U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #169, 96-10-21
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Monday, October 21, l996
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
Secretary Christopher's Address at West Point this Friday 1-2
Missing Page of Friday's State Dept. Announcement on Behalf
of the Monitoring Group from Lebanon................... 2-3, 7
Update on Asst. Secretary Kornblum's Visit to Sarajevo... 4
U.S.-China Relations...................................... 4-6
Chinese Role in North Korean Agreed Framework............. 6
Under Secretary Davis' Trip to Beijing.................... 6
China Nuclear Sales....................................... 6-7
Purpose/Details of Secretary Christopher's Imminent Visit 14-15
Relation of Renewed Fighting Amongst Kurdish Factions to
U.S. Diplomatic Meetings................................ 7-8_
_Engagement of Iraq and Iran............................... 8-9,11-12
Evacuation of Kurdish Refugees............................ 9-10
Status of Iraqi Kurds in Guam............................. 10-11
Possibility of Evacuating Kurdish NGO Employees........... 12-13
U.S. Diplomatic Presence in Kabul......................... 13-14
U.S. Reaction to Election Results......................... 15-16, 26
U.S. Relations With PM Hashimoto.......................... 16
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
Dennis Ross' Return from Middle East...................... 16-17
Progress of Talks......................................... 17-21
U.S. Reaction to French President Chirac's Visit to Region 21
European Role in Peace Process............................ 21-23
Turkish Confiscation of Monies Destined for Kurds......... 12
Status of U.S. Policy on Imia Island/Aegean Problem....... 23-24
U.S. Recognition of Greek/Turkish Borders................. 24-25
Turkish Govt. Measures Against Human Rights Abuses......... 25
Election Results/Details.................................. 26
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1996, 12:54 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Welcome. I do have an announcement, and that is that at the
invitation of his good friend, Superintendent Dan Christman, General Dan
Christman, Secretary Christopher is going to travel to the United States
Military Academy at West Point this Friday, October 25. He's going to be
giving a major address on U.S. foreign policy at that time.
The focus of the Secretary's remarks will be on the marriage of force and
diplomacy to promote United States interests in the aftermath of the Cold
War. The Secretary will talk about the record of the Clinton Administration
in foreign policy, and he'll also address when it's appropriate for the
United States to try to combine force and diplomacy -- diplomacy and force -
- to achieve our ends. The best possible example of that, of course, is
Bosnia in the summer and fall of 1995.
The Secretary is also going to talk about the importance of having
substantial financial resources, adequate financial resources, available to
the United States so that American diplomats can do their job; so that our
Embassies and Consulates around the world can continue to function; and so
that as we think about America as a national power, we only have adequate
funding for the intelligence community and the defense community.
But for the third leg of our foundation of our national power, which is our
diplomacy, our ability to be ready diplomatically to work effectively
around the world. So this promises to be, I think, an interesting speech,
an important speech. It will be at 12:30. He will deliver it at 12:30 p.m.
at West Point.
In addition to the speech, the Secretary will be visiting some classes.
He'll be taking a tour of West Point and visiting with General Dan
Christman. I think a lot of you remember -- I know a lot of you know
General Christman very well from our travels. He accompanied the Secretary
on most of his trips over the last two years before he took his present job
as Superintendent of West Point.
Second, I'm in --
MR. BURNS: Yes, he does. He'll be leaving in the morning, and then
probably coming back late in the afternoon to Washington.
QUESTION: Are there going to be Q&As?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I'll check. I mean, I think if there were to be
Q&As, they'd be on the part of the cadets, but I'll see.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: I think you were about to say what I was going to ask.
MR. BURNS: Yes. We will make the text available to you here in the
briefing room. I don't know if we're going to be able to have an audio feed,
but we'll certainly be able to make the text of the speech available at the
time that he gives it; if not, a few minutes before.
QUESTION: It is a public speech. People other than the cadets --
MR. BURNS: Oh, it's a public speech. I don't know what arrangements the
Academy has made for reporters. I will find out. In fact, Dave Leavy is
coordinating this end of it for us, and so Dave and I will get back to you
I need to go over something, and I must say, this is a slightly embarrassing
situation to be in. It's a greatly embarrassing situation to be in. It
concerns the Monitoring Group.
Last Friday, we issued a public statement that was given to us by the
Monitoring Group. In fact, it was a public statement that had been agreed
to by all five members of the Monitoring Group. What is embarrassing about
the situation is, we did not give you the second page of the statement, and
the second page is important, and I want to go over the second page with
The reason we didn't give you the second page is we didn't have the second
page. We were sent a statement by fax which was one page, and it had, at
least in reading it, a logical conclusion at the end of the first
This morning, we were told from the Monitoring Group in the field that
there was a second page; that because of an administrative error, the
second page was not sent to us. But the second page was fully agreed to
Friday morning in the region by all of the five members of the Monitoring
So I want to read it to you, because I think it's very important. It will
give you a much fuller understanding of the discussion in the Monitoring
Group. For those of you who may have missed this, there was an incident a
couple of weeks back in southern Lebanon where 13 Lebanese civilians were
injured, four of them seriously. There was damage to four houses in the
village of Safad-el-Battikh in southern Lebanon.
Because of this incident, the Lebanese asked the Monitoring Group to look
into the charge of whether or not the Israeli Government had acted
appropriately in using military force in the region. I read to you on
Friday the complete statement of the first page, it turns out, of the
results of the deliberations of the Monitoring Group that met to look at
this question. Let me just read to you now the concluding page, which I
just received about an hour ago.
