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U.S. Department of State
95/09/07 Interview:  MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour
Office of the Spokesman 
                     U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                      Office of the Spokesman 
For Immediate Release                      September 7, 1995 
                     "NEWSMAKER" INTERVIEW OF 
                         ROBERT MacNEIL 
                  PBS-TV - MacNEIL/LEHRER NEWSHOUR 
                          Washington, D.C. 
                          September 7, 1995 
MR. MacNEIL:  Finally tonight a "Newsmaker" interview with the Secretary 
of State, Warren Christopher.  Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Good evening, Robin. 
MR. MacNEIL:  Two thousand NATO bombing sorties have failed to budge the 
Bosnian Serbs.  What do the U.S. and NATO do now? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think we keep on, Robin.  Even though the 
bombing campaign has gone on for several days, the fact is that there 
was a pause for a couple of days, and then we've had unusually bad 
weather there, or perhaps I should say "usually bad weather."  But today 
was an effective day. 
I think that at the present time General Mladic and the Bosnian Serbs 
must understand that they don't have a good military option, and so 
we'll continue.  There are some very good targets.  At this stage of the 
campaign what we're hitting is infrastructure targets -- ammunition 
dumps, communications links -- and we've had some good hits there.  I 
think the Bosnian Serbs will be suffering in at least those two 
MR. MacNEIL:  Do you have reason to believe General Mladic will change 
his mind shortly? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think he ought to change his mind, because he 
doesn't have any satisfactory military options.  He's in an impossible 
situation, and we'll just proceed down this course. 
We began this, of course, in retaliation for the terrible bombing that 
killed so many people in Sarajevo, and I think that the Serbs are now 
being reminded that that kind of conduct is going to exact a fairly 
heavy cost. 
MR. MacNEIL:  William Safire, the New York Times' columnist, charges 
today that the tactics are more in his words "bombast than bombing," 
because you won't target the actual Serb guns that have, as you say, 
been punishing Sarajevo. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Those are military decisions that have been 
taken quite consciously.  The most attractive and best targets at the 
present time are the two that I mentioned. 
First, of course, we very effectively took out the air defense.  Now 
we're working on ammunition dumps, other infrastructure aspects of it, 
as well as communications. 
This campaign can continue for some time, Robin.  I think it will be a 
military judgment as to where we go from here.  The military officials 
that I talked to today felt that the campaign was going well and that we 
were proceeding. 
MR. MacNEIL:  Have those guns on the hills surrounding Sarajevo, and 
tanks, have they been placed off limits as targets? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No, they've not been placed off limits as 
targets.  The military find the other targets at this stage of the 
campaign to be more attractive. 
Let me emphasize one point, Robin, and that is that we have not seen 
those artillery pieces firing in the last few days.  There may be a 
strong reason for that because they know that they can be targeted and 
fired back against either by the air campaign or by the Rapid Reaction 
MR. MacNEIL:  How long can the alliance hold together if the Bosnian 
Serbs continue to keep their heads down and ignore your ultimatums? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think the alliance is very solid on this 
subject.  This, of course, goes back to the London Conference where 
under President Clinton's leadership we agreed very determinedly there 
to go forward in a situation like this -- that is, where they have 
attacked one of the safe areas, we said we would take strong, 
substantive, and decisive action, and we're doing just exactly that. 
I think General Mladic would be well advised to recognize that we're 
very determined and we will continue. 
MR. MacNEIL:  Do you dismiss today's warning from Boris Yeltsin that 
this could split Europe into two camps again and end his cooperation 
with NATO? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We've been working very closely with the 
Russians.  Of course, the Russians were present at the London Conference 
where these decisions were taken.  I've been in touch with the Foreign 
Minister.  We've been talking with them at all levels.  They have a 
representative at the Contact Group who will be meeting tomorrow in the 
negotiating session that commences in Geneva.  So we're in very close 
touch with the Russians. 
