U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #34, 97-03-10
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, March 10, 1997
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
1.......Bosnian War Crimes Tribunal Opens
1-2.....Visit to Guatemala by Presidential Counselor Thomas McLarty
2-3.....Vice Minister Kim Gye Gwan Visit to Washington/Mtgs with US
Officials/Four-Party Talks/Location for Liaison Office
3-4.....US Diplomat Expelled for Spying
16-17...Church of Scientology Tax-Exempt Status in US/Secretary-FM Kinkel
Discuss Issue/German Position That Scientology Is Business
4-5.....Establishment of Diplomatic Relations/Libyan Support for
Terrorism/US Reward for PANAM #103 Bombing Suspects
5-6.....Senate Action on Chemical Weapons Convention/Rules of
Implementation/Secretary's Commitment to Ratification/Continuing
Talks with Congress
7.......Government-Rebel Agreement/US Urges Implementation/US Concerns for
Human Rights Situation/IMF-World Bank Team
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
8-9.....Israeli Redeployment Decision/Withdrawals Negotiated or Unilateral
Decision/Resignation of Palestinian Negotiator
9-10....Secretary-PM Netanyahu Discussions on Housing, Closing Palestinian
Offices, Redeployment/FM Levi Visit Postponed
10......Secretary's Travel to Region and Elsewhere
10-11...Deputy Secretary Talbott's Trip/Issues Discussed
11......Upcoming Clinton-Yeltsin Summit/START III Negotiations/NATO
12......FM Primakov Visit to US
12-13...Appointment of New Drug Czar/Congressional Opposition to
13,14...FBI Warnings to Members of Congress re Donations/Secretary's
13-14...Conversion of Long Beach Shipyard to Cargo Port
14......Navy Vessels Making Port Visits to Pearl Harbor & San Diego
14-15...Dalai Lama's Comments on Cultural Genocide in Tibet
15-16...US Position on Contacts with Iran
17......US Letter re EU Membership/Greek FM Comments That Turkey Belongs to
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, MARCH 10, 1997, 1:07 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. I've just got
a couple of announcements before we go to questions. The first is just to
note the fact that the International War Crimes Tribunal began today its
first trial for war crimes allegedly committed against Bosnian Serbs. Three
of the indictees on trial are Bosnian Muslims. The fourth is a Croatian.
Their trial today marks a significant step forward for the War Crimes
Tribunal. It says a lot about the impartiality of that Tribunal. It
also says a lot about the Bosnian Government's willingness to extradite
to The Hague, to transfer to The Hague, for prosecution its own citizens
who are Muslims. That stands in stark contrast to the attitude and behavior
of the Bosnian Serbs and, to a lesser extent, the Croatian Government which
by and large have failed to adhere to their Dayton commitments in turning
over indicted war criminals for prosecution at The Hague.
So we are watching this trial with great interest. I think it does say that
the process of justice is moving forward in Bosnia.
On a separate subject, we are issuing today a statement on Tajikistan. I
won't read the whole statement to you. It's available in the Press Room.
But essentially it says the following: The United States Government
welcomes the successful conclusion of the Moscow round of inter-Tajik talks
with the signing by the government and the opposition of a protocol on
This protocol essentially will lead the way for the integration into the
Tajik armed forces of the rebel military elements. That's a very significant
step forward. We hope to build trust and to bring back some stability to
Tajikistan which, in the last couple of months, has been a country racked
by hostage-taking and fighting and killing.
The United States Government supports the U.N.-sponsored peace process in
Tajikistan, and we commend, in particular, the U.N. Secretary General's
Special Representative -- a German citizen -- Gerd Merrem who led the way
and really showed excellent leadership in leading the way towards this
We call upon the Tajik Government and the opposition to implement the
accords in the same spirit of compromise in which they were signed.
I also want to just, lastly, refer you to a White House press release of
Friday, March 7. It concerns the trip to Guatemala of Mack McLarty, the
President's counselor, who is also our Special Envoy for the Americas.
He'll be visiting Guatemala on the 12th and 13th of March, this week, as
the United States representative to the Central American-United States
Trade and Investment Forum.
He's also going to be visiting a guerrilla demobilization camp in Guatemala
during his visit. Mack McLarty has been the point person for the Administration
for several years in Latin America on the Summit of the Americas. He has
represented us throughout the hemisphere at trade conferences and business
conferences, and I wanted to draw this to your attention. It's a particular
QUESTION: I understand the North Korean chief delegate to the talks last
week came to Washington. What do you know about that?
MR. BURNS: Kim Gye Gwan was the North Korean Vice Minister who represented
North Korea last week at the talks with the United States and South Korea
in New York on the Four-Party proposal.
