U.S. Department of State 96/11/15 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing INDEX Friday, November 15, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT/ANNOUNCEMENTS Readout of Secretary Christopher's Trip to Cairo and Paris................................................ 1 Secretary Christopher's Meeting with NATO Secretary General Solana and Other Scheduled Meetings on 11/15 1-2 Secretary Christopher's Upcoming Trip to China and the the Philippines..................................... 2-3 Potential Violence in Burma............................. 3 Update on the Removal of Federation Defense Ministry Officials in Sarajevo................................ 4 Progress in Ankara Talks Over Peace in N. Iraq.......... 4-5 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA/CROATIA Removal of Two Defense Ministry Officials............... 5-8 Croatian President Tudjman at Walter Reed Army Med. Cntr. 5-6 Cost of Maintaining American Condor off Ploce Harbor.... 7 Update on Status of Gen. Mladic......................... 8 Status of Follow-on Force............................... 8-9 Pace of Implementing Civilian side of the Dayton Accords 8-9 Tension in Gajevi and Celic............................. 9-10 Freedom of Movement in the Former Yugoslavia............ 10 Cooperation of Krajisnik and Bosnian Serbs on Refugees and War Crimes....................................... 10-12 ZAIRE/RWANDA Refugees Return to Rwanda............................... 12-14 Government of Rwanda's Statement that an International Force is no Longer Necessary......................... 14 War Criminals and the International Force............... 14-15 Deputy Foreign Minister of Zaire Declaring Possible War 15-16 RUSSIA Arrest of Former KGB Agent Galkin....................... 16-17 IRAQ Turkoman Participation in the Peace Talks in Ankara..... 17 CYPRUS U.S. Delegation's Travel Plans.......................... 18 ECONOMIC CONFERENCE IN CAIRO AMOCO Aborting Pipeline Plans for Middle East........... 19 NORTH KOREA Status of Nuclear Freeze Agreement...................... 19-21 Status of Formal Diplomatic Relations................... 21
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1996, 1:10 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
As you know, Secretary Christopher returned last evening
from Paris and from Cairo, where he spent the week at the Middle East Economic Conference, and in Paris working on the Bosnia issue at the Implementation Conference called by the French Government. Both were useful stops.
In Cairo, the Secretary felt that the fact that l500 business people showed up in Cairo for this conference belies this conventional wisdom that somehow you can't proceed on economic issues when the peace process is in difficulty, when the political negotiations are in difficulty.
He also had time in Cairo to talk about the Hebron talks; and he remains convinced, as he said in Cairo, that those Hebron talks are going to conclude successfully, sooner rather than later.
In Paris, the Secretary worked on the Bosnia issue nonstop for two days. I want to go in, in just a minute, to one aspect of that which is very important to the United States; but we're very grateful to the French Government for having called this conference and having shone the spotlight once again on the parties to the Dayton Accords. And we hope very much that all of them will recommit themselves to implementation, full implementation, as a result of that conference.
This morning the Secretary met with the NATO Secretary General Solana -- Javier Solana -- for breakfast here at the Department. They had a very good discussion about the fact that the United States has agreed, as the President said this morning, to participate in a security follow- on force in Bosnia.
They talked about the NATO enlargement process. They had a very long discussion about adaptation and some of the issues, including the issue of AFSOUTH and whether or not that should be a U.S. command or a European command. You know the position of the United States. We think it should remain a U.S. command.
And the Secretary continues with a very active day today. He was over, as you know, at the White House with the President for the press conference this morning. The Secretary is meeting right now with National Security Advisor Tony Lake and Defense Secretary Bill Perry on all of these issues: Zaire and Bosnia, all the issues that we're working on .
I wanted to let you know just a little bit about the Secretary's trip. As you know, he'll be leaving Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. from Andrews Air Force Base. After a stop in Alaska, the Secretary will be traveling to Sapporo in northern Japan for a rest stop; and the Government of Japan has graciously agreed to this rest stop. And after an evening there, where I hope that all of us with the Secretary will get some rest, the Secretary will proceed on Tuesday to Beijing.
He'll be spending Tuesday afternoon and evening and all day Wednesday in Beijing. Most of the meetings will take place on Wednesday. He'll be meeting with, of course, his counterpart, Vice Premier Qian Qichen -- Foreign Minister Qian Qichen. He also expects to have meetings with the other members of the Chinese leadership, as Ambassador Lord told you yesterday.
On Thursday, the Secretary will travel from Beijing to Shanghai, where he will give at around noon a major speech at Fudan(?) University on U.S.-China relations. He will also have other activities in Shanghai in order to look at the question of American investment, U.S.-China economic relations.