"The Monitoring Group affirmed by unanimity that all combatants are
responsible for the conduct of their military operations, and that special
prudence is required for such activity in the vicinity of civilian
populated areas. The Israeli forces are responsible for the manner in which
they carried out, against a Lebanese armed group, counterfire which
resulted in the damage and injuries at Safad-el-Battikh. The Monitoring
Group urges that appropriate measures be taken by responsible authorities
to ensure that such tragedies will not be repeated.
"As regards the pending Lebanese complaint concerning the expulsion of
civilians, the Monitoring Group agreed to take up the matter no later than
So this is the second page that was missing on Friday. We are re-releasing
this statement today. Copies are available to all of you, and it obviously
supersedes -- it takes the place of the statement that we issued erroneously
on Friday. I'll be glad to go into this if you have questions.
Last, I wanted just to update you a little bit on the travels of John
Kornblum. You heard the Secretary a couple of hours ago talk about our view
of this issue of whether or not the municipal elections scheduled for late
November should go forward, and you have the Secretary's ON-THE-RECORD
comments on that issue.
John Kornblum is right now in a Contact Group dinner in Sarajevo where
they're discussing this issue and a host of other issues. He met today --
"he," John Kornblum -- separately with each of the members of the joint
presidency: Mr. Zubak, Mr. Izetbegovic and Mr. Krajisnik. He also met with
Carl Bildt, with some of our key allied partners, and he met with Bob
Frowick who, as you know, is the chief OSCE diplomat in charge of
supervising the elections.
Tomorrow, John Kornblum will travel to Banja Luka for meetings with the
Bosnian Serb leadership, including Mrs. Plavsic; and he will also host, I
believe in Sarajevo, a meeting of the Federation to try to strengthen the
Federation that has been in place.
This is an important trip because we find ourselves -- they find themselves,
we all find ourselves in a very difficult position in Bosnia. The Bosnian
Serbs have failed to meet their responsibilities in agreeing to schedule
these municipal elections.
As the Secretary said this morning, the United States, of course, would
like to see these elections go forward, if they can go forward. However,
the problems here are quite substantial that the organizers are facing, and
they certainly require a greater amount of cooperation from the Bosnian
That's one of the reasons why John Kornblum will be going up to Banja Luka
tomorrow to see the Bosnian Serb leadership. So I wanted to update you on
QUESTION: Nick, are the Chinese say anything new to the United States on
such issues as proliferation, human rights and even terrorism? There are
again some showcase trials -- at least one looming -- some sentencing going
on. Also, there's a going concern over technology. Mr. Deutsch was there.
Mr. Lord was there. Mr. Christopher is going to see the Chinese -- going to
China next month. Have you detected any ripple of change in any of
these areas, or could you in any way tell us -- you know, appraise
the state of the relationship? Has it changed at all in the last few
MR. BURNS: I think, first of all, Barry, just give you a general sense,
as we look forward to Secretary Christopher's trip in just about a month's
time, that U.S.-China relations certainly have more balance to them, and I
think we're both certainly in a better position than we were in 1995 and
It is true that we have a number of outstanding differences and very strong
differences on important issues. Human rights is among those issues. It's
also true that I think the United States and China have decided that the
importance of our relationship is so great that we need to agree -- and we
have agreed -- that we're going to keep talking to each other, despite the
fact that we have problems.
That was not the case in 1995. As you remember, the Chinese were unhappy
over the issuance of a visa to a Mr. Lee and because of that, there was a
five-month hiatus in our relationship where essentially there was no high-
level talk. As you know, there hasn't been a high-level American visitor of
the rank of the Secretary of State in nearly -- well, in two-and-a-half
So the Secretary believes very strongly that we've got to keep working with
the Chinese. There are a number of issues where we can work very positively
and fruitfully together. We think that North Korea is one of those issues
where the Chinese have been very helpful to all of us in the past. There
are a number of issues where we have some problems, and I mentioned human
rights in that regard.
The key thing, given the importance of the relationship, is to keep
meeting. The Secretary will be in Beijing for a couple of days. He might
have some other onward travel in China. He hasn't decided yet. As you know,
the Secretary in July spoke about the need for continued high-level
meetings into 1997. So that's essentially how we view the relationship.
As for any changes in Chinese Government policy, I think that's best
directed to the Chinese Government. We were very disappointed to see over
the last ten days a flurry of arrests and threats made against noted
champions of human rights in China. As you know, one of those people made
his way to San Francisco and is currently in San Francisco, and others have
been arrested and detained. That is a great disappointment to the United
States, and we've been severely critical of it.
As for the proliferation issue, I spoke about that two weeks ago. China, we
believe, based on the information available to us, is meeting its
commitments made to us in this May 11 statement. This is an issue of great
concern to us. We're going to continue to work on it.
We're interested in having expert-level discussions with the Chinese on
this issue, in addition to the highest level discussions that are going to
take place in November. We hope very much that those expert-level
discussions can go forward expeditiously.
QUESTION: Let me ask you just one more question about North Korea. Is
China as interested, as dedicated to maintaining that freeze on North
Korean nuclear development as the U.S. is, and can you be specific in any
way about any assistance, any leverage they might apply in that area or in
the strains with South Korea, or wherever?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe there's any reason to believe that China is
acting against the Agreed Framework. In fact, China has supported the
Agreed Framework in the past, and we believe continues to support it. As
you also know, the United States hopes that the Four-Party talks proposed
by President Kim and President Clinton in April on Cheju Island can be
begun, and China would be one of the Four Parties in those talks.
