U.S. Department of State 96/12/06 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Friday, December 6, 1996 Briefer: Nicholas Burns ANNOUNCEMENTS Welcome to Greek, Turkish, and Cypriot Journalists....... 1 Sec. Christopher's Meetings with Sec.-designate Albright..... 1 Sec. Christopher Mtg. with Pakistani Foreign Minister.... 2 Sec. Christopher Travel to Brussels for NATO and NACC.... 2 VP Gore Travel to Bolivia for Conf. on Sustainable Devmt. 2,3 Movement of NGO Employees from Northern Iraq............. 3, 24 Caspian Pipeline Oil Agreement Signed In Rome............ 3 CUBA Migration Talks with U.S./INS Determination of Status of Refugees............................................... 3-5 SERBIA Demonstrations/Electoral Commission Appeal re Annulment of Elections/Dep. Secy Mtg. with For. Min. Milutinovic/ US Efforts to Preserve Independent Media............... 5-10 CHINA Human Rights Violations/Need for Political Freedom....... 10-12 Press Arrangements for Visit of Gen. Chi Haotian......... 21 UNITED NATIONS Replacement Candidate for Boutros Boutros-Ghali.......... 12-13 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Former Sec. Baker's Comments on Settlements.............. 13-17 PAKISTAN Sec. Christopher Mtg with For. Min/Discussion of Scheduling of Elections/Arms Sales by China/Afghanistan 17,19-21 INDIA Reported Decision Against Deployment of Agni Missile..... 17-19 DEPARTMENT CIA Refusal to Reinstate Rick Nuccio.................... 22-24 Transition Under Sec.-designate Albright................ 29 MEXICO Government Decision to Recognize Dual Nationality........ 24 AEGEAN Delineation of Greek Territorial Waters................ 25-26 NORTH KOREA Visit of Li Hyong Chol to New York for Mtgs............ 26-27
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1996, 1:12 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Delighted to have you all with us.
I want to welcome a group of ten Greek, Turkish and Cypriot journalists who are participating in the USIA-sponsored program on media and conflict. Welcome. Glad to have you with us today. It's good to see that Greeks and Turks are together. Hope you're having fun together, making friends. That's true of the Greek and Turkish correspondents here. Although they don't always sit in the same side of the room, they're great friends. (Laughter) Some of them sit in the same side of the room.
The Secretary of State -- Secretary Christopher -- has had a very busy day today. He met early this morning with Ambassador Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State designate. They had a very good conversation, the first of many conversations they intend to have about the transition.
As you know, they go back a long way. They're very close friends. They're partners. And they intend to have a transition which is going to be very cooperative. They intend to meet often. In fact, in addition to today's meeting, Ambassador Albright is now in New York. She'll be coming back to Washington. They're going to spend as many hours together tomorrow talking about the Department, talking about substantive issues, talking about personnel issues, and they will continue to do that throughout the transition.
You know that Deputy Secretary Talbott who, of course, will be staying on in his position -- Ambassador Albright confirmed that yesterday -- Deputy Secretary Talbott is going to be heading the transition effort, and he'll be involved in all of these conversations. This should produce a great deal of continuity in our operations, and it should allow both Secretary Christopher to continue to do his job 14/15 hours a day, and also Secretary-designate Albright to make sure that when and if she is confirmed, that she will hit the ground running and have a very fast start as Secretary of State.
Secretary Christopher also met this morning with the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Mr. Yaqub Khan. That was an excellent meeting in all respects. He's a very distinguished diplomat, well-known to all of us in the United States. He's also going to be meeting today with Defense Secretary Bill Perry and National Security Adviser Tony Lake.
The Secretary and Foreign Minister Yaqub Khan had very good discussions on some of the recent internal developments in Pakistan. They talked about the prospects for dialogue between India and Pakistan. There was a very good discussion of the situation in Afghanistan, and some of the new views of the Government of Pakistan on that issue.
Also, at our initiative, a discussion of the issue of non-proliferation and some of the concerns that the United States has had about non-proliferation. The Secretary applauded the interim government's efforts to restore economic stability in Pakistan. He urged the government to adhere to Pakistan's constitution and the rule of law. As I said, there was some good discussion on India and Pakistan as well.
You know that Secretary Christopher is going to be traveling to Brussels. He leaves Sunday evening. Some of you will be going with us. He'll be in Brussels on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. On Monday, he'll be talking to some of you who are coming with us On-The- Record about NATO, the future of NATO; about the North Atlantic Council meetings that are going to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
He'll be in the NATO North Atlantic Council session on Tuesday, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council session on Wednesday. He'll also have some bilateral meetings, among them a meeting with Minister Primakov and other bilateral meetings while he's in Brussels.
So he leaves Sunday night. He returns here to Washington on Wednesday evening; then be in the office on Thursday and Friday of next week.
Vice President Gore is going to be traveling. He leaves this evening for Santa Cruz, Bolivia. He'll be leading the American delegation to the Summit of the Americas Conference on Sustainable Development. This is a very important meeting that follows on the environmental work that was agreed upon at the Miami Summit. Thirty-four nations will be represented throughout the hemisphere at this meeting, and the Vice President is going to give a major policy address at the opening of the meeting in Santa Cruz in Bolivia.
George asked yesterday about the U.S.-Cuba migration talks. I do have a statement on those talks available for you in the briefing room. I'll be glad to go over any aspect of that in this briefing.
Finally, knowing that you're going to be interested to talk about Serbia, I don't have a statement on Serbia, but there are some developments that we should go over on Serbia in the question period.
Finally, I just wanted to give you an update on the situation in northern Iraq. As you know, the United States has begun an effort over the last three days to help roughly four to five thousand people leave northern Iraq. These are Kurds and Iraqi Christians, Iraqi Moslems and others -- Turkomans. To date, in the three days of this operation, 734 people have crossed into Turkey: 316 on December 4 and 418 on December 5. More people today, but I don't have the specific numbers.
