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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #86, 97-06-06

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>


1314

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Friday, June 6, 1997

Briefer: Nicholas Burns

STATEMENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS_
1                 Welcome to Visitors
1                 Secretary's Schedule:
1                 --Swearing-In of Under Sec. Eizenstat and Under
                    Sec. Pickering
1                 --Meeting Today with Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan
2                 --Meeting Tonight with UN Secretary General Annan
2                 --Commencement Address at Univ. of South Alabama on June 8
2                 -- Meeting Today with Foreign Minister of Cyprus
2-3               U.S. Statement on Presidential Elections in Croatia

INDONESIA 3-4 Withdrawal of Offer to Purchase F-16 Fighter Planes and Decision to Forego Participation in IMET

LATIN AMERICA 4-5 U.S. Policy Review of Arms Sales to Latin America

GERMANY 5-6 Directive to Law Enforcement Agencies to Collect Information on Scientology

MEXICO 6-8 Nomination of Massachusetts Governor William Weld as U.S. Ambassador

CYPRUS 8-10,20 Purchase of SA-10 Missile System from Russia 10-12 Role of Amb. Holbrooke

CUBA 12-13 Acquittal of Fernandez Pupo on Hijacking Charges 13 Eligibility Criteria for Special Cuban Emigration Program 21 Construction of Juragua Nuclear Power Plant

BRAZIL 14 Lawsuit Filed by Former Foreign Service Officer Robert Olsen

CAUCASUS 14-15 Deputy Secretary Talbott's Travel and Peace Efforts

CROATIA 16 Conditions for Free and Fair Elections

KOREAS 17 Working Level Trilateral Meeting in New York, June 4-5 18 World Food Program Assessment of Famine in North Korea

CROATIA/SERBIA 19 Necessity for Compliance with Dayton Commitments

EGYPT 20 Visit of Osama El-Baz and Meetings at the Department

SIERRA LEONE 21 Coup Leaders' Request to International Community for "Amicable Settlement"


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #86

FRIDAY, JUNE 6, 1997 1:35 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department. We are very honored today to have four distinguished visitors from the Department of Defense Office of Public Affairs, from Ken Bacon's office. Colonel Richard Bridges is the Director of Defense Information. Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Burt, Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris and Staff Sergeant Ron Bingham have accompanied him. Welcome. They are meeting with us today about how we handle the press over here at the State Department -- trading secrets on how we can effectively handle the press corps. We are honored to have you with us.

Secretary Albright has had a very busy day today. As you know, she swore into office Ambassador Tom Pickering as the new Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. That was a great honor for her and for all of us to have him back. He has had seven ambassadorships. He is, I think, by all accounts the most distinguished career foreign service officer and the most experienced and the most brilliant.

I know the Secretary feels and said at her 8:30 a.m. staff meeting this morning she feels really, really honored that he said yes to her, that he is with us, and he even made a difference in our 8:30 a.m. staff meeting on a number of issues. He brings to the job unparalleled experience and energy and creativity.

At 4:00 p.m. this afternoon, the Secretary will swear in Under Secretary of Commerce Stu Eizenstat as the new Under Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs. Stu Eizenstat, equally impressive record of achievement in government, in national politics, in international affairs, most recently in the Department of Commerce, but also at the United States Mission to the European Union, where he was a very effective ambassador.

The Secretary, upstairs when she swore in Tom Pickering, said that she is forming a mega-team. I think by anybody's standard having Tom Pickering and Stu Eizenstat on her team as her two leading advisors on political and economic affairs really strengthens this Department and strengthens American foreign policy.

In addition to swearing both of those gentlemen in, the Secretary is seeing today the Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan, Mr. Jawad Anani. That will be a meeting where, I believe, the Deputy Prime Minister will be delivering a letter from His Majesty King Hussein to the President through Secretary Albright. They will have a discussion about some important issues in U.S.- Jordan relations.

The Secretary is also going to have a private dinner tonight with the Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. She has a lot of issues that she wishes to discuss with him, issues ranging from the Eastern Mediterranean - Cyprus - to the Congo and many others in between. On Sunday, the Secretary is going to travel for the day, returning to Washington, to Mobile, Alabama. She is going to give the commencement speech at the University of South Alabama, and she is also going to address the Chamber of Commerce of Mobile. We will have ready for you on Sunday, if you are intrepid and are working, we will have the Secretary's commencement speech available for those of you who would like it.

So that's the Secretary's schedule for the next couple of days.

I hope she has a well-deserved day off tomorrow. Although on her days off, she usually works, very hard.

Let me just say two things before I go to questions. The Secretary had an excellent meeting with Foreign Minister Kasoulides of Cyprus.

Some of you came to the press conference after that. They had a very good 40-minute meeting. The Secretary assured Mr. Kasoulides of the priority that we attach to a resolution of the Cyprus problem - no greater evidence than the appointment of Richard C. Holbrooke as the new presidential emissary to Cyprus. That is a very strong manifestation of our interest in helping the United Nations and helping the Cypriot Government and the Turkish community achieve a resolution of that problem.

The Secretary did emphasize the importance of the upcoming talks that the United Nations will be sponsoring between President Clerides and Mr. Denktash. The United States strongly supports these talks.

I know Ambassador Holbrooke intends to work very closely with the new UN special negotiators and with the UN system in general.

I can tell you, not wanting to give the Cypriot side of this meeting, but Mr. Kasoulides did indicate a very strong agreement of the Cypriot Government to the appointment of Dick Holbrooke. I think we have seen from the Greek and Turkish governments, as well, very strong support for that appointment.