So China is a very important country for us as we think about North Korea,
and I think we've had very positive discussions with the Chinese. As you
also note, China joined the consensus opinion in the UN Security Council
last week to effectively criticize quite severely North Korea for its
intrusion into South Korea's sovereignty -- the other submarine incident a
couple of weeks back. So we believe that we have good cooperation with
China on the issue of North Korea.
Carol and Sid?
QUESTION: Has a date been set for Under Secretary Davis to go to
MR. BURNS: I can check on whether there's a specific date, but we do
anticipate that she'll be having talks with the Chinese before the
Secretary's visit there, yes; and we hope expert-level talks as well, in
addition to Lynn Davis' more high-level talks.
QUESTION: Have you made a determination on whether China's arms sales,
rocket sales, nuclear sales to Iran is sanctionable? That's not something
that's covered by the statement of two years ago.
MR. BURNS: As you know -- you're right, Sid -- we're dealing with a
variety of different allegations here -- some regarding Iran, some
regarding Pakistan -- and in each case we take these allegations seriously.
We look into them. We pursue the evidence where the evidence leads.
In this case, as in the case with Pakistan, we have not determined that
China's actions violate, in the case of Iran, MTCR commitments or U.S.
QUESTION: Nick, can I ask you about this famous second page of the
Monitoring Group report. Do I read your reading of it correctly to say that
the Israeli representative at the Monitoring Group did accept responsibility
for injuring the 13 civilians in this village?
MR. BURNS: It's very carefully done, and again let me just remind you
what this is. This is language agreed to by all five members of the
Monitoring Group, including the Israeli delegation and the American
delegation. I think the key line here is that "The Israeli forces are
responsible for the manner in which they carried out, against a Lebanese
armed group, counterfire which resulted in the damage and injuries at Safad-
I think that is the key sentence. You'll judge it on your own terms. This
sentence was agreed to by Israel, as well as the United States, as well as
Syria, France and Lebanon.
QUESTION: I don't want to read something into it that you don't mean to
say, but does that mean that the Israelis targeted that village?
MR. BURNS: I think I would direct you back to the language. The word
"targeted" is not used here, and this language was worked out after
laborious negotiations over four days. I would rather stick with the
language responsible for the manner in which they carried out the operation
but also against a Lebanese armed group. I think that's an important point
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: The Kurds seem to be fighting with renewed gusto.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: I wonder how you interpreted that in light of the United States
recent attempts to mediate between the two parties? Do you read that as a
rejection of your efforts? Or was it just that there was some tactical
advantage to be seized and neither could resist? How do you see that?
MR. BURNS: I certainly do not read the continued fighting in northern
Iraq as a rejection of America's diplomatic efforts to get them to stop the
The fact is that Ambassador Pelletreau, who the Secretary of State has sent
to the region to have these cease-fire talks, has only completed one of his
two important meetings. As you know, he met with Mr. Barzani in Silopi, at
a Turkish military base this morning. They met for three hours, as Mr.
Pelletreau indicated publicly.
Mr. Pelletreau made the major points, and that is, that the United States
believes that there should be a cease-fire; that the Kurdish groups should
agree to political reconciliation talks, and that no attempt should be made
by any of these groups to bring either Iran or Iraq into the fighting as
active participants or as supporters of the fighting.
Mr. Pelletreau said in his press conference that he believed that he
possibly made some headway on the issue of a cease-fire with Mr. Barzani.
He used the words, that he felt there was a stronger inclination to support
that idea. But he also clearly said he needs to meet with Mr. Talabani.
That will probably take place tomorrow. He needs to have a talk with him,
and then we'll have a much better -- he will have a much better idea -- of
where we are.
But our mission here is to stop the fighting so that the Kurds themselves
can work out their own political problems and keep these other two states
away from exerting political influence in the area, or other military
influence in the area as well.
QUESTION: What's your current analysis of Iraq -- engagement of Iraq and
Iran there? Do you see any intensified effort by those two countries to be
involved in that conflict?
MR. BURNS: You remember last week we did not have any conclusive evidence,
any direct evidence of direct Iranian or Iraqi involvement in the fighting.
There certainly have been some indications on both sides that they have an
interest; that they may have, in the case of Iraq -- certainly people in
the area above the 36th parallel -- there's no question about that. But I
can't say that we've changed our opinion this week. I think our conclusions
are still pretty much the same.
But we have everyday warned both Iran and Iraq to stay out of the fighting,
and Mr. Pelletreau did that again today after his meeting with Mr.
QUESTION: Does the United States have a diplomat -- I'm changing subjects,
if that's all right.
QUESTION: Can we stay on northern Iraq?
MR. BURNS: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Is there anything new on the Kurdish refugees?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that over the weekend the United States helped
to evacuate 600 Iraqis, members of the Iraqi political opposition, and
members of their families from northern Iraq; that all those people are
currently in Silopi, in southeastern Turkey; that they will be evacuated to
Guam -- to the Andersen Air Force Base -- with the other Iraqi Kurdish
Turkoman refugees are.
The first flight will be leaving at 7:00 p.m. this evening Washington-time;
so just in a matter of several hours from now. These will be chartered
civilian flights, organized by the International Organization for
Migration. All of these people will be taken to Guam. They will be
processed for asylum into the United States at Guam should they wish --
desire to be considered for that process. I think that every one of them
We very much appreciate the invaluable support of the Government of Turkey
in this process. We could not have undertaken this operation to bring these
people out of northern Iraq without the support of the Turkish Government.
