U.S. Department of State 96/11/25 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Monday, November 25, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies ANNOUNCEMENTS Welcome to First Secretary and Assistant to the Ambassador of the Embassy of Belarus in Washington DC and to Asst. Trade Officer at the Royal Danish Embassy. 1 US Rejects Annulment of Results of Municipal Elections in Serbia............................................. 1 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Irregularities in Election Procedures/US Contacts with Serbian Officials...................................... 1-6 IRAQ Possible UNSC Action on Resolution 986................... 6-7 NORTH KOREA Rep. Bill Richardson's Efforts to Secure Release of Evan Carl Hunziker..................................... 7 AZERBAIJAN Election by Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh................ 8-9 BELARUS Procedural Flaws in Nov. 24 Referendum.................. 9-11 Removal of Remaining SS-25 Missiles and Warheads......... 10 IRAQ U.S. Evacuation of Local Employees of US-based or U.S.-funded NGOs/Status of Humanitarian Effort......... 11-15 SAUDI ARABIA Ongoing Investigation into Al-Khobar Bombing............. 15 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Report of Israeli Settlements on Golan Heights........... 15 Travel by Sen. Arlen Specter............................. 16 AEGEAN Proposals to Resolve Greek-Turkish Disputes.............. 17 COLOMBIA US Criteria for Provision of Counter-Narcotics Assistance 18-19 Allegation by Human Rights Watch of Improper Use of US Military Equipment.................................. 18,26-28 RWANDA/ZAIRE Stuttgart and Geneva Meetings on Multinational Force and Relief Aid............................................. 19-23 * Options for a Multinational Force................... 20 * RUSSIA Meeting Between Deputy Secretary Talbott and Russian Ambassador Vorontsov re: Nicholson Spy Case............ 23 Intelligence Operations in the Post-Cold War Period...... 24-26 GREECE/TURKEY Report of Presidential Travel to the Aegean.............. 28 CUBA Amb. Eizenstat Travel to Europe for Discussions on Implementation of Helms-Burton Legislation............. 28
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1996, 1:15 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Hello. Welcome to the State Department briefing, and welcome to two visitors: Mr. Valentin Rybakov, First Secretary and Assistant to the Ambassador at the Embassy of Belarus in Washington -- over there (indicating); welcome to you, sir -- and to Mr. Flemming Petersen, Assistant Trade Officer at the Royal Danish Embassy in Washington. Welcome; welcome to you.
I have just one announcement before going to your questions. It's an announcement on the Serbian municipal elections.
The United States considers totally unacceptable actions taken to annul the results of the Serbian municipal elections last week in which the opposition won control of several important city governments, including Belgrade. Such a step undermines the election process and invalidates Serbia's claim to be a state evolving towards democracy.
In our contacts with President Milosevic and other senior officials, we have repeatedly stressed that stability and progress in the region require more than the implementation of the letter of the Dayton Peace Agreement. In the recent meetings in Paris, Secretary Christopher emphasized to Foreign Minister Milutinovic that Serbia could not expect to rejoin the international community until it demonstrated commitment to developing into a modern, open and democratic society. The U.S. Chief of Mission in Belgrade, Richard Miles, has met twice with President Milosevic in the past week to call on the authorities to respect the will of the people of Serbia.
Other U.S. officials, including Assistant Secretaries Kornblum and Shattuck, have met on numerous occasions with opposition leaders and independent media to express our support for a diversity of voices in the political process. Assistant Secretary Kornblum most recently met with these groups on November l2. We will continue this dialogue with those who support democratic reform.
Because of Serbia's failure to observe democratic principles, the United States has not recognized Belgrade. This recent action confirms our position that Serbia is not committed to meeting Western democratic standards, including respect for minority rights in Kosovo.
QUESTION: Recognition -- could you elaborate on that a little bit? I mean you've put a lot of chips on Mr. Milosevic in trying to get a settlement in Bosnia and, you know, also to stabilize the region. How are you going to shun him, so to speak? So that you both deal with him or you don't deal with him? It's a little tricky, isn't it?
MR. DAVIES: You have to deal sometimes with people who aren't exactly in your camp or share your views in order to get things done. We have maintained with the government in Belgrade for some years the so-called "outer wall" of sanctions, which include support for membership in certain international financial institutions; and, of course, this very important issue -- we believe important to the government in Belgrade -- of recognition of the Serbian Government.
We have not recognized them formally. We do not have an Ambassador in Belgrade.
We believe that they want that recognition ultimately, and so we use that as a way of leveraging the government in Serbia on various issues. We believe this is an extremely important issue. You have municipal governments having, we believe in -- by all accounts, duly elected in a number of municipalities all over Serbia; and it appears as if the central government has embarked on a campaign to deny those governments their right to be seated at the head of the municipalities.
So that's what this is all about, trying to keep --
QUESTION: -- Are there any punitive actions in the offing? It's clear what he did. I mean democratic principles are thrashed. But did he violate any particular understanding, and is there any punitive measure that he's risking now?
MR. DAVIES: What's been violated here is the understanding that all European governments have signed up to in the form of the principles at the OSCE, which as one of its central tenets holds that governments should strive toward democratic outcomes.
This is the reverse of that. In point of fact, they've done the reverse. It would seem taken elections -- taking municipalities away from those who've been elected.
QUESTION: I'm a little confused. You say that we have a U.S. Chief of Mission in Belgrade but yet we don't recognize him. But what is he doing there; who is he; what's his title?
MR. DAVIES: It's Richard Miles. He's the Charge; he's not an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. It's not diplomatic relations at the fullest state, which is to have a fully accredited Ambassador. He isn't. So we do not have an Ambassador in Belgrade essentially.
QUESTION: You have relations?
MR. DAVIES: We have an Embassy there which is staffed, which deals with the authorities in Belgrade -- absolutely.