We have given permission for him to visit Washington. This is an unofficial
visit. He will not be having official appointments while he's here. I
believe he does have some private appointments. He's a guest of the
Atlantic Council. I believe he'll be seeing some other individuals and
organizations privately this week.
So I wouldn't anticipate any kind of work with us. We spent a lot of time
with him last week, as you know, on Wednesday in the trilateral meeting and
on Friday, in the bilateral meeting with the United States.
QUESTION: Did he ask to see any U.S. officials on his visit?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. He had many, many hours of discussions
with Chuck Kartman last week. In fact, on Friday, they spent the entire day
together. So I don't believe there's any need for that. He's accompanied by
a small group of North Korean officials. He will be seeing private
individuals here in Washington.
This has happened before. Last year, a Vice Foreign Minister of North Korea,
Kim Jong U, visited Washington. At that time, he did have official meetings
at the State Department. But since we've just concluded those meetings in
New York, we felt no need to have them here at the Department.
QUESTION: Nick, two questions. Will he be looking at real estate for the
MR. BURNS: That's certainly a possibility. I think you'll have to ask the
North Koreans. As you know, we have not yet agreed on the establishment of
Liaison Offices. Further work needs to be done in our relationship and on
that issue before we can take the step.
Obviously, the North Koreans are free to scout out real estate in the
Washington area if they'd like to do that.
QUESTION: Presumably, if you had gotten a firm, formal answer from the
North Koreans on the Four-Party Talks, you would have announced that,
MR. BURNS: Yes. I don't believe we've heard back. In fact, I think it was
our very strong impression from the meetings in New York that Kim Gye Gwan
needed to return to Pyongyang to brief his superiors. Then, we hope that
the North Koreans will provide a satisfactory response which would be, in
our view, an agreement by the North Koreans to join China, the Republic of
Korea, and the United States in the Four-Party talks themselves.
QUESTION: Did you say he was a Vice Foreign Minister?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: On another subject? Do you have anything to say about the
report of an American diplomat being recalled or at least kicked out of
MR. BURNS: The reports that were in the newspapers over the weekend. Yes.
Yes, right, I remember something about those reports.
You know, Jim, it's not our policy to comment on any stories that involved
even the allegation of intelligence activities. I would simply note that we
have a very broad, very successful political relationship with Germany. We
have a military alliance with Germany and NATO. We have an intelligence and
security relationship with Germany. We hope very much that we'll be able to
take steps to promote that relationship in all of its dimensions and to
ensure that the relationship -- the positive relationship -- continues.
QUESTION: Perhaps we can try this a little differently.
MR. BURNS: I thought Jim was very clear in his question, Carol.
QUESTION: Well, I'm trying to get away from the intelligence word which
offends you so, or --
MR. BURNS: It's deeply offensive to me.
QUESTION: Is there an American diplomat -- was there an American diplomat
in Germany who is no longer there? Are you one less staffer?
MR. BURNS: Carol, it's a unique way of asking the question. Carol, I just
have nothing for you on that.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. Government have any plans to invite some German
diplomat to leave?
MR. BURNS: I don't know why you would even raise a question like that
when I've just finished saying that we have a very good intelligence and
security relationship with Germany. We are committed to maintaining the
positive nature of that relationship.
QUESTION: Do you have any (inaudible) diplomatic ties between the Vatican
MR. BURNS: You're trying to get me into trouble today, I can tell. We're
starting off badly this week. I have guidance someplace on that.
All I can say is, we did receive an indication from the United States
Mission to the Vatican which is led by, as you know, the former Mayor of
Boston, Ray Flynn. Just to put in a plug for Boston.
We received an indication that the Vatican did, in fact, establish
diplomatic relations with Libya today. The Vatican does intend to have a
diplomatic representative in Tripoli.
As we have said before many times, the United States does not approve of
anyone establishing diplomatic relations with Libya. We don't believe that
Libya, as a government, that one can do business with cooperatively. I
suppose if this going to happen -- it looks like it's going to happen -- we
hope very much that in conversations that Vatican officials may have with
Libyan Government officials, they concentrate on Libya's support for
terrorism; Libya's opposition to the peace process, and the fact that
we believe very strongly that there are two people in Libya who are
suspects in the bombing of Pan Am 103.
The United States has placed a $4 million offer to anyone worldwide who can
help us find those two individuals and to bring them to justice. So that's
our agenda with Libya. But I don't want to -- I feel compelled to repeat
something I said before here, and that is that I don't want to have you
infer any criticism of His Holiness, Pope John Paul, II in these comments;
because, as I said before, there are special pressures on me -- namely, my
mother -- to make sure that doesn't happen.
QUESTION: There's a certain nuance in the way you phrase this, having
nothing to do with the Vatican but having to do with the two men. You refer
to them as "suspects." In the past, you've not even used that word.
