U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #87, 97-06-09
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Monday, June 9, 1997
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
1 Welcome Visitors; Introduction of Jim Foley, Deputy Spokesman
1 Algeria: Praise for Election, Voters; Concerns Raised by
1-2 Croatia: Fmr. Sen. Paul Simon Heads OSCE Election Monitoring
2 DROCongo: A/S Shattuck Travels; Investigation of Massacres;
Kabila Commitment to Investigation
2 DROCongo: No Decision on U.S. Assistance to Congo
3 Statement on Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group Meeting
3 Secretary's Travel to Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong: Press Sign
3-4 Update: Fighting; Embassy Operations; Official Personnel
Numbers, Evacuation; France Effort; American Citizens;
3-4 Presidential Elections, Ceasefire Talks
4 Whereabouts of USS Kearsarge; Potential for U.S. Role in
Evacuation; Albright, Pickering Attention
4-5 DROC Mobutu's Forces Connection with Former Congo Pres. Denis
5 Embassy Personnel Search for American Citizens in Brazzaville
5-6 Russia ForMin Primakov Alleged Remarks re Decoupling Missiles
6-7 Foreign Affairs Funding; Secretary Albright's Efforts re State
Dept. Budget; Administration Commitment to Funding Issues
7 Secretary's Foreign Policy Speeches Throughout the United
UNITED NATIONS / LEBANON
7-8 U.S. Vote Against Fifth Committee Resolution Assessing Israel
for Attack on UNIFIL
8-9 U.S. Pressures on Lebanon Against Seeking Compensation for
9,16 U.S., International Assessment of Elections; Turnout, Media
9-10,12 ROK Food Aid to DPRK Dependent on Four-Party Talks;
U.S. Policy on Food Aid
9-12 DPRK Missile Program: Technology Transfers; Missile Talks;
DPRK Missile Sales
12-13 Markus Wolfe Ineligible for U.S. Visa Due to Terrorist Activity
13-15 Palestinian-Israel Talks in Egypt; U.S. Contacts with Parties;
Objective of Talks
14 Requirement for Forward Movement in Process
14 Israel Policy on Har Homa Construction
15 Violence in East Timor
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JUNE 9,1997 1:35 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen; and welcome to the State
Department. It's my great pleasure to welcome here two very good friends of
mine - Ursula Aaroe, who is a Swiss diplomat based in Singapore, and her
husband, Peter, guests of ours and friends from Cairo - welcome.
I also want to make an introduction, a very important introduction of Jim
Foley. Jim. Jim has been tapped by Secretary Albright to be the new deputy
spokesman here, replacing Glyn Davies. Jim is a foreign service officer. He
has most recently been on detail to Senator Coverdell's office, up on
Capitol Hill. Before that, Jim was the private secretary to three NATO
secretary generals. He served with great distinction at NATO. Before that,
he was a senior advisor to Secretary of State Larry Eagleburger, and
Deputy Secretary of State Larry Eagleburger, when he was in both positions.
Jim is an outstanding individual. He's got big shoes to fill, to fill Glyn
Davies' shoes; but we think he can do it. Jim, the press corps is very tame
- never a problem dealing with the press corps. I think you'll enjoy your
tenure as deputy spokesman. Welcome.
I have a couple of announcements to make before we go to questions. First,
the United States commends the government of Algeria for holding parliamentary
elections and for inviting international observers to monitor them. We'd
like to praise the Algerian people for their courage in turning out in such
high numbers at the polls last week. The Algerian people are the best judge
of how the election results will contribute to the process of national
reconciliation in Algeria. A multiparty assembly holds the potential to
move this process a step forward.
We do urge the government of Algeria to address the issues raised by
international observers and political parties, as Algeria prepares for
municipal and local elections. The election campaign also marked a
commendable increase in the openness of Algerian television and radio. We
hope that increased openness will continue, as Algeria moves toward peace,
stability and democracy that so many Algerians have desired for such a long
period of time. I'll be glad to take questions on that issue, on the issue
of international observation, once we get to questions.
I also want to make a short announcement on Croatia. Former U.S. Senator
Paul Simon will serve as the OSCE special coordinator for monitoring of the
Croatian presidential elections this coming Sunday, June 15. The OCSE
monitoring effort has a staff of 100 people - that includes 40 Americans,
in addition to the parliamentary delegation from the OCSE member states.