QUESTION: So if we have an Acting Ambassador, so to speak, and a Mission dealing with the established government in Belgrade, why is that not relations?
MR. DAVIES: Jim, we believe it is a form of diplomatic relations. It's simply not the highest form of diplomatic relations, and we believe that the government in Belgrade would like very much to have full diplomatic relations with the United States.
They do not. We are denying full diplomatic relations to the government in Belgrade, and we are also denying that government support in certain international institutions which are important to them. They would like fully to participate in the international banking scene. They cannot. They can't take advantage of certain loans.
I mean there's a list that comprises the so-called "outer wall" of sanctions that we think pinches them and it hurts them.
QUESTION: It apparently doesn't hurt them all that much, Glyn. Apparently they don't care enough about those "outer wall" of sanctions to decide that they cannot afford to void democratic elections in the municipal level.
So the question obviously is: Are you planning any other steps? Are there any other punishments planned to send a message, since the "outer wall" of sanctions clearly isn't sending a message.
MR. DAVIES: David, while I don't have anything to announce right now, I wouldn't preclude that other actions might be taken; but right now, we think that the most important action that the United States Government can take is to talk about what is going on there and to basically shine a spotlight on what we believe the ruling party has been up to.
The initial count of all the votes showed the opposition, Zajedno Coalition, the togetherness coalition doing very well. It won, we believe, according to the exit polling, the leadership of Belgrade, of the large city of Nis, of Novi Sad, and other major cities.
Now we've got these credible reports that the ruling party has used its control of the electoral mechanisms to alter the vote count, and there is a bill of particulars of what the ruling party has done -- the electoral commission has done.
A number of electoral commissions at the municipal level have delayed announcing final results past the legally prescribed deadline. Those happen to all be in areas where the opposition is doing very well.
Second, some electoral commissions have annulled results in districts based on what appear to us to be dubious grounds; and almost all of those annulments reverse opposition victories.
Third, in at least one location the official electoral commission met to certify the vote in the ruling party's headquarters, which seems to us an inappropriate venue for such a decision to be made.
And then, fourth, there are reports of thugs being used to disperse opposition supporters.
So what we're going to do for today and the foreseeable future is press these concerns with senior Belgrade officials and speak out publicly.
QUESTION: How do you get this when he controls the press, he controls the media? I mean this is an authoritarian government. How do you get this message? How do you hearten the opposition? How do they know the U.S. Government feels the way it is?
I mean what do they know? They know that you have -- that the State Department, desperate to end a war, has put this guy in a pivotal position and courted him for several years now -- even depending on him, for God sakes, to apprehend war criminals.
MR. DAVIES: There's this canard out there, this assertion that the United States has somehow put Milosevic in power or has supported him --
QUESTION: -- (Inaudible) but he's the key to (inaudible) in the Balkans.
MR. DAVIES: We can't account for how, perhaps, the ruling party in Belgrade may have manipulated some of the images that have come out of the West --
QUESTION: -- Right.
MR. DAVIES: -- including Dayton --
QUESTION: -- Right.
MR. DAVIES: -- during the last year. But it's absolutely ludicrous to assert that we've somehow supported him.
QUESTION: No, it's not. I mean (inaudible) --
MR. DAVIES: -- One great example was that apparently the ruling party used footage of Dick Miles, our Charge out there, visiting a factory --
MR. DAVIES: -- to indicate that this is somehow the U.S. Government raising the flag over ruling party headquarters, and that's just absolutely not the message.
QUESTION: -- But how do you get your message across? How do other people know this?
MR. DAVIES: -- This is, I mean, you know --
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) is control (inaudible).
MR. DAVIES: -- Through you --
QUESTION: -- (Inaudible) --
MR. DAVIES: We get the message directly to President Milosevic through our senior diplomats, diplomatic means -- the public means that we've got -- by declaring today that the "outer wall" is not going to come tumbling down anytime soon if they persist in what we view as flagrant electoral irregularities.
So we've got a number of ways to do this; and I wouldn't underestimate the power of the pen, frankly, in fighting against this kind of activity.
QUESTION: A related question: Given the frustration the opposition must feel over seemingly winning these elections and having them snatched by Milosevic's (inaudible) ways of doing things, are they justified in calls to take to the streets and massive demonstrations? Does the U.S. support that kind of protest?
MR. DAVIES: We're not going to prescribe for the opposition how they should act. Obviously -- ultimately, I don't think it's a positive development for the country if these problems continue to such an extent that they develop into any kind of widespread instability or difficulties. We're not there yet so I don't mean to predict that that's at all going to happen.
People certainly in Belgrade, and I think in some of these other municipalities have a very good reason to be very, very mad.
QUESTION: What would you suggest they do given the fact that the election results obviously are being manipulated -- (inaudible) own words?
MR. DAVIES: I think if they continue to stand up for what they believe in, if the world community continues to speak out about it and if we continue to keep the pressure on the government in Belgrade, we can certainly hope that they get that message loudly and clearly and that we see some of these irregularities abandoned and some of these false results that they've announced reversed.
QUESTION: Speaking of sanctions, have you seen the letter from Iraq saying that it would adhere to the conditions of 986?
MR. DAVIES: I haven't seen the letter, Jim, but I've seen the reports. What I would do is direct your attention a little later in the day to New York where I think there may be something said about what is going on right now in the Security Council on 986. I don't want to jump the gun and get out ahead of Madeleine Albright.
QUESTION: Not that I know them, but you have conditions. The conditions remain intact? I couldn't recite them. But there's no change in the conditions?
MR. DAVIES: There's one in particular that I think may be at issue today, and that is this question of the so-called oil price mechanism. Jim, don't ask me a bunch of specific questions on this, because you're not going to like what -- just a warning, pre-emptively.
QUESTION: But the mechanism is in place, isn't it?
