the investigation. Ultimately, these countries have to have sufficient export controls, and they have to have controls over their borders to prevent any kind of illegal smuggling. It's up to them.
As you know, Barry, NATO is looking at the possibility of a follow-on security force to IFOR in 1997. I understand that yesterday the North Atlantic Council did agree that they would discuss early next week the studies that have been prepared by the NATO staff about the options concerning whether or not the United States and other countries should prepare a force follow-on to IFOR. So that's possibly another answer to your question.
QUESTION: I mean, if you're talking about --
MR. BURNS: It's all in play right now.
QUESTION: I understand, but if you speak about export controls -- I mean, you're talking about the Bosnian Government, which is suspected of importing weapons, would apply controls to stop its own illegal behavior. I don't quite get it. Don't you need some sort of a neutral body?
MR. BURNS: Barry, we have one right now.
QUESTION: Something like the IAEA looks after?
MR. BURNS: We have one right now. As you know, under Article 4 of the Dayton accords --
QUESTION: Yes, but its got six weeks to live --
MR. BURNS: General Eide and others did establish an arms control regime that we believe is being lived up to.
The unknown factor in your question is, will there be a security force present in 1997? We've not yet determined that but it's under active consideration, as you know.
QUESTION: To the extent that there is some smuggling going on, as you say, it seems to be going through Crotia. The pattern in the past has been that Crotia allows these shipments and takes a certain percentage off the top for its own armed forces. Is that, as far as you know, the arrangement now?
MR. BURNS: I cannot confirm -- I'd be shocked. I cannot confirm that any kind of activity like that is underway. I cannot confirm that. That's a question you would address to the Croatian Government, not to the United States Government.
Again -- and I don't want to be needlessly repetitive -- the Dayton Accords do stipulate very specific behavior by the parties that signed the Dayton Accords concerning arms. As you know, the American equip- and-train program is meant to compliment that by building up the capabilities of the Bosnian Government so that there is a deterrent effect in place and there isn't an incentive for any one of these countries in the future to restart the Bosnian war.
QUESTION: Also, to the extent that such smuggling is taking place, do you have any idea of the origin of these weapons?
MR. BURNS: I do not.
QUESTION: Is the light still green?
MR. BURNS: I'm taking one question at a time, Ben. In answer to Jim's question, in response to the allegations that were reported in the New York Times today but were clearly known to the United States and IFOR for the last several days or weeks, IFOR is undertaking an investigation. IFOR is the appropriate place for the investigation to be.
I can't confirm whether these allegations are true; and if they are true, where these weapons are coming from. But that is something that IFOR needs to look into. If IFOR needs the support of the United States in that investigation, they'll have it. We will be very clear about the outcome of this investigation.
QUESTION: I don't understand something. First, you deny that this story was true. Now you're saying that IFOR is investigating it?
MR. BURNS: No, Sid. Actually, if you remember what I said in answer to the very first question, I said two things. The United States Government cannot confirm the allegations made in the Hedges story this morning. We cannot independently confirm it.
IFOR has said this morning in Sarajevo it cannot confirm it. But we're concerned by the allegations. IFOR has undertaken an investigation of them. I said those two things. They're not contradictory, and I think I've been pretty consistent in all my responses about them.
QUESTION: Nick, on the equip-and-train mission and the American Condor, the ship that is sitting off Ploce, can you either tell us or find out how much it's costing for this delay? This ship was supposed to be unloaded a couple of weeks ago, I think.
MR. BURNS: I don't have the figures off the top of my head.
QUESTION: I understand, but would you take the question?
MR. BURNS: Yes, I'll consider it. I will look into that and see if we can do that. I would remind you that we're withholding these arms for very good reason.
We don't think it makes sense to provide arms to the government in Sarajevo if the Deputy Defense Minister has a close working relationship with Iran. That's the reason. But I understand why you're asking, and I'll see what I can do.
QUESTION: Have you had a chance to digest the Senate Intelligence Committee report?
