U.S. Department of State 96/12/05 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Thursday, December 5, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS/STATEMENTS Secretary of State Designate Madeleine Albright........ 1 UNITED NATIONS Boutros-Ghali Candidacy................................ 1-2 SERBIA Renewed Radio Broadcasts/Voice of America.............. 2-3,5 Diplomatic Contacts with Milosevic/Elections........... 4-5 GREECE Early Release of Mohammed Rashid....................... 5-6 National Airspace/Territorial Waters................... 7-8 CYPRUS Outcome of Overflights Discussions..................... 6-7 IRAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting............................. 8 DEPARTMENT Secretary Christopher's Future Plans................... 9 ZAIRE International Investigation of Alleged Human Rights.... Abuses............................................... 9-10 JAPAN World Heritage List Sites/Auschwitz Inscription........ 10-11 CUBA Migration Talks........................................ 11-12 CHINA Reported Export of Missile Technology.................. 12-13 TURKEY Operation Provide Comfort.............................. 13 GERMANY Ground Troops in the Balkans........................... 13
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1996, 3:34 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. I just thought it was appropriate today not to have the lights, camera lights, on. I'm here to take any questions on any issue, but I just thought I would say a couple things first, and that is that Secretary Christopher is truly very, very pleased about the selection of Madeleine Albright. They have been friends for a long, long time.
Ambassador Albright called him this morning and asked if she could ride with him over to the White House and they had an opportunity to be together before the announcement.
The Secretary is determined to work very hard until inauguration day as Secretary of State. He is also determined to get back to California. Thereafter, he'll be returning to private life to his law firm, O'Melveny & Meyers. He has been associated with that law firm since 1950. He'll be returning as a senior partner, and he has an intention of being very active in international affairs in national life and also, I think, in California where, as you know, he has taken on a number of leadership roles in public service in California, both in an official and unofficial capacity.
He is really truly very pleased about this. And I might also say in my own -- on my own -- that this is an outstanding choice. Ambassador Albright, I think, has impressed all of us here at the State Department, career and otherwise, over the last four years. She is going to make an outstanding Secretary of State.
Q There was a piece in The Times this morning suggesting that Boutros-Ghali might have been given certain sweeteners in an attempt to lure him out of his candidacy for another term as Secretary General.
Do you know anything about that?
MR. BURNS: Well, I know that last -- between the period of roughly January and May of this year, Secretary Christopher met with him three times alone, had many phone conversations with him, and during that time, as you know, Secretary Christopher did tell him that we could be interested in a proposal where he might stay on for a year or two, but Boutros-Ghali turned that down. And that was last spring. He turned it down. So the offer was taken off the table by Secretary Christopher when he informed Boutros-Ghali in May that the United States would not support his second term, and we would use the veto power if necessary.
Since that time, I can tell you that there have been some private discussions with a wide range of people at the United Nations, including Boutros-Ghali, about how to make the best use of his experience and his considerable talents once he does leave the position. So after he had left the position of Secretary General, how could we all make best use of his experience. And those discussions did not bear fruit.
So that is really as much as I can say, George, about that.
Q You don't want to talk about foundations in Geneva or anything like that?
MR. BURNS: No.
Q And these discussions were not aimed at getting him to drop his candidacy, but merely at --
MR. BURNS: Well, we have been trying to get him to drop his candidacy since May of this year, but we have mainly been trying to do that by telling him, by trying to convince him that there was not going to be a change of mind on the part of the United States.
You know that I think a lot of you and a lot of other people felt that perhaps the United States was going to be willing to compromise in the end and allow a two or three year extension of his term.
We resolved in May of last year, when we made the pro-active announcement that we did, that that would not be the case, and I think we proved that with our use of the veto ten days ago.
Q Have you seen that the Serbs appear to have put or allowed Radio B-92 to go back on the air?
MR. BURNS: We did see that. In fact, I think that they have allowed not only Radio B-92 but another radio station, Radio Index, to go back on the air. This obviously is long overdue. These radio stations should not have been shut down in the first place.
