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U.S. Department of State
95/07/28-Christopher: US National Interest in Asia-Pacific
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release July 28, 1995
ADDRESS AND QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION BY
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
U.S. NATIONAL INTEREST IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION
National Press Club
July 28, 1995
(Introduction of Secretary Christopher.)
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Bud, thank you very much for that nice
introduction. It was so substantive that I think you've made probably
most of the points that I intend to make today. (Laughter) I will,
As you say, tomorrow I depart on my sixth trip to Asia as Secretary of
State. First, I go to Brunei for the annual meeting of the ASEAN group
-- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Then I go to Malaysia to
meet with that country to try to strengthen our ties with a country of
increasing importance. Then to Cambodia, whereas Bud says I'll be the
first Secretary of State to visit since John Foster Dulles, and have a
chance to reaffirm our support for the efforts of the people of that
country to overcome what is a very tragic past. And then to Vietnam,
which is a trip that I greatly look forward to, to have an opportunity
to carry forward the normalization that President Clinton announced in a
very farsighted way the other day, and also to continue to pursue the
high priority that the President has given to getting the fullest
possible accounting of information with respect to the POWs and MIAs.
Over the past half century, I have personally witnessed many of the
historic changes that have swept the Pacific. As a teenager, I moved to
Los Angeles and watched California build links between the Far West and
the Far East. As a young ensign in the U.S. Navy in World War II, I saw
the Asia-Pacific region devastated by four years of war. As a young
negotiator in the textile talks in Japan in the early
l960s, I saw firsthand the region poised for a very rapid economic
growth. And now as a still-young (laughter) -- well, almost --
Secretary of State, I see a region with extraordinary potential for
prosperity, stability, and democracy.
This hopeful turn of events would not have come to pass without the
indispensable role played by the United States. After World War II,
America's leaders understood that a secure and prosperous Asia was vital
to our national interest. Our military presence promoted stability. It
gave nations in the region a chance to build thriving economies for the
benefit of all.
The transformation of the Asia-Pacific region that has taken place since
World War II is truly breathtaking. In the space of half a century,
nations that were among the oldest outposts of colonialism are now among
the newest frontiers and most successful exponents of capitalism.
Underdeveloped, largely rural societies have moved to dynamic modern
economies offering broad opportunities to all the peoples of their
These economic miracles are increasingly associated with the spread of
political freedoms and vibrant social societies. As a result, we are
turning the seas and skies that once divided us into channels of
communication and cooperation.
The trade and investment dollars that stream between Asia and America
create jobs and propel our economic growth. Our nation, I should
emphasize also, has been enriched by millions of Asian Americans imbued
with the values of education and hard work and family -- values that are
just as important to Americans as they are to Asians -- and with it a
stream of marvelous Asian students in our universities, probably the
most numerically largest, and in many ways the most successful, of our
foreign students in our universities.
On the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, American
leadership in Asia remains as essential to our security and prosperity
as ever before. With the end of the Cold War, the political landscape
in Asia is undergoing really profound changes. Nowhere is this more
apparent than in the largest powers in Asia -- Russia, China, and Japan.
So in this time of great uncertainty and change, a stable U.S. presence
seems to me to be increasingly important, and that is why President
Clinton has renewed and reinforced our commitment to be and remain a
Our strategy in the region recognizes the new opportunities and
challenges that are posed by the post-Cold War world. Fortunately, this
region is now remarkably free of conflict. But while no major power
views another power as
an immediate military threat, there is a considerable danger that age-
old rivalries could be rekindled.
There is also the problem that the dynamic economic growth that is
spurring integration is at the same time creating new tensions, as there
is a competition for resources and markets. With the growth of those
markets and those economies and with new technologies have also come the
spread of weapons of mass destruction. There has also come the
emergence of very ugly networks of narcotics suppliers as well as very
severe pressures on the environment from the growing economies.
No single nation in the Pacific can confront these complex challenges
all on its own. Certainly they can best be met through a community of
nations acting together -- a very diverse community, to be sure, but one
that's increasingly linked by shared values as well as shared interests.
