U.S. Department of State 96/11/26 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Briefer: Nicholas Burns Tuesday, November 26, 1996 COMOROS Update of Crash/US Investigative Team and Return of Remains of AmCits to Families/ Update on ConGen Huddle's Condition/Release of Passengers from Custody/Search for Black Box Continues................... 1-2 BELARUS Warheads Transfer to Russian Control/Confirmation of Disposition of Nuclear Missiles/Ceremony Marking Transfer of Warheads in Minsk/US Concern with Legality of Belarus Referendum No Linkage Between Transfer of Warheads and Failed Referendum/Condemnation of Referendum by International Community................................................ 2-6, 7-9 BOSNIA/CROATIA/SERBIA Demonstration Against Government ref: Nullification of Municipal Elections in Serbia/US Opposition to Irregularities in Election Procedures.................. 7-9 Human Rights Watch List of 36 War Criminals/Primary... Responsibility for Locating and Arresting Indicted War Criminals/Dayton Accord Signatories' Cooperation/Failure to Comply with War Crimes Tribunal/US Role in Enforcing Arrest of War Criminals/Criteria for Imposing Outer Wall of Sanctions/Rules of Engagement for IFOR Troops................................................. 9-19 UK Meeting on Procedures for Follow-on Forces............ 25-26 COLOMBIA Paramilitary Groups in Colombia/Allegations of Collusion with GOC/US Training and Assistance of Colombia Military Personnel in Counter-Narcotics......................... 19-21 NORTH KOREA Cong. Richardson's Visit in North Korea/Discussion Concerning Release of Evan Hunziker.................... 21-23 CHINA Investigation of WWII Bomber Found in China/Reciprocal Detargeting/Arms Proliferation ref: Iran................. 23-25 IRAQ Evacuation of NGO Employees.............................. 26-27 Food Distribution Plan/Role of NGOs in Monitoring UN Resolution 986............................ 27-29 ISRAEL Results of Counter-Terrorism Meetings.................... 27 RUSSIA Russian role in Nicholson Spy Case....................... 29-30 CUBA Reaction to Cuba's Rejection of Spanish Ambassador/ European Union Initiative on Human Rights................ 30-31
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1996, 1:27 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department for our daily press briefing. I thought I would just lead off with one item today and that is to update you on the crash of the Ethiopian airliner, particularly the impact on two American families.
As you know, the President and the Secretary sent a team led by our Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Mary Ryan to Moroni. That team is on the ground. It will be departing shortly in the next couple of hours, and Mary Ryan's plane will be carrying the bodies of Foreign Service Officer Leslianne Shedd and another American citizen Ronnie S. Farris, both of whom died in the plane crash.
The plane is expected to arrive at Andrews Air Force Base on Thanksgiving Day, two days from now, and from there the State Department has arranged for onward transportation of the remains of both Ms. Shedd and Mr. Farris, and we would like to extend our condolences to the families of both of them.
As you know, our American Consul General in Mumbai, Franklin "Pancho" Huddle and his wife, survived the air crash. They are doing fine. They have been hospitalized but they are going to recover from their injuries and, as you know, they've been on television, they're been giving interviews. We are very, very pleased that they have been given good medical attention in Moroni by French physicians and we are thankful for that.
The Comoros authorities have released some of the passengers who had been suspected of being the hijackers. They were released because the pilot has indicated that these people were not the hijackers, and we can only presume now along with the Comoran authorities that the hijackers, we presume, died in the crash themselves.
Several investigators, American investigators, will remain behind in Moroni to assist the Comoros government with the investigation into this flight, in the search for the black boxes, and that team includes members of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. We will certainly give the government in Moroni all of the assistance that it requires as it seeks to uncover all the reasons for the crash of this flight.
QUESTION: Belarus has disposed of warheads but not the missiles. Does the U.S. consider Belarus to be in compliance with the requirements under the START protocol?
MR. BURNS: Barry, this is a complicated situation. Let me try to give you a good answer, a comprehensive answer.
First, we have seen some contradictory statements out of Belarus over the last couple of days about the disposition of the nuclear warheads from the SS-25s and of the nuclear missiles themselves.
At this point, based on conversations that we have had this morning with both the Russian Government, which is to be the recipient of the nuclear warheads, and the Belarusian Government, we cannot confirm that the warheads have been transferred to Russian control.
Now what we do understand is that the warheads are on a train which is proceeding towards Russia, and our expectation is, along with that of the Russian Government, that this train will make its way across the Belarusian-Russian border, so that the Russian Government can assume control of the nuclear warheads themselves.
As for the nuclear missiles, as for the missiles, we have asked our Defense Attache in Moscow as well as our Ambassador in Minsk, Ambassador Ken Yalowitz, to contact both of these governments about their understanding of the disposition of the missiles themselves.
Now, Barry, your question pertains to the obligations of the Government of Belarus. The Government of Belarus has undertaken two international obligations pertaining to their control of these new SS- 25s. First, as you know under START One, under a side letter that was submitted with the Lisbon Protocol, Belarus undertook to eliminate all nuclear weapons, all strategic offensive arms from its territory within the seven-year reduction period of START One. That will culminate, I believe, on December 4, 200l.
But, subsequent to that, the Belarusians signed a bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation in which they committed to remove all of those strategic offensive arms by the end of this calendar year.
We believe it is that commitment that will be met. We have heard every assurance over the last few days from the Belarusian Government that indeed the SS-25 nuclear warheads will be transported to Russia for Russian Government control.
In fact, I believe the Belarusian Government has scheduled a ceremony to mark this transfer tomorrow. We understand that General Rodionov, the Russian Defense Minister, will be attending that ceremony as will Ambassador Ken Yalowitz, representing the United States.
QUESTION: You just referred to warheads in this last remark you made. When you say you are convinced that they will comply, the warhead delivery is sufficient for compliance? They do not have to destroy the missiles or do anything about the missiles?
MR. BURNS: The START One talks about all nuclear weapons and strategic offensive arms. The Russian agreement talks about SS-25s. The disposition of the nuclear -- of the missile itself is, of course, of interest and it is that question that we are now looking into with both the Russian and Belarusian Governments.
QUESTION: When do you expect the Belarusian train to reach the -- or cross the border?
MR. BURNS: I believe the Russians -- the Russians tell us they expect it, perhaps, to cross the border as early as this evening. It could be just a couple of hours from now, given the time difference. But we prefer to confirm that ourselves in our conversations with the Russians and the Belarusians.
QUESTION: Do you have anything further to say about the increasing power assumed by their authoritarian President?
