Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
96/12/03 Daily Press Briefg
Office of the Spokesman



Tuesday, December 3, 1996

Briefer:   Nicholas Burns

  Death of US Consul General (Guangzhou) in China .......  1
  Human Rights Abuses in Eastern Zaire ..................  2
  Disarmament in Liberia ................................  2
  Release of Foreign Relations Volume ...................  2-3
  Publication of "Emperor Dead" by FSO Peter Eicher .....  3-4

  Status of Multinational Force/Airdrops/Military Force .  4-5
  Nationality of "Rebels"/Atrocities in Eastern Zaire/ ..  5-7
    Military Offensive/US Position/Zaire Request to US
    for Military Assistance
  Amb Simpson's Remarks on US-French Cooperation on Aid/ .  12-14
    US Relations with Zaire/US Ambassadorship

  Operation Provide Comfort: Status/Changes/Continue .....  7-9, 11
    No-Fly Zones/Recipients of Benefits/Discussions on
  Establishment of Kurdish Parliament-in-Exile in North ..  9
  Evacuations from North/Delivery of Humanitarian Aid ....  10-11

  Independent Radio Shut Down by Govt/Annulment of .......  15-17, 18,
    Elections/Demonstrations/Sanctions Remain Option/  19, 20
    Components for Formal Relations with US & Int'l 
    Acceptance/No Trade Privileges
  EU Extending Trade Privileges/London & Geneva Mtgs .....  17
  Sanctions Lifted by Dayton Accord/Reimposition Possible/  18-19
    US Unilateral Sanctions in Place/UN Action to
    Reimpose Sanctions
  State of Economy/Economic Reforms ......................  19-21
  US Congressmen in Belgrade .............................  23

  Compliance with War Crimes Tribunal/Use of Economic ....  21-23
    Leverage/Paramilitary Groups Carry Out Ethnic

MEXICO: Attorney General Fired/Anti-Narcotics Efforts/ ....  24-25
  High-Level Contact Group Mtg
  SOUTH: Update on Non-Proliferation Talks/Future ........  25-26
    Membership in MTCR
  NORTH: Mtgs with US at Panmunjom .......................  26
CUBA: Attack on Spanish Consul's Residence ................  26-27
FRANCE: Subway Explosion ..................................  27
CHINA: Visit by Defense Minister/Topics for Discussions ...  27-28
CYPRUS: Moratorium on Greek & Turkish Overflights .........  28


DPB #194

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1996, 1:33 P.M.

MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have a couple of items to report to you before we go to questions.

The first is actually a very, very sad and tragic event and that is to confirm that our American Consul General in Guangzhou in China, Philip T. Lincoln, Jr., was killed yesterday in a car crash in Guangzhou Province. Along with him in the car were a provincial official from the Guangzhou regional government and also their driver.

Consul General Lincoln took up his Guangzhou assignment as our Consul General, our chief diplomat, at a very important Consulate in China, in August of this year. He served previously in Beijing and Taipei, in Seoul, in Sydney and here at the Department in Washington.

He held the personal rank of Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service of the United States. He was born in Michigan. He was one of our chief economic experts on U. S.-China relations, and he is survived by his wife and his three children.

Our Ambassador in Beijing, Jim Sasser, speaking for his colleagues throughout our diplomatic community in China, praised Mr. Lincoln as, "a warm and wonderful man, an exemplary Foreign Service Officer, and a friend to all of us who knew him. We shall miss him very much. Our sympathy and prayers are with his family at this time of great sadness."

That is a quote from Ambassador Sasser that we received today from Beijing. And those of us here in the Department would like to extend our deepest condolences to his wife and his children and his other family members on this very tragic day.

Q (Inaudible)

MR. BURNS: I can get you more information.

Now, I want to read a statement on Eastern Zaire.

The United States is deeply concerned about allegations of human rights abuses in Eastern Zaire by elements of the rebel alliance. Recently, there have been consistent reports by refugees repatriating at Gisenyi of killings by rebel forces in Northern Zaire, allegations of slayings of refugees in the southwestern part of the rebel-held territory, and rumors of executions of Zairian Government officials in Bukavu, as well as allegations that returning young male refugees have been separated before they have reached the border and have disappeared.

The United States calls on the rebel leaders in question to act immediately to investigate all of these reports, these reports of human rights abuses, to halt any ongoing operations that take the lives of innocent civilians and to bring to justice those who have been responsible for these murders.

We urge all parties in Eastern Zaire, including the rebel alliance, to allow objective observers from the international community free and unfettered access to that part of Zaire so that these allegations, these very serious allegations, can be investigated and looked into on an objective basis. And I'll be glad to take your questions on that, if you have any.

I also have a statement that I posted in the press room regarding the situation in Liberia.

The United States welcomes the beginning of disarmament of the factions in Liberia's civil war. The surrender of arms, which began on November 22 in accordance with the Abuja Peace Accords, is an important step forward. Disarmament is the cornerstone of the peace process in Liberia, and the key to ending Liberia's nearly seven-year old civil war.

The United States commends the leadership, the performance and the commitment of the West African Peacekeeping Force in beginning this disarmament exercise. The United States would like to call on all the factions in Liberia and their leaders to continue on this path to peace at this critical moment in Liberia's modern history.

We urge the factions to disarm fully and quickly even before the January 31, 1997, deadline which is set in the Abuja Accords.

Two other quick notices. We also have a notice today concerning the series, "Foreign Relations of the United States." This is actually a major development. You know that the Department of State chronicles the history of American foreign policy. Today we are releasing the 75th and final volume which documents the foreign policy of the Eisenhower Administration, from 1953 to 1960. We are leaving the 1950s and we are now solely into the 1960s and 1970s in our documentation of American foreign policy history.

So now we have 75 volumes which document the Eisenhower Administration's foreign policy. This particular volume looks into the defense posture of the United States in the years 1958 to 1960, a time when we began to make a transition from the defense concept of massive retaliation, which had been adopted earlier in the Eisenhower Administration, to one of flexible response, and one that took into consideration the possibilities of other types of defense postures for the United States.

