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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #22, 97-02-10

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <>


U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing


February 10, 1997

Briefer: Nicholas Burns

1..............Memorial Services for Ambassador Harriman
1..............Secretary Albright's Trip to Houston, Texas
1-2............Secretary Albright's Activities This Week
1,17-19........Secretary Albright's Trip to Europe and Asia
1-2,3-4,20-21,22-23...Secretary Albright to Testify Before House
International Relations Committee and House Appropriations Subcommittee on
Foreign Operations
2..............Daily Briefing Schedule This Week
2-3............Status of Department Appointments

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA 2,4-5..........Serbian Parliament Debate on November Election Results 2,4............Secretary Albright's Letter to Serbian President Milosevic 4..............U.S. Position on Sanctions 5..............Violence in Mostar

UK/NORTHERN IRELAND 5,6............Status of Cease-Fire in Northern Ireland 5-6............Status of Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith 6-7............Possible Visa Request by Gerry Adams 7..............Restrictions on Sinn Fein Fundraising in U.S.

ECUADOR 8-9............Presidential Crisis/Situation Update

JAPAN 9-10,12........Reported Use of Radioactive Bullets in Military Exercise

SAUDI ARABIA 10-11..........Status of Dhahran Bombing Investigation/Saudi Cooperation

LATIN AMERICA 11-12..........President Clinton's Travel to Latin America/Venezuela Disappointment

NORTH KOREA 12-14..........World Food Program Appeal for Food Assistance 13.............Status of Joint Briefing on the Four Party Talks

GREECE/TURKEY/CYPRUS 14-15..........Aegean Sea Issues

IRAQ 15-16..........Saddam Hussein's Family

GERMANY 16-17..........U.S. Position on Scientologists Issue in Germany

ZAIRE 19-20..........Status of Fighting/Situation Update

ARMS CONTROL 21-22..........Chemical Weapons Convention


DPB #22

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1997, 1:08 P. M.


MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. I've got a couple of things to go over before we go to questions.

First, I think you're all aware that the remains of Ambassador Pamela Harriman were returned to the United States on Saturday evening, and you may have seen on TV a very moving ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base. Secretary Albright spoke at that ceremonial, along with Ambassador Harriman's son.

We have opened a condolence book in our Protocol Office, which is room 1232, for foreign diplomats stationed here in Washington. Also, it's open to our employees here and to any of you who have State Department passes. You're welcome to go to the Protocol Office and sign the condolence book. That book is open between today and Wednesday, between 10 and 12 and 2 and 4 for the next three days. I'd also encourage you to visit the Exhibit Hall -- our exhibit on American diplomatic history -- where we have placed a memorial dedicated to Ambassador Harriman.

I also wanted just to all let you know that the Secretary is very pleased about her first trip as Secretary of State, which was to Houston, Texas. It was important symbolically for her that her first trip be to an American city and not to a foreign country. She's also very grateful for the reception she was given by the people of Houston, from the high school students to the very, very large crowd at Rice University, and she's particularly grateful for President Bush and Secretary of State Baker's meetings with her and for their very clear public support -- very clear public support -- for the Administration's position on the Chemical Weapons Convention, on resources for our diplomacy embodied in our current budget proposal, and for the call by President Clinton and Secretary Albright that the United States make up its U.N. arrears. She was very pleased to meet with both of them. President Bush in particular was very gracious to receive her at his home on Saturday morning, and I think you saw he gave a forthright public call of his own, agreeing with the Administration on those issues.

It was certainly a good start to Secretary Albright's campaign to try to build a foundation of bipartisanship to support her foreign policy -- the Administration's foreign policy.

Her schedule this week, as she anticipates leaving this Saturday on her worldwide trip, she'll be having meetings with advisers throughout the week on various aspects of the trip, including one today. She also is testifying twice this week. Tomorrow, on February 11, she testifies before the House International Relations Committee, and that's from 10:00 to 12:00 a.m. On Wednesday, she testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. Both of these testimonies will be on the Administration's budget proposal and on various foreign policy issues. I know both of these are open to the press.

QUESTION: What time is that?

MR. BURNS: 10:00 to 12:00 on both days. I anticipate that we will not have regular press briefings either day. That's our practice when the Secretary is up on the Hill. We do not have press briefings here, but I will be here, and I'll do the usual walk-throughs with the press, and we can negotiate the time for that on both days.

One last item before we get to questions. We are following the situation in Serbia quite closely. As you know, the law to recognize the results of the November 17th elections is due to be debated by the Parliament tomorrow.

The United States is looking for its quick passage and quick implementation. Our approach towards the Serbian Government has remained the same and will remain the same. We expect the Serbian Government to take concrete action to deal with this political crisis and to recognize the opposition victories in the November 17th elections.

Secretary Albright feels very strongly about this. She sent a letter to President Milosevic over the weekend that was delivered to him by our Charge d'Affaires Dick Miles on Saturday afternoon. In that letter, Secretary Albright called on Mr. Milosevic and the Serbian authorities to pass and implement quickly the elections legislation and then to open a formal dialogue with the political opposition.

The Secretary also called on Milosevic to take positive steps to resolve the situation in Kosovo, which has been very troubling to us and to many others in recent weeks. She underscored our expectation that Serbia must comply fully with the Dayton accords, particularly with the provisions concerning war crimes. Those are all very important issues, and she felt that she ought to write him personally to let him know of the strong concern of the United States on these issues.

QUESTION: Nick, kind of mechanical -- partly mechanical questions. Are the pieces in place for the jobs here at State -- you know, the major jobs, the Bureaus, the Assistant Secretaries, even some of the Embassies? Do you anticipate any announcements in the immediate future about who might take over European Affairs, who's going to Germany? Actually, I think we know the answer to both of those questions?

MR. BURNS: Do you really?

QUESTION: Yeah, would you like to know who's going to Germany? You know that.

