U.S. Department of State 96/12/02 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Monday, December 2, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Welcome to United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Journalists . 1 DEPARTMENT Tribute to Robert McCloskey, Former Department Spokesman 1-4 Secretary Christopher's Travel to Brussels/NAC/NACC .... 4 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Deputy Secretary Talbott Heading US Delegation to Bosnian Peace Implementation Council This Week ........ 4-5 Vice President Gore Representing U.S. at OSCE Meeting .. 5,14 Continuing Demonstrations Against Serbian President .... 9,11-12 --U.S. Contacts with Milosevic and Serbian Officials ... 10 --Status of Sanctions/Reimposition of Sanctions ........ 10-11 --Arrest of Several Journalists from Blitz Newspaper ... 11 --Status of U.S. Assistance to Serbian Government ...... 12 Bosnia: Agreement for Structure of Council of Ministers by the Parties/Support for Follow-on Security Force ... 12 Agreement by President Plavsic to OSCE Supervision of Municipal Elections in 1997 ........................... 13 Reports Bosnian Serbs Pulling out of Brcko Arbitration . 13-14 CUBA Passage of European Union (EU) Initiative .............. 5,7 --Status of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act .......... 6 SOUTH KOREA Third Round of U.S.-South Korean Task Force on Non- Proliferation ......................................... 5-6 Reported Development of Long-Range Missile by S. Korea . 6 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Settlements/Hebron Talks ............................... 7-8 Status of U.S. Peace Team .............................. 8-9 Reported Tensions Along Syrian-Israeli Border .......... 9 TURKEY Status of Operation Provide Comfort/No-Fly Zones ....... 14,15 Citizenship of Turkish Deputy Prime Minister ........... 15 IRAQ Reported Attempt to Establish a Kurdish Parliament in Exile in Northern Iraq ................................ 16 CHINA Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan ...................... 16-17 --MTCR Commitments/U.S. Sanctions ...................... 16 NORTH KOREA Congressman Richardson's Report to the Department ...... 17 UNITED NATIONS African Candidates for UN Secretary General ............ 17-18 JAPAN Okinawa Agreement ...................................... 18-19 SAUDI ARABIA FBI-Saudi Cooperation on Bombing Investigation ......... 19-20 ZAIRE Reported Remarks by U.S. Ambassador re Zaire ........... 20-21
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1996, 1:21 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Welcome back from Thanksgiving weekend.
I want to welcome four United Nations Dag Hammarskjold journalists here under the auspices of Meridian House International. I believe you're seated over here. Welcome.
I want to start today with a -- I want to take a moment to say a word about the passing away of one of certainly my most distinguished predecessors, Robert McCloskey -- Ambassador Robert McCloskey -- who died on Thanksgiving Day after a long bout with leukemia.
Those of you who covered the State Department during Ambassador McCloskey's tenure -- and I know that there are a few of you seated here in the front row -- don't need to be reminded of his professionalism, of his integrity and his dedication to the truth. He had a deeply ingrained respect for the press corps and your profession. He considered the reporter's job of keeping the American public informed a noble endeavor, and essential, certainly, to the functioning of our democracy.
At the same time, he also loved the State Department. He served it well. He was our Ambassador in Cyprus, in the Netherlands and also in Greece. He served twice as State Department Spokesman for three Secretaries of State -- for Secretary Rusk, Secretary Rogers and Secretary Kissinger.
I thought I would just leave you with two quotes from him. He said in his farewell remarks to the National Press Club, "Not many are afforded the privilege -- for me it has been a great privilege -- of serving the government and the press, the two great estates, at the same time."
He also said, I believe, in leaving the State Department, "If there is such a thing as a role in search of a hero, it must have been conceived for the press officer. Recognizing the responsibility of the government to both perform and inform, and the right of the media to question and comment, he or she seeks to find a tolerable area of compatibility, even though the two institutions are as separate as church and state."
In our view here -- and there are several members of the Bureau of Public Affairs who served with him -- Robert McCloskey was that hero. He set an incredibly high standard for integrity and honesty, against which the performance of all of his successors will be judged. Obviously, the great respect and the condolences of all of us here at the State Department are extended to his family, to his wife and his two daughters.
MR. JIM ANDERSON: Excuse me. As one of those who do remember him vividly, I'd like to join with your remarks, and he will go down as one of the most respected and admired press spokesmen that we have ever witnessed. We continue to honor his memory.
MR. BURNS: Thank you, Jim.
MR. GEORGE GEDDA: Could I say a few words from there?
MR. BURNS: Absolutely. I'd be glad.