It's a very significant volume. I commend it to all of you who are interested in our diplomatic history. And on that point, my final announcement has to do -- and I forgot to bring the book out here. I usually don't plug books here, but I wanted to plug one today.

There is a new book out. It is called "Emperor Dead" and it is a book by a Foreign Service Officer, Peter Eicher, whose wife Stephanie works in the Bureau of Public Affairs and I thought would be out here today, and Peter Eicher has written a book which is a collection of hundreds of dispatches from American diplomats going back to the first dispatch ever sent to Washington by Silas Dean from Paris in 1776, and taking you up to the Vietnam War era.

And these dispatches, I think, give a unique flavor about what our diplomatic history has been, what the work of the Foreign Service is, and I commend this particular volume to you. The interesting title, "Emperor Dead", refers to the two-word message that was sent by the American Minister in St. Petersburg, John Foster, to the State Department in 1881 upon the death of the Czar, Alexander II, and he communicated in a very different way. Here it is, "Emperor Dead" by my colleague, Peter Eicher, from the United States Foreign Service.

This is a two-word communication on the death of the Russian Czar. Can you imagine in the modern world if an American ambassador sent in a two-word message on such a momentous event. It was a different time. And this book does illustrate the way that diplomacy has changed over the last 200 years. If you are really interested, there is actually a book-signing tonight at DACOR, and I can give you the address and the time, and I am sure members of the press will be most welcome to give this book some play.

I don't do this, obviously, for any commercial reason. The author did not write this for a commercial reason. He wrote it because he wanted to do something to document our diplomatic history. "Emperor Dead."


Q Back on Eastern Zaire.


Q Not much has been said lately about U. S. thinking concerning a multinational force, and I wonder if the thinking has crystalized at all over the past few days?

MR. BURNS: We continue to participate in the group that was formed by the Canadian Government in Ottawa on Friday and that is a group that includes, I think, roughly l5 countries. We are in very close touch with the Canadian Government, with both their civilian and military officials.

As you know, the United States has said that we are willing in principle to participate in a multinational force in Eastern Zaire. However, at the present time, because of the dramatic and very positive return of, we believe, over 600,000 Rwandan refugees to Rwanda, we are still in the planning stage.

As you know, the Canadians have talked publicly about the possibility of an air drop proposal, air drop operations that would attempt to parachute into affected areas badly needed food and medical supplies to groups of refugees.

This proposal is still in the planning stage. The group that was formed in Ottawa on Friday operates on a consensus basis, and there is, I think, no consensus, even no inclination from the organizing countries, to proceed yet with this operation.

The same is true about the contingency plans that had been written about the possible deployment of a multinational military force. That is still something that is a possibility but by no means a certainty.

The Canadians, I think, announced over the weekend that they had hoped to send in a reconnaissance team to investigate both of these options. I do not believe that team is yet in country in either Rwanda or Zaire, because I don't believe that either government has yet given its permission.

So you can see that the international community is ready to do what it must to be responsible in this situation. We do require the assistance and the cooperation of the Rwandan and Zairian Governments, but I would just like to take this opportunity to commend the Canadian Government for the leadership it has given all of us over the last couple of weeks during this crisis.

Q On the rebels, you seem to be convinced that they are, in fact, Zairian. There has been some confusion, I think, about that. Some have said that they may be Rwandans acting as, or masquerading as, Zairians in order to achieve their own political ends.

MR. BURNS: Well, the rebel alliance that I referred to in my statement refers particularly to the Banyamulenge rebels, the Tutsi rebels, in Zaire. There is mounting evidence, Jim, unfortunately, of a series of atrocities that have been committed just in recent weeks in Eastern Zaire, and the victims have been returning civilian refugees, people who do not have arms, people who in some cases are women and children, not just young men, and the young men we know have been isolated in these exercises.

And we felt incumbent upon ourselves to draw public attention to this today and to warn the Banyamulenge and others who may be supporting them that the world is watching, that those who have perpetrated these atrocities have to be held responsible for them, and that they have an obligation to allow the proper U. N. and other international organizations into that area to try to seek an accounting for what has happened.

Q Are you suggesting that there may be some connection between them and the Rwandan Government, for example?

MR. BURNS: I have made no such suggestion at all. I have simply suggested that we have -- I have stated that we have an increasing number of reports, very serious reports, that need to be looked into, and we do know that a great number of people have been killed in these atrocities over the past couple of months.

Now what we cannot do is give you any kind of exact counting of how many people have been affected by these killings. It appears that it may be in the hundreds, it may be higher. We don't know. That is one of the reasons why we believe the international organizations should be allowed in.

Obviously we want to do everything we can to increase public pressure on these rebel groups, the rebel alliance, in Eastern Zaire to make it cease and desist from this type of outrageous behavior.

Q You're not asking them to cease and desist in their offensive though?

MR. BURNS: Roy, on the contrary. The persistent call by the United States since the beginning of this crisis has been for all groups whether they are rebel groups, private militias, or government soldiers from Rwanda or Zaire, or any other country, to stop the fighting.

We have consistently called for that. We don't believe the fighting is amounting to anything positive, and on the contrary, it has just achieved more destruction and death for the people of Eastern Zaire and Rwanda. And we have, I think, an unblemished record and a very consistent record in calling for that.

Q Could you bring us up-to-date on the events of this as far as you know?

Q Can you bring us up to date on the offensive as far as you know?

MR. BURNS: Which events, Roy?

Q Offensive -- the Kabila offensive. They're claiming to be in Kisangani, which is a very long distance from Goma.

MR. BURNS: You've seen the press reports that I have. We don't have Embassy officers in the field along this 250 kilometer front that would allow me to give you a sense of the blow-by-blow of the fighting. But, clearly, there is intensive fighting underway in Eastern Zaire. There were very prominent press reports about it this morning.