Perhaps Mr. Milosevic and his colleagues understood that the world was going to stand with Radio B-92, VOA, RFE, and RL -- and by the way I forgot to mention RFE and RL yesterday. RFE and RL also made the decision to support Radio B-92 yesterday. And its director, Kevin Close, who has been a very, superb director of RFE and RL, made that decision yesterday. You had Deutsche Welle come forth with the same offer. So I think you had -- the Serb government was facing a united front, internationally, of people who wanted to support the principle of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Serbia.
So it's -- we are pleased for the radio stations that they are back on, because the Serbian people deserve to have a clear understanding of what is going on in their country. And again today l00,000 people on the streets of Belgrade. The Serbian people need to know what their fellow citizens are saying in those peaceful demonstrations.
Q And with those stations back on the air, will VOA and RFE still continue to carry some of their programming?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I do know that perhaps -- I think that both of them have shown a lot of good will, both VOA and RFE towards B- 92 and others, and I think there will probably be some cooperation. But there is really no need now to, in essence try to help them broadcast, because these stations can broadcast on their own.
But they were very helpful. I think I told you when I did any interview with VOA yesterday, the Serbian Language Service, they actually asked a couple of questions on behalf of Radio B-92, questions that were framed by B-92 journalists to me. And I thought that was a nice gesture on the part of VOA to do that for them.
So obviously we are pleased for B-92, but the Serbian government should not have shut it down in the first place. I think that is an important point to make today. We hope that there will now be a permission and an environment where the press is allowed to speak the truth in Serbia, because the truth is important in clarifying the situation, in letting people know what is happening, and perhaps the truth will help to light the way for the future of the Serbian people.
Q In the last three -- all week, in fact -- there have been some strong words from the podium against President Milosevic's policies. And you have stressed that there has been a lot of diplomatic contact between the United States and the Serb government.
Have you had any recent communication and received any new assurances of what is going to be happening, and what his -- to confirm that he will perhaps recognize the November 17 elections?
MR. BURNS: Well, you know, Deputy Secretary Talbott said it best yesterday in his private meeting with Foreign Minister Milutinovic when he said that "We are going to judge you by your actions and not by your words."
Now, we have seen a few actions today. We have seen permission having been given to B-92 and Radio Index to begin to rebroadcast. Let's see if those radio stations are allowed to broadcast in an unfettered way, uncensored way. We hope they will be.
Second, we have seen some preliminary indications that the head of the electoral commission in Belgrade has decided to at least review the nullification of the 18 municipal elections from November 17. Let's see if the Serb government will in fact decide to respect the will of the Serbian voters and respect the results of those 15 municipality elections.
Actions are going to be much more important than words. Now our Charge d'Affaire, Dick Miles, met this morning with President Milosevic, and he delivered a stiff message on the part of the United States on all of these issues, particularly on the issue of the inadmissibility of the use of force against the people in the streets, the civilians, who are protesting peacefully.
But obviously Mr. Miles made -- took advantage of the opportunity to make clear to Mr. Milosevic just how concerned the United States is by the actions of his government, and frankly I think gave him a sense of the outrage that Western governments feel looking at the behavior of the Serb government.
Q What was Mr. Milosevic's response?
MR. BURNS: I can't speak for him. I am not his spokesman. You'll have to ask his spokesman.
Q Did Mr. Miles leave satisfied with the talks?
MR. BURNS: We are not going to be satisfied -- we will not be satisfied until the Serb government respects the will of the Serb people at the ballot box, in the streets, on the air waves. The votes should be counted and respected and people's voices should be heard. And we have said very consistently, Sonia, over the last two weeks that Serbia will isolate itself even further if it does not begin to act like a civilized government.
Q Same subject?
MR. BURNS: Same subject. Yes, Mr. Lambros.
Q However, the Greek spokesman, Dhimitrios Reppas, commenting on the same issue, stated today in Athens that the Simitis government is not going to allow any political propaganda dispatches from the Greek soil against Slobodan Milosevic, as you said yesterday via the Voice of America.
Could you please comment, and I am wondering if the Greek-U.S. agreement is valid to this effect?
MR. BURNS: The United States doesn't have a ministry of propaganda, and VOA does not contribute in any way, shape or form to propaganda. VOA tells the truth, as does Radio Liberty. They tell the truth. They report objectively on what they see, and that's that.
Q (Inaudible) is valid to this effect?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q As far as the agreement between Greece and the USA, it's valid to this effect?