They discussed in some detail the nature of the problem on Cyprus, some of the history of that problem, some of the issues that have to be resolved in the weeks and months and perhaps even years ahead, if there is to be a comprehensive settlement. They got into the detail. They also did talk briefly about the SA-10 issue, and you know about the disagreement between us on that issue.

But that was done in a very civil way.

I will be glad to take questions on that, but I do want to make one more statement before we go to questions. The United States is concerned about a problem in the upcoming presidential elections in Croatia. Just a couple of days ago - actually, just yesterday - Croatian presidential candidate and leader of the Social Liberal Party, Vlado Gotovac, suffered a cerebral concussion when he was struck on the head by a military officer while addressing a campaign rally in the town of Pula. There have also been press reports that a second opposition candidate, Mr. Zdravko Tomac, narrowly escaped injury during a stone-throwing incident aimed at his vehicle during a campaign appearance.

The United States deplores these violent incidents which threaten to mar what we hope will be a free and fair election for the presidency of Croatia on June 15. Without the ability to travel freely and speak freely, presidential candidates -- particularly those of the opposition parties -- will have no opportunity to carry their message to the Croatian electorate.

The United States notes that arrests have been made of two suspects in connection with the attack on Mr. Gotovac. The United States urges the government of Croatia to prosecute these people because without firm prosecution and a firm signal from the government of Croatia, we fear that similar attacks may occur during this election campaign. The United States will be sending a team of election monitors under the auspices of the OSCE. Particularly in regards to the Secretary's visit to Croatia over the weekend, we do want to strongly note our concern that this election be carried out on a free and fair basis.

George, I will be glad to go to your questions.

QUESTION: Indonesia, apparently, says they don't want the F-16s after all. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. BURNS: Yes, I understand that we have been informed by the government of Indonesia that it has withdrawn its offer to purchase nine F-16 aircraft. It has also decided to forego its participation in the IMET program -- the International Military and Education Training Program -- which is a very successful program worldwide. The United States regrets this decision by Indonesia.

It is, of course, a decision that Indonesia had to make on its own. The United States and Indonesia have cooperated closely on a variety of issues throughout the years - regional issues, global issues - and we intend to do that. We intend to continue working with Indonesia and we will just have to move on.

Now, these F-16s, as you remember, are the F-16s that have been promised to the government of Pakistan and so we will continue our efforts to look for countries that wish to purchase these F-16s.

QUESTION: Nick, so far you haven't found anybody else who is interested. I mean, what expectation do you have that you will do better now?

MR. BURNS: We are going to keep trying. We have felt for a number of years that Indonesia was the right answer to this problem because, as the President said, I think two years ago, when former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto visited here, the United States does want to put its best foot forward to try to resolve this problem so that there is some measure of fair play for Pakistan.

That is only fair.

We are trying, Carol. But with this latest decision just taken today and just given to us today by the Indonesian Government, we will have to redouble our efforts to look for other countries.

This is an excellent aircraft. It is the best American aircraft or the best in the world. You all know that, and we think there will be no shortage of potential buyers. We are talking to some countries, but I can't talk about those negotiations until they move further along.

QUESTION: So you have already started talking to other countries?

MR. BURNS: We had started to talk to other countries, actually, before this formal announcement was made, anticipating that the government of Indonesia might get cold feet.

QUESTION: Any report on which countries?

MR. BURNS: I don't want to speculate publicly as to which countries we are talking about. But you can be assured that the Department of State and Department of Defense are both working very hard on this issue.

QUESTION: Has the Administration come to a decision yet on whether it would allow the sale of advance jets to Latin America?

MR. BURNS: I don't believe the President has made a decision.

As you know, we have had a review underway for the past 12 months or so of United States arms sales to Latin America. The State Department, the Defense Department, the National Security Council and other agencies have all been involved in that. We have had a policy of restraint in place. We have not had a policy of a ban on arms sales but of restraint, and the President will have to make the ultimate decision here.

QUESTION: How can you make a clear sales pitch while this review is going on?

MR. BURNS: Are you referring to Chile?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. BURNS: Well, I think I told you - that was six to eight weeks ago - that while the President had not made a final decision, we did not want U.S. companies to be at a competitive disadvantage at the initial stages of Chile's decision-making process, as to which advance fighter aircraft it would purchase.

Therefore, we did allow American companies to make available to the government of Chile, to the ministry of defense there, technical information that describes the characteristics of American jet fighter aircraft.

That does not mean that the United States Government has made a decision to give approval to any American company should the Chileans wish to purchase an American aircraft, but it does mean that we want our aircraft to be considered in this competition.

We are confident that the United States American companies make the best fighter aircraft in the world. All you have to do is look at the performance of those aircraft all around the world to know that.

QUESTION: Won't the process then drive the decision though?

MR. BURNS: Well, no, I don't think it does, Judd, because, as I said, the review was really begun on behalf of the President by Secretary Christopher and Secretary Perry. Both of them have stepped down. We have two new secretaries in place and I am sure that the President will make a decision when it is necessary to make a decision, when the time is right.

I am not aware that the Chileans have come forward with a decision on which aircraft -- that Chile has made a decision on which aircraft it wishes to purchase. So there is no pressure on us. We just wanted our companies to be in the right position here. That is consistent with the Clinton Administration's strong desire to support American exports around the world.

QUESTION: Well, exactly, but that is the point of my question.

