U.S. Department of State 96/12/09 Daily Press Briefing Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX INDEX Monday, December 9, 1996 Briefer: Glyn Davies DEPARTMENT 1..........Guatemala Peace Accord on Constitutional and Electoral Reform 1..........Secretary of State Christopher in Belgium SUDAN 1-4........Rep. Richardson's Efforts to Secure the Release of Red Cross Workers PERU 4-5........Jailed Amcit Lori Berenson 5-6........Status of U.S.-Peru "Prisoner Transfer Treaty" SERBIA 6-7........Legal Protests of Annulled Municipal Elections 6-8........Demonstrations: Arrests and Police Brutality/U.S. Support 8..........Political Dialogue/Freedom of the Press GREECE 8-9, 16....Sovereignty of Disputed Isles/Islets in the Aegean Sea 12.........Serbians Charged with War Crimes In Greece UKRAINE 9-10.......Alleged Arms Sales to Libya 9-10.......U.S. Aid to Ukraine PEACE PROCESS 11.........Meeting Between Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu 15.........Settlements: Former Sec. State Baker's Comments/U.S. Policy IRAQ 11, 15-16..Implementation of Resolution 986 UNITED NATIONS 12.........Selection of the New Secretary General NORTH KOREA 12.........Diplomatic Meetings Between U.S. and DPRK ZAIRE 13.........Fighting in Eastern Zaire 13-14......International Efforts in Repatriation of Refugees CHINA 14.........Human Rights Concerns FREEDOM OF THE PRESS 14-15......"New York Times" Op-ed by Netanyahu's Assistant Blacklisting Thomas Friedman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1996, 1:02 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have just one formal announcement, but I've got other answers in here to questions you may have.
This is on Guatemala, to take note of the accord signed in Stockholm, December 7, between the Government of Guatemala and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity guerrillas - the URNG. They signed an accord December 7 in Stockholm on constitutional and electoral reform.
This accord is the next to the last topic on the agenda of peace negotiations to end Guatemala's 36-year internal conflict. It paves the way for legislative changes needed to fully implement all the accords signed in the peace process.
As a member of the Group of Friends of the Peace Process, the United States commends both the government and the opposition group for their diligence in completing the remaining negotiations in preparation for the signing of the final peace accord on December 29 in Guatemala.
Just to take note of what the Secretary is up to today, some of your colleagues in Brussels have begun to report back on a press conference that he just concluded in which he spoke to his activities over the next couple of days. He'll be attending tomorrow the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting; and then, of course, the next day the North Atlantic Cooperation Council.
That is it for me up top. George.
QUESTION: Could you talk about the events in Sudan, with particular reference to the idea that these people were released as a result of a negotiation? This used to be a no, no.
MR. DAVIES: It still is a no, no. It's a no, no for the United Sates Government to provide to pay ransom for hostages.
What happened was, I think - it was certainly very positive from the standpoint of what was accomplished - Congressman Richardson - Bill Richardson of New Mexico, on December 7, sought and obtained the release of an American citizen, John Early, who was detained along with an Australian, a Kenyan, and five Sudanese citizens, who all had been detained since November 1, 1996, by a southern Sudanese rebel faction leader by the name of Kerubino Bol. All eight of them were formally released on Sunday, the 8th. They appear to be in good condition.
The American citizen, I think most people know, is a pilot employed by the ICRC. That brings me to the central point, which is that Congressman Richardson was essentially negotiating on behalf of the ICRC here. Certainly, we supported him his efforts. He was accompanied by some staff. Our Ambassador was with him - Tim Carney. Those who read the excellent article in the New York Times saw the dramatic recounting of how the Ambassador, with a laptop in the middle of this dusty village in southern Sudan, was helping tap out various agreements and things.
The policy of the United States is that we don't pay ransom; that we don't encourage others to pay ransom, but we're not going to stand in the way of third parties if they see fit to reach some accommodation with those holding their employees or, indeed, to stand in the way of family members who wish to negotiate with captors of their families.