MR. GEDDA: We wire guys usually operate in 500-word cycles, and that's about how long this will take.
I go back to 1968 here, and I figure Nick was in about the seventh grade then -- (laughter) -- and Glyn was probably a mischievous fifth grader.
I was here when Dean Rusk inaugurated this room in 1968, and there's the picture with some remarks that he made on that day. I was an interloper here for my first seven years, and there were some Hall of Fame reporters during that period who probably should be doing this. Folks like the Kalb brothers and Chalmers Roberts and Murray Marder of The Washington Post; and Ben Welles and Rick Smith and Tad Szulc of the New York Times.
As everybody knows, Bob's career trajectory included bartending, the Associated Press, State Department Spokesman, and Ambassador. As far as I'm concerned, his career peaked out when he was a bartender. (Laughter)
Although I was a part-timer when Bob was spokesman, I was around for some memorable moments. He was a record setter in some ways. I think he briefed here longer than anybody else, during late Johnson, through Nixon's first term, and then made a brief comeback during the Ford Administration. So given his longevity here, he probably holds the record for the most ambiguities. (Laughter)
His briefings were so filled with ambiguities, he could have marketed them after he left here. Once when he was asked to clarify something, he said, "For clarity, that ambiguity ought to stay." (Laughter)
I can remember when Bob stepped up to the podium one day -- this actually happened -- said he had no announcements, invited questions, and, when there were none, he walked off. The briefing lasted ten seconds, and this was in the middle of a war. Can you imagine that happening nowadays? (Laughter)
Bob had less patience with impertinent reporters than any of his successors. One of his favorite words was "badger," as in "stop trying to badger me." He had a withering glance that was capable of stopping a clock when he was annoyed.
During an unpleasant exchange, he would say something like, "You guys are treating me as though I were the village idiot." He said that more than once. Too bad Lambros wasn't here in those days. (Laughter)
QUESTION: Where is Lambros?
MR. GEDDA: I looked back there, and I don't find him.
Tensions between the press and government are inevitable, and Bob's tenure was no exception. I can remember the day when Marvin Kalb walked out when Bob had nothing to say about the Paris peace talks on Vietnam. Bob explained that the briefing was being done in Paris and not here, and that explanation did not particularly satisfy Marvin. Then there was the day when Bob was being particularly tightfisted with his information, and Ken Freed of the AP got up from his chair and said, "I'd rather sell shoes," and he marched out. (Laughter)
Bob was one of the last spokesmen to serve in the era before TV cameras were allowed. Only pens and notebooks were permitted. Bob had to read prepared statements slowly, because there were no tape recorders or Federal News Service transcripts. I can still remember those withering looks aimed at reporters who had the audacity to tell him to slow down.
But the briefings during the pre-TV era were better not because of any shortcomings of Bob's successors, but because the spokesman had the liberty to go on background, and that's a huge advantage which I think many of us sorely miss. Bob would spend about a third of each briefing on background, and you can look that up.
As an AP reporter early on, Bob ingratiated himself with me by making sure somebody from AP was here before he started briefing.
Bob McCloskey really cared about the Foreign Service and did not hide his anguish over the difficulties his overseas colleagues had to face, such as kidnappings or other troubles. I can still see the expression on his face.
He was very good at returning phone calls. He was loyal to the institution, but he helped reporters whenever he could. I don't know of anybody who was ever misled by him. He was deeply admired by those covering the Department, and I think the government and the press were both served well by Bob McCloskey's presence here during a very difficult period in our history. Thank you. I'll take questions. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: George and Jim, thank you. You said it better than I could have. Thank you very much for that tribute to him.
I have a couple of other announcements today. The first is to tell you what you already know, and that is that Secretary Christopher will be travelling to Brussels on December 10 and 11 next week to participate in the meetings of the North Atlantic Council on the 10th and the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the NACC, on December 11.
The United States expects that the NAC Ministerial -- the North Atlantic Council Ministerial -- will focus, obviously, on our efforts that have been underway for some time to create the new NATO through internal adaptation, external adaptation, including NATO enlargement. I expect that the Bosnia issue will also figure prominently in the discussions next week.
Those of you who would like to travel with the Secretary, who will be leaving next Sunday, should sign up in our Press Office. I'll take the sign-up sheet down on Wednesday.
You know that the British Government will be hosting this week on the 4th and 5th of this week, Wednesday and Thursday, a session of the Bosnia Peace Implementation Council. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott will be heading the U.S. delegation to that meeting, which is a very important meeting that will focus in some detail on all of the civilian issues that are at the heart of trying to keep the Dayton process going, as it is going so rather successfully in our view. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum will be with Strobe Talbott at that meeting.