MR. DAVIES: The mechanism -- I don't know if the mechanism is in place. I think there's a lot of action occurring up in New York today. I don't want to get out ahead of it, and I think Madeleine -- she may have something to say.
QUESTION: Speaking about getting out ahead of it, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is a little bit ahead of the release of that Washington State fellow --
MR. DAVIES: Even Carl Hunziker.
QUESTION: Are you confident he'll be breathing free air?
MR. DAVIES: What I'm going to say is that the United States Government hopes that, indeed, the Government of North Korea releases Evan Carl Hunziker. They have no grounds to hold him, as we've said for some time.
Representative Bill Richardson arrived today in Pyongyang this morning, Washington time. He's there to seek the release of Evan Carl Hunziker. We anticipate that Bill Richardson, we hope with Mr. Hunziker alongside, will return through Japan, through Yokoto Air Force Base Tuesday evening local time. But I don't want to talk about -- I don't want to jinx this release. I think it's important that Mr. Richardson be allowed to do his work. Let's all hope that Evan Carl Hunziker comes home soon.
QUESTION: Will it be humanitarian action if he's out, or has the U.S. been compelled to backtrack a little bit?
MR. DAVIES: What I don't want to talk about are some of the diplomatic discussions surrounding his release. Perhaps we can fill you in on it later. Maybe not. We'll have to see.
QUESTION: Did the United States send an apology or anything like it?
MR. DAVIES: Has the United States sent an apology?
QUESTION: Did the United States send North Korean an apology or --
MR. DAVIES: The United States has not sent any apology. There's nothing to apologize for.
Evan Hunziker was operating on his own when he did what he did, which to cross the Yalu River -- apparently swam the Yalu River -- across the Yalu River, according to the reports -- and then was picked up by the North Koreans. He's been held for sometime unjustly. We'd like to see him released.
Is this a question on North Korea.
QUESTION: Will the release of Hunziker change the U.S. actions -- U.S. kind of attitude toward North Korea -- U.S.-North Korean relations?
MR. DAVIES: We don't view this case as at all linked to the other efforts underway to try to get the North Koreans to sign up to the Four- Party talks proposal. It certainly isn't linked in our minds to the KEDO process, the Agreed Framework of shutting down North Korea's nuclear program. All of that work goes on. It's off to the side of this. This is a separate -- you can call it humanitarian action that's being taken.
QUESTION: On those other issues, about a month ago the U.S. Ambassador to Seoul -- Ambassador Laney -- said at the National Press Club that the dialogue with North Korea cannot be resumed unless there was a formal or explicit apology from North Korea about the sub affair. Is that still the U.S. Government position? Or was it the U.S. Government position?
MR. DAVIES: The U.S. Government position is and has been that North Korea should undertake a significant gesture toward South Korea in the wake of the sub incident of September. Because of course, that was that incursion by a submarine into South Korean waters and the landing of a couple of dozen North Korean operatives on South Korean soil was very, very provocative to South Korea.
We believe that the relationship between those two, which is what's at stake here, what's important, can really only be mended completely or brought back to the stage that it was at if the North Koreans make a significant gesture toward the South.
QUESTION: Could you define "significant?"
MR. DAVIES: That is between the authorities in North Korea and the authorities in South Korea. The North Koreans don't owe us anything on that. They owe South Korea a gesture on that.
QUESTION: Another subject.
MR. DAVIES: Same subject? Different subject?
QUESTION: Glyn, the Armenian rebels from Nagorno-Karabakh, they held an election recently. According to the U.S. policy and the plan, how do you see that this election -- are you recognizing this election process as a legal something? Or do you see this process as a partition of Azerbaijan?
MR. DAVIES: I simply don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: Can you take the question?
MR. DAVIES: I'm happy to look into it. Sure. Happy to do that.
QUESTION: Do you have any comments on the recent events in Belarus?
MR. DAVIES: Yes, I do. That's another area, in fact, where we have some significant concerns because the government crisis continues there, unfortunately. We are quite disappointed that in Belarus yesterday the government went ahead with this referendum that has been labeled by the OSCE and other international organizations as deprived of legitimacy. We associate ourselves with those words.
Why deprived of legitimacy? Because in our view, there has not been anything like an open and adequate debate; and there have been other serious electoral irregularities: One such being the fact that the referendum -- the text of the referendum -- hasn't been made available to the bulk of those being asked to vote.
We don't view the process in Belarus as either free or fair in this referendum. It systematically deprived the opposition an opportunity to present its views.
The ruling party used the public media as a forum for just one point of view, and there were other procedural flaws.
Something can be done about this by the Government of Belarus. It is in a position, still, to declare that the results of the referendum be non-binding. That would leave the door open for compromise and signal that the Executive Branch and parliament are willing to adhere to constitutional and international democratic norms.
So the bottom line of the United States is that we call on all parties to abide by OSCE principles and to pursue a course that avoids violence, coercion, and confrontation.
President Lukashenko should seek compromise here, not confrontation. Because confrontation is not what is going to bring his country through this.
QUESTION: A question about Belarus' nuclear arsenals; some discussion about whether or not its warheads have been transferred?
MR. DAVIES: There is some good news on that, and that is that in the next little while -- the next couple of days -- our understanding is that the remaining SS-25 missiles and their warheads will be removed from Belarus as was agreed previously.
It may be the case, in fact, that the warheads themselves are already out of Belarus, though I did hear a report that they may be saving one for kind of a ceremonial conveyance across the border a little bit later on.
We're continuing to seek additional information about the status of the missiles and the warheads and the schedule for their removal, but we expect Belarus to carry out its commitment to become nuclear-free on schedule. Right now, it appears that they are.
QUESTION: The elections?
MR. DAVIES: More on the elections, sure.
QUESTION: Were there any international observers watching the voting in Belarus?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not aware of any.
