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U.S. Department of State
93/08/12 Interview on CNN's The World Today/Sarajevo
Office of the Spokesman

Washington, D.C.
August, 12, l993 

MS. JUDY WOODRUFF:  From Bosnia to Somalia, the Middle East and 
elsewhere, global crises facing the U.S. have not diminished with the 
Cold War's collapse, providing this new Administration with a host of 
international policy challenges.

Joining us to discuss the latest events overseas, Secretary of State 
Warren Christopher.  Mr. Secretary, we thank you for being with us.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Nice to be here, Judy.

MS. WOODRUFF:  As you know, today the Serb commanders are saying on the 
ground near Sarajevo that their troops have pulled back largely from 
these two mountain peaks overlooking Sarajevo, whereas some of the U.N. 
officials there are saying that there are still thousands of Serb troops 
located on these mountains.  Which is it?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I've been following those events today, of 
course.  I think what's going to happen is that the U.N. is going to 
send a survey team to the two mountains tomorrow morning to see what the 
positions are, to see whether the Serbs have met the condition of being 
removed from the tops of those mountains and removing them from impeding 
the passageway below the mountains.

One thing I want to say, though, Judy, is that the mountains are 
important, but that is not the real issue.  The real issue is whether or 
not the siege of Sarajevo has been lifted; whether or not the 
stranglehold has been removed.  That will be the test.

MS. WOODRUFF:  Well, how do you define whether that stranglehold has 
been removed, because it has been -- what? -- months and months, a year 
now, that Sarajevo has been denied humanitarian relief in many 
instances?  In one instance after another the Serbs have continued to 
control the situation in that city, haven't they?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That is exactly the way we will be testing 
whether or not humanitarian relief can be getting in; whether the lights 
are turned on; whether water is available once again.  Conditions must 
improve in Sarajevo in order for the test of survivability to be met.

MS. WOODRUFF:  But conditions have not improved at this point, have 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There has been some improvement; but that is the 
kind of thing we will be judging.  That is why we are trying to get 
reports on the ground day by day.  I don't want to reach any final 
judgment about it one way or the other.  There may be some good signs 
with respect to those two mountains.  There are some other flickers of 
indication within Sarajevo, but it is much too early to pass judgment on 

What we are looking for is improvement in the conditions on the ground 
in Sarajevo, and that's in the hands of the Serbs to do that.

MS. WOODRUFF:  For example, today there was a Bosnian official -- a 
Bosnian vice president -- who said the Serbs took the opportunity to 
station rockets on the mountains last night that would give them, again, 
a strategic advantage.  Have you been able to confirm that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We've not been able to confirm that.  Those 
rockets, if they were fired, would certainly breach the understanding 
that we have that there would be no more shelling of the city.

As you know, we have three basic purposes that we are threatening the 
use of air power to try to achieve.  First, to permit humanitarian aid 
to get through; second, to lift the siege of Sarajevo overall; and, most 
important of all I would say, is to try to ensure that there's no firing 
on the United Nations troops that are there.  Any one of those three 
things could give rise to a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to 
consider whether or not firm action should be taken.

MS. WOODRUFF:  But, again, all of those things have been happening.  
U.N. troops have been fired on -- there's a dispute about the source of 
it.  Humanitarian assistance has been denied in various instances.  How 
do you determine now, after all these months, that too much is enough?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  What we're looking for is some improvement on 
the ground.  You know, it was only last Monday that the NATO Council met 
and adopted a military plan.  We're watching for action between last 
Monday and now -- between last Monday and the next several days.  That's 
what we'll be following with great care.  We're looking for a change in 
the situation for the better.

MS. WOODRUFF:  And, meanwhile, you have the Bosnian Serb leader, Mr. 
Karadzic, quoted today in an Austrian newspaper as saying that the Serbs 
are prepared to retaliate with terrorist activities and perhaps even 
nuclear -- in some nuclear manner.

He is, granted, denying that he said this.  The newspaper is standing by 
the story.  But are you at all concerned that the Serbs might come up 
with some sort of retaliation?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There are a lot of unwise and reckless things 
being said out there.  I think we'll watch what happens on the ground.  
I've got great confidence in United States capability if we decide that 
action needs to be taken.

MS. WOODRUFF:  Mr. Secretary, though, at the same time, is there some 
frustration on your part about how little the West has really been able 
to achieve in Bosnia and in Sarajevo, after a year that the "no-fly" 
rule has barely been enforced?  I was told today that some 250 flights; 
no action taken.  The safe havens are truly not safe.  Tens of thousands 
of people, as we know, have been killed.  These relief convoys have been 
denied access to areas they needed to get into.

When does the frustration become so great that action has to be taken as 
a result?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I think that's a fair question.  I think 
there's some frustration for all of us in this situation.  We inherited 
a very bad hand, and we've been trying to improve.