MR. BURNS: I'm being technically correct here. We do believe in due
process. So, obviously, we can't say that they are guilty until they
receive a trial. But they're the leading suspects. Frankly, we have very
little doubt in our minds, after the voluminous research that has been done
in this case, that these two individuals are the leading suspects for who
placed the bomb inside the cassette recorder that blew up Pan Am 103 and
killed 269 people.
What we are asking the Libyan Government to do is to make these two
individuals, whose likenesses are on a poster in our Press Office here,
available to us for trial in the United States or the United Kingdom so
that justice can be done 8-1/2 years after that airplane was brought down.
Very little doubt in our mind they're the leading suspects, and that's why
we've offered $4 million to anyone who can help us apprehend them.
QUESTION: Nick, is this tantamount to a recognition of the Qadhafi regime
-- this recognition by the Vatican?
MR. BURNS: I believe the Vatican established diplomatic relations today.
The Vatican went public with that today. Our view is that we think that
countries ought to maintain diplomatic isolation of Libya. We don't agree
that it's possible to have normal relations with Libya, with all due
respect to the Vatican -- not to Libya -- because of Libya's policies which
are so much at odds with all of us believe -- all of us in the West
QUESTION: Would it be fair to say that the United States Government is
disappointed in the recognition by the Vatican of a terrorist organization?
MR. BURNS: Bill, I've chosen my words carefully today in responding to
this development. I'm going to stand by those words. We've told the Vatican
that we do not agree with this decision.
QUESTION: Are you disappointed?
MR. BURNS: -- and we will continue to say that. We hope very much that
anyone who happens to talk to Muammar Qadhafi or his colleagues will raise
this Pan Am 103 issue. We can't forget the 269 people who were killed; 8-
1/2 years later, we simply can't forget. We need to press forward with that
because there are American families and families all around the world who
are wondering when justice is going to be done.
The United States and the United Kingdom are ready to help serve the cause
of justice if these two people can be delivered to us.
QUESTION: A different subject. Senator Helms seems to have dug in his
heels on the chemical weapons treaty. I wondered what your reaction to that
is, and what new initiatives or potential the Secretary might see in being
able to get this treaty through the Senate?
MR. BURNS: We obviously heard Senator Helms; read about his remarks over
the weekend. We are going to continue our efforts on a priority basis to
convince the Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention by April 29.
If we don't ratify, if the United States does not ratify by the 29th of
April, we will not participate in the committee that draws up the rules of
implementation for the Chemical Weapons Convention.
What position will that leave us in? We are a country that's already said,
we're doing away with our own chemical weapon stocks. We know that there
are other countries in the world that have them.
What we'd like to do is have an international convention that places limits
on those countries. You'd think that the United States would want to be
part of that. We must be part of that. If we're not part of it, we leave
ourselves defenseless, with no way to help write the rules of implementation.
So that's the strategic argument for the CWC.
The tactical question that you ask is, what's going to happen on Capitol
Hill. We've made this a priority and we'll continue to follow it as a
priority and raise it in every session with members of the Senate.
QUESTION: I just wondered. The Secretary herself has made this a priority
and said it was one of the first things she wanted to get done. I wondered
whether she felt any personal disappointment that she seems not had much
influence so far?
MR. BURNS: The game is not over yet. Don't count us out. A lot of times
in debates like this, it does go down to the wire. It wouldn't surprise us
at all to see this go down to the wire.
We're going to maintain this issue as one of our most important Congressional
issues; in fact, one of our most important foreign policy issues in 1997.
We'll continue to try to convince the Senate this is the way forward. There
are Republicans as well as Democrats who support the CWC. We'll rely upon
them to see this through to ratification.
QUESTION: Are you prepared to consider any of the changes that Helms is
MR. BURNS: We're prepared to continue to talk to the Congress, obviously.
The Congress has a very serious responsibility. No one in the Administration
is trying to deny the Congress that right -- the Senate -- and that is to
ratify a treaty which, in this case, was negotiated and signed by the Bush
Administration. It was negotiated by Secretary Baker, signed by Secretary
Eagleburger, supported by President Reagan as well as President Bush.
I think it's important to determine the historical roots of this treaty.
It's bipartisan. It's good for the United States. Again, Carol, we're
giving up our chemical weapons, as Secretary Cohen said on television
yesterday. It's not as if by refusing to ratify we're going to be better
off. We're not going to be better off. By refusing to ratify, we won't have
chemical weapons ourselves. We won't be able to influence the international
debate to limit countries that do have them.