MR. BURNS: I have not had a chance to digest it, no.
QUESTION: You have no response on what they said yesterday?
MR. BURNS: These charges have been made time and again. I can repeat today what I have said probably 10 times over the last year. I'll be very glad to do it. And that is, when the Senate began this investigation, Secretary Christopher made a decision that the State Department would cooperate fully.
I know one day I gave you the number of hours, which I believe exceeded 1,000 person-hours in this Department of our cooperation; the thousands if not tens of thousands of pages of documents that we gave to the Senate that provided some insight into the activities of this Department in 1994. We also had Deputy Secretary of State Talbott and Ambassador Holbrooke and Ambassador Galbraith and Ambassador Redman testify, some of them in open session, on Capitol Hill.
Actually, I do have the figure -- over 2,000 working hours, George, were spent on this. We really have nothing else to say. We stand by our position that every activity at the Department of State in 1994 was above board.
QUESTION: On the same subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Is (inaudible) going to see Solana Friday here in Washington to discuss Bosnia and the follow-on forces?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea of what kind of advice he's going to give Solana, or is it going to be the other way --
MR. BURNS: I think the process is very straightforward. As of, I believe, Monday, the North Atlantic Council is going to meet in Brussels. The NATO Ambassadors will look at this report. At some point, I would think shortly thereafter, this report will be made available for consideration by allied countries in their capitals.
I think Secretary General Solana's visit next Friday is a very timely one because this issue needs to be discussed very intensively.
QUESTION: Nick, Serbian arm sales to Libya, do you have any information on the subject?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe I do. I'll see what I can do. Do you have a specific question?
QUESTION: Yeah, please.
MR. BURNS: Do you have a specific question?
QUESTION: Yesterday, I saw several wire reports that the Serbians of the former Yugoslavia, they are selling some arm shipment. They are in violation of international sanctions against Libya. They stopped over and down at Malta and then they transfer to some ships to --
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen anything about this. I'll be glad to take the question and have our experts look into it for you.
QUESTION: Nick, do you have an idea yet -- I know you say the study is still going on -- but if Solana is coming here to see the Secretary -- it's probably pretty far along -- will the role or the mission of U.S. troops change? Someone who is a little cynical might argue that when the troops went in it was with a promise -- not necessarily opposed to the operation, but the American public was told that by Christmas the boys will be home. That's what they used to say in the Vietnam days, that the boys will be home by a date certain.
So other boys will go and do the same thing? Is that the idea? Or will they have -- these fellows, luckily, they haven't been hurt at least by bullets. There have been some accidents. But would the next force have the same sort of mission? Might it be more precarious, less precarious? What might it be like?
MR. BURNS: The men and women who have served in Bosnia over the last year with such distinction will be coming home in December on time.
QUESTION: Their brothers and sisters will go there?
MR. BURNS: The next question for us is, with the departure of the American contingent and really of IFOR -- the entire IFOR contingent in December -- does it make sense, is it rational, is it good policy for the United States and our NATO allies to deploy another force which almost everybody believes will be a different kind of force? It might be smaller. It might have a slightly refocused mission.
The original mission of IFOR, dating back to last December, was to go into a situation of military stalemate; separate the forces along a nearly 800-mile zone; push back those forces by 10 kilometers; take away heavy weapons from the forces; make sure that they're all abiding by the terms of the Dayton Accords.
Our troops have succeeded in their mission, and they've done it brilliantly. We haven't had one casualty to hostile fire. So the question is, in order to maintain momentum on the Dayton Accords, do you need a follow-on security force?
The NATO Secretary has come up with four or five options that are being looked at. That will be decided by President Clinton and Secretary Christopher and Secretary Perry, from the American side, working with their allied counterparts.
QUESTION: The Administration didn't see this further down the road? Didn't realize that the ethnic problems in Bosnia couldn't be solved in 11-1/2 months and that there would have to be an additional force, including Americans?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you, Barry, as you know, we didn't wake up yesterday and determine this might be necessary.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) It turned out --
MR. BURNS: The did beautifully.
