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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #85, 97-06-05

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


1247

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, June 5, 1997

Briefer: Nicholas Burns

STATEMENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS
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

CYPRUS 8-10 U.S. Position on Division/Reunification of Island 10 Reaction to Appointment of Ambassador Holbrooke as Special Envoy

ALGERIA 11-12 Elections 12 Car Bomb Incident

IRAN 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

NORTH KOREA 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

RUSSIA 17 Report of Primakov Statement on Removal of Warheads from Missiles in Silos

CANADA 17-19 Pacific Salmon Dispute/Prospects for Resumption of Talks w/ U.S. 19 Issue of Al-Sayegh Deportation

CUBA 19 Reports of Bombings in Havana Hotels

VIETNAM 21 Progress Toward Normalization of Economic Relationship w/ U.S.


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #85

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.

(Laughter.)

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.

(Laughter.)

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 basis.

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 global leader.

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, farcical.

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, obviously.

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, anyway.

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 all activist.

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.

QUESTION: Really?

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, 1995.

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 to make.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BURNS: Then we can debate more history.

QUESTION: Sure.

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 humanitarian questions.

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 criteria?

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 action.

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 U.N.

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 home?

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 that.

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 Algeria.

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 way?

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 not.

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 sign.

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 that call.

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 weekend.

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 Algeria.

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 destruction capability.

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 policy.

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 here?

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 others.

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.

QUESTION: Okay.

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. Crystal.

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 now?

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 yesterday.

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 problem.

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 their situation?

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 intrusion?

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.

QUESTION: Right.

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 stakeholders.

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 very effectively.

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 here?

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 this meeting?

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 they conclude.

QUESTION: I take it this is the same cast of characters as last week?

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 this time?

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.)

(###)


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