These people, they come from a variety of groups but they are united in one
respect. They all oppose the regime of Saddam Hussein. So much so, and
their activities were such that they all feared persecution or the risk of
serious harm to themselves or their family members should they have stayed
in Iraq. That's why they asked us for protection and that's why the United
States undertook the operation that we did from late Friday evening until
late Saturday evening when the operation was concluded.
QUESTION: A follow-up, quickly. You said the Iraqi opposition -- this
latest group -- specifically, do they belong to those who work for INC, and
MR. BURNS: I don't want to go into all the various groups or name all the
individual groups. But suffice it to say, they came from some of the major
Iraqi opposition groups, and I think you know, that will lead into the
direction where you probably want to go.
QUESTION: There are, right now, as I understand, thousands of Iraqi Kurds
in Guam; right?
MR. BURNS: A little over 2,100.
QUESTION: They are all going to be processed for asylum, as you
MR. BURNS: That's right.
QUESTION: What about those that will not be given the right to asylum?
What will happen to them?
MR. BURNS: You mean, those who are currently in Guam?
MR. BURNS: The asylum process is run by the Immigration and Naturalization
Service, as you know -- the Department of Justice, the branch of the
Department of Justice -- and the asylum process proceeds accordingly to
United States law and regulations. Should people qualify for asylum to the
United States, they will be granted. They will be brought to the United
States and they'll reside in the United States and they'll be protected
I can't anticipate how many of the 2,100 will be granted asylum. I would
think that the overwhelming majority of them will be unless there is some
superseding legal problem of which we were unaware when we talked to each
of these people before they came in.
QUESTION: What about those who are not given asylum? Is there a plan
already in place?
MR. BURNS: We'll just have to take things as they come and see if, in
fact, any of the 2,100 are not granted asylum in the United States. Should
they not be, then the Immigration and Naturalization Service would have to
decide what to do with them. I simply can't anticipate what that action
would be at this point.
QUESTION: Is there a time schedule for their arrival in --
MR. BURNS: In the United States?
MR. BURNS: I know, when we undertook the first operation to bring the
more than 2,100 people from Turkey to Guam, we said it might be several
months before these people were able to actually arrive in the United
States. That's because this is a big decision. It's a comprehensive process
-- put it that way. It's a long process to gain asylum into the United
States. People have to be interviewed. They have to fill out the requisite
forms, as you would imagine, to become an asylee in the United States. We
have to follow the procedures under our law. But we will try to do that as
efficiently as possible.
Once that process is completed for each of the people, then they would be
on their way to the United States, should they be granted asylum by the
QUESTION: Could I follow up on Carol's question? Specifically, these
Nick, have the Iraqis moved any closer? Are many more troops into the Irbil
area? Do you have any evidence that they're moving north?
Second: Are both of the Kurdish groups still (inaudible)? Are they holding
MR. BURNS: Static, you mean.
QUESTION: Well, around Iran-Irbil. Has there been anymore --
MR. BURNS: A word that didn't fit in the present climate --
QUESTION: Standing down. As we asked them last week, are they standing
now? I take it they're not. What can you report about that, and anything to
report about the activity of the Iranian military?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything to share publicly on the disposition of
Iraqi military forces or Iran's military forces. Of course, we are watching
both situations quite carefully.
QUESTION: The Kurds fighting one another?
MR. BURNS: I think I've spoken to that. We think this is a great mistake
for the Kurds to engage in this fighting. There's a back-and-forth quality
here. Last week, the PUK made territorial advances. Just in the last couple
of days, the KDP has made significant territorial advances. This kind of
fighting, I think, tells us something; that neither side has the military
capability to achieve a definitive victory over the other. Therefore, their
only possible conclusion at the end of the day has to be, stop the
fighting. It's not to their advantage. It can't be to their advantage
to continue the fighting.
They're going to have to decide that they can get what they want politically
at the negotiation table with each other.
QUESTION: Just, finally, once again, no Iraqi military participation in
the KDP advances, as far as you know; is that correct?
MR. BURNS: I spoke to that earlier, Bill. I said we don't have any direct
evidence to that effect.
QUESTION: Today, one of the Turkish newspapers reported that at Incirlik
U.S. Air Force Base, some Turkish officials captured and confiscated $10
million in August. The Turkish commander of the base -- they're investigating
this subject. The newspaper claimed that those monies go to northern Iraq,
to some Kurdish officials. Are you aware of this news --
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of this news item, and I have nothing to say on
it. I'm just not aware of any of the facts involved here.
QUESTION: On the same subject. Is this 600 evacuees the last evacuees
that you expect to airlift out of --
MR. BURNS: That's hard to say. As you know, we have, in the past, talked
about a different group -- a second group of non-governmental organization
employees -- of a greater number than either the first group or this
particular group -- a number of several thousand people.
We've not yet made a decision as to whether or not it's necessary to
undertake an evacuation exercise for this group of people. They were not as
closely aligned to the United States or didn't work directly for the
American Government -- most of them. They don't share with the group that
was taken out over the weekend -- the 600 political oppositionists -- a
direct personal threat from the security forces of Saddam Hussein.
But, nevertheless, since we've been asked to look into their situation, we
have done that. We've got it under review. We are trying to compile as much
information on who these people are and what their numbers are, as we can,
and at some point we'll make a decision. But we have not yet a decision to
bring them out.
QUESTION: How do you explain the fact that people at this podium
previously had indicated that that evacuation of the NGO people was
imminent and then you rolled back on it?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if anyone at this podium -- myself or Glyn or
anyone else -- I guess it's just Glyn and I; those are two options, right? -
- I don't know if Glyn or me -- I was going to look at Glyn for solace but
he's not there. Glyn is watching. So Glyn . . . I don't think Glyn and I
ever indicated that this decision had been made and was imminent. I'll be
glad to go back and check the record. I don't believe that was the
In any case, I can tell you, this has been given very high-level attention.