QUESTION: -- or U.S. Embassy officials out watching the voting? There are allegations by Victor Gonchar, who was until very recently the man in charge of the voting, that there was massive fraud; that the voting going up 26 percent in a couple of hours, he said that was an impossible thing and that, therefore, there must have been massive fraud. What does the Embassy tell you?
MR. DAVIES: Our Embassy confirms to us some of the things I've listed. The government has deprived the opposition a chance to use the news media to present its views, so the people have only gotten one message, really, from the news media that there were a number of procedural flaws in this process, including, as I said, the one report that people didn't get a chance to even read what it was they were voting on which seems to me like kind of a major flaw.
That's essentially our read on this from our Embassy. I don't know that there were international observers there. I don't think there were. I could check that. We can look into that.
Certainly, our Embassy in Belarus -- in Minsk -- was active and was out and about, but I don't know how systematic they can be. It's not a huge mission that we've got there.
QUESTION: Can you tell us about the NGO workers in northern Iraq? What we're going to do with them?
MR. DAVIES: That is a newsy day. Yes, it is true, as has been reported, that the United States will evacuate the non-governmental organization employees from northern Iraq. Those are Kurds, but others as well, not simply ethnic Kurds. We intend to move forward with the departure from northern Iraq of local employees of U.S.-funded and/or U.S.-based NGOs and their family members.
We're right now discussing practical requirements of timing with the Government of Turkey, though I can signal to you that this is something that will occur in the near term, in a matter of we think just a few weeks.
We've been considering this for some time. Those of you who were with us back when we brought the others out a couple of months ago will remember long discussions of what to do about the employees of U.S. NGOs.
We've been since then reviewing constantly their situation. We, of course, brought the highest groups out first. There are roughly 5,000 people in question here -- the employees of about 24 organizations that are either based here in the United States or funded by the U.S. Government or both. They will be brought out of northern Iraq as were the others, through Turkey. They'll be taken to Guam, to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, where they will be processed for asylum following the same procedure used for the other two groups.
MR. DAVIES: Pardon me?
QUESTION: How would you describe this situation? This has been going on for some time and now you're moving on it. Are they at risk right now?
MR. DAVIES: We believe they're at sufficient risk that they should be brought out of northern Iraq. As I said, we've been looking constantly at the security situation and we've been -- this has been no small feat -- working very hard to sort all of this out. We are talking about 24 organizations.
We're talking about people who are not card-carrying U.S. Government employees as were those in the first group brought out. So there was a logistical challenge to all of this as well.
We think conditions are sufficiently risky for them still that they should be brought out; we should go forward with this.
QUESTION: Aren't many of them in hiding? Do you have any idea how easy or difficult --
MR. DAVIES: I don't have particulars on that. It did take some time to coordinate, obviously, who these folks were; get lists of them, find out where they were and arrange for them to get across the border.
QUESTION: What's changed in their situation? At first, their plight was considered to be somewhat risky and due consideration was being given to getting them out. Then the last time we raised the issue a couple of weeks ago, they seem to be --
MR. DAVIES: I don't think we ever changed our assessment of -- I don't think --
QUESTION: -- (Inaudible) climbing down in terms of whether this was going to be expedited at all. All of a sudden they're in greater danger?
MR. DAVIES: No, I didn't say that. We've been looking at this constantly. I think they've always been in a degree of danger -- in a serious and enough degree of danger -- that some action needed to be taken. There was, in all of this, the question of being certain that indeed there was sufficient danger that they ought to be brought out because this is a huge undertaking -- 5,000 people, taking them halfway around the world to Guam and processing them for resettlement in the United States is not something that you do lightly.
In essence, the situation for them hasn't gotten better. So we decided, on balance, that since we can do it, we should do it and we went ahead and made this decision.
QUESTION: There was a Republican Guard unit that had been put on alert on Friday. Is your decision to bring these people out related to that? Do you have any update information on any threat assessment?
MR. DAVIES: I can't say that it is related to those reports. I've seen those same reports. I'm not in a position now really to go into any detail on those reports. I simply can't help you with it.
QUESTION: Do you know if the threat continues, if they are still on alert?
MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry. If the threat of the Iraqi National Guard . . .
QUESTION: Do you know if that unit is still on alert?
MR. DAVIES: I do not know. I don't know. If I knew, it would probably be derived from intelligence sources and, therefore, couldn't confirm it.
QUESTION: I was waiting to follow on Barry.
MR. DAVIES: Go ahead. We'll run the tape back.
QUESTION: This was brought up several times in here. Myself asked at least once, maybe twice, about these NGO employees.
Glyn, could you say -- does the State Department now see that these people have been at risk since the Iraqi incursion and continued to be at risk for this time that they have been still in Iraq in danger?
Once again, on Barry's question, any idea as to their current status? Are they in danger currently and need to be extricated?
MR. DAVIES: I think I answered that. We wouldn't be extricating them if we didn't think there was a degree of danger involved here. We can go all the way back.
QUESTION: There's an urgency then?
MR. DAVIES: We can go all the way back to what triggered all of this, which is the invasion by Saddam Hussein's divisions across that line in the sand that the international community had drawn to protect the Kurds into the city of Irbil where, of course, the security situation was changed. Number one.
Number two, if he could do that once, he can certainly do it again. First at risk were those who actually had ID cards that said, "I work for Uncle Sam." Second at risk were those who were with the Iraqi opposition, the 600 or so that we brought out -- direct targets, we believe of Saddam Hussein's repressive machine.
But third at risk -- a sufficient degree of risk -- are these people who work for organizations that are tied to the United States. That was the progression, in our analysis. We've simply followed through on what we indicated from the beginning was a possibility.
QUESTION: Have any (inaudible) captured by Saddam's security people?
MR. DAVIES: I can't report to you that any have. Now, they won't be able to be captured by Saddam's security people unless he can somehow get to Andersen Air Force Base.