MR. BURNS: It's hard to improve on the very good job that Glyn did yesterday, but I can give you a little bit more detail of what --
MR. BURNS: Did you like that?
QUESTION: No. It was very good, but they weren't deterred by Glyn's statement.
MR. BURNS: It is hard to improve -- Glyn wrote this -- it is hard to improve on. Anyway, this is my first talking point. Now I'll go to the second talking point. (Laughter.)
The problem that we have with the referendum, as Glyn explained yesterday, is that it was undertaken on an anti-constitutional basis, an extra constitutional basis.
There was no international inspection. There was no international presence, as there normally is in a situation like this, of the referendum vote. And let me just give you a couple of examples of what is troubling us.
On Belarusian national television over the last couple of weeks, as the Belarusian Government has presented this referendum question to the people, there were 2,200 hours of programming devoted to the referendum. Of that, 2,000 hours were slanted toward President Lukashenko's point of view, and nearly all the rest of the coverage was neutral.
There was only a sliver of attention given to the views of the majority in the Belarusian National Assembly, which of course was not in favor of the referendum question.
In addition to that, there was absolutely no access by any independent media to the referendum voting. There was a failure to record the names of early voters. And there were no texts of the proposed changed in the constitution made available ahead of time to the voters or to the press.
So we chose not to have Embassy Minsk, or our American Embassy in Minsk, send Embassy observers to this referendum because, frankly, we thought that this would be a sham from the beginning. And from all accounts, we believe it was.
We don't believe it is possible to verify the government's assertion, Lukashenko's assertion, that there was a 70 percent turnout. There is no independent means to confirm that.
We have a lot of questions about this. We have addressed these questions to the Belarusian Government. Glyn Davies made our viewpoint on this quite clear yesterday in the statement that he made.
QUESTION: Do you think there could be any connection between the statements by you and Glyn and the apparent confusion of the return of the nuclear warheads and the missiles? In other words, are they using them as a kind of hostage?
MR. BURNS: Right now, I don't believe there is any kind of linkage that would concern us about this failed referendum and the shoddy manner in which it was carried out. And, on the other hand, this very important issue to the United States of the disposition of the SS-25s, we have been given every indication that the SS-25 problem is going to be taken care of, and, in fact, there is a lot of evidence that we are on the verge in the next couple of hours of seeing those SS-25s, as I said, turned over to the Russians.
QUESTION: This country has condemned these elections and events that are going on in Belarus, as well as its neighbors, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia. And yet nothing seems to deter the President from his stated course.
Is there anything else that can be done to try and dissuade him or must everyone simply sit back and watch events play out at this point?
MR. BURNS: Well, at this point, I think it is important that all of us internationally condemn the anti-democratic manner in which President Lukashenko is proceeding. And, as you rightly point out, the United States has not been alone in this. We have been joined by many other countries, including almost all of Belarus's neighbors.
Second, President Lukashenko has got to be concerned as he looks towards the future with having a normal economic political relationship with European countries, with central European countries, and certainly with the United States.
The United States is not going to be able to have a normal positive relationship with a government that is fundamentally anti-democratic. And that is a very important point that we have made to them, that will translate in the future into an inability by the United States to be helpful economically certainly, and to be helpful politically, as we work with Belarus on a variety of questions.
I think that's what is at stake for the Belarusian nation. President Lukashenko seems to be bent on isolating himself in central Europe, which is not a very good thing. If you look at what Ukraine and Russia and Moldova and Poland and Hungary and the Czech Republic and others have all done to break out of the enforced isolation of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, the economic and political and security benefits from expanding contacts internationally are self-evident. President Lukashenko seems not to have a very good view of how to attain that.
QUESTION: In Glyn's statement --
MR. BURNS: I think Betsy's is going to have a follow-up, Barry.
QUESTION: I assume that we have been talking to the Russians about this, and the Russians have just recently sort of, seemed to sort of wake up to the conflict on their border.
Are you aware of anything else that the Russians are planning on doing to influence events there?
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't agree that -- with the characterization that Russia has somehow just awoken to this. I think the Russian Government has been concerned about this question for some time. And you saw over the weekend an attempt by the Russian Government to propose a compromise solution to the constitutional crisis, and unfortunately that solution was not arranged. The Russian Government, I think, showed a good faith effort to try to step in where it clearly does have some influence given the historic ties between Belarus and Russia, and the fact that they were together for a very, very long time in the Soviet Union.
QUESTION: Yesterday's statement read eloquently by Mr. Davies spoke of (laughter) a U.S. desire that there be no confrontation. This followed only by a few minutes a statement in which the U.S. supported the l00,000 protesters who were confronting the equally, or maybe even more, it is hard to judge with authoritarian rulers, the authoritarian rule of Serbia, where the U.S. explicitly said the folks out in the street had a reason to be mad.
So it sounded like in Serbia, you were understanding and in fact supportive of confrontations, as may be one way to correct or even remove an authoritarian figure. In Belarus, though, as Betsy so well pointed out, you are not getting any place.
What's wrong with confrontation? Why aren't you supporting the opposition in its efforts to unhorse this guy?
MR. BURNS: Barry, the United States is not supporting any kind of active, physical confrontation in the streets between the protesters in Minsk or the protesters in Belgrade with their respective governments. I'm talking about any kind of physical or violent or armed opposition. We are not supporting that.
In the case of Belarus, as well as in the case of Serbia, we have actively and clearly and openly supported the rights of people who we believe have been the victims now of shoddy election practices by the Belarusian Government and the Serbian Government. That is important that we stand up and say that.
In the case of Serbia, we're one of the few countries that stood up yesterday and said it very clearly and openly. We believe that we do retain influence over both governments. But the influence, Barry, is not going to be comprehensive.
Fundamentally, these two crisis -- constitutional crisis -- are going to play out depending on what the people inside the country do. We hope in both cases it's peaceful, it is non-violent. We are encouraging the Government of Belarus here to return to constitutional order and to following the Belarusian constitution.
In the case of Serbia, we're urging that the decision to annul the municipal elections be overturned by President Milosevic and by his supporters. We think that those people who won the elections the other day, clearly, ought to have a fair chance at seeing those results put into play and seeing those people put into office.
QUESTION: A lot depends on the definition of "confrontation." The people in the streets of Belgrade are armed with tomatoes and vegetables. They're not having an armed attacked. They're not engaged in an armed insurrection, and you supported them.
MR. BURNS: When you say "confrontation," that's a loaded word.
QUESTION: That was the State Department's word.
MR. BURNS: That's a loaded word. I want to explain what we mean by that. I felt that maybe there was an inference in your question, Barry, that "confrontation" had a different connotation.