No decision has been made, including high-level attention, just recently in
the last couple of days. No decision has been made. We'll continue to look
Should we feel, obviously, that the lives of these people are in imminent
danger, that would be a compelling factor in any decision that we made.
That is not currently the case.
I can also tell you that Ambassador Pelletreau has talked to Mr. Barzani
and Mr. Talabani about this issue, about this group of people who remain in
northern Iraq. Both the KDP and the PUK have said that they will, in
essence, act to help these people, to make sure that there's no political
retribution taken against these people which is an important factor in any
Just to complete our discussion of northern Iraq, I just want to let you
know that Ambassador Pelletreau will be seeing Mr. Talabani. That meeting
will take place probably tomorrow. I don't have a location for that
meeting. You'll probably hear about it first from Ambassador Pelletreau
when he sees the press out there.
MR. BURNS: No, I can't confirm a country for that meeting.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Does the United States have a diplomat in Kabul? And what is he
or she doing there? Is he or she planning to meet, in addition to the
Taliban, also with other groups that are battling them for the control of
MR. BURNS: I can check, David. I'm not aware that we have a diplomat in
Kabul. I can check for you. Obviously, you've seen the reports of continued
fighting just outside of Kabul by the forces of Ahmed Shah Masood and the
We understand that Masood's forces have captured the Bagram Air Base, which
is roughly 30 miles north of Kabul. We have also seen some media reports
that there's talk of a cease-fire by these various factions. We would hope
that would be the case.
Our own believe is that the various factions should agree to a cease-fire.
As we've said last week, agree to a cease-fire and begin talks, perhaps, on
the formation of some kind of a reconciliation government. We don't believe
that the conflict in Afghanistan can be resolved on the battlefield.
As you know, we do not side with any particular faction. We're neutral.
We're calling upon all of them, in our contacts with them, to stop the
QUESTION: There is a report that you have a man in Kabul today.
MR. BURNS: Fine. If there is, I have not seen it. I'll be glad to check
into it. I'm just not aware of that fact.
QUESTION: Can we go back to China just for a moment? You spoke of experts
going to China. Can you give us an idea why there is a need for that?
If, on the one hand -- I have a two-part question; on the one hand, they're
accredited -- China is -- with fulfilling their pledge when Davis is going.
The Secretary is going. He's not going alone. He's going to be surrounded
If there's no exigent need, why? In all these talks -- I'm talking about
Lord; you can't speak for Deutsch -- do the American officials meet with
Chinese officials only because there was a little wiggle room on previous
technology transfers, that somehow freelance Chinese munition makers are
off on their own; just got up one day and decided to provide dangerous
material to rogue regimes.
Do you cover that part of the -- I mean, there's so much here to watch
because there are so many ways the Chinese have worked around this problem,
played at the edges of this problem for years. Can you address those
MR. BURNS: This is one of the major issues in our relationship. There's
the issue of proliferation. As you know, there have been a number of
allegations made about Chinese sales to a variety of countries. Given the
fact that U.S. law is very clear about the obligations of the U.S.
Government, we take them seriously.
So that argues for continued, sustained diplomatic conversations and
contacts with the Chinese Government. That's been carried out in the past
by Bob Einhorn, our Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-
Military Affairs; by his boss, Lynn Davis; by Ted McNamara, our Assistant
Secretary of State.
We need to have a variety of levels of contact. Secretary Christopher and
Minister Qian -- Foreign Minister Qian -- almost always talk about this
issue. Sometimes, as in the case of their meeting in The Hague last April
or their meeting in New York in September, they have long, involved
conversations on these issues.
Sometimes you want to go into a greater level of detail that only experts
can engage in. That's the reason for a kind of permanent, sustained,
diplomatic dialogue. That's why we have expert-level talks.
QUESTION: How about non-governmental Chinese who apparently -- well,
allegedly, of their own volition, ship out suspicious technology? It's
hardly a credible construction, but that's what we've been told.
MR. BURNS: When that happens, that was the case -- actually, Barry, that
was, as you remember, the case of the ring magnets. There was that kind of
element involved in the equation. When that happens, we do what we can only
do this situation, we go to the Chinese Government and indicate there may
be a problem with a corporation in China. That's what a responsible
government like ours should do in a case like that.
Still on China. Anything else on China?
QUESTION: What is the State Department reaction to the election results
MR. BURNS: Yes, certainly. Obviously, we've watched the elections in
Japan with great interest given the importance of U.S.-Japan relations. We
certainly congratulate the Japanese people for these elections.
We note the results of the elections, which I think are very clear, for all
to see. Now, we will have to watch as a government is formed.
The United States expects to continue the very strong cooperative
relationship that we have enjoyed with Japan over the years. We look
forward to working with the next government, and we certainly look forward
to working with all the ministers that are appointed in that government.
The U.S.-Japan relationship is the fundamental key to stability in Asia.
It's an exceedingly critical relationship. These were important elections,
and we hope to continue to have a productive and sustained, excellent
relationship with Japan in the future.
Still on Japan?
QUESTION: Prime Minister Hashimoto is likely to keep his job. Do you have
any particular conversation with the Japanese Government in the near
MR. BURNS: Will we have conversations with the Japanese Government?
MR. BURNS: Contacts?
QUESTION: After this election?