I think you know that Vice President Gore is representing the United States at today's meeting in Lisbon of the OSCE summit. For those of you who are interested, I believe we have a text of the Vice President's intervention -- his remarks -- on the OSCE, including some remarks that he made on the situation in Belgrade, the situation in Serbia.
There was a rather important development, and that was an agreement by the OSCE heads meeting in Lisbon, as of this January 1997, to look again at the question of the CFE Treaty and the application of that treaty to modern Europe. That's a very important development.
My last statement is a statement that congratulates the European Union on its passage today and adoption today of an initiative to help promote democracy in Cuba. The United States welcomes this important change from words to action by the European Union. This new position clearly demonstrates the European Union's commitment to work in a more active, coordinated and sustained fashion toward our common goal of promoting a peaceful, democratic transition in Cuba.
We understand that common positions such as this are binding on all member states of the European Union. We recognize that the EU's approach toward Cuba is different from our own; that the EU will continue to act independently, as it has today. The United States is hopeful, however, that this approach will contribute to our objective of promoting democracy, freedom and respect for human rights in Cuba. Today's action is a major step forward in showing that the human rights situation in Cuba is a priority concern not just for those of us in our own hemisphere but for the entire world.
QUESTION: The South Koreans are supposedly in the building today, talking to U.S. officials about military matters. Do you have anything to say about that?
MR. BURNS: Yes. The third round of the U.S.-South Korean Task Force on Non-Proliferation -- the third round of talks -- is being held today and tomorrow at the State Department. Our delegation is headed by our Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and our expert on these issues, Bob Einhorn.
There will be discussions on a variety of issues, including our bilateral and multilateral cooperation on non-proliferation of missiles and on weapons of mass destruction. Our shared objective: that the Republic of Korea, South Korea, might now become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime and the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. So it's a very important meeting going on. This follows the excellent meeting that the President had with President Kim and Secretary Christopher had with Minister Yoo, the new South Korean Foreign Minister, last week in Manila.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the Washington Times' story today about development of a long-range missile by the South Koreans?
MR. BURNS: I don't. I think I'm going to make a tactical decision today, and that is not to reward the Washington Times for yet again publishing information that is leaked to them by somebody in the U.S. Government based on highly classified intelligence information.
QUESTION: Nick, could I ask a question about your statements about the European Union? Will this be a factor in the Administration's decision on whether or not to grant a waiver under Helms-Burton this month?
MR. BURNS: The President must decide, I believe, by January 16 about the status of Title III of the Libertad Act of the Helms-Burton Act, and, when the White House and the State Department discussed the President's and the Government's views on Helms-Burton last summer, we did indicate at the time that we hoped that the Europeans would pay more attention to human rights in Cuba.
That was the basis of Ambassador Eizenstat's several trips to Europe and discussions with the EU and member governments of the European Union, and this certainly will be a factor. It will be one of the factors that we take into consideration. As recommendations are prepared for the President, obviously, the President's decision will be his own. It will depend on a variety of factors, not just this one.
QUESTION: Would you clarify the technicality? Does he have the ability to waive all punitive action, all legal sanctions, against those who have purchased or now own property which had been expropriated by the Cuban Government?
MR. BURNS: I believe it's just a question of another six-month period, but I can check that for you, Jim. I believe that's the issue here.
QUESTION: Ambassador Eizenstat went to Europe again about ten days ago. Did he have anything to do with this new initiative of the European Union?
MR. BURNS: I think this is an initiative that the European Union took on its own volition, that it considered to be in its own best interests, and adoption of a measure like this is binding on all member states.
We have been encouraging the European Union to be more open and assertive about the human rights situation in Cuba. We believe that Castro is a major violator of human rights of his own people, and I think there's been a drumbeat of support for this kind of action by the United States for many months. So we're pleased to see the European Union arrive at this point.
QUESTION: The Cuban Government is accusing especially the Spanish Government of doing the American policy now in Europe for the United States. Was there any discussion with the Spanish Government, between the United States Government and --
MR. BURNS: This is a pattern of the Cuban Government, and indeed I think the pattern of a lot of totalitarian dictatorships; and that is when they have problems at home, they like to have a scapegoat overseas, on which to blame their problems.
The Spanish Government is a part of the EU. The EU took this decision on its own. The United States is pleased that the EU did.