QUESTION: It was a State Department word yesterday. It was not defined. It was something you hoped would not occur in Belarus on the very day where you gave your support to political confrontation, unarmed confrontation -- unless you consider tomatoes weapons -- in Belgrade. You have a very similar situation in both countries. I just don't know how you pick and choose?
MR. BURNS: I just want to be very clear about this. We are supporting the people who are being robbed in Belarus because they've been the victims of a referendum that was not accountable internationally. We're supporting the people in Belgrade who clearly won the municipal elections. But in no way, shape, or form is the United States proposing any kind of armed confrontation in either place. That's not the business of the United States. We don't believe that's the proper way to proceed.
There are constitutional mechanisms in both countries. The leaders of both countries have completely ignored them.
It is appropriate for us to call that to attention and to advise them privately and publicly that they ought to return to constitutional rule and that there will be a consequence of anti-democratic behavior.
We haven't talked about Mr. Milosevic. The consequence of anti- democratic behavior over the last few days that we've seen is that the "outer wall" of sanctions will remain. Those sanctions represent real U.S. leverage and a real negative impact on the Serbian economy.
We are also not going to be willing to raise the level of our diplomatic relationship from that of a Charge d'Affaires to one of Ambassador until some of these problems are taken care of. There are a variety of problems, as you know -- war crimes, Kosovo, but also the anti-democratic practices of Slobodan Milosevic.
QUESTION: That's where you were yesterday?
MR. BURNS: That's exactly -- that's right.
QUESTION: But there was also a threat that there might be other actions. So far, no other action?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Yesterday's statement, which indeed referred to those two measures, also said there might be other action. There has been no decision to take any additional action against Milosevic?
MR. BURNS: We reserve the right to take any action consistent with our own interests here. We, in this case, would like to see how this situation plays out. There is still time for Milosevic and his followers to reverse themselves and return to a situation where they're following -- they're obeying the law.
QUESTION: Could I point out another inconsistency? There seems to me to be an inconsistency --
MR. BURNS: I think we've dealt with that perceived inconsistency. If we haven't, I'll let you go back to it. It's very important.
QUESTION: This is a different type of question. You are very unforgiving with respect to Belarus concerning the inequitable media access. You were much more understanding four months ago about the inequitable media access in Russia. You sort of said, "Well, they come out of a totalitarian past and you have to give them a little slack." Well, so does Belarus. You are much tougher on Belarus than you are on Russia.
MR. BURNS: I think, George -- actually, I think there is no comparison between the situation of the media in Russia and the situation of the media in Belarus. There is no comparison.
In Russia today -- in June and July during the Russian presidential elections, there were independent newspapers running articles against President Yeltsin.
Obviously, the media had a great focus on Yeltsin. You can argue whether that was fair or not. But there is, in essence, a free press in Russia, a press that is routinely critical of the Russian Government, of President Yeltsin himself, and a variety of Russian Government views.
That is not the case in Belarus. There is no free press in Belarus. I think they're very different situations.
QUESTION: Going back to Serbia, have you gotten any response at all from Milosevic or his people about your complaints about his (inaudible) the electorate?
MR. BURNS: We have had no adequate response. We've been in touch with him. Dick Miles has sent a very stiff -- Dick Miles is our Charge d'Affaires in Belgrade -- has sent a very stiff message to Milosevic and other members of the government about our opposition to what has happened. I think he's heard from others in the international community today. We'll continue to make that very clear to the Belarusians. We've not had a satisfactory response.
QUESTION: Also on Bosnia. A human rights group today released a list of 36 of the 70-plus people in Bosnia who are wanted for war crimes by The Hague and said that their research -- that they found no difficulty whatsoever in tracking down these 36 people. They listed the cafes they frequent, the police stations they work at, their addresses, and so on. They asked the question, why can't IFOR or the international police forces there, if you prefer, why can't someone from an international organization arrest any of these people?
MR. BURNS: We've seen the report. We've looked at it very carefully. I have no reason to argue with the facts presented in the case about who these people are and where they are.
In fact, there have been too many reports -- credible reports in the last several months -- about war criminals living openly -- indicted war criminals -- in both Serbia, in Bosnian Serb-held territory, and in Croatia. Every time that we see these reports or we develop this information on our own, we go directly to the governments who are responsible for this question under the Dayton Accords.
The Dayton Accords say that the parties to the Dayton Accords have the primary and fundamental responsibility to apprehend indicted war criminals and turn them over to The Hague for prosecution. So we continue to place responsibility there.
I would take issue with just some of the editorial, the op-ed comment on this issue this morning as well as the newspaper reporting in this sense. It is legitimate for the press to say that the United States and other members of IFOR have a measure of responsibility here. It's legitimate.
But I think it's important to point out where primary responsibility lies--that is, with the people who signed the Dayton Accords. It's with Milosevic, Izetbegovic, and Tudjman.
Let me take you through those three. We'll start with Izetbegovic. His government, and he personally, have in a very large measure cooperated with the War Crimes Tribunal adequately. In fact, as you know, President Izetbegovic turned over a Muslim, a citizen of his government, to The Hague for prosecution. We have some concerns about that government's behavior but in large measure it is the best of the three.
The Croatian Government, we believe, is allowing an indicted war criminal to live freely in Croatia. Secretary Christopher raised this issue with President -- has raised it with President Tudjman and has raised it with Mr. Zubak and has raised it with a variety of people, as has John Kornblum, over the last several weeks. Their compliance has not been satisfactory.
The Serbian Government has not cooperated in any way, in any effective way, with the War Crimes Tribunal. It's the country, along with the Bosnian Serbs, that harbors the great majority of these indicted war criminals. We've brought this to the attention of that government.
There's also a penalty here. We've told President Milosevic that one of the reasons why the "outer wall" of sanctions will remain in place is because of his fundamental lack of commitment to this issue.
QUESTION: I'll take you country-by-country again. Let's skip Izetbegovic, since you don't see big problems, and go to Tudjman.
Why are the United States and its allies not using the considerable economic leverage they have over Croatia? Croatia is one of the biggest recipients in the world right now, as I understand it, of new World Bank and IMF loans. A lot of that money is American. Why are they getting that money if they won't turn over war criminals?
MR. BURNS: There are a couple of different issues. It's not just the international financial institutions. It's Croatian membership in the Council of Europe. As you know, Croatia is intent on becoming a member. It's a variety of issues.
Just to broaden the agenda a little bit. We have essentially told the Croatians that we, the United States, will keep these issues in mind if Croatian performance on war crimes is not satisfactory. We believe that Croatia's full economic integration into European international organizations, we believe, should be dependent, in part, on their performance on war crimes.
