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U.S. Department of State
95/07/16 Interview: Secretary Christopher on Meet the Press
Office of the Spokesman



                      INTERVIEW OF SECRETARY OF STATE 
                              WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                                 ON
                         NBC-TV'S "MEET THE PRESS"

                             Washington, D.C.
                              July 16, 1995


MR. TIM RUSSERT:  Mr. Secretary, welcome back.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT:  There is news breaking this morning from Iraq:  Two 
American businessmen held in captivity for four months have been 
released.  Can you confirm that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Tim, there is good news from Iraq this morning.  
Just ten minutes ago we got in touch with our Interests Section in the 
Polish Embassy there in Baghdad.  They confirmed that Mr. Daliberti and 
Mr. Barloon are there in the Polish Interests Section.  Actually, 
they're having a small celebration there because that's a very important 
first step.

Tim, let me make three points about that.  First, Congressman Bill 
Richardson went to Baghdad on a private humanitarian mission, and I 
think it's a great credit to him that he has been able to take this very 
important step.  We won't feel completely comfortable until they're out 
of Iraq and home; but this is a very, very important step.

Second, Congressman Richardson was good enough to contact us before he 
went.  I want to tell you that President Clinton is aware and supports 
the efforts of his friend, Bill Richardson.

And, finally, he was not there as our envoy; he did not negotiate for 
us.  But the result that's reached is a very, very good one from our 
standpoint, and obviously we are very pleased.

MR. RUSSERT:  There are reports that Congressman Richardson delivered a 
letter from President Clinton.  One, was a letter delivered; two, were 
any concessions made by the United States to gain the release of these 
two American businessmen?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No letter was delivered.  No concessions were 
made.  He wasn't authorized to negotiate.  He simply went there on a 
private humanitarian mission.

Obviously we all are very anxious to have these two men released.  They 
were unjustifiably detained.  I'm sure that Congressman Bill Richardson, 
who happens to be a friend of mine as well -- I talked to him just 
before he left -- obviously he made that point, that President Clinton, 
myself, the American people, and the Congress wanted these men released.

MR. RUSSERT:  Why would Saddam Hussein release these men now?  Is he 
looking for a lifting of economic sanctions, and will that happen?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's very hard to probe the mind of Saddam 
Hussein.  It's a very difficult exercise.  Perhaps he was trying to 
court some international favor.

In my experience in these things, there comes a point in which the 
disadvantages of keeping them outweigh the disadvantages of releasing 
them.  That probably happened here.  We may learn some time in the 
future.

Frankly, the time had long since passed when they should have been 
released.  These men were unjustifiably detained.  They've been in 
detention for four months, both of them with some medical problems.  So 
I'll be very glad when they're home, when they're out of Iraq.

MR. RUSSERT:  But no lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Not at all.  That's totally unconnected with 
this.

MR. RUSSERT:  After four months in captivity, what would they be eating 
on a morning like this?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I'm told they're eating a pizza and perhaps 
drinking some champagne.

MR. RUSSERT:  The all-American diet!  (Laughter)

Let's turn to something a little more troubling -- Bosnia.  Mr. 
Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, said this morning that the 
so-called safehavens should and will no longer exist.  What's your 
reaction?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  He's not going to make that decision 
unilaterally.  The situation in Bosnia is just terrible.  The conduct of 
Mr. Karadzic and the Bosnian Serbs is really beyond comprehension.  It's 
horrible even by Bosnian standards.  The question is, what are we going 
to do about that.  Right now I think we have to understand we operate 
within the context of the fact that President Clinton has decided -- and 
I think the American people want to keep it this way -- that we will not 
inject American troops into the situation in Bosnia except for the 
possibility of having to use them to withdraw the allied forces.

MR. RUSSERT:  Can I just follow up a minute, Mr. Secretary?  It's a very 
important point.  So we would not use American troops or equipment to 
protect the so-called safehavens?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  What we will not do, Tim, is we will not inject 
American ground troops into the situation in Bosnia.  Now, American 
equipment is certainly a possibility, and right this moment the Chairman 
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shalikashvili, is in London 
meeting with his counterparts to see how we can strengthen UNPROFOR 
because of the alternatives we have before us -- and there are no very 
good alternatives -- the best one is to try to strengthen UNPROFOR, 
strengthen the United Nations, which has done some things well and been 
very disappointing in other respects.

But if we can strengthen that -- if we can strengthen it through the 
Rapid Reaction Force -- we have an opportunity to maintain some of these 
safehavens.  That's a military issue, and the military men are meeting 
on that right this moment.