MR. BURNS: I'm not --

QUESTION: Anyhow -- but, no --

MR. BURNS: There's a lot of speculation.

QUESTION: In fact, you're going. No, do you have any -- has she made her mind up? Are those decisions taken, and might we hear about them soon? There is chattering, but something we'd like --

MR. BURNS: It's very important. Secretary Albright is working through all these decisions. She has an enormous number of personnel decisions to make, along, of course, in concert with the White House. The first concerns the senior-most positions in this Department --the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs. Obviously, there are Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary positions that need to be filled, and also many important Ambassadorships.

All of these issues are being worked with by the Secretary with Sandy Berger and with the President, and the White House will make the initial announcements about these appointments. That is the tradition here, and we hope that that process can move as quickly as possible. But, as you know, because of some of the recent legislation that has been passed by the Congress, there is a Byzantine but useful and necessary process that must be followed for anyone wishing to be appointed to a high position like this.

There are all sorts of financial and other ethical statements that must be made -- security checks and the like -- and, when that process is completed, then the announcement is made by the White House. So she's working on it very hard, and she's been working on it for a long time, but I've got no announcements to make today.

QUESTION: And the other thing, going to the Hill, one is appropriations -- both places are likely to be asking sort of what I tried you on last week. Is she prepared at this point to at least indicate where -- because she wants money for the State Department, a seven percent increase -- will she be prepared in these fora to say something about programs which she is confident can be streamlined to save some money, or is that not worked through yet?

MR. BURNS: I know Secretary Albright believes very strongly that after having cut over 2,000 positions in the last four years, after having closed 31 Embassies and Consulates, it's time for our foreign affairs budget to be buttressed by additional resources, so that our diplomats can have at least minimally convenient conditions to work in overseas, so that we can make up our arrears to the United Nations and the international financial institutions.

She is prepared, of course, to look at the issue of consolidation. She has an open mind, but she's not made any decisions on it. That's an area, I guess, Barry, which you could refer to as potential streamlining, but she's not taken a position on it. She needs to look at it. She's talked to the heads of the three agencies. Obviously, Senator Helms and other members of Congress have particular positions on this, but I can't anticipate what decisions she'll make on that.

I think the whole impetus here is to try to get our budget raised, not to cut our budget further, and we think, frankly, the budget has been cut so much that we've already put in place a number of efficiencies and reforms to make our operation more streamlined.

QUESTION: To go back onto Serbia. In this letter that the Secretary sent to Milosevic, did she indicate at all what consequences might befall Serbia if he didn't follow through with --

MR. BURNS: She didn't need to do that, because I think Mr. Milosevic understands that the outer wall of sanctions will remain in place for the foreseeable future, because Serbia is in violation of the Dayton accords. Serbia has not acted, we think, honorably on the Kosovo problem, and because we've been quite disturbed to see the actions of the Serbian Government since November 17th. She did not spell out in any way any kind of change in the Administration's position on sanctions, but sanctions, of course, will be maintained.

QUESTION: But you could at least reiterate the Administration's positions on sanctions. I mean, if she felt it important enough for him to hear from her personally on the issue of the opposition victory --

MR. BURNS: Carol, I'll have to -- excuse me.

QUESTION: Why wasn't it important enough for him to hear from her personally --

MR. BURNS: I'll have to go back and look at the letter. I'll read the whole thing through again. I glanced at it over the weekend. But I can tell you this: She left no doubt. The tone of the letter was quite tough. She left no doubt -- no doubt -- in Mr. Milosevic's mind that the outer wall of sanctions will be maintained by this Administration, because fundamentally the Serbian Government is not in compliance on these major issues that I've cited.

Yes, John.

QUESTION: Nick, staying on Serbia, the expectation in Belgrade is that this may in fact -- the legislation may be in fact a new ploy by Mr. Milosevic that once it's passed, the issue will simply go to the Constitutional Court which will declare the law unconstitutional. Would the United States view that as being a decision by an independent judiciary or one that was -- that had Mr. Milosevic's imprimatur on that? And I have a follow-up.

MR. BURNS: Because we've been down this road before, we continue to retain a healthy dose of skepticism concerning Mr. Milosevic and this pledge to recognize the opposition victory. We've said specifically that the only result that will satisfy the United States is if the people who won the November 17th elections actually take their seats and have sufficient powers to do their job, meaning the powers haven't been stripped away in some back-room deal, which is another option that we've heard about -- another option available to the anti-democrats in Belgrade.

So that's the litmus test that he must meet, and we're going to be more impressed by concrete actions of that sort than we are by these promises.

QUESTION: Staying on the Balkans, are you aware of the report today of violence in Mostar? It seems to be getting worse. There's been some criticism of the international community, led by the United States, in terms of its willingness to see the Dayton accord implemented in that part of Bosnia, particularly Mostar, and that there has been insufficient pressure on Mr. Tudjman, who is in fact the paramount influence on the Croats in that part of Bosnia.

MR. BURNS: We have seen the reports -- I think credible reports -- that Croat civilians fired on Moslem civilians who were visiting a cemetery -- visiting the graves of their loved ones in Mostar this morning. The United States condemns this violence. We are calling upon the Croatian authorities and the Croatian civilians involved to exercise maximum restraint and not to repeat this kind of aggressive activity.

Mostar is a difficult issue, but the United States has done as much as we can, and we've certainly given a considerable amount of attention to Mostar. In fact, our Assistant Secretary of State, John Kornblum, in Sarajevo last week for a Federation forum meeting, had a specific meeting on the situation in Mostar. We've paid quite a lot of attention to it, and we'll continue to do that. But fundamentally the Dayton agreements rest on the efforts of the people involved -- the governments and also the civilians. They're the ones who have to make it live and make it durable, and we're calling upon them to do so.

Yes, Judd.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. BURNS: Sure.