I can't speak for the European Union. I can't speak for European governments, because I know there have been some discussions between them and Croatia on the Council of Europe membership.
On the question of Serbia, again, we have made it very clear to Mr. Milosevic again that his self-interest in integrating economically and politically with international organizations is also going to be dependent on this question.
QUESTION: Let me ask you about the Bosnian Serb entity within the Bosnian republic. Which organization, would you say, is responsible for rounding up war criminals within that entity?
MR. BURNS: The people who signed -- initialed the Dayton Accords and signed the Accords in Paris on December 14 are responsible -- all of them, David. It means the three Presidents that I mentioned. It also is the officials -- Mr. Krajisnik, Mrs. Plavsic -- who are in charge of Bosnian Serb affairs. They are fundamentally responsible. They signed on the dotted line.
QUESTION: Who would they send? Would they send Bosnian Serb police to arrest these war criminals? Who do you propose arrest these war criminals?
MR. BURNS: That is their commitment. Now in saying that, I want to be very clear about our understanding. They have failed to comply with this commitment. They've not given it any serious attention. They've thumbed their noses at it. That's why the United States has failed to lift the "outer wall" of sanctions which are, as you know, somewhat broad and do have an impact on Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs.
The Bosnian Serbs' ability to receive international economic assistance is going to be limited -- certainly assistance from the United States -- as they continue not to comply with these war crimes provisions.
QUESTION: I mean, I just would ask you -- it seems to me that your position is that the Bosnian Serb leadership are supposed to arrest -- a majority of the war criminals are in their territory. I don't know who they can use besides the Bosnian Serb police--do you? And yet some of these war criminals are the Bosnian Serb police, and you're asking the Bosnian Serb police to arrest themselves.
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to make any excuses for the Bosnian Serbs or the Serbian Government or the Croatian Government. They are not cooperating with the Tribunal, and they are not meeting their own commitments under the Dayton accords. They are not in compliance. I have no excuses to make for them, and they're going to continue to be penalized because of this.
QUESTION: Nick, the question really is: are you confident that the progress that you've repeatedly described from this podium that the U.S. and its allies have made in Bosnia over the last year can be preserved without war criminals being arrested?
MR. BURNS: First of all, they have failing grades. They have failed to meet their commitment. Secondly, this remains a very serious issue for all of us in IFOR and in the larger international community that is interested in the Dayton peace accords.
Third, I think the record of the United States here is good. It's pretty good. We have been the largest contributor to the Tribunal. We have been an unfailing supporter politically of the Tribunal. We've given the Tribunal most of its staff and most of its information to indict these people, and we hope in the future to prosecute them.
QUESTION: You don't think that's all at risk unless war criminals are gathered up?
MR. BURNS: We think that along with the peace that the Dayton accords have provided -- we think that justice is an important objective and it must be met sooner or later. That's why we continue to support the War Crimes Tribunal.
What peace has done is it has stopped the war crimes, as you know. But we still have to remember the vast war crimes committed by the Bosnian Serbs, by Croatians, and by some Moslems, and that's why the justice component of this is very important.
That's why the United States does not drop this from our agenda when we talk to the Europeans and when we talk to the parties of the Dayton accords themselves.
QUESTION: Nick, several months ago the Secretary --
MR. BURNS: I think David just has --
QUESTION: I've got one other.
QUESTION: It's very apropos.
QUESTION: Okay, go ahead. I'll come back.
QUESTION: Christopher's position was much stronger than that months ago; that you can't hope to have a lasting peace in Bosnia unless all the ethnic groups see that people who commit war crimes are brought to justice. He said there was no chance of it. And, secondly --
MR. BURNS: Barry, let me just answer the first question. With all due respect, what I've just said is exactly consistent with everything that Secretary Christopher or Dick Holbrooke or John Kornblum or I have said on numerous occasions from this podium over the last 12 months. We have not changed our view, and we have not changed the degree of emphasis here.
QUESTION: Nick, time is passing. The idea that American troops -- that NATO troops are there, and it's not their primary mission to apprehend war criminals -- I mean, they've been there for about ten months now. Don't they ever come across a war criminal that they might just sort of apprehend? Do they run away when they see them? What do they do?
MR. BURNS: All of you talk, or both of you talk as if the United States bears -- I'm being a little bit unfair here -- bears sole responsibility for this issue; as if we don't do something, nothing good's going to happen.
Let's just review the facts here, Barry. The facts are that we stopped --
MR. BURNS: No, we don't have sole responsibility. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) There wouldn't be a settlement in Bosnia if the United States didn't get involved.
MR. BURNS: Let me just finish.
QUESTION: There would have been no settlement if the United States didn't --
MR. BURNS: The idea that was explicit in some of the newspaper articles this morning and that's implied in all of your questions this morning is that somehow the United States is responsible for the fact that things haven't gone right on the war crimes issue, and that somehow we've got to take sole responsibility for this issue.
What I am trying to say is you have parties to the Dayton accords that are primarily responsible. You have to keep the focus on them as well as on us, and I don't see a lot of that happening in the newspaper accounts or in these questions. Secondly, that you have to take account of what we have done positively on this issue and in bringing peace to Bosnia over the last 12 months. I'm sorry. We just come at this from a completely different point of view.
QUESTION: Your administration says that the U.S. is the indispensable country, and there's no question that it was in the Bosnia settlement. It remains the indispensable country, and I would submit to you that war criminals will not be arrested until Americans make the first move.
But let me ask you a specific question, because that isn't one, and you're not going to deal with that. There's a man named Mr. Martic. He's on the wanted list. He has an office with his name on it. It is 100 meters, 100 yards away from one of the IFOR facilities in Banja Luka. He passes by the forces every day. Why has he not been arrested?
MR. BURNS: David, I don't know about the specific case of Mr. Martic. Now that you've raised it, I'll be very glad to look into his specific case and tell you if we think his office is indeed 100 yards from an IFOR placement.
I would just suggest to you that the United States has been very open about our support for the Tribunal; very open about our disappointment with the way this issue has been handled. Our objective is to have all the indicted war criminals arrested.
But going back to Barry's question, the troops that we sent there did not have as a primary responsibility, a first responsibility, the apprehension of the war criminals. Their first responsibility was the separation along a 750-kilometer front -- the separation of the forces -- and they did that successfully. They have brought peace to Bosnia. They have stopped the war crimes. They have stopped the murder of innocent people, and they have given the Bosnians and the Serbs and the Croatians a chance for peace. They have done a great job, and you have to give them a little bit of credit for that -- our troops.