So this is not at all the United States signing a check or making a deal with this southern rebel leader. This is Congressman Bill Richardson acting on his own hook, reaching an agreement with them on behalf of the ICRC.
QUESTION: Well, 10 to 15 years ago, you wouldn't have been endorsing it like this. I think there's been a change.
QUESTION: I was going to say, it's very hard to argue that this is not officially sanctioned by the U.S. Government when this Congressman, who has obvious and repeatedly used close ties to the White House, is the one who is working this deal and the U.S. Ambassador is at his side. It's got "USA" stamped all over it.
MR. DAVIES: It's a deal arrived at between the International Committee of the Red Cross and this rebel leader, Kerubino Bol. If the charges are guilty for having supported - that we supported Richardson in his private effort on behalf of the ICRC to obtain the release of these individuals, then I would say guilty to that. Not one dime of taxpayer money was used to buy that rice or those goats or to fund that medical project that's to be undertaken.
I take your point, but you have to take mine which is that essentially this is not a deal on behalf of the people of the United States by the Government of the United States to achieve this. This is a private deal.
QUESTION: Does the money come from the ICRC; is that right?
MR. DAVIES: That my understanding. It's not coming from us.
QUESTION: How did Richardson get pressed into this service? Did we say, you might want to try working at this? Or did the ICRC come directly to him? How did it -
MR. DAVIES: I don't have those details. I, too, am a bit curious. But I think this happened the way all of Richardson's missions happened, in essence. He was contacted. Whether through our good offices or not, I don't know. But he was asked to act in his private capacity, clearly. Now, whether it was the ICRC that did it or this Kerubino Bol, I don't know. He would be a good source for that information. He's usually happy to talk about these things after the fact.
QUESTION: Glyn, do you know if he'll be carrying a message from the Sudanese rebels, or, if here, you would like to meet with him following this mission?
MR. DAVIES: Yes, I don't know that he's carrying any kind of a message from the Sudanese rebels. I know that since our Ambassador to the Sudan was there, Mr. Carney, and apparently, at least according to the article, a representative of the Government of Sudan was at this village for these negotiations. Pardon me?
QUESTION: Is he back from Washington?
MR. DAVIES: Could well have been. Yes, their Ambassador, who is accredited here. If there was a message to be passed to the Government in Khartoum, it was passed, presumably, because they had people on the ground with Richardson. But as to any other messages he may be carrying, I'm not aware of any.
QUESTION: Back to the original point, won't potential terrorists elsewhere be encouraged by this deal, whether or not there was any taxpayer money involved?
MR. DAVIES: We certainly hope not, and they shouldn't be. Because this kind of hostage-taking, or kidnapping, is not anything that the United States Government would ever condone. In fact, we condemn it. It's a crime to take people hostage. It's specifically, I believe, a crime under U.S. law to take Americans hostage. We went over that during the incident involving the hijacking of the Ethiopian airliner when the FBI was dispatched out there.
QUESTION: Bill Richardson had gotten Hunziker out of North Korea, and these guys out of Sudan. Maybe he'll go to Kashmir next?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not his spokesman. I'm not his spokesman.
QUESTION: Is there any talk of that -
MR. DAVIES: Some day in the far-distant future, I may be his spokesman, but I'm not right now.
QUESTION: Any talk of that, though?
MR. DAVIES: I haven't heard any talk of that, no.
QUESTION: Is Richardson running low on Americans captive overseas?
MR. DAVIES: There is unfortunately no dearth of cases like this, I'm afraid. So he may have full employment in that regard for some time.
QUESTION: On a different subject?
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
QUESTION: Speaking of American captives overseas, the case of the woman in Peru?
MR. DAVIES: Lori Berenson?
QUESTION: Yeah. Are you - leaving her guilt or innocence aside, unless you care to comment on it, is she being held in the type of conditions that you would like to see?