Senator Simon was appointed by the chairman in office of the OSCE, Danish
Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen. Senator Simon will issue a
statement on the findings of the international monitoring efforts on June
I also want to let you know I just had a phone conversation with our
Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck, who's in Kigali. He accompanied
Ambassador Bill Richardson to Lubumbashi and to Kisangani over the weekend
for their talks with Mr. Laurent Kabila. John left the Richardson party
when Richardson came back to the United States. John visited Kisangani on
his own; he went to Goma, and he's now in Kigali.
We believe that it will now be possible for the United Nations advance team
that will investigate the allegations of mass murder in and near Kisangani -
for that team to arrive in Congo on June 20; and for the full investigation
to begin on July 7. John Shattuck interviewed personally Rwandan Hutu
refugees who were caught up in the atrocities a couple of months back. He
has heard first-hand reports of killings by forces in the area of refugees
most disturbing. As you know, when Ambassador Richardson met with Mr.
Kabila over the weekend, Ambassador Richardson was able to elicit from
Mr. Kabila a promise that the government of the Congo will cooperate
with the United Nations in investigating these very serious allegations of
We hope that Mr. Kabila will now turn these promises into action on the
ground. It is one thing to make a promise. It is quite another thing to
actually come through and make sure that every member of the government of
Congo, including soldiers from the rebel alliance who may have been in and
around Kisangani several months back when that town was besieged, that they
be made available to the UN investigating team so that the people who
committed these murders will be brought to justice. That's a very
important commitment that he has made. What will be more important is
to see that commitment turned into action by the Congo Government.
Secondly, I do want to correct a story in the papers over the weekend. This
issue has to deal with American economic assistance to Congo. Secretary
Albright has not made a decision on whether or not the United States will
be extending assistance to Congo and what that amount will be. I'm not
blaming the journalists and the newspapers here. I think there may have
been some incorrect backgrounding out of some of the officials who were in
Congo over the weekend.
I want to be very clear about this because I have talked to the Secretary
about this. The United States will base our decision on whether we extend
economic assistance to Congo on the actions of the government in Kinshasa.
The actions will be very clear. It has to do with whether or not the
government is going forward towards political and economic reform, or
whether it's not; whether the government is going to cooperate on issues
like investigating mass atrocities. These are important. For the life of me,
I don't know how this $50 million figure got into the press. Again,
I am not blaming the journalists. I am not blaming the newspapers.
I think there is some incorrect and ill advised backgrounding, and it ought
to stop, because the Secretary of State makes these decisions. This is a
very important decision, and she has not yet made this particular
Now, George, just a couple of more things. First of all, I'm not going to
read this, but we have a statement that the United States is issuing on
behalf of the Israel-Lebanon monitoring group. It pertains to the meetings
of the group on June 8th and 9th, yesterday and today, and it concerns a
complaint brought to the group by Lebanon, in one case, and by Israel, in
another. If you are interested, please refer to the statement that is in
the press room.
Finally, the Secretary will be traveling to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Hong
Kong from the 24th of June to the 2nd of July. I would like to close the
sign-up sheet by tomorrow because we do need to secure visas for journalists
traveling with us. If you are interested and have not signed up for that
trip, please do so. As of tomorrow, we will begin the process of trying to
accommodate those who would like to come on the trip.
I fear we have more journalists who would like to come than seats on the
Secretary's aircraft. But we will deal with that problem this week.
QUESTION: Could you bring us up to date on the situation in Brazzaville,
across the river from oasis of peace and democracy, Kinshasa?
MR. BURNS: Well, I think you know that since June 5th, the situation in
Brazzaville has been chaotic and violent. There has been continuing
fighting between the Congolese military forces and the paramilitary forces
loyal to the former president, Denis Sassou Nguesso. The situation remains
quite confused as we speak. I just spoke to the head of our task force, up
on the seventh floor, on Congo-Brazzaville. I can tell you that our
American embassy continues to be operating, but under quite adverse
circumstances. The embassy took an RPG hit over the weekend, also some
small arms fire. We don't believe that this fire was directed at the
embassy; we think it was just sporadic fire and it was coincidental. We
have 28 American diplomats in Congo-Brazzaville. We'd like to bring that
number down to 15 American diplomats in the next day or two if we can. The
problem is, we've not been able to evacuate those Americans. It's simply
unsafe to do so.
