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U.S. Department of State
96/01/22 Interview: PBS-TV "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer"
Office of the Spokesman 
 
 
 
 
 
                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                          Office of the Spokesman 
_____________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                January 22, 1996 
 
 
 
 
                                 INTERVIEW OF 
                     SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
                                      ON 
                     PBS-TV "THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER" 
 
                                Washington, D.C. 
                            Monday, January 22, 1996 
 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Finally, tonight, a "Newsmaker" interview with the 
Secretary of State, Warren Christopher. 
 
Mr. Secretary, welcome. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, Jim. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  First, let's talk about Bosnia.  The big deadline -- the 
first big deadline -- came and went on Friday.  What is your overall 
assessment of how the mission is going? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, I think the overall compliance rate is 
relatively good.  On the most important issue -- that is, whether or not 
there would be a separation of forces, whether they would move back from 
this line -- there was good compliance there. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  That was the deadline one Friday -- one of the deadlines? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's right.  There was good compliance there; 
a good spirit, I think, on behalf of both of the forces that are moving 
back from that line.  So the most important task was accomplished. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Did you have the feeling that the only reason they moved 
back was because there were armed Americans and other NATO forces there?  
Or did they do it in a spirit of "hey, this is what we need to do and we 
want to do"? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think there's a lot of spirit there: "Let's 
comply with the Dayton Agreement.  Let's see if we can't get this war 
behind us now." 
 
Certainly, the man in the street, the common person there, wants to have 
this war behind.  I think a lot of the soldiers are very war-weary, too, 
now.  No doubt it was helpful to have the American troops there in great 
strength.  They knew there would be consequences if they didn't move 
back. 
 
But overall, I think, our leaders -- that is, the leaders of forces 
there -- find a good spirit of compliance by the troops so far. 
 
The second aspect of it was whether or not there would be a removal of 
the foreign forces.  There has been some removal of the foreign forces -
- 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Now we're talking about the mujahidin for the Muslims and 
some others from on the other side. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There are Croatian forces moving out to Croatia, 
and so forth.  All the foreign forces were supposed to be back, out of 
the country by the same deadline. 
 
I think there has been some compliance there but there probably is not 
full compliance.  It's a tricky thing to deal with, Jim, because some of 
the foreign forces have married Bosnian women.  Some of them really 
blended in, melted into the society.  It would probably be quite hard to 
find out whether or not they actually have left the country.  So we have 
some distance to go there as well. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Who's making the decision on that as to what constitutes a 
foreign troop or a foreign force? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's one of the things that our military 
commanders -- Admiral Smith, the other military commanders there -- will 
have to be judging that in the final analysis.  But we will also have to 
judge that as the United States, because we've made it very clear to the 
Bosnians that our obligation to equip and train their forces is 
completely conditional on the foreign forces being gone.   
 
We've made the point to President Izetbegovic that if they expect us to 
furnish equipment, to train their forces, then they must get rid of all 
the foreign forces.  I think that's a fairly high incentive. 
 
Another thing that was to have happened by the 19th and a place where 
we're somewhat disappointed, and that is in the exchange of prisoners, 
the release of prisoners.  Both sides were supposed to release all their 
prisoners.  Those were unconditional.  There was some prisoner release 
that took place, but it has not been satisfactory yet. 
 
Ambassador Holbrooke is in the region.  In the last few days he's been 
trying to insist on that.  One of the lessons of this period, Jim, is 
that we're going to have to monitor it closely.  We're going to have to 
keep reminding the parties of their commitment until we really get the 
kind of compliance that makes it set in -- welded into the picture 
there. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  To be specific, the Bosnian Muslims said, "We are not going 
to release all the Serb prisoners until we get an accounting from the 
Serbs of 24,000 of our people who are missing."  Is that in your view a 
legitimate demand on the part of the Bosnian Government? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's not a legitimate demand in the sense that 
they're entitled to keep back their prisoners until it happens.  It was 
an unconditional obligation that both sides give up their prisoners. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  So that's a new thing that they have put in.  That was not 
part of the Dayton Accords. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Exactly.  Certainly, it's a legitimate request 
on their part, and we'll work with them to try to achieve that request.  
But there is no solid basis for their keeping back the prisoners that 
they hold until they get this information. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  So what happens then, Mr. Secretary?  I mean, if they 
continue to hold out and they continue not to release their prisoners, 
what happens? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, there are a number of incentives we have.  
There are a number of things that basically they'll only achieve if they 
comply with the agreement.  As I mentioned, we will not go forward with 
the equip-and-train unless they are in compliance with the agreement.  
They'll not have a right to reconstruction funds unless they're in 
compliance with the agreement. 
 