MS. WOODRUFF:  Inherited from --?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  From the prior Administration.  This situation 
would have been much easier to deal with a year ago when the aggression 
first began by the Serbs -- when their first conduct began.  Now, the 
Serbs and the Croats and the Muslims are so inter-mixed within Bosnia 
that it's a much more difficult situation to deal with.

But moving on from that, we certainly have imposed very strong 
sanctions.  Frankly, those sanctions have badly hurt the Serbian 
economy, but it's not changed their conduct on the ground.

Serbia, I think, has become a pariah state in international affairs, and 
yet that has not changed their attitude on the ground.  So perhaps out 
of that frustration or feeling that something more needed to be done, 
the United States took a leading role.  We convened the NATO Council.  
It was a week ago last Monday that they adopted the policy of the 
possibility of air strikes if there was not an improvement.  Last 
Monday, they had adopted a military plan.  I think we are moving up on 
the situation to try to deal with the situation that is very, very 

MS. WOODRUFF:  But I can't let this drop, Mr. Secretary.  Are you 
suggesting that the previous Administration, had they moved early on 
when the Serbs began, this whole situation would have been different?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, I think it might have been quite different.  
Now, we have to play the hand that's dealt us, but I think we found a 
very bad situation when we came into office.  It was a long ways gone.  
It would have been much easier dealt with in 1992 than it is in 1993.

MS. WOODRUFF:  We will continue our discussion -- Mr. Secretary, stay 
with us -- our discussion with Secretary Christopher, and we will then 
turn to the latest incident involving U.S. troops in Somalia.  That's 
ahead on "The World Today."

[Commercial pause]

MS. WOODRUFF:  For more on this situation in Somalia, we turn once again 
to U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher.  Mr. Secretary, there was 
a top aide to Mr. Aideed who was quoted today as saying that this 
shooting, either over the heads of or into the crowd of Somalia citizens 
in Mogadishu, was just another provocation, he called it, by the United 

First of all, can you tell us the particulars of what happened and then 
respond to what this gentleman said?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't have any details on that particular 
incident, but what I would say is that it's very hard to judge that kind 
of an incident from this distance based upon a picture that you have 

The American troops and the other troops in Mogadishu are in a very 
serious situation, and I think they deserve a lot of consideration and a 
lot of support.  A great deal has been accomplished in Somalia by what 
America has done there, together with its allies.

You know, when we went in there, there was a terrible situation of 
hunger, starvation; the country was in absolute chaos.  Through the 
action that the United States took, we have fed the people.  Starvation 
has ended there.  There is enough food there.  The feeding process has 
come to an end because they're growing their own food and having their 
own food now. 

Now we're in a new phase.  We're in the phase of nation-building.  We're 
trying to help that country get back on its feet.  General Aideed is a 
major obstacle to that.  Through much of the country there is real 
progress toward nation-building, toward getting a government back on its 
feet.  But Aideed is a major obstacle, and I think he needs to be dealt 

MS. WOODRUFF:  Well, you say he needs to be dealt with, and I know in an 
interview last night on PBS on MacNeil/Lehrer, you said that the U.S. 
had to find some new techniques to go after him.  What exactly do you 
mean?  How far is the U.S. and the U.N. prepared to go?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I think we have to have some people there 
who will be good at finding him in the middle of a major city where he 
controls the environs that he is in.  I don't want to get into precise 
techniques that we might use, but I think bringing him under control one 
way or the other -- or arresting him, ideally -- is a very important 
building block to making the next steps possible in Mogadishu.

MS. WOODRUFF:  Well, how far is the U.S. and the U.N. prepared to go?  I 
mean, are we prepared to do a house-to-house search in the parts of 
Mogadishu where we believe he may be hiding?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it's very important that he no longer 
exercises the kind of power that he's had.  I think I'll leave it up to 
the military commanders on the scene to decide how best to do that; but 
the United States is determined not to walk away from this situation.  
We've made so much progress, and there's a good deal of progress going 
on in the nation-building.  This is no time for us to leave.

MS. WOODRUFF:  But, as you well know, there's been some disagreement 
right here within the Clinton Administration, between the Pentagon and 
your own State Department, over whether to hurry up the exit or to stay 
longer.  Now we have today the announcement that the Italian Government 
is pulling its 2,600 troops out of the city of Mogadishu to an area 
outside of there because they have problems with what they say is too 
much emphasis on the military mission and not enough on the diplomatic.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, to handle the first part of your question, 
Judy, the President makes United States policy, and I think he has 
clearly indicated that we're going to stay there -- that is, with our 
much fewer troops than we had initially, down to about 4,000.  Now, 
we're going to stay there and be helpful to the United Nations in this 
second aspect of the matter -- beyond the feeding, we're now into 

With respect to exactly where we go from here, I think that is really 
something that will be determined there on the ground by the commanders, 
but we are determined to stay there.

MS. WOODRUFF:  But, excuse me, with regard to the Italian decision, how 
much -- to what extent does that undermine the U.N. and the U.S. 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't think that's harmful at all.  There's 
been some differences with the Italians on exactly how to approach the 
situation in Mogadishu.  I think it's probably constructive that they're 
going to be some place else in Somalia, being helpful to the overall 
mission, but not being there in Mogadishu.