When the follow-on force goes in after NATO completes its deliberations, the follow-on force is going to have to identify what the specific missions of that force are. I would bet that war crimes will be among the missions identified, as it was a year ago today when we were planning the IFOR mission.
But I can't anticipate specific rules of engagement that NATO is going to give to the follow-on force. I would imagine the primary responsibility of that force would continue to be the continued separation of the armies so that the politicians have a chance to create peace. That, in essence, I think, is a very valuable endeavor by the United States.
Let me go to Tom.
QUESTION: Nick, it's not just OpEd writers. Ambassador Frowick last week in Dayton said in a public forum, reviewing the Dayton accords, that he -- "I think it's regrettable that something wasn't done earlier, but it wasn't." He's speaking specifically about IFOR arresting them. "I think at this stage the key issue is this one, is going in there and arresting persons indicted for war crimes. This is the time. It seems to me we're not going to have a better time, and the whole future of the peace process probably rests on this question."
Many times from this podium you've expressed your confidence in Ambassador Frowick's view of the situation in Bosnia. What's your response to this very particular recommendation that he made last week?
MR. BURNS: Tom, you'll allow me a little bit of leeway here. I've not seen his -- it's the first time I've heard his words. I don't know what the context was. I don't know what else he said. So I think it's appropriate for me before I comment on Ambassador Frowick's remarks to be able to see exactly what he said and the full context of his remarks.
I'm going to repeat here. We're not making excuses for the Bosnian Serbs or the Croats or the Serbs who are denying their responsibilities here. We do have an interest in trying to help these countries who are primarily responsible achieving justice for what happened -- for the massacres and the war crimes that clearly took place over the last couple of years.
With the benefit of the hindsight of the last 12 months, we believe that it was appropriate to give IFOR a limited, specific mission, learning from some of the mistakes that have been made with these multinational peacekeeping forces in the past, and they succeeded in that mission.
NATO now needs to decide on a variety of missions for the follow-on successor force, and I think this is certainly an appropriate question for you to ask in that context. But I think it's got to be considered perhaps with some of the views that I've offered today.
QUESTION: Nick, help me understand what the outer wall of sanctions is linked to. I've always heard primarily it's linked to Milosevic and Serbia's compliance on war crimes. Sometimes, too, I've heard mentioned from this podium and other places, it's linked to proper behavior regarding Kosovo.
There seems to be a new bar set when you and Glyn yesterday linked the outer wall of sanctions to Milosevic's undemocratic behavior. Is that a new test?
MR. BURNS: It's not, no. We have talked to him about this for a good year now. It's always been linked to war crimes, to the situation inside Serbia itself and the anti-democratic behavior of the Serbian Government and to the issue of Kosovo.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) is dependent on his cooperation and meeting certain standards on all three areas.
MR. BURNS: On all of them, that's right.
QUESTION: I have a question on human rights regarding Colombia. Yesterday --
QUESTION: May I have just one more.
QUESTION: I apologize for asking so many today, but could you possibly restate for us what are the orders to American troops that are within IFOR in the event that they run into a war criminal?
MR. BURNS: I don't have the specific language of the rules of engagement that NATO worked out about a year ago. But in essence, as you know very well, is that when IFOR troops encounter people that they believe to be indicted war criminals, they are to apprehend them. That's their responsibility.
QUESTION: And in 11 months, have they encountered any?
MR. BURNS: IFOR troops, to the best of my knowledge, David, have not apprehended any indicted war criminals. That's a fact.
MR. BURNS: It is part of their ongoing responsibilities.
QUESTION: But I didn't ask whether they'd arrested any. I asked if they encountered any. Do you know if they encountered any?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the answer to that question. I literally don't. You've got roughly 55-60,000 IFOR troops in that area. You're asking me to say on the record, on television, have any one of those troops ever encountered an indicted war criminal. I don't know the answer to that question. I can't know the answer to that question.
QUESTION: Nick, when you ask this question in Bosnia, you actually get a different answer than what you've given --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: When one asks this question of the NATO Spokesman in Sarajevo, you get a different answer. You get the answer that their policy or responsibility is to arrest them if they encounter them and if they judge that they can arrest them without any risk to their troops and if arresting them would not interfere with their other assignments for the day. Those conditions are so broad and so exclusive, that they virtually rule out in practice ever arresting anybody.
MR. BURNS: When I answered David's question, I was very careful to say I don't have the specific language in front of me. I think what you just cited is consistent with the way Secretary Perry and others and I think me on occasion have reviewed the rules of engagement. I was doing it in shorthand in my own language, but I think I prefaced it by saying that.
QUESTION: I mean, in practice those conditions are so sweeping that it rules out ever making any arrests in real life.
MR. BURNS: Tom, as I said just a couple of minutes ago, the primary responsibility was to bring peace to the country, which they've done; stop the war, which they did; bring peace to the country, allow several million people the opportunity to live with heat in the winter, without bombs falling on them, without human rights violations occurring, without massacres occurring.
Those are the achievements of the NATO soldiers -- the IFOR forces and the NATO soldiers among them. Those are substantial achievements. I don't believe that our military forces -- our men and women there -- ought to be denigrated or there should be any implication that they haven't done their job, when they brought peace to Bosnia.
It is absolutely true that we have a responsibility and an interest in pursuing the indicted war criminals. We have not apprehended the indicted war criminals. The governments have a responsibility to turn them over. Our troops have a responsibility to apprehend them along the lines of the rules of engagement we just discussed. These are the facts.
But I have no apologies to make today, because I think our troops have done a magnificent job in very difficult circumstances.
QUESTION: I don't think anybody's denigrated the troops over there.
MR. BURNS: Oh, Howard, I beg to disagree. I beg to disagree. Review the transcript of this press briefing and review some of the articles this morning. Sorry.
QUESTION: Okay. You say it's not a primary responsibility to go out and get war criminals; therefore, it's a secondary responsibility, and we haven't lived up to it.
MR. BURNS: Howard, I'm going to just hit back just a little bit. It is indeed a secondary -- it's a responsibility. It has not been designated to be the primary one. You have an obligation to go back and point the finger where the primary responsibility lies -- with Milosevic, with Plavsic, with Krajisnik, with Tudjman and with Izetbegovic.
QUESTION: One more Serbia question and then I think we're done. Nick, in the U.S. Government's contacts with Milosevic, have you -- has he been urged to use restraint in handling demonstrators in the streets? Is there concern of violence?