They are safe, and if we can get them out through the services of the
French Government - you know the French have put in several hundred troops
into Brazzaville today - or any other charter aircraft, we will do so. We
will only do so under safe conditions. In addition to that, we believe
there are approximately 200 private American citizens in Congo-Brazzaville,
75 of whom are probably in the capital city. The embassy is in contact with
as many of those people as we can be through our radio network. We are
advising Americans, any Americans listening to this through the Voice
of America or BBC, to keep their heads down, to stay where they are,
not to go out into the streets because it's quite dangerous in the streets
of Brazzaville right now. We'll be in touch with them as the best way to
get them out of Brazzaville as soon as we can.
Now, I will say that we're very grateful for the quick action of the French
Government to try to protect international interests in Brazzaville. We're
working very closely with the French Government. Politically, we believe in
very strong terms that the government and the rebel forces ought to agree
to an immediate cease-fire, and then to a restoration of the constitution,
as it was in power before the fighting broke out. Presidential elections
are scheduled for July 27th. We believe that if there can be a cease-fire
and talks between the government and the rebel movement, it may still
be possible to implement the presidential elections on the 27th of
The only other thing I'd say, George, is that yesterday we issued a travel
warning, advising American citizens to defer travel to Congo-Brazzaville.
It is our very strong wish that American citizens not travel there. It is
simply too dangerous. They're literally taking their life into their hands
if they choose to do that. Still on this situation, Bill?
QUESTION: Yes, Nick, yes, indeed. Two questions. One, does the U.S. have
any capability with the Kearsarge in that - has the Kearsarge left that
MR. BURNS: The Kearsarge has left. It's no longer off the coast of West
Africa. It's heading towards the Mediterranean.
QUESTION: And I take it the U.S. has no intentions of getting involved in
the Brazzaville evacuation. That would be a French operation, strictly?
MR. BURNS: We're going to have to take this on a day-to-day basis.
MR. BURNS: Obviously, what is first and foremost in our minds is the
security of our American citizens -- private Americans, as well as our
embassy staff. If they can be brought out by the French or by chartered
aircraft, that is the best solution. But we will take this one step at a
Under Secretary Tom Pickering was involved in this crisis all throughout
the weekend. Secretary Albright was briefed over the weekend. She was
briefed on a couple of occasions today. So we are giving this high-level
attention. It's a very serious situation for the Americans and the other
foreigners who are trapped in Brazzaville today. Crystal.
QUESTION: Is the United States - there were reports - I believe it was in
the Post today that Mobutu soldiers, ex-soldiers, have found a home with
MR. BURNS: With Mobutu?
QUESTION: No, no, not with --
MR. BURNS: The ex-president?
QUESTION: I'm sorry the ex-president of Congo --
MR. BURNS: Oh, Brazzaville --
QUESTION: Congo, Congo, not --
MR. BURNS: You mean, Mr. Sassou Nguesso.
QUESTION: Yes, there you go. And - I didn't know how to pronounce his
name, and I wasn't going to try. So you did it for me. But there seems to
be a rift going - a siding going on there, is the United States worried
about this siding? And is the United States worried that there are going to
be other eruptions in Africa? It seems as though we are in the midst of a
lot of flash points --
MR. BURNS: It's a terribly unstable time in Central Africa, and, indeed,
in West Africa, with the situation in Sierra Leone. But I can't say that we
are aware exactly who all these rebel fighters are and whether not some of
them may have been buttressed by former members of President Mobutu's
presidential guard or military.
All I can say is that the United States is very concerned and disappointed
that these rebel fighters chose to take up arms. There is a government in
Congo-Brazzaville. The way to resolve problems is not to fight and kill
people and produce mass chaos in this capital city and throughout the
country, rather it is to sit down and talk through problems. That is the
rational way to proceed with problem solving.
So we are very disappointed that this situation has come to pass. But our
first concern has got to be the safety of our own citizens, always. After
that, of course, we will want to exert whatever influence Ambassador Aubrey
Hooks can, our very fine ambassador in Brazzaville, to see that a cease-
fire is put into place.
Now let me just tell you, since I always think it is important to say when
foreign service officers do good things, one of our consular officers, Ava
Rogers went out over the weekend, taking great danger upon herself, to try
to find American citizens who we thought were in a particular neighborhood
in Brazzaville. She and a Marine guard went out. They were unable to get to
the Americans, but our deputy chief of mission then went out and was able
to get to a certain group of Americans.