MR. BURNS: Which agreement?
Q Between the United States and Greece as far as the use of Voice of America services.
MR. BURNS: We will respect in every way the agreement between the United States and Greece on the use of the transmitter in Greece. Of course we will. Greece is a friendly country, an ally of the United States, and we would never dream of violating that agreement.
Q On the subject of Greece, do you have a comment on Mr. Rashad's fly-off to Tunisa, the hijacker of years ago?
MR. BURNS: The United States was extremely disturbed by the release of Mr. Muhammad Rashid, who is a terrorist and who deserves to be behind bars; and it was inexplicable to us why he would have been allowed to leave Greece before serving his just sentence.
Q It's about Greece again. Yesterday, I asked Greece militarized some Aegean island. They are building some helicopter pad. This is an open violation of the laws of international trading. Do you have any (inaudible) --
MR. BURNS: I don't have any information on that at all. No, on that particular question.
Q Do you have anything more on Mr. Rashid. Is the United States in contact with Tunisian authorities? Does the United States want him extradited here?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if we've been in contact with Tunisian authorities at all on Mr. Rashid. Let me just tell you that I think you know the background to this: that the magistrate of the Council of Piraeus, acting on the advice of the Council's prosecutor, ruled that Muhammad Rashid was to have been released from prison and expelled from Greece.
We understand that the Council based its decision on Rashid's being "a model prisoner."
This is an extraordinary claim. This is an extraordinary claim, given the fact that Mr. Rashid was the ringleader of a prison riot and that his cell was once found to be filled with contraband and weapons.
This is an incomprehensible ruling. It does not make sense. All of us who have been victimized by terrorism --Greece has, the United States, every country in-between has-- need to stand together against terrorism. We can't let terrorists out of jail when they are a danger to civilians all around the world, and that's a very strong message for the people who let Muhammad Rashid out of jail.
We've conveyed these views to the Greek Government in Athens. We've conveyed them to the Greek Embassy in Washington.
Q It was reported in Greece that you stated off the record -- not to me -- the moratorium over Cyprus has been agreed prior to the Greek elections and it has been finalized by Carey Cavanaugh during his last visit to Athens, Nicosia, and Ankara. Could you please confirm and comment?
MR. BURNS: I can't remember ever talking On-Background.
Q Not to me.
MR. BURNS: Off-the-Record. Excuse me.
Q But it was overplayed over in Athens, that you said this.
MR. BURNS: If I did speak Off-the-Record, then I can't speak about it. (Laughter)
Q But, anyway, as information, could you please comment on the information that it was agreed upon prior to the elections and finalized after Carey Cavanaugh's visit to Athens, Ankara, and Nicosia?
MR. BURNS: I can only say that the parties -- Carey Cavanaugh did have discussions with the Cypriot Foreign Minister, Mr. Michaelides, for several hours yesterday; and, as you know, he met with the Greeks and Turks and others.
I can say that he was unable to conclude an agreement on steps to reduce political tensions. The United States will, of course, continue its efforts to try to improve the climate on Cyprus, Mr. Lambros, as we always do.
Q One more. Citing the international law and practice, you said yesterday that your Government does not recognize the present limit of the Greek airspace of l0 miles over the Aegean. Could you please clarify today the U.S. position vis-a-vis to the limits of the territorial waters over the Aegean?
MR. BURNS: I thought I was perfectly clear yesterday that the United States recognizes sea limits and airspace limits to be identical; and when there are differences, of course, we don't recognize the differences.
So my statement was very clear yesterday. I can't improve upon it.
Q As for the territorial waters --
MR. BURNS: It was so utterly brilliant, I couldn't possibly improve it. (Laughter)
Q As far as for territorial waters, what is the position of the U.S. Government?
MR. BURNS: I announced it yesterday. It hasn't changed. You know the Greek Government established its limits in December l93l. The United States Government has had a consistent position for many, many decades and it hasn't changed since yesterday.
Q I'm talking about territorial waters now.
MR. BURNS: Right. And it just hasn't changed. I spoke about all aspects: air, sea, land --
Q So could you repeat --
MR. BURNS: -- valleys, mountains.