The first flight with 340 passengers aboard departed for Guam at 8:30 a.m. this morning, Washington time. Those passengers upon arrival at Guam will be housed at the Andersen Air Force Base, and they will undergo a review for possible asylum in the United States as the roughly 3,000 people who have gone before them have done.
We expect to have daily movements of people across the border from northern Iraq into Turkey to Silopi, the transit point and then to Batman over the next week or so. This operation is going very smoothly. We do not anticipate any problems in the future.
One more note that I almost forgot to mention. It appears that a Caspian pipeline oil deal has been signed in Rome, and I expect that in a couple of hours the United States will have a statement on that. I don't have a statement at this point.
QUESTION: Could you talk about the migration talks with Cuba, with particular reference to the fate of Cubans who arrived illegally in the United States?
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to George. Since we were not able to give you this information yesterday, let me just very quickly go through the fact that you know that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John Hamilton led the U.S. delegation to the fifth round of U.S.-Cuban migration talks.
The United States and Cuba have been meeting to discuss migration matters since 1980, and we met with the Cuban Government delegation over the last two days, December 4 and 5, to review the implementation of the existing accords.
The United States reiterated our commitment to the full implementation of those accords. The United States has met the goal of issuing 20,000 travel authorizations in each of the two years since our September 1994 agreement with Cuba.
The Cuban delegation told us that in fact they believe nearly 40,000 Cubans have actually traveled -- made their way from Cuba to the United States as part of this process over the last two years.
So we believe that the accords are achieving their purpose, and that is a safe, legal and orderly migration between Cuba and the United States.
The talks in Havana were largely technical in nature, and I would describe them in diplomatic parlance as full, comprehensive, constructive and frank. They dealt with all matters related to the implementation of the U.S.-Cuban accords.
The atmosphere was businesslike. The talks dealt exclusively with migratory matters - exclusively with migratory matters -- and we have planned to hold a further round of these talks in the first half of 1997, probably in about three to four months' time.
George has asked a very important question, and let me try to answer that question, because I know there's been some press reportings -- I think histrionic reports -- from Cuba -- not from American journalists; Cuba.
Any Cuban who is determined to be a refugee or found to have a valid claim to asylum in the United States will not be returned to Cuba. The United States Government is not contemplating repatriation of individuals who are already established within our borders.
As you know, I believe since the early 1980s, we have talked to the Cubans about the group of people that we refer to as "excludables," Cubans in the United States who have come to the United States unbeknownst to us with a violent criminal past -- murderers, rapists -- or Cubans who are in the United States who have become violent criminals in the United States. These are excludables.
Since 1982, the United States has successfully returned 1300 of these people to Cuba. In the talks over the last couple of days, we did have a brief discussion with the Cubans about our interest -- the United States' interest -- in continuing to have a discussion with the Cubans about this issue and continuing to have this process operate, so that violent offenders of our law do not stay here.
That's all that happened. The Cuban Government, as you know, has not always been interested in talking to the United States about this issue. They indicated to us that they might be willing to talk about it, but they haven't made any firm decisions.
I wanted to go through this detail, George, because I was frankly concerned by some of the press reports coming out of Havana, which give a very different picture of this situation.
QUESTION: Just to be clear, a Cuban who sails to Florida and makes it onto land will not be returned to Cuba?
MR. BURNS: I'm going to be very specific. The United States is not in the business of returning refugees -- as you know, not in the business of returning refugees who are found to have a valid claim to asylum in the United States -- a valid claim to asylum.
That determination is made by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. That has been U.S. policy for some time, and it will continue to be a policy of some time. People who have established themselves in the United States have no fear of being returned to Cuba.
QUESTION: But anybody who is not an excludable, do they have a valid claim to asylum? I'm confused. Is there a gray area here?
MR. BURNS: When you're dealing with the immigration process, there are always gray areas. It's not a black and white process, as you know. The determination has to be made by the Immigration and Naturalization Service about what a person's status is. One doesn't arrive with a self-identified status. That has to be determined by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, pursuant to U.S. law.
QUESTION: You mentioned Serbia. Do you see any encouraging signs in Belgrade?
MR. BURNS: I tell you, this is a very interesting day today in Belgrade. I thought I'd try to go through this with some care about what the United States is doing and what we're thinking these days.
As you know, the demonstrations have continued today, not only in Belgrade but around the country in Serbia. As in the past two weeks, these demonstrations are very large, and they're peaceful. They are not violent.
We do find encouraging the fact that Radio B-92 and Radio Index have now been allowed to operate once again after they were shut down by the Milosevic Government. You know that the United States strongly believes that the people of Serbia have a right to have their voice heard. The media should be free -- radio stations and newspapers that are objective and otherwise have a right to operate.
We are urging the Government of Serbia to refrain from all further harassment and restriction of the independent media in Serbia. Even before this crisis, Serbia had one of the least open media regimes in Europe. Serbia should take no steps from this day forward to further restrict the media -- television, radio, the press in Serbia.
Both the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, will continue their expanded broadcast for the foreseeable future as events warrant. As you know, you've seen probably press statements from both VOA and RFE/RL, announcing expanded broadcast in the Serbian language and other expanded broadcasts into Serbia.
This was the right step by both, strongly encouraged by the State Department, by the way, over the last three or four days. Because Radio B-92 is on the air, VOA has suspended carrying reports by Radio B-92, because it's no longer necessary.
However, VOA continues to have, as does RFE/RL, very close daily cooperation with Radio B-92, and frankly we in the State Department encourage that.
There are some signs of movement by the Serbian Government. The Belgrade Electoral Commission has filed an official appeal with the Serbian Supreme Court and with the Republic Prosecutor to reconsider the tragic decision by the Milosevic Government to annul the results of the November 17 municipal elections.