QUESTION: You say, even when it went well, you need to send more troops in?
MR. BURNS: Barry, let me remind you -- we could do a check in the Press Office -- I remember talking about this to you in August and September saying that we are looking ahead to December and that we do think that this is a question that has to be answered.
Vice President Gore, Secretary Christopher, Secretary Perry, all spoke about it. So we haven't come to this too late. We have done the proper amount of planning. Now, the NATO leadership must make its decision.
QUESTION: Nick, on that point -- and you touched on it earlier in the week -- there was a subsequent story on this that's a little more fuller than what you had said. In the meeting -- I think it was Monday -- where the plans were presented to NATO -- plans for this follow-on force were presented, there's a story that says the Americans kicked it back because they didn't like the fact that all the options weren't flushed out and that there were some open arguments in this session between two American generals, and it was quite embarrassing. A lot of European diplomats were blushing.
MR. BURNS: My goodness, they were blushing! I'm shocked. I'm very disappointed to hear that they were blushing.
I can tell you that there was a discussion in the North Atlantic Council on Monday. It is not true that two American generals argued, because one of the American generals, in the particular newspaper report, wasn't even in the room.
I can tell you that the United States did raise considerations that they thought the study presented had not taken into -- had not involved itself in. We asked for further work to be done. But I believe 24 hours later -- actually, a couple of days later. As of yesterday, the staff had completed their work and this study is ready to be discussed by the North Atlantic Council Ambassadors.
I think it was a little tempest in a teapot. But I do want to say, there was no argument between American generals. If people were blushing, it's not our responsibility. It's not our fault.
QUESTION: Can you be more specific about what kind of things you requested, or what kind of --
MR. BURNS: No. As you know, the North Atlantic Council meets privately. Sometimes things leak out, even when people blush, it leaks out. But I can't violate the confidentiality that we've pledged to our colleagues in Europe.
QUESTION: Nick, just for the record, was there, in fact, an argument between an American general and the deputy of another general?
MR. BURNS: That could have happened but I wasn't in the room. Frankly, I've not been advised of any such argument. That could have happened, I guess.
I can tell you that General Joulwan wasn't involved in any such argument. Unfortunately, it was reported that the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe was involved in an argument. He wasn't even there.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Zaire?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: The White House is organizing a meeting this afternoon to discuss the decision on Zaire. The Secretary General now refer, according to (inaudible) will be, if the UN members, with necessary capacity, will take the lead in putting together an international force, meaning the U.S. will be maybe part of it.
Do you know exactly up to now the political objective? Because many countries like Belgium -- even the Prime Minister of Britain this morning said -- they are wondering what is the political mission apart from the refugees? What do you want to achieve politically by intervening in this crisis?
MR. BURNS: Let me just say that the United States is very concerned about the plight of nearly a million refugees in Zaire. These are the mainly Rwandan Hutu refugees who have been in the camps in eastern Zaire for a number of years. They have fled westward; not towards Rwanda but away from Rwanda.
Our belief is that these refugees ought to return to Rwanda. Clearly, they're not doing that voluntarily. A couple of thousand people out of a million have elected to return to Rwanda.
The objectives are two-fold: How to stop the fighting and have a comprehensive cease-fire, number one; and, number two, how to bring in a steady stream of Western humanitarian assistance to these people so they don't starve, they don't die; they have proper medical care.
We have not yet achieved either objective, as you know. The militias fighting in eastern Zaire have prevented a comprehensive cease-fire from taking place.
There was a unilateral cease-fire in eastern Zaire for a couple of days but we have reports this morning -- reliable reports of fighting west of Goma. It's of concern to us. Because of the fighting, the militias and some of the government troops on both sides of the border have not allowed the international relief agencies to set up shop, to operate normally, or to get these supplies in.
