U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #85, 97-06-05
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
Thursday, June 5, 1997
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
1 Welcome to Visitors
Secretary Albright's Activities:
1-5 --Harvard Commencement Address
7-9 --Mtg. w/FM Kasoulides of Cyprus on 6/6/Photo Op
5-7,14-15 Ambassador Richardson's Trip to DRoCongo
8-10 U.S. Position on Division/Reunification of Island
10 Reaction to Appointment of Ambassador Holbrooke as Special
12 Car Bomb Incident
12 Statements from Khatemi Press Conference
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
12-13 Palestinian Review Conference-Mtg. of Ad Hoc Liaison Group
13 Economic Assistance Programs to Palestinians
13-14 Letter from Secretary Albright to Gilman/Helms
14 Netanyahu Statement to Knesset re: Israeli plan for West Bank
15,-16,20 Food Situation
16 Reports of Suspension of Cargill Trade Deal
16-17 Encounter of DPRK/ROK Naval Vessels
17 Reports of Hwang Jang-yop's Statement on Nuclear Weapons
20 Trilateral Talks in NY
17 Report of Primakov Statement on Removal of Warheads from
Missiles in Silos
17-19 Pacific Salmon Dispute/Prospects for Resumption of Talks
19 Issue of Al-Sayegh Deportation
19 Reports of Bombings in Havana Hotels
21 Progress Toward Normalization of Economic Relationship
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 1997 1:24 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Should we wait till the game is over?
QUESTION: No, it's over.
MR. BURNS: Further gambling in the State Department, liar's poker.
QUESTION: I keep lying.
MR. BURNS: Well, that never happens from up here, Barry.
QUESTION: It doesn't?
MR. BURNS: No. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the State Department. I
want to welcome journalists from Bosnia who are here today. I think you're
seated over here. Welcome; thank you very much for coming. You are free to
ask questions if you would like. You don't have to be just guests.
I would also like to introduce Tim Jenkins, who is an intern this summer in
our Press Office. Tim is from Wesleyan University. He is a government
international affairs major. He is the student body vice president. We are
delighted to have Tim with us.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at
the Harvard commencement. At about 3:15 p.m. she is going to be making the
commencement address. That address is available to all of you on an
embargoed basis. We have got it in the Press Office. If you would like to
read it, we can give it to you after the briefing, but it is embargoed.
That means that you cannot file a report on it until 3:15 p.m. today. If
you do, you will be subjected to unusually harsh punishment. We can be very
creative in our punishment. We may force you to listen to an oral
recitation of all of our diplomatic This Day in Diplomacy dispatches.
We may also force you to enter the North Korean Government web site and to
reach the combined speeches of all the great leaders. So beware. There is
going to be formidable punishment for anyone who violates this.
QUESTION: On a serious note --
MR. BURNS: That was a serious note, Jim.
QUESTION: When you say, you can't file -- generally an embargo, in terms
of the wire service, means you can file but it's on hold-for-release
MR. BURNS: It can't be released publicly.
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, okay.
MR. BURNS: It can't be read by innocent civilians --
QUESTION: Earlier --
MR. BURNS: -- before 3:15 p.m.
QUESTION: Earlier wire movement is generally accepted.
MR. BURNS: You mean to your home office?
QUESTION: Yes - no, on the wires, but with an embargo.
MR. BURNS: As long as someone - it can't be read by consumers. Right?
QUESTION: It cant' be published.
MR. BURNS: Right. It can't be published.
QUESTION: It can't be published, yeah.
MR. BURNS: Right.
QUESTION: But it can be moved on the wires.
MR. BURNS: You can write your story.
QUESTION: It may not be published after the embargo.
MR. BURNS: Actually, it's a very interesting speech. I think for those of
you who have not read it, I would commend it to you because it is a speech
that talks about the nature of American leadership. It talks about
Marshall's time, 50 years ago today, when Secretary Marshall made his great
and famous speech.
It talks about our own time and how the United States still must play the
leading role in world affairs, why we must do so. It calls on the students
to remember the sacrifices of the Second World War and the World War II
generation -- the generation that came after the war that built the
institutions that provided the peace. So it's a very important speech.
A lot of it is quite personal, as well. If you read, especially the second
half, it draws on the Secretary's own experiences as a child in London
during the Blitz, as a victim of both Hitler and Stalin. Her family was a
victim. It talks about her father and the role that he played in the Czech
foreign ministry before the communists took over Czechoslovakia.
It tries to draw some lessons for the Harvard students and for people
everywhere about how the United States should respond now at the end of our
own century to the importance of being the indispensable nation, of being a
QUESTION: In the speech, the familiar caveat that the U.S. can't be the
world's policeman -- there doesn't seem to be any area of the world from
the speech that wouldn't benefit from an active U.S. foreign policy. Would
you say the second administration is embarked on a more interventionist or
activist role than the first administration?
MR. BURNS: I think the Secretary and certainly --
QUESTION: I think so You may make the judgment that I'm wrong but, I mean,
what does the U.S. Government think?
MR. BURNS: I think Secretary Albright, is very well aware and mindful of
the fact that the United States can not intervene everywhere in the world.
But she believes very strongly in the power of the United States and in our
ability to do good things and play a useful, positive role in the world.