So there's a fairly strong incentive for them finally to get into 
compliance.  What I think is happening:  it's the dead of winter; people 
are just getting accustomed to this new status; they're trying to work 
their way through it.  So I'm not by any means discouraged, Jim.  I 
think the overall compliance is relatively good.  In an overall sense, 
people seem to be trying to comply.  There are still some debating 
points.  We'll have those for a long time, but I don't think we ought to 
be discouraged.  I think we ought to redouble our efforts to help them 
comply. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  But this is a serious matter, that they have not complied. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It is a serious matter, especially with respect 
to the prisoners. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  When you said at the beginning that the NATO forces made 
the consequences clear -- in other words, the failure to disengage -- 
that those consequences were clear to all sides, how was that done?  
What were the consequences that faced the failure to disengage? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The way it was done was by giving warning to the 
leaders of the troops there that needed to move back, and frankly NATO 
was prepared to forcefully move them back.  We are not going to be in a 
situation like the U.N. forces were -- the so-called UNPROFOR forces -- 
who really did not exercise the authority.  You can be sure that if 
those forces didn't move back, they would be moved back. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Is the same kind of consequence there on the prisoner 
exchange matter as well? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No, I would not say it's the same kind of 
consequence, Jim.  Moving the forces back was the highest priority.  The 
others are a commitment of the Dayton Agreement, but the NATO forces are 
not going to enforce those in exactly the same way as they would have 
the separation of forces. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  All right.  On the war crimes investigation, there have 
been all kinds of statements coming from State Department officials and 
also from Defense Department officials and a lot of other people.  What 
exactly is the U.S. policy toward helping the investigations of these 
war crimes? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We have a very strong policy to help the 
investigations.  The United States has done more for the War Crimes 
Tribunal than any other country in the world.  We've given them more 
money, more staff, and we're helping in every way we can. 
 
We're turning over all the information we have, including intelligence 
information.  Right now, of course, Assistant Secretary John Shattuck is 
in the region.  He's been permitted to visit a number of the sites of 
the terrible atrocities, and there were terrible atrocities there.  
We're going to be turning that information over to the War Crimes 
Tribunal. 
 
I'm very glad to tell you -- I think perhaps you already know -- that 
there was today an agreement between Admiral Smith and Judge Justice 
Goldstone, who's the Chief Prosecutor of the War Crimes Tribunal, which 
calls on the IFOR to cooperate with the War Crimes Tribunal.  Justice 
Goldstone said he was satisfied with the agreement of cooperation 
between the IFOR forces -- that is, between the NATO forces and the War 
Crimes Tribunal. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Now, does that mean that U.S. forces or IFOR forces, NATO 
forces, will in fact escort people into the sites?  They will provide 
security of the site to keep other people out of there who might want to 
come in and destroy evidence and all that sort of thing? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The agreement between Justice Goldstone and 
Admiral Smith indicates that in the right circumstances, when the NATO 
forces have the capacity to do so, they will provide security for those 
who are coming to view, to investigate the war crimes. 
 
I think we'll see that evolve.  It's clear that the NATO forces will to 
the extent they have capacity, will to the extent that their priority 
task -- which is moving the parties apart -- is done, will assist the 
War Crimes Tribunal. 
 