By ratifying, we can become part of the regime that constrains those
remaining countries that want to have a chemical weapons capability. That's
a very important influence that we want to have in our foreign policy
QUESTION: Nick, President Berisha has done a lot of the things you've
recommended, like opening up a dialogue with his opposition, meeting with
all these foreign envoys who come to Tirana. What would you suggest now,
considering he's losing lots of towns in southern Albania?
MR. BURNS: We join our European partners in welcoming the agreement
between President Berisha and the opposition in Albania, and that agreement
is to establish a broad-based coalition government to hold new parliamentary
elections in June, and we're very pleased that former Chancellor Vranitsky
was able to lead the OSCE mission to Tirana on Saturday. He was joined by
Congressman Eliot Engel as the American representative.
We now strongly urge all parties in Albania to implement this agreement, to
implement the amnesty, the cease-fire and to work towards a formation of
the new government. We do remain concerned about the human rights situation
in Albania, and we urge all parties -- the government and the opposition --
to assure respect for human and political rights of all Albanians,
including the right to free speech.
In this connection, we were encouraged by the apparent decision of
President Berisha today to begin to lift the state of emergency which was
imposed, and we hope that leads very quickly to a rapid removal of the
censorship provisions put in place by the Albanian Government just last
We have stated before, and I think all of our European allies agree, that
violence has no place in the political process and the democratic process.
Therefore, we urge the opposition forces, particularly those in the
southern part of Albania, to take advantage of this agreement to lay down
their arms and to work within the democratic process to pursue their
We are mindful of the fact that this crisis was produced by an overwhelming
economic crisis produced by the pyramid and Ponzi schemes that were
prevalent in Albania. There is a World Bank/IMF decision to send a joint
World Bank/IMF team to Albania to being to work with the government and the
opposition and the citizenry as a whole to understand what happened; to try
to prevent the re-emergence of pyramid and Ponzi schemes in the future and
make the banking system a free banking system that is not encumbered
by these illegal schemes.
That IMF/World Bank team has been prevented from arriving because of the
fighting and the political turmoil, and we hope that as a result of the
agreement over the weekend to establish a broad-based coalition government
that the World Bank and IMF team might arrive, and we fully support
In the process, I would just add one further point. As we urge the
opposition to lay down its arms and to cease its fire and rebellion against
the government and to join the government now in a broad-based coalition,
we also urge the Albanian army and police to observe the cease-fire and to
exercise maximum restraint in dealing with individuals in the southern and
northern parts of the country.
QUESTION: There have been, I guess, a variety of reactions to Israeli's
redeployment decision last week. There's been violence in Hebron. The
Palestinian negotiator has apparently submitted his resignation, and a
senior Israeli official is saying the U.S. is going to have to step in. (A)
can you react to all of this, and (B) does the U.S. have any plans to step
MR. BURNS: I don't want to say too much about the Middle East today,
because the President's going to have a press conference in about an hour
or hour-and-a-half with President Mubarak, but I think the American
position here is well-known. The Israeli redeployment decision represents
an expansion of Palestinian authority. Therefore, we hope that this phase
of redeployment will be carried out as soon as possible, and we expect that
the Israelis will do more in the second and the third phases of their
redeployment on the West Bank.
QUESTION: Another issue. Mexico has appointed today a new drug czar --
MR. BURNS: We have a follow-up on the Middle East, and then I'll be glad
to go to your question.
QUESTION: It may be a legalistic point, but Arafat and his people are
claiming that according to the American letter of assurances, withdrawals
would be negotiated and not be a unilateral Israeli decision. Is that
indeed the case?
MR. BURNS: In this case, the Israeli Government -- the Israeli Cabinet
made the decision as to the percentage figure -- the lower nine percent --
of the redeployment around -- I guess it was around Jenin and Bethlehem and
a couple of other towns. So the Cabinet clearly made that decision.
The Palestinians and Israelis have a forum. In fact, they met yesterday
when David Levi met with Saeb Erakat. They have a way to discuss any
unhappiness, any differences or points of view, and I think I'm going to
leave it to them to try to sort this one out, because we find in our
stewardship of the Middle East peace negotiations, that's the best way.
When there are questions like this, let the Palestinians and Israelis
QUESTION: According to the original agreement, would these consultations
take place before the decision, or would it be a unilateral decision which
would then be discussed between the two of them?
MR. BURNS: I think the Palestinians and Israelis are discussing just that
question, Jim -- whether or not there should be consultations, what kind of
consultations. They both have strong views. I think it's best to let them
continue to discuss that without injecting the United States into that
QUESTION: But, Nick, there's an American side letter that came out of the
Hebron negotiations, and a call from Dennis Ross to the Cabinet saying that
Israel has the right unilaterally to decide the extent of its withdrawal.
