U.S. Department of State 96/11/21 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Thursday, November 21, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies DEPARTMENT/ANNOUNCEMENTS Welcome to American University Students and German Embassy Counselors for Press & Info ............ 1 Statement -- Signing of Protocol --New U.S. Bolivia Extradition Treaty .................. 1 Announcement -- Anniv. of Dayton Peace Agreement ....... 1-2 Announcement -- Kashmir Hostage Reward ................. 2-3 Announcement -- Political Crisis in Belarus ............ 3 ARMS CONTROL/NON-PROLIFERATION Allegation of China Missile/Technology/Chemical Weapons Sales to Iran ........................................ 3-6,11 Secretary Christopher's Discussions on Non-Proliferation in Beijing ......................... 6,12 Peru's Acquisition of MiG-29 Aircraft .................. 8-9 Alleged Czech Arms in Zaire ............................ 10 U.S.-Syrian Discussions on Non-proliferation ........... 12 GREECE/TURKEY Territorial Disputes re: Aegean ........................ 6-8 Turkey/Greek Relations w/European Union ................ 14-15 U.S. Cobra Helicopter Sales to Turkey .................. 18-19 RUSSIA Aleksandr Lebed Mtg. at Department .................... 8 NORTH KOREA Congressman Richardson/Dept. Official Travel to Region . 9-11 SYRIA Senator Spector's Trip to Region ....................... 11 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Serbia --Smuggling Networks/Money Laundering .................. 13 --Municipal Elections .................................. 17 ZAIRE/RWANDA DART Team in Bukavu .................................... 13 Refugees in Eastern Zaire .............................. 13-17 CHINA/TAIWAN Reports of Military Exercises in Yellow Sea ............ 14 CUBA WTO Panel on Helms-Burton .............................. 15 PANAMA Panama Canal --Status of Negotiations on U.S. Military Presence ..... 17-18 UNITED NATIONS African Candidates for Secretary General ............... 18
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 1996, 1:17 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES:. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Gentlemen, would you care to -- no? We'll hear from you later.
I have a few announcements to start off with before I go to your questions.
First to welcome to the briefing three students from the American University. I'm not sure where they are, but welcome to you. And also to welcome two Counselors for Press and Information and Public Affairs at the German Embassy. Gentlemen, Detlef Lingemann and Ulrich Kloeckner are here.
Second, on Bolivia. Some of you will have noticed on the public schedule that Acting Secretary of State Talbott will sign the Protocol of Exchange of Instruments of Ratification of the new U.S.-Bolivia Extradition Treaty at a ceremony to be held in the State Department Treaty Room this afternoon at 4:30. That is open to press coverage. We have an announcement for you on that and a fact sheet which goes into some of the details of it.
Let me just say that the new treaty, which is the result of several years of discussions and negotiations, will make it easier for both nations more effectively to prosecute drug traffickers and criminals.
Third, I wanted to speak briefly about the anniversary of the initialing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, and we have an announcement on this as well, a year ago today. The talks in Dayton, Ohio, led by the United States, culminated in a peace agreement which ended the fighting in Bosnia, the worst in Europe in 50 years.
The agreement also charted the course for the creation of a self- sustaining unified Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A year later, there is cause for satisfaction. The war has ended. The cease-fire has held. The military forces have separated and demobilized. Its authority unquestioned, IFOR has guaranteed the peace.
Building on the security provided by IFOR, the international community has also made a determined start in implementing the non-military provisions of the agreement.
Those civilian institutions mandated by Dayton as necessary to rebuild the country are now operating.
National elections have brought into existence a joint government which is beginning to take shape. Civilian implementation efforts continue to shift from emergency humanitarian assistance to reconstruction activities.
Preliminary accomplishments include repair of homes, reconstruction of roads, railways and local utilities, and loans to small and medium enterprises. All of these efforts also provide jobs for the local population.
Now, of course, much more remains to be done in Bosnia, but the challenges that we face in the coming year are those of peace and not of stopping a war. Demonstrating that the reconstruction of Bosnia would take time, the President pledged U.S. reconstruction assistance over several years.