These American foreign service officers are putting their own lives on the
line and trying to help American citizens. That is their obligation and
duty, obviously to defend American citizens, not to take their life in
their hands, but to do what they can to help American citizens, and I
wanted to draw attention to Ava Rogers, who I think acted heroically over
the weekend to find American citizens caught up in the fighting. Jim.
QUESTION: On another subject. Have you been able to clear up what Russian
Foreign Minister Primakov said or did not say last week about de-coupling
nuclear warheads from the missiles?
MR. BURNS: I still haven't seen Foreign Minister Primakov's statement.
But I can say I don't believe that there is any formal proposal by the
Russian Federation to de-couple missiles and warheads. What we have is an
agreement on de-targeting that was put into place by President Clinton and
President Yeltsin back in 1994. That's a very important, symbolic agreement
because it means for the first time since the beginning of the nuclear age
that Russian nuclear missiles are no longer targeted at Boston, Washington,
and San Francisco, and that ours aren't targeted at Vladivostok and
De-coupling would be a farther step forward. It's not something that we are
seriously, I believe, discussing with the Russians at the present
QUESTION: You say there is no formal proposal. Is there an informal? Have
they broached the subject at all?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. You remember there is some linguistic
questions about what President Yeltsin said in Paris back on the 27th of
May. But I think most people who listened to that believe that he was
talking about de-targeting, and that is what Yastrzhembsky said, the
Russian presidential spokesman. He said that President Yeltsin was
referring to the de-targeting initiative, which we believe is important,
and which we are, of course, continuing with the Russian Government.
QUESTION: Nick, Secretary Albright has gone out of her way to develop
good relations with Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and to sell U.S.
diplomacy around the country. Now that Congress is getting into actually
dealing with your budget, do you have any evidence that this is going to
pay off? Or are they going to treat it in the usual manner?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Albright believes that you can't have a strong
foreign policy in the United States if you don't have bipartisan support
for it, number one, on Capitol Hill; and number two, if you don't have
support among the American public. That is why, for both of those reasons,
she has made a major effort to go up to Capitol Hill, to work with Senator
Helms and Congressman Livingston and others, Congressman Callahan -- others
who are in positions of great influence, not only over our budget,
but over appointments and over foreign policy issues in general.
I think it has paid off. If you look at the very strong vote in favor of
the Chemical Weapons Convention, that did not necessarily have to go in
favor of the Administration. But it did, I think, because we reached out
both to Republicans and Democrats.
On the budget, I can tell you with 100 percent degree of certainty that a
year ago today, we wouldn't have stood a chance at getting congressional
backing for an increase in State Department funding to help us pay off the
debt at the United Nations; to help us fund the operations of our embassies
and consulates overseas; to retain a professional diplomatic corps, the
kind that we need to have strong foreign policy. We haven't come to the end
of the budget battle, as you know, in Congress, but we are doing okay.
Secretary Albright had some good discussions over the weekend. She is
taking this as really one of her top priorities. She has made it one of her
top priorities. It has got to be directed at Republicans as well as
Democrats, because Republicans control the budget process right now.
Now, second, Rick, I just want to say that the Secretary was in South
Alabama yesterday, in Mobile, Alabama. She was on Boston on Thursday. She
was in Wilmington a couple of weeks ago. She has been in Houston. She has
been in Grand Rapids. She is making these trips into the heartland all
across the country and she will continue to make them because she really
believes that the American people have to be treated with respect. They
have to be told by their senior leaders that they are important enough
that we will travel to their cities to talk to them about foreign
We need the support of the people, as well, across the board. Not just on
the budget, but on NATO enlargement, on the UN arrears problem, on chemical
weapons and other issues. So she is going to continue this effort. This is
not a four-month effort by Madeleine Albright. I think throughout the time
that she is in office, you are going to see her traveling around the
country and see her on television and on the radio.
QUESTION: You said that a year ago you wouldn't have stood a chance. What
has changed in the past year besides the occupant of the Office of
Secretary of State? Is she --
MR. BURNS: I think what she -- I think --
QUESTION: -- is she doing that Secretary Christopher was unable to
MR. BURNS: I think what has changed is that the President and Secretary
Albright have communicated to the Congress in unmistakable terms that our
budget, the international affairs budget, is among our top priorities. It
is a priority. It is a legislative priority. It's a political and foreign
Second, I think Secretary Christopher did a commendable job in being the
first leader of this government to draw attention to the budget problem; to
speak about it publicly; to talk about diplomatic readiness, as he did in
October and November and December of last year. He and Secretary-designate
Albright went to the President together to present their budget proposals.