QUESTION: Is the Administration -- with the breakdown of the cease-fire in Northern Ireland, is the Administration re-thinking its policy towards Northern Ireland? And what is the status of Jean Kennedy Smith? Is there any move afoot to recall her?

MR. BURNS: The Clinton Administration continues to be fundamentally and absolutely committed to helping the British Government and the Irish Government and all the other parties who wish to renounce violence and to be productive members of the peace process to continue the peace process. The President and Secretary Albright have a lot of confidence in Senator George Mitchell who is leading that process.

We also have a lot of confidence in Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. She has played over the last several years a very important role in the United States' effort to be helpful to Britain and Ireland. I can assure you that she retains the full and unequivocal support of the President and Secretary of State Albright. There has been no decision by the Administration to recall her because of any perceived dissatisfaction with how the peace process has gone.

I say that specifically, because that was a charge made in a major newspaper. That newspaper is wrong -- dead wrong on the facts. She retains the confidence of the President and the Secretary of State.

QUESTION: Is she due for normal rotation? Is her tenure up?

MR. BURNS: I simply will have to check into that. I don't know exactly what her status is. But let me just say in that regard, all American Ambassadors in the field, of course -- I mean, they serve terms, and some stay longer and some leave when their term expires. I'll just have to check and see what the status is.

QUESTION: She's been there from almost the beginning of the Administration, I think.

MR. BURNS: Yes, she has, but I don't want to anticipate a decision that would have to be made by the President and the Secretary of State in that regard. That's true of all other Ambassadors in the field. They're all expecting to serve out their full terms. I know that many of them will end their terms at the three- or four-year mark. Some will stay on, and I just can't anticipate what decision is going to be made here. But I do want to draw a very fine line here -- a clear line -- and say that she retains the full respect of the President and the Secretary of State and has their confidence.

QUESTION: I also asked you if you were rethinking your policy at all? I wonder if you can talk about that?

MR. BURNS: I thought I answered it at the beginning.

QUESTION: Do you have any new ideas about how you'll proceed from that here?

MR. BURNS: Senator Mitchell, of course, as you know, has been active just in the last couple of weeks in reconvening the talks in Belfast. We are constantly in touch at the very highest levels with both the British and Irish Governments. We support both of those governments, and, frankly, we support their position that there's no seat at the table for organizations like the IRA or Sinn Fein that do not renounce violence. That's a very clear position that we've taken in support of the British and Irish Governments.

QUESTION: In that connection, is Mr. Adams welcome to apply for a visa again to the United States if he wishes to?

MR. BURNS: I think that's very much a hypothetical question. I'm not aware that Mr. Adams has applied for a visa to visit the United States. But I think that he, and members of his organization understand the clear position of the United States that there's no position for them at the peace table until violence is clearly renounced. We've seen over the last couple of months too many acts of violence, indiscriminate acts of violence that take innocent people's lives.

In that respect, we very strongly support the position of the Governments of Britain -- the Government of the United Kingdom and also the Government of Ireland.

QUESTION: Nick, one follow-up. How do you make peace if Sinn Fein isn't at the table?

MR. BURNS: That's the question that Sinn Fein has to answer. If Sinn Fein is truly interested in peace, it will renounce violence. The people who want to make peace -- true peace, Judd -- peace without terrorism, the British Government certainly, and the Irish Government certainly, and a number of the other parties that are talking to Senator Mitchell, those people are interested in peace.

If you're interested in peace, you have to meet the conditions that the parties establish which are quite reasonable conditions. People who throw bombs ought not to be allowed to be at the peace table.

QUESTION: Just one question. Will they be allowed to raise money in the United States -- those same people? Should they be allowed to raise money in the United States?

MR. BURNS: You know, Chris, we have a policy on that that pertains not only to the situation in Northern Ireland but also to any other part of the world. American organizations in the United States are not under Federal law to raise funds to support terrorist activities either here in the United States or overseas, or groups that conduct terrorist activities. That's a very clear position that President Clinton has taken not only pertaining to the situation in Northern Ireland but also to the Middle East and other parts of the world.

QUESTION: That was about two years -- plus two years and a couple of weeks ago that he took that position. At that point, of course, organizations had to be identified. There was some work to do. Indeed, for instance, on the freeze, it applies to 12 specific organizations.

Sinn Fein -- can you say whether it is an organization that is, number one, prohibited to raise funds; and are organizations, or an organization that raises funds in its behalf, having its assets frozen?

MR. BURNS: If you're seen the list, you know what the 12 groups are.

QUESTION: We know some of the characters, yeah.

MR. BURNS: As for Sinn Fein specifically, I just have to check if there are any further restrictions on their activities in the United States. I'm not aware of any change over the last month or two, Barry, at all.

QUESTION: But if you hear of changes, would you at least --

MR. BURNS: If we hear of any changes, yes.

QUESTION: Can you tell us whether the U.S. is satisfied that the Constitution has been followed in Ecuador?

MR. BURNS: Well, that's a very interesting and fast-changing situation. Let me tell you what we know. We're following the situation quite closely through our Embassy in Quito.

Our understanding at this hour is that there appears to be an agreement in principle among the major politicians in Ecuador that would allow them to resolve the political crisis peacefully without any resort to violence.

This agreement calls for the appointment of an interim President, with elections to be held in the first half of 1998, and a new President to assume office by August 1998. But we know that there are a number of issues that remain to be resolved before this agreement in principle can actually be put into place.

We understand that the Congress has agreed to look at some of the legal and constitutional ambiguities and work on ways to resolve them.

We are heartened by the willingness of these major political figures to seek a peaceful solution to this crisis in Ecuador. We believe that a prolonged state of uncertainty -- political uncertainty -- would only damage the country's reputation; certainly increase the level of political instability and also damage Ecuador economically.

We are heartened by the fact that the military and the national police have shown restraint, and they have played a constructive role as the politicians try to work out the problems. We hope very much that that will continue, that all Ecuadorans will proceed to unite so that political stability can be maintained.