We have great sympathy for any government being criticized by the Cuban Government, but those governments join a very distinguished club. That club is a club of countries that are fundamentally opposed to the last remaining dictatorship in our hemisphere.
The United States hopes that there will be a peaceful transition to democratic rule in Cuba. That's the objective here. We hope that this initiative by the EU as well as the three-decade-old policy of the United States -- well, nearly four-decade-old policy of the United States -- will serve that goal. That's why we have the policy we do towards Cuba.
QUESTION: Another region? The Middle East?
MR. BURNS: Sure.
QUESTION: Any comments on the latest developments in the region between the Israelis and Palestinians, especially the building the settlements and Netanyahu's announcement on the Jordan Valley, that it's going to be Israel's forever? What's going to happen? And what's next in the Hebron talks and the Middle East peace process in general?
MR. BURNS: The United States continues to work very hard with Israel and the Palestinians to complete the negotiations on a Hebron -- a redeployment of the IDF -- the Israel Defense Forces from Hebron.
That agreement, of course, has been awaited for a long time. There have been hard negotiations. Prime Minister Netanyahu made some positive comments this morning in Lisbon. He thinks that progress has been made. We do, too. But there remain some problems that have to be worked out between the Palestinians and Israelis.
We're there at the table every day talking to them, in the person of our Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, and our Consul General, Ed Abington, our American Consul General in Jerusalem. We'll continue to be there every day to help them reach an agreement. We hope that agreement will be reached shortly. We'll see the proof of that in their actions.
On the other question, pertaining to settlements, I spoke about this, I think, two days running last week. Our policy remains unchanged on settlements, and what I said last week obviously stands.
QUESTION: Any action to make your position clear about this matter?
MR. BURNS: Our position on settlements is perfectly clear; has been for a long time. I'm not sure I can improve the clarity of our position. We're very open about it and very clear.
QUESTION: Do you expect any changes in the peace team for the next four years?
MR. BURNS: Next four years? Boy, my time horizon on personnel predictions extends probably to tomorrow night, maybe Wednesday morning. I'm not going to venture a guess as to who will be in which chairs over the next four years. All I can tell you is that we have a very good team in place right now.
I spoke to Dennis Ross, our Ambassador, this morning. He is following these negotiations very, very closely. He's been on the phone with all of the major actors over the last couple of days.
Secretary Christopher, of course, is following them very, very closely as well. The United States is the indispensable intermediary here. We will remain that way. We will remain active with them until this agreement is reached.
QUESTION: Do you have any indication of tensions along the Syrian- Israeli border, along the Golan Heights, any evidence of Syrian troop movements? Have you seen anything?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any indications of that, no. I've seen in the past three or four months a lot of stories about this. I think both Israel and Syria know the dire consequences that would ensue of any kind of conflict along their border.
Certainly, we've spoken to the Israelis and Syrians a number of times over the last several months about this. But I know of no recent indications that there is somehow a heightened state of tension along the Syrian-Israeli border, in the Golan, or elsewhere.
QUESTION: Different subject.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Bosnia. Well, actually, Serbia. Do you have any reaction to the demonstrations which are continuing in Belgrade? Has the U.S. been in touch with Milosevic or his government to urge no violence?
MR. BURNS: The United States has been very active on this issue for the better part of a week. As you know, we have called repeatedly on President Milosevic and the Serbian Government to respect the results of the recent municipal elections.
The Milosevic Government annulled those results and then tried to form - - carry out sham elections in the process, and then declared victory last week. That is an outrage against international norms. We have been joined in these protests by a number of European countries.
Vice President Gore spoke out forthrightly this morning in Lisbon about it. We condemn the government's attempt to stifle information about these protests.
If you watch State TV in Belgrade, in Serbia, you wouldn't know that up to 100,000 people have been in the streets every day for the last seven or eight days. We've certainly made this message very clear in private.
Our Charge d'Affaires, Dick Miles, has spoken to President Milosevic, spoken to the Foreign Minister, spoken to other members of the government, including some involved in internal security. We have given them a very stiff message. The message is that the Serbian Government ought to respect the rights of the Serbian people.
The results of the municipal elections ought to be respected. Some way must be found by the government to walk back from its decision to stifle those elections.
Furthermore, we have warned the Serbian Government that it should not take any actions or use any force against the people demonstrating peacefully in the streets of Belgrade. There is every indication that they are demonstrating peacefully. There are enough cameras there, there's enough independent reporting there. Our Embassy officers are out watching these demonstrations on a daily basis.