The President, of course, is now leading the fight. So I think it's a
combination of the efforts of President Clinton, Secretary Albright and
former Secretary Christopher that have brought us to this happier
status from a year ago. That is that we have a much better chance
at getting full funding for our priorities from the Congress.
QUESTION: On the weekend, the United Nations General Assembly Fifth
Committee voted on a draw-up dealing with the UNIFIL force in Lebanon. Now,
this was approved, except for two votes against - the United States and
Israel. Can you explain to us why the United States would vote against such
a resolution which asks Israel to pay $1.7 million to the United Nations in
damages for the base in Lebanon - the United Nations base - and for
treatment of the injured.
MR. BURNS: Right. Well, thank you very much. I want to just take the
opportunity to reiterate our very strong policy that the United States
supports UNIFIL as a stabilizing force in the region. We are deeply
concerned that the actions taken by the Fifth Committee of the United
Nations to assess Israel for the Qana incident will set a troubling
precedent whereby the Fifth Committee, acting alone, is able to challenge
the will of the Security Council - in this case, by directing how funds
for a peacekeeping mission can be spent or cannot be spent. This matter,
fundamentally, involves issues of international peace and security, which
are the primary responsibility of a security council.
It is simply beyond the competence of the Fifth Committee to take the
decisions that they took over the weekend. So we are arguing on procedural
grounds, within the United Nations system, that only the Security Council
has the power and the authority to designate a country, in this case Israel,
to designate a country as being responsible for paying - for being assessed
with the full cost of the UN mission. If this does go to the Security
Council, the United States will be very active in this debate. But we had
to defend Israel, and also defend the United Nations system itself
from this precedent, which we believe is very unhelpful.
QUESTION: I am full of questions. Now, the Lebanese press -- today they
were issuing reports that the United States is putting a lot of pressure on
the Lebanese Government not to pursue a policy of asking for damages;
because Lebanon sees this policy as a way of stopping Israeli attacks on
its territories. They say that the ambassador, Jones, has met with the
Prime Minister Hariri and conveyed this message to him. Not only that, but
the United States has threatened not to support the renewal of the
UNIFIL forces in Southern Lebanon when it comes to renewal next month.
Is that true? I mean, if the United States don't support UNIFIL and UNIFIL
is withdrawn, we know the situation will be very explosive in Southern
Lebanon. Is there truth in these reports?
MR. BURNS: Well, first of all, as you know, I never go into the details
of our diplomatic conversations with other governments. You wouldn't expect
me to. I don't believe the government of Lebanon would appreciate it if I
did that; so I won't do that today. But I can tell you this, Lebanon's
demand for compensation from Israel for the families of the victims is a
separate issue from the one that I was discussing previously. It's a
separate issue. The United Nations did not vote on that issue over the
weekend. I just would have to check with our experts and the people who are
in charge of our Middle East policy, before I can give you an answer
on that. Frankly, I haven't talked to those people about that particular
When I was talking about precedent, I was referring to the activities of
the budget committee. It's an entirely separate issue.
QUESTION: But Lebanon considers this as a precedent. They would like to
follow this asking for damages to, as I said, to dissuade Israel from
attacking its territories.
MR. BURNS: That is a question that needs to be addressed separately - the
issue of compensation for the families of the victims. I'm sure that we'll
be talking to the Lebanese Government about that.
QUESTION: Is there any truth in the reports that are saying that the
United States is threatening not to support the renewal of UNIFIL?
MR. BURNS: Again, I don't want to betray the confidentiality of our
diplomatic discussions. Andre?
QUESTION: Yes. On Algeria, I'm unclear about your statement. You're
considering the elections are reasonably free and fair, or what's your
assessment about the report of the observers?
MR. BURNS: I would not use the words free and fair to describe the
Algerian elections, simply because the international monitors, in whom we
have great trust, did not use those words. Clearly, there were some
problems with the Algerian election in the way it was carried out. We do
think it's positive, however, that people voted in great numbers; and it's
positive that the government was able to open up television and radio to
political debate and political discourse. So our statement is an attempt,
really to congratulate the people of Algeria, first and foremost; and
secondly, to ask the government to continue with this small step forward
in openness, because we think that might be a way to provide some positive
momentum in relations between the government and others. Lord knows,
Algeria needs that after all the terrorism and the violence and the
killings of the past several years. Yes, Bill.