I mean, Chile -- we're getting into the realm of hypotheticals here, but if Chile comes back and says, yes, we want to buy X number of these planes - -

MR. BURNS: Then we'll have to say to ourselves, well, should we finally make a decision here? Should we make a decision in this government, finally, about our arms sales policies to Latin America? I expect that might be a consideration, but we don't feel under pressure and these decisions often take quite a long time, these competitions. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: What is the State Department's reaction to the decision of the German Interior Ministers to put the Church of Scientology under nationwide observation by the anti-extremist watchdogs?

MR. BURNS: Well, we understand that the German state and federal interior ministers have agreed to pursue the recommendations of an experts group which called for the collection of information on Scientologists and scientology. It is our understanding - and we have a very incomplete understanding, actually, of this decision - that the ministers directed state and federal law enforcement agencies to develop a plan to implement these recommendations.

We will examine the details of this decision carefully, but since I don't believe our embassy in Bonn or our German experts here at the State Department have had sufficient time really to look at this in detail, I don't think it's appropriate for me to give you a detailed comment. I will say this. The United States obviously has to stand for freedom of religion. We have that in our own country and we stand for freedom of religion around the world.

If you would just look at our annual human rights reports, I think four out of the last five years or five of the last six - I forget which - we have mentioned this issue of scientology.

But I feel compelled to say something else about this issue, and that is that Germany needs to be protected, the German Government and the German leadership need to be protected from this wild charge made by the Church of Scientology in the United States that somehow the treatment of Scientologists in Germany can or should be compared to the treatment of Jews who had to live, and who ultimately perished, under Nazi rule in the 1930s.

This wildly inaccurate comparison is most unfair to Chancellor Kohl and to his government and to regional governments and city governments throughout Germany. It has been made consistently by supporters of scientology here in the United States, and by Scientologists themselves. I do want to disassociate the United States Government from this campaign. We reject this campaign.

It is most unfair to Germany and to Germans in general.

QUESTION: Anything in this latest effort by Germany to deal with the Church of Scientology that concerns you?

MR. BURNS: Well, Carol, as I said, we have a sketchy understanding, at best, of what this means. It appears to be instructions by state and federal law enforcement agencies to look at a set of recommendations and develop a plan upon recommendations.

We have an alliance relationship with Germany. We have a very close relationship. I think among friends, you don't shoot first and ask questions later. What we need to do is study this issue, talk to the German Government about it, and then perhaps we will have something to say later on. But I think it would be most unfair to Germany for us to have detailed comments when we don't have a detailed understanding of what this process may or may not be. Yes.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary have an opportunity to meet with Governor Weld when she was at Harvard yesterday? And if so - well, has she asked Governor Weld to apologize to Jesse Helms?

MR. BURNS: Well, it's a tradition in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts - one of the great states, I think the greatest state in the Union -- that the governor of the commonwealth presides at the commencement ceremony at Harvard. He is also a graduate of Harvard, so that makes the most sense. The Secretary did see him yesterday.

I think they talked about a lot of things, mostly unrelated to Governor Weld's nomination to be the next United States Ambassador to Mexico. You heard the Secretary upstairs -- perhaps you weren't there -- the President and the Secretary firmly support the nomination of Governor Weld to be our ambassador to Mexico.

He is superbly well qualified. He is one of the most outstanding government leaders in the United States. We look forward to his service in Mexico. The Secretary, as she also said upstairs, has a very good working relationship with Senator Helms. At some point they will be discussing this, but that is going to be a private conversation. We are not going to make that public.

QUESTION: Nick, just to follow up. You didn't quite answer the question.

MR. BURNS: I didn't, huh?

QUESTION: Among the - did they --

MR. BURNS: I thought I did a pretty good job.

QUESTION: Did she talk to him about the nomination at all? Was it among the various things they talked about?

MR. BURNS: Yes. I had a very brief discussion with the Secretary about this, and she said she had a good conversation on a lot of issues with him. I don't think this was one of the main issues; but I think, yes, they did refer to it. And Governor Weld knows that the President and the Secretary very strongly support his candidacy to become ambassador to Mexico.

QUESTION: Well, you also had the question you didn't answer.

QUESTION: Did he apologize?

MR. BURNS: Excuse me?

QUESTION: Has she suggested that he should apologize to Senator Helms?

MR. BURNS: I'm just not aware that she has made that suggestion, and I don't know that Senator Helms has asked for that. You will have to ask Senator Helms or his staff. We have great respect for Senator Helms. The Secretary respects his position as chairman of the committee. She has worked with him very, very cooperatively in her first four months, five months in office, and she intends to continue that on a wide range of issues.

We have a lot at stake. The Secretary believes we need to have a bipartisan foreign policy. She has traveled to Senator Helms' home state with him. She meets with him frequently. She will of course discuss this issue with him. But there is no sense of antagonism at all between the State Department and Senator Helms on this. He has a right as chairman of the committee to make his views public. He is an elected official of the United States Senate. We may disagree with him on this particular issue.

I am sure we will assert that and try to convince Senator Helms that Governor Weld is the best person for this job. Still on Governor Weld?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. BURNS: Massachusetts? Boston?

QUESTION: Is it fair to conclude from your statements that a single ambassadorship is not worth sacrificing the relationship that the Secretary has developed with the Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee?

MR. BURNS: Now, Mark, that would be unfair. It would be unfair of you, with all due respect, to construe anything in my statements that indicated that. The fact is that the President and the Secretary strongly support this nomination. It's an unusual nomination because he's a sitting governor of a state. He is from another political party, the Republican Party, but he is an outstanding individual, widely recognized to be.

When he was the number three official in the Justice Department, he got very good marks on both sides of the aisle. We think he's been an extraordinary governor of Massachusetts, and the experience that he has there in dealing with a variety of issues in the Northeast does relate to Mexico.