QUESTION: You say heartened by the process. That was a very straightforward statement. But can you take it an inch further, or is too early to really tell about these deals -- the deal with the caveats that you volunteered? Does the U.S. like what it knows about this arrangement?

MR. BURNS: I think we're going to reserve judgment to see what the final agreement looks like, because there are some remaining aspects of this that need to be put into place.

We've been very careful not to try to insert ourselves in any specific way into this political drama. We're not backing any one of the three. We're not throwing our political support to any one of the three. Ecuadorans have to resolve this themselves without interference from the United States or other countries.

QUESTION: Aren't you concerned that this could lead to a greater political role for the military that it has had until now?

MR. BURNS: As I said, George, I very specifically wanted to note that we were heartened by the fact that the military and the national police had essentially allowed the politicians to work out what appears to be a political compromise, an agreement in principle that would retain political stability. So, actually, we think that the military has acted honorably, at least so far, in this crisis.

QUESTION: Nick, there were reports on the radio this morning -- and I'd ask about the veracity -- that the Ecuadoran military has been consulting with the United States. Have we had contacts with the Ecuadoran military? And, if so, can you talk about those?

MR. BURNS: Our Embassy in Quito has had contacts with, I think, all of the political actors and other institutions, including the military and the national police. But I don't want to insinuate in any way that the United States is playing any major behind-the-scenes role here because we're not. We are interested in Ecuador. We want to Ecuador to continue to be a democratic country.

We'd like, obviously, for Ecuadorans to agree that there shouldn't be violence in Ecuador; that this political crisis not turn into a civil crisis. That's our interest. But we've tried very hard not to be involved specifically because we didn't think that would be helpful, nor do I believe that we have been requested -- nor have we been requested -- to play that role.

Still on Ecuador?

QUESTION: No. Another issue.

QUESTION: In violation of an agreement with Japan, depleted uranium bullets were used in military exercises in Okinawa. Can you tell us why this occurred, and why it took more than year to inform the Government of Japan?

MR. BURNS: I'm going to have to refer you to the Department of Defense for the details. I know they have been talking to reporters. I think the facts are that once the U.S. Government realized that some mistakes had been made at the gunnery range, we did inform the Government of Japan. I know that this morning Under Secretary Walt Slocombe -- Under Secretary of Defense Slocombe -- called the Japanese Ambassador to inform him fully of what the United States had done to correct these problems. Obviously, it's a very serious incident. We take it seriously. We have the greatest respect for the people and government of Japan. We want to assure them that we will be as open as possible as we follow this.

I do want to refer you to, for the facts and the details, to the Department of Defense.

QUESTION: Has the Japanese Government protested?

MR. BURNS: Excuse me?

QUESTION: Has the Japanese Government protested at any level?

MR. BURNS: The Japanese Government has certainly been in touch with us and we've been in touch with them. We'll continue our discussions on this.


QUESTION: New subject. The end of Ramadan is upon us. I wonder whether at this stage the Administration remains satisfied or is satisfied, I should say, with the cooperation that the Saudis have shown in the investigation of the Dhahran bombing?

There have been suggestions that they may soon execute some of the suspects they're holding in that bombing. Have American agents been able to interview any of them yet?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any change in our appreciation of Saudi cooperation, our appreciation of the level of Saudi cooperation since the President addressed this issue about a week back.

The fact is that we have been assured by the Saudi Government at the highest level of full cooperation. It is our expectation that we will receive full cooperation.

As to the details, as you know, we've been reluctant to speak in a detailed way about this investigation. We don't want to compromise it in any way. But the FBI and the State Department are in touch with the Saudis on a daily basis on this issue. We'll continue to be so.

QUESTION: Can I ask you this? Could full cooperation be satisfied, according to your definition, if the suspects were never talked to by Americans?

MR. BURNS: Full cooperation means full cooperation. You know it when you see it. You understand it when it's being given. "Full cooperation" means that the United States and Saudi Arabia together will try to get to the bottom of the question of who murdered 19 American military personnel at the al-Khobar barracks. That's the key question. It's hard for me to define that for you, David, because I'm not involved in these discussions with the Saudis and I'm just not simply aware of all the various criteria that have to be considered by us.

QUESTION: But the question is general enough so that maybe you could answer it. The question is, does the U.S. have to be satisfied that whoever is punished for this crime, that they're indeed is substantial evidence that they committed the crime; that they simply didn't dispatch some folks and close the books on it?

You put "cooperation" in the future tense, you know. This has been gone on for some time. You've been promised there will be full cooperation. Simply put -- this is not my line of work, investigating bombings -- what do mean by "cooperation?" When the Saudis say to you, "It's all wrapped up, we got it done; we're punishing the guilty," is that cooperation? Or does the U.S. get to look at the evidence and make some sort of a judgment whether the right people are being punished?

MR. BURNS: We have a clear standard here. We want the people who conducted -- who planned and conducted the bombing of the al-Khobar barracks to be brought to justice. We're not interested in other people -- we're not interested in having people prosecuted who were not responsible. We want the people responsible to be questioned and then to be prosecuted, and we want justice done. That's the standard I think that 19 American families bring to this question. That's a very simple proposition. The Saudis know that. We know it, and we want to work with the Saudis to see that justice is done.

We expect that full cooperation will be extended to the United States. That's our level of expectation here.

QUESTION: Iraq, they are throwing some threat to neighboring countries, including the Gulf states. They said that they're using this Dhahran incident as the (inaudible) to some basis to form troops. This is very dangerous for Iran. Do you have any reaction to this?

MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, Savas, I didn't catch the question. What's the question?

QUESTION: The question is, Iraq is threatening neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia. Their statement mentioned about using the Dhahran events to attack the foreign troops from their soil is a big and dangerous for us. The consequences is disastrous, or something like that?