QUESTION: Korea, Nick. A report this morning from Reuters, picked up by
NPR that the South Korean Government has stated that there would not be any
large-scale food provision to North Korea, unless the North Koreans joined
four-party talks. Further, the report said that the U.S. was completely on
board with that policy. Is that accurate?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that's accurate. The United States' policy,
which is what I can speak about - not South Korea's policy - is to extend
food assistance to North Korea. Our ships are arriving. In fact, I think
all of the $25 million - the food for which that is paying for - should
have arrived in North Korean ports by now. That food is intended to help
little kids in North Korea. We are not tying food aid to the political
questions of the four-party talks. We will not do that.
Now, we want North Korea to come to the table on the four-party talks. Your
guess is as good as mine whether or not they North Koreans actually accept
our proposal. But on food aid, we'll keep going.
Now, on another related issue, Bill, our long-awaited proliferation talks
are scheduled to take place on June 11th and 12th and 13th of this week in
New York. Our delegation will be headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary Bob
Einhorn. I say scheduled, because the last time we thought the North
Koreans would show up, and they didn't. I'm not going to be in a position
of predicting the movements of North Korean diplomats. But we hope they
show up, and we hope we have these talks because we do have a number of
concerns about proliferation issues dealing with the North Koreans.
We haven't had talks, I believe, since Berlin in I think about a year ago -
the Spring of 1996. These talks ought to go forward, and we welcome the
North Koreans to New York City.
QUESTION: Could you outline what concerns you have about North Korea's
MR. BURNS: We've had a number of concerns - reports of North Korean
transfers of equipment and technology to other countries. As you know, we
look into those very carefully. We have not determined that there's been
any violation of American law or of international sanctions law. But that's
always on our minds. All of these missile issues involving North Korea,
separately involving North Korea and China and Iran and other countries are
of great concern to us. Bob Einhorn is our leading expert, and we felt it
was important to meet with them to talk about these.
Now, we are absolutely confident, George, that the agreed framework, put in
place two and a half years ago is in place, it's working. We are absolutely
clear that North Korea's nuclear program has been frozen and will remain
frozen. I want to make that clear. These are different issues that I'm
talking about here.
QUESTION: Is there something that leads you to believe that they won't
come to the talks? Have they applied for their visas in Beijing?
MR. BURNS: Well, having been burned a couple of times from this podium in
predicting that North Koreans will show up for talks, I've just decided to
take a pledge. I'm never going to predict again that they actually will
show up in the capital. I'll just say I hope they show up. In all
seriousness, they've said they're going to be there. We hope they'll be
there. But we've gone through this a couple of times, where they've
been asked to come to meetings, they've said they will and they haven't
come. We just hope they will show up this week.
QUESTION: -- visas in Beijing? Have they --
MR. BURNS: That's always a way to tell - whether they've picked up visas
in Beijing. I haven't asked our Beijing watchers to tell us if the visas
have been picked up or not. But that will be an indication. The talks are
just a couple of days away, so we hope very much that they're there.
QUESTION: Can we go back to my original - go ahead, Sid.
QUESTION: I just wanted to go back and say, you haven't determined that
there's been a violation of U.S. laws on proliferation --
MR. BURNS: Right, or international laws that are applicable here.
MR. BURNS: Yeah.
QUESTION: I thought it was - I thought you all - there was no question
they had been selling ballistic missiles to several countries in the Middle
East. There was a recent shipment of ballistic missile equipment to Egypt,
which you all are investigating. It's been going on for years - not the
Egypt part, but the others. What is it you all don't see, don't understand?
MR. BURNS: Well, Sid, before the United States takes any action, for
instance on sanctions, we have to determine pursuant to the law and the
letter of the law, that actually there's been a violation. We need to be
able to prove that. Now, there have been a number of reports, but we have
not determined that there have been any violations of the law - the law
that concerns this -- U.S. law and also international law. If we do
discover that there have been any violations of the law, we'll act upon it
and we'll let you know about that.
QUESTION: Practically speaking, even if you did discover it and put some
sort of embargo, sanctions on North Korea, which --
MR. BURNS: There would also be sanctions on the receiving country, which
is very important.
QUESTION: Okay, well the --
MR. BURNS: But we've not determined that.
QUESTION: -- the countries that they sell missiles to --
MR. BURNS: Right.
QUESTION: -- we don't trade with them in any case.