I don't want to put myself in the position of being the person who can describe that to you with any degree of authority. We know there's fighting going on. In the midst of that fighting, not only are fighters targeting each other, the rebel line seems to be targeting innocent civilians, and that's what we are speaking to today.

Q Does the United States not have some kind of an office in Kisangani?

MR. BURNS: The United States has an Embassy in Kinshasa, and the United States has an Embassy in Kigali. We do not have, on any kind of regular basis, American diplomats in that region.

We have had some AID workers in that region. There have been a lot of international relief workers in the region, but they have, of course, been occupying themselves in very different ways. They've been trying to get relief supplies to the refugees.

Q What is the best picture you can give us of this offensive? Is this a real offensive? Are they really taking this much territory? Because it sounds like it would be a major threat to the Government of Zaire, such as it is.

MR. BURNS: Roy, I can just tell you that we have seen the same reports that you have -- very consistent reports about a determined and intensive military offensive underway in Eastern Zaire.

As you know, the United States supports the territorial integrity of Zaire. We recognize Zaire as one country under its current borders. We do not wish to see Zaire's borders changed. We are not supporting in any way, shape, or form these rebel movements and their military objectives.

We have called upon them to stop. We would call upon them again today to stop their offensives and to allow the suffering people of Eastern Zaire, many of whom are Zairian citizens, victims of this fighting -- both Tutsi and Hutu and other ethnic groups. We want this fighting to stop so that those people can live in some degree of relative peace.

Q Has the Government of Zaire asked your assistance in combatting these rebels as they are reported to be, in their offensive? What is the attitude of the United States? If you want to support their integrity and also the unity of the country, then it seems to be dissolving right now.

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that the Government of Zaire has asked for the military assistance of the United States in combatting this rebel offensive in Eastern Zaire. I believe the Government of Zaire has undertaken, on its own means, to resist this military offensive.

Our view is, the fighting should stop on all sides -- full stop.

Q Yesterday, we asked about "Provide Comfort." Do you have any official --

MR. BURNS: An official statement on "Provide Comfort?"

Q Yes.

MR. BURNS: I can tell you this. "Operation Provide Comfort" has been for five years a very important way for the United States and Turkey and Britain and France and others to provide stability in northern Iraq.

As you know, the air components, north and south continue and will continue. Of course, we carry on a very active dialogue with the Turkish Government about the basis for "Operation Provide Comfort." We'll continue to talk to the Turks about it.

But we expect that the basic alliance in place, that is engineered to constrain Saddam Hussein and deter him from military movements north and south, that is going to remain in place.

Q Any message officially that you want to cancel some part of "Provide Comfort?"

MR. BURNS: No, I'm not aware of any kind of official message of that sort.

Q Any message from Turkey and the Turkish side?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any formal message; no.

Q May I follow? What changes are envisaged for the operation?

MR. BURNS: If there are any changes, we'll tell you about them when they've been agreed to. We carry on discussions with the Turks probably everyday of the week about this issue and with our other partners. It's no secret that we've been having discussions on this issue, but I have nothing to give you, obviously, until those discussions are through.

I do want to leave you with a very firm impression that we'll continue to maintain our "no flight" zones, north and south. Saddam Hussein has to understand that.

Q Planes will be left in Turkey as a result?

MR. BURNS: Again, I'm not going to speak in any way to the specifics of this because our conversations with our partners are private.

I just want to leave you with a very firm impression that Saddam has got to figure in his own tactical and strategic calculations that the United States hasn't forgotten he's there and that we're going to keep our "no flight" zones intact and that he's not going to be able to fly in those zones. That's going to limit his military behavior and it's going to limit his ability to threaten his neighbors north and south and east and west. That's a very good thing because he's a proven double and triple offender who needs to be deterred and needs to be constrained.

Q Is it your policy point of view: Since most people who were covered under this operation left northern Iraq -- most of it -- for whom this operation will be providing comfort from now on?

MR. BURNS: Providing a lot of comfort to the citizens of Turkey, the citizens of Kuwait, the citizens of Saudi Arabia, the citizens of every other Gulf state; I would think most of the Arab world. Certainly, the citizens of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France, just to name several hundred million people who are going to benefit from the continuation of this operation.

Saddam Hussein is not going to be able to fly north or south. We're going to prevent him from doing that, as we have during the last two American Administrations -- of President Bush and President Clinton.

Q There's no more geared at northern Iraq? The focus seems to have changed quite a bit.

MR. BURNS: No, it hasn't, because we're maintaining a northern "no flight" zone. It's very much focused on northern Iraq. It's always been focused, of course, as you know, the entire operation on southern Iraq as well.

Q Yesterday, I asked another question about northern Iraq. The Parliament in Exile -- the Kudish Parliament in Exile trying to establish headquarters in the northern part of Iraq. Do you have anything on this subject?

MR. BURNS: We are not aware of any attempt by the so-called Kurdish Parliament in Exile trying to establish any kind of a base or capital or center or safe house or broadcast station in northern Iraq. We're not aware of it. But we know that the PKK has often used this name of "Parliament-in-Exile." Of course, we're opposed to the PKK. We've been consistently opposed to the PKK.

We're just not aware of any evidence that they've established themselves as such in northern Iraq.

Q On "Provide Comfort", will it still continue to supply humanitarian aid over land or by air?

MR. BURNS: I think that remains to be seen. That's one of the questions that we've got to talk to the Turks and others about.

As you know, most of the people who work directly for the United States Government in those humanitarian operations were evacuated from northern Iraq in the two operations -- well, in the first operation, I should say, to be most clear -- a couple of months ago. So we no longer have the infrastructure in place that would allow us to have a continuation of those problems, but we are looking at other ways to accomplish that purpose.

One of the things that we have been trying to achieve in our discussions with the Turkoman population - - with the two major Kurdish factions, is programs that would help to build stability and peace for the people of northern Iraq.

Q But there are still some European-based humanitarian organizations in --

MR. BURNS: Yes, there are.