The leadership of the United States will be essential to bringing that
community of the Pacific to life. To ensure a peaceful and prosperous
Asia-Pacific for the 21st Century, we've adopted what I describe as a
First, we will maintain and invigorate our core alliances with Japan,
Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
Second, we're actively pursuing a policy of engagement with the other
leading countries in the region, including -- and, perhaps, especially
including -- our former Cold War adversaries.
Third, we're building a regional architecture that will sustain economic
growth, promote integration, and assure stability over the longer term.
And, fourth, we're supporting democracy and human rights, which serves
our ideals as well as our interests.
Let me tell you a little bit about each of those four points.
Our strategy begins with our core alliances because we understand that
security must come first. Our military presence remains the foundation
for stability and prosperity in a region where the interests of four
major powers intersect. This military presence is our first line of
defense. It safeguards our allies. It protects our economic interest.
And it reassures a region that is still troubled by historical
antagonisms. That's why our security presence in the Asia-Pacific
region is so broadly welcomed. I've really been struck over and over
again by how often countries in the region are anxious to hear us say
we're going to remain a Pacific power, and we'll remain in the region.
Our Administration's bottom-up review of U.S. defense policy at the
beginning of our Administration confirmed the continuing need for a
forward deployed presence in Asia, and hence the United States is
committed to maintaining approximately l00,000 troops in the Pacific --
the equivalent of how many we plan to maintain in Europe.
America policy toward Asia begins with Japan. The United States/Japan
partnership is the very cornerstone of our engagement in the
Asia/Pacific region. Fifty years ago, the United States made a
strategic choice to help Japan rebuild. Today our democratic, our
alliance with the democratic and prosperous Japan is one of the real
successes of the post-war era.
Our challenge now is to assure that the next five decades with Japan are
as effective and prosperous as the last five decades have been.
I'm struck by how few Americans know that we are maintaining 47,000 U.S.
troops in Japan, and that's in addition to the men and women in the
Seventh Fleet. Their presence is no cold-war anachronism, as soon
commentators have recently claimed. On the contrary, these American
troops, which are stationed in Japan, are a very wise investment in the
future security of the region. They provide a stabilizing presence for
all the nations of Asia.
Last November, the United States and Japan launched a new dialogue to
renew and enhance our security ties. I'm pleased to have been part of
that, as the Defense and Foreign Ministers of our two countries are
examining very important issues like the interoperability of our forces
which, of course, are enhanced when Japan purchases our U.S. weapons
systems which, fortunately, they so often do.
This new dialogue is also concentrating on such things as host nation
support under which Japan provides 70 percent of the cost of our
presence in Japan, another fact that is really not very well known to
the American people. And we are deepening our global cooperation which
has been very valuable, as Japan has begun to participate in
peacekeeping endeavors in such places as Cambodia and Mozambique and
In the post cold war world, we feel that Japan is in a position to take
on even greater responsibilities than in the past, and that is why we
are supporting Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the U. N.
Together we are doing a number of important things already. For
example, supporting reform in Russia, peace in the Middle East, and
stability in Haiti. And together we are addressing complex global
issues like unsustainable population growth, AIDs and pollution through
what we call our common agenda. And so, working together, what we have
done together, makes us feel that Japan can even do more to take its
place as one of the great countries in the world.
As the two largest economies in the world, America and Japan also share
a responsibility to uphold the goal of open trade and to support the
international financial system. Our Administration has consistently
sought to open Japan's markets, a role that we have taken because we
know it will benefit American businesses and American workers, as well
as Japanese consumers and the rest of the world.
Under the U.S./Japan economic framework, we have reached sixteen new
agreements that expand our access and the access of the rest of the
world to Japan's markets -- sixteen agreements just since we have been
in office in the last two-and-a-half years.
Last month, as you know, we concluded an important agreement with Japan
that will widen the access to Japan's markets for autos and auto parts,
and last week we resolved a dispute over air cargo.
While each of these sixteen and, I guess, now eighteen agreements are
important in themselves, we also need to work to implement the
agreements, so they aren't just agreements on a shelf but are
implemented in the market place, and that will be crucial for the United
Our relationship with Japan is a multifaceted partnership. It will
achieve its broadest potential when all of the elements are strong --
strategic and military, diplomatic and political, and economic, as well.