MR. BURNS: We have not determined who is responsible for the Khobar bombing. Therefore, it's not possible for the United States to make any kind of threats against other countries if we don't know for sure who was responsible for the killings themselves. So there's no reason why I should answer that question. There's no link here that the United States has drawn.

QUESTION: It's the Iranian statement. It's not my statement.

MR. BURNS: Well, we don't pay attention to everything the Iranians say.

QUESTION: Nick, there seems to be a lot of unhappiness, even resentment, in Caracas because President Clinton is not making a stop there on his Latin American tour. This is a country that's the number one supplier of foreign oil to the U.S. It's been the lead democracy down there. It has a big $20 billion trade with the U.S. So a lot of Venezuelans are beginning to feel that they're being taken for granted. Do you have any comment on that, especially in view of the fact that there was some reason to believe that he would go there originally?

MR. BURNS: The United States appreciates very much our relationship with the Government of Venezuela and the people of Venezuela, and we'll continue to treat those relations as a high priority. The fact is, the President is making a trip to South American and to the Caribbean and Central America. He can only go so many places. There are a lot of countries in the hemisphere. There are over 30 countries in the hemisphere.

His schedule should not be any indication to the Government or people of Venezuela that we are in any way not interested in a good relationship, excellent relationship. We are, and we'll continue to demonstrate that.

QUESTION: May I go back to Japan for a second?


QUESTION: Realizing that the Pentagon isn't having a briefing and they've only talked through the spokesmen in Tokyo. But going back to your comment about "you've been in touch with Japan," the Mayor in the area said he was concerned that the military informed them a year after the incident occurred. What exactly has Japan said to the U.S. about this?

MR. BURNS: We have provided detailed information on this incident to the Government of Japan. We've told the Government of Japan that we regret this incident, and we regret the fact that the Government of Japan was notified late -- too long after the incident. We will continue to conduct periodic surveys of the island to assure the government of Japan and the people in the region that there is no threat to them.

But, again, the Pentagon has some detailed guidance for you on this, and I'm sure they'll be glad to talk to you about it.

I just want to raise one thing since we're on Asia, which is a little bit troubling. That is, the Clinton Administration was criticized over the weekend by the Washington Post for not considering, in a serious way, the question of food aid for North Korea. This was very puzzling to me -- very puzzling, indeed. Because we said several times last week, publicly -- maybe the Washington Post needs to read the transcripts or maybe they just need to pay attention to what we're saying -- that the United States had met previous food appeals from the World Food Program; that we did treat as an urgent matter the humanitarian situation of the people of North Korea.

Therefore, quite puzzling to see this quite strong criticism of the United States for not taking into considering humanitarian concerns in addressing this question.

I can just tell you that the World Food Program, we expect, will issue a new appeal for food assistance to North Korea this week; that it will be similar to the one issued last year. When we receive this appeal, we will very seriously study its analysis of the food situation in North Korea. We will make our decision to provide food assistance to North Korea based solely on humanitarian considerations.

As always, we'll talk to our ally, consult with our ally, the Republic of Korea -- South Korea. But we said last week -- and I just wanted to reaffirm this week -- that we are interested in helping people in need around the world and that humanitarian considerations will be the criteria that will apply here. It's very puzzling to see this strong editorial criticism from a major national newspaper when it is completely undeserved. We've been paying attention to the situation. We've been talking to the United Nations. We've been talking to the North Koreans. We've talking to the South Koreans.

The Government is at work here. We're doing our job. We're doing what we must to fashion a good, consistent policy on the Korean Peninsula for peace. I think it's incumbent upon people who write editorials to listen to what we say and to take it into consideration.


QUESTION: In the same newspaper, there was an op-ed article by a former senior AID official which suggested that the famine in North Korea could be worse than the famine in Ethiopia in 1984. What's the State Department's assessment of that analysis?

MR. BURNS: We do not have an independent assessment of the food situation in North Korea because we don't have any American officials in North Korea. But we do rely upon the United Nations and the World Food Program.

As you know, the United States has been a major contributor. I believe the level of our contribution was $8.2 million in 1995, to people who were affected by the flooding; an additional allocation was made by the United States in 1996. So we have to rely on the United Nations and on the food experts. But we do so -- and we take their appeals very seriously; very seriously, indeed. I 'm just puzzled by this criticism.

QUESTION: Has the United States ever used food aid to North Korea as a bargaining chip?

MR. BURNS: Not that I'm aware of. In fact, I said very clearly last week, repeatedly, we are not using food aid as any kind of lever to convince the North Koreans to approach the negotiating table in New York to have a briefing on the Four Party Talks. I said last week consistently that we are interested in this question on humanitarian grounds. I just want to reiterate that today. We don't deserve to be criticized like this unfairly and inaccurately. People ought to do their homework.

QUESTION: Nick, you say "not that you know of." Are you leaving out the possibility that maybe in some other chamber somewhere it has been used as a bargaining chip?

MR. BURNS: We've been trying to arrange a briefing on the Four Party Talks. The North Koreans have decided that they cannot attend those talks, at least at the present time, because they have on-going private, commercial negotiations with Cargill and other companies. We would like that deal to go forward. But we've never used food aid as a lever against the North Koreans; certainly have not because we have to pay attention to the humanitarian questions here.

QUESTION: Nick, for years, we used to do assessments of the food situation in China and the former Soviet Union. We didn't rely on the U.N. or any other NGO's for their assessments. We have so-called national technical means to do that. The question is, doesn't the State Department policymakers have access to national technical means, analysis by the Department of Agriculture and other agencies, that talk about the situation on the ground in North Korea? Can we not make policy based on those assessments?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware, at least when I was working on the Soviet Union, that we ever used so-called national technical means as a sole basis to judge a situation. The fact is the two situations are not analogous. In the situation of China and of the Soviet Union, we had American diplomats on the ground. We had an ability to bring in our own experts to assess the food situation. We do not presently have that ability with North Korea. Thus, we rely on the very good services of the United Nations which we trust, and we work well with the United Nations and the World Food Program in the past and I believe we'll continue to do so.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: The Institute for National Strategic Studies of the National Defense University which is a U.S. Government institution, I have to emphasized, is related directly to the Department of Defense. Last Friday, it released its annual report on the 1997 strategic assessments.