Q Are they now being used as a conduit for humanitarian aid?

MR. BURNS: Yes, there are efforts underway by the United Nations and by private organizations to continue the efforts to deliver humanitarian aid.

Northern Iraq is going to be a busy place for the next couple of months. As you know, U.N. Resolution 986 appears to be very close to final approval. That operation, that U.N. resolution, would put into place a distribution system for both humanitarian goods but also for the export of oil which will, in part, be centered on northern Iraq.

So it's going to be an area where there will be lots of outside involvement in a very beneficial way. So I would expect that this general effort to try to help the Turkomans and Kurds and Assyrians and others will continue.

I think it's important that we would note, we're not just talking about Kurds here in northern Iraq. We're talking about Assyrians and we're talking about Turkomans and other ethnic groups. It's very important to make that distinction.

Q Has there been any more progress that you can report on getting out the NGO employees, the 5,000? Are they in some refuge currently in northern Iraq where they are safe from reprisal? What can you tell us?

MR. BURNS: As you know, Bill, we announced a week or so ago that we believe, in principle, it's a good idea to bring those people out, but I have no further details to give you on that issue today.


Q When you're saying that the air component of "Provide Comfort" will continue, are you taking into consideration the fact that the National Security Council in Turkey, which is a military body mostly, has for the first time decided not to extend the mandate of the operation? This is for the first time since '91.

Yesterday, you told us that the sense you're getting from Ankara is that the Turkish Government is also willing to continue with the operation. But now there is a decision against that.

MR. BURNS: As you know, this is a collective international effort and therefore all countries must cooperate together to continue it. We certainly are sensitive and knowledgeable about the views of the Turkish Government. We do have discussions underway about this issue.

I am giving you an American point of view, which is my job as the Spokesman here, and I can tell you what the American point of view is. These "no flight" zones must be continued because of our strategic effort to contain Saddam Hussein.

We believe that Turks, Americans, French, and British, among others, can agree on this, that we need to continue the efforts to contain him.

Q Would (inaudible) consider having, or would this government consider continuing the operation from another country in the region?

MR. BURNS: I'm just not aware of any such proposals. I assume that you're going to see more continuation than not as a result of these discussions underway.

What I cannot do is tell you what the outcome of these discussions in detail is going to be because we haven't arrived at that point.

Steve. We have to get back to Zaire at some point. I have something else to say on Zaire. But, Steve, I'll be glad to go to Serbia first, unless you would like me to do my Zaire thing. Why don't I do Zaire first and then we'll go to Serbia.

I was remiss. I had intended to come out here and speak about an issue on which I was asked yesterday, and John has been good enough to remind me to do that.

Yesterday, Agence France Presse, that celebrated international press agency with the distinguished correspondent in Washington -- a good friend of ours, Andre Viollaz.

Yesterday, Agence France Presse reported that our Ambassador in Zaire, Daniel Simpson, had made some remarks about the French Government as well as about the Government of Zaire. I am here to tell you that references to the statements by Ambassador Simpson in the article do not represent United States Government policy nor do they reflect the views of Ambassador Simpson.

Let me just speak in two respects about this issue. They are very important issues. First, pertaining to U.S. French relations.

The United States continues to work closely with the French Government and with other Western governments and with African nations on all issues concerning the humanitarian crisis in the Central African region, particularly in Eastern Zaire.

United States-French collaboration has been especially evident in our ongoing discussions to address the current problems in Zaire, and we expect it to continue and to reinforce the collaboration that we have forged with the French in Central Africa.

Second, pertaining to United States' relations with Zaire, the United States has a longstanding relationship with Zaire and a very important relationship with Zaire. Zaire is a strategically important country in Africa -- a look at the map, a look at the natural resources, the size of the population is evidence of that.

We are strongly encouraging the democratic transition in Zaire -- the idea of a democratic transition in Zaire, and strongly encouraging economic reform in Zaire. We are also actively engaged, as you know, with the Zairian Government at this moment and with other governments to bring an end to the hostilities in Eastern Zaire and try to bring back some stability to the people there.

So I just wanted to clear the air, and, if there are questions on that, speak now or forever hold your peace -- at least until the end of this briefing.

Q Are you saying the Ambassador was misquoted?

MR. BURNS: I am saying that his statements -- we've spoken to Ambassador Simpson. His statements neither represent U.S. policy nor the views of Ambassador Simpson.

Q Will the United States (inaudible).

MR. BURNS: Excuse me?

Q (Laughter)

MR. BURNS: Well, let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, you're all experts on this. I understand that Ambassador Simpson talked to some reporters, as he normally does, on a monthly basis, and the ground rules for the discussion were not on the record; they were on background.

I further understand that quite a bit of what he said perhaps got jumbled in the translation or got jumbled in the understanding of some of the people present and do not represent the views of Ambassador Simpson. And, as I said, they do not represent the views of the United States Government -- of the State Department, and we felt it was important to clear the air here and let you all know what we think of some of those articles.

I'm not casting any aspersions on any particular news agency, much less Agence France Presse, with which we have had and will continue to have very good relations. There were a variety of press reports from individuals who took part in this.

Q Will the Ambassador be -- let me get this correct, Nick. Will the Ambassador be asked to retract his off-the-record statement?

MR. BURNS: No, because if you make a statement off the record, it's impossible to retract it, isn't it, because it can't be reported by the responsible members of the press corps. I'm simply saying -- let me just be very clear -- they don't represent his views, and they don't represent our views, and that covers the universe of people who you should be interested in here.

Q So what do you say to the French who are complaining about this?

MR. BURNS: I've just said this is a rather -- perhaps this is a transparent way of saying we'd like to say to the French Government that these statements do not reflect our views about our current collaboration with the French Government.

Q But you're referring to them as "statements," and that implies that something was stated and that it has not been misquoted --

MR. BURNS: The articles in question put quotation marks around statements, and, if you read the articles in question, they're very bald statements, and they don't represent the views of the Ambassador or of the United States.