Are we still on this?
QUESTION: Same subject. After the Ankara meetings, both Kurdish factions -- is there security or guarantee for this groups' security?
You are reaching in right now is the food-for-oil and the distribution of this material. You are withdrawing, at the same time, all of the NGOs. How can you -- are you planning to change your northern Iraq's policy or strategy? Or do you feel that something is different than your plan and programs enacted in northern Iraq?
MR. DAVIES: No. I don't have any fundamental changes to report to you on U.S. policy. I think I've pretty much already addressed that question of the level of risk and whether or not it's oscillated in the past.
Right now, as I said, it's sufficient to bring these people out.
QUESTION: You withdrawal all of the Iraqi opposition. Now you are withdrawing all the NGOs. How can you --
MR. DAVIES: Not all the NGOs. Remember, just those from the 24 organizations that are either U.S.-based or that receive money from the United States Government; all of those people who kind of bear the mark of the United States on them. We're completing that process, bringing all of those people out.
QUESTION: You are withdrawing now 5,000 more?
MR. DAVIES: That's right. That's what I've just announced.
QUESTION: If Irbil remains under the effective control of Iraq, can the U.S. support an aid-for-oil deal?
MR. DAVIES: I didn't characterize the state of play in Irbil today. I'm frankly not prepared to do that. I don't have what I need to do that with you today.
Again, I'm not going to pre-empt what action I think is to occur at the United Nations in the next few minutes or hours.
QUESTION: The end of "Operative Provide Comfort," is there anything left?
MR. DAVIES: Certainly, "Operative Provide Comfort" no longer has the ground element that it had before Saddam Hussein took his aggressive action.
The flight denial regime is still in force and there are still flights by allied aircraft/U.S. aircraft included over northern Iraq to ensure that Saddam Hussein does not fly his combat aircraft in that part of Iraq. So that is still very much in place. The UN resolutions still retain their full force.
QUESTION: Meaning, humanitarian flights. Are they still going in, at least?
MR. DAVIES: That, I could check. There are still, certainly, humanitarian groups working in northern Iraq. There are a number that are not associated with the United States that are very much operating there.
The humanitarian effort in northern Iraq has not shut down.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on this story in the Washington Times this morning about the explosion that happened in Saudi Arabia, where it leads to? What happened, who did it, and all of these implications on the story?
MR. DAVIES: I don't. I'm going to leave that to the FBI to comment on. Good luck with them.
QUESTION: The Netanyahu government, in the front page stories of the Israeli newspapers, Friday, is that the Netanyahu government is planning to build three settlements in the Golan Heights. What is the position of the United States Government knowing that Egypt attacked this severely this morning. President Mubarak said that this is a call for ending all the peace process in the whole Middle East?
MR. DAVIES: Abdulsalam, our position on settlements hasn't changed. You've heard it so many times, I'm not even going to repeat it -- unhelpful, complicating, is our position on settlements.
QUESTION: That analysis doesn't help the peace process?
MR. DAVIES: It's unhelpful to the peace process and it complicates the peace process.
QUESTION: What peace process was there with Syria before this announcement was made?
MR. DAVIES: There are still ongoing discussions with the Syrians, certainly, that we're having. Senator Specter, in fact, gave it a crack just recently. We continue to talk to Syrian Government officials about some of the possibilities that are out there. I certainly don't have any announcements, unfortunately today, to make about meetings to occur or concrete actions that will occur.
QUESTION: An announcement like yesterday, Glyn, on the eve of Senator Specter being there in Damascus and bringing some good thoughts, or something -- some ideas about the beginning of the peace process between Israel and Syria -- does this serve the whole environment, to create a good environment?
MR. DAVIES: Senator Specter was there on his own hook. We certainly applauded the effort that he undertook, but I'm not going to try to analyze the juxtaposition of his trip with some of these actions being taken by Israel.
QUESTION: The Christian Science Monitor had a story this morning that Mr. Netanyahu is reaching out to the other opposition party in order to build a national unity government because things are not moving in the peace process. How does the United States Government look onto this idea of Israel establishing by itself a government of national unity?
MR. DAVIES: That would get me so far into Israeli internal politics that you would never get me out, so I'm not going to do that.
QUESTION: You say that there have been contacts. The Syrians are saying that there have been no contacts for the last year, essentially, except through the Monitoring Group which has nothing to do with --
MR. DAVIES: I didn't say "Israeli-Syrian." The United States continues -- we have Ambassador Chris Ross and a team in Damascus which is unstinting in its efforts to probe for openings here and to try to find ways -- come up with ideas for advancing the peace process. That's what I meant. I didn't mean to suggest that there were any meetings that you all hadn't heard about.
Can we do Mr. Lambros first? I'll feel better when --
QUESTION: Once again, you're former negotiator Richard Holbrooke proposed a Dayton-type process for the solution of the Turkish claims against Greece in the Aegean and for the termination of the 22 years of Turkish invasion/occupation of the Republic of Cyprus. Any comment?
MR. DAVIES: No comment on that. This is Mr. Holbrooke?
MR. DAVIES: One more question, Mr. Lambros. So pick from your list of other questions.
QUESTION: Actually, this Richard Holbrooke, the (Inaudible) camera- hungry negotiator --
MR. DAVIES: I'm sorry, I did not follow that.
QUESTION: I'm saying that he's been characterized by (inaudible) as a camera-hungry negotiator?
MR. DAVIES: Goodness! I wouldn't dare to characterize --
QUESTION: -- According to a U.S. memo, the upcoming agreement for the partition of Greece in the Aegean might include the creation of gray areas with the Greek islets, establishment of free corridors lanes, adoption of new limits of the territorial waters in conjunction with the delimitation of the continental shelf, modification of the Athens FIR to serve (inaudible); delimitation of the (inaudible) to areas of responsibility for military control; information, if necessary, confidence-building measures.