On Page 38, it published a map which it's partitioned Greece, the fact of the Aegean Sea, with a line covering all the Greek islands of the eastern Aegean. Very simple. It's promoting the one owned Turkish map against Greece.

Since the section is dealing with U.S. foreign policy, I would like to know the State Department's reaction to this particular map?

MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, the National Defense University, it's like a think tank, it's a school. People go there to study; they write papers. It's a very important place, but it is not a place where U.S. Government policy is made on foreign policy issues. It's a place where diplomats and military officers go for a year to reflect. They write their own papers based on their own personal research.

So whatever is written by unto you in a study, is not a decision taken by the Administration on a foreign policy issue. I want you to understand that clear distinction.

QUESTION: According to the Internet today, the Director of IMSS reports through the President of the National Defense University to the Chairman, at the highest level, and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Civil Staff to the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary of Defense and to the commanders in the civil -unified commanders, they issued the Director, since they assess the agenda of the issue to meet the needs and requirements of the Department of Defense.

MR. BURNS: I have the greatest respect for the National Defense University. A lot of my friends have studied there. Our own Glyn Davies studied there. He wrote a paper when he was there which was not -- when Glyn Davies -- I wish Glyn were here to defend himself. When Glyn wrote his paper and other people write their papers, they do so in order to educate themselves and to further their own study of foreign policy. These papers are not official decisions by the United States Government. Think of it as a retreat for a year, where people reflect and study.

If there's going to be any change in our policy in the Aegean, which I do not expect, that decision will be made by the President and the Secretary of State. You've not seen any decisions of any changes in our policy in the Aegean made by the President or the Secretary of State.

So I want to assure you, Mr. Lambros, there's no problem here. I would read the paper and reflect on the paper and congratulate the authors --

QUESTION: So you condemn --

MR. BURNS: I'm not going to condemn anything that I haven't seen. I'm not going to approve it either. I can't see that from here.

QUESTION: No, no. Did you receive that --

MR. BURNS: No. I think NDU, which is a terrific institution -- a terrific institution -- publishes hundreds of papers a year. I don't have time to read them all.

QUESTION: It's propaganda purely. I would like you to comment on --

MR. BURNS: I wouldn't call it "propaganda." This is academic research.

David was next in line, Barry.

QUESTION: I'm just wondering whether you can offer any insights as to the state of family relations in the Hussein family of Baghdad? For example, is Saddam Hussein's wife under house arrest? Is Uday Hussein -- what kind of injuries he sustained; anything you might have?

MR. BURNS: I'm just not a particular expert on the state of affairs in the Hussein family which is a very troubled family. I think, in this case, you might want to just trust the newspapers and read the newspapers and be intrigued by it, but we have no independent knowledge of the intrigues going on in Baghdad.

With autocratic dictatorial regimes, countries run by tyrants, you often see, when they treat their people in a dictatorial manner, it also sometimes extends to their family.

I think it's no surprise to see that Saddam Hussein has had problems in this family. He is a disturbed person, and so we'll just have to let that go as it is, and I have nothing much more that I can add to it.

QUESTION: Do you want to give us a little bit of an advance --

MR. BURNS: In this case.

QUESTION: Can you give us a little bit of a preview of how the Secretary will deal with the Scientologists' issue in Germany, because the Foreign Minister has been saying things, as reported by Reuters, so evidently they want it on the agenda.

MR. BURNS: The United States has a very straightforward position. I spoke to our Charge d'Affaires, J. D. Bindenagel, last week, and J.D. assures me that the German Government -- you know, we are in communication with the German Government. We've explained our position as it was enunciated in the Human Rights Report released ten days ago.

We also have a very firm public opposition to the repeated calls by the Scientologist community that the Kohl Government is engaging in activities which are similar to the actions of the Hitler Government in the early part of the Hitler regime in 1933 and 1934. In fact, I continue to get letters from these Scientologists and their supporters. A lot of them are postmarked Hollywood, California -- (laughter) -- and the letters say that I'm a terrible person, and that John Shattuck is a terrible person, because we won't agree with these absolutely ahistorical, inaccurate and outrageous charges, comparing the current German Government to the Nazi government.

So if this issue is raised, I'm sure that Secretary Albright will simply note what we have said in our Human Rights Report, but solidly defend the German Government against this crazy, frankly, charge that somehow the Scientologists are being treated the way Jews were treated and communists were treated in 1933 and 1934, which is the specific charge. They continue to take out advertisements in newspapers and talk about this, and they're just wrong on this.

QUESTION: Yeah, you've made that point before, but so far as their claim that they're the victims of prejudice and bigotry in Germany --

MR. BURNS: And we've spoken to that, I think, four years running in our Human Rights Report.

QUESTION: So if Mr. Kinkel is right, that it will come up again when she's in Germany, will she stoutly stand behind and affirm the human rights finding, or -- which I assume is the U.S. Government's position on this.

MR. BURNS: If the issue is raised. Obviously, given our respect for the German Government, Secretary Albright will give -- her interlocutors will note the fact that for four years running we've had these concerns, and we're not going to shy away from them, because we are concerned by the treatment of Scientologist in Germany. But we have a lot of respect for the Germans. I believe this issue will be dealt with in a very fair, private way. We have no interest in giving it more publicity, but we do feel a compulsion, an obligation to protect and defend the German Government from these outrageous charges.