Q You said, Nick, that he wasn't supposed to be quoted on, what he said?

MR. BURNS: No, there were two problems with the interview. Q (Inaudible)

MR. BURNS: No, there were two problems. The first is unfortunately -- and this never happens here at the State Department, fortunately -- the reporters violated the rules of the interview. Second, the substance of the interview was not reported correctly by some of the reporters. I'm not interested in going after any of the reporters individually or any of the organizations. That's not the issue here. The issue is we wanted to clear the air about what we think of our relations with two countries -- France and Zaire -- and we've tried to do that today.

Do you want to follow-up Steve, or do you want to go back?

MR. BURNS: Thank you. Forever hold your peace.

Q Is the Ambassadorship in Rwanda open?

MR. BURNS: No. We have an American Ambassador in Rwanda.

Q Has the United States moved any closer to doing anything specifically as regards reinstating sanctions, perhaps with the closure of two radio stations by the Milosevic Government and the continuation of demonstrations there and political unrest?

MR. BURNS: Let me go through, if I could, our views and the situation today which, I think, Steve, will answer your question.

The United States understands through our American Embassy in Belgrade that the Serbian authorities today shut down Radio B-92 and Radio Index, which is a student-run broadcast station.

The United States condemns this suppression of the remaining elements of the independent media in Serbia. This is a transparent effort to keep the Serbian public in the dark, and it demonstrates the fundamental lack of respect and lack of regard the Serbian Government has for democratic principles.

It is curious, indeed, that the Milosevic regime views even these modest and peaceful attempts to speak publicly by members of the media to be somehow a threat to the Serbian Government itself. This is a rather dim and dark picture of the corner into which the Serbian Government has painted itself by its actions over the last two weeks.

Our Embassy in Belgrade has made these views plain and clear to the Milosevic Government. We believe again that the Government must respect the results of the municipal elections -- the results that were flagrantly overturned by anti-democratic measures.

We are going to continue to monitor the situation in Belgrade very closely. Our charge d'affaires, Dick Miles, has in the last two days been personally in touch with major opposition figures, including Mr. Draskovic, including Mr. Djindjic and this morning including with another opposition leader, Vesna Pesic.

Those discussions have reviewed the entire situation, and in those discussions Mr. Miles has made clear the views of the United States Government. We commend the opposition for keeping these demonstrations -- these massive demonstrations -- peaceful. We commend that they respect an orderly, democratic process where people have a right to have their views heard by their fellow citizens.

Let me tell you, on the part of the United States, we spoke yesterday about the fact that the reimposition of sanctions remains an option for the United States. We are concentrating our efforts on trying to make sure that the entire international community is speaking out together, uniformly, about these anti- democratic measures in Serbia.

It was with great gratitude that we heard from several European governments yesterday in Lisbon -- very strong statements against the behavior of the Serbian Government. We would expect at the London Conference tomorrow and Thursday, December 4 and 5, that the United States and our European partners will join forcefully to make clear to Foreign Minister Milutinovic, who will be representing the Government of Serbia, that the annulment of the elections is unacceptable to the international community.

The United States, as I have repeated a couple of days running -- but I'll be glad to do it again -- has taken its own unilateral efforts, made its own unilateral efforts, to express our displeasure for a long time about the nature of the Milosevic Government and about its repression of its own people.

Just to review, the United States does not have and will not have full diplomatic relations with the Government of Serbia and Montenegro as long as this type of behavior continues.

First, we will not be exchanging Ambassadors with that government. We will not give them permission to open consulates in the United States. The United States will not extend its own economic benefits -- either economic assistance, financial assistance or trade preferences; most-favored-nation status, Ex-Im Bank lending, OPIC insurance.

These are the components of a normal relationship that the United States has with any country around the world, and they will be withheld from this relationship, these concrete economic benefits, as long as this type of behavior continues.

Furthermore, the United States will not support the efforts of the Serbian Government to take the seat of the former Yugoslav Republic at the United Nations. We will not support Serbia for membership in the OSCE, the summit of which has just been held and concluded today in Lisbon. We will not support Serbia's desire to join the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank or to receive assistance from those two financial organizations.

Furthermore, we do not believe that the time has come for any country around the world to grant any similar trade privileges to Serbia. There has been some talk in Europe, as you know, about an increase in Serbia's cooperation with the European Union.

The United States has made clear to our European partners that we oppose that. This is not the time to do business as normal with Serbia. This is the time to stand up together and to confront the Serbian Government about its frankly outrageous behavior towards its own people.

Q Would you elaborate on the European trade move? Exactly what are you referring to?

MR. BURNS: I obviously want to give the floor -- and you ought to ask representatives of the European Union to give you the details -- but there has been some talk recently about the European Union considering extending trade privileges to Serbia; some of the trade privileges that are similar to the ones that I just enumerated that we're not going to give.

It's one thing, obviously, to even engage in preliminary conversations before the events of the last two to three weeks. It would be quite another, indeed, were any country or any international organization to continue those discussions in light of the fact that democratic elections have just been suspended. So we certainly would hope that that would be the position of the European Union. That's certainly the position of the United States.

Q What have the Europeans told you in response?

MR. BURNS: As I said, we have a good opportunity now at the London Conference over the next two days to exchange views specifically with the European governments, and the Serb Foreign Minister will be present, which is an excellent opportunity for us to stand up in a unified way -- Europe and North America -- to oppose what's going on in Belgrade.


Q Nick, did the U.S. disinvite or uninvite the Serbians from a meeting this week in Geneva, I think -- a multinational meeting?

MR. BURNS: I'll have to check with you. There are so many multinational meetings that take place in Geneva. I don't know which one you're referring to, but, Betsy, I'll be glad to look into it.

Q (Inaudible) European cooperation --

MR. BURNS: I will check into that. In general, I can say in answer to both of your questions, this is not the time to do business as usual with Belgrade. We need to send a stiff and clear message to Belgrade that its ability to have a normal relationship, which is want Serbia wants with all of us in the West, is fundamentally compromised with this type of behavior.