Ultimately, of course, it is the parties who are responsible for the success of the peace agreement. On this first anniversary, we call upon them to rededicate themselves to building a democratic future for Bosnia
Second to last, I have an announcement on Kashmir, a reward offer that relates to American citizen Dr. Donald Hutchings, the respected American medical doctor who was abducted by unknown persons July 4, l995.
It has been more than ten months since we have received any information on Dr. Hutchings or on Keith Mangan, Paul Wells, and Dirk Hasert, citizens of the United Kingdom and of Germany. They are, of course, believed to be with Dr. Hutchings. Dr. Hutchings' family, friends, and the U.S. Government are urgently seeking verifiable information on Dr. Hutchings' whereabouts and condition. We are, therefore, requesting that people who have such information come forward now to help us locate Dr. Hutchings.
Those who do provide information may be eligible for a substantial reward and possible relocation under the Counterterrorism Rewards Program, and there are a number of ways to convey information to the Rewards Program. One is through the mail by addressing information to Heroes, P.O. Box 96781, Washington, D.C. 20090. The telephone number is 1-800-HEROES1, and on the Internet there is a Web site, which is HEROES@HEROES.NET. So those are several ways to convey information.
My final announcement relates to Belarus. The political crisis is intensifying in Belarus. The escalating political crisis there is a matter of concern to the United States and, indeed, to all democratic nations.
The manner in which the referendum scheduled for November 24th has been conducted, has created an atmosphere of instability and fear within Belarus that has alarmed the international community and will have negative political and economic consequences for the people of Belarus.
Several senior Belarusian government officials, including the Prime Minister, have demonstrated their understanding of the danger to their nation's future by tendering their resignations.
It is not the goal of the United States to dictate to the people of Belarus what form of government they should have. We do, however, consider it essential that all parties in Belarus act exclusively within the framework of the Belarusian constitution and of OSCE principles with full respect for democratic norms, freedom of speech and assembly, and basic human rights.
Along with other OSCE participating states, the United States urges once again that all parties in Belarus seek a compromise that both upholds the Helsinki principles that Belarus also has pledged to accept and offers a foundation on which to build strong and democratic institutions.
QUESTION: I'm sure you have seen the latest story about the Chinese missile technology sales --
MR. DAVIES: Who could miss it. It was on the front page of a major American newspaper. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, do you have anything to say about it?
MR. DAVIES: Well, you know the basic mantra here, George, which is that when we see reporting based on alleged intelligence reports, we decline to comment on the reporting. We decline to comment or to confirm any such alleged intelligence reports. So I'm not going to get into talking about the information that is contained in the article specifically because it is all based on intelligence, alleged intelligence reporting, that has been allegedly leaked.
But what I can do, of course, is very briefly reiterate to you our position on the subject of leaks, and this is not meant in any way to confirm in fact the article is based on a real U.S. Government document. We don't know that and we don't comment on alleged leaked documents.
But there is in the government always at some level, there are leaks that occur. What we have now, though, is a situation that is perhaps qualitatively and quantitatively a little bit different from situations that have existed in the past.
So what I have to say, I guess, would be addressed to those who would allege to have government documents and hand them over to members of the press. It is quite simply that this kind of systematic activity is very damaging to the national interest, and those who are leaking documents that they purport to be government documents may well be committing crimes. It is a crime to hand over classified information to those not cleared to read the information, and I think that is an important point to make.
Now, in terms of setting aside the article in specifics, but to talk just a little bit about the general subject matter, which is this question of shipping military materials to Iran from China, our views opposing any cooperation with Iran, not just on the part of China but any other country, are well-known.
As Secretary Christopher noted in his public remarks yesterday in Beijing, he again made clear our strong concerns about Iran's efforts to acquire dangerous weapons of various kinds.
We have repeatedly said that we have serious concerns regarding Chinese missile cooperation with Pakistan and Iran, cooperation which could contribute to Pakistan and Iran's acquiring delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction. We have concerns about the reports of transfers by Chinese entities of dual use chemicals and equipment that could be used in Iran's chemical weapons program, and concerns about China's transfers of sophisticated conventional weapons to Iran.
