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USIA - State Department Report, 97-02-11

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

From: The United States Information Agency (USIA) Gopher at <gopher://gopher.usia.gov>


REPORT ON STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, TUESDAY, FEB. 11

(Georgian diplomat, Iraq, Turkey, DPRK) (780)

There was no regular briefing, but State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns did speak on-the-record with reporters. No transcript is available of this briefing.

GEORGIAN DIPLOMAT -- Burns reported that the State Department received a letter February 10 from the U.S. Attorney's Office seeking State's assistance in obtaining a formal waiver of diplomatic immunity for Gueorgui Makharadze, the Georgian diplomat who is accused of causing a traffic accident that killed a 16-year-old girl in Washington D.C. on January 4.

According to Burns, the State Department has informed the Georgian government of the specific charges the U.S. Attorney intends to bring against Makharadze. Burns would not discuss what those charges are, although in previous briefings he had said they could range from negligent homicide to second degree murder.

The State Department has also asked the Georgian government to formally waive Makharadze's diplomatic immunity. Burns noted that the Georgian government on February 11 reaffirmed its "intention" to waive Makharadze's diplomatic immunity; a formal reply is expected within a few days.

Burns said that if the Georgian government does formally agree to waive Makharadze's diplomatic immunity, then the U.S. Attorney will file formal charges, and normal procedures under U.S. law will be followed.

IRAQ -- Burns noted that Iraq's envoy to the United Nations has complained that the United Nations is not implementing U.N. Resolution 986 quickly enough and, as a result, is imposing undue hardships on the people of Iraq. U.N. Resolution 986 -- known as the "food for oil" program -- would allow Iraq to sell limited amounts of its oil on the international market on the condition that the proceeds be used for humanitarian assistance for Iraqi citizens.

Burns acknowledged that the resolution is, indeed, being delayed for one reason: "The Iraqis are dragging their feet. Most notably, the Iraqis are delaying access to transportation and communications by U.N. monitors. And they're denying U.N. monitors the full freedom of movement that the United Nations was promised....

"We have a Memorandum of Understanding between Iraq and the United Nations which details specifically the support the U.N. monitors must have to do their job," Burns explained. "The conditions are not being met by the Iraqi government. If anyone is to blame for U.N. Resolution 986 slowness, it is the Iraqi government."

TURKEY -- Burns refuted Turkish press reports that say an unnamed State Department official has predicted that Turkey will be "kicked out of NATO" if Turkey continues to threaten to veto NATO expansion if Turkey does not gain full access to the European Union.

NATO expansion is going forward as planned this July, Burns said, "because the Turkish government has formally, on every occasion, voted in the affirmative for the NATO enlargement plans. The Turkish government has never come to us officially and said that it will not support the NATO enlargement plan or that it conditions its support on other issues."

Burns added that "it is not advisable for any NATO country to condition its acceptance of NATO enlargement on completely separate issues. And that's the firm view of the United States and other members of NATO."

DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA (DPRK) -- The World Food Program announced February 11 that it is seeking donations of 100,000 metric tons of food valued at about $41.6 million, Burns said. This food aid would be used to feed 1.7 million North Korean civilians, most especially an estimated 630,000 children under the age of 5, according to Burns.

"We understand that the World Food Program has limited its appeal to only a fraction of the total food shortfall of North Korea, because it wants to focus on meeting the immediate needs of targeted groups -- and they've targeted young children," Burns said. The United States believes the size of the appeal is within the capacity of the World Food Program to monitor effectively, he said.

The United States is "very seriously studying this request," Burns said, and any decision will be made "solely on a humanitarian basis." Burns predicted that a U.S. response would be made within a few days.

Burns noted that the United States contributed to the World Food Program $8.2 million in 1995 and $6.2 million in 1996. "We've responded to all the previous appeals. We do believe there is a food shortage in North Korea. We are very concerned by it. We believe this has led to a humanitarian crisis in North Korea," Burns said.

Burns added that the United States is consulting with the South Koreans on this issue.


From the United States Information Agency (USIA) Gopher at gopher://gopher.usia.gov


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