If you listen to the Serbian Government over the last year, what they're seeking is recognition in the United Nations, in other international organizations, trade benefits, normal commercial relationships, normal political relationships. I've just read you a list of actions by the United States -- which are one year old, by the way, and in some cases more than a year old -- which have plainly put us in the corner of saying, "No recognition, no business as usual, no trade benefits, as long as this type of behavior continues."


Q Nick, the sanctions that were lifted with the signing of the Dayton peace accords seemed to have been the tool which brought Milosevic around on that issue. Is the United States now thinking about reapplying or reusing that same tool to bring him around on the issue of the elections and his own domestic political problems?

MR. BURNS: Steve, those sanctions, which are the trade sanctions that were lifted -- that the Dayton Accords called to be lifted, were a part of the containment of Serbia that was underway in the latter years of the Bosnian war. They were lifted.

When they were lifted, the United States said at the time, on the day they were lifted, that we reserve the right to reconsider our position, should that be necessary based on Serbian Government behavior.

This is quite a complicated process. To actually reimpose those sanctions, it would have to be an action of the members of the U.N. Security Council, and one can never, of course, take for granted the unanimity of that particular body. But the United States said that it reserves the right to bring back to that body this question. And, as I said yesterday, we reserve that right, and Serbia, of course, is on notice and has been on notice about that.

In the meantime, in addition to those sanctions, we had our own unilateral sanctions in place, and we have determined, of course, over the last couple of weeks that we were right in maintaining those sanctions, and that those sanctions will now be extended and consideration to lift them will not be given seriously until this type of anti-democratic behavior ends.

Q But is there a movement afoot in this Department or in the Government here to reinstitute or to take this back to the United Nations?

MR. BURNS: As I said yesterday -- and I think I was very clear about this -- we reserve the right to discuss this with our U.N. Security Council partners. We have not taken such a step. We have essentially put the Serbian Government on notice that such a step is possible. I'm not aware of any action to do so in the next week or two or three was what I said yesterday.

But it's important to note it, and it's also important to note the unilateral measures that we have taken. Since there should be no business as usual, we would hope very much that the European Governments individually and the European Union collectively would decide to stand with us in opposition to the government in Belgrade on this particular issue of the elections and of the treatment of demonstrators. I should hasten to add, because it's a relevant question every single day, the United States has made very clear to the Serbian Government that no harm should come to these demonstrators; that the use of force should not be taken against the students and the workers and the other citizens -- men and women, children -- who are in the streets of Belgrade.

Q Nick, from time to time the United States has used Milosevic has a lever of pressure against the Bosnian Serbs. Is that lever now non-operative?

MR. BURNS: No. In fact, a variety of the press questions in the last couple of days have focused on this issue, Jim. We don't share the conventional wisdom that somehow we need Milosevic more than he needs us. Frankly, it's the other way around. He needs us in this situation very much, and we are denying to him the kind of trade and economic advantages that any normal head of state can assume in a relationship with the United States.

Furthermore, given the state of affairs in Serbia, the economy is in ruins. Unemployment and inflation are high. There's no economic growth. There's widespread despair in the population, which accounts for the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, on the streets. They don't have an option to violate the Dayton Accords. They don't have an option to go back on their commitments. It's in their self- interest to promote the Dayton Accords, because the Dayton Accords at least give them peace and a measure of stability. They simply have no interest and neither do the Bosnian Serbs in returning to the situation of 1991 to 1995.

Q Without going into the relative benefits of who gains most in this relationship, the question is, does the United States lose a lever of pressure against Bosnian Serbia?

MR. BURNS: I don't believe so, because I think as long as Mr. Milosevic is in power -- and, of course, I can't forecast how long that will be -- but as long as he is, it's going to be in his self-interest to make sure that the Bosnian Serbs comply with the Dayton Accords. If there's another government that takes power in Belgrade, we believe it will be in the interest of whoever takes power to continue the cooperation with the West on Dayton.

That also goes for the Bosnian Serbs. As you know, Ambassador Menzies/John Kornblum have an independent relationship with Mrs. Plavsic and Mr. Krajisnik and Mr. Buha and the other Bosnian Serb leaders independent of Serbia, and we'll continue to work both avenues to make sure the Dayton Accords are maintained.

Q Did the Ambassador, in talking to the three opposition leaders, inquire as to the incident last week when an American flag was apparently burned in front of the U.S. Embassy? It was reported on AP in several cycles.

MR. BURNS: I don't know if he raised that in particular. It wouldn't surprise if he did. But I just haven't seen a readout of his conversations with these individuals. I understand, frankly, that more has been made of that -- that there's less than meets the eye here; that in fact if you look at the way these demonstrators have comported themselves and what they've said to all of you, there is very little anti- American sentiment here, nor should there be, because the United States has been in the forefront of countries supporting the right of the demonstrators to be in the streets. We certainly understand the anger of the demonstrators, because the elections have been stolen from them.

Q Speaking of being in the forefront, Carl Bildt made a statement yesterday. He called for a rapid move towards radical political and economic reform in Serbia, paving the way for a democratic society and a free economy. Do you agree with Bildt's statement? This is in the Lisbon Conference.


Q You do?


Q The meaning of a "rapid move toward a radical political reform" is open to interpretation, but these are very strong words. They really suggest a change of the government.

MR. BURNS: Roy, with all due respect, I am not in the business of doing textual analyses and deconstructing sentences. But I can tell you that in general we agree with that statement because we've called for economic reform, political reform, democratization, and certainly all of those are badly needed in Serbia today.

Q The word he used was "radical political and economic reform."

MR. BURNS: "Radical" is -- I can find a synonym with which I would agree, and, as I said, we agree with Mr. Bildt's statement. But I don't want to do what we used to do in sixth grade and diagram a sentence and figure out what it all means behind the lines. I think Mr. Bildt has reflected Western public opinion here and Western governmental opinion here.