Could you please confirm and comment?
MR. DAVIES: You managed to ask all your questions at once. I cannot confirm that.
QUESTION: It's a statement by a memo. Could you please confirm?
MR. DAVIES: I can't confirm that because I haven't seen the statement. Thanks for asking anyway.
Did you have a question, sir? No, you didn't. (Laughter) You're supposed to say yes.
QUESTION: Can you shed any light on the situation --
MR. DAVIES: I'll come right back to that. Let me go here first.
QUESTION: There are a couple of (inaudible) on human rights in Colombia today. There's an editorial in the New York Times that criticizes the United States for its position on sending military aid in Colombia.
It says that the United States needs to do more to ensure that its assistance is not misused. The second thing, there is a report coming out of Bogota and Washington today by Human Rights Watch that basically calls, as Amnesty International did a month ago, for the U.S. to suspend all aid to the military in Colombia because of human rights abuses by the Colombian military. Do you have any comment on this?
MR. DAVIES: We provide counter-narcotics equipment to a number of countries, including Colombia, certainly Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia are among the countries to which we provide counter-narcotics aid.
We provide all of this aid -- in some cases, this is military material or equipment -- under bilateral agreements which commit the recipient to use the items solely to fight the narcotics trafficking in their nations.
All of the assistance that we provide conforms with U.S. Congressional requirements which essentially stipulate that the equipment is to be used for counter-narcotics purposes.
We, in addition to that, have monitoring programs, the so-called "end use monitoring programs" to follow up on this equipment, to review how it's being used to make sure that it complies with the terms of its delivery. In essence, we'll continue to take all the steps needed to monitor compliance with these agreements.
If we find that any of this equipment is being used in ways incompatible with the agreements, then we'll take the appropriate action. There have been reports, on occasion, of this kind of activity.
In each case, we've followed up and obtained satisfaction.
QUESTION: The editorial in the New York Times says that State Department officials now acknowledge they could not track the aid sent to Colombia?
MR. DAVIES: That we could not tie the aid?
QUESTION: It says that State Department officials now acknowledge they could not track the aid sent to Colombia?
MR. DAVIES: No. I don't think that's the case at all. We have a program in place and we follow up vigorously. Whether it's possible to follow up on how every particular item is used on any given day, that probably gets us a bit beyond our capabilities.
If a helicopter, for instance, is used in a counter-insurgency manner as opposed to a counter-narcotics manner, and that is a pattern, we pick that up. We take action.
QUESTION: In that human rights organization, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have implicated the United States in helping to support these people who (inaudible) guerrillas, the Colombian military, and the rightist. Are you going to plan any investigation into this? Is the State Department planning to launch any investigation to see how these funds were used since the 1990s?
MR. DAVIES: As I say, we have a regime that is meant to get at this question of the use, the end use of this materiel through that ongoing regime or process. We're able to keep a pretty good grip on what is being done with the materiel.
We're not planning any larger campaign or investigation to look at what's been done with the material.
You wanted to ask about Zaire/Rwanda.
QUESTION: Rwanda. This may not be the place for this. There's not a lot of light being shed elsewhere in the government.
Is there a mission for American troops? How many refugees are in need? What are we doing here?
QUESTION: Have you seen the statement by the Rwandans that they would not accept any American military forces?
MR. DAVIES: They've made statements like that in the past. I don't know if they've just reiterated it. In point of fact, there are U.S. military personnel now in Kigali. There's the so-called TALCE, which is the forward element for the air bridge into Rwanda.
I can tell you about the two key meetings that occurred over the weekend and then perhaps go into next steps.
First off, was, of course, was the meeting in Stuttgart which concluded Sunday with agreement on a list of, in essence, five graduated options for a multinational force.
You could call it six options. But the first one, we're already doing. The first one being the most limited option which would involved prepositioning this tactical airlift control element, or TALCE, and conducting humanitarian support in Rwanda. That's being done.
But the five prospective options that are now out there for consideration in capitals are, (1) that participating nations would establish a full multinational force headquarters in the region -- not necessarily in eastern Zaire; (2) that multinational force troops would directly facilitate humanitarian assistance and voluntary repatriation in a non-combat environment. That would require, of course, agreement by governments and those with influence on the ground; (3) multinational force troops would have a mandate to provide security to facilitate humanitarian assistance and voluntary repatriation in an environment that's not certain. In other words, where we don't have -- where we haven't checked all the boxes of the various governments.
Fourth, that the troops would be authorized to facilitate humanitarian assistance and voluntary repatriation in an environment that is not at all permissive -- I guess to use the kind of DOD terminology -- where there is anticipated to be resistance.
And then, finally -- the final option is that the mandate for a multinational force would include authority to go in robustly and then handle off eventually to a United Nations or other follow-on force.
So now what happens is this list -- this range of options comes back to capitals, comes back to the United Nations, and other concerned organizations. The diplomatic and political arena takes them up. We consult among concerned governments. Then, in the near term, make some decisions.
But in order to make a decision, you have to establish certainly one key fact which is, what is the situation on the ground in eastern Zaire, for certain? Where are the people that you're worried about, and what are their intentions, and what are the intentions of those with influence over what is happening on the ground?
The second meeting was the meeting that occurred in Geneva. That meeting of major donor countries of international agencies and a ministerial delegation from Rwanda met informally on Saturday in Geneva to talk about the needs of the refugees.
The meeting was a good meeting. It occurred in a cooperative spirit. All agreed to work together with the Government of Rwanda on the swift, safe, and peaceful reintegration of Rwandan refugees into their communities and on Rwandan reconstruction issues.
They also called on the governments in the region and all the parties involved to stop the fighting and allow humanitarian access to the refugees and to the internally displaced persons in Zaire.