Do you deny that -- any of that?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I'm just saying, I'm very well aware of what the Hebron
agreement entails and what the side letters talk about, as are you, because
some of those side letters were published by the Israeli Government. So I
don't believe it's necessary to go into that question.
I am just saying tactically that it's best to let the Palestinians and
Israelis discuss this, as they did yesterday and as I'm sure they'll
continue to do. But the fact that the Israeli Cabinet made the decision,
designated a percentage which was a little over nine percent, is irrefutable.
They took that step.
QUESTION: What about the resignation of the negotiator?
MR. BURNS: Of the Palestinian negotiator?
MR. BURNS: All I can say is that we know that the Palestinians are
unhappy with this decision. We encourage them to work with the Israelis to
settle their differences on this and to continue to discuss their
differences, and hopefully they'll be able to move forward together.
We said very clearly last Thursday night and say again today that we
believe that this redeployment does expand the Palestinian Authority, which,
of course, that's the goal of this set of peace negotiations. We expect
that more will be done in the second and third phases. That's very
important. I want to remind you of that today.
QUESTION: Would you like to see more done in the first phase, say 10
percent instead of nine?
MR. BURNS: We already made our comment on the first phase last Thursday
night and Friday. The statute of limitations is up on that one. I can no
longer comment on that. We made our point of view clear, I think, in noting
that it expands authority, and we expect more to be done.
QUESTION: Can you also say anything more about the Secretary's direct
appeal to Netanyahu on the housing issue. You know, specifically what she
said and whether she's disappointed that in another case she's tried to use
her influence, and it hasn't worked?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary did have a very long telephone call with Prime
Minister Netanyahu last week, in which she raised with him a number of the
issues that we were working on in the wake of Chairman Arafat's visit here -
- the Jabal Abu Ghunnaim housing decision; the decision to announce the
threat to close the allegedly four Palestinian Authority offices in East
She raised them. They had a very full discussion of both issues. I don't
want to characterize the discussion beyond that for obvious reasons, but
the United States had a particular point of view on both issues, and she
represented that point of view in that phone conversation, as you would
QUESTION: What was the second telephone conversation then?
MR. BURNS: She had a number of them. She had one on Wednesday. This is
the long conversation on these issues. Then on Thursday, I believe she had
two or three conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but that
pertained to the redeployment -- the decision by the Israeli Cabinet to
redeploy at the slightly more than nine percent level. He was calling here
to inform him of the Cabinet decision on those occasions. She also talked
to Foreign Minister Levi at one point that day.
QUESTION: Did ask him at that time to go further with the redeployment or
that wasn't --
MR. BURNS: Again, I don't want to go into the specifics of the conversation
that she had. That should remain private, because it's part of our ongoing
negotiations and discussions with the Israelis. But I think the point of
view that she represented in that phone call reflected very faithfully what
you heard in public, and that is that the United States, of course, did
not believe that the timing of the East Jerusalem offices issue was
appropriate, certainly not in the wake of the very controversial decision
on Jabal Abu Ghunnaim -- and you know that the United States did not agree
with that decision.
QUESTION: Is she going to the Middle East in April?
MR. BURNS: She's made no plans for a Middle East trip. At some point
she'll go to the Middle East, but we need to complete the round of meetings
here in Washington. His Majesty King Hussein will be visiting shortly, and
we would have that meeting. She has to go to Helsinki with the President.
She's got to go to Mexico City in April. So there are a number of things
she must do. At some point she'll go to the Middle East, but she hasn't
QUESTION: During those telephone conversations with the Prime Minister,
did she also ask him to cancel the visit of Foreign Minister Levi?
MR. BURNS: No, she did not.
QUESTION: Do you know why he has canceled his visit?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I understand that Foreign Minister Levi postponed his
visit to Washington because of pressing business in Israel.
QUESTION: So they postponed it?
MR. BURNS: That's right.
QUESTION: Can you say anything about Strobe Talbott's trip?
MR. BURNS: We'll get back to Mexico in a minute. Strobe Talbott's trip
QUESTION: Yes, to Moscow.
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to. He had an excellent trip. He was there with
the -- he did; he had an excellent trip.
MR. BURNS: You shouldn't find that surprising. He's a brilliant diplomat.
He usually has excellent trips when he goes overseas. He had an excellent
trip, and he was accompanied by Ambassador Jim Collins; by Lynn Davis, our
Under Secretary of State. They had talks with the Russians in Moscow on the
European security issues, NATO enlargement, NATO-Russia charter. They
talked about the CFE modification proposal, and there are some meetings
coming up in Brussels this week -- NATO and Russia -- to talk about
Russia's response to the NATO proposal on CFE modification.