She draws on that. I think she concludes that, based on her own life
experience. This is the country that gave her personal refuge and gave
her family refuge, and she thinks that the United States ought to
be as active as we can.
The best example I can think of, especially for our visitors from Bosnia,
is the Secretary's trip where she told it like it was. She said she was
disgusted by the actions of the Croatian Government and treatment of the
Serb minorities. She called upon Milosevic to end his illusions. You know,
Milosevic told the Secretary, seriously, in the private meeting that Serbia
had the fastest growing economy in Europe and that Serbian people were
enjoying these riches from economic growth which is, as you know,
So I think the Secretary has tried to bring to some of these questions
energy and also commitment and candor in describing problems as they really
are. That doesn't mean we are going to be intervening in every part of the
world. In some conflicts, for instance, the conflict in Sierra Leone right
now, the United States chooses not to intervene militarily because there
are others in that region -- West African states -- who we think have a
greater interest and a greater ability to try to see the restoration of the
civilian government. So we have to pick and choose where we intervene,
QUESTION: No, just there's some thoughts, additional experiences of U.S.
intervention that didn't turn out all that happy. Vietnam would be one
example, possibly. The Mexican War, looking for a fight. I'm sure that's no
MR. BURNS: The Mexican War?
QUESTION: Yeah, the Mexican War.
MR. BURNS: Of 1846?
QUESTION: Yes, where we seized - and the Spanish American War.
MR. BURNS: Well, that turned out quite well for the United States.
QUESTION: Oh, sure, we picked up some land. Yeah, I know.
MR. BURNS: I don't think that the residents of Arizona and California
would rue the day that we actually brought democracy to - you know,
QUESTION: It would be called imperialism today.
MR. BURNS: Well, I wouldn't agree with that.
QUESTION: In any event, without - well, let's say you acquire land, you
conquer other countries. But in any event --
MR. BURNS: I've never debated the Mexican War before.
QUESTION: What happened to the Tarnoff Doctrine?
MR. BURNS: I've got further announcements to make.
QUESTION: Would you like to try the Spanish American War?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Would you like to try the Spanish American? I'm just saying
there have been times when American power has been projected unwisely, but
there is nothing in that speech that suggests a sense of restraint. It's
MR. BURNS: There's nothing in the speech where the Secretary of State
suggests that we ought to embark on colonial wars, right. But if you want
to debate American diplomatic history, I would not say that the Spanish
American War and the Mexican War are bad examples.
MR. BURNS: No, I would not say that, Barry. But we can continue this
however you would like.
QUESTION: What happened to the Tarnoff Doctrine?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: What happened to the Tarnoff Doctrine?
MR. BURNS: I think you should judge President Clinton and Secretary
Christopher and Secretary Albright on their record. I can point to one very
useful intervention of American troops -- Bosnia, where the war would have
gone on and the Serbs might have won the war -- the Bosnia Serbs -- had the
United States and NATO not stopped them in the first half of September,
QUESTION: A little late, but they got there.
MR. BURNS: You can argue that question, Barry, but I don't think you
should be unduly cynical.
QUESTION: No, no, I say I was looking at the --
MR. BURNS: The fact is, we stopped the war. We stopped the war and
Secretary Christopher and Dick Holbrooke won a peace at Dayton. The peace
is incomplete, but the people of the region are far better off than they
were two years ago today. No question about it. Now I have other announcements
MR. BURNS: Then we can debate more history.
MR. BURNS: My announcement is that Ambassador Bill Richardson leaves
tonight for the Congo. He leaves as head of an interagency delegation at
the request of Secretary Albright. That delegation will include Congresswoman
Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. They plan to meet with President Laurent
Kabila in Lubumbashi on Saturday. They will be meeting with other
government officials of the Congo. I expect Ambassador Richardson will want
to talk to the UNHCR and the International Committee on the Red Cross on
Now, let me tell you why he is going and what he hopes to do. He is going
to engage the new leadership of the Congo to see if we can make our views
known to that government very directly and at a very senior level -- he is
a member of the Cabinet -- and to press the following points.
First, the United States believes that the new government ought to aim
itself at an inclusive political system. That means a political system that
will produce democratic institutions, that will be broad-based; a
government that will include members of the opposition, which the current
government does; a government that will be devoted to heading the country
and orienting it towards elections; and a government that will respect the
civil liberties of the people, press freedoms and religious freedoms, that
will be tolerant of other ethnic minorities. In Zaire, there are several
hundred of them -- ethnic minorities.
Second, a government that will be devoted to a liberal economy, a free
economy, and an economy that will be open to Western investment, including,
we hope, American investment.
Third, a government that will put human rights at the forefront of its
agenda. There have been many very serious allegations made about reported
alleged human rights abuses, massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees near
Kisangani. We believe very strongly that the United Nations should be let
into Kisangani to interview the refugees, to interview the rebel forces
that were there, and to try to find out what happened and to try to help
the government of the Congo bring those people to justice who were
responsible for the massacres.
Fourth, we hope that the new government will be open to continued
humanitarian assistance by the United Nations, the International Committee
on the Red Cross, American and European and African non-governmental
organizations. The people of the Congo are desperately poor. They are in
need of medical assistance and food assistance and development assistance.