Our relationship with Mexico is so broad that it does encompass a lot of issues that affect us here at home that we would normally consider to be domestic issues. So we think he is uniquely qualified, and nothing I said would indicate that we have anything but the strongest support for him.

Is it true that we have a lot of other issues to work on with Senator Helms? Absolutely. But I am not drawing a line, a solid line, or an indirect line, between that and Governor Weld's candidacy.

Strong support for him.

QUESTION: On a new subject, the Cypriot foreign minister --

MR. BURNS: I think we still have -

QUESTION: When might his nomination be submitted formally?

MR. BURNS: Well, we have a labyrinthine process. One has to fill out a ream of papers and answer lots of questions about your background and so forth. When all that vetting is through, then there is a formal announcement of an intent to nominate from the White House. Then the name is formally sent up to the Senate for review -- for the Senate's constitutional review.

Governor Weld's name has not been sent up officially. But I think he has indicated, and I know the White House has indicated, that they do expect him to be a nominee. Yes, Jim.

QUESTION: On the Cypriot foreign minister's meeting with the Secretary, you mentioned that the SAM-10 issue came up. One, did the Secretary ask the Cypriot Government to reconsider that sale? And, two, was the foreign minister able to clarify this sometimes hazy idea of when the actual parts are going to be delivered -- when deliveries of the physical parts will start?

MR. BURNS: The Secretary noted our long-standing disagreement with the decision by the government of Cyprus to acquire the SA-10 missile system from Russia. We think it is destabilizing. Frankly, we are interested in the security of Cyprus, and we do not believe that acquiring this system will add to the security. We think it will only produce a countermeasure by others in the region, which cannot be helpful.

This was a very respectful, very calm conversation. There was no acrimony between the Secretary and Minister Kasoulides. They are good friends. What we have understood in the past, Jim, is that this system will not be made operational for some time. I remember when we talked about this issue frequently; the Cypriots at that point said it will not be made operational for a period of 16 months. I think that was maybe six months ago. I'll have to go back and check my timing. We hope that is the case. Instead of the acquisition of advanced or new missiles, or, excuse me, military systems by any of the parties in Cyprus, we hope that the appointment of Dick Holbrooke, the initiative of Secretary General Kofi Annan will move the Cypriots, the Cypriot Government, the Turkish community, the Greek and Turkish Governments to a resolution of the Cyprus problem that will make any kind of acquisition of a weapons system like this unnecessary in the future. That is essentially the point of view that the Secretary put across today.

QUESTION: And was the scheduled delivery of parts clarified?

MR. BURNS: It was not clarified in the meeting itself.

But a lot of our officials have been talking to Minister Kasoulides both yesterday and today in longer meetings. I'm sure that issue will be brought up.

QUESTION: Nick, you now say that assurances were made that it won't be operational. I thought the original commitment was that none of the missiles and accessory materials --

MR. BURNS: Will be brought into the country.

QUESTION: -- would be delivered?

MR. BURNS: That's right. Or made operational. Right, there is no misunderstanding here.

QUESTION: Well, will parts - will the missiles themselves and their associated parts be delivered before this 16-month --

MR. BURNS: We trust that they will not be. I think there was even a statement by President Clerides himself that there would be no actual importation into the country of the various crates and missile parts and no assembly so that the system is operational. Right. Yes, still on Cyprus, Tom?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. BURNS: Yes.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. Government believe that these weapons present a threat to Turkey? Because I'm sure your experts are very aware that they are defensive, and they are something like the Patriots. So how could the country use Patriots to attack another country?

MR. BURNS: First, Tom --

QUESTION: One has to clarify that, I think.

MR. BURNS: Right, thank you for asking that question.

QUESTION: Sure.

MR. BURNS: I'm glad to clarify it. Again, we have the greatest respect for Cyprus, and we want the security of the Cypriot people to be ensured. We simply believe that the introduction of any kind of advanced system like this, whether it is defensive or offensive, is simply going to produce a countermeasure by others in the region, by the Turks. That won't be helpful to expand the base of cooperation that clearly needs to be effected in order for there to be a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

We want Cyprus to be secure and free of intimidation and free from attack. There is no argument there. We have the greatest respect for President Clerides and the terrific job that he has done as President of Cyprus. But we don't think this particular step is going to lead the situation towards peace, and that's what we think all of these issues need to be judged upon.

QUESTION: Nick, can we --

QUESTION: On Cyprus --

QUESTION: Did the Secretary give Mr. Kasoulides any idea when Mr. Holbrooke will start work on the problem?

MR. BURNS: They did not discuss that. But I can tell you, based on my own conversations with Dick, extensively over the last couple of days, is that he is in Europe on a private business trip. He will be coming back to the States. He is going to consult in the Department of State. He does not intend to participate in the UN talks between President Clerides and Mr. Denktash. He will be monitoring those talks, of course. He does not intend to travel to the region for at least several weeks, and perhaps even beyond that.

He understands, as does Secretary Albright, that this is a manifestly complex and difficult challenge. It is not going to be resolved in three weeks. It may require years to resolve it. So he is prepared to be patient, take a longer-term view, spend a lot of time thinking about our strategy, and then beginning his own talks working very closely with the United Nations. That is his general game plan here.

QUESTION: Did he explain why, since he lives in New York, he doesn't plan to take part in those talks?

MR. BURNS: Well, because these are UN talks, sponsored by the Secretary General. I think we need to give the UN some room to maneuver here. The United Nations knows that we firmly support its peace efforts on Cyprus but, goodness knows, 23 years of division on the island means that there is room for a couple of negotiators that will be working very well together. Yes, Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: How long lasted today's meeting between Secretary Albright and Minister Kasoulides?