The important thing to remember here is, the Russians want a peace 
settlement just as much as any other country in Europe.  They realize 
that this situation in Bosnia is one that must be brought back to a 
peaceful situation. 
We've now got an opportunity, Robin -- one of the best we've had in a 
very long time -- to get some momentum for peace rather than the 
momentum of war.  That's part of the Russian desire and design just as 
it is ours.  I think around that set of principles, we'll be able to 
work and stay together with the Russians. 
MR. MacNEIL:  Do you think that Boris Yeltsin is just speaking for 
political effect at home, to keep the nationalists, who are the natural 
allies of the Serbs, happy while he winks at what's going on? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I wouldn't want to ascribe the purely political 
motives to him.  I'd simply emphasize that we're in regular and constant 
touch with the Russians, explaining to them why we're doing what we're 
doing.  They know that we're conversing and dealing with President 
Milosevic of Serbia in whom they have a great deal of confidence and 
One thing, Robin, we have to keep in mind is that tomorrow there will be 
a meeting in Geneva for the first time of the three Foreign Ministers of 
Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia.  They've not met at that level during our 
Administration.  We've got a chance to grasp this opportunity to move 
toward peace.  As I say, I think the Russians have an equal interest in 
Up to this point the bombing campaign has, I think, served the interests 
of improving the chances of success in that peace conference. 
MR. MacNEIL:  So you're not worried about Boris Yeltsin's threats? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Certainly, we want to take into account their 
point of view, and that's why we're in touch with them so regularly.  
But the fact is, as I said, we'll be meeting with their representative, 
Deputy Foreign Minister Ivanov, and the Contact Group tomorrow in 
Geneva.  They had a representative at the meeting today in Paris.  We're 
going to keep on talking with them.  I think they understand the 
importance of proceeding on these dual tracks. 
As I've said before, this is force in the service of diplomacy.  This is 
force being employed to achieve a peaceful result ultimately.  That's 
the track we must stay on.  I think we are on the right track under the 
President's leadership, Robin. 
MR. MacNEIL:  The NATO Supreme Commander in Europe -- the American 
General, George Joulwan -- said today that the success of these NATO 
missions will set the future of Europe and the alliance.  Is that what 
you see riding on this? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think the last several days has seen a very 
strong renaissance and confidence in NATO.  I think that's what General 
Joulwan had in mind.  This has been and will continue to be an effective 
campaign by NATO. 
I once again go back to the London Conference, which I think was a 
fundamental change.  It was followed by actions in the North Atlantic 
Council of NATO.  NATO has been proceeding effectively under the strong 
leadership of Secretary General Willy Claes. 
I think NATO is showing that they can be effective in this situation, so 
I agree with General Joulwan that it's an important moment for NATO. 
MR. MacNEIL:  And if you fail to persuade the Serbs, what would that 
mean for NATO? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I do not think we will fail in this situation.  
I think we understand what the stakes are, and we'll proceed.  I do not 
think the Serbs have a good military option at the present time, Robin.  
They've run out of satisfactory alternatives.  General Mladic would be 
well to recognize that point. 
MR. MacNEIL:  The Christine Science Monitor -- let me put a couple of 
things that have been said here in the states about this.  The Christian 
Science Monitor quotes an aide to  
Senator Domenici today -- a Greg Vuksic -- as saying, "The American 
phase of this war is just beginning.  This is either going to be another 
Beirut or a Korea with U.S. troops in place for years to come."  Is he 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it's a vast overstatement.  Under United 
States' leadership we now have the best opportunity we've had to achieve 
momentum for peace rather than the momentum of war.  If we can achieve a 
peace settlement, then the United States would participate in a NATO 
operation to implement the peace. 
But I do not see the kind of prolonged situation to which he refers.  
Overwhelmingly, I think, Robin, there's been editorial support for 
United States' leadership.  I hear that almost wherever I go, both on 
Capitol Hill as well as reading it in the newspapers.  So there may be 
others who see a downside to this, but I think we are on a good course 
at the present time. 