We would like to see the new government of the Congo open to a cooperative
relationship with the international humanitarian organizations.
Those are some of the issues that Bill Richardson will be raising on this
very important trip. Now, he may go on to other countries in the region. He
does not have an endpoint to the trip yet. I will keep you informed as soon
as he makes those decisions. He hasn't made them yet. But the focus will be
on meeting with Laurent Kabila.
QUESTION: Are the promises of assistance conditional on meeting the other
MR. BURNS: I think we have always said, the United States, and I know
that other countries, are quite willing to help the government of the
Congo. However, we are going to need to be assured that it is a government
that is interested in a democratic evolution for the Congo and economic
reform, a government that will pay attention to the human rights problem.
If we can be assured of that, then I think that the United States will be
ready to extend economic assistance to the Congo. We have not yet
communicated any specific numbers to them, and will not be making any
ironclad promises, until we have a greater perspective to see the
performance of this particular government.
QUESTION: Remember the dangling of promises of help with the elections
which, it was a rather large figure that he said was insufficient,
according to some accounts within the government. Are you going to whisper
an amount in his ear that won't be an ironclad guarantee but give him an
idea of the proportions of aid that he might expect?
MR. BURNS: I think it will certainly be put before him the clear
understanding that the United States, the international development
institutions and other countries are going to be ready to help the Congo.
But we need to see the establishment of some of these broad-based,
democratic, economic goals that are very important. We don't want to put
money into a country that will go backwards. We want to put money into a
country that is going to go forward on a democratic basis. Laura.
QUESTION: Is Ambassador Richardson going to try to go to Kisangani or
attempt to get access to any of these areas while he is on this trip?
MR. BURNS: He has already been to Kisangani. He went up on his last trip.
He interviewed some of the refugees, including a woman who had just lost
her child that day. He interviewed some of the people who have been
subjected to some of these brutal attacks by the rebel forces. Now, Mr.
Kabila has said since then that he will hold those who perpetrated the
injustices accountable, and we hope very much that that will be the case. I
don't believe we have seen any of that yet, any action. We need to see the
So I don't believe that Bill Richardson will be going to Kisangani, having
been there before to interview the refugees. Now, most of the refugees who
were subject to the attacks and who have survived the attacks have moved on
back to Rwanda as part of the UN-sponsored and US-financed evacuation.
QUESTION: Do you have any interim assessment of how close or how far
Kabila is coming along the lines you would like him to travel?
MR. BURNS: It is quite hard to answer that question because the track
record is not very long. The one good thing I can point to is that he has
taken into his government some members of other political parties who are
not part of the rebel alliance. That is positive.
On the negative side, as you know, he has not allowed expressions of
different political views to be made public. He has shut down the ability
of some of the opposition parties to demonstrate. I don't believe one can
say that there is freedom of the media in the Congo. These are important
criteria that we have to measure him by. You know, we have to hold people
to high standards because the people of the Congo deserve that. Dimitris.
QUESTION: A different subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Tomorrow there is a meeting between the Secretary and Foreign
Minister Kasoulides of Cyprus.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: What is the expectations of the Secretary from this meeting and
can you give us a preview of the agenda of the meeting?
MR. BURNS: Well, yes. The Secretary is looking forward very much to her
meeting with Mr. Kasoulides. She believes that the United States is now in
a position to play a very energetic role with the appointment of Dick
Holbrooke as the President and Secretary of State's special emissary. The
Secretary has long been concerned about stability and about the issue of
peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. She made a trip last summer, when
she was U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, to Turkey and to Greece. She has
felt since she came into office that we had to make a major push in this
part of the world.
Now, she will be talking to the foreign minister about Ambassador
Holbrooke's agenda, about the fact that he will be very active in working
with him. She will ask for the support of the government of Cyprus, the
government of Greece and the government of Turkey for Ambassador Holbrooke's
mission. She will reiterate U.S. policy, our basic U.S. policy -- the
United States seeks the reunification of Cyprus. The division of Cyprus is
unacceptable to us.
We continue to support the establishment of a bi-zonal, bi-communal
federation, as you know, and we believe that any future settlement must
provide security guarantees that are acceptable to both sides. It is an
exceedingly complex issue and difficult issue. The Secretary will be trying,
I think, to get us off on the right foot and also to encourage the Cypriot
government to cooperate with Secretary General Kofi Annan in his efforts to
try to create a basis for talks in July between Mr. Denktash and President
Clerides and in every other way to see if 1997 and 1998 can be a year of
movement on the Cyprus problem.
QUESTION: What is your position on Turkish troops? After yesterday's
briefing I looked up especially one speech she had made in September to the
MR. BURNS: That who had made? The Secretary had made?
QUESTION: Yes. I wish I brought it in with me because it seems rather
clear about wanting the reversal of the Turkish military occupation of 37
percent of the island. Is that still U.S. policy? Obviously, under the
right circumstance -- she spoke of the aggrieved minorities being protected,
but if the conditions are right, does she believe all the troops should go
MR. BURNS: She believes, as President Clinton, that the reunification of
Cyprus is a necessity, the division of the island is unacceptable, and that
there has got to be a way to establish a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.