Q Could you repeat what is the U.S. position vis-a-vis the territorial waters?
MR. BURNS: It hasn't changed. It hasn't changed. I refer you to the transcript of yesterday.
Q Is there anything on overflights of Cyprus?
MR. BURNS: No. There isn't, George; no.
We should do Zaire before you all leave. I don't want you to miss something on it.
Q Yesterday, at the Tehran meeting, Greek, Armenian, and the Georgian Foreign Minister officials, they were at Tehran speaking about investment opportunities. Do you have anything on it?
MR. BURNS: Do I have anything?
Gosh, I thought I had something here. I think it's disappeared. Here it is.
We don't have any information about this meeting. We don't even know if it took place. We have no information on it. But we do have a well-known policy towards Iran, and that is that we think that countries should isolate Iran -- not engage in it as a normal country, not engage in commerce with it, not treat it politically as a normal country.
That's our view. We communicate that view to other governments.
Q On the same issue. It was reported by Reuters that Rafsanjani is going to visit Ankara this week --
MR. BURNS: Who is going to --
Q Rafsanjani of Iran is going to visit Ankara this month to meet his comrade, Mr. Erbakan. Any comment?
MR. BURNS: No. Let's see if the meeting does take place. If it does, then perhaps we'll have a comment. We need to establish the fact that it will take place first, and I'm not convinced of that.
Q One question about the Secretary and his future plans. Has the President asked the Secretary to make himself available for special assignments once he leaves office?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that that request has been made. The Secretary, obviously, is a strong supporter of President Clinton. He's very loyal to him, and I'm sure would be willing to listen to whatever anything the President asked him to do in the future. But the Secretary's plans are to go back to his law firm. He'll be probably very active in California.
I think his goal -- the first goal he has is to remain in the same time zone for about 30 days. That's at the insistence of his wife. Then he'll get on with his law practice. He intends to do some writing. He's been thinking about that. He'll be active politically and otherwise. So I don't believe any request has been made, but I would expect that he would be in close touch with a lot of people here in Washington in the future.
Q You want to go to Serbia first?
MR. BURNS: I will just defer to Jim.
Q You were going to say something about Zaire?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I just wanted to update you on the story that we've been following for a couple of days.
As you remember, yesterday, our Deputy Chief of Mission in Kinshasa met with Mr. Kabila, the rebel leader in Eastern Zaire, and advised him of our strong concern about the reports of political killings and massacres in Eastern Zaire.
The rebels have now agreed to allow access for human rights investigators to Eastern Zaire. The rebels have offered assurance that they are committed to cooperating with an international investigation of these political killings.
We understand that the rebels may have even announced this publicly today, although I have not seen, -- John I don't know if you have seen - - any public announcements.
We've also brought this issue to the attention of the Government of Rwanda and asked them to raise it with the rebels. So, again, actions will always be more important than promises.
We perhaps may be making some progress on this very important issue, and I wanted to just make sure I mentioned that to you today.
Q Where was the meeting between the rebel leader and the U.S. representative?
MR. BURNS: It was in Eastern Zaire. Our Deputy Chief of Mission made his way into Eastern Zaire. We have done that. In the past couple of weeks, from time to time, we've been in contact with Mr. Kabila and other rebel leaders, not because we recognize them in any formal way. We do not. We certainly support the territorial integrity of Zaire. But because for practical purposes, we've had an aid mission there. We've been concerned about the refugees and concerned about this issue.
Q And who will do the actual inspections and monitoring?
MR. BURNS: We would rely on the United Nations and other international human rights organizations.
Q What is your response to the official inclusion of the Hiroshima Dome on the World Heritage List?
MR. BURNS: I believe we had a discussion about it yesterday. Is there a particular question that you --
Q It has actually been added to the list. Do you have anything more --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q It has actually been added to the list now.
MR. BURNS: I don't. I must say -- I think I would like to say, we have great respect for the Government of Japan and the Japanese people. We understand that there is a difference of opinion here between two governments, but that should not in any way overshadow everything that we agree upon in our relationship.
We've disagreed on this particular issue. The vote went the way it did. We will go on together to have an excellent relationship.
Q Is the U.S. still planning to take some kind of move so that war-related sites will not be included in the future, or is it --
MR. BURNS: I don't know exactly what our next step will be. That is our position. I think we will adhere to that position.
