Return to: Index of 1996 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
96/02/03 Press Briefing (with Admiral Leighton Smith)
Office of the Spokesman



                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                           Office of the Spokesman 
 
                       (En Route to Sarajevo, Bosnia) 
 
For Immediate Release                              February 3, l996 
 
 
 
                           ON THE RECORD BRIEFING BY 
                    SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER  
                                     AND 
                             ADMIRAL LEIGHTON SMITH 
 
 
                En Route from Tuzla Airbase to Sarajevo, Bosnia 
                               February 3, 1996 
 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  As everybody knows this is an important day:  D 
plus 45.  We focused on that in my meeting this morning  with Admiral 
Smith.  I asked him how the compliance was, and he told me that it had  
been excellent.   He thought it had gone very well.  I really think that 
our armed services deserve an A for achievement here.  They've gone 
beyond expectations in what they've achieved.  I thought I would ask 
Admiral Smith to come back with me so you can ask him a question or two 
if you want to about what I think is a very important day, one of the 
really important landmarks as we move through the compliance with the 
Dayton agreements.  So, I'm very pleased with what I've heard from 
Admiral Smith this morning, and I thought you might like to hear it from 
him first hand .  
 
QUESTION:  Were you concerned by anything you heard, or are you 
comfortable with the way everything is going also? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, you know, this is a very aggressive 
agreement,  a very complex agreement.  In the main it's going very well.  
There are some areas we have to focus on,  we have to concentrate on, 
but an overall sense I'm very pleased with what I hear about the 
implementation and compliance with the Dayton Agreement.   
 
QUESTION:  What other areas do you have to focus on? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The removal of the foreign forces.  In 
compliance with the agreement I intend to make the point to President 
Izetbegovic today that it's an obligation to remove the foreign forces.  
It's not dependent upon what anybody else does.  I'm making the same 
point when I meet tomorrow with Milosevic.  Another area that we need  
to be effective in, and this is a point that Admiral Smith made to me, 
is the civilian police need to be in place promptly.  That's why I asked 
Assistant Secretary Gelbard to come to Europe last week and to try to 
recruit the police.  I would say those are two areas that need  further 
work.  But in an overall sense, an aggressive, complex agreement has 
gone very well.  Admiral. 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  Well, I completely agree with what the Secretary said, 
obviously.  We're particularly pleased with the military aspects of the 
implementation, and that's really where I've been focusing my principal 
attention.  We've seen compliance across the board, and while I can't 
give you specific details,  I'm confident that in a couple of days after 
General Walker, who is our Ground Commander, makes a complete assessment 
that he will be able to report to the Secretary General of NATO through 
General Joulwan that we have seen compliance at D plus 45 which, as the 
Secretary said, is a major milestone.   
 
QUESTION:  First of all, are there pockets that have not yet complied; 
and secondly,  how many foreign forces do you believe are still here? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  Well, on the foreign forces issue first, I can't give 
you a specific number.  I've heard from just the Bosnian side two to 
four hundred mujahideen.  But there are others and I can't give you 
numbers.  Like nailing jello to the wall.  But I will tell you we do not 
see armed groups that pose a direct threat to IFOR.  We do see 
individuals and small groups.  In other words, I'm not talking about an 
army that poses a threat to IFOR.  We will see individuals--perhaps 
terrorist organizations, perhaps groups of individuals--who are 
operating in this country that do concern me and we are very alert to 
those. 
 
QUESTION:  Which terrorist groups? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  Well, there are some that are associated with the 
mujahideen.  There are others from other countries as well.   
 
QUESTION:  Are you talking about Hizbollah from Lebanon or Islamic 
Jihad?   Hizbollah from Lebanon is here? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  You name it.  You know, we want to be very careful about 
the potential that those people exist in this country.  I'm not saying 
they are here and I'm not saying they are not here, because I can't put 
my finger on them.  But I am very cautious to that possibility. 
 
QUESTION:  What kind of weapons do they have--these fighters, these 
mujahideen? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  There's been a war going on here for four years.  Almost 
everybody's armed.  So you can start out with rifles and you can start 
out with mines and hand grenades and those kinds of things, but then you 
move from there to the terrorist kind of weapons, and those are the 
kinds of things that we obviously want to watch very closely for that.  
We're always alert to that probability, but we want to be exceptionally 
so here. 
 
QUESTION:  Are any of these weapons traceable to the U.S. operation in 
Afghanistan? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  I have no idea. 
 
QUESTION:  The U.S. armed all these mujahideen on the theory that 
they're a better bet than the Russians. 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  You're way out of my league on that one, partner. 
 
QUESTION: You're in the military, sir. 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:   No sir, I could tell you, if I knew the answer I'd tell 
you. 
 
QUESTION:  You don't know what kind of weapons they're holding? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  I don't even know that they're here, particularly.  I 
can't identify them.  If I could I'd want them out and ask the Bosnian 
Government to get them out.  So if I don't know who they are or where 
they are, I can hardly tell you what kind of weapons they've got. 
 
QUESTION:  When you talk about two hundred to four hundred, how many are 
Iranian?  About half? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  I don't have any idea. 
 
QUESTION:  You said there are other foreign fighters in addition to the 
mujahideen.  What are you talking about there? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  When you look at the total picture, if you will, of this 
country, you've got three different factions.  So there's a potential 
for Croatians being here.  There's a potential for former JNA being 
here.   
 
QUESTION:  What about Russian mercenaries? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  I've not been able to put my finger on any,  but again 
if we find Russian mercenaries we'll point them out like anybody else. 
 
MR. BURNS:  We have time for one more question. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what can be done to raise the numbers of 
police?  Is the U.S. willing to offer more civilian police?   Everyone's 
concerned about it, but what can you do to get the numbers up? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think we have to appeal to the countries in 
Europe and make them know how important it is.  The 1700 number has not 
yet been reached, and there's a question as to whether that will be 
adequate.  But I think the Europeans have got a very strong interest in 
having an adequate police force.  I know the Admiral shares this view, 
and we're going to continue our efforts. 
 
Assistant Secretary Gelbard I think has done a fine job of pointing out 
the need, emphasizing it.  I did with the French in Washington and got a 
good deal of response from Foreign Minister de Charette.  But  we just 
have to keep working with all of our European colleagues, our European 
allies. 
 
Steve, did you have a last question? 
 
QUESTION:  Well, I was just curious whether the military had any 
intelligence that would lead you to believe that there were terrorist 
groups operating with plans against American or IFOR forces? 
 
ADMIRAL SMITH:  I'm certainly not going to rule out that possibility, 
and I'm not going to get into the specific intelligence that I have.  
Just let me say that we're very alert to the potential for that to be 
present in this country, given its history.  I have alerted our forces 
to always be prepared to deal with that problem.   
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thanks very much. 
To the top of this page