Now, Barry, you ask a key question and there are a lot of different
questions that have to be asked. How do we get to the point where that goal
can be achieved, because what we think is you've got to get the parties to
sit down together in the spirit of compromise and cooperation and to answer
these very tough questions.
QUESTION: The Cypriots already offered a compromise -- that Turkish
troops could be in a peacekeeping operation. Does the U.S. have a position
about Turkish troops remaining on Cyprus as Turkish troops, as a foreign
entity? Do you feel they should go, again, under the right circumstances?
MR. BURNS: The United States wants to be helpful in helping the Cypriot
Government and the Turkish community to resolve this problem. We are not
willing to put into public view here all of our views on specific issues
because we wouldn't be much of a mediator or a friend to them if we did
QUESTION: A couple of things. One, to implore you on behalf of colleagues
that we might be able to ask questions at this news conference or photo op
tomorrow morning with the Cypriot official.
MR. BURNS: Let me see what I can do, Steve.
QUESTION: That would be most helpful to hear her say these words as well.
Secondly, I was wondering if you could explain why the United States feels
that now might be the opportune time to make this push you spoke of that is
broadly signaled by Holbrooke's appointment.
MR. BURNS: Well, I think that the United States has two very important
NATO allies in the Eastern Mediterranean -- Turkey and Greece. We believe
that it is important to work on the major political problem in the area.
That problem is Cyprus and other attended issues such as the Greek-Turkish
issues. We don't think it is wise or prudent to simply sit by and think
that these problems will be resolved on their own. It is too important to
us to protect our own interests and those of our allies in that region and
to aggressively try to reach a solution on a problem that has existed
now for 23 years.
That part of the world is an increasingly important part of the world, if
you look at all the other interests that we have, not just the interests
with Greece and Turkey and Cyprus, but also in the Balkans and the need for
stability in the Balkans region. We have an opportunity now with the
Simitis Government in Greece, which is a very pragmatic and very cooperative
government, and also with the government in Turkey, and looking at the very
useful relationship and positive relationship that we have with President
Clerides to combine all of this into having the United States play a much
more aggressive role.
Now, we don't do that in isolation. The British Government, the government
of the United Kingdom, I should say, in the person of Sir David Hannay, has
been actively involved in a very positive way. The Secretary General of the
United Nations has said that he wants to do what he can to bring peace to
Cyprus. So perhaps we can combine forces with the United Nations and the
United Kingdom to work with the parties in the region.
But you can never assume that problems are going to be resolved on their
own, particularly in that part of the world, where we have been concerned
about Greek-Turkish tensions in the Aegean and concerned about the
inability of the parties to come to an agreement on Cyprus.
QUESTION: Nick, can we switch to Algeria?
MR. BURNS: I believe that we have another question before we go to
QUESTION: Oh, we still have another question?
QUESTION: My last question. My last question. How do you characterize the
reactions from the region on Holbrooke's appointment?
MR. BURNS: Oh, I think the reactions have been very positive. We have
seen a positive statement from the Greek Government. We have seen positive
statements from the Cypriot Government. I haven't seen a statement from the
Turkish Government, but I know that Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott, when
he was in Ankara on June 1, advised the Turkish Government of Dick
Holbrooke's imminent appointment. I think the response from the Turks then
was quite positive.
I think they know him to be one of our best negotiators, someone who
obviously speaks clearly for the President and Secretary Albright when he
is negotiating. They know that he is one of our best negotiators and that,
by virtue of his appointment, we are signaling a very aggressive effort in
the Eastern Mediterranean. So what I read is across-the-board support and
agreement with his appointment.
QUESTION: He's had a long a career with a lot of achievements but he is
best known for the Dayton Peace Accords, and there is a quiver of concern
that isn't hard to detect that some sort of a Dayton formula could be
applied to Cyprus. Did Dayton, and, you know, I'm not going to try to
define Dayton. Everybody has his own interpretation whether Bosnia was
divided or whether its independence was maintained - probably both happened
in some way.
But is Dayton a prescription for Cyprus? Should people in the area expect
some attempt to establish these separate communities in some permanent
MR. BURNS: Let's remember what Dayton was. Dayton was a tactical device
to end the war in Bosnia. Secretary Christopher and Dick Holbrooke arrived
at the conclusion that proximity peace talks -- meaning peace talks
actually in one place, where the United States would shuttle by foot among
three parties -- was the only way to proceed with the negotiations that
Holbrooke had carried in September and October '95 by air. It was simply a
tactical device to achieve a strategic objective.
In looking at the Cyprus question, you can't simply say that, yes, we are
going to just take the Dayton model and implant it in the Eastern
Mediterranean. Cyprus is a very different conflict with a different history,
involving different people. I talked to Dick about this both yesterday and
today. I talked to him again today about this.
He believes very strongly that it is important for him to come in reporting
to Secretary Albright and to study the situation, to talk to the British,
to talk to the United Nations, to talk to the parties, and only then,
perhaps, to decide the correct basis on which to proceed. So we are not in
the mood to imitate Dayton procedurally just because it worked there. It
doesn't mean it would work in the Eastern Mediterranean. It may or may
Now, Barry, you have asked a very important question, and I want to give
you a direct answer. The United States will not support a solution to the
Cyprus problem that will end with the island divided. The island has been
divided for 23 years. We think that island must be reunited in a bi-zonal,
bi-communal federation. That is our view. So we are not out to partition
Cyprus. We are out to reunify Cyprus.