We will continue to apply the unilateral sanctions that the United States has imposed on Serbia -- the so-called "outer wall" of sanctions. These sanctions do matter to the Serbian Government. We know that from our private conversations with the Serbian leadership, including with Milosevic. We'll maintain these sanctions, in part, because of the repression of the Serbian people by the Serbian Government.
QUESTION: Is any thought being given to reinstate, I guess what you might call the "inner wall" of sanctions?
MR. BURNS: The United States has always said that that question is a live possibility for us. I can't speak to the other members of the group that we've been involved with that has essentially managed the Bosnian conflict for the last year or so, but I can speak for the United States. That's always an option for us. I know no reason -- I know of no indication that it will be exercised this week or next, but it's certainly an option that the Serbian Government has to be aware of.
We will reserve the right to take any action necessary to express our displeasure at this fundamental refutation of the democratic rights of the Serbian people.
QUESTION: Is there anything that --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the "inner wall" of sanctions is?
MR. BURNS: What Betsy is referring to, I think, by the colloquial phrase, are those sanctions that have been placed on Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs that were lifted as part of the Dayton peace process. Those sanctions really prohibited the entry, or the conduct of most trade between Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs.
The United States has not taken any action to turn on those sanctions. But as we've said many times, we reserve the right to consider any action, including that, necessary to express our displeasure with the conduct of the Serbian Government either on the repression of its own people or pertaining to the Serbian Government's commitment of the Dayton peace process.
QUESTION: Nick, one more question. Is the U.S. Government in any way seeking to make it easier for local journalists in Serbia to get the word out about these demonstrations or to have any other kind of other voice in this?
MR. BURNS: As you know, the Blitz newspaper has been particularly active in reporting on the demonstrations and reporting on the negative actions of the Serbian Government.
I understand that several journalists of the Blitz newspaper were arrested over the weekend. We have protested that action to the Serbian Government.
We are trying as best we can to make sure that our own public statements are being heard in Serbia. There are a variety of means to do that. We are not an independent political actor in Serbia. It's up to the Serbian Government to take the steps that are necessary here.
It is not hard to know why -- it's not difficult to know why there are hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Belgrade. The Serbian Government stole the elections. The Serbian Government has to be accountable to the people for that action.
We just hope that this situation can continue to be relatively peaceful -- relatively peaceful -- as it has been so far.
QUESTION: Nick, if I could follow up. On that particular issue of a potential for violence, what has Mr. Milosevic's government said to the United States about cracking down on demonstrations. I've heard some warnings; I've have seen some reports published of warnings by Mr. Milosevic about this. What does our government know?
MR. BURNS: Our government has made it perfectly clear publicly and privately to the Serbian authorities at every level and with a variety of different individuals who are responsible for public order and for security that the United States would be outraged if any attempt was made to use force against the demonstrators.
The demonstrators have a right to be on the streets of Belgrade to express their views peacefully as they are currently doing.
QUESTION: What has the Serbian Government said to us that you --
MR. BURNS: You're going to have to ask the Serbian Government that question.
Still on this issue? Yes, Jim.
QUESTION: Do the Serbs -- are they now either getting or have they been promised any reconstruction aid?
MR. BURNS: The primary recipients of reconstruction aid are the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serbs. The Bosnian Serbs have not received much, if any, because of the fact that they have not met their commitments to the Dayton Accords. So the primary recipient right now is the government in Sarajevo, as it should be. Because President Izetbegovic and his colleagues have, by far, had the best performance in meeting the Dayton Accords over the last year.
There's very little U.S. assistance, if any, to the Serbian Government; very little. In fact, we have an abnormal relationship. We don't have an American Ambassador in Belgrade because of our unhappiness with the Serbian Government policy internally and pertaining to the Dayton Accords and pertaining to the situation in Kosovo.
On that subject, Jim, if you'll let me just go on to a slightly different issue, but it's related to Bosnia -- directly related to Bosnia -- there were some relatively positive developments over the weekend -- three of them.
First, the three Presidents agreed over the weekend on the structure of the Council of Ministers which will be the core of the unified Bosnian government that has resulted from the September 14 elections. There will be a six-person council, consisting of two co-chairs. There will be ministers responsible for foreign affairs, civil affairs, communications, foreign trade, and economic relations. This is an important step.
When Secretary Christopher was in Paris a couple of weeks ago, he spent most of his time talking to Mr. Izetbegovic -- President Izetbegovic -- and Zubak and Krajisnik about this issue.
Secondly, Madame Plavsic has agreed finally that the OSCE will supervise the Spring municipal elections. You remember that those elections had to be postponed by Ambassador Frowick until the Spring because conditions weren't right for them. The Bosnian Serbs had taken the position that the OSCE would not supervise them. She has now given in, and she has relented and accepted the OSCE supervisory role.