Now we have raised those objections, our objections, to such activities at the highest levels of the Chinese Government, and, as Secretary Christopher indicated at the conclusion of his meetings, and I quote, he said, "Our discussion generally on nonproliferation has advanced our cooperation in this area of vital interest, but we agreed we must do more to achieve our goals."
QUESTION: Would these arms transfers that you mentioned, not the newspaper, be in violation of the MTCR or the D'Amato Act?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any information to relate to you today about arms transfers that would violate either act. The United States Government in its dialogue with the Government of China sets a high standard against which we measure Chinese activities in this regard.
We have had a long-running intensive dialogue with the Chinese about their arms transfer activities, but of course everything we do, Jim, we do obviously mindful of the law, within the law, and we pay strict attention to what the law dictates in terms of what transfers do or don't violate the law.
So, I mean, you know, because you followed this all the way back to the Ring-Magnets issue and back into the past beyond that, that certainly in this building and around town, an awful lot of effort is spent evaluating these reports. A great deal of diplomatic effort is spent by Under Secretary Lynn Davis, by Bob Einhorn, who works for her, by members of the National Security Council, by the Secretary, and others, raising these issues with the Chinese and clarifying with them precisely what the nature of these reports are and what the facts are, and we follow up on every report that we receive.
QUESTION: Well, in your evaluation, are you looking at the information with a view of possibly imposing sanctions on China?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to get into any steps we might prospectively take. You know that with the Chinese, as a result of our intensive dialogue with them, we have received certain assurances from them.
We believe at this stage that, in fact, the Chinese are operating within the assurances they have given us. But we will continue to be very vigilant on this subject and to raise with the Chinese at every opportunity every report we receive that we believe is credible of such arms transfers.
QUESTION: The Iranian arms buildup in the area and also those Syrian and Iranian corporations on upgrading the Syrian some SCUD missiles was well over defensive purposes. They are changing the military balance, on the whole, in this area.
Do you have any concern? Do you urge these two countries? For example, in both countries some missiles are arranged; most of the NATO countries of which you are allies with.
MR. DAVIES: Clearly, we're concerned and have been for some time about the capabilities being developed by certain countries in the region. We pay particular attention to Iran and their efforts to obtain not just these missile technologies and conventional capabilities but also weapons of mass destruction. We believe that they do have a policy of seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
So this is part of our dialogue with all potential supplier nations around the world. We believe it's very important not to supply such materials to the Iranian Government, and we make that point quite clear in our dialogue with other nations.
QUESTION: You said you believe the Chinese are operating within the commitments that they made to us. By that, do you mean that they are living up to the letter of the MTCR and the D'Amato Act?
MR. DAVIES: By that, I mean that in our view we've not seen any reason to question their behavior. If the Chinese were not living up to the MTCR, there's a mechanism for dealing with that. The United States Government would be the very first to raise concerns with the Chinese if we thought there were legitimate concerns to raise with them.
I don't right now have anything to announce by way of specific concerns that we've got vis-a-vis China.
The Secretary, yesterday, held discussions in Beijing with Chinese officials. He went over this at great length. He works on this issue not just when he's in China but when he's back here in Washington.
We've hammered out with the Chinese, in essence, an understanding about what it is precisely they will be doing, what it is precisely our understandings are. At this stage, I don't have anything to report to you that would indicate that they've gone beyond those understandings.
The Greek Foreign Minister, Theodhoros Pangalos, during a press conference today in Athens, in the presence of the entire leaders of the Greek Ministry, and more than 50 reporters, admitted finally that the Simitis government made a real concession asking Turkey to address the Imia issue to the International Court of Justice prior to the delimitation of the continental shelf -- something which is clear that is going to partition Greece in the Aegean.
Could you please comment, since this specific policy is your great desire to express many, many times by President Clinton and State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any particular comment for you on that.
QUESTION: But that's your proposal?