These problems are linked and the objectives are linked. The question then is, what is the best way to achieve these objectives? First, we've got to make sure that the UNHCR, the United Nations Relief Agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross have sufficient supplies when it's possible to get them to the refugees. That is now taking place.
The United States is a leading donor to that effort. Second, we've got to use our political influence to force the Rwandan Government, the Zairian Government, and the militias to stop fighting and allow these relief organizations in.
There was a conference in Nairobi three days ago about this. The Secretary of State has dispatched two special envoys -- Howard Wolpe and Dick Begosian -- to Central Africa to work on this problem. The Secretary has given very explicit instructions to our Ambassadors in Kinshasa and Kigali to work with these host governments. All that's continuing.
Now we have a number of proposals for some kind of humanitarian intervention force. There are several proposals. They are not identical. Many of these proposals conflict with each other in important respects.
We have worked with the French and the British, the European Union, with the African countries to try to sort out these proposals and identify an effective way to stop the fighting and get assistance to the refugees.
The United States has not yet made a decision on whether or not it can and will participate in such a force and, if so, how we'll participate in the force -- whether it will be logistical aid or financial aid, whatever. But I can tell you this is the major issue that our government is focused on today around the world.
Secretary of State Christopher has had two discussions about this already this morning. He has another two coming up this afternoon. There are high-level meetings underway, interagency meetings in Washington today. We are acting as if this is a very serious crisis, because it is a serious crisis.
QUESTION: Why has the government not considered, or are you considering air-dropping food behind the lines to the people who are starving?
MR. BURNS: First, David, we are working through the UN relief agencies. The UNHCR and other relief agencies have the expertise, the supplies, and the infrastructure in the region to take the lead on this. They've clearly taken the lead and we are being supportive of them.
In fact, we sent a team, as you know, to Geneva on Sunday night -- that team moved onto Brussels yesterday for meetings with the European Union -- that has been solely involved in discussions with the UN relief agencies on this question. The United Nations relief agencies have determined that they want to take the lead and they are directing the operations we are supporting.
The second question is, well, do we use any other assets that the United States has -- logistical, military -- as part of a potential intervention force? That is currently being studied and actively discussed, but no decisions have been made by this government.
QUESTION: There was an article yesterday in Le Figaro entitled, "Zaire: The Americans play the Kigali side." The author of the article, Arnaud de la Grange, quoting a specialist, claims that the "Americans are letting the situation rot" -- that's a quote -- "because it serves the interest of the Tutsi."
It goes on to say that "The Americans will end up getting involved but only when that no longer embarrasses Kigali. When 300,000 to 500,00 refugees will have died, Rwanda will open its doors to the remnants making an effective decision of triage between the good and the bad ones." Could you make a comment on that --
MR. BURNS: I think the readers of Le Monde should not take -- of Le Figaro -- I'm sorry -- the readers of Le Figaro should not accept as true, the story by Monsieur la Grange, because it's absolutely untrue.
The fact is, we're not supporting either Zaire or Rwanda. The facts are that our Ambassadors in both countries have been pushing both countries to stop the fighting. We were exceedingly critical publicly of the Rwandan Government for having sent its troops across the border last week. We're not aiding either side, militarily or politically.
We're calling on both of them to be responsible. They have a major share of the responsibility for the fact that over a million people have been driven out of refugee camps. They're in the countryside, and there is a mass humanitarian crisis underway.
There's an African responsibility here. There's an international responsibility. The United States has a responsibility to be part of the solution. We're using our political and diplomatic leverage. We're using our financial resources through the United Nations; and we are considering other options, as you know, to be responsible. But other countries must be responsible as well.
QUESTION: We've given now -- you've announced today $27 million for Zaire, basically?
MR. BURNS: No, I want to be clear. There are three sets of figures. Since 1993, the United States has contributed $875 million for humanitarian programs in central Africa and the Great Lakes region -- in Rwanda, Burundi, and Zaire.
As part of that --
QUESTION: That includes the airlift of 1994?