Third, the three Presidents, also over the weekend, expressed their full support for the follow-on security force that NATO and other countries will be arranging in Bosnia.
These are three positive developments, and they make us believe that the Bosnian Dayton peace process will continue, and it will have the strong support of the United States as it does continue.
One negative point: The Bosnian Serbs announced that they were pulling out the Brcko arbitration panel over the weekend.
As you remember, Brcko, and the corridor there, were one of the unresolved issues from Dayton. Secretary Christopher and Ambassador Holbrooke suggested that an arbitration panel, headed by Roberts Owen, an American attorney, part of Dayton negotiating team, would meet and would suggest a way to resolve that very difficult problem.
The message to the Bosnian Serbs, who are attempting to pull out, is the following: With or without their direct participation in the arbitration proceedings, the arbitration tribunal for Brcko will reach a decision.
The Bosnian Serbs are obligated under the Dayton agreement to accept and implement the independent decision that the arbitration panel, headed by an American, will make. We expect that the London Conference, when it meets in two days' time, will fully support this point of view. That's the message that ought to be heard in Pale.
QUESTION: Nick, did the Vice President mention anything about Bosnia? You said that he mentioned something about Serbia.
And the second one, what is your expectation, actually, in London? Brcko is going to be one of those questions. Does it mean that Serbs trade -- they accept the OSCE next year but they gave up negotiations about Brcko?
MR. BURNS: The two are unrelated. The Serbs will accept OSCE supervision and the Serbs will have to live with the decisions of the Brcko arbitration panel. They have no choice under this matter. They signed on the dotted line, and they're going to have comply with that commitment.
The Vice President's remarks, I think, they're on the wires. They're available to you. But he did, in his intervention -- his main speech at Lisbon -- remark quite strongly on the failure of the Serbian Government in Belgrade to live up to its commitments under the OSCE charter and the commitments that all OSCE members must adhere to; and that is, fundamentally, to respect the democratic rights of its own population.
QUESTION: Recently, a Serbian delegation from Pale -- they've been in D.C. -- they were talking with Roberts Owen. Their position is that Brcko is a Serbian town. They have more than 40,000 new people from Krajina, from Coatia Serbs. So if they say that Brcko is still their town, what is in your hands or in Bosnian hands --
MR. BURNS: The fact is that this was one of the -- I was at Dayton -- this was one of the unresolved issued from Dayton. There is an arbitration panel, and they will be -- they are bound to accept the results. They don't have a free choice in this matter.
QUESTION: The "Provide Comfort."
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: We heard that the United States Government sent a letter to Turkey to cancel the "Provide Comfort" extension request. Can you confirm this letter?
MR. BURNS: I cannot, no. I'm sorry, Savas, I cannot confirm that. I'll have to check with our experts in the European Bureau and try to get an answer for you.
QUESTION: But if it was canceled, you would know, right?
MR. BURNS: I would hope so. (Laughter.) But you know, as a lot of spokesmen can tell you, including, I'm sure, Ambassador McCloskey when he was here, we don't always know everything. But we try to know everything.
QUESTION: Something as important as "Provide Comfort."
MR. BURNS: We rely on the good will of our people here in the building.
QUESTION: May I follow up? Also, did you remember before the Thanksgiving, we put a question about the deputy prime minister's citizenship, U. S. citizenship. Did you get anything? Did you find anything?
MR. BURNS: I think we were too busy over Thanksgiving enjoying our national holiday. I don't have an answer for that. I'll continue to look into that for you.
QUESTION: As far as the policy goes, does the U. S. still believe it's important or as important as it has been to enforce the no- fly zone in northern Iraq?
MR. BURNS: The United States continues to enforce the northern no-fly zone and the southern up to the 33rd degree in the south. We are assisted in that by all of our coalition partners, including the Turkish government in the north.
There has been no change in that. And Saddam Hussein must understand that we will continue to constrict his ability to operate militarily either south or north of Baghdad through the creation of these two no- flight zones.
There has been no change whatsoever in our policy, none whatsoever, and we'll continue Operation Provide Comfort.
QUESTION: Another subject? Kurdistan. The PUK representative, Mr. Saib, believes there's been a violation of the cease-fire in northern Iraq. He says that this is a very negative indication for the future of the peace talks. Can you address this issue?
MR. BURNS: Bill, we refer to the region as northern Iraq. We don't recognize any kind of independent Kurdistan, as you know.