MR. DAVIES: She is being held in very, very tough conditions in a prison, I understand, well about 10,000 feet in the mountains of Peru. The conditions are, I think one could describe them only charitably as minimal. They are very difficult.
What we are doing, of course, is doing all we can to assist her as a United States citizen. We visit her every month. Representatives of our consulate attached to our Embassy in Lima go out there every month and visit her. Through our good offices, she gets mail from home; she gets food; she gets packages.
We are there also to ensure that she receives due process under local law to ensure that she's not discriminated against because of her American nationality. As with all such cases, when we don't have a Privacy Act from the individual, which is the case here, we can't talk about her case specifically. We can talk about what we are doing for her; how we are ensuring that she gets this kind of equitable treatment. But, clearly, prison conditions there are very, very bad. There's no question about it.
I believe the ICRC has looked at this, has looked at the conditions in which she is being held and has pronounced them as generally considered to meet bare, minimum, acceptable conditions or standards.
So that's an independent body looking at how she's being held. We're there to make sure she doesn't get discriminated against. We're also there to continue to repeat to the authorities in Lima, as we have, since this decision was made by a military court in camera, anonymously, that she should be allowed due process of law. She should be tried in a civilian court. Her appeal should be tried in a civilian court because we did not recognize that the decision made by the military court, or that the process was one that met minimally acceptable standards of international due process.
QUESTION: At no point did you say her condition should be improved, as far as I know?
MR. DAVIES: We monitor her condition very closely. As I say, we do everything we can to ensure that she is as comfortable as possible under the conditions in which she is incarcerated. But she is in this prison that is not a good prison, not a comfortable prison. There are a number of Americans overseas in tough prisons. I don't think prison conditions in the United States are universally replicated overseas. That certainly is too bad.
There are various ways in which the U.S. Government and private American citizens worked toward ameliorating these conditions overseas. At the end of the day, one is left with the fact that she was picked up in Peru and tried in Peru and is incarcerated there.
There is a prisoner transfer treaty that we have with the Peruvians. She hasn't availed herself of that as yet. If she does, we'll do everything we can to see if we can't implement the provisions of that accord with Peru.
QUESTION: What kind of treaty?
MR. DAVIES: It's called a "Prisoner Transfer Treaty," which would allow her to serve out her sentence in the U.S., if we could get to that stage in negotiations with the Peruvians.
QUESTION: Which she can't do in the case, if she exercises that right -
MR. DAVIES: That could well be. I don't know if that's -
QUESTION: -- if she essentially admits to guilt?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if that's the case, Sid. That may well be.
QUESTION: It is the case. When was the last time you raised this with the Peruvians? How often do you raise it, and do you think it will be resolved before she dies?
MR. DAVIES: I can't give you any kind of tick-tock, as they say in the press trade, on how often we raise this with the Peruvians. We raise it often, though, with them, and it is certainly a fixture on our bilateral agenda, and will be until she receives a trial that we believe meets the kind of standards that the world community is signed up to as minimally acceptable standards of due process.
QUESTION: Nick, no consideration for using leverage with the Peruvians to get them to, as you do in some cases that really matter to you - you use leverage to get them to do what you -- get another country to do what you like them to do, as in the case of Slobodan Milosevic when you get him to reopen the radio stations.
MR. DAVIES: This is part of our regular dialogue with Peru. They know we're concerned about her condition. We're concerned about the way in which her trial was conducted, and we'll continue to raise it.
QUESTION: Could you talk about Milosevic and the court's decision over the weekend? What's your reaction to that, and what happens now in terms of -
MR. DAVIES: What the court did, of course, was the Serbian Constitutional Court upheld the annulment of the results of the municipal elections in which the opposition prevailed in 15 of the 17 municipalities. We view this as representing a continuing attempt by the ruling party to control these municipalities in defiance of the will of the Serbian voters. Some interesting recent developments to note: one is that the Belgrade City Electoral Commissioner, who is not affiliated with the opposition, has appealed to the Serbian Constitutional Court to reverse the annulment, and there is apparently a 48-hour period now during which the Constitutional Court must decide on that appeal.