Q The last one. Were you able to find out what the U.S. position on Auschwitz was?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I looked into that for you. I understand that Auschwitz was inscribed in the World Heritage List in October 1979. At that time, the United States supported the inclusion of Auschwitz on this list.
Q How did the United States then, sort of explain the discrepancy? Or do you see no discrepancy there in --
MR. BURNS: No. I understand perfectly well why you ask that question, and I would ask it if I were in your place.
Our position is that war-related sites should not be included.
Q Auschwitz was not considered a war-related site?
MR. BURNS: Apparently, the distinction that is being made here is that Auschwitz is a holocaust site and is not a war-related site.
Q (Inaudible) yesterday on the Cuba talks, on migration? Do you have something?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I hope I don't disappoint you on this, George. I fear I might. Let's see what we've got here.
Our friends in ARA did not give us anything worthwhile to say on those talks today. They simply gave me exactly what they gave me yesterday, which is their problem. Not mine. It's also my problem because I have to stand up in front of you and say that. But I'll be glad to take any specific -- let me do this. Let me make a commitment that we will wrench out of the bureaucracy something worthwhile and substantive to say on this issue by tomorrow, and I apologize for having nothing to give you today on that.
Q A rundown on the talks, and did anything beyond migration come up?
MR. BURNS: That's a question I'll be glad to take. It would surprise me very much if other issues did not come up.
Q There is a news report suggesting that this was an ice- breaking meeting and the two sides are talking again in the aftermath of the shootdown in February and that some sort of new climate has been created. Anything along those lines that you --
MR. BURNS: If the ice broke, there's still a lot of icebergs out there in the U.S.-Cuban relations. I really mean that. We may be talking again but we don't have a warm relationship with Cuba and for good reason.
Q Yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal, there was an op-ed piece on Chinese military help to Syria, Iran, and Iraq. In the case of Syria, the claim is that China gave missile parts, even helped Syria construct a Tarhuna-like secret chemical plant. What is the U.S. talking to the Chinese Defense Minister or Syria about this dangerous development?
MR. BURNS: We've answered questions on this for the past year. What's important to us is whether or not China is adhering to its international legal commitments under the Missile Technology Control Regime under our own law -- U.S. sanctions law.
I read the Wall Street Journal piece. I can't say I was terribly impressed.
MR. BURNS: Because it was a regurgitation of a lot of things that you and I have seen in newspaper accounts in the past. Our policy hasn't changed because of the Wall Street Journal article. We still adhere to the same policy on Chinese exports that we have for a good while now.
We've recently even talked about that length during the Secretary's visit to Beijing and Shanghai.
Q How about the Syria end of it? I know you don't have diplomatic relations with Iran and Iraq, but with Syria you talk regularly. Isn't there any sense of urgency when you raise --
MR. BURNS: The problem is not Chinese exports. China has a right to export products. The problem is, do those exports constitute a violation of law? That's when it would concern us. But I saw nothing in the article that would lead us to that conclusion, speaking frankly.
Q On "Operation Provide Comfort," there has been numerous reports, originating from Ankara, in the last couple of days. There are many speculations that the ground part of the operation will be eliminated and the air force part of the operation will be reduced. And even its name will be changed to a "Northern Watch Operation," something parallel to "Southern Watch Operation." Do you have anything new to say on that?
MR. BURNS: All I can say is that -- as I told you the other day, we've been having discussions with the Turks and others about our efforts in northern Iraq. We're resolved to continue the "no-flight" zones in the North and South. I expect that will happen. We will maintain our coalition which is designed to contain Saddam Hussein.
But those discussions are not ended. They have not ended. So we don't have any final conclusions on what may change or not change from what we've been doing over the last couple of years. But I think that the essence of what we're doing, the "no-flight" zones, will stay in place.
Q Do you have anything on the German Government's decision to send more than 3,000 ground troops into the Balkans?
MR. BURNS: We're delighted. Germany is a great NATO ally of the United States, and Germany has been a big part of IFOR. It will be a big part of SFOR. We're very pleased and we support the German decision.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: It's been a pleasure. It really has.
(Press briefing concluded at 4:00 p.m.)
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