MR. BURNS: We'll have to respect the electoral process in Japan and watch
as the Japanese Government is formed and watch as the Prime Minister takes
up new duties in the government -- his duties in the government. We'll have
to watch that process.
Once it is completed, and once there is a government in place, then, of
course, we'll be willing to work as actively as we always have with the
Japanese Government. Our Embassy in Japan, I'm sure, is in touch with
everyone they should be in touch with during this time.
QUESTION: I have a question about Dennis Ross, coming back. Is this seen
as a failure on his part to mediate some final decision?
MR. BURNS: Barry has just answered that. No. Absolutely not. Barry, thank
you for giving us the lead in the story. "Veteran Associated Press
Correspondent says: Talks . . ." Long-time Dennis Ross watcher, exactly.
To be serious, for a moment. I would like to say the following. If you go
back four weeks and remember the violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,
which was unprecedented in 30 years of history out there, and then you fast-
forward to today, I think you should conclude the following -- we conclude
the following here in Washington -- that we've come a very long way.
These talks are back on the right track, as Secretary Christopher said this
morning. They have clearly made progress. If you talk to either side --
Chairman Arafat or the Netanyahu Government -- they have acknowledged
Dennis Ross has said a couple of times that one of the ways in which
progress has been met is that each of them now has a much better appreciation
of the negotiating needs of the other. We are confident of success. These
talks will succeed in the end.
We said all along, from the very beginning -- and we're going to do some
transcript-checking today on the issue of northern Iraq; let's do some
transcript-checking today on this issue -- the day after the Washington
summit, that Dennis Ross would go out and he would be present at the talks.
He would not be present throughout the course of the talks, we predicted.
He would come back to the United States from time to time. Actually, he
stayed out for 16 days. Much longer than we thought.
He's now coming back at the instruction of Secretary Christopher for
consultations with Secretary Christopher. As Secretary Christopher just
said a couple of hours ago, Dennis will be heading back to Taba and Eilat
and Jerusalem and Gaza to continue his own involvement in these talks in a
very short period of time.
While he's here in the United States, Ambassador Martin Indyk, our
Ambassador to Israel, and Ed Abington, our Consul General in Jerusalem,
will be physically present in Taba and Eilat as these talks proceed this
So the United States will remain at the table. We're confident of success,
but these are very tough issues. While they've made progress, they haven't
made all the progress they need to make to get to the finish line.
QUESTION: Have they reopened the provision now? Can it candidly be said
after 16 days they're talking about modifications and they're not
renegotiating the agreement?
MR. BURNS: They're not renegotiating the agreement.
QUESTION: What could they be doing for 16 days that is playing only at
the edges -- they're not "playing" -- working only the edges of the
MR. BURNS: I know you're really not surprised why they're still there
after 16 days. Barry, it's the Middle East. On issues like this that
concern the security of Israel and the security of the Palestinians, we
have found over the last 30 years or so it takes time to negotiate complex,
difficult issues. Sometimes, it takes a considerable amount of time.
We didn't set a time limit when Secretary Christopher went to Jerusalem two
weeks ago -- 16 days ago. We said we thought it would take sometime. It's
only been 16 days. It could be another 16 days. It could be more than that.
We don't know. We'll just have to see how long it takes.
QUESTION: What do the Palestinians appreciate more now than they did
before about the Israeli position and vice versa? Do the Palestinians have
a greater appreciation now of Israel's security needs? Do the Israelis have
a greater appreciation of the Palestinians drive to establish a state? What
is this appreciation which is the kind of -- it's Dennis Ross sort of
language that we're familiar with in the past. It's general and not
Could you fill in the blanks there? What are they appreciating more about
each other now that they didn't, after all these years, of sort of talking
to each other?
MR. BURNS: He's been right in the past.
QUESTION: About what?
MR. BURNS: He's been right about almost everything he's been involved
with. Barry, you opened up a line of questioning; I have a right to respond
under the parliamentary rules here.
QUESTION: What do they appreciate?
MR. BURNS: Under the rules of the Press Room, let me respond. You've
raised Dennis and the type of language that he used. Dennis has been
involved in every aspect of all these negotiations since October 1991 --
right? Five years ago at the Madrid Conference. Because of the efforts of
Dennis Ross, Secretary Baker in the last Administration, Secretary
Christopher in this Administration, we have helped the Israelis and
Palestinians accomplish quite a lot.
Dennis believes, as the only person outside both delegations, who has been
involved in every second of these talks over 16 days, that contrary to the
period during the violence before the Washington summit, both negotiating
teams do have a better appreciation of exactly what it is that's going to
be required to get to the end of the talks; exactly what the other sides
needs because compromise is the essence of these negotiations, as you know.
So that's exactly what we mean.
I think what Dennis has said is about the most important thing he could say
at this point, as an intermediary.
QUESTION: But, there was and is an agreement for Israel to regroup, to
fall back and regroup its troops in Hebron. Now you have taken credit, if
that's the right word, for the United States having played a role all
Logically enough, then, it would seem that there was a time when the U.S.
thought this provision could be implemented, right? Or else you would have
said, "Hey, guys, talk about it a little more. I don't know that you can
get it done that easily."
MR. BURNS: More importantly ...
QUESTION: They reached an agreement, and the U.S. thought that was just
fine, and now it seems the Peres Government and the Netanyahu Government
have been unable to implement the agreement. So what is it that the U.S.
has discovered that's new and different, and how are you getting closer to
enforcing the ...
MR. BURNS: I think you're rushing to judgment.
QUESTION: Rushing to judgment!
MR. BURNS: It does not appear -- rushing to judgment. Barry, I mean, you
just made a statement, it now appears that they can't get it done. We don't
agree with that statement.