They also agreed that large numbers of people in eastern Zaire require emergency assistance. So, that was the international community coming out with a solid declaration that there is an emergency that must be dealt with.
Mrs. Ogata, who is the head of UNHCR, announced a new repatriation and reintegration proposal for Rwanda and she put a price tag of $123 million on that. So the priorities inside Rwanda, which is now where we have 600,000 who have just returned, were set as including housing, justice, security, human rights monitoring, human resources development, with special attention to needs of women and children.
Then, finally, participants supported convening an international conference under the joint auspices of the UN and the OAU to address a broader issue, which is the issue of the root causes of the conflict and possible solutions for the future. No timing was set on that, no venue was set on that.
Let me just finish up by giving you a quick answer to Barry's question about numbers of refugees -- where they are. I'm going to continue to avoid assigning specific numbers to refugees because we have yet to gain access fully to the affected regions. But according to latest reports, there is a large column of refugees west of the town of Sake who appear to be proceeding eastward toward Goma. Of course, Sake is on the northern tip of Lake Kivu, to the west of it -- to the west of Mugunga -- southwest of Mugunga and of Goma.
A team of humanitarian workers crossed into Bukavu November 23-24. They met with Zairian rebel representatives who agreed to cooperate on humanitarian operations. But, that teams of workers could not go beyond Bukavu. They reported heavy gunfire north of Bukavu where they were unable to travel. So that's on the south end of Lake Kivu.
The column of refugees -- you may ask, how many were in that column. We don't know. The report that came back was that the column stretched as long as the eye could see. Clearly, many, many thousands of people.
I have a report on a relief effort inside Rwanda but I will spare you that unless you want that specifically.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) no international force go in?
MR. DAVIES: There's no "do nothing" action here. The one option is to continue -- the least intrusive option, as regards Zaire, is to continue -- the effort that's underway now, which has already placed 430 American service people in the region, most of them, I think, in Uganda -- but many of them in Rwanda -- to help repatriate the refugees and continue the planning from Kigali.
You'll remember that we sent in a team of three or four dozen people whose sole purpose is to look at eastern Zaire and what might be done there. In other words, the least option, if you will, is the option to work hard on Rwanda and keep looking hard at Zaire without committing to any kind of a force.
But the rest of them, in one form or another, talk about going into eastern Zaire.
David. Same issue?
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. DAVIES: New subject. Same subject.
QUESTION: Let me follow up. Mr. George Moose talked about possibly getting some of these people to come to safer areas. The second is, the reports over the weekend was that there was an awful lot of fighting; it's still far too dangerous for relief efforts around Bukavu and such. Is that correct?
MR. DAVIES: It's still not possible to gain access to the regions that appear to be most directly affected. For instance, we don't have anybody with that column of refugees that is now coming around the top of Lake Kivu toward Mugunga and Goma and perhaps will move on into Rwanda.
It's impossible for us to know precisely what is happening on the ground. I'm told that refugees are crossing now at the rate of about 1,000 a day, which you could call, I suppose, a trickle compared to the 600,000 that came across in the space of a few days. But that's still a significant number.
With this movement, this column of persons heading toward Rwanda, we may see, in the near future, another large group repatriating itself.
QUESTION: Can we talk for a minute about the Nicholson case? He's appearing today.
You called in -- was it the Russian Ambassador or senior Russian diplomat --
MR. DAVIES: Russian Ambassador.
QUESTION: -- to say something to the Russian Government about the case? What did you say to the Russian Government about the case? What does the case say about the state of U.S.-Russian relations? And were the Russians simply playing the game by the rules as usual, or were they --
MR. DAVIES: I haven't gotten it. I'm not on the subscription list; I don't know what the rule book is.
I, at the time, characterized the meeting that Acting Secretary of State Talbott had with Russian Ambassador Vorontsov; and he explained to him that we did not view the action taken by the Russians of running this agent, Nicholson, as being at all compatible with the pattern of our relationship with Russia in recent years.
That message was also repeated in Moscow. So we expressed strong displeasure to the Russian Government.
I'm not going to go into the specific language that was used.
QUESTION: But are there any plans to throw out any diplomats or take any other steps to show displeasure?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to report to you.
The second half of that message was that we reserve the right to take whatever action we deemed necessary to protect our security. So we retain the right to take some further action, but I don't have anything more.
QUESTION: Is it implicit in saying to the Russians that such action is not compatible with the recent relationship, that the U.S. would not do the same thing?
MR. DAVIES: Give me that one more time? (Laughter)
No -- seriously.
QUESTION: Is it implicit, when Mr. Talbott says to Mr. Vorontsov --
MR. DAVIES: Yes.
QUESTION: -- that running an agent like Mr. Nicholson is not compatible with the kind of relationship that the U.S. sees itself as having with Russia in the last few years?
I'm getting tangled up in my language here -- excuse me. (Laughter)
MR. DAVIES: All right.
QUESTION: Instead of a double negative let's do a positive.
MR. DAVIES: Yes, okay.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. willing to say that it would not do the same thing -- run an agent?
MR. DAVIES: And run an agent?
MR. DAVIES: What I cannot do, and could never do and will never be able to do, is comment on intelligence matters. So I can't --
QUESTION: How can you ask them not to do something that you might be willing to do yourself?
MR. DAVIES: I'm simply not going to get into intelligence tradecraft. For one thing, I'm not your best source; I don't know that stuff. And, secondly, there's an absolute prohibition --
MR. DAVIES: -- that you're quite aware of, of you talking about it.
QUESTION: But you are reserving the right to take further actions.
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to say what we're reserving the right to do or not to do.
We reserve the right at all times to protect our interests as the United States of America, but I'm not going to get into precisely how that's done or what the methodology is.
QUESTION: Did you exercise that right in a different way since Russia became Russia?
MR. DAVIES: We're the United States.