The United States believes that the Milosevic Government should now take the step of reversing its decision. It should now take a solid step of respecting the municipal elections of November 17. Although these are perhaps some preliminary indications that the government might be willing to consider this, we will remain more impressed by actions than we are by words.
We continue to support the people in the street who are peacefully expressing their political views. We commend the opposition for its efforts to keep these demonstrations peaceful. We continue to have contacts with the opposition. We will remain in close contact with the opposition leaders.
It is certainly not enough for the Serbian Government to let two radio stations broadcast and to think about reversing an anti-democratic action. This is no time for business as usual in Serbia. This is a time for the democratic process to move forward in Serbia.
The United States believes that the Serbian Government should now go a further step. The Serbian Government should initiate an open dialogue with the opposition in Serbia. The opposition should be allowed to participate in the political life of the country.
The opposition is freely now participating on the streets of the country. It should be let into the halls of power. It should be let into the government offices. A dialogue should be initiated to consider the future of Serbia.
We believe the future of Serbia should be democratic. We believe these demonstrations, engineered by the opposition over the last several weeks, have moved the situation to a point where, for the first time in many, many years, that may now be possible.
QUESTION: I'm not an expert on this. Are there no opposition members in the parliament?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Are there no opposition members in the parliament?
MR. BURNS: There are opposition parties. I don't know the exact configuration of the political spectrum, Jim. I can't answer the question of how many may be there.
There are opposition leaders. Because of the actions of the Milosevic government, they have been forced to take to the streets. So we think it is proper now that some of that action move indoors and that the government invite the opposition to entertain a political dialogue so that this process of democratization might continue.
QUESTION: How would you propose that this dialogue take place?
MR. BURNS: That's up to the Serbian Government. It's up to the Serbian opposition figures. The United States cannot and does not wish to micro-manage this process.
We think that the situation has actually been advanced by these demonstrations. But it is no enough to say that since you've now let two radio stations operate, we're somehow going to congratulate you. We expect more of the Milosevic Government. We suggest that an open dialogue is a logical next step.
QUESTION: Nick, with the Deputy Secretary saw Milutinovic the other day, did he raise this issue of the government opening a dialogue with the opposition? And, if so, was there any response?
MR. BURNS: Carol, I can't know everything that was discussed in that meeting except to say, we have encouraged the government to work with the opposition, in general. That's the message that Dick Miles has been carrying in Belgrade, and that's what we're saying today.
I simply have not talked to Strobe about every point that he may or may not have raised. You do know that Strobe raised very forcefully our strong desire that the government not use force in any way against the demonstrators or try to intimidate them.
QUESTION: Nick, does the threat from a couple of days ago to renew sanctions -- impose new sanctions -- does that go away, or does it also apply to this demand that they open a dialogue with the opposition?
MR. BURNS: First, Sid, the United States maintains its unilateral sanctions on Serbia. The ones currently in place that we've talked about this week.
Second, we continue to reserve the right to consider any further action, should that be necessary, as a reflection of our policy or as events dictate. So we've not changed our policy in any way, shape, or form.
We have not formally linked today, Sid, this call for a dialogue with the opposition to either of those issues, however.
QUESTION: Where does the notion of not interfering in the internal affairs of another country stop and not wanting to micro-manage start?
MR. BURNS: Let's review the bidding here. I think it's a very good question. The United States does not wish to interfere unduly in the events of any foreign country, and even in the case of Serbia. So we're not going to be suggesting, for instance -- we're not going to be the floor manager for this process. We're not going to be suggesting tactical moves by the government or the opposition.
But, in general, what the United States did this week was to effectively, if you wish, force the Serbian Government to allow two radio stations to operation, because we made it possible for those radio stations at least to have their voice heard through the services of the Voice of America and RFE/RL. That's a very important step.
That was appropriate because we believe in certain principles, like freedom of the media and free speech. I think the United States did a good thing this week. Certainly, there's a line that one should not cross, and we're not crossing that line.
But the message has been heard by the Milosevic Government. I understand, for instance -- I know a lot of you in the past have intimated that some of these demonstrations have been anti-American. I understand that, actually, some of our briefings here and some of our statements have been played to the demonstrators and that the demonstrators were very pleased by the statements of the United States.
Look at the comments by the two major opposition leaders in Serbia, both of whom have credited the United States and Western European countries for having put effective pressure on the Milosevic Government to return to reason on this issue of the radio broadcasts.
Charlie, do you have a follow-up?
QUESTION: I understand what you're saying --
MR. BURNS: That's good.
QUESTION: -- but you understand the criticism, and you've often from that podium, and others before you, have talked about not interfering. You understand the criticism that what you've done can and has been seen as interfering?
MR. BURNS: Maybe by some thugs in the Government in Belgrade, but it's certainly not been seen as interference by the democrats on the streets of Belgrade.
The United States believes in certain principles and has since our founding. It is entirely appropriate for the United States to stand up for democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the media. The day the United States does not do that, in Central Europe, it will be a sorry day.
We've followed this consistent pattern since 1989. We have encouraged the democratic revolutions in Central Europe since 1989, both the Bush and the Clinton Administrations.
QUESTION: Do you consider Milosevic one of the thugs that you referred to?
MR. BURNS: No, I wasn't referring specifically to Mr. Milosevic. I wasn't at all.
QUESTION: Who were you referring to?
MR. BURNS: Governments like that tend to have people like that who work for certain parts of the bureaucratic apparatus. It's those people, those thugs, that we wish not to intimidate physically the demonstrators in Belgrade.
QUESTION: Your statements on Belgrade have been increasingly muscular, shall we say, over the last week, anyway. I was wondering whether some of that same muscularity would be applied to China as well? Would you call for Beijing to open a dialogue with the opposition?