Barry, you want to talk about Algeria?
QUESTION: Yesterday, you found some promise, some hope in Algeria, maybe
you still find that. After all, people are voting in multiparty elections.
But it's a terribly tense situation.
MR. BURNS: Yes, it is.
QUESTION: There is fear of bombs. Bombs have gone off. Do you want to
update that, or are you still pretty much where you were yesterday?
MR. BURNS: No, I can update it. I just spoke before coming out here, one
of the reasons I was late, I spoke to Ambassador Ron Neumann, who is the
American ambassador in Algiers. He told me that he has been out with his
embassy officers observing the voting, and there is no questions that
millions of people are voting in Algeria today, which is a hopeful
I understand the voting is taking place in two phases. The security forces
voted a couple of days ago because they had to be present to maintain order
throughout the country today, and the general voting is today. It is too
early to conclude whether or not today's voting would meet an international
standard of free and fair elections. The voting hasn't even stopped.
There are a significant number of international monitors in place,
including American monitors from the National Democratic Institute and the
AFL-CIO, Canadian monitors, European monitors, all in place. They will make
What is clear to us is that the Algerian people are showing courage by
voting in very large numbers, including a very large number of women who
are seen to be voting -- courage because they have been subjected to the
most vicious campaign of terrorism over many, many years. We very much hope
that the voting will result in a free and fair standard. We very much
appreciate the role of the international monitors. We hope that the
Algerian people can find themselves in a much better situation as a result
of this voting.
But I think we keep our powder dry on that question until we can see the
results of the elections and the observations of the monitors. I understand
the official results may not be fully conclusive until some time this
As for the situation, there was on car bomb that was set off this morning
in Central Algeria. It injured two Algerian election observes. I don't
believe they were killed, fortunately, but it did injure them. We are not
aware of any other terrorist attacks in Algiers, the capital, this morning.
We hope and pray that there won't be any more terrorist attacks in
QUESTION: New topic.
MR. BURNS: Yes. Jim, yes.
QUESTION: Yesterday I asked if there was any assessment on the part of
the U.S. Government to the recent statements coming from Iran. Are there
any assessments which you know of?
MR. BURNS: Well, again, I refer you to the President's comments on this
the other day. But I can also tell you that I think as the President and
Secretary Albright look at this, our position can be summed as that we have
no animosity towards the people of Iran. Our concern is that the actual
policies and practices of the Iranian regime might change. As you know, our
objections are that Iran supports terrorism; that Iran opposes the
Middle East peace process; and that Iran is intent on building a nuclear
and chemical weapons and biological weapons capability - a weapons of mass
We would like to see some change in those policies. We are open to a
dialogue with the government of Iran on those policies. If the government
of Iran would change those policies, then of course we'd be in a different
situation. But that has not happened yet. All that has happened is that
there's been an election, there's been more positive talk; but actions are
much more important than talk.
QUESTION: Right, but the world does not change overnight. From what
you've just described as positive talk, do you see any signs that there
might be a shift toward moderation?
MR. BURNS: I think it's too early to say. Mr. Khatemi has not taken
power. He doesn't take power, I believe, until August. He has had a press
conference, which was a quite intriguing press conference. But he's not yet
a senior government official. So we'll have to wait until he takes power to
see if there is any discernible actual change in Iranian Government
In the meantime, I don't believe we've observed, in the last two weeks, any
change in Iran's policies on the issues that I mentioned, which are the
core issues for the United States.
QUESTION: The conference on Palestinians, the review conference
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: It was supposed to begin at 1:00 p.m. Do you know if it
happened to get started?
MR. BURNS: I think it's underway. It's the ad hoc liaison group, chaired
by Norway. This group looks at assistance to the Palestinians. The United
States is represented by our Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Toni
Verstandig. We will not be pledging any new allocations of money because
we're in the middle, right in the middle, of a $500 million American
assistance program to the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
QUESTION: I understand there's an opportunity for the Palestinians to
explain the controller's report; because whatever the controller reported
is subject to various interpretations. The other day you were not ready to
make a judgment as to what happened. Have you learned any more about it?
One shading is that it wasn't - the shortfall, if that's what it is, wasn't
money siphoned off; it was failure to collect taxes from returning
Palestinians - utility charges, et cetera. Do you have any - does the U.S.
have any judgment yet as to what the problem is or was?
MR. BURNS: I don't think we have any specific judgments; except to say,
if you want to look at the glass as half full for a moment, the fact that
the Palestinians appear to be policing themselves and identifying publicly
some problems in their administration, is positive. It means that they
begin to feel accountable, perhaps, to their own population and to the
people who give them money - the United States, the European Union and
Secondly, any time there is any hint that money has been misspent, or any
allegation that money has been misused or misspent, the Palestinians ought
to look at that very carefully and quickly and assure international donors
that their money is going to the purposes for which it was intended.