MR. BURNS: Yes. It goes back to 1993. As part of that, in late September of this year we allocated $30 million to the UNHCR for humanitarian programs in the Great Lakes region. The UNHCR is currently drawing down upon that $30 million.
In addition to that, we are announcing today a $90 million program of assistance for UNHCR worldwide. Of that, I believe I said $29 million is directed to Africa.
I cannot tell you, but I'm sure someone in this building can, what percentage of that $29 will be directed to the Great Lakes region. But we've already put in, as you know, nearly a billion dollars into Central Africa in just three year's time.
QUESTION: Are you working on some sort of contingency plans to move rapidly, if you can make an agreement with the French and Belgians and Mobutu?
MR. BURNS: I can't anticipate the decision that the President and others will make on this issue. I wouldn't dream of doing that. But needless to say, we've had hundreds of hours of discussions over a two- week period -- in Europe, here, and in Africa -- about this issue. We're prepared to be helpful in any way should we make the decision that that's the best course for the United States.
QUESTION: Will the airlift come out of Germany?
MR. BURNS: Ben, we haven't even decided on an airlift yet. I want to be very clear about this. The United States Government is trying to take a variety of conflicting proposals, very different proposals, trying to decide what the best option is for the United States and our partners in Africa and Europe.
We are in constant touch with all of them on this, but we have not made a decision. That is up to our leadership. I don't want to get ahead of them. I want to be clear about what I'm saying.
QUESTION: There's one outstanding question which seems to be a block. One is, should the refugees be pushed or urged to go back into Rwanda? We've heard that expressed as the U.S. position, rather than to resettle them in Zaire.
MR. BURNS: Let me clear about that. That's a very important question. The United States believes, as does Mrs. Ogata, the head of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, that the Rwandan Hutu refugees can return to Rwanda and should do so. We hope that as a result of this current crisis, the refugees are not forced back to the camps in eastern Zaire.
We are not willing to force them to go to Rwanda but we believe that they should go to Rwanda. We're looking at a variety of ways where that might happen. Because we have to think not only of the immediate crisis; we have to think about what happens in the coming months and coming years. We think the Rwandan Hutu refugees are going to be best off in Rwanda -- not in Zaire where there's this tremendous fighting and dislocation.
QUESTION: Just to be absolutely clear, while the United States may not have made a decision about whether it will be involved or how it might be involved, does the United States support the basic idea of an intervention force in this crisis?
MR. BURNS: We are looking at that right now. Because there are high- level meetings today, I'm not going to be in a position of anticipating what decisions are made. We're looking at that right now. That is one of the questions that we're dealing with today.
QUESTION: So it would not be accurate to say that the United States -- I mean, all the talk about planning with the French and looking at the options, one could infer that you were, in fact, in favor of some kind of intervention force; you're just trying to decide the details?
MR. BURNS: There's no question that there's a need for action. The United States has already acted and we will continue to act. The question is, what's the most effective way to act? That's really what it all comes down to.
If you listen to Prime Minister Major, this morning from Bordeaux, that is, in essence, what he was saying, too. Everyone wants to act, and we are acting politically and economically.
If there are proposals to act with an intervention force or humanitarian force, they've got to be effective. You've got to ask the following questions: What's the mission? What's the size? How would you do it? Who would fund it? Most importantly, will it have the cooperation of the regional governments?
There are very disturbing statements this morning from the Rwandan Government about its disinclination to work with any kind of international force.
The Rwandan Government has the responsibility to help end this fighting and help these refugees. We'd like to see better cooperation from the Rwandans and the Zairians on this.
QUESTION: What alternative do you have besides an intervention force?
MR. BURNS: Carol, all I can say is, we're operating at full throttle here -- we're in fifth gear. We're considering all the options, but I am not going to be in a position of making this decision publicly -- I can't make it. Our leadership will make it, and they're discussing it today.
QUESTION: I'm not asking you to sort of make the decision here but just -- there is this intervention force option out there with all its permutations. But what else could you do besides that? Can you just say, in general, where you see an alternative?