MR. BURNS: I think it was about 40 minutes, but I didn't check my watch as we walked out.

QUESTION: And I would like also to know --

MR. BURNS: It was a good meeting, Mr. Lambros, excellent meeting.

QUESTION: Could you just clarify when you say countermeasures on behalf of Turkey, what do you mean with that?

MR. BURNS: We don't want to see the introduction of other military systems, weapons systems, by others in the region. We think Cyprus is overly militarized already. We would like to see a draw-down in the military equipment that is currently on Cyprus, as you know.

QUESTION: What Mr. Kasoulides told you today as far as for the missiles issue?

MR. BURNS: What did he tell us? I don't presume to speak for the government of Cyprus. I think you should ask him that.

But it was a very good conversation, very productive. He obviously said what he had to say about it, and I think we clearly understand each other on this issue.

QUESTION: How do you respond to the Turkish threats in the recent last days as far as that Turkey is ready to do preemptive air strikes against the Republic of Cyprus because - with (inaudible) missiles?

MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, I am not aware that the government of Turkey has made such threats.

QUESTION: I'm quoting the Turkish press.

MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, I can't believe everything that is written in the Turkish press. We have to base our comments on what the Turkish Government does.

QUESTION: There are threats first of preemptive strikes against those missiles.

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any threat of preemptive strikes.

Back when the announcement was made some time ago, there were some irresponsible statements made by Turkish military officials about the introduction of the SA-10 system. The United States firmly, at the time and currently, obviously severely criticizes any attempt to intimidate the government of Cyprus. We have been clear about that.

QUESTION: For us, if Mr. Holbrooke have also a role in the Aegean Institute, as you promised the other day.

MR. BURNS: Dick Holbrooke's clear and primary responsibility and direction from the Secretary of State is to work on the Cyprus problem. Now, obviously, that problem exists in an environment that includes other countries, Greece and Turkey, and other issues.

But his primary, overriding focus-like-a-laser approach is going to be on the Cyprus problem.

QUESTION: But what will be his specific role in these talks in New York City, since earlier today at the National Press Club Mr. Kasoulides expressed his reservations for the talks.

MR. BURNS: I answered that question.

QUESTION: And also he said that his government is not prepared for those talks in New York City.

MR. BURNS: Yes, I just answered that question, Mr. Lambros.

Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. Kasoulides, I think, shared this idea with Secretary Albright that there is a need for a new multinational security force on the island, probably to replace UNFICYP. What is the State Department's view on this? Is it going to be some sort of NATO force replacing the UN?

MR. BURNS: That issue did not come up in the meeting.

I know it has been discussed in the press and probably more widely than that. It did not come up in the meeting. But certainly the United States will remain open to a number of suggestions for how the Cyprus problem can be best resolved.

QUESTION: Even if it didn't come up in the meeting, is it something that the State Department supports as sort of "demilitarizing" the island?

MR. BURNS: I think that you know that we don't want to be in the business of commenting specifically on options. We like to do that privately, but not publicly. We are for an undivided Cyprus, as Secretary Albright said this afternoon.

QUESTION: There is a Cuban refugee in Miami who is going to go on hunger strike because his family won a visa in the lottery but is not allowed to come to the United States. Do you have anything on this?

MR. BURNS: Well, I'm going to look. I am told that I do have something. I do?

(Laughter.)

I don't see it. I am looking under C, I'm looking under two, I'm looking under Cuba. I have something on Fernandez Pupo. Do you know about this?

QUESTION: No, but I want to have it too, yes.

(Laughter.)

MR. BURNS: All right, let's talk about that. That's much more interesting. We can say goodbye to the Cyprus problem until Monday.

(Laughter.)

I think all the correspondents are leaving to file. You're not interested in other parts of the world, huh? You're not interested in what goes on in Cuba? You should be. It's a communist dictatorship.

All right, Fernandez Pupo. You remember him. As I saw it, he tried to hijack a plane on CNN. No, really, it was covered on live television. I thought on CNN. He was tried in U.S. District Court. The jury found him not guilty. We are disappointed in this verdict but we must respect due process of law here in the United States. Air piracy is a crime which the U.S. Government will continue to fight and continue to prosecute under United States law.

QUESTION: Has anything decided whether he is going to be paroled or returned to Cuba?

MR. BURNS: I understand that Mr. Fernandez Pupo remains in detention by American legal authorities, pending a determination of his immigration status by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. But it was an extraordinary event. It was July 7, 1996.

CNN carried it live. I think MSNBC carried it live, if I remember, on their first day in business.

I don't have anything on the first question but, John - maybe we do have something. Well, yes, apparently I do have an answer.

In order to apply for the lottery, applicants must be able to respond affirmatively to at least two of the following three questions.

Number one, have you finished high school or an equivalent level of education? Number two, do you have at least three years of work experience? Number three, do you have family in the United States? So I can only assume that this individual did not qualify, was not able to answer two of those three questions affirmatively.

QUESTION: But does she need it since this woman had already said that she is going to leave Cuba and is she subject to some kind of repression? Is there any chance that for humanitarian reasons there is going to be any exception?