MR. MacNEIL:  Does the Administration stand by its prior commitment to 
provide up to 25,000 U.S. troops if there is a settlement, to police 
that settlement -- help police that settlement? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Robin, we certainly stand by our commitment to 
participate with NATO if NATO decides to go along with a settlement and 
try to implement it.  The number of troops will depend upon the nature 
of the settlement. 
Many things have changed since two years ago when that commitment was 
first made, but the commitment continues.  The scope of it, or the 
extent of it, the number of troops involved, will certainly depend upon 
the nature of the settlement that's reached. 
If you have more compact units, if you have a situation where you're not 
having a peace settlement with enclaves stretching out through the 
country, it may be the number of troops will be considerably less. 
But the implementation force cannot be planned until a peace settlement 
is reached.  I expect the meeting tomorrow in Paris will be a very 
important one, that it will take important steps; but it's a long and 
difficult road.  When we get down that road and see the shape of a peace 
settlement, then the United States, acting through NATO, will be able to 
decide on the scope of its commitment. 
But the fundamental basis of our commitment remains, and that is that we 
will help to implement a peace settlement if it's reached -- implement 
it through NATO. 
MR. MacNEIL:  How do you react to this reading of your policy by John 
Steinbrenner of Brookings.  He says, "The United States has now accepted 
responsibility for producing an outcome, and the only outcome that will 
stop the fighting is an ethnic partition of Bosnia imposed on all 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's just a fundamental misunderstanding, 
Robin.  The United States is strongly supporting the Republic of Bosnia-
Herzegovina to remain within its present borders.  We expect to argue 
very strongly for a continuity of that country, so we're not advocating 
a partition. 
There will very likely be two entities within that country.  That is, 
the new entity of the Federation consisting of the Bosnians and the 
Croatians within Bosnia -- that's one entity.  The other entity will be 
an entity consisting primarily of Serbians. 
But that's by no means a partition of the country.  It is a continuation 
of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.  That will be the position we 
advocate at the conference, and we hope it will be accepted by the 
parties tomorrow. 
MR. MacNEIL:  On China, I wonder what message the Administration is 
sending the last few days.  Hillary Clinton delivered what many people 
regarded as a transparent broadside there, and then the President said 
she didn't single out China for criticism. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think that the First Lady made a very eloquent 
and powerful statement in Beijing, and it's just the kind of a statement 
that she should have made.  After all, this is an important women's 
conference.  China invited the United Nations to have the conference 
there.  Mrs. Clinton made a powerful statement with respect to women's 
rights and human rights.  That was appropriate at this kind of a 
I think it should not affect our relationships with the Chinese, which I 
expect to be meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister in New York in a 
couple of weeks, as we try to improve our relationships, to strengthen 
and stabilize the relationships between the United States and China. 
But I admire Mrs. Clinton for her statement in Beijing, and I think it 
was a very appropriate statement when you take into account the fact 
that it was a conference on women's rights being hosted by China. 
MR. MacNEIL:  The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman said today, "The 
key issue standing in the way of Sino-U.S. relations is how to remove," 
what he called, "the serious  
consequences brought by the Taiwan President's visit to the United 
States."  Is that the key issue in your view? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's certainly regarded by the Chinese as being 
a very sensitive issue, and I've discussed it at great length with the 
Chinese Foreign Minister and expect to do so in the future. 
Let me emphasize that our policy has not changed on that subject.  We 
will have official relationships with the Chinese Government, and we'll 
continue to have important but unofficial relationships with the 
Taiwanese.  If there are to be visits in the future, they will be very 
carefully regulated in light of the nature of the relationship that we 
have with Taiwan and the relationship that we have with China. 
But we're having ongoing discussions of this subject with the Chines.  
Because we've not changed our policy, because we continue to respect the 
Three Communiques, I do not think that should be an impediment to the 
improvement, stabilization and strengthening of the relationships 
between the United States and China. 
MR. MacNEIL:  Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for joining us. 
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