MR. BURNS: I think that this question has been, with all due respect -- not just by people in this room but in general has been framed in a very narrow way.
The facts are that the African countries have the major part of the responsibility here -- Zaire and Rwanda. They've got the major responsibility. Europe, Canada, the United States, other countries, want to be helpful. We need the cooperation of Africa to be helpful.
I think if you saw the Nairobi Conference the other day, there was no clarity out of that conference. There was no ringing, uniform endorsement of a specific option. There are promises of more meetings. Meetings are helpful sometimes, but you've got to consider what's effective action. That's what I heard the British saying this morning. That's what the Americans are saying. We are very, very sensitive to the humanitarian crisis there. We're very concerned about it.
We are experienced in this. We have tried to learn some lessons from 1994. Whatever one does must be effective. It must be well thought out.
It's too simplistic to say that suddenly you just rush in, because you don't necessarily solve any problems by rushing in. It's got to be well planned, and that's where the ball is today.
Bill, I was just trying to finish my answer to Carol. Now I'll be glad to talk to you, sir.
QUESTION: All right, let me try this, let's go back to -- does the United States favor then an African military force to go in and restore order to bring --
MR. BURNS: I don't think that's going to happen.
QUESTION: -- order out of chaos.
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher has launched a proposal for the Africans to consider long term a crisis response force, but it's not yet set up. That's not going to be the savior in this particular situation. It looks like it's going to have to be a broad international effort to try to help the refugees.
QUESTION: Nick, yesterday you said you were considering logistical support but not ground troops. Has that changed?
MR. BURNS: No. I wouldn't change my formulation on that from the other day.
QUESTION: So that's not an option that's being considered today -- ground troops?
MR. BURNS: Oh, I think there are a variety of options out there. I just gave you an opinion the other day.
QUESTION: Does the experience in Somalia three years ago act as a caution or a deterrent to U.S. policy?
MR. BURNS: I think the American people would be disappointed if we weren't mindful of the lessons of Somalia, but I'm not sure Somalia is the best example for this situation. There was a humanitarian crisis two years ago in Central Africa, very close to the current one, and we want to draw the appropriate lessons, but we also want to be helpful, and we are concerned.
QUESTION: Actually, your answer to Ron's question raises a question in my mind now. Are you opening the door to possible U.S. ground troops in Zaire?
MR. BURNS: No, I don't have the power in this government to do that. That is a decision that only the Commander in Chief, President Clinton, can make. I cannot make it, and I'm not trying to broaden or limit his horizons here.
I'm just telling you what we are doing, but also telling you very clearly we've not yet made any decisions, and I really can't say much more about this issue than what I've said. I think this has been a pretty exhaustive review of this issue.
QUESTION: You are the State Department spokesman.
MR. BURNS: I am.
QUESTION: And so therefore you are capable and do, in fact articulate policy and policy options. The other day you, to me anyway, seemed pretty definitive. You were considering logistical support, but there will be no ground troops. Does that statement stand today?
MR. BURNS: As I said to Ron, it stands. But I'm telling you that there have been a wide variety of options, and you've seen them -- they've been floated publicly, and I just wanted to -- I mean, I wanted to be clear with Ron about what others have put on the table.
QUESTION: So, I mean, are the Americans considering possible use of ground troops?
QUESTION: Their ground troops.
MR. BURNS: That is a question for our leadership. It's not a question where decisions are made and announcements are made from a podium. I wouldn't draw many conclusions from this -- I wouldn't draw any hidden meanings. There's no conspiracy here. It's very elementary. You have conflicting options, and you've got high-level people in this government discussing them, and I'm not going to anticipate any decisions that they're going to make.
QUESTION: Nick, if people start dying on CNN, are you going to feel pushed to take some of these more drastic options?
MR. BURNS: Ben, we were concerned about this situation, frankly, before Christiane Amanpour got there. We have been consistently involved over several weeks in this. We have been involved every day in this. I think we've shown our concern before the television lights were turned on.