If you look at all the countries that came through the second World War, on the Axis side you can't point to a country that's done more to educate its own population -- particularly the younger generation -- about the evils of Naziism than the German Government, and that includes the regional, the municipal governments. It's in the German curriculum, the evils of Naziism, and to make this comparison is an insult to the German people and the German Government.

QUESTION: While we're on the trip, just a quick one. Is that a locked-in trip now? Is there the possibility -- is there consideration being given to brief stopovers? I think, for instance, President Clinton went on a trip to Russia. He found time to make a two-hour stop, I think, in Kiev at the airport.

MR. BURNS: I remember that.

QUESTION: You remember?

MR. BURNS: I remember that.

QUESTION: A little chaotic, but --

MR. BURNS: It was a brilliant event, Barry.

QUESTION: Yeah, well, I mean, I guess I'm often on the subject of --

MR. BURNS: And it led to the signing of the Trilateral Agreement a couple of days later, which was one of the most significant accomplishments of the Clinton Administration in the first term.

QUESTION: We both know how --

MR. BURNS: You were there. You realize the significance, the brilliance of that diplomatic -- as I remember it --

QUESTION: Maybe I even predated the Administration, asking about Ukraine, and, as we both know --

MR. BURNS: I think you did.

QUESTION: -- the Administration began to pay a little more attention to Ukraine, and I want to acknowledge that, but you know Ukraine became party to some of these agreements, got two hours of the President's time. I'm not trying to make a case for Ukraine. I'm just wondering if along the way some major countries might be sandwiched in. What the heck, the pace is so insane already, I guess you could throw in six or eight more countries -- (laughter) --

MR. BURNS: Barry, are you excited about this trip?

QUESTION: I'm tired already. (Laughter)

MR. BURNS: Are you -- just thinking about it?

QUESTION: I'm thinking of Baker's trip --

MR. BURNS: Secretary Albright has a lot of energy.

QUESTION: And I'm not saying you have to go to Luxembourg like Secretary Baker did, but --

MR. BURNS: Luxembourg, by the way, is a --

QUESTION: No disrespect --

MR. BURNS: -- founding member of NATO and an ally of the United States. We have excellent relations with Luxembourg, and our Ambassador, Clay Constantinou, is an excellent American Ambassador.

QUESTION: You're not even going -- because we can do that with a pool.

MR. BURNS: He's a great American.

QUESTION: We can cover Luxembourg, a stop, with a pool. But what about --

MR. BURNS: Now, let me just -- you've asked an interesting question. I have two points to make.

QUESTION: Okay, fine.

MR. BURNS: The first is you're absolutely right to point to the very successful United States' policy towards Ukraine, and you're right that in 1993, President Clinton and Secretary Christopher gave a lot more attention to Ukraine than had previously been given, and that resulted in the Trilateral Statement, which led to the denuclearization of Ukraine, a major, major significant development for the United States; and the fact that Ukraine is now the single leading recipient of American assistance among all the countries.

Having said all those wonderful things about the vital relationship that we have with Ukraine, I do not anticipate any changes whatsoever in the Secretary's schedule. It is so jam-packed with events and activity, that I think to change it in any way, to add or subtract stops, would simply throw everything out of kilter.

So she's going ahead with the schedule, as we described it to you, from the 15th to the 25th of February, eight countries in about ten-and-a-half days.

QUESTION: Quickly, will there be any gathering of officials from other countries to see her?

MR. BURNS: No, I'm not aware of anything like that.


MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of anything like that, no.

QUESTION: Nick, you called last week for --

MR. BURNS: Except in Brussels --

QUESTION: In Brussels.

MR. BURNS: And we've already described the events in Brussels.

QUESTION: You called last week on Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda to stay out of the fighting in Eastern Zaire. The fighting is continuing to spread apparently. Have you got any evidence that those three countries are taking any notice of your request?

MR. BURNS: Secretary Albright had a very good meeting with President Museveni last week about this and was assured by President Museveni that Ugandan troops would not cross the border, and that they would not participate in any way in the fighting. We expect that that will be the case. We also expect that the other neighbors will stay out. There have been very troubling and very serious and credible reports, however, in the past, including just recently that there have been cross-border operations into Eastern Zaire.

The United States is opposed to that, because we support the territorial integrity of Zaire. We do not wish to see Zaire dismembered. But the rebel offensive continues. The rebels have made further gains over the weekend, and the United States would like to call again today upon all the fighting parties to stop the fighting; to respect the territorial integrity of Zaire, and to try to engage in peaceful discussions about political problems.

We also believe that an effort should be made within Zaire to encourage reform, political reform, and we'd like to see elections scheduled in order to promote political stability within Zaire itself.

QUESTION: Is there any thought for the U.S. to step up its diplomacy? I mean, things don't seem to be getting any better in that region.

MR. BURNS: The United States is following a very vigorous diplomacy. Ambassador Dan Simpson in Kinshasha, our Ambassadors in neighboring countries, have been actively engaged. The Secretary of State met with the Ugandan President, and we'll continue to be very much involved.

However, we by no means wish to insert ourselves as some kind of controlling influence, because we have historically not played that role, and it's up to these countries to exercise restraint so that people are not victimized further. What is happening is that 200,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees are trapped inside Eastern Zaire because of the fighting. Mrs. Ogata, the U.N. High Commissioner, was in the region over the weekend, and she brought out very troubling reports that concern us about the status of these people, and there has to be a continuing effort made by the United Nations and the governments involved to attend to the humanitarian needs of these people -- the food and medical needs of these people.

QUESTION: May I go back to the Albright testimony for one second? Could you sort of give us a preview, and is she going to be saying the same things that she said before? In other words, a marshmallow question for you: Why should anyone be paying attention to the testimony tomorrow?

MR. BURNS: I think Secretary Albright is someone you should always pay attention to. She's a very serious person; off to a very good start, I believe, as Secretary. She's going to be testifying on the budget, and you know that we believe that the budget has to be increased -- the State Department and Foreign Affairs budget -- so that we can do a couple of things.