QUESTION: No, no, no. You had a Cold War enemy, which doesn't exist any more. Has this tempered the rule book that you don't get in your mailbox? (Laughter)
MR. DAVIES: I think much has changed as a result of the end of the Cold War. What I can't do is take you into precisely how we've changed the work that we do on the intelligence front. Much of this is actually already out there: the reorientation of American intelligence activities, just as a general matter, away from some of the typical Cold War pursuits of spy versus spy toward gathering economic information; some of the other pursuits tied in with our concern about global issues. A lot of the issues have changed.
But, again, since I don't work for the Central Intelligence Agency, I can't help you on precisely what that means on the ground.
Yes -- right here. The same issue?
QUESTION: Yes. But that means they inspect the rule book, doesn't it? Some things are permissible and other things are not.
MR. DAVIES: I'll see if I can get a rule book. (Laughter)
Yes, I think there's a rule book.
QUESTION: I mean some things are permissible and some are not. Some were permissible in l988 and not permissible in l996.
MR. DAVIES: Yes. I think, as a general matter, we reserve the right to define for us, as the United States of America, what is in our interest to do to protect the United States of America.
QUESTION: Can I ask you what the Russians did in allegedly running this agent was not compatible with the kind of U.S.-Russian relationship that the U.S. --
MR. DAVIES: It was a very directly aggressive, confrontational action that they took, which we are working hard on getting past the direct confrontation that characterized our relationship for several generations until the fall of the Soviet Union.
So we think it's important to get beyond that -- get beyond this kind of activity coming from Moscow -- and that was the message that we gave the Russians.
Let me come to this -- is this a follow-up?
MR. DAVIES: Real quick, Bill. Yes.
QUESTION: Have the Russians shown a hostile intention toward the United States in their methods and in the type of information they've been seeking through this agent?
MR. DAVIES: The act was, we believe, in and of itself a hostile act. I don't want to extrapolate from that to say that it signals that there is some kind of a change in the Russian attitude toward the United States. We certainly don't believe there is or don't hope there is. But the act was an act that we viewed as very aggressive, very hostile.
QUESTION: They come here first. Please.
QUESTION: I know that we already touched on this, but I don't really feel like I got the answer to my question on the report by Human Rights Watch. What is your reaction to these allegations that the U.S. was involved in supporting the military to fight against the leftist guerrillas that, according to Human Rights Watch, resulted in deaths and murders and violations? And now the United States is planning again to spend -- was it? -- $30 million in helicopters and boats to go down to Colombia to fight narco-trafficking. And there are many who say this military equipment and training is being used against their people to fight the leftist guerrillas.
So what is your reaction to that, and what can the United States do? I know you said you already have a monitor in place, but according to these human rights watch groups these monitors are not effective.
So, one, what is your reaction to this report? Are you denying these allegations?
MR. DAVIES: No. It's a free country. They're entitled to say what they want to say --
QUESTION: So you're denying the allegations.
MR. DAVIES: -- and all I can do is repeat for you what this assistance is for -- and, in general terms, how it's set up, from our standpoint, to assure us that, indeed, the aid, the materiel, is going to fight the drug-trafficking.
QUESTION: So you're denying the report that it is used for anything but that?
MR. DAVIES: The aid is not designed to be used for anything but counter-narcotics work.
QUESTION: And what if it has been? According to them, is there some --
MR. DAVIES: If it has been, or if there's an allegation that it has been more to the point, we look into it; and --
QUESTION: Are you planning to look into it?
GD: -- there have been cases. There was a case in Mexico where we had a report that, I think, a helicopter or helicopters were being used in the Chiapas area for what clearly to us was not counter-narcotics work; and we brought that report to the attention of the Mexican authorities and they stopped using the helicopter for that purpose.
So when this comes up, we follow up on it aggressively to ensure --
QUESTION: So before the $30 million is sent down -- the boats and helicopters in Colombia, for example -- are you going to just do anything different to make sure that it is not being used for anything but, because it's still going down there -- there is still assistance going down. And according to these groups, it's not being used in the proper manner.
Are you planning to do anything else too, or are you just going to leave it the way it's always been?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not certain that these groups are asserting that all of this aid goes down there. I'm just trying to --
QUESTION: Well, not all of it, but a lot of it being used to fight these guerrillas.
MR. DAVIES: I think were going to continue doing what we're doing now, which is enforcing the agreements that we have with these governments. We think that at the end of the day it's very important that the United States be applying assistance to this problem, because this is a problem that ends up coming home to the United States in a very serious way and hurting people by the tens of thousands.
And we think it's very important, in addition to working on the demand end here, to try to eradicate as much as we can the problem from the supply end; and that's what this assistance is designed to do.
QUESTION: Yesterday one of the Greek newspapers -- Katarinya, I believe -- published a report that President Clinton is planning to visit Greece and Turkey in turn, and then immediately the White House denied this report. But I know that whenever the President is planning to do these kinds of things, advice is coming in this building.
Do you advise the White House to take this kind of trip to Greece and Turkey in the next year?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not going to get into what the State Department is advising that the President do with his time. We have our views, but at the end of the day l600 Pennsylvania Avenue makes its mind up and they make the announcement.
So I can't announce any trips for you, and we'll continue to play our role in advising the President on where we think his talents can best be employed overseas. But I'm not going to get into giving you the short list.
One more. Yes.
QUESTION: Ambassador Eizenstat went to Europe again last week to speak about the Helms-Burton law. Do you have anything? Do you know which countries he visited?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have a rundown on -- this is Mr. Eizenstat?
MR. DAVIES: I don't. I can look to that.
QUESTION: He gave a press conference saying that he was going. At least, I'd like to see which countries he's visiting. Maybe you can get it.
MR. DAVIES: I don't have that. You could always ask his office for that.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:14 p.m.) (###)
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