MR. BURNS: The demonstrations, as far as we can tell -- as far as our Embassy in Belgrade has reported -- have been peaceful demonstrations. We certainly hope that there will be no undue use of force taken against the demonstrators. We certainly hope that the Belgrade -- the Serbian Government will allow these people to demonstrate peacefully as they are currently doing.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Human Rights Watch denounced that the U.S. was intellectually and in a material way involved in the creation of paramilitary groups in Colombia, together with the Colombian military. Ambassador Frechette in Colombia said that it was a serious accusation that should be investigated, and today the President of that time, Cesar Gaviria, now the OAS Secretary General, told that it might be possible that U.S. intelligence, together with Colombian intelligence, avoided the political intrigue and controls from that time, and that should be investigated, too. What is the State Department doing there?
MR. BURNS: As a matter of policy, the United States does not support the creation or the activities of paramilitary groups in Colombia. The United States would take all measures necessary to oppose any kind of assistance by the United States to them. We do not assist paramilitary groups, because they are outside the rule of law, and we refuse to have any contact with them on the part of our officials who are present in Colombia.
We are aware and we have discussed here quite recently in the last month or so past allegations of collusion with these groups by the Colombian armed forces. We've discussed these allegations with the Government of Colombia. The Government of Colombia has stated that as a matter of policy it does not accept these associations.
The United States is clearly committed to promoting human rights in Colombia and of fighting narcotics in Colombia, and we take both of these commitments seriously. We try to in all of our programs have our programs serve those two objectives -- promoting human rights and fighting narcotics.
Our bilateral agreements with the Government of Colombia include commitments that U.S. counter-narcotics assistance will be used in accordance with internationally recognized norms pertaining to human rights.
We implement our programs with the greatest possible care and attention to these specific commitments. Military training by the United States in Colombia includes as a basic part of the instruction training in these internationally accepted norms and standards of human rights and the necessity to observe them. The records of Colombia military personnel selected for individual military training in the United States are individually reviewed by our government to assure that some of the mistakes that were clearly made in Central America in the 1970s, where we took in people and trained them and they committed human rights violations -- and we know who they are in Guatemala and Honduras -- that those are not repeated.
We have no indication that any Colombian military units have used equipment which we provided for counter-narcotics process -- used that equipment to commit human rights violations. We have no indication of that. We're also not aware of any instances in which, as I believe one of the newspaper articles alleges, that units that received U.S. counter-narcotics assistance may have blocked the arrest of those implicated in human rights violations.
Nevertheless, because of our great concern about this particular issue and the connection that these allegations make, we continue to raise this issue with the Colombian Government. We will raise these specific allegations with them, and we'll continue to follow this very, very closely, because we are mindful of some of the abuses of U.S. military assistance in Central America in decades past -- in recent decades.
QUESTION: Do you have -- the State Department or the U.S. Government -- the mechanisms in place to control if the flow of knowledge or money -- it's going to the goals that the U.S. perceives --
MR. BURNS: It is indeed a challenge to be able to track every unit of assistance. However you define and weigh that unit or measure that unit, we try to do it as best we can through our Embassy, through our own military which, of course, has associations with the Colombian military and by asking the Colombian Government to verify the disposition of some of the hardware, for instance, that is extended to them as part of our assistance program.
QUESTION: New topic.
MR. BURNS: Different subject? Same subject? Different subject. Betsy.
QUESTION: Do you have -- can you confirm for us that Congressman Richardson is, indeed, going to bring Carl Hunziker out with him?
MR. BURNS: What I can say is this: Congressman Richardson has agreed to extend his stay in Pyongyang by one day at the -- and that's today -- at the request of the North Korean Government. We understand that Congressman Richardson's efforts with the North Koreans on the release of Mr. Hunziker are going well.
I want to contrast this with some of the unsubstantiated reporting that came out of Japan this morning. There were some statements made by some U.S. sources, which were clearly not accurate, about complications in these talks.
As far as we understand from Congressman Richardson, his talks are going well, and we're very hopeful that when Congressman Richardson returns in just a couple of hours from now, Eastern Standard Time, to Yokota Air Force Base in Japan, that he will have with him Mr. Carl Hunziker.
We cannot be assured of that, obviously, until the plane departs Pyongyang, but that is our hope and that is our expectation.
QUESTION: Is he -- can you say when you expect him to leave North Korea to return or when you expect him to arrive -~
MR. BURNS: We expect him to leave North Korea shortly and to -- it's hard to know. I mean, he's in Pyongyang. We don't have minute-by- minute contact with him because of the communications, but we do have contact with him. He expects to leave this evening and expects to be in Japan, as I said, some time in the next 12 to 24 hours. We hope very, very much that Mr. Hunziker will be on that plane with him.
That was the focus -- the sole focus -- of Congressman Richardson's trip, which was to go in and get Mr. Hunziker, bring him back to the United States to his family.
QUESTION: Are you saying (inaudible) raising other issues with the North Koreans?
MR. BURNS: The sole focus of Congressman Richardson's trip was to discuss the efforts to have Mr. Hunziker released and have him transported back to the United States.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) there was a cash transaction involved in getting Mr. Hunziker's release?
MR. BURNS: I cannot confirm that. We have not been able to talk to Congressman Richardson in detail. When he gets back to Japan, he will have a statement to make -- a public statement to make -- and I'll have more to say about this tomorrow if, in fact, he and Mr. Hunziker are back in Japan by tomorrow.
QUESTION: Did the U.S. Government ever ask directly or indirectly by the North Koreans --
MR. BURNS: At this point, I just don't want to discuss that particular issue until this mission is completed.
QUESTION: A final question. Was a U.S. military aircraft involved in Mr. Richardson's transport back and forth?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Normally, it would be. There aren't very many commercial flights into Pyongyang.
QUESTION: Does that constitute any kind of precedent to having U.S. military into North Korea?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so at all. Our then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tom Hubbard, when he went into Pyongyang just after Christmas last year, went in through via a U.S. military aircraft. That's the way it's best to go because that's a secure way of traveling. It's a way of traveling that makes sure you're going to get to your destination on time, given the realities of air travel to Pyongyang.
QUESTION: You have nothing to say about the principle of paying cash for the release of a detained American?
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to discuss that issue until Congressman Richardson's trip and his mission are complete.
QUESTION: Can you take another question?
MR. BURNS: We may still have a couple more on North Korea, Barry.
QUESTION: Speaking of military aircraft -- in China, or in Manila --
MR. BURNS: Anymore on North Korea before we get going on this?
QUESTION: Do you know whether they're coming to Washington after Tokyo?
MR. BURNS: I don't. I don't know. I think that's really up to Mr. Hunziker who has been held unjustly and has been away from his family for a long time.