QUESTION: No. They're having trouble getting it done.
MR. BURNS: That's different. That is very different. They're clearly
having trouble. They clearly have some problems to hurdle, but we believe
in the end they're going to be successful because they've made a commitment
to stay at the table until they're successful.
QUESTION: But, of course, you believed it was doable, or else by your
definition the U.S. wouldn't have been party to this thing in the first
place. You were party to the agreement.
MR. BURNS: That's right. The agreement was signed on September 28,
QUESTION: And here we are ...
MR. BURNS: That agreement.
QUESTION: Right. Now here we are ...
MR. BURNS: The Oslo II Agreement.
QUESTION: -- in October 1996 and the agreement isn't being carried
MR. BURNS: The agreement ...
QUESTION: So far.
MR. BURNS: Many aspects of the agreement have been implemented.
QUESTION: This part...
MR. BURNS: The part dealing with the redeployment of Israeli forces from
Hebron has not.
QUESTION: Does that mean it has to be renegotiated?
MR. BURNS: And that's the crux of the ...
QUESTION: Does that mean there's a new awareness of security problems?
New awareness that turning Hebron over to the Palestinians is an inevitable
step towards statehood? What is the new awareness on either side?
MR. BURNS: To answer one of the questions that you threw out there, it
does not mean that this agreement will be renegotiated . In fact, Prime
Minister Netanyahu has said publicly, as has Chairman Arafat, it will not
be renegotiated. They're discussing negotiating, arguing about, how will it
be implemented. That's what's at the heart of these negotiations, and I
would not rush to the judgment that somehow they've failed, because I think
that's fundamentally and completely inaccurate.
What is happening is the negotiations are going on. They met today; they'll
meet tomorrow; they'll meet the day after that, and they'll meet the day
after that, and they'll take a recess for the Moslem holy day and the
Jewish Sabbath; then they'll go back to the table again.
The United States will be at the table every single day, and these talks in
the end are going to succeed. I just can't tell you what the final date is
going to be. We're in it for the long haul. We're going to stay in it until
they succeed. We're absolutely committed to that.
I think to say just because one of the guys, who's present at the table,
comes back to the United States for consultations -- to say that somehow
the talks have failed -- is completely without foundation.
QUESTION: So far you don't have an agreement. I didn't mean to suggest
you'd never have an agreement on Hebron. There's never-never on anything.
But -- well, we've gone over it again and again. I'm taking everybody's
QUESTION: Do you think it's fortuitous Chirac is in the region just as
Dennis leaves; that maybe Chirac will step in and --
MR. BURNS: As I said on Friday, the United States values the role that
France can play and that France is playing in the Monitoring Group with us.
On the Israel-Lebanon border, for instance, France is our co-chair of that
Monitoring Group. President Chirac has taken a great interest in the Middle
East. We fully support the fact that he's there. We hope that he can lend
his own expertise and the influence that France brings to contributing to a
resolution of this problem and the other problems in the Middle East.
The Middle East is not a place where the United States seeks exclusive
domain; where the United States seeks exclusive operating rights as a
country. We think that the Europeans have a very important role to play
here. They've already played an important role.
Now in the case of the Middle East talks, as you know, the Palestinians and
Israelis decided the United States would be at the table with them, and
that continues. We think that's an effective way to proceed in that very
QUESTION: Chirac today restated support for a Palestinian state. In this
context, do you think that's helpful?
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen his statement, so I want to beg your forgiveness
and not give you a comment on that, because I just haven't seen everything
QUESTION: You said the Middle East isn't the U.S. exclusive sphere --
MR. BURNS: I was literally comparing that to another part of the world
that we've talked about.
QUESTION: I know. I know, but --
MR. BURNS: Using the word "domain" and --
QUESTION: Yes, but nobody's ever questioned the U.S.'s even-handedness in
Africa. Are the French an evenhanded mediator in the Middle East, do you
MR. BURNS: The French have a positive role to play in the Middle
QUESTION: Nick, do the Europeans have an equal role to the U.S.?
MR. BURNS: What was the word now? Now we're getting into really --
QUESTION: You said the Europeans have a role to play in the Middle
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Do the Europeans have a role equal to the U.S.'s role?
MR. BURNS: I mean, it's not for me -- I can't possibly stand up here and
compare the efforts of the United States to other countries. We have a lot
of confidence in our role. We're the indispensable country in the Middle
East. We are the indispensable country. There's no question about
But the Europeans -- the European Union, France, Britain, other countries --
have a very, very important role to play, and we're partners. I think
you're all trying to drive wedges between the United States and France here,
and I resent it, because, you know, I'm a Francophile. We like and respect
the French Government, and France is our oldest ally.
Way back in the 1780s, France came to the assistance of the United States,
and we remember that. We have excellent relations with France.
Mr. Lambros, do you want to comment on 1770s as well the 1780s?
QUESTION: France all the time, yes.
MR. BURNS: Lafayette.
QUESTION: President Clinton --
MR. BURNS: Also the 1780s. Remember Yorktown. Remember the French fleet
off Yorktown. That was seventeen -- (laughter) -- I remember. It was the
fall of 1781, if I'm not mistaken.
QUESTION: That's exactly. President Clinton stated last Saturday in a two-
page statement regarding Imia: "My Administration has suggested that the
Imia question could be best decided by the International Court of Justice
or some other body."
Since this suggested proposal, plan, or whatever it is, according to
analysts is going to partition Greece in the Aegean, I'm wondering why the
State Department advised the President to this effect against the Greek
territorial integrity? Could anyone from this building explain to us why
bother with this suggestion?