MR. BURNS: Carol, as you know, there has been increasing concern in our government over the last couple of weeks about the actions of the Belgrade Government. The public statements that you've seen this week are a very accurate reflection of that increase and concern on our own government. We are confident that we've done the right thing here and said the right things.
As you know, my general policy is never, at my and your peril, compare two very different countries in different parts of the world and somehow engage in some comparative analysis of them. I'll be glad to talk about human rights in China, but I do not wish to compare the situation in China with the situation in Serbia because they're very different.
QUESTION: But the United States Government and various officials have expressed concern in recent weeks about the crackdown on dissidents in China, which many people think had become worse. I just wonder whether, given that trend and given the call by many of the pro-democracy activists in Beijing, that you wouldn't think that a dialogue between the government in Beijing and its opposition forces wouldn't also be as valuable as in Serbia?
MR. BURNS: It's hard for me to see how I could improve on the statements that the United States has made just over the past couple of weeks about human rights violations in China, about some of the sentencing decisions that have been made against Wang Dan and others. We've been very vocal; we've been very clear. We're were clear in Beijing and Shanghai about this issue.
I'll be glad to talk about any aspect of the China relationship that you wish.
QUESTION: You didn't answer the question. Would the United States support a dialogue between the government in Beijing and the opposition in China?
MR. BURNS: The United States believes that political dissidents in China, first, should be released from jail if they being held purely for the expression of their own political views -- a peaceful expression of their own political views, number one.
Number two, of course we believe that all Chinese should be able to participate in the decisions that affect them on a civil basis. That's been our position for a very long time. Not just the position of this Administration but of the United States, in general, over many Administrations.
QUESTION: But the question is much more specific, and that is, in the same way that you call for Belgrade to open a dialogue with the opposition that is demonstrating on the streets today, would you call for support -- believe would be valuable -- a similar kind of dialogue between the authorities in Beijing and --
MR. BURNS: I have answered your question exactly the way I wanted to answer the question. I don't believe the two situations are analogous and I don't believe in entrapment. I want to separate the two and talk about them individually. But I said what I think I should say, and I think was appropriate to say on China today.
QUESTION: Can we return to the promotion of reform in Serbia? Specifically, that which may be promoted through this forum?
Nick, the question that comes to my mind is, if you're promoting a dialogue between the various factions in Belgrade, would you ask one of the first things, or the first thing, to be discussed in this dialogue would be to review the election, review the validity of that election?
MR. BURNS: Certainly, the two go together, Bill. We're calling for a dialogue between the government and opposition. We're calling for the government to respect the results of the elections. Therefore, to overturn itself, overturn its nullification of the results.
David, and then Mr. Abdulsalam.
QUESTION: Could you give us an update on the efforts to find a replacement for Mr. Boutros Ghali --
MR. BURNS: Be glad to.
QUESTION: -- and tell us when you expect -- what is the timetable for this, and will Ambassador Albright have to spend most of the rest of her time before she becomes Secretary on it, or do you expect it to be done in the next week or two?
MR. BURNS: Thank you. We truly believe that since Mr. Boutros Ghali's announcement that he's suspending his candidacy that the ice has been broken and, to mix metaphors, the door has been opened to movement on this question.
You remember over the last couple of weeks, there really was a frozen situation where countries would not put forward candidates alternative to Boutros Ghali because his name was in play. He's now effectively frozen his own name. It's now open to African countries and others to put forward candidates.
I just checked with our mission to the U.N. just before coming out here. They are not aware that any formal presentation of alternative candidates has been made as of 12:30 today. But we would expect this afternoon, tomorrow, into early next week, that some candidates would come forward formally.
I would just note some press reports from Dakar that the Senagalese Government is seriously considering formally introducing one of its officials as a candidate. A press report -- of course, I always believe in press reports...I would believe them in this case that press reports -- from Capetown -- the South African Government -- has swung its support behind Mr. Salim Salim of Tanzania. We're seeing movement now.
Our anticipation is that there will be a very active debate next week at the United Nations. We'll reach a quick decision. The hope is that by December 17, which is a day I think that the United Nations General Assembly would like to adjourn for the holidays, that there will be a new Secretary General selected by the United Nations.
The United States is bound and determined to play a very large and active role in this process. We will be. I know that Ambassador Albright will be active in that debate.
QUESTION: Is she going to lead the U.S. effort in the thing until it's done, or will she have to --
MR. BURNS: She remains our Ambassador to the United Nations, our representative, and she'll remain very active in this debate; yes.
QUESTION: I don't mean this to be a frivolous question. One point that I wonder about. Since the pressure is to nominate an African because of the unwritten rule that two terms for each predecessor, does that mean if it's an African, he or she only gets one term? How is that going to work.
MR. BURNS: The United States agrees that special consideration should be given to a candidate from Africa. That has been our position for many months. That remains our position. We would expect to see some African candidates come forward. I simply can't answer your final question, Judd. That has to be determined by the individuals and the group of countries that comprise the Security Council membership.
QUESTION: Former Secretary of State James Baker, III., criticized sharply yesterday the lack of high, legal response of the Clinton Administration to the continued building of settlements in Occupied Palestine by the Netanyahu government. What is your reaction to such pointed criticism from Mr. Baker?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Baker was an outstanding Secretary of State. He truly was, and remains in high regard by many of us here in this building and that includes me.
I disagree with the statements that he made yesterday -- we disagree with him. The fact is that our Administration should be judged on our actions and results. Over the last four years, more progress has been made in the Middle East peace process than at any time since the late 1940s -- since 1948. That is a true, objective fact. Ask any objective observer and they will note that.
I think our record speaks for itself. The fact is, the United States has been able to be an effective intermediary between the Palestinians and the Israelis because we are discreet, because we are constructive, because we don't play to the crowds, because we care more about progress than about sound bites.