He'll be leaving Shanghai on Thursday afternoon for Manila. And on Friday and Saturday and Sunday, the Secretary will be participating in the APEC Ministerial Meeting, and then on Sunday the APEC Leaders Meeting. On Friday and Saturday, before the President arrives -- and I think the President arrives very late on Saturday evening in Manila -- the Secretary will be representing the United States at the APEC Ministerial. In addition to those ministerial meetings, he'll have a number of bilateral meetings with his Asian counterparts from a variety of countries, and I'll have more specifically about what those bilaterals are once we start the trip.
At this point, the Secretary plans on leaving Manila on Sunday evening after the APEC Leaders Meeting, after he participates in that session with the President and in the President's bilaterals with some of the APEC leaders. He'll be returning to the United States, and we should be back here around midnight on Sunday -- midnight Sunday turning into Monday. And the Secretary will be in the office for the three days prior to Thanksgiving.
So that is a sense of the schedule for this trip. If you have any questions on the substance we can do that, although I know you had a very good briefing by Winston Lord yesterday.
I have a couple of things I wanted to tell you about. First, I have a statement that we're issuing today on Burma and the great concern that the United States has over further potential violence in Burma. The United States is gravely concerned by reports about the potential for violence this weekend in Rangoon. In the wake of an extremely disturbing attack last weekend by hired thugs on Aung San Suu Kyi, the military junta reportedly is organizing further demonstrations by the regime's mass front organization -- the Union Solidarity Development Association. This is a front organization for the military dictators, and we understand that this demonstration may be held with the express purpose of provoking further violence in Rangoon.
Now, as you know, on November 9th the United States, along with the rest of the international community, was outraged by the attack on Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior leaders of the democratic opposition in Burma. We have clear evidence that the attackers were organized by this front organization for the military dictators; and we reject the attempts of the SLORC -- the State Law and Order Restoration Council-- the military dictatorship in Burma, to blame this attack on Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy.
The United States reaffirms its previously stated position that we and the international community will hold the SLORC responsible for any violent attack or any harm that may come to Aung San Suu Kyi, other senior leaders of the National League for Democracy, or other supporters of the democratic opposition. Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow democrats have demonstrated repeatedly their strong commitment to nonviolent expression of their political views.
So the United States calls on the SLORC to punish those responsible for the November 9th attack and to prevent further violent incidents by organizations clearly under its control. We also call on the SLORC to engage the National League for Democracy and the country's ethnic groups in discussions about the political future of Burma. Only such a dialogue can unlock the door to the bright future that all of the people of Burma deserve but which they are being denied by the Burmese Government.
I have an interesting bit of information in from Sarajevo today that I thought you'd want to hear about.
In Paris, Secretary Christopher met with President Izetbegovic on Wednesday. One of the issues that was discussed -- and Ambassador Kornblum followed up on this -- was our keen interest in seeing the removal of the two individuals who we believe should not serve as senior officials of the Federation Defense Ministry, and you know who they are.
Now, I understand that President Izetbegovic informed the United States Embassy in Sarajevo today -- I think as a result of these conversations that the Secretary had with him in Paris -- that in accordance with the Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia, Federation Prime Minister Kepetanovic has formally proposed to Federation President Zubak the immediate replacement of Defense Minister Soljic and Federation Deputy Defense Minister Cengic. And we understand that the Vice President of the Federation, Vice President Ganic, supports this recommendation of the Prime Minister and of President Izetbegovic.
So this issue is now clearly in the hands of President Zubak, the Federation President. Once Mr. Zubak acts on this recommendation and once these two individuals are no longer at the Federation Defense Ministry, then the ship of the American Condor, which is currently off Ploce Harbor, will dock at Ploce Harbor and will off-load its military assistance for the Federation.
We hope very much that Mr. Zubak now will take the steps that we have asked him to take for quite a few weeks now. This will allow us to meet our commitment to the Federation and deliver the substantial military assistance that the Federation clearly needs to enhance its military capabilities. And this is an issue that we have held to quite strongly because of our opposition to the presence of these two gentlemen in further high-level positions in the Defense Ministry.
Finally, I wanted to just point you to a statement that has just been released in Ankara by Ambassador Bob Pelletreau, by the Turkish Government, and the Government of the United Kingdom. They met today with the PUK and KDP representatives in Ankara to review progress in implementing the principles that were agreed upon in their meeting on October 3l. And I'm pleased to say that all participants confirmed their commitment to strengthening and making permanent the cease-fire between the PUK and the KDP, that efforts to demarcate the cease-fire line and to deploy a peace-monitoring force will be further expedited as a result of the meeting today, and that there has already been a good initial meeting of the supervisory Peace-Monitoring Group. This is positive.