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, that question is remarkably similar to the
question you asked on Friday, I think, and let me just say that the United
States remains absolutely prepared to help Greece and Turkey, the Cypriot
Government, the two communities on Cyprus, the Greek and Turkish communities,
to work amicably towards a resolution of the Cyprus problem. But I don't
really have much to say in specific --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: You don't have anything to say about the specific suggestion by
MR. BURNS: The President?
MR. BURNS: All I can say is -- are you talking about -- I'm confused,
because there have been so many questions.
QUESTION: The President stated, inter alia, "my Administration has
suggested that the Imia should go to the International Court of Justice."
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry. I was thinking Cyprus and you're talking Aegean.
QUESTION: That is the Aegean -- Imia.
MR. BURNS: We have a well known position on the Aegean.
QUESTION: What about the suggestion specifically? It was said by the
MR. BURNS: If there are suggestions and I can confirm them, we'll be glad
to talk to the Greeks and Turks about those suggestions, but I'm not in a
position to confirm anything at this point.
QUESTION: According to -- last week, Turkey's recommended -- the Turkish
Foreign Ministry -- which has been submitted officially to the State
Department: "At Kardak (Imia) Greece has attempted to extend its sovereignty
to islands beyond those ceded to it by the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 and the
Paris Treaty of 1947. The possession of small islands, islets and rocks in
the Aegean, the status of which has been not defined by an international
document, has yet to be determined."
I would like to know, Mr. Burns, the position of the State Department since
the Turkish request against the provision of those international agreements
is on the same parallel, almost basis, with your statement of February 1996
which reflects, of course, U.S. foreign policy.
MR. BURNS: Howard, I don't want you to miss this. I'm glad you came in.
(Laughter) Howard just arrived. He was outside waiting for the answer.
Actually, I stand by all of our previous statements on this issue. We've
made ourselves perfectly clear, and I go all the way back to February 1995
on this issue.
QUESTION: What about the Turkish demands, however. I'm wondering why the
U.S. persists in this.
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, we've been a good friend to Greece and Turkey.
We've advised them to try to resolve this in a consensual manner, and we've
even suggested where they might do that; we give a location for that. But
it's up to Greece and Turkey to really answer your question. It's up to
them. Should they wish to involve the United States, I'm sure they'll let
QUESTION: (Inaudible) do you recognize the present Greek-Turkish border
in the Aegean as defined by the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 and the Paris
Treaty of 1947?
MR. BURNS: I think you know we have diplomatic relations with Greece and
diplomatic relations with Turkey. We respect the borders of both. In those
places where they are contesting each other's sovereignty, we are advising
them to work that out in this respect.
QUESTION: Do you consider the present Greek-Turkish border as EU-Turkish
border, since Greece is a member of the European Union?
MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, all I can tell you is that it's very clear what
borders are recognized by the international community, and that the United
Nations, including those recognized by the United States. You will not be
surprised by my answer, so that's clear. We recognize Greece. We recognize
There's another problem. There are some disputed islands. That problem
should be worked out by Greece and Turkey themselves.
QUESTION: The disputed islands and otherwise.
MR. BURNS: I've been very clear on that.
Yes, I think Savas has --
QUESTION: The Turkish Government two days ago, they announced the new
measures on the human rights -- improved the human rights record. How do
you relate to this announcement?
MR. BURNS: The United States welcomes the new human rights package that's
been put forward by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ciller. We
believe this is a constructive step toward the improvement of the human
rights situation in Turkey.
We are trying to learn more details about this package through our Embassy
in Ankara. We're particularly encouraged by the proposed reduction in the
amount of time a suspect may be detained before being charged with a crime,
and we would hope that this could help reduce the number of incidents of
physical abuse and torture that have long been the subject of concern by
the international community.
The United States is a close friend and ally of Turkey, and we hope that
these steps -- this package of measures -- can be implemented, so that we
can see some appreciable advancements in the human rights situation in
QUESTION: Japanese election. Does the result effect to the negotiation of
U.S.-Japan security treaty (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: I had a statement earlier. I don't know if you were here. I
had a statement about the Japanese elections. We're working well with the
current Japanese Government. When the next Japanese Government is formed as
a result of these elections, we look forward to excellent productive
relations on all issues.
QUESTION: Nicaragua. Was the election free and fair? What do we get from
our observers, and has it been called yet?
MR. BURNS: As I came out here, there were only preliminary results
available. I believe ten percent of the votes were in; therefore, it is
impossible, at this point, to try to speculate on who will win the
Nicaraguan election. I can say this: We are, of course, taking our advice
from Brian Atwood, who is the head of the U.S. observer mission --the
official U.S. Government observer mission.
As you know, former President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State James
Baker are both there. I think as we look at all the reports that have come
in from these various observer missions, including our own, all reports
suggest that the electoral process was free and fair, although it was beset
by some logistical difficulties.
I know that Mr. Atwood, Brian Atwood, is going to be providing some further
public comments once we have a sense of the results. We'd like to
congratulate the Supreme Electoral Council and the Nicaraguan people who
voted in great numbers yesterday for the successful and peaceful election
day. That was another defining feature of yesterday. It was peaceful in
I understand there is no evidence of fraud, no evidence whatsoever. There
were some complaints about the delay in distribution of voter identification
documents, but we believe that this was purely administrative. It was not
caused for any political reasons.
So we're looking very much forward to the results of these elections, and
once there is a winner declared by the Nicaraguan people, then the United
States will have a fuller comment to make.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:46 p.m.)