MR. BURNS: Well, there are so many reports that involve so many countries,
that I don't want to agree with that as a blanket statement.
QUESTION: Well, I don't see - these allegations go back - some must go
back a decade, of North Korean ballistic missile sales. What's the
MR. BURNS: There's no problem. Your government is doing its job. When
allegations surface, we look into the allegations as best we can. We talk
to the North Koreans and others about them. If we conclude there's been a
violation of a law, then we uphold the law, as we are bound to do by our
Constitution. If we cannot conclude there's been a violation of the law,
well, then, we can't go to sanctions. You've got to be able to make
a clear determination of what is sanctionable and what is not.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say, then, that the U.S. is continuing investigating
North Korean missile sales, with an eye towards possible sanctions, which --
MR. BURNS: I would not write the story that way. I think that would be
inaccurate. An eye towards possible sanctions would really be leading the
reader to believe that the imposition of sanctions is imminent. I didn't
say that. I just said the reason we have these talks is to address,
directly with the North Koreans, concerns we have about proliferation in
general, and about some of their activities. We are bound by the law to
live by the law, and we will do so. But I can't announce a violation of the
law if we haven't determined it. That's just the emphasation I wanted
QUESTION: My issue, Nick, on food, are you saying, then, that the United
States would not embrace the South Korean policy of insisting upon talks
before delivering food?
MR. BURNS: South Korea has to make its own decisions, as do other
countries. Japan has made its own decisions. The United States has its
policy; and that is, we provide food aid for humanitarian reasons. We do
not link that food aid to political issues.
QUESTION: And does the U.S. give any credibility to Mr. Hwang's, the
defector, Hwang's statement that North Korea would fight unless fed by the
South? I think that's basically what he said.
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that he's made that statement. The press may
have said that he's made that statement, but I can't confirm that that
statement was made by Mr. Hwang to South Korean government officials to
whom he is probably speaking. George?
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the visa situation of Mr. Wolfe, of the
former East Germany?
MR. BURNS: You know, I think I do have something on that, George, and I'm
glad you raised that question. Yes. We're talking about Markus Wolfe, the
former head of Stasi, right? The East German police. Well, he was refused a
visa, as my records show, in 1996. He was deemed to be ineligible for an
American visa under Section 212(a)(3)(b) of the Immigration and Nationality
This section states that aliens who have engaged in terrorist activities
are not eligible for visas to travel to the United States. It covers
several types of terrorist activities, including preparing and planning
terrorist activities, providing material support to those who have
committed or plan to commit terrorist acts. He was the deputy minister of
state security for East Germany. He was the head of the ministry's foreign
espionage branch. He actively aided and abetted and fostered international
and state-supported terrorism when he was an East German government
official. As the number 2 person in Stasi and the head of the espionage
branch, he was absolutely in the decision-making channel. There's no
question about that. By his own admission, he participated in determining
the ministry's policy and goals and he's, therefore, ineligible.
We, in the State Department, do not believe it is appropriate to give him a
waiver from Section 212(a)(3)(b) because we think it is inadvisable for
someone who spent his entire career as an opponent of free German, West
Germany, as an opponent of the German people, and someone who is anti-
American and trying to bring down our government and sponsor terrorist
attacks against us, why would we give him a visa? So, he is not coming to
the United States. He can write his best-selling books, but he won't be
able to enjoy the United States throughout the rest of his life if we have
anything to do with it.
QUESTION: Do Germans need visas to come to the States?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Do Germans need visas to come to the States?
MR. BURNS: He is prohibited from coming to the United States because he
is ineligible for a visa. Therefore, if he showed up at Boston or
Washington or New York or Miami or San Francisco, his name is on a look-out
list. He'd be turned away from the U.S. immigration official. He would be
sent back on the next plane to Germany. He doesn't belong in the United
QUESTION: There are a lot of international figures who sort of fit that
bill. There's been such a great change over the last five or so years --
MR. BURNS: Markus Wolfe is not - he has not - we believe in redemption,
Sid, for some people but not for Markus Wolfe. Not yet.
QUESTION: What's different --
MR. BURNS: Redemption is a very important principle in international
QUESTION: What is the difference between Markus --
MR. BURNS: Obvious difference - I know where you're going.
QUESTION: -- Markus Wolfe and Yevgeniy Primakov and Yasser Arafat--
MR. BURNS: You're leading the witness, and I know where you're going.