There was also talk, and a commitment made, about returning the flow of electricity and food commodities throughout northern Iraq. And the PUK and KDP renewed their commitment not to disrupt civilian services for political reasons. They also undertook to implement earlier commitments to cease media attacks against each other, as well as to exchange detainees and the remains of those killed in the previous fighting.
So you have a statement in the Press Office that will be available on this, but it looks like there was a very good meeting today in Ankara.
George, with that I'll be glad to go to your questions.
QUESTION: On Bosnia, the two officials you named, are they the two in whom you have been expressing interest over the past couple of weeks?
MR. BURNS: The very same. These are the two people that we've had our sights on. We believe that they should leave their positions of responsibility, and in return for that we'll be glad to go forward with the commitment of substantial U.S. military assistance to the Federation.
MR. BURNS: Yes, Judd.
QUESTION: What do you know about the health of Croatian President Tudjman?
MR. BURNS: I can confirm that President Tudjman is at Walter Reed Hospital. Because he is there, obviously, on a visit concerning his health, I am not in a position to talk to you about the status of his health. That's a question that I would suggest you ask to the Croatian Government.
QUESTION: When did he get there?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: When did he arrive there?
MR. BURNS: I believe he arrived there quite recently, just in the last 24 hours or so.
QUESTION: How long do you expect him to stay?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. That's obviously up to him and his doctors.
QUESTION: Who's paying the bill?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the answer to that question.
QUESTION: Can you get the answer to that question?
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to look into that, yes.
QUESTION: Do you know if this is treatment or assessing a condition?
MR. BURNS: Betsy, we've decided, in concert with Walter Reed and the Pentagon, that it's just not appropriate for us to get into his medical condition. That is something that he will have to decide what -- you know, how he handles -- and something that the Croatian Government is best placed to answer, not the United States Government. But he is at Walter Reed.
QUESTION: Nick, can I go back to the Ministry of Defense officials? I thought the hang-up had been that the Bosnian Government said that any removal of these people had to be approved by the Parliament. Has that been done, or will that be done -- or is that not necessary?
MR. BURNS: There are all sorts of ways this can be done. It can be done by the Parliament; it can be done by the equivalent of an executive action by Mr. Zubak. And as you know, one of the problems that the three Presidents have had -- Zubak, Izetbegovic, and Krajisnik -- is in working out a Council of Ministers. This issue may or may no be caught up in those deliberations.
But it's such an important issue for the United States that we wanted to make clear today that now that President Izetbegovic, after several weeks of deliberations, has come forward and has said that he wants the two removed, his Prime Minister wants the two removed, his Vice President wants the two removed. It now only rests for Mr. Zubak to agree with this decision; and it can be done by executive action, not just by parliamentary authority.
QUESTION: Am I correct? Weren't you told by the Bosnian President that there was no way around the requirement that Parliament act?
MR. BURNS: That was what we were told initially, and it could still happen that way if that's the way they want it to happen. But it can also be done through executive action, and I understand that Mr. Zubak is the lone remaining official who needs to speak on this issue.
Now, we have indicated to him privately in Paris, just two days ago, that we felt very strongly about this. We encouraged him to take this action, along with President Izetbegovic; and we hope very much that he will now agree to do that. So the ball is clearly in his court.
QUESTION: But what has he told you? I mean has he indicated a reluctance to do that, or I mean has he given you some --
MR. BURNS: He has indicated a general reluctance to make a decision, for a variety of reasons, because there are other factors that they've got to look at here. But we maintain our own position; and that is that if the United States is going to be delivering $l00 million worth of military hardware to the Federation, we have a right to insist that one of the senior -- in this case, one of the senior members of the Federation Defense Establishment -- not be someone who has very close ties to the Government of Iran. And so we hope very much now that he'll do the right thing here.
QUESTION: Nick, according to my math, it's cost us about $l and a half million to keep $l00,000 of military equipment off the coast of Croatia. Is this still within the budget?
MR. BURNS: I can't confirm that figure, Betsy. I know it's cost us a considerable amount of money to keep the American Condor from docking at Ploce Harbor.
I do know that we do have the budget to subsume these costs. We can pay for it; we have the money available to pay for it. But, clearly, it wasn't part of our game plan to have this ship kind of circle in the harbor outside the docks. We would have vastly preferred a quicker decision by the Federation authorities.
But I think the good news today is that President Izetbegovic has spoken very clearly on this issue, and the bad news is we've got one more official to go. But we're clearly indicating publicly here, by making this announcement, that we expect President Zubak to act expeditiously on this matter.
QUESTION: Back on this matter, it's less than that.
MR. BURNS: For the record, Betsy says it was less than that. Okay, that's good.
QUESTION: What kind of dollars is that now?