We're aware of some squabbling over the last couple of days. This is natural. It's normal. It's par for the course. It's not surprising to see the two Kurdish groups engaged in that kind of verbal -- verbal exchange.
And we'll continue our efforts to try to arrange a permanent cease-fire. There's a cease-fire in place. It has served the region well. And Ambassador Pelletreau and the Turkish government and the British government are working with the Kurds to try to see if we can have a final arrangement produced that will insure peace in northern Iraq.
QUESTION: Excuse me. Turkish and Kurdish parliament in exile, they are planning to settle in northern Iraq and this. They are trying to establish their headquarters in northern Iraq. Do you have any idea what's going on? Are they really establishing or are you supporting this subject, this kind of --
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any attempt to establish a parliament in exile in northern Iraq. I can check that for you. I'm just not aware of the development at all.
QUESTION: A different subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: The Chinese government stated rather plainly yesterday that they were going to go ahead with their nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. Do you have a response?
MR. BURNS: Well, as you know, this issue of Chinese sales of items to Pakistan has been in our -- on our agenda with China for a long time. It was specifically discussed by Secretary Christopher in some detail in Beijing with Minister Qian.
As I said that week in answer to press questions, we have no indication -- no indications to us -- no information available to us -- that China has violated its May 11th commitment to the United States pertaining to assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. And we will continue to keep this issue on our agenda with the Chinese. We'll talk to them at every opportunity.
Now I know that China has made an announcement that somehow it's going to continue its support for peaceful nuclear cooperation to Pakistan. It's long-standing United States policy that the United States does not participate in or encourage in any way any kind of nuclear trade or nuclear cooperation even with -- even with safeguarded facilities in Pakistan.
We think that it's best that China refrain from any type of nuclear cooperation with Pakistan.
Now the other question that usually comes up is, has China violated its MTCR commitment -- or MTCR commitments, U. S. sanctions law, the May 11th commitment? And on that question, I want to be very clear. We have no indication that China has done so.
But the other point that I am making is that we don't think it's wise, given the record here, and given the allegations that have been made, even to engage in peaceful nuclear cooperation with safeguarded nuclear facilities.
QUESTION: Were you surprised by yesterday's announcement, having just discussed this with them?
MR. BURNS: I can't say I was surprised by it because, you know, we don't always see eye-to-eye with the Chinese on this particular issue.
QUESTION: North Korea. Did you hear from -- anything from Congressman Richardson on resumption of the nuclear -- I'm sorry -- missile talk, or any other issues?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything to announce in the way of resumption of the missile talks with North Korea. We did receive a very interesting debrief from Congressman Richardson, which we will keep mainly private. You'll understand why.
But he did a very good thing by going over there to Pyongyang and securing the release of Mr. Hunziker, and we are very glad that Mr. Hunziker is back with his family in the northwest.
Yes, sir. Lee.
QUESTION: Yes. I was wondering if you might want to share with us U. S. reaction to a letter from the president of the OAU, who is also the president of Cameroon, saying that they should come forward with new African candidates for secretary general.
Do you think this is going to open up the floodgates for African states to name potential successors to Boutros-Ghali, which they haven't done so far?
MR. BURNS: I can't confirm the letter because the United States was not a recipient of the letter. As I understand it from the press, this letter was sent to other African countries.
But I can say that we have been in touch pretty consistently for the last several months with the Africans, and every day up at the United Nations. And we're hopeful that this kind of appeal will be met by an opening up of this debate so that candidates do come forward to replace Boutros-Ghali.
It's the United States' clear position, with all due respect, we think he should go. We're not interested in any compromise on this issue, and we are hopeful now that candidates who can do the job -- who can do the job the way all of us think it should be done, with reform as its central priority, that those candidates will now come forward; that the Security Council can debate the merits of these various candidates; and that the Security Council can agree on one person to replace Boutros- Ghali, and quickly.
QUESTION: If the Africans don't come up with other names, at what point to you start looking at non-African candidates?
MR. BURNS: Well, I think we've said pretty clearly that we'd like to respect the U. N. tradition of two terms for a secretary general from a particular region. And since Boutros-Ghali is an African, it makes sense to respect that in this case.
However, if the Africans do not come forward with candidates, we obviously have every right to look elsewhere, to Asia, to Europe or Latin America or the Middle East or anywhere else.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) correct, if this letter is correct -- I don't know if we have any reason to doubt it -- would this be a major step forward in replacing Boutros-Ghali?