Also, the Serbian court's decision was clearly not unanimous, as some of the members of the court have protested it. We believe that the Serbian Government must respect the right of the people to exercise their political will. We call on them to allow those duly elected to take their seats in local assemblies, and we condemn the mistreatment of at least one and perhaps more individuals who participated in the protests that have now gone on for three weeks in Belgrade and in certain other areas.
We have reports of additional arrests. We know of the case of Dejan Bulatovic who was severely beaten and remains incarcerated in spite of the need for urgent medical care as a result of his beating. We've warned the Serbian Government that repression of the protesters will have serious consequences and will inevitably lead to Serbia's further isolation from the international community.
The demonstrations continue. They continue today. As I say, they've gone on or three weeks. Yesterday's crowd were large. They were peaceful. We commend the opposition for its efforts to keep those demonstrations peaceful, and we call on the Serbian Government not to use force in dealing with these protests but to allow them to go forward.
QUESTION: How recently have you passed on your warnings to Milosevic? In other words, have you made any representations to him or his government in the last 24 hours?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know about the last 24 hours. I know that Dick Miles, our Chief of Mission in Belgrade, has been in to demand an explanation for the beating of Dejan Bulatovic from Foreign Minister Milutinovic, and I believe he did that in the recent past. Whether that was within the last 24 hours or not, I don't know. But we take every occasion of a meeting with President Slobodan Milosevic and his government to speak out on these matters. We've met with Milosevic, Milutinovic and others in the government frequently in the last week.
QUESTION: Do we think Milosevic was directly responsible for the decision of the court this weekend?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if Milosevic was directly responsible for the decision of the court. The court is operating in a Serbian context, and we believe it has an important degree of independence, but we also believe that it's subject to the influence of the ruling party and of the President, President Milosevic, and that influence can be decisive, as it was in this case.
It's clear from the fact that some of the members of the court have spoken out against this decision that was taken that there is a degree of independence, at least in the minds of those who sit on the court. So a part of the message that we deliver to President Milosevic and his government is, of course, to allow the judicial process to go forward unfettered without any influence from Milosevic or his party. Time will tell whether an institution such as the Serbian Constitutional Court will go in the direction of the kind of independence that it ought to have or whether we will continue to see this kind of influence brought to bear on it.
QUESTION: I know you're watching this 48-hour period in which this other appeal can be brought, but, I mean, realistically speaking, do you expect any different result than what exists right now, which is to say that the opposition loses?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not an expert on the Serbian system, but this has now been going on for three weeks. While it would be nice to see a change in the next 48 hours, I don't hold out a lot of hope that we'll see a change. But we will continue to raise this directly with Milosevic. We'll raise it in international fora that the Secretary of State in his press conference spoke out at length on the situation in Serbia and said that he will seek unified action on the part of the NATO alliance.
So we're turning up the flame on the Bunsen burner here on Slobodan Milosevic and his party, and he'll eventually feel the heat, we believe.
QUESTION: But you see no sign of the political dialogue that you called for the other day, or Nick did?
MR. DAVIES: No. We have yet to see any signs of that kind of political dialogue, the kind of dialogue that Nick called for, and that we think should be the case in Serbia. There are some small victories here, and one of them was the victory that I suppose we can all claim - those of us in the West who spoke out about press freedom - our success in getting B-92 put back on the air and some of the other radio stations.
Even though it is not a completely open, Western society, such as the United States, clearly, pressure works in Serbia, and we just have to keep the pressure on to see what we can accomplish here.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade helping the demonstrators in any way with advice?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that we are. I don't have anything on that. I simply don't know if we are. I mean, the Embassy in Belgrade, as part of its mission, would reach out to as wide a spectrum, as wide a variety of people in Serbian society as possible, and I'm certain that they have contacts with discussions with members of the opposition all the time. We're very familiar with the makeup of the Together coalition - Togetherness coalition, Zajedno, and the leaders of Zajedno, and we talk to them all the time.