MR. BURNS: I can't confirm the exact figure, but I do know that we've looked at this issue. We have the money to pay for it.
QUESTION: What's wrong with Minister Soljic? You mentioned that he's the second important guy. What's wrong with him?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We just think that the Federation Defense Ministry would be better off, and there will be a greater commitment to the Federation aspect of that Defense Ministry -- the combined aspect -- with new individuals in charge. We've made very clear in particular our objections to Mr. Cengic. Our objections to Mr. Soljic have to do with a variety of issues, including the general issue of one's commitment to the Federation. As you know, that has been a big issue over the last several years -- insufficient commitment by individuals to the idea of a federation.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that Soljic is the right guy but in the wrong time? He's okay? I assume that Soljic is okay, but he lives in the wrong time with the wrong Deputy Minister. Is that the reason?
MR. BURNS: I think we've made ourselves clear on this, Envira, and we have made it clear that both individuals should go.
QUESTION: Do you know what the situation is with Mladic these days?
MR. BURNS: We don't have any good read for you on Mladic. It was a positive -- very positive -- step by Mrs. Plavsic to relieve his of his command. We understand there's quite a bit of unhappiness in the Bosnian-Serb military about this but that the Bosnian-Serb civilian authorities appear to be sticking to their guns. They ought to. He ought to be relieved of his command permanently. And, obviously, our own view is that he ought to be sent by the Bosnian-Serb authorities to The Hague for prosecution.
QUESTION: Nick, in his remarks earlier, the President expressed regret that the civilian side of the Dayton Accords have not -- that implementation has not moved faster than it has. Do the powers that have troops in IFOR accept any of the blame for that? And is there any thought being given to actually upgrading the orders to a follow-on force and authorizing them to do such things as arresting war criminals?
MR. BURNS: First, David, as you know, as we've indicated today from both the White House and the State Department, now that President Clinton has made his decision in principle, the action will shift to the North Atlantic Council on Monday. The North Atlantic Council will actively look at the set of options, the four options, that the NATO experts provided, and they will make a decision based on those options.
Following that, General Joulwan, the Supreme Allied Commander, will be asked to devise an operational plan to, in effect, implement the option that is selected. As part of that exercise, I'm sure they're going to look at all of the issues about the mission of the force.
I wouldn't lead you to believe that from this juncture there will be any dramatic change in the rules of engagement, but we have to leave that to NATO. And then after General Joulwan emerges with his operational plan, the member governments will have an opportunity to look at it and to make suggestions -- and, if necessary, make suggestions as to how it might be modified. But that's all ahead of us right now.
In general, I think as we look back over the past year -- as the President said this morning -- our military forces have had extraordinary success in accomplishing their mission. We always knew, back a year ago today at Dayton -- and certainly last December, when the civilian side was constructed under the leadership of Carl Bildt -- that this would actually be the longer-term effort, and probably the harder effort than the military side.
Because the functions of the civilian side are so widespread from sponsoring elections to working on refugee return to the war crimes issue, to the economic reconstruction issue having to do with the shattered infrastructure of the country. This is an enormous problem.
The military had an advantage. They got started earlier. They had a more clearly defined mission than the civilian side. But we think that Carl Bildt has done a very good job in forming an organization that is tackling these problems. But we always thought it would a multi-year commitment.
In fact, when we committed $200 million in American assistance to civilian reconstruction, that was, we said at the time, only the first of a three-year commitment. We've always seen this to be a longer-term venture. Because of that and because of the enormous problems that still exists, there is a need for a follow-on force, as the President explained this morning.
QUESTION: Thanks, Nick. What about the current tensions, especially in the village of Gajevi and the village of Celic. Just this last week, Mr. Solana said, in answer to a question this morning, that the access by the Muslims to this village, to their former homes, would be guaranteed; that they will be able to pass. Is that now the case? Or will U.S. troops continue to separate these two groups?
MR. BURNS: The most recent information I have about the Celic situation is that a convoy of U.S. IFOR troops carrying weapons, confiscated from the Bosnian Muslims, was halted in Celic by a civilian crowd of about 200 people. The crowd threw rocks at the soldiers and spat at the soldiers. The soldiers acquitted themselves admirably. They were able to resolve the situation without resorting to force.
The soldiers had to dismount from their convoy to clear the path, but they were poised and disciplined throughout the incident.
No one should be under any illusion. IFOR is not going to allow itself to be challenged in this manner. IFOR will use force, if necessary, to fulfill the mission that it has.
IFOR is now taking an inventory of the weapons that were confiscated. There were two separate incidents, as you know, yesterday where IFOR confiscated weapons. IFOR's intention is to destroy those weapons in the very near future.