QUESTION: In terms of fielding support, you know, you talk about the American people looking at Somalia and about ground troops in Africa. Do you feel that there's a certain point where there will be support for using ground troops in such a situation for humanitarian --
MR. BURNS: I am not competent to address that question. As I said to Carol and to Ron, that's a question for our leadership in this country. I can tell you this. We are involved because we're concerned about the refugees. That reflects, I think, the best in the American tradition, which is when people are suffering, we respond. We've already responded, and we're just looking for the best way to continue that.
MR. BURNS: Be glad to.
QUESTION: I think there's one more question. There was another Zairian question.
MR. BURNS: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Don't you find it unrealistic for you to ask the refugees to go back to Rwanda when in fact the current crisis was started by forces which are supported by Rwanda, who are chasing them from the camps where they were in Zaire, and they are going farther away. Now, you're asking the same people to trust the people who are chasing them from the camp and go back to Rwanda. Do you think it is realistic for the refugees to accept that proposal?
MR. BURNS: We have great sympathy for the refugees, and they voted with their feet. They've chosen in almost all respects not to go back to Rwanda. We understand the reality of the situation, but it is the considered view of the United Nations, as well as the United States, that in the long term the refugees will be better off inside Rwanda rather than inside Zaire.
Obviously, part of the Western and African effort over the next couple of weeks has got to be some programs to induce the refugees -- to convince them, that it is safe to go back to Rwanda. It's a very difficult job, but that effort has to be made.
No one wants to see more than a million people languish in new refugee camps in eastern Zaire; in a region where there's likely to be continued fighting, continued instability, and likely where it will be very difficult for the Western relief agencies to provide systematic support -- food and medicine and water to the refugees. We've got to be concerned with both the long-term as well as the short-term crisis.
QUESTION: Another CNN question. CNN apparently will be able to open up a news bureau in Havana, provided it gets the green light from the State Department. Do you have any observations on that?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that CNN was one of several news agencies that did already file license applications with the Office of Foreign Assets Control, following the President's October 7, 1995, Track II Cuba initiative, which talked about measures to increase people-to-people contacts between the United States and Cuba; talked about media access.
Following yesterday's announcement, CNN contacted the Department of State and said that it wanted its application to be reactivated. That is now under review in our government, and we're going to look at that question pursuant to our own laws and our own regulations.
The Department of Treasury is responsible for the issuance of licenses in coordination with the State Department and with the White House, and we're going to look at this very, very carefully. I think we'll try to make the best decision that we can on this.
QUESTION: Do you read anything on that -- that happened a few days after (inaudible) election. Do you think it's some kind of game that maybe the regime is now playing, just in this moment?
MR. BURNS: It's always dangerous to try to read the mind of Fidel Castro or the Cuban leadership. I would just say this: We do believe in the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992. We believe in Track II, and we think it's important that the Cuban people have access to information - information that is not controlled by a totalitarian government in Havana.
QUESTION: It will force you to also meet some Cuban journalists here, if you agreed that CNN open an office in Havana?
MR. BURNS: We're just going to have to see how that develops, but I think you know that allowing Cubans to open offices here would certainly have to be linked to any Cuban acceptance of U.S. news organizations in Cuba. I would imagine there would be some degree of reciprocity involved here.
QUESTION: By your last comment, should we assume that one of the factors in considering CNN's application will be whether or not the Cuban authorities make sure that CNN can be seen in some places in Cuba itself?
MR. BURNS: There are going to be a variety of factors.
QUESTION: Is that a factor?
MR. BURNS: That question and also the question of what interests, if any -- and I think there is interest -- what other U.S. news organizations wish to be involved in this type of arrangement. So there are a variety of factors: We do have the law here -- we have Track II; we've got the Cuban Democracy Act; we've got Helms-Burton.
So we need to look at this in light of all those regulations. It's a very important issue for us right now. We're giving it high-level attention.