We can make our diplomacy more effective. We can pay off our U.N. and international financial institution arrears, and we can make sure that our diplomats have the tools they need to do their jobs overseas. That was the message she brought to Houston, Texas. President Bush and Secretary Baker publicly agreed with her message.

I'm sure she'll also take the opportunity to remind the Congress of our major foreign policy priorities, which she's been talking about along the way over the last couple of weeks.

QUESTION: Do you think Bush and Baker will be persuasive with the Republicans in Congress? Jesse Helms said he respected her views, but making it very clear that he won't be deterred in trying to streamline, as it puts it, spending. Not giving you more money; giving you less.

MR. BURNS: Secretary Albright's major message in Houston for the two days was on these issues: Chemical Weapons Convention, resources, money for American diplomacy, we need to have a bipartisan base. Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to work together. But it was very helpful to see a former Republican President, a former Republican Secretary of State, both of whom are very respected people in our society, who were very successful in their own foreign policy over four years -- to see them come out so unreservedly and so strongly for Secretary Albright's position and the President's position on these particular issues.

She came back encouraged that Republicans and Democrats can work together. There was an editorial in The New York Times this morning that strongly supported this position, that there should be bipartisan support for the Chemical Weapons Convention. So she is encouraged.

As you know, she had a round of appointments on Capitol Hill last week. She'll continue that this week. In addition to the testimony, she will be talking to individual members of Congress this week. When she gets back from her trip on the 25th of February, she'll resume that. This is a major priority for the Secretary, and she's working hard on that.

QUESTION: There was a letter in The New York Times yesterday, signed by Caspar Weinberger, Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Doug Feith, who worked chemical weapons at the Pentagon, urging the Administration to please stop wrapping the Reagan Administration in with the Chemical Weapons Convention. It was an entirely different approach, and that the former President would never have agreed to something like this, because according to them you've already acknowledged or conceded that you will not punish -- have no way of finding out if there are violations nor doing anything about it.

Without this becoming an arms control seminar, is the Administration still confident that this is a Reagan Administration initiative?

MR. BURNS: It's interesting. I think there's a little rewriting of history going on here. It was Vice President George Bush that led the way to prepare the United States for these negotiations. At the time, you and I remember, there was a division in the Reagan Administration. Vice President Bush, I think, led the successful effort to commit the Reagan Administration to the negotiations, number one.

Number two, President Bush and Secretary Baker negotiated it, and Secretary Eagleburger signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in January of '93. Maybe the losers in the intramural squabbling back ten years ago are trying to rewrite history, but I wouldn't be fooled by that, because I think that President Bush has spoken very clearly. He spoke from his driveway in Houston, Texas, on Saturday morning about how important it is that Republicans and Democrats unite on this issue.

By the way, I mean, looking at a native Texan here -- Sid -- we were really gratified by the graciousness of our reception in Houston. It was quite extraordinary. Secretary Albright bought a Stetson. She went to a Tex-Mex restaurant. She joined a couple of us who are here today at the restaurant, and it was a very successful visit.

QUESTION: Are you suggesting one of us --

MR. BURNS: No, I'm congratulating -- Sid's got his cowboy boots on. I'm congratulating him for --

QUESTION: He's a Dallas person.

MR. BURNS: I was impressed. We were all impressed, and Dallas, Houston -- you know.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

MR. BURNS: We thought it was great.

QUESTION: On the Chemical Weapons --

MR. BURNS: It was a great reception.

QUESTION: On Chemical Weapons, Nick, could --

QUESTION: May I go back to the testimony, too?

MR. BURNS: Yes, let's stay on Chemical Weapons.

QUESTION: Is there any plan -- does the Secretary have any plans to meet with Senator Lott, Mr. Helms' boss, regarding the scheduling of a vote?

MR. BURNS: The Administration has already been in touch with Senator Lott -- who's boss?

QUESTION: In theory -- his leader. His leader. Mr. Helms' leader, I should say. Let me amend my first statement.

MR. BURNS: We've already been in touch with Senator Lott about our concerns on this issue, and I'm sure we'll l continue to be. I know that Sandy Berger went up a couple of weeks back for a meeting with Senator Lott, and we have great respect for him. We have great respect for Senator Helms, and we'll continue to be in contact with both of them on this issue and others.

QUESTION: Have you heard anything back regarding the scheduling of a vote?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of a scheduled vote on this issue. It's a major legislative priority which the Secretary of State is going to follow up on quite vigorously. You should have been in Texas with us. We had a great time.

QUESTION: We got a call from several clients in Texas this morning. The people of Texas were wondering why Secretary Albright did not ride the mechanical bull. (Laughter)

MR. BURNS: Let me report to you. David Ensor was at the Tex-Mex place. We didn't see any mechanical bull, and, if one had been there, we would have journalists test ride it, and then we would have considered it very seriously. But there wasn't a bull there. It was a great stop. We enjoyed it. We saw the Astrodome.

QUESTION: Going back to the House testimony. Since she is Tuesday and Wednesday before a House committee that won't have anything to do with the Chemical Weapons, what exactly is -- can you give us anything new she might be saying in her testimony? Any other preview?

MR. BURNS: I think you all want to be a little bit surprised tomorrow. She's going to be arguing for the budget, for the foreign affairs budget. She'll be responding to questions from members of the House of Representatives. This is fairly straightforward. They can ask anything. So I don't want to get ahead of the Secretary, and she's preparing her testimony. She's going to be meeting, in fact, right now to go over it, and I need to get upstairs to be with her to do that.

QUESTION: In other words as you sort of led into it. In other words, will she be using the Texas trip to sort of say we should be working together?

MR. BURNS: Oh, I think very clearly she was gratified by the message from Texas, which is Republicans support these initiatives, as well as Democrats.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:03 p.m.)



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