MR. DAVIES: I just don't have anything on the continental shelf in Greece.
QUESTION: In the same press conference, when Mr. Pangalos has been asked, why his government is doing that prior to the delimitation of the continental shelf, he stated -- avoiding to answer direct -- "Any Greek reporter who is not writing in favor of this policy undermines Greece."
Could you please comment, since the Pangalos philosophy is against the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression, it's obvious that the Pangalos policy vis-a-vis to the Aegean undermines Greece and not, of course, the reporters?
MR. DAVIES: Mr. Lambros, it sounds like you've got a question for Mr. Pangalos or his government, not for me.
QUESTION: It's to you because you are fighting for the freedom of the press and freedom of expression. The U.S. is leading actually to this direction. So you are the spokesman, you're dealing with the press. I'd like you to comment?
MR. DAVIES: Let me say this. I question the premise of your question. I don't have any information that the Pangalos government is, in fact, working against freedom of the press, so I can't take it beyond that.
QUESTION: In the last 48 hours, Turkey repeatedly is violating the EU Turkish borders in the Aegean against the existing treaties and conventions and in freezing the Athens FIR against the existing IACO rules. I'm wondering if you have any comments since your Embassy in Athens follows the situation very closely in the last 24 hours?
MR. DAVIES: No comment at all on that.
QUESTION: The IACO Spokesman, Mr. Dennis Shanion S-H-A-N-I-O-N -- stated yesterday that in the EU Turkish borders area, "There are only the Athens FIR, Istanbul FIR, and the Ankara FIR and nothing else. In the air space over the Aegean is under the Athens FIR jurisdiction."
Based on that statement, Mr. Glyn Davies, which clearly defines the IACO rules, what is the U.S. position vis-a-vis to the limits of the Athens FIR?
MR. DAVIES: This, by the way, is the last question that I'll go to you on today because there are a lot of others who have questions. You've tried me before on FIR, as you've tried me before on such issues, and I simply don't have anything to offer to you. I'm more than happy to talk to you after the briefing, but in the interest of some of the other issues that people have to raise, I'll go to other questions.
QUESTION: Glyn, what can you tell us about Aleksandr Lebed's meetings in the State Department?
MR. DAVIES: I know that he was in the State Department this morning. He met with Acting Secretary of State Talbott. He also met with John Herbst, who is the senior official in the Department today. He's acting for Jim Collins as the official in charge of our relationship with the Newly Independent States.
That meeting broke up just before I came out. I don't have any kind of a readout on it but I do know that it was a good long meeting and a good exchange of views.
QUESTION: Could you comment something about the acquisition of MIG-29 airplanes for Peru?
MR. DAVIES: Yes. The United States is disappointed by Peru's acquisition of MIG-29 aircraft. As a guarantor of the 1942 Protocol of Peace, Friendship, and Boundaries of Rio de Janeiro, we strong urge both countries -- Peru and Ecuador -- to maintain their pledge of October 6, 1995, which is, "It is essential to avoid the risks of an arms race so as not to undermine the end of hostilities or otherwise damage the peace."
We applaud the Peruvian-Ecuadoran dialogue on security matters and urge the countries to develop further confidence and security-building measures. On October 29, the two countries signed an accord in Santiago which committed them to begin next month continuous talks on the substantive issues underlining the dispute.
The United States believes that finding a solution to the border dispute will allow both countries to focus their scarce financial resources on economic development and programs which support social well-being rather than on building up their militaries.
QUESTION: Couldn't this break the military agreement in the region?
MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Could this break the military agreement in the region, the potential --
MR. DAVIES: Between the two countries?
QUESTION: Yes. And another in the region?
MR. DAVIES: We have a concern about the sale. I don't have for you now an estimate that would indicate that this is somehow, in a fundamental way, going to change the military balance in the region. It's a sale -- it's an acquisition by Peru of aircraft that does give us a degree of concern.
QUESTION: The U.S. does not sell high-performance jet fighters to South America, but there are some elements in the government which think that policy should be revised. Does this sale, or purchase by the Peruvians impinge in any way on the internal debate going on on that subject?
