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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
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
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
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
QUESTION: Are any of these weapons traceable to the U.S. operation in
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
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
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
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.
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