Let me turn now to Korea.
It is really a great tribute to the Republic of Korea that our
longstanding military and security alliance has now become a mature and
important complete partnership. Yesterday President Clinton and
President Kim Young Sam of Korea unveiled a Korean war memorial that
pays tribute somewhat belatedly to the shared sacrifice that sealed our
alliance more than 40 years ago.
Now that South Korea is a vibrant democracy, as well as a valued trading
partner and a trusted comrade-in-arms, our relationship is stronger than
The U.S. security commitment to South Korea, which is demonstrated by
the 37,000 American troops who are stationed there, a somewhat better
known statistic, that security relationship and our commitment to them
remains unshakable. Over the last two years, our determined diplomacy
has put the North Korean nuclear issue on the road to resolution.
The agreed framework between the United States and North Korea has
frozen North Korea's nuclear program. When this is fully implemented,
the framework will eliminate entirely their dangerous nuclear program.
As North Korea carries out its obligations under the framework, it can
begin to develop more normal relationships with United States and the
other nations of the region.
But I'd have to say that any major improvement in our relationships with
the North can come only with progress in relationships between the two
In this context, recent talks between the North and the South on
supplying much-needed rice to Pyongyang are a really quite hopeful
development. The resumption of a broader dialogue between North and
South, especially a dialogue on the issue of a nuclear-free peninsula
offers the only really meaningful hope for reduced tensions and ultimate
reconciliation on the peninsula.
The second element of our Pacific strategic is our policy of engagement
with the other leading powers of the region, and, as I said, including
especially our former cold-war adversaries.
In that connection, of course, few nations are able to play as large a
role in shaping Asia's future as is China. With its vast population,
its geographic reach, its rich history of cultural influence across
Asia, its growing military power and its new economic dynamism, China is
As we shape our policy and as we conduct our diplomacy with China, we
must not allow short-term calculation to divert us from pursuing our
I need not tell this sophisticated and experienced audience that we are
going through a period of difficulty in this important relationship.
One immediate cause of China's concern is that the recent private visit
of Taiwan's leader, Lee Teng-hui, to his alma mater of Cornell,
represents a shift in our approach to China.
Let me say that this concern is unwarranted. The private visit by Lee
Teng-hui was a special situation, and a courtesy consistent with
American values and opinion. It did not constitute a shift in our
policy toward China and Taiwan.
The United States has not and does not intend to change its longstanding
one China policy. In this moment of difficulty, it's more important
than ever for China, Taiwan and the United States to focus and reflect
on the shared interest we have in maintaining the continuity of this
It is a policy that especially and emphatically is in the interests of
all of us together.
Over 20 years ago, the United States and China made the strategic choice
to end more than two decades of confrontation. Since then, six American
Presidents, both Democrats and Republicans alike, have pursued a policy
of engagement with China that has served and is serving the enduring
interests of everybody, United States and all the others in the region.
The policy of engagement reflects the fundamental understanding that our
ability to pursue significant common interests and to manage significant
disinterests, would not be served by any attempt to isolate or contain
China. We do not intend to try to do so.
The wisdom of this historic judgment of engagement has demonstrated time
and again that our ability to work together on key challenges of
regional and global importance will be best manifested by being engaged;
by working together on such issues as the North Korean nuclear issue
where China was of some help; and on the extension of the Non-
Proliferation Treaty where we worked together at the United Nations.
The virtues of this policy of engagement have also been demonstrated by
the benefits of our success together in Cambodia, as well as the
launching of the new regional security dialogues under the ASEAN
Since 1972, the basis for our engagement has been our one China policy.
We have consistently followed the basic principles developed in the
Shanghai Communique of 1972, the 1979 Communique establishing diplomatic
relations, and the 1982 U.S.-China Communique on arms sales.
Pursuant to these vital documents, we recognize that the Government of
the PRC is the sole legal government of China. We acknowledge the
Chinese position that there is
but one China, and that Taiwan is part of China. We reaffirm that we
have no intention of advocating or supporting a policy of two Chinas or
one China/one Taiwan.