MR. RUSSERT:  So the United States would provide helicopters, manned by 
American helicopter pilots, in order to protect the safehavens?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Tim, you're putting words in my mouth, and I 
don't intend to confirm that.  What I would say to you is that General 
Shalikashvili is meeting with his counterparts in London right now to 
discuss what means might properly be used to strengthen UNPROFOR, 
through the Rapid Reaction Force or in some other way, to try to 
preserve the safety of the United Nations forces and to try to preserve 
the safehavens insofar as possible.

No decisions have been made about that.  There are a number of questions 
to be asked.  This is really a military question.  The right people are 
meeting in London now, I think, to assess what can be done and how best 
it should be done.

MR. RUSSERT:  Bosnia -- there are 200,000 dead or missing in the last 
four years.  It's a real stain on the West, isn't it, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, it's a real failure of the West; and it 
goes back a long ways, probably long before I was in office -- the 
decision put this particular exercise in the hands of the United 
Nations.  It may well, looking back on it, have been a mistake.  One 
thing that was certainly a mistake is the dual-key operation -- that is, 
that any particular operation there has to have the consent both of the 
United Nations and NATO.  I don't think we'd ever do that again.

But, you know, you have to deal with the situation in terms of 
alternatives now, and I think the best alternative is to try to 
strengthen UNPROFOR, to try to make it more effective.  We're proceeding 
to do that right now.

MR. RUSSERT:  The Bosnian Muslims said that we are doing nothing more 
than buying time and allowing the slaughter of civilians.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't agree with that.  What we're trying to 
do is to provide the basis for a negotiated settlement.  We don't 
believe this matter can be won or lost on the battlefield.  There's a 
prolonged stalemate there.  Carl Bildt, the former Prime Minister of 
Sweden, is in a very active negotiation, trying to find a basis for a 
negotiation, trying to find a basis for a settlement there, trying to 
find some basis to achieve peace.

I'll make another very important point about this, Tim:  The United 
States has interests there; one of the strongest interests we have is to 
contain the conflict; and the maintenance of the United Nations force 
there in Bosnia is very important for the containment of that conflict 
and to keep it from spreading south, to keep it from reaching our NATO 
allies, Greece and Turkey.

MR. RUSSERT:  But the Serbs have won the war as far as Bosnia is 
concerned.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No, I won't say they've won the war.  They've 
certainly made great strides and are in a very strong military position.  
But what we need to have is a settlement which can produce a viable 
Bosnian state, one with secure borders and one in which the Muslims can 
live in relative tranquillity there.  We've got a long ways to go to 
achieve that, but that's one of the things we need to be working for.

MR. RUSSERT:  Senator Dole said that one of the ways to bring about a 
settlement and a negotiated peace is to allow the Muslims to fight their 
own war at this stage -- lift the arms embargo -- and he's going to move 
this week in the Senate to do just that.  What's your reaction?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think that's a serious mistake.  I think you 
get some instant gratification from lifting the arms embargo.  It's kind 
of an emotional luxury.  But you have to ask yourself, what are the 
consequences of that.  I think one of the principal consequences is that 
it is a way to draw the United States into the war on the ground in two 
respects.

First, the moment the arms embargo is lifted unilaterally -- and that's 
what Senator Dole is talking about -- UNPROFOR will come out.  Our 
allies will not stay under those circumstances.  We're committed to help 
them with up to 25,000 United States troops to withdraw.

But more important than that, if the arms embargo is lifted, no doubt 
the Serbs will launch and offensive against the Muslims.  Our estimate 
is the Muslims will need help in that circumstance.  They'll come to us; 
they'll ask for our help, and before long the United States will be in 
the picture with equipment, with training, and perhaps if that doesn't 
work, with troops.

So I think lifting the arms embargo, for all the attraction it has, if 
you do it unilaterally, it means we take a unilateral responsibility 
here in the United States and it Americanizes the war.  So it's a very 
bad idea.  As I say, for all of its imperfections, a better approach to 
the matter is to try to strengthen UNPROFOR to enable the United Nations 
to do things better than they have in the past, to override some of the 
mistakes that have made them so ineffective at least in this respect.

MR. RUSSERT:  Jacques Chirac, the head of France, said that this is 
similar to the appeasement of Hitler.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I understand his frustration, and I understand 
his anger.  The whole world condemns what has happened there.  But the 
question is what can we do about it, and that's what the Chiefs of Staff 
are meeting on in London right now.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me turn to China.  Were the Chinese within their 
rights to arrest Harry Wu?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think that's not the right question to ask.  
The real issue is, should they release Harry Wu in the interests of 
U.S.-China relations?  I think it would be very conducive to U.S.-China 
relations that he be released.