They talked about START II, of course, and I hope it will be ratified by
the Russian Duma. ABM TMD came up. A number of issues came up, and Strobe
reported to the Secretary this morning that it was an excellent trip, and
that it had achieved its purposes. Now we have Foreign Minister Primakov
coming to Washington at the end of this week. He'll be seeing the Secretary
on Saturday, and then I think an appointment at the White House on
Monday. We hope that that visit by Foreign Minister Primakov will
essentially set the stage for Helsinki for the meetings on the 19th and
20th with President Yeltsin -- a very important trip.
QUESTION: Are you persuaded after those talks that Yeltsin and Clinton at
the summit will be able to put forward guidelines for START III negotiations?
MR. BURNS: It's very difficult to predict what will be accomplished by
way of concrete measures at Helsinki. You and I have seen a lot of these
summit meetings in the past. Part of the value of this particular summit
meeting is that President Clinton has not seen President Yeltsin since last
spring, because of the Russian elections and President Yeltsin's illnesses
and because of their respective travel schedules.
So first and foremost, it's an opportunity for them to get together again
personally, face to face, to talk about the whole expanse of issues between
the United States and Russia/NATO and Russia. I think the primary issue
will be the European security dialogue on NATO enlargement/NATO Russia.
I understand that Secretary General Solana had good talks yesterday. He was
in Bishkek today in the Kyrgyz Republic, and he was quoted as saying he had
excellent talks with Foreign Minister Primakov. He feels that the Russia-
NATO negotiations are moving in a positive direction. I'm sure that
President Clinton and Secretary Albright will want to move it further next
They'll certainly discuss START II and ABM and other issues. As to how much
progress this made, it's a little bit too early to tell. We have to see
first how Foreign Minister Primakov's visit to Washington goes. We'd like
to make some progress there to ensure the success of the Helsinki
QUESTION: For planning purposes, could you let us know, when you can, the
timing of the meeting with Primakov on Saturday and the press arrangements -
- whether or not we get to see them?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We've not yet talked to the Secretary about any possible
press arrangements. I don't know what she will want to do, but I'll
certainly get that to you before the end of the week.
QUESTION: Mexico today has appointed a new drug czar who already passed a
lie detector test. (Laughter) Do you have any comment on this, and has the
United States run a check on this new guy or asked for intelligence from
the United States to make sure everything is fine?
MR. BURNS: We note with great pleasure the appointment of the new drug
czar, Mr. Mariano Herran Salvatti this morning by President Zedillo. This
is obviously a step forward. It's been a difficult situation for President
Zedillo to have his former drug czar now under suspicion of work with the
cartel. This means that we can get back to business with Mexico on the
experts level to make sure that we're cooperating very closely with the
I know that Secretary Albright is looking forward to her visit to Mexico
City early in April, because this issue will be front and center, and we
stand by the decision, obviously, to have the United States certify Mexico.
We're very much opposed to the efforts in Congress to reverse that decision,
because we don't see how it helps the United States to walk away from
Mexico when both of us are together, working together, in a fight in the
drug wars -- in a fight to prevent drugs from coming into both of our
The United States welcomes the appointment of Mr. Salvatti. We look forward
to working with him. We obviously want to have the closest possible
relationship with him and with his colleagues so that we can win this war
in the fight against drugs.
QUESTION: You talked about opposition in Congress with regards to this
certification to Mexico. Do you think that making sure that Mr. Salvatti is
the right guy for the job would make people more -- I don't know -- more at
ease at Congress?
MR. BURNS: We hope that today's announcement will convince those in
Congress and those around the country and perhaps even in our own
hemisphere who have any doubts that President Zedillo's commitment to wage
the war against narcotics is genuine. We have absolute trust and confidence
in President Zedillo. He has chosen this man personally. It's obviously and
exceedingly important appointment in the wake of the resignation of Mr.
Salvatti's predecessor, and, therefore, we think it's a highly significant
appointment which ought to be welcomed by the detractors of our President's
policy. I think it strengthens the case of the Administration that we've
got to move forward with this certification decision and not change it and
continue our work with the Mexican Government to win this war against
QUESTION: About Mexico -- on Wednesday the House will vote to decertify
Mexico. A large number of Congress people will be voting against the
decision made by President Clinton. Do you know exactly what steps, for
instance, Secretary Albright is taking to make sure that the relationship
between Mexico and the United States is not at all soured, now that she's
going to Mexico and the President is going to Mexico?
MR. BURNS: This whole drug issue and the resignation of the former drug
czar has been a strain in U.S.-Mexican relations, but it's really because
of the quick action of President Zedillo that we now can move on. Secretary
Albright's going to be talking to members of Congress. The Administration
as a whole, from the President on down, is committed to convince the
Congress -- we want to convince the Congress that we should stick with
We do not see how it helps the United States to walk away from Mexico, when
their fight is our fight; when we have a common border; when we Americans
can't win the war on drugs by ourselves. We've got to rely on Mexico to
help us win this fight, and we just don't see any other alternative now
that President Zedillo has shown such resolute action in the appointment of
a drug czar. Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Yes, Bill, and then to Turkey.