This is a signal, the destruction of these weapons, to both the Muslims and the Bosnian Serbs that they cannot cross IFOR and they can't violate the terms of the Dayton Agreement and the type of incident that we saw at Celic is unacceptable behavior. IFOR, I think, has acted in an appropriate manner in handling the situation.
QUESTION: What about the issue of freedom of movement?
MR. BURNS: What about the issue of freedom of movement?
QUESTION: There is an impairment in movement, I believe at present. At least, there was a separation imposed by U.S. forces at the village of Gajevi. Mr. Solana said that there is no such impairment. Is that the case presently?
MR. BURNS: People have, in general, the right to move about the country. They don't have a right to violate the Dayton Accords. They don't have a right to cross established authority. There's a very broad distinction there -- a clear distinction, Bill -- that I think you'll appreciate.
QUESTION: When you were in Paris, have you seen Momcilo Krajisnik? Have you got any sense -- is he ready to cooperate regarding two main issues: return of refugees and war crimes?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher had about an hour with three Presidents together. I must say that Secretary Christopher was very impressed, I think, by the statement made by President Izetbegovic, which is a statement of clear, continued commitment to the Dayton Accords.
Frankly, we're reserving judgment on the Bosnian Serbs, including on Mr. Krajisnik. We ought to reserve judgment. They have consistently violated the war crimes commitments that they made at Dayton and in Paris. They consistently and very recently have violated the commitment to provide for freedom of movement and return of refugees in Bosnian Serb-controlled areas.
The Bosnian Serbs are the major violator of the Dayton Accords -- have been for a year -- and we hope now that they will reconsider the very negative signals that they've been sending.
The meeting in Paris was intended -- the bilateral meeting that the Secretary had with the three Presidents -- was intended to push them to appoint a council of ministers, to work out the problems in appointing a council of ministers, to get on with the parliamentary assembly, with a central bank, with the high court -- all of the institutions that have to be created.
That was a meeting on Wednesday. The meeting on Thursday, chaired by Minister de Charette and Mr. Bildt, was intended to push them on a broader range of issues. I think that Minister de Charette and Secretary Christopher and Mr. Bildt all made the same statement: Dayton is not a la carte menu. You don't get to choose which items you like and ignore the items that you don't like. They committed to all of it, and so they've got to implement all of it.
That was a very clear, consistent message by the West -- by the sponsors of the Dayton Accords -- yesterday in Paris.
QUESTION: As far as I understood the news from Bosnia, IFOR is ready, at least, to punish or to be so strong against Bosnian Muslims and their intention to return to their homes, previous homes. At the same time, I've never seen the news from Han Pijesak, for instance, that IFOR can destroy Serbian-side weapons, or something like that.
So it all their right for Bosnian Muslims to go home or the Serbian side to refuse that movement, or something like that?
MR. BURNS: IFOR has repeatedly, over 11 months, checked, reversed the inclination of the Bosnian Serbs to violate the Dayton Accords, on Article 4, on arms agreements which have been violated, and on some of the actions taken by Bosnian Serb police authorities to impede the freedom of movement of Muslims.
Just over the last couple of weeks, IFOR has been very consistent.
Now, the other day, in this incident, IFOR did say that the Muslims did not seek proper permission from IFOR before they attempted to return to that particular village. The IFOR authorities in Sarajevo were very clear about that.
All people -- even people like the Bosnian Muslims, who were the victims of the Bosnian war, have an obligation to carry out the normal procedures and to make sure they're following their commitments.
All the different groups have that responsibility, not just the Bosnian Serbs.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) but they say if they give their names of villages or their homes, their houses would be destroyed.
MR. BURNS: Envira, you know as well as I do the Bosnian Serbs, as I just said, have been the major violator of the Dayton Accords. We have checked them at every corner when they have violated the Dayton Accords. IFOR has done so. We'll continue to do so. But the Muslims need to put their trust in IFOR and continue to do that. Their situation certainly will be better if they do.
QUESTION: What's your understanding of why these refugees are now suddenly turning and returning to Rwanda?
MR. BURNS: We have been in touch this morning with the Rwandan and Zairian Governments. I think more to the point here, we've been in touch with the humanitarian relief organizations that have people on the ground around Goma and other places.
Our understanding is the following. I think you have to be a little bit wary of some of the published reports of numbers. We've seen wildly varying reports from 50,000 to 700,000 people. We do not have, here in the U.S. Government, an independent assessment of how many people are on the move.
But what is clear is the following. According to the refugees themselves -- these are Rwandan Hutu civilian refugees who have been held in the camp over the last two weeks -- that yesterday's bombardment of the Mugunga refugee camp by the Zairian rebels drove the Rwandan Hutu leaders and the militia out of the camp.