We urge his release at present time, immediately.  I think that would be 
a very helpful matter for U.S.-China relations.

We don't know all the facts of the particular case, but we do know that 
he is a very courageous man who has been a human rights activist over 
the years.  He's done a great many and very important things.  I think 
his detention is really a thorn in the side of the U.S.-China 
relationship, and I hope he'll be released very promptly.

MR. RUSSERT:  But he may have broken Chinese law.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it's really not profitable to get into 
that discussion.  I don't know that he's done anything that would 
justify his prolonged detention under circumstances that are very 
dangerous to him.  He does have a medical condition.

MR. RUSSERT:  His wife, Mrs. Wu, has said that the United States should 
not participate in the U.N. Women's Conference in Beijing until Mr. Wu 
is released; and, number two, Hillary Clinton -- the First Lady -- 
should not go to Beijing as chairperson of that delegation.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  First, let me say that that's a very important 
conference.  Women's issues are discussed only once a decade.  So I 
think that's a desirable conference to go ahead.  I would try to 
separate the issues.

At the present time, Ambassador Madeleline Albright is the chairman of 
our delegation.  Mrs. Clinton has expressed an interest in that 
conference.  Those are issues, of course, that are very important to 
her.  No decision has been made as to whether or not she will go.

But I would hope that the Wu episode is behind us well before that 
conference takes place.  I think it would be in everybody's interest if 
it is.

MR. RUSSERT:  It would be very difficult for the First Lady to go to 
China while Harry Wu is in custody.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't want to try to anticipate what the First 
Lady's decisions will be.

But let me just emphasize over again:  For a whole series of reasons -- 
the Women's Conference, the meeting that I'm going to be having in 
Brunei with the Foreign Minister, I hope in a couple of weeks -- it 
would be very desirable to put the Harry Wu episode behind us so we can 
get our relationship back on a solid track.

MR. RUSSERT:  Most-Favored-Nation status -- trade status for the Chinese 
-- should we suspend that while he's in custody?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That probably will come up for discussion in the 
Congress in a week or two.  The United States will strongly support the 
maintenance of Most-Favored-Nation (status) for China under the present 
circumstances.  I think we should condemn the detention of Mr. Wu under 
these circumstances, but at the same time I believe that Most-Favored-
Nation status is in our interest as well as being in the Chinese 
interest.

Tim, in this situation, I think it's important to emphasize that the 
United States has a great deal of need to keep engaged with China.  It's 
a very powerful and important country.  We want to be engaged with them.  
We don't intend to try to contain them.  We want to respect the three 
communiques under which we operated in the past.

I think the United States will be able to manage these relationships.  
There have been some ups and downs in the past.  But I think at the 
present time, if we maintain a steady course with them and get through 
these episodes, we can establish the kind of relationships we need with 
China and the world's other great powers.

MR. RUSSERT:  We have just a few seconds left, Mr. Secretary.  The 
Middle East.  The Syrians will not negotiate with the Israelis as they 
had promised.  What message do you send to the Syrians this morning?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Tim, I think that what you say is an 
overstatement.  The Ambassadors will be talking here again in 
Washington, probably within a week or two.  There's a technical issue as 
to whether or not military representatives will join them.  But they're 
making real progress on that front.

The two Chiefs of Staff of Syria and Israel met here in Washington.  
They had good meetings.  Dennis Ross had some good meetings out there.  
There are ups and downs in that particular negotiation.  They are very 
tough issues and they are very experienced, tough negotiators.

It's our job to try to keep that negotiation on an even keel.  So I 
wouldn't overreact to one of the ups and downs in those negotiations.  
We'll proceed forward on that, just as progress is being made on the 
Israeli-Palestinian track.

MR. RUSSERT:  Will you be going to the Middle East?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I may go to the Middle East.  I have first to 
make a long trip to Asia for the conference in Brunei and then to visit 
Vietnam, among other places.  I may go to the Middle East after that.

I'm always ready to go if it would advance the cause of peace there.

MR. RUSSERT:  Finally, Mr. Secretary, what can you tell us about the 
health of Russian President Boris Yeltsin?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We hear, of course -- our information comes from 
the Russian Government.  They indicate that his health is good; that 
he's in the hospital; that he's working.  The other day, as you noticed 
perhaps, he called for parliamentary elections this December.

So our information is that he remains in charge, remains effective, and 
will be coming out of the hospital in the near future.  We don't have 
any independent knowledge of his health other than what is reported to 
us by the Russian Government.

MR. RUSSERT:  Mr. Secretary, we thank you for joining us again this 
morning on "Meet the Press."

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you very much, Tim.
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