MR. BURNS: I think that the rules for our lottery are quite clear. I do know under the May 2, 1995, migration agreement with Cuba that even if individuals are returned to Cuba, our United States interest section in Havana does follow up on individual cases to make sure that there is no retribution by the government of Cuba. I cannot say that the record of the government of Cuba is perfect in this respect. You wouldn't expect that from a dictatorship, like the government of Cuba. But our interest section does have that responsibility, and we take that seriously. Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Yes, I wanted to know if you had any reaction or a position on the Robert E. Olsen case, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

He's suing the State Department, saying that he was fired because he would not comply with codes that discriminated against black Brazilians and so forth; and said that they were discriminatory.

MR. BURNS: Well, I have only a sketchy bit of information.

I know that Mr. Olsen was a junior officer in the foreign service.

By that I mean someone who is not tenured. Apparently he did not receive tenure; and when you don't receive tenure in the foreign service, you leave the foreign service. Apparently he's now filed a lawsuit against the State Department. Since he's filed a lawsuit and it is currently under litigation, I'm not allowed or permitted to speak about this case. It's really for the American justice system to determine.

QUESTION: On a follow-up, apparently they used codes at the Sao Paulo consulate. Does the State Department allow any other codes to be used in rejecting visas that are not the ones that are already - the three factors that are allowed by the State Department?

MR. BURNS: Well, listen, I think you're referring here to the visa adjudication process. It is a very direct process.

It's governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act. It's written down - what are the criteria to apply for U.S. visas? I don't know what you're - I frankly don't know what codes mean. I was a visa officer once; we never had codes.

QUESTION: They were using stuff like TP, talks poor; LP, looks poor. He claims that they were discriminating against people just by their physical look and by their race. Is that allowed?

MR. BURNS: I have no experience in the consular business in Sao Paulo in Brazil, no personal experience. I simply can't address that. But the claims by Mr. Olsen are currently under litigation. That's the best place for those claims to be adjudicated - in a court of law.

Yes, sir, over here.

QUESTION: There's a story, a Journal of Commerce story about the U.S. use of troops (inaudible) to protect Caspian Sea oil. It says U.S. peacekeeping forces suggested to end the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan - which there is peace right now, anyway.

MR. BURNS: Absolutely untrue. This is a rumor spreading around Nagorno- Karabakh and Georgia and Armenia and Azerbaijan - absolutely untrue. The United States has no plans whatsoever to use American troops in that part of the world - never have and don't currently have and I anticipate we won't have in the future.

What we do have is a negotiating effort, led by Deputy Secretary of State Talbott and the Russian Government and the French Government.

All of them are cooperating very effectively together to try to arrange a peace settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh. Strobe Talbott was in Stepanakert, Yerevan and Baku over the weekend, as well as in Ankara, talking to countries about this. He's working very cooperatively, as I said, in a unique way. We're not aware of any similar arrangement internationally with the French and Russian governments. That's what's going on.

But the United States Government has absolutely no intention to deploy American troops there.

QUESTION: They may not have any intention, but did the issue come up during Mr. Talbott's visits and discussions?

MR. BURNS: I can assure you he would not raise this issue because we are not putting troops there. If reporters want to speculate, that is up to reporters.

QUESTION: Who has raised the issue, Armenians?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that anybody raised the issue.

I have never heard of this.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? I mean, these rumors arise from the negotiations, about which there is very little official comment. Was there any discussion? Or can you confirm any part of this that may - as far I know, it was NATO troops.

There was no specific mention of U.S. troops, and there may be some idea of OSCE units there.

MR. BURNS: First of all, let me say again, there may be rumors, but the United States will not deploy troops to the Caucasus.

Number two, we have decided that our negotiations with the Armenians and the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians and the Azeris will remain confidential.

Don't take from that that I am trying to hide discussion of troops.

I am not. I just want to say the details of these negotiations will remain confidential because that is the best way to succeed in the negotiations. But you should really discount these rumors.

They are absolutely false. Mark.

QUESTION: Can you switch to another subject?

MR. BURNS: Sure.

QUESTION: Related to your opening statement about Gotovac.

MR. BURNS: Yes.

QUESTION: I don't know how serious a cerebral hemorrhage is.

MR. BURNS: It sounds serious.

QUESTION: Is it your understanding that he will be in any condition to stand for election on June 15th?

MR. BURNS: I do not know. That is a good question, and we can seek to get an answer for you. I just don't know.

QUESTION: And there were reports that the Croatian Government initially withheld a helicopter rescue for him after he was attacked at the rally. Do you know if that is true?

MR. BURNS: I cannot confirm that. But I will also see if we can get further detail. In making a formal statement and posting it in the press room, we are indicating our very serious concern that conditions for free and fair elections have got to be ensured by the Croatian Government, and beating up and stoning opposition candidates for president is not a good sign in that regard. That is why we have made this statement today.

QUESTION: To follow up on that, Nick.

MR. BURNS: Yes, John.

QUESTION: Is it the American Government's position - or have you made a determination whether the attacks on Mr. Gotovac and Mr. Tomac were coincidence? Or is there some concern that there is some kind of orchestration behind that at a higher level?

MR. BURNS: I am not in a position to make any formal charges, but I am in a position to say, very clearly, that since these outrageous incidents have occurred, it really is incumbent upon the government of Croatia to create the kind of conditions that will make these kinds of attacks impossible between now and June 15th. We are not in a position to make that formal charge, but we are very concerned about the environment that has been created that could lead to these kinds of attacks.

QUESTION: There is word that President Tudjman intends to campaign, take his victory train down to Vukovar in Slovonia, which is, as you know, part of Croatia that this country has talked about opposing the transfer back to Croatian control. Is that the kind of act that could also inflame the situation? Or is that something that the United States would support?