MR. BURNS: This certainly would be a good step forward, Lee, in this process, because it would mean that finally we're down to serious debate. Finally, the posturing is over, And that this window of opportunity available to the Africans is actually being seized by the Africans.
They have it within their power to make sure that an African is the next secretary general or at least that an African is given very strong consideration. And if they're taking that opportunity now, that's a very good positive development.
QUESTION: In Japan an agreement has been signed to move some of the U. S. military presence to an off-shore facility. William Perry has said that this agreement will reduce the burden on the Okinawan people. But there has been some pretty loud protest there that the agreement does not address the major demands which is a reduction of U. S. military forces in Okinawa.
Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I would just refer you to Secretary Perry's press conference with Minister Ikeda this morning. This is a very positive step forward. Secretary Perry has delineated for the public this morning the actual transfer of a -- of a sizable part of Okinawa to the Okinawan population over the next -- the next, I guess, l2 years.
And that is a step forward, and we think that in taking this step with the Japanese government, we are meeting the concerns of the people of Okinawa while maintaining our commitment, our mutual commitment, to each other's security.
The United States troops are there to provide for the security of Japan, and I think that if you surveyed the vast majority of the Japanese population, they would want them to stay. And they are going to stay.
QUESTION: Another subject? Director Freeh spent some time in Saudi Arabia recently, and I am wondering, in the wake of that visit, does the United States remain satisfied with the level of cooperation with the Saudis on the investigation of the Dhahran bombing? And does the State Department remain satisfied with the level of cooperation with the FBI?
Do you know, in other words, what Mr. Freeh knows?
MR. BURNS: Well, I think the -- I know that the FBI issued a statement following Director Freeh's visit to Saudi Arabia, and that statement, of course, speaks for itself.
We are in close touch with the Saudis on this issue. We want to find out who killed the 19 American servicemen at the barracks in Dhahran. And we are determined to find that out and to help the Saudis bring them to justice.
We will continue to cooperate with the Saudis. They have given us, at their head of state level, in the person of their head of state, a commitment that they will share with us all information relevant to this investigation conducted by the Saudis, and we expect that that commitment will be met.
QUESTION: Has it been met so far?
MR. BURNS: We just expect that that will be met. Director Freeh, I think, has made three trips now to insure that it is met. Secretary Perry has raised this in his trips. Secretary Christopher has raised this in his conversations with Foreign Minister Saud, and with others.
So I think we'll only know to our complete satisfaction at the end of this investigation the full story, obviously. But we expect that this high-level commitment will be met to us.
QUESTION: On Saudi Arabia, there was a report in the New York Times this weekend that the Administration is conducting a government-wide review of its policies toward Saudi Arabia and of the level of information it has about what's going on in Saudi Arabia. Were there -- was that report accurate in all areas?
MR. BURNS: I cannot confirm, frankly, whether or not there is some formal review underway. I can confirm that this is a very serious issue to us, that we have 19 Americans dead, and we have other Americans killed and wounded in the previous blast. We must get to the bottom of this, and we are depending upon the Saudis to help us bring these people to justice.
QUESTION: Zaire. The U. S. Ambassador to Zaire, Daniel Simpson, reportedly has given an interview to the local press in which he supposedly said that Zaire was not a country of great strategic importance to the United States in the post-Cold War era and also allegedly criticized the French government for propping up decadent regimes in Africa.
Are you aware of this interview? And do you have any comment on it?
MR. BURNS: My goodness. (Laughter.) No. I'm aware of an Agence France Press report from Kinshasa. I always read Agence France press because they have an outstanding correspondent here in Washington, State Department (Laughter) But also because it's a good wire agency and I read it.
I did see some kind of a report quoting Ambassador Simpson. I want to be fair to Ambassador Simpson. I don't -- I haven't spoken to him personally. I don't know what the full text of his remarks are. I haven't seen them. I don't know if he has been taken out of context. That rarely happens in journalism, but sometimes it does.
So I want to be fair to him and refrain from comment except to say, of course Zaire is a strategic priority. All you have to do is look at a map of Zaire to see the size of that country, its economic potential, who its neighbors are, the role that Zaire is playing in the current crisis and many of the different crises in central Africa. And right now, you've got a crisis in eastern Zaire. You have one in Rwanda. You have one if Burundi. And you have one in the Central African Republic. Of course, it's a strategic priority for the United States and our whole policy is oriented towards that.
So I just have to imagine that Ambassador Simpson was taken out of context here or misunderstood. I don't know if he was giving the interview in French or English, but I can tell you that's the policy of the United States.
QUESTION: Thank you, and a pleasure.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:06 p.m.)
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