The refugees then broke loose from these leaders and streamed towards Goma.
Now, some of the reports from the refugees say that the people holding them attempted to dissuade them by force, or prevent them by force, from leaving the camps but that the militia were simply overwhelmed by the huge number of people streaming out of the camps. That seems to be fairly clear. That runs through almost all of the reports that we have.
What we cannot attest to is how many people are on the move, but it certainly seems like if it's not in the tens of thousands, it may very well be in the hundreds of thousands.
My colleague, Sylvana Foa, said about an hour ago up at the UN she thought it was 400,000. I saw a press report just before coming out here of 700,000. It's clearly a very sizable number of people.
We know that the humanitarian relief organizations have food, medicine, other relief supplies, housing supplies, stocked in Rwanda at the border. They are already now setting up transit camps to receive these returning refugees.
Because of the large numbers involved, we can't be at all sure that people will be automatically or directly able to go back to their home villages. That is our intention.
As you know, for several weeks now, we have agreed with Mrs. Ogata of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees that it is safe for Rwandan refugees to return to Rwanda.
The Government of Rwanda has again today called for the refugees to return, has assured those that did not participate in the genocide that they can do so in safety. We think, in general, what's happening today is positive.
The innocent civilians who were held captive in the Mugunga Camp have now broken free from their captors. They are heading back to Rwanda. This is very positive news.
The challenge for the Rwandan Government, the local officials in eastern Zaire and the international community, is to make sure that we have sufficient relief supplies available to help these people along the route of their journey, because these people will go to very different places inside Rwanda itself.
If there is now a general move for Rwandan Hutu refugees to go back to Rwanda, that is very positive. It ought to be encouraged. The Rwandan Government ought to be helped by the international community in accepting them back peacefully and without any recourse to violence or forcible return.
As you know, President Clinton said today and Mike McCurry said the other day, voluntary return has to be the order of the day. We still believe that. We don't think that any refugee should be forced back into Rwanda but we would encourage them to go on a voluntary basis.
QUESTION: Are you aware of the Rwandan Government telling you or the UN that this force is now not necessary and that they are now not welcome?
MR. BURNS: As you know, President Clinton was asked this question just a couple of hours ago. We've seen Rwandan officials on CNN saying that because of this mass influx of refugees, the Rwandan Government no longer believes there's a necessity for an intervention force. As the President said, this is good news but that seems to be a preliminary assessment -- I'll say this -- by the Rwandan authorities.
The fact is, the total number of refugees -- Rwandan and Burundian and displaced people who are Zairian citizens -- certainly exceeds 1.5 million people. Even if we're talking about several hundred thousand people returning back today, that leaves a huge number of people who are still at risk; people who are still in Zaire without adequate food or housing or water or medical care. We've got to continue to be concerned about them. We need to continue our efforts to prepare the intervention force and to go in.
As you know, Tony Lake and George Moose and others were up at the UN yesterday talking to the Canadians and the UN and other countries about the mission for this force, some of the specific requirements that this force will have. We continue our efforts today through the efforts of our Ambassador Dick Bogosian, who is in Kigali, our military team, which was in Kigali, our humanitarian team which has been back and forth between Zaire and Rwanda. We are preparing for an intervention force.
We will be naive and sadly mistaken were we to arrest all of our efforts now because of this preliminary good news. The situation is still a crisis; it's a humanitarian crisis of the highest order, and it still requires the fundamental commitment of all of us to help these refugees.
QUESTION: Let me try a question that we tried the last couple of days. Maybe you're in a position to give (inaudible) today than Glyn was in the last couple of days.
With civilians who presumably did not take part in the genocide on the move back toward Rwanda, what does the international community plan to do about those militiamen who are guilty of genocide or may be guilty of genocide who are still roaming or in camps in Zaire?
MR. BURNS: As you know, there's a Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal set up by the United Nations, supported by the United States and member governments. That Tribunal has been afflicted by a lack of money, a lack of resources, and a lack of assistance from many of the member governments themselves, particularly some of the neighboring governments in central Africa. We think that those people who are under strong suspicion, are alleged to have been involved in the genocide that took place two years ago, ought to be apprehended and they ought to be prosecuted by that War Crimes Tribunal.
QUESTION: But does that mean the international force that may go in still would do that?
MR. BURNS: The War Crimes Tribunal has the authority. The governments involved -- the Governments of Zaire and Burundi and Rwanda, and wherever else these people might be -- Kenya or Tanzania or Uganda -- have the responsibility to find these people and turn them over to the War Crimes Tribunal. That's the primary responsibility. That's where it lies.