QUESTION: On North Korea.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Is it your understanding that the North Koreans have canceled their plans for a missile test?
MR. BURNS: It now appears that the North Koreans have decided not to conduct a missile test. You can never be sure about the North Koreans, but, as you know, the United States has publicly urged and privately urged North Korea not to conduct missile tests, because we think it would be destabilizing in north Asia, and we don't think it would serve the cause of peace on the Korean peninsula. We hope that these missile tests are never undertaken, and it now appears that they will not undertake them.
QUESTION: Can you say what it is that makes it appear as if they're not going to --
MR. BURNS: As you know, we've had some recent contacts with the North Koreans in New York, and we do have a variety of means to make contact with the North Koreans. But I don't want to be absolutely definitive, because we're dealing with a country that is not an open and transparent country.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the fact that the North Koreans have told the U.S. they're not going to test?
MR. BURNS: I'm sticking to my formulation -- my diplomatic formulation on this one, Judd.
QUESTION: Or are there other means of knowing?
MR. BURNS: We are choosing here to say it doesn't appear likely, but you can never be definitive about the North Koreans. We've learned that from the past.
QUESTION: So there's this apparent cancellation of the missile test, and then the references to Mr. Hunziker as a humanitarian case -- it seems that things are easing a bit between Washington and Pyonyang. Would that -- would you agree --
MR. BURNS: It's always hard to say with the North Koreans. In the case of Mr. Hunziker, who's the young American being held unjustly by the North Koreans, we have seen some encouraging North Korean Foreign Ministry statements about him -- about the fact that his case may be deemed by them to be humanitarian.
As you know, we think he should be released immediately. Mr. Lovquist, who's the Swedish diplomat acting on behalf of the United States in Pyongyang, has requested a visit to Mr. Hunziker. I expect that visit to -- I think it's happening today and tomorrow. Because of the communications blackout, we don't have any reports right now from Mr. Lovquist, but I expect to have them -- certainly. in a couple of days. We hope that Mr. Hunziker is well, and we hope he'll be released.
QUESTION: So Lovquist -- they told you Lovquist can go in and see him then?
MR. BURNS: We understand that Mr. Lovquist is gaining access to him, hopefully today and tomorrow. But again, there are no immediate communications. We don't have CNN, and we don't have a United States diplomatic presence in Pyongyang.
QUESTION: Okay, and then just -- I'm sorry, one more.
MR. BURNS: It's up to you. (Laughter) You guys decide what you want to do. (Laughter)
QUESTION: Nick, one more. The South Koreans --
MR. BURNS: We believe in the free flow of information all around the world.
QUESTION: The South Korean position, which is support by you all, is that the technicians, to work on the nuclear reactor should not go north until their security can be guaranteed as a result of various events, including these two. Is this now the gesture you all were looking for to go ahead and resume work on the nuclear reactors? Are these in concert the gestures you were for?
MR. BURNS: Let me just say, Sid, the United States believes that the Agreed Framework ought to go forward. We are meeting our commitments, and we've not seen any North Korean action that would indicate that the North Koreans are not meeting their commitments. The Agreed Framework is going forward -- it's being implemented.
QUESTION: No, I know, but these South Korean technicians -- South Korea is refusing to -- with your support -- is refusing to send these technicians who will actually do the work, north, which --
MR. BURNS: The security of anybody has to be assured, and that's part of any international agreement.
QUESTION: And the net effect was that the program could not go forward -- the short pause Winston Lord was talking about, and others around here. You all have said and the South Koreans have said that you are looking for gesture -- a firm gesture from the North Koreans. Are these the gestures you're looking for? Is it time now to resume the technical work that has been --
MR. BURNS: You mean these other issues?
MR. BURNS: No. I'm not linking these issues. I'm not linking the missile tests and Carl Hunziker and the Agreed Framework. They're all important issues -- they stand alone. The North Koreans have an obligation to meet their commitments on one and not to link them to the other.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:07 p.m.) (###)
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