We choose very carefully the words we use to describe "problems" because we believe that's the best way to promote progress in resolving those problems.
Settlements are a complicating factor, and they're unhelpful in the Middle East peace negotiations. But the Israelis and Palestinians have already agreed to take settlements to the final status talks. That is much more progress than we ever saw prior to January 1993.
QUESTION: Notwithstanding what you have just explained, Nick, the Palestinians are under protestation all the time against the continued settlement policy by Mr. Netanyahu. I think Mr. Baker -- former Secretary Baker -- if I understand what his remarks yesterday were, he was addressing the President and Secretary of State. I'm not here to disrespect your statements that you are saying; he was saying that Nick Burns was addressing this. He was asking that the President and the Secretary of State address Mr. Netanyahu directly in order to stop this because he is warning that the peace process could collapse as a result of the policies of the Netanyahu government in building settlements. That's the question.
MR. BURNS: Yes. We are saying that the logic is somewhat curious. Because if you've been making progress on an issue, if you had a string of successes over four years, why then would you want to alter your policy in any dramatic way? If the policy is working, don't break it to try to fix it.
We're doing the right thing. We have the right policy, and we're confident that we've used the right words to describe -- we're confident that we've used the right words to describe this problem.
QUESTION: I don't mean to be -- this weekend -- to be controversial about things. But the policy, as you say, is not working; the policy --
MR. BURNS: No, no, excuse me. I said the policy "is working." I didn't say the policy is not working. Let's correct the record. I said our policy is working -- is working -- positive, successful, brilliant, productive.
QUESTION: It's at a standstill, a stalemate. In the case of Hebron, they didn't come to an agreement. The settlements are increasing the pressure and possibly it could be that many Palestinians are losing their land and they are demonstrating that. You have seen that. All the way, they are going to their lands and the Israelis are taking over their lands.
So the policy on the settlements and the declarations by the United States has not been sufficient to stop this campaign of building more settlements. He wants -- Mr. Netanyahu wants -- to go to the Golan Heights and build settlements. So that's what the whole thing boils down to. Being very specific and very forceful on the issue of settlements, I think what Mr. Baker was saying yesterday.
MR. BURNS: And we respectfully disagree with Mr. Baker on this issue.
QUESTION: Take on one thing you said there. You said that the policy has been working for four years and so there is no reason to change it.
Perhaps you've not changed it, but Mr. Netanyahu has changed it. He's authorized the building of a large number of new houses in settlements. He's greatly enlarging them. So his policy has changed; the Israeli Government's policy has changed. How are you responding to that?
MR. BURNS: I want to be very clear. I think the words and terminology is important here. The policy that I'm describing is our policy. The United States does not have a settlement/construction policy, as you know. We have used various words over the years to describe our attitude toward settlements.
The Israeli Government has a policy on settlements. The policy that is working is the policy of the United States that has resulted in the Israeli-Jordanian agreement; two Israeli-Palestinian agreements, and, even despite all of the frustrations of 1996, forward movement in the peace process.
We're going to stay cool and we're going to keep our nose to the grindstone and remain a discreet, productive interlocutor, believing that we can continue to help the Israelis and Palestinians move forward. I just want to be clear about that.
Still on this issue?
QUESTION: Specifically, what progress are you pointing to in the last year, say, since the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin?
MR. BURNS: It is progress over the last four years that I've measured. But let's talk about this year. Obviously, the assassination of the Prime Minister was a great tragedy for everyone involved -- Palestinians and Israelis.
The terror campaign of February and March 1996 was a setback and a great tragedy. There have been further setbacks to the peace process in the summer and fall of this year.
Nonetheless, the Israelis and Palestinians, in contrast to every year before 1993 -- between 1948 and 1993 -- they weren't talking. Every year since 1993, they've been talking. Nevertheless, they continue to talk in the late autumn of 1996. That is progress.
Despite the frustrations of both sides on the Hebron negotiations, we believe they will succeed. We believe they will reach an agreement on Hebron. That will be progress when that agreement is reached.
They are already discussing, as you've seen in the last couple of days, some of their preliminary views on the final status talks. It will be progress when those talks begin.
So despite our frustrations and the clear frustrations of the Palestinians and some Israelis, we believe this entire process, looked at from a longer-term perspective, which is appropriate for the Middle East, we believe that the situation continues to move forward. Perhaps more slowly than in 1995 or 1994, but it continues to move more slowly.
The question I guess you're all asking is, and maybe Secretary Baker asked as well, because of the frustrations and the slowing down, do you change policy? Do you adopt a different tactical approach? Our view at this point is no. You keep doing what you're doing because you want to be successful.
QUESTION: I take exception to what you're saying. You're holding up as progress two agreements that are a couple of years old that have already been agreed to, and you're calling "progress" the fact that they're almost finished with negotiating agreements they both already adhered to.
You also didn't even mention Syria and Israel which, at this point, most of your efforts seem to be focused on keeping them from going to war, and they're refusing to talk. I just really see how you can try to sell this idea that the U.S. has made policy progress in the Middle East peace process, holding aside what Secretary Christopher predecessor government in Israel did?
MR. BURNS: Let me make a statement. I agree with everything that I've said today. I'm not going to back down in any respect from what I've said. We can argue this until midnight. I'm glad to stay out here to midnight.
George, what do you think -- midnight?
QUESTION: Let's change the subject.
MR. BURNS: Alright, let's change the subject.
QUESTION: Nick, the Pakistani Foreign Minister's meeting with the Secretary, was it a meeting that was sought by he Pakistanis? Were there any assurances sought or given that elections would be held in February?
MR. BURNS: I believe that Mr. Yaqub Khan, in terms of his duties as interim Foreign Minister, has decided to visit certain countries. He offered to visit the United States. That offer was accepted because we have a good, close relationship with Pakistan and want to continue that. He is a well known and respected figure in the United States.