The President and Mike McCurry and Secretary Perry have laid out a quite specific basis for U.S. participation in this force. It does not include that mission. That mission has already been decided and the responsibility is clear. The people with responsibility ought to do a better job in exercising it. I'm talking about the countries, the neighboring countries now.
QUESTION: Still on Zaire?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Nick, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Zaire, just a few hours ago, warned that Zaire might wage war against Burundi and Rwanda, especially over -- and he specifies that any force that comes must be neutral. It must not hinder Zaire from protecting its territory and it must not offer protection to Rwandans and Burundians. Does this not complicate the rescue mission?
MR. BURNS: We've seen his statement, which I believe was made in Brussels. If this statement is accurate, it's clearly an irresponsible statement, and it ought to be retracted by the Government of Zaire.
The facts are, as President Clinton said this morning, the international community is going to need the willing cooperation and participation of the Governments of Rwanda and Zaire for this force to be deployed. Certainly, we're going to make every effort we can to try to convince the two countries and the militia to engage in at least a de facto cease-fire before this force arrives. That's obviously the optimal position for our military force and those of Canada and other countries.
We are working very hard on a cease-fire. Dick Bogosian, our Special Representative in Central Africa, has been in the region for more than two weeks working on this issue of a cease-fire. He's in Kigali talking to the Rwandans. He's been back and forth. He's been in Kinshasa talking to the Zairians.
This kind of statement is highly irresponsible. It ought not to reflect the view of his President and his Prime Minister. No one should be trying to stoke the fires here. In fact, the efforts by Zaire and Rwanda ought to be to calm the situation, convince the militias to engage in a cease-fire so that the international force can come in and help the refugees and help to repatriate them on a voluntary basis.
QUESTION: Right, Nick, but currently, is there any indication that Zaire is preparing for war?
MR. BURNS: We see no indications this morning that Zaire is preparing for a total war, which is what he said in his irresponsible comments.
QUESTION: Nick, on another subject, now that it's no longer a law- enforcement issue, could you tell us what part the State Department played in the case of Mr. Galkin, the Russian, former KGB man who was arrested?
MR. BURNS: Judd just answered it. This is one of those questions I think better left -- done with. You're not really interested in this, are you, Jim?
QUESTION: This is not one of the State Department's -- one of the U.S. Government's "finest hours?"
MR. BURNS: No, I can say this: The State Department concurred in the decision by the Justice Department that Mr. Galkin should be released, as he was released yesterday afternoon, and free to return to his country, Russia -- the Russian Federation.
Clearly, there were some miscommunications in the course of this. I don't care to get into this any further except to say that the State Department strongly concurred with the action of the Justice Department to release him.
QUESTION: Would you say the State Department urged the Justice Department --
MR. BURNS: We concurred in the decision made by the Justice Department. I know that the Central Intelligence Agency also concurred along with the State Department in this judgment.
QUESTION: Were you asked before the decision was made?
MR. BURNS: Which decision? The decision to release him?
MR. BURNS: Oh, certainly. Yes. We had a number of conversations within the government between Justice and FBI and the CIA and the State Department about this case. As you know, it was a celebrated case. The Russian Government made some exceedingly strong statements about this case. We certainly had a number of conversations. We made our views known within the U.S. Government.
QUESTION: Did you make your views known before his arrest?
MR. BURNS: As I said, there was miscommunication before his arrest --
QUESTION: That's a "yes."
MR. BURNS: -- between agencies of the U.S. Government.
QUESTION: That's a "yes?"
MR. BURNS: There were some miscommunication among agencies, I should say. My grammar should be correct here. -- among agencies of the U.S. Government before his arrest. I don't think it serves any useful purpose for me to try to give you any more detail on that.
QUESTION: Different subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: You described a meeting in Ankara today as a very good one. However, one of the Turkoman parties declined to attend the meeting. Apparently, they seem to be concerned with a negative media campaign instigated by KDP officials. Could you comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I have not been in touch with Ambassador Pelletreau by phone, as I would have liked to before this. But I would just say that we certainly will continue to work with the Turkoman parties. They are an important part of these discussions. We'll continue to include them in all future discussions. We are sensitive to the concerns of the Turkomans, and we'll continue to be so.
QUESTION: One of the State Department's delegation, which includes National Security and Pentagon members, they are visiting Athens and also Cyprus. I wonder why this group does not need to visit Ankara and the Turkish side?
MR. BURNS: Is this the Carey Cavanaugh delegation?
MR. BURNS: Why it didn't travel to Turkey?
MR. BURNS: I can't account for that. I've been out of the country. I'll have to check into how they plan their itinerary. But please don't read anything serious into this. We have an excellent relationship with Turkey. We have continuous high-level contact between the United States and Turkey every day in the persons of Ambassador Kandemir and Ambassador Grossman, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense frequently; other high officials. There's no problem with that.