I think it was a very important meeting today between Admiral Smith and 
Justice Goldstone because they worked out a modus vivendi between them.  
They worked out a way that they can work together, so that's an 
important step. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  All right, sir, on Russia.  President Yeltsin said today 
he'll probably run for re-election.  Does he remain America's candidate? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, America doesn't have a candidate in that 
election.  We've worked with President Yeltsin.  He is the President of 
the country.  He's been a reformer.  We've been able to accomplish a 
number of things together, particularly in the denuclearization field. 
 
But America is for an election being held.  We're very strongly 
supportive of the reformers who want to continue the reform, but we 
don't have a candidate in that election.  It would be entirely improper 
for us to do so. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Sure.  I meant that in a general sense we've always 
supported President Yeltsin. 
 
What do you make of the recent resignations and firings of some of the 
reformers from his Cabinet and replacing them with people who are 
considered hardliners?  Is that going in the wrong direction? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, let me step back from this just for a 
moment and say this is a very important relationship we have with 
Russia.  The relationship over the nuclear arsenal that they have 
obviously is important.  They're a very powerful country.  We work 
together in a number of areas such as Bosnia, such as in getting the 
nukes out of the various countries in the former Soviet Union.  So there 
are a number of areas where we need to work together. 
 
On the other hand, we've seen in recent days and weeks reform under 
considerable strain in Russia.  That's obviously a matter of concern to 
us.  It's in the very strong self-interest of Russia to continue on the 
reform path. 
 
Our partnership with them is dependent upon their continuing on this 
reform path. 
 
Russia's access to funds, for example from the International Monetary 
Fund -- they're looking toward a $9 billion supply of funds -- that 
really is contingent on their continuing the path to reform. 
 
I think it would be quite shortsighted of them, in the broadest sense, 
not to continue on the path of reform.  I would not try to make in terms 
of individuals.  In the past, sometimes we've seen individuals replaced 
and we are quite apprehensive.   Feodorov and Gaidar were replaced, but 
the reform and the economy has continued to this point. 
 
I hope the people who have been fired will be replaced by people who 
have a strong reform bent.  We're not going to prejudge that.  But, as I 
say, it would be quite shortsighted, I think, of the Russians not to 
maintain that path of reform.  I think it's right for them, but it's 
also going to affect very importantly their access to Western 
institutions. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Finally, on the Middle East, Mr. Secretary.  What is your 
reaction to Yasser Arafat's big victory in being elected President of 
the Palestinian Authority by 88 percent? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Jim, first, I think I ought to apologize to your 
viewers for this very scratchy voice today.  I don't know where that 
came from. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  No apologies are necessary. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It was a real milestone.  The Palestinian 
election is something -- it was really a turning point in that area.  
It's a mandate for peace. 
 
It's very interesting to me.  Hamas, the opponents of Arafat, the 
opponents of peace, urged a boycott of the election; and yet there was a 
85 percent turnout in the Gaza area where Hamas is supposed to be 
strong.  Isn't that really quite incredible? 
 
So this is a very important factor for the future.  The monitors 
indicated that it was a credible election.  I think in an overall sense, 
although they're still counting the votes, it apparently is a free and 
fair election.  So it's a real milestone. 
 
One of the things we can take some real confidence in:  we had another 
important development today in which here in Washington the Tunisian 
Government and the Israeli Government agreed that they would establish, 
in effect, an official facility in each other's country, which is called 
an Interests Section. 
 
There's a transition going on, a transformation going on in the Middle 
East.  The election was one indication, but this development here in 
Washington today was also important. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Then, of course, there is the Syrian-Israeli talks as well.  
They're proceeding, are they not? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, they will open again at the center in 
Eastern Maryland, at the shore of Eastern Maryland on Wednesday of this 
week.  The delegations will be coming from both countries.  This time 
they'll be bringing their security experts, their military experts.  
That really gets down to the core problem, perhaps the most important 
problem. 
 
A long ways to go on that track, but we've got a new process that is 
very promising, I think. 
 
MR. LEHRER:  Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, Jim. 
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