Now, I said the other day - and the Wall Street Journal didn't like this,
if you read the editorial this morning, but that's too bad; we don't agree
with the Wall Street Journal every day. I said the other day that the
United States can account for every dollar and every cent of what we've
spent; and that's true. That ought to be important to the American
taxpayers and even to the people who read the Wall Street Journal
or who write their editorials. That's important for us -- we know
where our money is going - because it's not going to the Palestinian
Authority. It's going to the people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip for
major infrastructure projects, for educational projects. We're quite
confident that this expenditure of American taxpayer money is in our
interests. It's in Israel's interest. In fact, Israel is a major supporter
of the economic assistance programs to the Palestinians.
QUESTION: Did Albright, by the way, ever get her letter off to Gilman and
Helms and I forgot the Alabama senator's name?
MR. BURNS: I'd have to check for you.
QUESTION: It was about ready.
MR. BURNS: I'd have to check for you.
MR. BURNS: Yeah.
QUESTION: Have you seen the statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu on his
vision of what a final settlement should look like?
MR. BURNS: We have seen press reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu
delivered a statement to the Knesset. Now, I've asked for two days now,
I've asked our experts to tell me if we've received some kind of a peace
plan from the Israelis, along the lines that you've seen reported. I'm told
we have not - that we have not received any such plan.
So, we are in your position of being intrigued by these remarks, but not
really knowing if there is a change in policy or if there is a manifesto or
a blueprint that one can look at. But obviously, we're very interested in
what the Prime Minister says, and I'm sure we'll follow it up.
QUESTION: From what you have seen in press reports and other reports,
presumably from the embassy, is what he is reported to have said in line
with what he has been telling American diplomats?
MR. BURNS: I couldn't possibly make a comparison, because what he talks
to American diplomats about is confidential, and I wouldn't want to surface
that. You know our view, Jim, and that is that we think the Palestinians
and Israelis ought to get back down together, sit back down together and
talk. That's what we hope.
QUESTION: Since you're not prepared to get into describing it, you know
what he says. He says everybody's got a plan in his head, at least. Has he
ever shared with the U.S. the general outline of his plan?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if he's shared this particular plan.
QUESTION: Well, there are two versions already of this particular plan,
so it's all right to talk about anything.
MR. BURNS: I don't know. Obviously, we've had long, involved, detailed
conversations with him and with Chairman Arafat about what they hope to
achieve in the future. I just don't know if this particular plan has been
surfaced with us.
QUESTION: By the way, can I just ask if anyone from the human rights
office is going with Richardson?
MR. BURNS: I will check that with you. It's a very large delegation.
Treasury is going; DOD is going; many people from the State Department. I
will ask. I can assure you, though, that he's going to give very direct
attention to the human rights problem.
He went up to Kisangani before to look into that problem. The United States
has been very clearly critical of the lack of action by the government of
the Congo. This is one of the major issues he's going to raise. There's no
question; it's on the agenda.
QUESTION: Shattuck has been doing the heavy-duty work - well, not the
only work. He's doing a lot of the heavy-duty inspection of massacre sites
in the Balkans. I just wondered if this situation called for his participation.
MR. BURNS: Well, I'll have to check. I don't believe John Shattuck's
going on the trip. I'll have to check if someone from his bureau is. But
the point here is that both Secretary Albright and Ambassador Richardson
have clearly spoken out against these allegations - about these allegations
of massacres. I can tell you that Secretary Albright, when we talk about
this privately, is seized by this issue. She has instructed Ambassador
Richardson and everyone else to make this a priority issue. So let's be
clear about that. If it's muddy, we can continue to talk about it.
QUESTION: Can I move to another subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay, North Korea.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Peter McDermott of UNICEF has spoken out, as well as an unnamed
UN official, saying that the situation there has deteriorated pretty badly,
and that within a couple weeks you could be facing meltdown, severe hunger,
potentially 2.6 million children could be at risk of starving to death, and
that outside help, more outside help, a bigger commitment than the ten
million that was asked for was going to be needed. Has the United
States reconsidered North Korea at this point? What is the thinking
MR. BURNS: Well, we do take seriously some of what we have heard from
international observers. I know that Mrs. Bertini of the World Food Program
spoke out today and said that she was concerned about the future, the short-
term future and the food situation in North Korea. There is a World Food
Program report out. We are studying it. I believe it was released to us
We believe the food situation is quite serious in North Korea. We do take
some heart from the fact that in late May there were announcements of
substantial food contributions from the European Union -- 155,000 metric
tons from the European Union -- and the from the South Korean Red Cross of
50,000 metric tons. I can also tell you that the last shipment of the 77,
000 metric tons that the United States has donated, that last shipment
arrives at the Port of Nampo, the North Korean port, on June 26th.
So all the money that the President and Secretary Albright have put forward
-- $25 million -- all the food which was paid for with that money is going
to be arriving quite soon. We think that there is sufficient international
aid to make up some of the shortfall but, in the long term, there is no
question that the North Korean economic system is leading to a disaster for
the North Korean people and that systemic change is important and also
continued vigilance by the international community to help the defenseless
people in North Korea - young kids, mothers, old people. That is very
important to keep looking at. We are mindful of the severity of this
QUESTION: Has the United States thought about how long you are willing to
participate in this before the North Koreans are going to make a change in
the way they behave?