MR. DAVIES: If I answered that question straight, I'd have to acknowledge that there is, in fact, some kind of an internal debate going on.
What I can say on the question of sales of military equipment to Latin America is that we've had a policy of restraint in our arm sales to Latin America. That policy of restraint has served us well. It's a policy that's been on the books, so to speak, for sometime; for decades, really.
Right now, George, I don't have any plans to report to you that we're going to change it.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on a possible trip to North Korea by Congressman Bill Richardson?
MR. DAVIES: I do. Our understanding is that Congressman Richardson intends on traveling to North Korea next week. Obviously, for details on what he plans to do, you would want to get in touch with Congressman Richardson or his office.
His plan, specifically, as we understand it, is to seek the release of the detained American citizen, Evan Carl Hunziker. Details of the trip and of this plan to obtain Mr. Hunziker's release have yet to fully finalized, so I don't want to get out in front of the Congressman.
But I can say, though this is a trip that he is taking on his own hook, the Administration fully supports it. We view it as an important humanitarian mission. As I say, if you would like more details, you might want to talk to him.
One additional detail I can give you is that he will be accompanied by a working-level State Department official.
QUESTION: On the question about arms, do you have something on Czech arms in Zaire?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on Czech arms in Zaire.
QUESTION: Back on Richardson, is he going to raise other issues such as the submarine incident?
MR. DAVIES: George, you would have to ask him. What we're aware of is that he's going primarily on a humanitarian mission to seek the release of Mr. Hunziker. We've called on the North Koreans repeatedly to release Hunziker. We hope very much that if Richardson is going -- and we understand he will next week -- that he will obtain Hunziker's release and bring him because, because Hunziker is an innocent man.
QUESTION: Have you had any recent contact with the North Koreans concerning this trip? Do you have any idea of --
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any specifics to report to you. You know that we talk on occasion to North Korean officials in New York.
QUESTION: Do you know what time that was?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know. Those are fairly frequent contacts. We have them, I would say, almost on a weekly basis. I don't know if we've had one recently.
QUESTION: A follow-up.
MR. DAVIES: A follow-up? Yes.
QUESTION: North Korea. This working-level official will have contact with the North Korean Government? The State Department --
MR. DAVIES: The working-level official traveling with him?
MR. DAVIES: I assume so, since he'll be with Mr. Richardson.
QUESTION: Which kind of subjects he or she will talk with North Korea?
MR. DAVIES: The focus of this trip is to talk to the North Koreans and to seek the release of Evan Carl Hunziker who has been held now for some time and who ought to be released by the North Koreans. We've called for him to be released. Beyond that, I don't have any further information.
QUESTION: About the trip of Senator Arlen Spector in Damascus yesterday, is this mission coordinated with the government on behalf of the President?
MR. DAVIES: No. This is a mission that Senator Spector is engaged in on his own. It's not a mission that he is on on behalf of the United States Government. He's not carrying any messages from the Administration. He's not traveling at our request. That's another case where you ought to address questions about it to his office.
QUESTION: A Israeli-Syrian summit in Washington, do you think that's a valid suggestion?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have a particular reaction to that. Obviously, the work he's doing is work in the cause of peace. Therefore, as a general matter, we support his efforts; we support the efforts of anybody seeking reconciliation and peace between those two nations.
But as to specifics, I think we'll wait until Senator Spector comes back. Perhaps we can have a talk with him and decide what progress, if any, he's made and take it from there.
QUESTION: On the Iran-Chinese relationship.
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
QUESTION: We've been framing these questions in relation to missiles or radar technology. Does the United States know of any large sale of chemical warfare components from China to Iran?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on that. I really don't. The issue of the sale of chemical weapons, precursors, falls squarely in the same category as some of these other allegations that have been made.