I'm not sure what you mean by "support" exactly, but we are certainly giving moral support to the demonstrators, and once again we think it's very important that they've remained peaceful in their demonstrations. We think that's extremely important to keep the pressure on Milosevic.
Anymore on this? No.
QUESTION: According to ICAO, the Turkish Government issued illegally a NOTAM for a military exercise in the middle of the Aegean Sea on November 14, and last week in this illegal NOTAM, the Turkish authorities included illegally the Greek islet, Kaloyera. My question to you, since February 1 to the present, Mr. Burns stated in this room 85 times that the U.S. Government does not recognize Greek sovereignty over Imia and over a number of Greek islands in the Aegean, and I'm wondering if this particular Greek islet is included in those not recognized by the U.S. Government?
MR. DAVIES: This is the first mention I've heard of that particular islet. I'm certain I'll become familiar with it in coming days, but I don't have anything on that, and the last thing I'm going to do is walk on what has Nick has had to say on the subject.
QUESTION: One more to this effect.
MR. DAVIES: One more. Okay.
QUESTION: Do you recognize Greek sovereignty over this specific islet? I'm asking this because, as it was told, the same area has been challenged, too, by your military attache in Athens on October 16 with prior knowledgement of Ambassador Thomas Niles and the second in charge, Thomas Miller, at your Embassy in Greece.
MR. DAVIES: I can't get into any details of our diplomatic exchanges, and I don't know that our defense attache has taken that particular action.
QUESTION: But can you take my question, if you do recognize Greek sovereignty over this particular islet? You have a position for Imia -
MR. DAVIES: I'll make a deal. If that's the last question on the issue, I'll see what I can find out for you on that.
QUESTION: Glyn, do you have (a) any comments on the reports of today that the CIA has knowledge of Ukrainian firms selling missiles to Libya? And (b) as far as you know, is here any reassessment under way in the government of our aid packages to Ukraine?
MR. DAVIES: This is yet again a report based on an intelligence report or allegedly based on an intelligence report, so I can't comment on the specifics of it. But I can certainly reiterate that we take very seriously any alleged military cooperation by any country with Libya. Libya is a country under U.N. sanctions for its support of international terrorism. The Qadhafi regime is a regime that we regard as a rogue state, and, of course, until it ceases its support for terrorism, for weapons proliferation and its opposition to the peace process, we believe that members of the international community should refrain from cooperation of any kind with Libya.
As regards Ukraine, our cooperation with Ukraine on foreign policy issues has been excellent. Ukraine has played a model role in relinquishing nuclear weapons left on its territory. We have discussed with Ukraine our concerns about cooperation with rogue states such as Libya, and we believe Ukraine is committed not to permit such cooperation.
QUESTION: Follow-up here.
MR. DAVIES: There's a follow-up on that? Yes.
QUESTION: Do you consider this report to be credible or what? You say that it is an intelligence matter here.
MR. DAVIES: Yes. This is a newspaper report allegedly based on alleged intelligence. There's a lot of allegations there. What I'm not going to do is get into saying that it's accurate or it's not accurate or the degree to which it's accurate. I can only tell you about our views of Libya and our dialogue with Ukraine on such matters - cooperation with rogue states like Libya.
QUESTION: I have just one follow-up on that, Glyn, and that is as a clarifier, can you rule out that there is any reassessment going on in the U.S. Government of our aid packages - our aid commitments specifically to Ukraine?
MR. DAVIES: On the question of aid to Ukraine, clearly Congress has made clear, for instance, its concerns over potential Ukrainian military ties with Libya. They did that in FY-97 foreign aid appropriations bill. That bill would block assistance to Ukraine if it pursues military cooperation with Libya. Obviously, if at the end of the day we find that there is something to an allegation like this - and I'm not going to say we're looking into it or the extend to which we are - but any allegation like this we will take the appropriate action. What I'm not going to do is leap ahead and describe what actions we might take, and I'm certainly not going to talk about the internal deliberations that the United States Government, much less what our intelligence community, is doing on this score.