QUESTION: A couple of questions, Nick. Diane Feinstein's revelations over
the weekend. What's the reaction of this Department to FBI-generated
information that the Chinese were attempting to influence the Congressional
elections, as they have also been working in our Executive Branch? And I
have a follow-up.
MR. BURNS: Bill, I just don't have much of a reaction at all. I think the
Secretary of State made a very strong, clear statement about this late last
week. The President has spoken about this -- spoke about it at his press
conference. I have nothing to add to the reports over the weekend.
QUESTION: Secondly, Nick, there's a deal reported that a Chinese shipping
conglomerate will take the naval shipyard in Long Beach, right in the very
heart of our defense establishment there, and convert it into some kind of
a cargo port. Is the State Department on board with this?
MR. BURNS: I know it's an issue that the Pentagon is looking into, and
I'd like to refer you to my good friend and colleague, Ken Bacon, to
respond to that question, because it is an issue that is directly in the
Pentagon's purview and not the State Department's. But you give me a chance
to say something that is both newsworthy and very important.
The People's Republic of China's navy -- navy vessels are making a port
visit to Pearl Harbor this week, March 9-13, and will to San Diego, March
21-25. These are destroyers and oilers. They're on a training course in the
Why is this significant? This is the first port visit by these types of
ships to the continental United States since the founding of the People's
Republic of China back in 1949. It's the first visit by Chinese naval
vessels of any kind to the United States since, I believe, a training ship
visited Pearl Harbor in April of 1989, shortly before the Tiananmen
This reflects the fact that during Defense Minister Chi Haotian's visit to
the United States last December, he and we agreed that we ought to re-
engage on a military-to-military relationship with the Chinese Government.
We ought to have dialogue among our officer corps, and, in fact, I believe
there are some Chinese officers flying up to Seattle from San Diego to have
a sit-down with their American naval officer counterparts. It reflects the
fact that we've got to engage with the Chinese militarily as well as
politically and economically. So symbolically, it's a very important
step forward for the United States and China, and it begins this week.
QUESTION: Can I ask just one follow up?
QUESTION: Was the Secretary aware of the FBI warnings to Congressmen and
women when she was in China, when she raised this issue?
MR. BURNS: The FBI warnings to Congress - I just don't know if she was or
not, Judd. She did say that she raised the issue in China with Qian Qichen,
and she was very clear in public about what their response was. Our view is
that there is a Justice Department investigation of this entire issue
underway, and therefore the appropriate place for questions, concerns,
comments, information is the Justice Department.
QUESTION: And then finally --
QUESTION: How many ships are there in this flotilla?
MR. BURNS: As I said, it's the destroyers Harbin and Zhuhai and the oiler
Nancang - three ships that are on a training course in the eastern Pacific,
and they will be in, again, Pearl Harbor from the 9th to 13th -- that's
right now, this week -- and then San Diego at our Naval base from the 21st
to the 25th. I understand that General Shalikashvili will be going out to
San Diego at some point for this visit. Again, very important symbolically
to note the re-emergence of a U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue.
QUESTION: Not to detract from this matter, but the Dalai Lama today, in a
human rights conference in Europe, announced, or proclaimed that the
Tibetan race was under cultural genocide by the PRC. I think that's forced
immigration, dilution of their population, and especially repression by the
PRC. Does the State Department have any comment on his statement?
MR. BURNS: We have great respect for the Dalai Lama. We have observed the
human rights situation in Tibet for a long time. We note our views on that
situation in our annual human rights report - the last one which was just
issued a couple of weeks back. I'd refer you to that, Bill. But we have
long-standing concerns about the repression of religious and cultural
rights of the people of Tibet.
QUESTION: Cultural genocide, does --
MR. BURNS: I did not used that word. We have long spoken out against the
repression -- the cultural and religious repression in Tibet by the Chinese
QUESTION: Were there post-Tiananmen Square sanctions imposed which would
have prohibited such visits?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe there were sanctions. I believe the Bush
Administration and, for a long time, the Clinton Administration just
followed a policy of no business-as-usual, no ship visits.
But as you know, we have a policy of engagement with China. We obviously
still have abiding concerns with what happened at Tiananmen. But we have a
policy of engagement which is political, economic, and military. So it's a
symbolic departure. It's an important symbolic departure.
I think that these visits were announced by the Pentagon back in December
when Chi Haotian was in the United States. I wanted to mention them today
because the visits are actually occurring at Pearl Harbor and will at San
Diego in just a couple of weeks.