On the question of elections, he did indicate that the government intends to move forward towards elections. He noted some of the difficulties, of course, in establishing those elections. But it's up to the Pakistani Government to announce or describe their own policy on elections.
Secretary Christopher was interested in the issue but listened, obviously, on that issue because we don't wish to interfere in the internal affairs of the Government of Pakistan.
QUESTION: I want to follow up, Nick. You spoke about how there was discussion on India-Pakistan issues.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Could you please elaborate on that? And was there any sort of mutual satisfaction expressed that under U.S. pressure, India has backed off deploying the Agni missile?
MR. BURNS: On the Agni missile, I know there have been some press reports about that issue. All I can say is that we're not in a position to react to some of these reports that talk about developments on the Agni missile because we're not aware of them. That particular issue did not come up -- the Agni missile -- in the meeting this morning.
The question of Indo-Pak discussions did come up. Largely, it was a process where Minister Yaqub Khan informed the Secretary of some of his intentions about discussions, just in the next couple of weeks, with the Indians. But I think it's really proper to let the Indians and Pakistanis define what that will be, what that dialogue will be.
QUESTION: On Agni, Nick, have you got any reaction to the fact that India has backed off from deploying the Agni? The U.S. has said from this podium many times, it would be very unhelpful for such missiles to be deployed in South Asia. I guess there is no doubt that the U.S. did tell India pretty firmly that it was not a good idea?
MR. BURNS: India is a sovereign state. It will make its own decisions on issues, obviously. But the Indian Government is aware of our global concern about non-proliferation.
The United States has long held the view that the deployment or acquisition of ballistic missiles in South Asia -- in South Asia, as a whole -- would be destabilizing and would undermine the security of the countries of the region. We've made that clear to both India and Pakistan.
QUESTION: No reaction to what happened yesterday -- the announcement yesterday?
MR. BURNS: Which announcement?
QUESTION: Concerning the missile -- that they're not going to deploy it?
MR. BURNS: We've checked into that. We've seen the press reports, but we simply cannot confirm them. We're not in a position to confirm the events described in the press reports.
So I've just given you our general policy on missile development, but I can't react specifically to a report that we can't confirm.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) in parliament, Nick, by the Defense Ministry. Surely, Ambassador Wisner, being an old Pentagon hand, would have informed the U.S. that this is what's going on?
MR. BURNS: Ambassador Wisner is one of the finest Ambassadors we have in the world.
QUESTION: He should have informed you, I guess?
MR. BURNS: I'm sure he's done everything proper and necessary in this regard. I'm just saying, we cannot confirm this event. I know it's of interest, and I'll seek to have it confirmed so that when Glyn Davies steps up here on Monday, he can discuss this with you.
QUESTION: Nick, two questions. Are you suggesting that you don't believe that this true?
MR. BURNS: Which is true?
QUESTION: That India has backed off on the Agni missile?
MR. BURNS: All I'm saying is this: we are not in a position to confirm it. We have to establish things ourselves. We have to know that an event has happened. We have to understand with clarity that it has happened before we can comment on it publicly. So I cannot do that today, but I have given you our general position on this issue, and missile development in particular.
QUESTION: Has the Indian Government told the United States that it has decided to back off on this missile?
MR. BURNS: I do not know the answer to that question. I'll be glad to take the question -- as a taken question -- and try to get you an answer.
QUESTION: Yes, because it's obviously central. The other thing is, in the talks with the Pakistanis, to what extent did Secretary Christopher talk about China arm sales and transfers from China?
MR. BURNS: This issue came up. Secretary Christopher raised this issue.
Carol, it was not a long, extended, detailed conversation because we have had so many of those with the Pakistanis and Chinese. Secretary Christopher reiterated, in familiar terms, our policy.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary make any new representations to the Pakistanis either about new information that we had received or about new information that we hadn't received? Did the Pakistani Foreign Minister give the Secretary any new representations, new assurances?
MR. BURNS: No. The conversation on both sides was general, but the point was clear -- the point made by Secretary Christopher about the long-standing concerns that the United States has had in all of South Asia; not just in Pakistan, but in other countries, in this case as well.
QUESTION: Nick, the discussion between the Foreign Minister and the Secretary on Afghanistan, can you give us some sense of what was said, and then I have a follow-up?
MR. BURNS: As you know, the United States has a well known position. We are very much opposed to the policies of the Taliban that are outright discriminatory, particularly against women and girls. We've been on the record -- glad To go On-The-Record again today -- denouncing those practices.
The Secretary was interested in hearing from Minister Khan the new Pakistani Government, the interim government's, views on the situation in Afghanistan. We have been pleased to see that the interim government has followed a policy that we believe is constructive, that emphasizes the need for negotiations as a way to resolve the problems of Afghanistan, not continued warfare.
I believe that the Pakistani interim government will tell you about its own displeasure with some of the policies of the Taliban.
QUESTION: They have been known as a country which has backed the Taliban, both financially and in other ways. Is there anything -- can you tell us what Pakistan has done to back off from this backing? Have they told them to loosen these restrictions on women?
MR. BURNS: You'll have to ask the Pakistani Government. I cannot speak for the Pakistani Government on that question. I can speak for our government on that question.
QUESTION: Nick, on a related subject. It was announced yesterday that China will be supplying Pakistan with a second nuclear reactor. Does that violate their pledge not to engage in nuclear cooperation with countries that aren't participating in the safeguards program?
MR. BURNS: Sid, before we make a definitive statement on that issue, we'll, of course, want to have a very clear idea of what this proposal is. But, as you know, as a matter of longstanding global policy, the United States does not participate in nuclear cooperation with countries which have not accepted IAEA safeguards on all of their nuclear facilities. We'd like to see all nuclear suppliers adopt the policy of engaging in nuclear cooperation only with recipients that have safeguards on all nuclear facilities. So in general that's our policy.