QUESTION: Did you just say that you believe that the Ukraines are not involved in any such dealings with the Libyans?
MR. DAVIES: What I've said - I made two points. I said that our cooperation with Ukraine on foreign policy issues has been excellent. I also said that we believe Ukraine is committed not to permit cooperation with rogue states such as Libya. That is our belief.
MR. DAVIES: That's what it is.
QUESTION: And yet you say that Congress is investigating - has investigated this matter and found some substance to it?
MR. DAVIES: No. I said the Congress has made clear its concerns over potential Ukrainian military ties with Libya. They did it in the FY-97 Foreign Aid Appropriations Bill which linked aid to Ukraine with this issue.
QUESTION: I heard a report this morning, Glyn, that the possibility of a meeting between Arafat and Netanyahu, which the United States Administration is working on diligently to bring about an agreement over Hebron. Can you offer anything on this?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything new to add, Mr. Abdulsalam. We're refraining from commenting in public at any great length about the ongoing negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and I simply don't have any announcements to make about travel plans or about activities underway in the United States Government. For now, we'll let the parties describe the state of play out there.
QUESTION: Is Dennis here?
MR. DAVIES: Dennis was here this morning, and I believe is still here. I don't think Dennis has any plans right now to go anywhere.
QUESTION: What's your opinion of the agreement that was reached at the United Nations for oil-for-food between the United Nations and Iraq?
MR. DAVIES: Things are moving quite quickly on that front. Our understanding is that today what we'll see out of the United Nations is - in fact, it may already have happened - is a letter from the Secretary General for the U.N. Security Council really starting implementation of 986 very, very soon - I think as early as -
QUESTION: Eight o'clock in the morning, I think, London time.
MR. DAVIES: Midnight tonight, New York time - United Nations' time. The Secretary General, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, of course, submitted his interim report to the Security Council back around Thanksgiving time. Today our understanding is that his final report is going to go forward, which would indicate then that from his standpoint all remaining conditions have been met, and 986 can go forward.
So the 90 days will start from midnight tonight, if indeed the Secretary General issues this letter to the Security Council, which the Security Council in turn may acknowledge in some kind of a public statement. We view this as a positive development. We were one of the originators of U.N. Resolution 986, the so-called "Oil-for-Food" deal. This does not signal an end or the first step toward the end of the sanctions regime against Iraq - against Saddam Hussein's regime. It is and has been all along a humanitarian exception to what is, we believe, a necessary and vigorous sanctions regime. Of course, all the proceeds from the controlled sale of the limited amount of Iraqi oil will be used to buy humanitarian goods for the Iraqi people to alleviate their suffering - suffering that, of course, has occurred at the hands of Saddam Hussein, and also to get at some of the arrearages of the United Nations' operation in Iraq itself - the weapons monitoring regime and the cost of implementing this agreement itself.
QUESTION: Will you be able within the next eight days to settle the issue of the Secretary General of the United Nations, since I understand the General Assembly and the Security Council will go on vacation the 17th of this month? Is this issue being on the way to be resolved, or how do you think about it?
MR. DAVIES: We certainly would like to see progress take place as quickly as possible, and we're encouraged - and we said this last week - that the selection process for Secretary General of the United Nations is now fully underway. A wide range of candidates is beginning to emerge, and that's positive. The range of candidates has to widen before it narrows, but we would like that narrowing to occur, of course, quickly.
We expect the Council to be able to discuss the four contenders now in the race. I understand there's a meeting in the U.N. Security Council this afternoon. There may well be more than the four names already on the table introduced today. We don't have a preferred candidate. We've said that before. We're looking for individuals who will make reform of the United Nations a top priority, and what we won't do and haven't done is get into public discussion of the merits of individual candidates - whether they speak a particular language or not.