MR. BURNS: At this point, we have been the lead donor. We are the lead
donor of food assistance to North Korea through these programs. We have
responded positively to every appeal of the United Nations since 1995, and
we certainly would look very seriously at any additional appeals. In the
short term, if you assume that North Korea is not going to change its
communist system in the short term -- the next six to twelve months -- we
have an obligation, a humanitarian obligation, to help the people
who are most affected - little, small children under the age of five
and six. That is where the World Food Program is targeting its assistance,
on little kids. Certainly pensioners, old people, women, are people who
ought not to be blamed for the problems of the North Korean government, and
we ought to help them.
In the longer term, we do hope for change in North Korea. Communism is
dying all over the world. It has died in almost every part of the world and
it exists in places like Cuba and North Korea. They just haven't gotten the
message yet. We hope they do get the message so that the people of those
countries can prosper in the future. They won't prosper under communism.
QUESTION: What is your reaction to the Cargill deal, the North Koreans
calling that off?
MR. BURNS: Well, we've seen the press reports that the Cargill deal has
been either suspended or postponed or called off altogether. I can't help
you on that because it is a private transaction. We have a policy here --
we don't describe private commercial transactions. That is up to Cargill to
do. It is an American company. I know they are in the phone book and I am
sure you can call them and see what they have to say about it.
QUESTION: But, still, that's another 20,000 tons, or whatever it was,
less grain for the North Koreans. What impact is this likely to have on
MR. BURNS: Well, if in fact the deal has been stopped, then it doesn't
seem to make much sense from a North Korean viewpoint if they want to bring
in more food to their country and if people are actually starving or are
severely malnourished, which we know to be the case in certain circumstances.
Yes. Still on Korea?
QUESTION: Yeah. Do you have anything to say about the North Korean ship
MR. BURNS: Well, we know that there was a serious incident today in the
Yellow Sea. There was an altercation between a South Korean naval vessel
and apparently a North Korean naval vessel which either strayed over or
directed itself over into South Korean territorial waters. I would just
really have to refer you to the South Korean Government on that. They are
the ones who will best speak about that. They have the facts. Obviously,
you know the United States is an ally of South Korea, and that we will
remain an ally of South Korea and that we will back up South Korea
if South Korea is threatened.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about Hwang Jang-yop's statement
that the North Koreans have nuclear weapons and that their foreign ministry
declined to test them underground?
MR. BURNS: Well, all we have seen are press reports that he said that. I
cannot confirm that he actually said that or if that he is in a position to
know. He was an ideology theoretician in North Korea. I am not aware that
he was responsible for North Korea's nuclear program. So I can't confirm
his statements, but I can tell you that the agreed framework of November
'94 has stopped North Korea's nuclear program in its tracks. We are
monitoring North Korea's fulfillment of that agreement and we are quite
confident about what we think is happening there.
QUESTION: On the nuclear issue but in another country, have you seen the
statement today in Geneva by Russian Foreign Minister Primakov saying that
Russia has or wants to open negotiations on the physical removal of
warheads from missiles?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me, that Primakov made a statement saying he wants to
begin negotiations on the removal of warheads from missiles in --
QUESTION: In silos.
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen that statement. I'm not aware of the proposal.
We understood President Yeltsin's remarks in Paris to refer to de-targeting,
as opposed to de-coupling.
MR. BURNS: But there have been different linguistic interpretations. I am
sure we will have private discussions with the Russians if there is such a
proposal, but I have not seen anything about it. I haven't seen the press
reports, Jim. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: He did make the proposal, apparently.
MR. BURNS: Well, that would be highly significant, but I don't have
anything for you. I'll check into it. That's a good question to take, as I
say. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: There is reports out of Canada today that suggest that the
State Department is going to put forward a position paper on salmon to try
and get the talks going again. A, is the State Department putting forward
this paper today or next week? And when do you see the talks going in light
of all of this heating up of the war of words between Senator Stevens and
the Premier of British Columbia?
MR. BURNS: Right. Well, thank you. As you know, just a little bit of
history, the United States was very disturbed to see the seizure of U.S.
fishing vessels transiting Canadian waters to Alaska. These actions created
a climate which we believe were inimical to the productive resumption of
negotiations among the stakeholders and between the two governments.
We think the challenge now is to turn down the heat in U.S.-Canadian
relations on Pacific salmon; to lower the rhetoric; to have a calm,
dispassionate, cooperative conversation so that we can pick up the pieces
of these talks and re-establish a basis for them to go forward. So we are
working hard - we, the United States - to keep our own stakeholders on
board so that when things do calm down, we can move ahead productively. We
have not committed to having a proposal to settle this dispute ready by any
particular time. I'm not aware that we have agreed with the Canadians
on any particular date for a resumption of the talks.