I'm going to refrain from answering that question specifically simply because we don't have all the facts at our disposal. We have seen press reports, too, but we don't have independent reports.
QUESTION: China has made a pledge to you bilaterally -- not to you but to the United States -- which you've held up several times as progress that they will not cooperate in a nuclear sense with unsafeguarded facilities.
MR. BURNS: Right, exactly. We expect that China will maintain that commitment to the United States and to others in the international community who have an interest in stemming the problem of proliferation.
QUESTION: Did the subject come up with China?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Did the plant proposal come up today?
MR. BURNS: That particular plant proposal did not come up in the meeting today, although we have seen reference to it, and obviously we'll be following up with both governments on this issue.
QUESTION: I have another China question. Access by the press, direct access, press availability to General Chi Haotian during his visit to the United States, Nick, is going to be very severely restricted. It was restricted to a couple of minutes of questions at the Pentagon on Monday morning. The Chinese Embassy says this is due to the request of the United States. The Chinese Embassy will not have any kind of press briefing.
Why is this so restricted, this access, and is the State Department going to do something to remedy that? Is the General going to come here?
MR. BURNS: General Chi Haotian is the guest of Secretary Perry, and I'm sure that the Pentagon and the Chinese Government will work out the appropriate media access. I'm not familiar with what they have worked out, so I'd respectfully suggest that you direct that question to my good friend and colleague Ken Bacon.
Secretary Christopher is going to be away from Washington during the Minister's visit, so Deputy Secretary Talbott will be seeing him, I believe on Tuesday. I don't know what press arrangements we have made for that, but I'll be glad to look into that question, since that's partially, at least in part, my responsibility here.
QUESTION: Can you open that up possibly?
MR. BURNS: We'll have to see. I'll have to confer with the Deputy Secretary and others.
QUESTION: This concerns Rick Nuccio, a State Department official. CIA Director Deutch has refused to reinstate Rick's highest security clearance, and, since he does work in this building, I wonder if you would have a comment?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I think that's an appropriate question. Let me tell you what I know. I've talked to Mr. Nuccio this week, and I've talked to others in the building.
Rick Nuccio is currently the senior policy adviser to our Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Jeff Davidow, and he continues to work today in that capacity. He works on a variety of issues for the Assistant Secretary.
As you know, Mr. Nuccio's actions were reviewed by the Department of State, and that review concluded that Mr. Nuccio had not taken any actions that would necessitate revoking his State Department security clearance.
As you also know, the Director of Central Intelligence organized a review panel which has made a decision on Mr. Nuccio's access to a certain type of security clearance, which is called the Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance -- SCI.
This review process was a procedure agreed to by the Department of State, and we have indeed been notified of the review panel's findings. We will indeed continue to comply with the guidelines of the Director of Central Intelligence regarding access to SCI.
QUESTION: But is there any way that he -- I mean, you were very specific that this has to do with a very specific kind of security clearance.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
QUESTION: Does that mean that he still -- there's a security access -- access to security information he can have in this building that will allow him to continue doing his job?
MR. BURNS: He does have security clearances in this building -- State Department security clearances and --
QUESTION: And he will maintain those.
MR. BURNS: I understand that he will, yes.
MR. BURNS: Sid wants to follow up before we get to Imia and Kardak.
QUESTION: Just two questions. So he will continue his current job at the State Department.
MR. BURNS: As far as I know. I've not talked to Rick today in the wake of this panel finding about his own thoughts about what he intends to do. But he's employed by the Department of State today, and as far as I know he'll continue to be employed by the Department of State as long as he wishes to be. But this is a personal decision for him.
Obviously, this has been a very difficult time for him, and I want to respect him and respect his privacy. I can't anticipate what he's thinking and what he may want to do.
QUESTION: Can he carry out this job he has right now without that clearance?
MR. BURNS: Certainly, I think the way the government works these days, if you are at a high level of the government and do not have access to the highest level security clearances, obviously there are certain things you can't do. There's certain information that you cannot have access to. That is certainly a factor here.
Can he continue to work for the Department of State? Sure, on other issues, but there is an asterisk here regarding his inability to have access to certain type of restricted information. I understand that there is a possibility of review of this decision in one year, and the clock started ticking yesterday on that one-year review process.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. Do you have anything to say about the disagreement between the State Department review panel and the CIA review panel on Mr. Nuccio's security clearance?
MR. BURNS: No, I do not. No.
QUESTION: It's not odd to you that they've chosen to overturn this building's decision?
MR. BURNS: As I said, the Department of State agreed to the establishment of this review panel. I think the words I used, "The review process was a procedure agreed to by the Department of State." It doesn't fully answer your question, I know, but it's really as much as I can say today on this issue.
QUESTION: Do you have a view on whether Mr. Nuccio acted properly a year and a half ago when he did what he did?
MR. BURNS: George, this is a very complicated issue, and I've said what I think I can say today on this issue.
I'm sorry. Yes, you've been waiting.
QUESTION: Is there any reaction on the announcement of the Mexican Government to accept to recognize dual nationality?
MR. BURNS: Dual nationality of Mexican citizens who are dual nationals -- United States citizens and Mexican citizens?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not aware of the particular decision. I can look into it for you. I have no reaction particularly today.
Yes, Yasmine had a question and then Mr. Lambros. Ladies before gentlemen. Not necessarily Turks before Greeks -- ladies before gentlemen. (Laughter)
QUESTION: I understand there are some people who failed the security checks on the Turkish border in the process of the evacuation. Do you know what the legal procedure is once somebody doesn't get cleared?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any specific information on the number of people who may have failed to cross the border because they couldn't convince they were who we thought they were. But one of the procedures here is that we have Embassy people, from Embassy Ankara, at the border so that we can make sure that the people who we think are on the list are indeed those people by looking at their identification documents and by making sure that people who have been engaged, for instance, in terrorist acts are not allowed to participate in this program.