I can ask our European Bureau why Turkey was not included in the schedule, if that is the case. I wasn't aware that it was the case. But I wouldn't read anything negative into this at all. Please don't.
QUESTION: They are looking for some solution to the problem but they have contacted only one part of the problem?
MR. BURNS: As you know, on the Cyprus question, we regularly talk to the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash. We talk to the Turkish government about this. We know that any solution to the Cyprus problem has to include the two communities in Cyprus, the Cypriot Government, the Turkish Government, and the Greek Government -- everyone together. There's been no lack of contact between the United States and Turkey on that particular issue of Cyprus nor will there be in the future.
QUESTION: A question on the Economic Conference. I notice that Amoco, which was at the Economic Conference, has decided not to go ahead with their pipeline through Israel, Syria, and Lebanon to Turkey, and instead is going to ship, at great expense, gas from Egypt directly into Turkey.
Did the Department know that this was going to happen? What is the reaction?
MR. BURNS: Gene, welcome back. All of you would have been interested to see -- Gene's a Middle East expert. He was playing backgammon with some of Egyptians at midnight the other night. He tried to climb the Pyramids, but we told him not to do that. We had an excellent trip with you, Gene, so I'm glad you came along with us.
Gene, I don't know specifically what decisions Amoco has made. I would encourage you to check with Amoco. I'll be glad to check with our Middle East experts and see what announcements have been made.
QUESTION: North Korean announcement that they're no longer going to abide by the nuclear freeze agreement?
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to. North Korea has not indicated to the United States, and we have regular contacts with the North Koreans, any intention to break the nuclear freeze or to violate any of the provisions of the Agreed Framework.
North Korea continues to fulfill its obligations under the Agreed Framework as does the United States, as do all other parties, that are concerned with the Agreed Framework.
For instance, progress continues on preparations for ultimate site preparation and deliveries of heavy fuel oil to North Korea for both November and December. These deliveries of heavy fuel oil will be made on a timely basis.
KEDO also continues to attract new members, including the European Union, which decided last month to join KEDO. The EU and KEDO are currently negotiating the terms of the EU's membership and financial contributions. The United States and the Republic of Korea and Japan all remain committed to fulfilling our own obligations under the Agreed Framework. So I don't think there is much to the story at all.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: It was reported in Seoul that Assistant Secretary Winston Lord received a letter from the Consul to the North Korean Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs to threaten to drop out of the Agreed Framework if the United States delayed the light-water reactors project, and continue urging North Korea to apologize for the submarine incident to South Korea. Is it fact or could you confirm that?
MR. BURNS: You're asking about a letter?
MR. BURNS: I don't normally talk about diplomatic correspondence. I don't want to be in a position of confirming this particular letter.
I think that the answer I gave was quite clear, that we don't believe there's been a problem.
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Are you saying that this morning's radio announcement from the North Korean agency saying that North Korea doesn't think the nuclear freeze will hold anymore? The U.S. doesn't take that seriously, or the U.S. doesn't --
MR. BURNS: We don't believe that that's accurate. We've not heard that. We've not seen any indication that North Korea is not living up to its commitments under KEDO under the Agreed Framework.
QUESTION: But the fact that statement was made on the radio --
MR. BURNS: I think what's more important is the actions that they take. I would watch the actions as opposed to the words. The actions are -- you know, we monitor this on a daily basis -- North Korea is meeting its commitments to the Agreed Framework. We've seen no indications that it is deviating in any way from the Agreed Framework.
So despite radio broadcasts, the actions are always going to be more important. I'm pleased to say that the actions are consistent with North Korean commitments.
QUESTION: One more question. If I understand correctly, I think the U.S. has been very careful not to use the word "apology." I think the phrase suggests some gesture should be taken or some positive steps should be taken by North Korea to South Korea.
Is the U.S. making it clear not to use the word "apology," or is there any U.S. position on that --
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that we have any hang-ups about words. The fact is that we protested this incident along with the Republic of Korea to the Armistice Commission the day after it happened. We voted and the Security Council unanimously voted to condemn the actions of North Korea.
We've told the North Koreans in our contacts in New York what they did was unacceptable behavior, a fundamental violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Korea. We've had a very clear, public, strong position on this from Day One. I'm not aware that we have any problem with that particular word.
QUESTION: There is rumor that North Korea has notified the U.S. that they will not open the Liaison Office in Washington, DC and the U.S. did likewise. Would you verify it?
MR. BURNS: I cannot confirm that, no. I prefer not to deal in rumors. I wouldn't encourage you to believe those particular rumors. I just can't confirm that.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:57 p.m.)
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