QUESTION: Iranian Foreign Minister Velayati is in Turkey today and he's
on his way to Saudi Arabia very soon. What does the Administration think of
these contacts? What do you think of the fact that Tehran was chosen to be
the venue of the OSCE summit this year? And what would you react if King
Fahd decides to participate?
MR. BURNS: The United States does not believe that countries in the
Middle East or anywhere else in the world should engage in business-as-
usual diplomacy with the Iranian Government. That is a government which is
trying to build a nuclear and chemical weapons capability. It is directly
funding Hezbollah and Hamas and other terrorist groups. It's resolutely
opposed to the Middle East peace process.
It's not a government, we believe, that should be shown a great deal of
courtesy. That's our general reaction to the world tour of Mr. Velayati.
QUESTION: Nick, since relations with Germany are now so incredibly good,
would you still criticize the German Government for discriminating against
Scientologists after yesterday's report in the New York Times on the
unusual circumstances under which Scientology has gone to tax exempt status
by the IRS?
MR. BURNS: That was an interesting report in the New York Times. I read
it with great interest. It revealed a lot about the Church of Scientology.
I believe that the Church of Scientology's tax exempt status is secure and
there's not going to be an attempt by the Treasury Department to turn it
around. So that's a reality that is a factor in our view of the treatment
of Scientologists, but particularly American Scientologists who find
themselves in Germany.
The good news is that in her visit to Bonn, Secretary Albright had a very
constructive, cooperative discussion of this issue with Foreign Minister
Kinkel. You saw at the press conference in Bonn that he dealt with the
issue in a very clear way, as did she. We've not changed our policy and our
views on the situation of Scientologists in Germany. We certainly have a
very respectful, cooperative dialogue with the German Government and,
together, we have condemned those newspaper advertisements of the
Church of Scientology and their Hollywood mogul supporters which have
tried to compare the current situation of Scientologists to the situation
of the Jews in the early part of the Nazi regime -- the Adolph Hitler
The United States has taken the lead, outside of Germany, in defending the
German Government from those charges. I really think this is not an issue
that's going to have a negative effect on U.S.-German relations. We note
our concern. We will continue to watch the situation of Scientologists
because we have been concerned about it. But we're dealing with it in a way
that I think is satisfactory to both the German and American Governments.
QUESTION: Do you find it easier now to understand the German Government's
position that Scientology is not a church but rather a business enterprise?
And so the abuses of religious rights is not really the matter?
MR. BURNS: The difference here is that the United States Government does
accord tax exempt status on the par with other religions. Therefore, we
treat Scientology as a religion for the purposes of these human rights
I think a lot of us have always understood the German Government point of
view -- that given Germany's past, particularly the Nazi period in
Germany's history, Germany has a special sensitivity and Germany believes
it has a special responsibility to its own people on these issues, to
combat right-wing extremism, for instance; to combat some of the militia
groups and neo-Nazi groups that have arisen in Germany. We fully understand
that German concern.
We do have a difference of opinion on the issue of the Scientologists. We
remain concerned. But I do think we found a way to work with the Germans,
which is very important because we do have an excellent relationship with
QUESTION: There were stories in the German press today saying that the
State Department has written to all the U.S. Ambassadors in EU capitals to
campaign for Turkey's integration throughout the week before the EU Foreign
Ministers' meeting in Holland on the 15th, I believe. Is that the case? Was
there such a letter or cable?
MR. BURNS: I will have to check to see if there was what we call a
demarche cable that went out -- instruction cable -- to our embassies and
consulates to ask them to speak to host governments about a particular
I can only reconfirm to you what we said many times before. It is American
Government policy to try to promote the inclusion of Turkey into Western
institutions. That includes the European Union. We hope that the European
Union will remain open to eventual membership. In the short term, since
that is not likely to happen in the short term, we hope that the Customs
Union will stay together and that the European Union can find additional
ways to send positive signals to Turkey.
Some of the signals that were sent last week were not so positive. Turkey
needs to be assured by its Western counterparts that it is welcome in
Europe and North America. All of us need to send those positive signals.
QUESTION: Can you take the question on the specific cable, though?
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to take that question.
QUESTION: In that context, how do you feel about Foreign Minister
Pangalos' comment last week that Turkey belongs to Europe?
MR. BURNS: We agree with that comment. We thought it was a statesmanlike
comment that showed great sensitivity on the part of a Greek official to
Turkey's place in Europe. Foreign Minister Pangalos was a very tough
defender of Greek national interests in the meeting with Secretary Albright,
as he always is. But we thought that was statesmanship, and we commend him
on that comment.
Thank you very much.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:52 p.m.)