MR. BURNS: Well, I think it would be our view that the government of Croatia ought to really dedicate itself, beyond taking campaign trips, to ensuring that conditions in Eastern Slovonia -- which is under UN administration -- that conditions are appropriate so that Serbs can live there in the future; and also that conditions are appropriate throughout the country so that minority Serbs can return to their homes. That is why Secretary Albright visited a small town in Croatia to make that point.

QUESTION: There is word that General Klein is going to give permission to Mr. Tudjman to make this trip. Is that something that the United States would endorse?

MR. BURNS: I'm not familiar with whether or not President Tudjman absolutely intends to travel there and what General Klein's decision may be. But I will be glad to take the question and get back to you on it.

QUESTION: Nick, Korea. Issue one, North Korea -- the World Food Program reported that North Korea only has two weeks of food stocks in their warehouses. So the president of the World Food Program was quite concerned. Does this Department share her concern that the food in the pipeline is not going to get there in time?

MR. BURNS: Bill, we talked about this extensively yesterday.

The United States does share the concern, and we firmly support the World Food Program. But I would refer you to my remarks yesterday on this. It's a very serious food situation.

What I can tell you is that we had a useful meeting yesterday in New York among the United States, the Republic of Korea and the North Koreans. Our delegation was led by Mark Minton, our very fine foreign service officer. It was useful. We expect to continue these discussions. We hope very much the North Koreans can see their way towards accepting the President's invitation to four-party talks.

I can also tell you that our Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Chuck Kartman, is going to have a series of discussions over the next couple of days. He will be in Honolulu, I think, tomorrow, for talks with the Japanese on our defense relationship. Between the 8th and 11th of June, he will be in Seoul for our trilateral talks with the Japanese and the South Koreans on Korean Peninsula issues.

We always talk to the Japanese and the South Koreans about these issues. We want to make sure that we are totally in agreement with them -- which we are -- coordinate our policies together toward North Korea. I think they will discuss the food situation, the status of the four-party talks proposal, and implementation of the agreed framework. So there is a lot of action, a lot of meetings, and we hope that at some point in time, the North Koreans will see their way to accept our invitation.

QUESTION: In a hopefully (inaudible) related matter, did you yesterday also discuss the reports of Mr. Hwang Jang-yop's --

MR. BURNS: Yes.

QUESTION: -- reports of the small arsenal of nuclear weapons that North Korea is alleged to have?

MR. BURNS: Yes.

QUESTION: And you said?

MR. BURNS: Www.state.gov.

QUESTION: And you said?

MR. BURNS: Our fantastic Internet. The transcript of the briefing is there.

QUESTION: You said this is not possible?

MR. BURNS: 1.7 million hits last month. Yes, I discussed it, and you'll see what I said.

QUESTION: Okay, I will look.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on North Korea?

MR. BURNS: Yes, Zita, yes.

QUESTION: Following the warnings of the World Food Program of the worsening famine, yesterday the South Korean Unification Ministry released a statement saying it's possible that the North Koreans are actually exaggerating the problem and that they have enough stockpiles to last. Do you have any comment on that? And does the United States still confer with South Korea on the seriousness of the problem?

MR. BURNS: We certainly do confer with the South Koreans.

In fact, that's one of the issues that Chuck Kartman will be addressing in Seoul between the 8th and 11th of June. But we put our faith in the World Food Program. These are experts. They have a great track record. They know what they are doing. We know from first-hand accounts of American congressmen who have been in North Korea, from other international visitors, objective people, that there is a great deal of privation in North Korea, severe food shortages, and that particularly little kids under the age of five and six are severely malnourished.

I think we have got a lot of evidence to support the fact that we have come forward with $25 million in American food aid since February. So we have confidence in the World Food Program's assessment.

Yes.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Croatia for a moment?

MR. BURNS: Let me just stay on Korea, and then we will go back. Yes.

QUESTION: Korea. In the discussions, Senator Baucus, speaking on the Hill the other day, mentioned that the North Koreans are reluctant to have the Chinese involved in the talks. Did they express that to you during these talks?

MR. BURNS: I am not going to betray the confidentiality of our discussions with the North Koreans. I am not aware they have made such statements. The fact is that China is one of the four parties and these talks will not proceed without China. China is a very important country in that part of the world and a very important link to the North Koreans.

Yes, I think Crystal is next, Mr. Lambros. Ladies before gentlemen, Mr. Lambros. Always.

QUESTION: I don't know about that, but thank you.

MR. BURNS: It's very important. Those are the rules here in the State Department press room.

QUESTION: Back to Croatia. You said that the United States opposes the behavior to the opposing political parties that has come of late, and just this weekend, the Secretary was in the region telling President Tudjman she is disgusted with his behavior, as well as Mr. Milosevic's. How long is the United States going to tolerate this inaction in Croatia? It seems as though, particularly Mr. Tudjman, is just doing whatever he wants to do and taking on his nationalistic agenda to the nth degree. How long is the United States going to tolerate this inaction before there are some severe penalties put on the --

MR. BURNS: Secretary Albright's message couldn't have been more clear to the Croatian Government over the weekend because she went face-to-face with two Croatian Government ministers, and you all saw that happen. We saw a couple of days ago that the Croatian Government said that it intends to prosecute some of its citizens, Croatian citizens, who have brutalized elderly returning Serbian residents of Croatia. That is a step in the right direction. We need to see more of it.

The ultimate sword here, the ultimate leverage, is that the United States is clearly saying that without a complete implementation of the Dayton Accords, both Serbia and Croatia risk their economic relationship with the United States. We have levers that we can use in the international financial institutions as well as bilaterally.