QUESTION: You were given some information by the Chinese on a U.S. World War II bomber. Is anything being done to look into that and bring the remains home?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher was told by Minister Qian Qichen last Wednesday in Beijing that the Chinese had located in southwest China what they believe to be a U.S. B-24 that had crashed and that the remains of some of the people in the plane were still there. They said they would do a thorough investigation, that they would bring us into this search, and that they would try to identify positively with us, or allow us to identify positively, the remains of the people inside the aircraft.
We were obviously encouraged to hear this news because it may help us to resolve some cases of missing-in-action from the Second World War. As you know, the United States -- General Stilwell and others -- had an airlift mission which was prominent during the Second World War over "The Hump," as they say, in the CBI Theater. It does make sense that there could be some downed American aircraft in that area.
QUESTION: Did they say when they located the aircraft?
MR. BURNS: They said just recently, just prior to our arrival in Asia.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) just recently. Obviously, some things have been done for them and perhaps they're doing something nice for you. I'm trying to see if there's a quid pro quo, if they've held this back for a few decades or a couple of years or a few months. You get suspicious sometimes when you deal with these regimes.
MR. BURNS: There's a conspiratorial air today.
QUESTION: It's just the way diplomacy is practiced..
MR. BURNS: You haven't had a shot at me for a while. Glyn was so good, you thought you could rip into me today.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the notion that they had just discovered wreckage -- what? -- 50 years after the plane crashed?
MR. BURNS: Barry, with all due respect to your encyclopedic knowledge of this issue, I'm sure -- with all due respect, let me just tell you what the Chinese told us.
The Chinese told us -- Minister Qian, who is the Vice Premier, and Foreign Minister Chun told us that they had just recently discovered this.
As you know, in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea and even in places like Russia, they are still uncovering the remains of aircraft downed decades ago. When planes go down in heavily forested areas or in jungles, as in the case of the Pacific, sometimes they do disappear for 40 or 50 years. I think it's a good thing that the Chinese Government has come forward now and will allow us to try to identify the remains of the victims. That's certainly good for the families of these American aviators.
QUESTION: Did they say anything beyond that about other searches, other areas, other evidence?
MR. BURNS: No, they didn't. They just mentioned this B-24. Secretary Christopher agreed that there should be a further discussion of this at Jiang Zemin's meeting with President Clinton in Manila, and that's what happened. As you know, I think it was Winston Lord who told the press on Sunday in Manila about this Chinese offer.
QUESTION: When Winston Lord talked about -- I wasn't there. When he talked about their refusal to agree to the arrangement that you have with Russia to take other off target, was this a disappointment to the United States?
MR. BURNS: As Winston told you, Secretary Christopher did raise the idea of trying to reach an understanding -- a mutual understanding -- with us and the Chinese about detargeting. Certainly, we believe that the targeting arrangement that President Clinton worked out with Boris Yeltsin several years ago with Russia has been very important to the relationship. It's been a symbolic -- a very important symbolic aspect of this relationship.
As you know, detargeting is not in any way fool-proof. Missiles can be retargeted very quickly. But the symbolic aspect of this is important. In the case of Russia, we were adversaries for five decades. In the case of China, we were also adversaries for many decades. We believe that symbolic steps of this type are important.
We were unable to reach an agreement with the Chinese but it's an issue that we will certainly keep on the table and would like to proceed with.
QUESTION: Nick, did the Chinese explain why they declined to enter into some kind of detargeting?
MR. BURNS: I would suggest you ask that of Mr. Cui Tiankai who is my counterpart, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman. Perhaps he'll want to enlighten you on that, but I don't want to speak for the Chinese Government. I can just speak for our government and tell you why we raised it.
QUESTION: Can you tell us about -- I know this has all been out, but your first person witness -- about arms proliferation, the issues especially with regard to Iran and the Chinese helping Iran with their reactors? Was any progress made on that particular issue?
MR. BURNS: Bill, as you know, we had extensive briefings of the press corps in Beijing, Shanghai, and Manila on this issue over a period of several days. We raise this issue aggressively. Secretary Christopher did in Beijing as did President Clinton in Manila. We have the results that we talked about.
This is an area of continuing concern for the United States and will be, I'm sure, well into the future with the Chinese.
QUESTION: Nick, going back just very quickly on the Serbia situation, etc., -- Bosnian war criminals. Is there any need -- does the Secretary see any need for a Foreign Ministers' meeting? You're coming up on an anniversary of the signing. This Administration is about to come to an end.
Is there any prospect of getting together, discussing such things as what to do in a follow-up force? I know there's a NATO meeting, but is there a reason to have a Foreign Ministers' meeting on Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: As you know, the Foreign Ministers just met in Paris the week before last -- the Foreign Ministers of most of these countries. Minister Kinkel was there, Minister Rifkind, and Minister de Charette, and Secretary Christopher. They had a discussion of all the issues, including war criminals.
Next week, the British -- the U.K. will be hosting a meeting of most of these countries to review all Bosnia issues. Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott will be attending that meeting for the United States along with John Kornblum and others. So there's no lack of meetings here. The number of meetings is not the problem.
The problem is that we haven't been able to bring these indicted war criminals to justice. That is a continuing concern of ours.
QUESTION: Northern Iraq?
MR. BURNS: Yes, I'd be glad to talk about northern Iraq, but you have to ask a question and then I'll talk about it.
QUESTION: It was announced --
MR. BURNS: Lots to say. Glyn has said a lot. It's hard to compete with what Glyn has been saying. He did an excellent job, I thought, on northern Iraq a well.
QUESTION: Glyn announced yesterday the United States is going to evacuate 5,000 Kurds from northern Iraq. Turkey and the United States is said to have agreed in principle on that plan. I understand that there are still few remaining issues to be discussed and need to be resolved before you start to evacuate those 5,000 Kurds from the region.
Could you specify those items that are still on the table?
MR. BURNS: Let me just say, first of all, a point of fact. All these people are not -- all of them are not Kurds. There are a variety of people here. There are Kurds, there are Muslims, there are Iraqi Muslims, there are Assyrians, there are Caldeans, there are a variety of different groups that comprise these 4- to 5,000 people.
They are -- as Glyn said yesterday, they have been associated with the United States by virtue of having worked for American organizations, or organizations funded by the United States.
As you know, we have been reviewing their status for quite a long time. For quite a long time, we did not think that there was a reason to move in bringing them out. We brought out two groups prior to them.
We've now made the decision that it's appropriate, and it's the right thing to do, to bring them out. First, to transit to Turkey and then onto Guam, as the others have done before them.
We need to work out with the Turkish Government the mode of transporting them across the border into Turkey; about the conditions for their temporary stay in Turkey -- and it will be temporary -- and then about arrangements to bring them on to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam where the others are.