Q Why, though, has the Administration itself not made a statement as strong as his?

MR. BURNS: I certainly have no interest in getting -- in allowing this conversation to turn into any kind of fight with Carl Bildt. We respect him. We agree with his statement. I think we see eye to eye on this, and we have said repeatedly over the last year, we think that democracy and economic reform should be the order of the day in Belgrade. I'm glad to say it again today. I'm glad to associate myself with those remarks. There's no distinction here or difference between Mr. Bildt and the United States Government on this issue.

Q Bosnia. Mr. Kijac, the Interior Minister in the Republic of Srpska, apparently has told international officials that the Writ of the Tribunal does not extend to Republic of Srpska, and that --

MR. BURNS: You mean the War Crimes Tribunal.

Q Yes, at the Tribunal. And therefore there is no question of arresting or even removing some of these people who have been indicted from senior police positions. In fact, one of them seems to be his deputy.

I'm just wondering whether you have any response to this, and what do you do about it?

MR. BURNS: That's rubbish. The gentleman is completely uninformed or he's not telling the truth. The fact is that when Mr. Krajisnik and Mr. Buha, and even Karadzic, by some indirect means, approved the Dayton Accords, they signed on the dotted line to cooperate with the War Crimes Tribunal. He's wrong. He is totally wrong.

Q But he said it. In fact, he's in charge there. He's in control of this group.

MR. BURNS: One of the reasons why the Bosnian Serbs are receiving barely a trickle of assistance from the international community is because -- and in contrast, the Bosnian Government is receiving a lot - - is because the Bosnian Serbs are fundamentally not in compliance with their war crimes provisions of the Dayton Accords and the Bosnian Government is.

And if the Bosnian Serbs would like to see a ratio of about a million-to-one in economic assistance between them and the Bosnian Government, well, they should just continue their policies. The Bosnian Government will end up with years of reconstruction aid and other economic assistance from the West and the Bosnian Serbs will have nothing. If that's the way they want it, they're doing a very good job, then, of making sure that they're going to be disadvantaged.

Q Is it a violation of the Dayton agreements?

MR. BURNS: Yes, it certainly is.

Q So what do you do about it? MR. BURNS: What we do is, continue to use real, concrete leverage -- in this case, economic assistance. Sooner or later, hope that leverage works.

Q (Inaudible).

MR. BURNS: As I said, they're currently being disadvantaged because they're not complying with the Dayton Accords.

Q In another story the Washington Post carried today about Bosnian Serbs organizing paramilitary groups to carry out ethnic cleansing and they're connected directly to the ruling party, I wonder what you have on that?

MR. BURNS: We're looking into these claims. I think the original -- the sources, the Human Rights Watch Report, we are looking into them because they're very serious. We do deplore and criticize in the strongest terms the continued resistance by the Bosnian Serb authorities to the return of the refugees to their homes and the on-going and systematic intimidation by the Bosnian Serbs and by paramilitary units and by police officers and by even the highest level authorities to the return of refugees to Bosnian Serb- held territories. These are clear violations of the Dayton Accords.

Q This seems to be connected, according to this report, to Kijac, or rather to the whole government. Because one of the people named as organizing this is supposedly the Defense Minister of the Bosnian Serb Republic.

MR. BURNS: Listen, I don't know how I can be anymore clear. They can either comply with the Dayton Accords and receive assistance and be treated as a normal entity, or they cannot comply and continue to be ostracized. Right now, they're being ostracized and isolated. They simply cannot -- rational-thinking members of the Bosnian Serb community -- cannot -- cannot believe this is the right policy for the Bosnian Serb community.

Q A group of U.S. Congressmen came this morning to Belgrade. They met with the opposition leaders. They even addressed the student rally. But, still, there is no signal that they are going to see Milosevic nor any representative of his government. Can you explain? What's going on?

MR. BURNS: Not for me to explain the workings of the Serbian Government. We would hope that Mr. Milosevic would be open to talking to members of Congress as well as to members of our Administration. It's his choice. It appears that he's got a bunker mentality.

Q They are not planning to see him?

MR. BURNS: Excuse me?

Q The Congressmen are not planning to see him. They are going to Montenegro?

MR. BURNS: If he's not willing to see them, I'm sure they have no other option but to continue on their delegation -- on their trip. All I'm saying is that we have seen them in the past week. As you know, Dick Miles, our Charge d'Affaires, was in to see him. It's his choice as to how he comports himself in this crisis. But I think we've made our views abundantly clear.


Q Our Spanish service was asking if the State Department has any particular reaction to the naming or the firing of the Attorney General in Mexico?

MR. BURNS: We are aware of the fact that Mr. Lozano has been relieved of his duties and that there is now a replacement. Jorge Madrazo is Attorney General.

All we can say is this: We have a very important cooperation underway on anti-narcotics efforts with the Mexican Government. We have achieved some victories in that effort together, and we have experienced some setbacks.

We will continue our efforts to work with the Mexicans to disrupt the narco-traffickers and the chain of supply that leads into our cities and our towns here in the United States. That affects both the American and Mexican populations.

In fact, General Barry McCaffrey, who is our overall senior coordinator of drug policy in the United States Government, will be leading an interagency team, including officials from the State Department, to Mexico shortly for a discussion of these efforts with the new Mexican Attorney General.

Q Can you (inaudible) that the high-level Contact Group is going to meet as scheduled originally in the next week?

MR. BURNS: Yes, I can. I can confirm that the high-level Contact Group will be meeting. I don't have a specific date. But I can tell you that General McCaffrey is determined that we continue our efforts to work with the Mexican Government.

It was a Mexican Government decision to replace Mr. Lozano with Mr. Madrazo. So I can't comment on that. But I can certainly comment on what we are doing with the Mexican Government.

Q You don't think that's a major setback? Because it was a person which the United States always expressed with very high esteem regarding his work.