QUESTION: The United States and the Secretary have been saying this quite at length now, I think, everyone would say, and it is a lot of talk of we can do this, we can do that. But there is only a year left. The Secretary said on Nightline, I believe, with Mr. Koppel a couple days ago, that she is committed to pulling out the troops now. She is going to -- June 1998 they are going to be out. But there is a lot to be done in a year.

We are seeing a little bit of action, maybe a shadow of action on the part of the leaders in the Balkans.

MR. BURNS: Well, first of all, I think the Secretary put Milosevic and Tudjman on notice last weekend that we do not have unlimited patience and that we mean what we say. We hope that they understand that, particularly Mr. Milosevic. We hope he understands the message that Secretary Albright gave him privately in his office. He should understand it. We mean what we say here. He will not have a good relationship with the United States if he continues to disregard his commitments that he signed on the dotted line on at Dayton and at Paris.

QUESTION: So the financial blanket is going to be pulled from under the Balkans?

MR. BURNS: That's the threat, and we mean it. Yes, Mr. Lambros, and then --

QUESTION: On the status of moratorium on Cyprus, since the Cypriot Foreign Minister, Mr. Kasoulides, stated in the National Press Club that the moratorium is not honored by the Turkish side, as the U.S. Government informed them.

MR. BURNS: Are you talking about the unilateral measures in Cyprus and Turkey that were taken?

QUESTION: That's exactly - that's correct, yes.

MR. BURNS: We understand that both governments, having taken those decisions unilaterally, intend to implement them, and we applaud that.

QUESTION: And whatever they discuss today on the missiles issue, since you mentioned earlier countermeasures on behalf of Turkey, are you afraid missile, Mr. Burns, for any conflict over the island of Cyprus to this attack?

MR. BURNS: We think that the Cypriot Government, the Turkish Cypriot community are interested in peace talks, interested in cooperation. We applaud that. We think that is the direction in which the situation is heading -- towards peace, away from conflict.

QUESTION: The last one. Did you find for us, finally, that Turkish violation has taken place the other day in Cyprus since the Cypriot Foreign Minister, Mr. Kasoulides, told us earlier at the National Press Club that anyone could prove that they have occurred?

MR. BURNS: As you remember, we heard two sides of a story -- one from the Cypriot Government, the other from the Turkish Government. We are concerned by the actions of the Turkish Air Force that day. We have expressed that concern directly to the Turkish Government.

QUESTION: Do you find if they occurred, as the U.S. Government?

This is my question.

MR. BURNS: Mr. Lambros, as you know, we are not the monitor, sole monitor of activities in the air. We have embassies there, but we do not monitor on a daily basis. We are concerned about the actions of Turkey and have expressed that to the Turkish Government.

QUESTION: Do you know that Turkish war ships were in the Cypriot port?

MR. BURNS: I simply can't comment on that question, Mr. Lambros. Yes?

QUESTION: On Wednesday you took a question about the visit of el Baz, the Egyptian ambassador or representative of President Mubarak. He came here. He was acting as a shuttle between the Israelis. What is the results of his efforts?

MR. BURNS: Mr. El Baz, well-known to us, a good friend of ours, was here. He talked to Secretary Albright. He talked to Dennis Ross. He talked to Aaron Miller, other members of our peace team. We had very useful conversations with him and a very useful meeting yesterday of the ad hoc liaison group on aid to the Palestinians.

I think we just have two more questions. Betty's got a question

Yes, first and then Betty.

QUESTION: On Sierra Leone, the leaders of the coup have asked for "amicable settlement from the international community."

Has the United States had any communication with the coup leaders?

MR. BURNS: Well, there is one way they can have an amicable settlement, and that is to get out of Freetown and drop their coup, end it, and return power to the democratically elected leader.

This is the clear view of all the West African countries, of the United States and of all European countries. So that is the clear way they can get out of this corner into which they have inserted themselves.

Now, I should just say more broadly we do not have an operating embassy in Freetown. We evacuated our ambassador and our deputy chief of mission, but they are in Conakry. They are watching the situation and they will continue to exert as much political influence as they can.

Betty, yes.

QUESTION: You may have touched on this yesterday just briefly, but the Russian efforts to raise international financing to continue construction of the nuclear power plant in Cuba. Do you have any reaction for that?

MR. BURNS: The United States has been opposed to the completion of the Juragua nuclear power plant on Cuba for many, many years.

We first talked to then-Premier Gorbachev about this in the '80s.

We have talked to Yeltsin and others about this. We do not believe that the Cuban Government has the capacity and wherewithal to operate a nuclear plant in Cuba close to the United States. We are concerned about the environmental impact. We are concerned about the reliability of this particular plant, the design, and also the people who are going to run it.

So we have a lot of concerns and we are confident that people with money around the world who are looking to make a profit, investors someplace, are not going to put it into a Cuban nuclear reactor because everyone knows how shoddy the implementation of these projects are in Cuba in general.

QUESTION: Well, there is some indication, Nick, that German, British and Brazilian companies have expressed an interest.

MR. BURNS: They ought to think twice. If they are interested in getting a return on their money, they ought to think twice.

The United States firmly opposes the completion of this power plant. We have for years, going back into the Soviet period.

QUESTION: Nick, 53 years ago this hour the United States military specialty army had gained a foothold in Normandy, I believe.

MR. BURNS: Thank you, Bill.

(Laughter.)

We remember that. Thank you, no thank you, seriously. Bill has raised a very important issue, D-Day, and a lot of people died that day. Thank you for remembering it.

QUESTION: And we have our own --

MR. BURNS: We have our military officers here. It's a very important issue. Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:26 P.M.)

(###)


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