QUESTION: On Greece. Does the United States believe that Greece is harboring some Serbs who have been charged with war crimes?
MR. DAVIES: I can look into that for you.
QUESTION: Would you. A newspaper makes an allegation today that that's the case.
MR. DAVIES: Okay, I'll look into that for you.
QUESTION: Last week, Nick said that the United States and North Korea would be meeting this week, and I was wondering what day was that meeting? Is it today?
MR. DAVIES: I'm no certain. (To staff) John (Dinger), do we - I took Friday off. Big mistake. I don't know the answer.
MR. DINGER: He arrived over the weekend (inaudible).
MR. DAVIES: Mr. Li? Yes, I recall that there was an announcement. I don't recall the specific day.
QUESTION: Can you take it?
MR. DAVIES: Sure. I'll look into that. I'll take that question.
QUESTION: And, if it happened today, what came out of it?
MR. DAVIES: Okay. Sure. Happy to do this.
QUESTION: Glyn, referring to a number of articles, one in The Washington Post, regarding Zaire, the city of Bunia in Eastern Zaire is about to fall to the rebels. Mr. Mobutu is apparently - his health is worsening, according to credible reports, and there's a fear expressed by State Department personnel in this article that Zaire is heading towards civil war, general chaos, upon added to the chaos that we (inaudible) have in the Great Lakes area now. What is the -
MR. DAVIES: I mean, there's already a degree of civil war and chaos in Eastern Zaire, and we're seeing that play out right now between the rebels and Zairian authorities, and there are other actors in the mix as well.
We continue to receive these reports of clashes in the Bunia area, which is north of Goma in north Kivu. We don't have confirmation of the details of these clashes.
What I don't want to do is generalize about Zaire and say that what is happening in Eastern Zaire is a harbinger of some kind of general devolution in authority and order in Zaire. You're talking about a country with 200 ethnic groups, as many languages, that's virtually - you can't get from one side to the other because it's got the world's second largest rainforest.
This is not a nation where the people in the Kasais in Central Zaire, or in Shaba, in the south, would hear instantaneously what's going on up around Bunia, nor would they necessarily feel an attachment to what's going on up there. So I think it's probably in the state, to generalize and say, that what we're going to see in Zaire is any kind of general conflagration.
Certainly, it's our position that Zaire's territorial integrity is very important. We will continue to work through our Embassy in Kinshasa, up at the United Nations, and in world capitals with other nations that have an interest in Zaire to see what we can bring to bear on the situation.
I don't have an update for you President Mobutu and his health.
QUESTION: Specifically, are there any remedies you can report that can be applied to the prevention of a more widespread civil war within the country?
MR. DAVIES: I think what has to happen now is the world community has to continue its work of helping to resolve the Rwandan refugee crisis by first, helping resettle the refugees in Rwanda; and, by second, continuing to get people into Eastern Zaire to monitor what is going on, to try to get a grip on the nature of the problem and then to seek the right kinds of authorities and permissions to take action, if we need to take action. But we have now hundreds of American servicemen and women in that part of the world - in Rwanda, in Uganda, in Kenya.
There are elements of a headquarters operation at Entebbe right now as part of the airlift for the Rwandan refugees. So there are assets in place. We continue to work very hard to find out the scope of the problem and to deal with the parties with control over that part of Zaire to see what needs to be done and whether we can do it.
Jim, did you have something? No. In the back.
QUESTION: On China, if we can. The Defense Minister is in town. Is the U.S. Administration going to be talking to them about the human rights situation in China?
MR. DAVIES: He is, of course, here posted by Secretary of Defense Perry. Today, as you've all seen on television, received a formal welcome over at the Pentagon building across the river.
My understanding is, he'll be here in this building tomorrow for a meeting with Acting Secretary of State Talbott. I am certain human rights is on the agenda and will come up. Perhaps, afterwards, we can characterize for you the extent to which he will have gotten into it.