Yasmine, we can look into that. We can give you later on today, perhaps, certainly by tomorrow, some information on this, if indeed this has occurred.
QUESTION: Also, are these people being checked against Turkish records also?
MR. BURNS: I don't know specifically if Turkish records are being used by the American Embassy officers, but I do know that they are working very closely with the Turks, as we should, because these people are being brought onto Turkish soil, and we have to have respect for Turkish sovereignty.
Yes, Mr. Lambros.
QUESTION: In the last two days, citing the international law and international practice, you successfully presented in this room the U.S. position --
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
QUESTION: -- vis-a-vis to the Greek airspace and the Greek territorial waters --
MR. BURNS: Good. We won't talk about that any more. Excellent.
QUESTION: -- to the identical limit of six miles, which has been overplayed, however, by the Turkish press in Ankara with nonsense headlines, stories against Greece.
MR. BURNS: Is that right? I don't see Savas or Ugur. I don't see any of the Turkish press corps. Is that right?
QUESTION: I have a full account to this effect, with the same (inaudible). Citing international practice, could you please clarify today the U.S. position on the right of Greece to extend its territorial waters into the Aegean for 12 miles.
MR. BURNS: I have, I think, clearly articulated the position of the United States on that issue at least twice this week. I can't possibly improve on the language I used two days ago.
QUESTION: My question is, I would like you to clarify the U.S. position vis-a-vis to the right of Greece to extend its territorial waters into the Aegean to 12 miles.
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that's a pertinent question, because I don't believe they've made that decision. Should they make that decision, then it would be fair to ask me to comment. You're really asking a hypothetical question.
QUESTION: It's not hypothetical. I'm asking you for the recognition, not for exercising the right, so I would like to know the U.S. position vis-a-vis, because I was surprised, you said the position vis-a-vis to the limits of the airspace and the territorial waters into the Aegean today, and you do not have a position vis-a-vis to the right of Greece to extend that to 12 miles?
MR. BURNS: No, I just don't want to -- I'm not a lawyer, and I don't want to comment on an aspect of law when I don't think it's pertinent, because the decision hasn't occurred yet. If the action had occurred, Mr. Lambros, you'd have every right to ask me the question. It hasn't occurred. When it occurs, we'll come back and we'll talk about it.
We do have an Asia question.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) 1980 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea --
MR. BURNS: The proper way to do this might be: if you want to submit your question to us after the briefing, we could talk to our lawyers and see what language we can give you. That might satisfy your wishes here. We want to be respectful of your wishes.
QUESTION: Let me ask the other question. Could you please clarify the U.S. position vis-a-vis to the right of Greece to delimit (inaudible) before the continental shelf and then to send the Imia over to the International Court of Justice.
MR. BURNS: We believe that the question of Imia/Kardak should be settled consensually by Greece and Turkey in a fair manner between them, and they should identify the way to do that.
QUESTION: But are you for limitations on the continental shelf. This is my question to you.
MR. BURNS: I just can't --
QUESTION: But are you for the delimitation of the continental shelf?
MR. BURNS: No, I did not say that. I didn't say that. Those are your words, Mr. Lambros. I simply want to rest on what I've said.
QUESTION: North Korea. I have heard that Li Hyong Chol, the Director of the North Korean Foreign Ministry will visit Washington this next week, and he will discuss the issue of apology about the submarine incident with U.S. officials. Can you confirm that?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Actually, Mr. Li Hyong Chol will be coming -- the Director of American Affairs in the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- will arrive in New York, not Washington, I think in a day or two. Next week he'll be meeting in New York with us on some of the pending issues between the United States and North Korea.
Mr. Li and two other members of his office will be involved in those talks. The United States talks will be headed by the Director of our Office of Korean Affairs, Mark Minton. It will also include a representative from our National Security Council.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: No, wait a minute. I'm sorry.
MR. BURNS: Henry has a question. Yes, Henry. Henry has been very patient.
QUESTION: We started out talking about the transition -- at least you did -- when you opened up here, and appreciating that there's a volume of information in the American press over this last 12 hours what direction this building is going, but, if I may use the analogy of the Indian missiles and your desire to get the information confirmed.
Can you assure, as is speculated generally here of foreign governments, that the foreign policy of this building is not likely to change, perhaps even less than would be normal, with the appointment of Madeleine Albright as a replacement for Mr. Christopher. And then I have a couple of other questions.
MR. BURNS: The best answer to your question is to say that our President remains the same, and he is the supreme architect of American foreign policy. It's up to the President to define that, but his continuity in office assures the continuity of his foreign policy.
One useful operational point for everyone, Ambassador Albright, of course, will not be giving, as you know, media interviews until her confirmation. So we will also not be commenting on her particular views on these issues until she is confirmed, and if she is confirmed, because that would not be appropriate.
QUESTION: But looking at these things as they normally happen in the United States' political circles and the fact that the number two man clearly is designated to stay on by the announcement at yesterday's White House, foreign governments should conclude even more than in most circumstances that foreign policy remains exactly the same.
MR. BURNS: I think foreign governments can be assured that the United States will continue to be a reliable ally and partner, and that our foreign policy will continue to be consistent and consistently excellent in all respects.
QUESTION: And not wanting to be specific in this regard, say, to the Office of the Press Spokesman, for example, one in a foreign government would conclude that more State Department officials currently holding high office than normal will remain in those offices.
MR. BURNS: I can't answer that question, Henry. That decision is totally up to Secretary-designate Madeleine Albright. She will make those decisions, and we need to respect her right to make any personnel decisions that she wishes to make.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
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