This is a complicated, logistical enterprise. The first two operations went off quite well without any significant problems. We're confident that this one can as well.
QUESTION: Could you tell us how many of those you evacuated from northern Iraq have actually arrived in the Untied States?
MR. BURNS: We'll have to check for you. I know that some people have already begun to arrive from Andersen Air Force Base into the United States. They've finished their asylum processing in Guam and they're here, but not the complete number. There are still many people at Andersen. So let's try to get the numbers for you after the briefing.
QUESTION: Nick, on another subject. I think today -- well, I know today and I think tomorrow, as well, there were two different U.S.- Israel meetings: counter-terrorism, I believe today. It's early, I guess, to expect any kind of result, but do you have any?
MR. BURNS: I don't. But, again, perhaps it's an issue we can go into tomorrow because we do expect some results from these meetings.
QUESTION: Can we return to northern Iraq? The question is, you are almost finished dealing the oil-for-food, or food-for-oil. The NGOs are planning to distribute this food. You are withdrawing 5,000 people, most of them working for the NGOs. How are you planning to distribute this food in northern Iraq?
MR. BURNS: The way to answer your question is to say that the responsibility is different. Most of these groups worked on the ground operation of "Operation Provide Comfort." That was the operation that was effectively withdrawn in early September after the Iraqi incursion into northern Iraq. That's where these people worked, in a U.S.-funded "Provide Comfort" operation.
The 986 plan will be run by -- not by the United States, not by the Government of Turkey or France or Britain. It will be run by the United Nations. The United Nations is responsible for establishing in northern Iraq and throughout Iraq a distribution network for the food and medicine, and a monitoring mechanism for the export of the oil -- the $2 billion worth of oil that can be exported on an every six-month basis.
The only objection that the United States has ever had to UN Resolution 986 going forward was, has the United Nations put together a distribution plan and a monitoring plan that will insure us that the victims of Saddam Hussein benefit, but Saddam Hussein does not benefit by one single dollar. And, as Ambassador Albright said yesterday, we believe the United Nations has now developed that plan and it is appropriate to go forward. And, barring any last minute hitches, we expect this program to go forward.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: These United Nations monitors, aren't they basically NGO people subcontracted for this job?
MR. BURNS: The United Nations has put together the monitoring and distribution plan. It will rely in large part on individual NGOs. But let me just remind you, it was the non-governmental organizations themselves who came to the United States Government some time ago to say, please help us to get these people out of northern Iraq because they were concerned for their safety. That's what we are doing now.
Now, those same NGOs or other NGOs will now have to, of course, staff themselves, will have to hire people to implement the UN sponsored program, UN Resolution 986.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- incidents at the same time the food-for-oil deal is finishing and the same time as the (inaudible) withdrawn from northern Iraq?
MR. BURNS: I can assure you, it is purely coincidental. It is. Mr. Arshad, you've been waiting very patiently.
QUESTION: Thank you (inaudible). I have a quick question on Bangladesh. As you are aware of, the indemnity bill has been rescinded recently in the parliament which makes room for the killers of the first president of the country, Sheik Mutiga Rahman to be brought to justice.
This has been an issue, a very sensitive issue, which may come as in the way of democracy and democratization when you are talking of political consensus.
Does the United States have any view on an issue which has been very phony and which may risk the fear of dividing the nation once again on the question of indemnity dissension in the parliament?
MR. BURNS: Mr. Arshad, I'm going to have to take your question and ask our experts in the Bureau of South Asian Affairs to give you an appropriate response to that. I am not up to date on that particular issue.
QUESTION: Just one more, to follow up a topic that Glyn did a great job with yesterday, this topic of espionage, the Nicholson case.
MR. BURNS: What went on here when I was gone? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, yesterday it was quite a lot.
MR. BURNS: Glyn is excellent. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: But he was very strong to say that Russia had been hostile towards the United States, and I would follow it and go a little further and ask has Russia been destabilizing of the relationship between the United States and Russia, question one. Question two, --
MR. BURNS: No. The answer, no.
QUESTION: No. No. Question two, how could this -- is it conceivable that this kind of activity can go on without the knowledge and approval of Mr. Yeltsin?
MR. BURNS: What contact are you referring to?
QUESTION: The Nicholson case.
MR. BURNS: Oh, Nicholson. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Excise that answer, Bill. I didn't hear the Nicholson word. I'm sorry, and how you phrased the question.
Why don't you ask me a specific question. I'll be glad to answer it. But for the transcribers, I want to excise that last "no" because I didn't understand your question.
QUESTION: Okay. Is it conceivable that Mr. Yeltsin could not know and not be approving of such operations against the United States?
MR. BURNS: That's a very different question than the first one you asked.
QUESTION: Is it?
MR. BURNS: So that's the specific question you are asking.
MR. BURNS: Did President Yeltsin know about this case before it was made public? Is that what you are asking me?
QUESTION: Does the U. S. believe that Yeltsin knew about it, or is it conceivable that he could not know?
MR. BURNS: I have no idea.
MR. BURNS: I have no idea. (Laughter.) That's the answer I want on the record. I have no idea.
QUESTION: Cuba. Two things.
MR. BURNS: Judd.
QUESTION: Today the Cuban Government rejected the new ambassador from Spain and yesterday the European Union approved like it could be a new policy linking something like a human right and different things.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction or any comment?
MR. BURNS: Reaction to which development?
QUESTION: Both. Both things. Do you have a comment about why Cuba has rejected a new ambassador from Spain, you know, with a new policy from a new government?
MR. BURNS: Well, on the first question, that is really an issue for Spain and Cuba to discuss. We don't have any particular understanding of what happened there. I think this is a question of "agrement" for the new ambassador.
On the second question, I can tell you we have been following this new European Union initiative quite closely. We support any effort to make clear to Fidel Castro that progress on human rights and democratization is on the agenda that we all have with him, that it should be a central point in the agenda, and it should be pressed very hard by the West, by Europe and by the United States, and we are very pleased that the European Union is making an effort now to press these issues of democratization.
This comes out of -- we hope this is a benefit perhaps of Ambassador Eizenstat's conversations with the European Union and with European governments. We have been saying all along you Europeans have got to be as concerned about democracy in Cuba as we Americans are.
QUESTION: That is why you are looking for, in order to implement Helms-Burton. That kind of a statement from --
MR. BURNS: As the President said and as we said, actually, when the President made his initial determination on Helms-Burton several months ago, this is a factor that will be in play as we, as the President considers his decision, which, I believe, must be made by January 16th, about Helms-Burton.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:3l p.m.) (###)
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