QUESTION: Human rights organizations are saying the situation there has deteriorated since the delinking of trade and human rights issues. Is that the State Department's position as well, that the human rights situation has deteriorated?
MR. DAVIES: What I can't do for you is take you beyond what's been said very recently, when you had the entire national command authority of the United States out in that part of the world and Secretary Christopher in China. He spoke to this issue at length, the question of human rights in China.
Both the President and the Secretary have said that our relationship will never achieve the kind of status. We won't have a full relationship until we get past the human rights concerns that we have. But beyond what the Secretary and the President have said in recent weeks, I don't have anything for you.
Anything else over here in that part of the world?
QUESTION: Will there be any kind of press conference here tomorrow after the talks?
MR. DAVIES: I don't believe so, no.
QUESTION: What's your opinion about the blacklisting in the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, by Netanyahu's assistant, David Bar- Illan, in light of your concern about freedom of the press here and abroad?
MR. DAVIES: What's my comment on an op-ed in the New York Times?
QUESTION: It's blacklisting by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman by Mr. Bar-Illan, writing a letter to the Jewish community leaders not to invite Mr. Friedman to --
MR. DAVIES: I'm not familiar with that issue, Mr. Abdulsalam, but I'll look into that. I'll look into that for you.
QUESTION: With regard to settlements, Secretary Baker, on Thursday, made a very harsh attack on the Administration for stepping back from calling them "obstacles to peace" to "complications for peace," saying that the United States is rapidly losing its balance out there and that this would lead to increased settlements and increased problems.
Of course, the number of settlements have increased greatly. They're now announcing this morning a new series of settlements inside Jerusalem, in the Arab areas of Jerusalem. Is the Department of State going to make any approach to the Netanyahu government on this? Or are you just leaving it up to the parties?
MR. DAVIES: Just two thoughts first. You heard what Nick had to say Friday - I won't repeat it - on the issue of what former Secretary Baker had to say.
Second, our policy on settlements is well-known and oft repeated. I can repeat it for you, but you know it. Those are the two comments I would make for you, Gene.
QUESTION: I'm sorry, I was out of town.
MR. DAVIES: It's okay. Go back to Friday's transcript. You'll find Nick went on at some length about what Secretary Baker had to say. I'm not going to step on that.
QUESTION: Iraq: Just this morning, the U.N. approved implementation of 986. So the oil sales from Iraq could start, theoretically, as early as tomorrow.
MR. DAVIES: Right.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. - the State Department have any comment on this long-awaited approval? And, also, when does the U.S. expect oil to actually begin flowing and U.S. oil companies participating in this?
MR. DAVIES: I actually spoke to this about ten minutes ago. I talked about 986. We expect the actual - the implementation of the oil to flow very soon. I've been told it could happen within a matter of a week or two weeks. So this will all happen very quickly.
There is this 90-day window as from midnight tonight during which these sales can be made of about $2 billion worth of Iraqi oil in exchange for humanitarian goods. I repeat, you've heard all this stuff about the money will go to Saddam.
QUESTION: For a couple of days, the Greek and Turkish and international press are dealing with the disclosure by two Turkish deputies of the Turkish General Assembly, that in the last few years - every summer - the Turkish Government (inaudible) on a declared war, set up fires over Greek islands in the Aegean Sea causing damage of billions of dollars.
I'm wondering if you have any comment on this Turkish systematic arson against Greece; and more particularly, if the State Department has anything from its embassies in Athens and Ankara?
MR. DAVIES: You broke our deal. You used the word "islands."
QUESTION: This is arson.
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: One more question. Do you consider arson as an act of international terror? In this particular case, it has the dimension of state terrorism since it was disclosed by the Turkish parliamentarians. It has been carried out by the Turkish state.
GD. We'll let that one go On-the-Record as well. You got that into the record. Nothing for you on that, Lambros. Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:43 p.m.)
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