As the Secretary discussed at length in his press statement of yesterday, we have, on non-proliferation issues -- on missile non- proliferation and on chemicals -- worked intensively with the Chinese Government discussing these areas. The Secretary went into this in some detail. He talked, for instance, about missile non-proliferation and said, in his meetings with the Chinese, both countries reiterated their October 1994 joint statement commitment on missile proliferation that, of course, the Secretary signed with Vice Premier Qian Qichen on chemical weapons.
The Secretary pointed out that the United States and China agreed to seek ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention by the end of April 1997, so that both nations can be original parties to the Convention. We think that's significant.
In addition, on the issue of advanced conventional arms, the U.S. stressed the risk that it posed for the stability of the Persian Gulf to sell any such arms to Iran.
So they had a long discussion on non-proliferation issues, generally.
The Secretary described the result of the meeting as having advanced our cooperation in this area of very vital interest to both countries.
QUESTION: Before, when I asked a question, you said that you have a concern about Iran -- Iranian sales. However, to Syria, we know that a couple of weeks ago we heard some press report that the Russians are building some chemical factory in the Syrian territory. Also now, they're upgrading their SCUD missiles to extend their ranges.
You have diplomatic relations with Syria. Did you raise the subject? Did you raise this as your concern? What's going on?
MR. DAVIES: I can't confirm for you specifically that we raised that report or that concern.
I can tell you, in general, that we do raise with the Syrian Government these same non-proliferation issues. The Secretary of State has had many opportunities, in fact, to do so and he's done so many times. But I don't have anything specifically or in particular on that report of a chemical weapons factory.
QUESTION: Another subject. Today's Washington Post reports that Yugoslavia is in a smuggling business, including some drugs to Europe and the Western world. They are coming all the way from the East and transferring to the West. Also, some money, for laundering purposes, goes to Cyprus. Do you have anything to say about this subject?
MR. DAVIES: On the issue, generally, of smuggling through Serbia by Serbian individuals, during the period when the embargo was in place, there was developed in Serbia several systems or networks to smuggle all manner of goods through Serbia.
It's clearly still the case that some of these systems or networks continue to exist. What I don't have anything on for you, in specific terms, is the continuing involvement of anyone in the government with those smuggling activities. But is there still smuggling through Serbia? I don't think there's any question about that.
QUESTION: What about the money laundering?
MR. DAVIES: I would guess that that's an active sub-set of smuggling. There may well still be money laundering that occurs through Serbia.
QUESTION: The point, however, that the "product" is coming from Turkey, too, and then it goes to Cyprus. I would like you to comment?
MR. DAVIES: What I remember about that map is that it's sort of tentacles from all over the place.
QUESTION: Very important. Because it's a two-way traffic all the way from Turkey all the way to Europe.
MR. DAVIES: That wasn't a question, but thank you for adding that.
Yes, Charlie. You had a question? OK. I'm going to come here first.
QUESTION: I just want to know if there's an update on the whereabouts of the DART team, and any numbers on the refugee flowing into Rwanda?
MR. DAVIES: Sure. The DART team, yesterday, was able to get into Bukavu. We don't yet have from them a report on what they found but they are at work in Bukavu looking at conditions on the ground there -- the southern end of Lake Kivu.
We don't yet have for you any kind of very specific analysis of either numbers or position of the refugees in eastern Zaire. We are continuing to look at the situation to gather information, both to the extent we can, over eastern Zaire but also through sources in Rwanda, sources elsewhere in Zaire -- in Kinshasa.
Of course, everyone has seen these reports of perhaps a rather large group of refugees -- 100,000 is a figure that is often used -- that is somewhere between Bukavu and Goma to the west of Lake Kivu. Those reports appear credible to us, but we haven't yet confirmed them.
QUESTION: Back on China. Apparently coinciding with the Secretary's visit, the Chinese military announced that war games had taken place in the Yellow Sea. I'm not clear whether it was Taiwan-related or not. Are you alarmed by this development, or are you pretty relaxed about it?
MR. DAVIES: I would say we're more relaxed than alarmed about these developments. We've seen the reports. We're looking into the reports.