This policy has produced enormous benefits for the United States as well
as for China and Taiwan. It has helped to keep the peace, and it has
helped to fuel prosperity on both sides of the Strait, and it is
certainly helping to propel Taiwan's flourishing democracy.
Just as we look to the continued strengthening of the U.S.-China
relationship, we also expect that the unofficial ties between the
American people and the people of Taiwan, pursuant to the Taiwan
Relations Act of 1979, that those ties will also thrive.
The United States, China and Taiwan share a strong responsibility to
pursue policies that foster continued stability in the region.
Managing our differences with China on Taiwan and other issues does not
mean downplaying their importance. For example, on human rights we
still have profound disagreements. We will continue to promote
universally recognized human rights in China as well as elsewhere.
We also have serious concerns with respect to the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction. Today such weapons and their delivery pose
the greatest threat to global security. As a nuclear power, China, just
as the United States does, has special responsibilities. Since the
outset of our Administration, we've made the case to China that curbing
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is in the overriding mutual
interest of all of us.
We're concerned particularly about arms transfers to volatile regions
like South Asia and to rogue regimes like Iran. The best way we feel to
resolve these concerns is through dialogue between the United States and
China, and that is why I urge China to resume our discussions on non-
Just as we have a mutual interest in holding the spread of weapons of
mass destruction, we also share with China an interest in assuring
regional stability. As China seeks to modernize its military forces,
greater transparency about its military capabilities and its military
intentions could do a great deal to reassure its neighbors.
Our differences with China are an argument for engagement, not for
containment or isolation. Neither the United States nor China can
afford the luxury of walking away from our responsibility to manage our
differences. China has as much interest in maintaining constructive
relationships as we do.
Let me say that China can take an immediate step to help restore a more
positive atmosphere with the immediate release of American citizen Harry
Moving on to another subject and area, I look forward to meeting with
Foreign Minister Qian Qichen of China in Brunei when I go there this
weekend. I'll be meeting with him on August 1. I intend to discuss
with him at that time the fundamentals of our relationship, to reiterate
the continuity of our policy, to address candidly our areas of agreement
and disagreement, and to seek to restore the positive momentum in our
relationship that marked the earlier period. A strong, stable, open and
prosperous China can be a valuable partner for the United States and a
responsible leader of the international community.
A week from tomorrow I will arrive in Hanoi. Since taking office,
President Clinton has made his top priority with respect to Vietnam the
fullest possible accounting of our prisoners of war and those missing in
action. We have been encouraged by the results of Hanoi's recent
cooperation during the months we've been in office.
We're convinced that normalizing relations is the best way to keep up
this momentum and to achieve further results. That is why after a
decade of war and two decades of estrangement the President made his
courageous decision to establish diplomatic relations between our two
Let me add that I have been personally inspired by the opportunity to
work with the elected leaders of both parties, including Senator John
McCain and Senator John Kerry and Senator Bob Kerrey and Representative
Pete Peterson to bring about this normalization and to help close a very
bitter chapter in our nation's history.
Closer engagement with Vietnam is in America's interest in many ways, in
addition to the POW and MIA issue. We can work together to promote
economic reform, to focus on the rule of law, human rights, regional
peace and stability, and to pursue areas of common interest, like the
fight against narcotics trafficking.
Similarly, engagement with other leading nations of Asia is crucial to
our interest in that burgeoning region. Indonesia, Malaysia and
Singapore are dynamic countries from an economic standpoint which can
make important contributions to regional stability and thus are very
important parts of our dialogue in Asia.
In the long run, however, despite the advantages of these bilateral
contacts, we need to build mechanisms of cooperation on a multilateral
basis to assure that the current favorable environment will endure.
Thus, the third element of our strategy is to build a sound architecture
for regional cooperation.
The creation of the ASEAN Regional Forum is an important initial step in
this process. This forum reflects what might be called the ASEAN way of
doing things: consultation, consensus and cooperation. We see this
forum and the emerging security dialogue in northeast Asia as crucial
supplements to our alliances and to our forward military presence in the
Next week in Brunei, I'll join my colleagues from 17 Asia-Pacific
nations and the European Union for the second meeting of the ASEAN
Regional Forum. We'll be discussing security challenges such as the
North Korean nuclear issue and the importance of freedom of navigation.