I don't think that interferes with the effort the United Nations is 
making there.

MS. WOODRUFF:  And you don't think they have a point when they say 
there's been too much emphasis on the military and not enough on the 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think General Howe and the others who are 
leading that effort there are doing very well, and I wouldn't want to 
second-guess them from this distance.

MS. WOODRUFF:  All right.  Mr. Christopher, stay with us.  Just ahead 
we'll look at the situation in the Middle East and have some final 
thoughts from Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

(Commercial pause)

MS. WOODRUFF:  Just quickly, Mr. Secretary, you're back with us now -- 
this unauthorized pressure from the U.S. State Department regarding Mr. 
Demjanjuk, can you clear that up for us?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't think I can.  I've not seen what that 
pressure was.  What I will tell you, Judy, is that our Embassy there has 
been trying to stay in close touch with the Israelis to tell them what 
the complicated legal situation is here in the United States.

You know, we have extradition proceedings, we had a deportation 
proceeding, and there is a decision taken by the Sixth Circuit Court of 
Appeals -- I believe it is -- in Cleveland, so it's quite a confused 
legal situation.  What our Embassy or Consulate has been trying to do is 
to keep the Israelis apprised as best we can of the legal situation here 
in the United States.  Now, as I say, I don't know what the unauthorized 
pressure is.

MS. WOODRUFF:  But this wasn't something that you were involved in, just 
to be clear about it.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No.  It was nothing that I was involved in, no.

MS. WOODRUFF:  This invitation that the U.S. and Russia have extended to 
the Israelis and various Arab nations, the PLO, who do you expect is 
going to come?  Do you expect those talks will resume in Washington this 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That is something I was involved in, Judy.  
Really, it is stemming from my trip to the Middle East where I talked to 
all the parties and told them we should resume the negotiation and got a 
very positive response from them.  So what we've done now is fixed a 
date at the end of the month, and I think they'll all return.

MS. WOODRUFF:  All of them.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  All of the parties.

MS. WOODRUFF:  And do you think that this recent disagreement among the 
Palestinian delegation about who's on board and who isn't in any way is 
going to undermine the talks or undermine the Palestinian participation 
in the talks?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, my information on that is today that 
that's been sorted out.  Those who tendered their resignations have 
decided -- have been asked to come back, and I hope they'll be part of 
the delegation.  They were very constructive people, and I hope they'll 
be back in the delegation.

So my own feeling, based upon my conversations out there, is that all 
the parties want to continue the peace process despite the ill feeling 
that occurred because of the Israeli-Hizbollah exchange.  Nevertheless, 
they want to get back to the peace table, and I think they'll be coming 
at the end of this month.

MS. WOODRUFF:  You probably know that Syria's President, Mr. Assad, was 
quoted today in a newspaper in Beirut as saying that Israel remains an 
enemy of Syria, despite the Middle East peace talks, and he went on to 
say Syria must protect the Hizbollah guerrillas.

There are people who are telling -- former State Department officials, 
in fact -- who are telling CNN that Mr. Assad is really only 
participating in these talks just to placate the United States and 
maintain good ties with the Clinton Administration.

Are you being toyed with here by the Syrian Government?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I certainly hope not.  I've had very 
serious talks with President Assad, and I doubt very much if he would 
have spent as much time as he has with me if he wasn't very serious 
about it.

Judy, the underlying situation is we need to move beyond a situation 
where countries regard other countries in the region as being enemies.  
The whole purpose of this process is to try to get to a more normal 
situation where they can have normal relationships with each other.

Unquestionably, at the present time they are tense and strained.  But if 
we can develop some confidence between them and move into a situation 
where their relations are more normal, then I think we can have a chance 
to have some real peace in an area which has been deprived of it for 
such a long time.

MS. WOODRUFF:  In the less than a minute we have left, Mr. Secretary, I 
want to bring up this ship from China carrying chemical weapons to Iran, 
now apparently sitting in the Strait of Hormuz.  The United States has 
intervened and has asked, I believe, Saudi Arabia and other of our Arab 
allies in the area to inspect the ship to see what's on board.  We can't 
get the information from the Chinese.

Can you just in a few seconds, really, here shed some light on this?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, the light that I can shed is the United 
States is determined to prevent the spread of chemical and biological 
weapons.  This is part of our program on that.  We have reliable 
information that there are chemical weapons on board that ship.  We're 
determined to inspect the ship.

We're trying to find circumstances under which we can inspect the ship.  
Not surprising, then, not every nation is anxious to have that ship put 
into its port.  But we'll find a way to do that.  We'll find a way to 
make sure that those chemical weapons or chemicals of various kinds -- I 
shouldn't have said weapons -- are not delivered into the wrong hands.

MS. WOODRUFF:  Well, Mr. Secretary, we thank you for being with us.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you very much, Judy.


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