But I do know that Secretary Albright has talked to Minister Axworthy a
couple of times in the last ten days. Secretary Albright would like to see
a resolution that would benefit both countries and benefit all of our
In terms of your comments about Senator Stevens and the Premier of British
Columbia, I have nothing at all critical to say about Senator Stevens. He
is an American Senator who is standing up for his constituents, and we
understand that. We have a good relationship with Senator Stevens. But as
for the Premier of British Columbia I do have something to say. People
should be intent on being part of the solution to the problem and not on
adding to the problem. Hostile, vituperative rhetoric doesn't help. So we
think that people should just cool down, keep their tempers in check,
and focus on the negotiations themselves. Senator Stevens, we believe,
is a productive part of these negotiations, and he is simply representing
his own people. We certainly commend him for representing his own people
Our stakeholders are important to us in our Northwest and in Alaska. We
listen to our stakeholders. We don't think that unilateral actions, like
seizing fishing vessels, should be taken. Thank goodness, now, we have seen
that those actions have stopped.
QUESTION: Is there an opportunity or is there a chance here for the talks
to get resumed next week? Having said what you have said, I assume that
there is, you know, cooler heads are prevailing somewhere else. And I'm
just wondering if that is what is going to get the talks going again, and
is next week your target?
MR. BURNS: Well, I can tell you, we have cool heads on the American side
about this. We are not the ones who walked away from the talks a couple of
weeks ago. We didn't walk away. We didn't seize fishing vessels. So we have
a cool, dispassionate way of looking at this. But we are going to defend
our interests, and you have to expect a United State Senator to defend his
state's interest in this, if we are provoked.
So let's stop the provocations, turn down the rhetoric from British
Columbia, and let's get back to productive talks here. That is the message.
We have a good relationship with Canada, and we ought to just remember that
good relationship and resolve this in a cooperative way.
QUESTION: Is there a position paper that the State Department is prepared
to give to the Canadian Embassy today?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I don't know if there is or not.
QUESTION: And if I may, on another subject --
MR. BURNS: Sure.
QUESTION: Canada-U.S. relations - Ottawa confirmed again yesterday that
Al-Sayegh will be deported. Has the United States asked to have him sent
MR. BURNS: Well, this is a case that involves our Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and I almost never comment on the issues in which they are
taking the lead; and they are taking the lead here. You will have to ask
the FBI if they have a comment. I don't know if they will or not.
QUESTION: So the U.S. Department of State has no stated objective of
having him brought here for questioning?
MR. BURNS: We have many objectives and we have very clear views on this
case, but I am going to keep them private. It is a very sensitive case when
you talk about a judicial matter like this. I know it has been a difficult,
sensitive case for Canada. It is for the United States, too. We are best
not to talk about it in public, I think. We will let this sort itself out,
as it must.
The only think I can say is that we are absolutely dedicated to catching
the people who killed 19 American military officers. We will catch them. If
the Saudis don't, we will catch them; and we will bring them to justice. We
or the Saudis will do that. Yes.
QUESTION: Nick, regarding the recent report of bombings in Cuba, do you
have anything about an American citizen that turned himself into Cuban
officials in relation to the bombings?
MR. BURNS: I do not. I have seen press reports of bombings in downtown
Havana at hotels. I do not know anything about them. I do not know anything
about American citizens being implicated. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on Korean issue. One of your staff, Mr. Mark
Minton, has several meetings with North Korea in New York.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: I know that those are working level talks.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Can you comment on whether there is any progress for the four-
way talks in those meetings?
MR. BURNS: Yes, I can tell you. I can confirm that there are trilateral
talks taking place today in New York among South Korea, North Korea and the
United States. This follows up on the talks that we had, I believe it was
late last week, with South Korea and North Korea.
As you know, the United States hopes very much that at some point North
Korea will accept our invitation to join four-party peace talks. But we are
not there yet.
QUESTION: Was this the initiative of the North Koreans? Did they request
MR. BURNS: I think it was a joint initiative. It was a joint feeling that
we ought to get together again and have these trilateral talks. So they are
underway today in New York. Tomorrow I will have something quite anodyne
I'm sure and substance-less to tell you about it. But I will be glad to get
whatever I can get about these talks and tell you about it tomorrow, as
QUESTION: I take it this is the same cast of characters as last
MR. BURNS: I believe that our delegation is headed by one of our
excellent diplomats, Mark Minton. He's really one of our great experts on
this part of the world, a very effective diplomat. I can't tell you who his
counterparts are. I can ask and try to get that for you. Yes.
QUESTION: Also on North Korea, you mentioned earlier long-term assistance
and short-term assistance. How do you define the long-term assistance or
short-term assistance? How long or how much does the long-term food
assistance or how --
MR. BURNS: It's hard for me to define what the short term is going to be.
The short term is kind of a rolling concept. In this case, we have a
humanitarian interest and obligation to help people who are at risk in
North Korea. We fulfill that obligation by extending food assistance to
North Korea. I can't tell you how long that will last. We do hope for
change in North Korea. We hope communism will end. Yes.
QUESTION: At the end of this month, Secretary Albright trip to Vietnam --
is there any possibility that the United States will give Vietnam MFN at
MR. BURNS: Well, we seek to normalize our economic relationship with
North Vietnam following -- with Vietnam, excuse me, following Secretary
Rubin's trip earlier this year. That is one of the major agenda items for
Secretary Albright -- the normalization, progress on the normalization of
our economic relationship. As to MFN, I just don't want to speculate at
this point, and I apologize for my verbal miscue. Vietnam.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:12 P.M.)