In this connection, let me emphasize that we've consistently urged the
claimants to the resources in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea
to resolve their differences through dialogue and not through any
These important but nascent efforts to build mechanisms for security
cooperation in Asia complement the remarkable economic integration that
the nations are in the process of achieving through APEC. These
significant accomplishments are attributable in no small part to
President Clinton's vision in convening the first ever APEC leaders'
meeting two years ago in Seattle. Then last year in Bogor in Indonesia,
the APEC leaders committed to achieve free trade in the Asia-Pacific
region by the year 2020. And this year in the Osaka meeting of APEC in
November, leaders will turn this historic vision from the Bogor
Conference into a blueprint for action, a blueprint which should set
forth the shared principles, specific goals, and a process for achieving
them by 2020.
The fourth and final element of our strategy is our steadfast support
for human rights and democracy. Just as open markets and open sea lanes
promote prosperity and security in the Pacific, so do open societies.
Business people in Shanghai and in San Francisco may speak quite
different languages, but they agree that enterprise survives and thrives
best when ideas and information are freely exchanged.
The experiences of many democracies across the region tell us that
accountable government and the rule of law are the bedrock of stability
On the other hand, the experiences of countries like Burma and North
Korea tell us that repression only entrenches poverty. Open societies
do make better neighbors. History shows us that the greatest threats to
security in the Asia-Pacific region have come from governments that
flout the rule of law at home and reject it abroad.
On human rights issues, every nation must find its own way, consistent
with its history and culture. But at the same time, all have a
responsibility to meet international obligations and to respect the
standards of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. America will
continue to champion human rights in the movement toward open societies
and we'll do so without arrogance but also without apologies.
In this connection, we'll continue to assist countries that are
embracing democracies -- new democracies such as Cambodia and Mongolia -
- to assist them in the development of their political parties, to try
to advise them on the development of their political institutions.
In Burma, the efforts of the United States and the international
community have helped to lead to the recent release of the imprisoned
opposition leader, distinguished Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi.
We welcome this step, but we believe that its true significance will
depend ultimately on whether or not it represents a real movement toward
the restoration of democratic government.
I might say we're particularly interested in seeing movement toward an
accountable government in Burma since it is the world's largest supplier
In sum, my trip to the region, starting tomorrow morning, will advance
the four key elements of our Asia-Pacific strategy: reaffirmation of
our alliances, engagement with Asia's leading powers, construction of an
enduring mechanism for regional cooperation, and support for human
rights and democracy. Taken together, these elements will advance our
broad-ranging interests in a region that is so vital to both our
security and prosperity.
Together with our Asian friends, we've traveled an enormous distance
since the end of the war in the Pacific half a century ago. American
leadership and American engagement have been absolutely essential on
that great journey. It will be no less so as we seek to shrink the
distances that separate us and to create a promising Pacific future that
all of us can profitably and securely share.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Now comes the hard part, Sir, the questions. Let's start
with Hanoi. How will you proceed if the move in Congress to block funds
for an Embassy in Vietnam succeeds?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Now comes the interesting part. I don't expect
it to succeed, frankly. I think there is bipartisan support for the
farsighted step that President Clinton took. I believe that when the
matter actually is focused on in Congress, they will recognize that the
time has come to put our relationships with Vietnam on a new and better
basis. They'll understand, as the President did, as I recommended, that
our chance to improve our situation with respect to the POWs and MIAs,
to move even beyond the favorable results we've already had, will be
enhanced by normalizing our relationship, and that there are other
important values to be promoted: relationships with respect to human
rights, the rule of law, cooperation on narcotics trafficking, as well
as economic cooperation.
I believe in this very strongly and firmly, and I think that the
Congress will too. I was struck by the strong bipartisan support that
there was when the President made the announcement at the White House.
QUESTION: Let's move on to Taiwan. Do your remarks mean that the
Clinton Administration will prohibit President Lee of Taiwan to visit
the United States again?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: No. The answer is that it will not. As I said,
his visit was a special circumstance. It was an unofficial visit. It
was a private visit, and it was, I believe, the first time that he's
been here in the United States. I think that it's important to
understand the fundamental difference between the official relationship
that we have with China and the unofficial relationship that we have,
pursuant to the Taiwan Relations Act, with Taiwan.