This is a different situation, of course, than the exercises that we saw in the vicinity of Taiwan at the time of the Taiwan elections. These do not appear to be anywhere near as provocative in terms of military exercises. But we're watching them, and we have an interest in them.
QUESTION: Let me try. As you know, Glyn, yesterday, I asked a question about Turkish-Greek tensions with the European Union that seems to have brought the NATO operations to a deadlock. Yesterday, you didn't have anything to say on it. Do you have --
MR. DAVIES: I did have something to say on it. I talked about not getting into specifically talking about European security architecture, the back and forth among the Europeans. There's no margin in it for us to weigh into that and comment on it.
QUESTION: So you won't say anything about it? Today, I'm asking if you would have anything to say about it?
MR. DAVIES: There you go. I've said what I'm going to say about it today.
QUESTION: There are some reports that the United States is willing to broker an agreement between Greece and Turkey on that issue within NATO?
MR. DAVIES: I can't confirm those for you. I don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: Do you deny those reports?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not denying it. I just simply don't have anything on it. We're always looking to be helpful. Whether we have offered our services here, I don't know.
QUESTION: Glyn, do you have any comment on what the WTO said on Helms-Burton?
MR. DAVIES: Yes, I have something on that. Of course, this relates to the European Commission, having started panel proceedings in Geneva, I believe yesterday, against the Helms-Burton Act and other U.S.-Cuba laws.
Our position is that we've not ruled out any options we may want to pursue at a later stage. But we have noted before that Helms-Burton and other laws are grounded in long-standing foreign policy and security concerns of the United States.
For these reasons, we don't believe that they are the sorts of measures that should be placed in front of a trade panel. We're confident that the Helms-Burton Act is fully consistent with our international trade obligations. We don't think yesterday's action by the European Commission should divert attention from the need for a more active approach to promoting democracy in Cuba.
The U.S. and the EU and, in fact, others, we believe, should keep the focus on achieving this shared goal of bringing democracy to Cuba.
As for the process itself, the proceedings that have begun, the World Trade Organization rules call for the two parties to try to agree on three panelists drawn from countries that are not parties in the case. If they can't agree, either party can ask the WTO Director General to choose the panelists in consultation with the parties. That's a process that has yet to begin.
QUESTION: I would like to revisit the Zaire numbers.
MR. DAVIES: Okay, sure.
QUESTION: I'm a little bit lost. Yesterday, you said perhaps 600,000 have returned to Rwanda.
MR. DAVIES: That's correct.
QUESTION: Today, you're saying that there are perhaps up to 100,000 on the move between Bukavu and --
MR. DAVIES: Or more. It could be more.
QUESTION: The "or more" is the part that I'm curious about because we didn't start off at 1.1 million. Two days ago, you were talking 4- to 500,000 perhaps still in --
MR. DAVIES: Howard, what we try to do in the spirit of openness is relay to you essentially the variety of numbers that are coming at us -- the United States Government -- from different sources.
We all -- all of us, including the United States Government -- heard the UNHCR talk about 1.1 million refugees as the grand total from which you could subtract 5- to-600,00 who have now repatriated themselves in Rwanda, leaving up to a half million still in eastern Zaire. That's, I guess, the outside limit. It could be the case that in some fashion you have something on that magnitude as the problem in eastern Zaire.
What I was doing a minute ago is simply talking about the largest group of refugees, at least according to reports that we've got, which is this group of 100,000. I'm being conservative. It could be more. We've seen reports of up to 200,000 who, we understand from reports, may have gone from the Bukavu area northward, along the western edge of Lake Kivu, toward Goma.
There are, we believe, other groups of refugees. Their size, their precise location and their condition, we don't know.
QUESTION: This looks like it's gone from half full to half empty in the space of a day in terms of the kind of numbers that you're putting out here?
MR. DAVIES: No.
QUESTION: The UNHCR is still estimating --
MR. DAVIES: The UNHCR, in fact --
QUESTION: --700,000 using aerial surveillance data from the U.S.