MR. BURNS: It is certainly true that we have the highest esteem for Mr. Lozano and worked very well with him and that is a fact. We hope to have a similar relationship with Mr. Madrazo. We hope that President Zedillo will remain committed, and his Attorney General will remain committed, to the fight against the narco-traffickers and the narcotics distribution, in general.

Did you have a follow-up on this, Bill, or can we go onto --

Q Just briefly. Do you have an opinion upon the appointment of Mr. Madrazo?

MR. BURNS: No. I said we're not going to address ourselves to it. That's an internal question for the Mexican Government and population.

Q Briefly, can you say if you believe that this is a positive step in the drug war?

MR. BURNS: I'm not going to characterize it in any way. It's not for the United States Government to characterize a Cabinet change in the Mexican Government. It's pertinent for me to comment on our bilateral cooperation, which I have done.

Q Mr. Lozano was relieved for good reason. Do we believe that?

MR. BURNS: I'm not going to comment in any way.

Q Non-Proliferation Talks have been going on here yesterday and today.


Q What's going on with the --

MR. BURNS: Glad you asked. I meant to tell you about this. I spoke with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bob Einhorn this morning. He has concluded a third round -- the third round of the U. S.-South Korean Task Force on non-proliferation discussions. The talks centered on issues of common concern, both bilateral and multilateral, concerning missile proliferation and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Our shared objective with the government of South Korea about its future membership in the missile technology control regime -- we want to see South Korea become a member of that organization, and the importance of working with South Korea and others in implementing the chemical weapons convention.

We also discussed further cooperation in support of our mutual non- proliferation objectives both in Asia and around the world. They were very successful talks. I know Mr. Einhorn felt that it was worth having them, that they made some progress and we look forward to our future talks with the South Koreans.

Q Did allegations -- MR. BURNS: Excuse me?

Q (Inaudible) -- anything to say about long-range missiles?

MR. BURNS: I can just tell you, George, that a variety of issues came up, including issues pertaining to South Korea's own activities; that as South Korea looks to the future, of course, we want to make sure that, as a member of the MTCR, it is in compliance with its commitments, and we have every reason to believe that will be the case.

Q Is it your understanding that the South Koreans are complying with their bilateral agreement with the United States of 1979 on the range of their missiles?

MR. BURNS: Well, I can tell you in response to that most of these conversations were confidential. So I can't confirm the basis of your question. I can just say we had good discussions, constructive discussions, confidential ones which I am not going to be talking about in public.

Q (Inaudible) outside of this meeting, just independently confirm the fact that they -- whether or not they are complying with the 1979 agreement?

MR. BURNS: I simply have -- I have no comment to make on that particular question.


Q Do you have anything on U.S. and North Korea delegations meeting in Panmunjom?

MR. BURNS: No, I do not. I don't have anything for you on that. Yes.

Q There were some reports in Madrid this morning that the house of the Spanish Consul in Havana has been attacked. There was some denial in Havana. Do you know anything about it?

MR. BURNS: I have seen no reports about an attack on the house of the Spanish Consul in Havana.

Q In Madrid there were some reports that in Havana it had been denied. You don't have anything?

MR. BURNS: No. I have seen no reports, but nothing would surprise us about the behavior of the Cuban Government, especially when it feels cornered, especially when it feels that it's on the defensive, which it clearly does on the issue of human rights.

Yes, Betsy.

Q Do you have anything on the blast in the subway in Paris?

MR. BURNS: All I can say is we heard about a half hour, 45 minutes, before the briefing began about this most tragic bombing in Paris in the St. Michel, Montparnasse area. I know that Prime Minister Juppe has spoken out publicly about the fact that a number of people have died and a number have been injured. Our greatest sympathy goes to those people, families of those who have been killed, and those who have been injured, and we obviously wish the French Government the best of luck and good fortune in finding out who planted this bomb.

The French Government is saying it believes it was a criminal activity, and all of us have a stake in the fight against terrorism around the world, and we simply have great sympathy for the French Government as it deals with this tragedy in Paris this evening.


Q I believe the Chinese Defense Minister is -- is he in the United States now?

MR. BURNS: I don't believe he's -- Mr. Chi Haotian has not arrived yet in the United States, but he will be coming for talks with Secretary Perry and other Administration officials, people here in the State Department.

Q Another philosophical question in that he -- I think he had quite a hand in the Tiananmen Square situation -- how does the Administration, which has complex relations with China obviously and delicate ones, how do you make sure that this gentleman hears the proper message that we want to have good relations with China, and yet seek to show him our continuing displeasure with the breakdown on human rights?

How do we prevent him from drawing the wrong message on human rights from his visit?

MR. BURNS: I can tell you, first, that the United States Government obviously does not choose the Chinese leadership. We deal with the leadership that has been identified within China itself in its own system.

Secondly, it is important that we have military discussions with the Chinese, given the fact that we are the two largest military powers in the Pacific.

Third, in every conversation that we have had with the Chinese leadership over the last four years and in every conversation that we have had over the last two weeks with President Jiang Zemin, with Premier Li Peng, with the Foreign Minister and Vice Premier Qian Qichen, and now with the Defense Minister, we raise the issue of human rights. All of Mr. Chi Haotian interlocutors in Washington, at the Pentagon, at the White House, at the State Department, will raise this issue. He will not come away from his trip to Washington with the impression -- with any other impression but that human rights are at the center of our relationship with China, and will remain there.

So there will be no problem in communicating those views because that is part of what the United States does in this relationship.

Q Thank you.

MR. BURNS: I think we have one more question, George, I'm sorry.

Q One last on Cyprus.


Q Has there been any agreement or at least progress on the moratorium on flights of Turkish and Greek airplanes over Cyprus, because there was some talk coming from Lisbon after meetings by Carey Cavanaugh and Cypriot officials in Lisbon?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any agreement on that particular issue, but it's an issue of continuing concern to us, and we'll be of help if we can.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:32 p.m.) (###)

To the top of this page