This carefully calculated, carefully drawn set of relationships has
served all the parties very well. There's been great prosperity in
Taiwan and a strong move towards democracy, and in China there has also
been considerable economic progress and prosperity.
The policy that I outlined in my remarks today is a regime that has
served all of the parties, all the elements very well, and we should
maintain it. We should carefully preserve it.
QUESTION: In the light of China's recent military exercise off the
northern coast of Taiwan, is China a threat to its neighbors, and has
the U.S. made any contingency plan pursuant to the Taiwan Relations Act
should China invade Taiwan?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: As I said in my remarks, I think that it's
desirable for peace and stability in the region for Taiwan and China and
the United States to continue to follow the policies laid down in the
three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. They have served all
the parties very well, and I think that one of my main subjects of
discussion with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen of China will be to
emphasize that the United States has not changed its policy. We're not
embarking on a new policy. The existing policy is working very well and
for the interest of all parties.
We think that there is no basis for threats between the parties. As a
matter of fact, one of the things I'd like to emphasize here today is
the importance of China and Taiwan working out the problems together.
There have been discussions between them. Those discussions should
continue. That's the way to resolve those problems, in dialogue and in
QUESTION: One more question on Taiwan. A committee on the Hill is
scheduling hearings on U.N. membership with Taiwan. In your view, does
Taiwan qualify for U.N. membership, and will the U. S. support such a
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: No easy questions today, are there? (Laughter)
Membership in the United Nations is based upon, as I understand it,
statehood, and United States will not support Taiwan's membership in the
United Nations under current circumstances. That would be not
consistent with the remarks I have made today, not consistent with the
three communiques which I have summarized here, and, of course, which
QUESTION: Will the Clinton Administration order additional sanctions
against China for supplying missile technology to Pakistan and Iran?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: As I mentioned in my remarks, we are concerned
about proliferation issues, and we are certainly concerned about it as
they relate to South Asia. We monitor it very carefully and very
At the present time, although there is a fairly large body of evidence,
we do not think there is the evidence there that would justify the
imposition of sanctions. But I want to assure all that we feel an
obligation to keep this matter
carefully under review and to follow and comply with the law in this
QUESTION: You called for the prompt release of Harry Wu. What's your
interpretation of the tape that was released by the Chinese Government?
Is this a sign that having been humiliated and forced to confess, will
he now be released, and how long are you prepared to wait for his
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, with respect to the tape, it appears to
have been a tape which was made by the Chinese, and I think we can all
have some understanding of the conditions under which such a tape might
have been made by Harry Wu. So I think there ought to be some
skepticism about all the statements that are made on the tape.
I don't think it is very useful here to treat this matter in a
legalistic way. Harry Wu is a United States citizen, and we think that
the most positive contribution to our relationships would be if China
would promptly release him. We are urging his prompt release and I hope
it will happen in the near future, although I don't want to make any
predictions on that score, nor would I want to set any kind of a
QUESTION: How concerned are you that Japan's banking crisis could
mushroom into a worldwide financial crisis?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: That's a good question for the Secretary of the
Treasury. (Laughter) Where are you, Bob Rubin, when I need you? Not
here, I guess.
I'm not an expert on Japan's banking situation. I do know it is a
matter of concern. You well remember, it was not too many years ago
when the United States was concerned about the banking situation that
arises when there are many property loans and the property turns out to
be overvalued. The United States banks have come through that in a very
strong way. I think our banking system has been strengthened by the
steps that were taken at that time; and in my non-expert capacity, I
would say that I hope that the Japanese banks will make a similar
adjustment to the problem that faces them at the present time.
QUESTION: Moving to Bosnia -- you knew you wouldn't get away without a
few on Bosnia.
Is the United States covertly helping or encouraging Muslim nations to
supply arms to the Bosnian Government?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: The United States is not, underline not,
covertly supplying arms or supporting the supply of arms to the Bosnian
Let me say a few words by way of explanation. Under the Nunn-Mitchell
Amendment to a recent statute, the United States no longer is in a
position to enforce the United Nations embargo. At the same time, we
are obligated by our commitment to the United Nations and our statutes
to honor that embargo.