MR. DAVIES: They even talked about more. They talked about 700,000 on occasion, who are still in eastern Zaire. I'm not in a position -- I don't think anybody in the U. S Government is -- to stand up here and confirm that. The problem, the counting problem, all stems from the fact that these many hundreds of thousands of refugees were never registered. So you don't have anywhere any kind of a registry or a list or an accounting or a computer tape that would help you know precisely how many refugees we began with. And you can overlay on top of that the problem of the displaced Zairians. You can talk about Burundian refugees, and there are still many tens of thousands of those. And you can even start subdividing the refugees and talking about the fighters, the Interahamwe, the Ex-Far, as against those civilians who are with them.
So, it's very complicated, remains complicated. The effort of the United States Government all around the world and certainly increasingly in the region, as we move people into Rwanda and get them into eastern Zaire, is to find out what the condition of the refugees is and to try to establish a plan of what is needed to actually do something about their fate in eastern Zaire. We are not there yet.
QUESTION: Is there any more on the Serb elections?
MR. DAVIES: I'm more than happy to reiterate what I said yesterday which still stands very much, which is that the municipal elections in Serbia are a source of concern to the United States because, according to the reports that we have received, there have been efforts by, we believe, the government to affect the process of vote counting.
Now our understanding is that the together party, the Zajedno Party, has in fact now come into possession of the governance of Belgrade, the capital, but there are in other parts of Serbia, in other municipalities, still on-going disputes about who won the elections. We are very concerned at signs that in fact the counting is being monkeyed perhaps by Serbian authorities. And we would call on the Serbian authorities not to do so, to create more openness in the process, and to resolve this issue in a democratic fashion of precisely who won in these various municipalities around Serbia.
Yes. Do you have a follow-up, George?
QUESTION: No. I want to change the subject.
MR. DAVIES: Okay. Do you have another question there?
QUESTION: On Panama. Apparently negotiations to extend U. S. military presence there after 2000 have broken down. Do you have anything on that?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on that. You are talking about the effort being led on our side, I think, by Ambassador John Negroponte, who is engaged in looking at the issue of what is to become of our presence in that part of the world when current agreements end.
I don't have any kind of an update. I can't report to you the fact negotiations have broken down or what their status is, but that's something I could look into for you, sure.
QUESTION: The Government of Ghana has apparently expressed an interest in promoting the candidacy of Kofi Annan as a potential successor to Boutros Boutros-Ghali now that the U. S. has cast a veto concerning Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Do you have anything to say about what the Ghanian Foreign Minister said yesterday?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to say beyond what we have said in the past, which is that the United States hopes very much that African nations come forward with candidates for the post of Secretary General. We think that given the fact that we have decided that Boutros-Ghali should not serve a second term, that we should, first and foremost, look at African candidates for the job. We, the international community, ought to give African candidates pride of place in the consideration of who should be the next Secretary General of the United Nations.
So we welcome all ideas that come from African nations both individually and collectively as we work through this process and there are not very many weeks left until the end of the year. We would hope that this could all move in an accelerated fashion, and that the vote of the other day in which the United States cast a vote against his candidacy could now be put behind us, and we could move on to the issue of who is to succeed Boutros-Ghali as Secretary General.
QUESTION: Do you think Kofi Annan would be a good candidate for -- ?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think it is a good idea for me to commit the United States Government one way or the other to Kofi Annan or anyone else. We think that there are any number of qualified candidates in Africa, men and women who could fit the bill, and we are very attentive to some of the ideas being put forward.
QUESTION: The Foreign Ministry spokesman of Turkey said yesterday that it will be wrong to link the Cobra, Super Cobra helicopter sales to human rights conditions in Turkey. He seems to have indicated that the United States is preventing the sale because of human rights concerns in Turkey. So, could you comment on that?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have an update for you on Cobra sales to Turkey. I am happy to look into that to see if I can develop something.
QUESTION: What is the last situation on the sale? Are you considering their approval in the near future?
MR. DAVIES: I believe that that approval is now in the process, in the notification approval process, as regards to the Congress. I don't have anything specifically on it, but I am happy to look into it for you.
Yes. Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:02 p.m.) (###)
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