So while we are not actively enforcing it any longer, pursuant to an Act
of Congress, at the same time, we will honor it and we are not, to
repeat myself, covertly supplying arms or taking steps to support arms.
Stories in that respect are not accurate.
QUESTION: After last week's decision to protect the safe area of
Gorazde with airstrikes, the Bosnian Serbs predictably shifted their
offensive to other areas. Will the allies use airstrikes to protect
Sarajevo and other safe areas?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: When we met in London last week -- that is, the
Foreign Ministers of the l6 countries involved in this, the troop-
supplying countries and other involved -- the most direct threat at that
time was to Gorazde. It looked like it would be the next target for the
Bosnian Serbs. It was the third of the enclaves; indeed, at that time
threats had been made by General Mladic that he would take Gorazde. So
I think it was natural for us last Friday -- and was it only a week ago
that we met in London? -- that a decision was taken that if there was an
attack on Gorazde it would be met resolutely by an air campaign, and we
took a number of steps that would make such an air campaign possible.
We also at that time though recognized that there might be threats to
other enclaves, and we talked at that time about applying the Goradze
techniques to the other enclaves. When NATO acted last Tuesday, I
believe it was, they indicated that they felt the Gorazde techniques
could be adapted to the other enclaves. They're all slightly different;
they all face slightly different threats. You look at Bihac and you see
the five various vectors of force that are coming in on Bihac at the
present time -- obviously quite a different thing than drawing the line
Early this morning I talked to Secretary General Willy Claes of the
United Nations as to the progress that they were making in applying the
Gorazde techniques to the other safe areas. He told me that the
military experts had substantially completed their work. He assured me
Military Committee would be meeting over this weekend to consider the
recommendation from the military experts -- that is, the NATO military
experts -- on how best to apply the Gorazde techniques to Bihac and
other safe areas, and that the North Atlantic Council was available to
meet next Monday on that subject.
So I can tell you that NATO is moving resolutely to consider the other
safe areas and how the new Gorazde procedures might be applied there. I
can also tell you that it won't be simple but that there's a
determination to ensure that the Serb advance is met by the new
techniques, the new resolution that was decided on last Friday in
QUESTION: Thank you. We're running very close on the time, but let me
ask you one quick question.
When will the Mideast signing take place, and when will Syria sign on to
the peace process?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: You mean just a couple of simple questions.
QUESTION: Yes, just a simple question. (Laughter)
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I assume the first question refers to the
signing of the second phase of the Declaration of Principles between
Israel and the Palestinians. Those discussions were nearing a
conclusion when I think they were somewhat knocked off track by the
suicide bombing in Tel Aviv -- another desperate effort of those who are
trying to derail the peace process.
The parties are going back into negotiations after a brief hiatus for
mourning the, I believe it was, six who were killed. They're going back
into negotiations next Monday. They have some difficult issues yet to
resolve, but my information is that they are relatively close to
resolution; and I hope they'll conclude them soon and there could be a
signing in the near future.
They've quite understandably taken the position that with the complexity
of the issues -- trying to apply what basically were the techniques of
Gaza and Jericho to the rest of the West Bank -- that that has turned
out to be a very difficult exercise -- the redeployments, the election,
and the broadening of the powers to all of the West Bank. It's more
important to get it right than it is to do it on any deadline date.
I hope the signing will be soon, but I particularly hope that it will be
done in a way that resolves the problems and ensures that they can move
forward from that point.
With respect to the Syrian track -- that was the other part of the
question, wasn't it, Bud?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: The two parties have got some very difficult
security issues before them now. The two Ambassadors may be meeting in
the very near future to begin to address those issues. The two Chiefs
of Staff, as you know, met here a couple months ago; and those were, I
think, meetings that moved the process forward.
Rather than giving you too much detail, let me just emphasize that I
think both parties are serious about making progress. They're big
decisions for both parties. They reflect their fundamental security
issues. I think they both also understand that the clock is ticking and
they need to accelerate their process.
(VOA transmission terminated.)
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