QUESTION: What's the difference? Is he not --
MR. BURNS: There is a huge difference and I want to tell you between
Yevgeniy Primakov and Markus Wolfe, believe me. Anyway, yes, sir?
QUESTION: Nick, do you have anything to say about the Palestinian --
MR. BURNS: We have a very good relationship with Yevgeniy Primakov.
Secretary Albright works with him. He is the foreign minister of one of our
friends, a friendly country to the United States, the Russian foreign
minister. Markus Wolfe is an unreconstructed communist who believes in
state terrorism against the United States. There's a big difference. Yes,
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the Palestinian-Israeli talks
in Egypt yesterday? And was there? Was there or is there any American
representation? And how do you describe the U.S. role in those talks?
MR. BURNS: Well, we're very pleased that the Israeli and Palestinian
negotiators were able to meet under Egyptian sponsorship. We felt for a
long time that when Israelis and Palestinians can disagree so much on the
issues, the only possible recourse for them is to get together and talk
face to face. The Egyptians were able to do that. We are very pleased that
Egypt is playing such an active and constructive role in these negotiations.
Osama el-Baz, the very able Egyptian negotiator, called Secretary Albright
this morning and briefed her on the Egyptian view of what happened
and what Egypt hopes to do over the next couple of days in promoting a
second meeting. Dennis Ross has been on the phone constantly with the
Egyptians and the Israelis and Palestinians. So, we are pleased.
Now, it is only a step to have a meeting. What we really hope will happen
is that the Israelis and Palestinians will actually agree to compromise
with each other and to move forward to talk about peace. That's the
objective that Egypt and the United States and other friendly countries
QUESTION: I have a question related with the Chairman Arafat interview
with Newsweek in which he said about it's the message, not the messenger,
when he was asking how can we expect him to succeed where President Clinton
failed about Dennis Ross. We wish for a serious and effective involvement
in the American Administration, preferably at higher levels. What is your
comment on this?
MR. BURNS: He has it. Chairman Arafat has that from the United States.
That's my answer. He has from President Clinton and Secretary Albright the
very strong view that this is a vital national interest of the United
States to see the peace negotiations succeed. Whenever he wants to phone
them or to write them, they are willing partners to him. Dennis Ross is the
person who works for the President and the Secretary of State very ably in
carrying out their policy.
So, Chairman Arafat has the involvement of the President and Secretary.
What we need to see, frankly, is we need to see Israel and the Palestinians
make the hard choices necessary to move forward in the peace negotiations.
The United States cannot make these decisions for the Palestinian authority,
nor for Israel. They have got to make the decisions, not us. But they will
find that we are faithful and dependable and, at the highest levels of our
government, active participant in all these issues. So, that is my response
to the Time magazine or the Newsweek magazine interview.
QUESTION: Can you clarify - probably not, this suggestion that Israel has
agreed to - I forget the exact wording - slow down the Har Homa development
to a negligible pace or something?
MR. BURNS: No, I cannot. I can't do that because I am not aware that's
the case. If I were aware that was the case, I wouldn't say it anyway. But
I am not aware it's the case, very seriously, Sid. The Israelis and
Palestinians finally are talking again. That's good. Let's hope they keep
talking and they make progress. We will not, again, go into the details of
what they are talking about because we have to be, as well as the Egyptians,
we need to be, both of us, effective mediators between them.
QUESTION: But as far as you know, you are saying that that pledge was not
MR. BURNS: I'm just not aware of it, but I can't confirm it or deny it.
I'm just not privy to that and I wouldn't say so if I were. Yes?
QUESTION: Is U.S. role mainly depending on telephone diplomacy, as your
MR. BURNS: No. We have Ambassador Indyk on the scene. Consul General Ed
Abington is on the scene. Ambassador Ned Walker in Cairo. No. We have
American diplomats working directly with all these people on the ground and
we have Secretary Albright and Dennis Ross on the phone with them, so we
have very active American involvement. If some of these countries, if some
of these people in the Middle East, especially people complaining about
whether or not we're engaged at a high level, if they only knew how
high level treatment they're getting compared to a lot of other regions
around the world where there are problems.
Secretary Albright is seized by the Middle East problem. She also must be
seized by problems in Europe and in Latin America and in Asia and Africa.
That is another message. We are there when they need them, but we also have
to work on other problems around the world. The Middle East is not the only
part of the world where the United States has interests and I think that
should be understood, but sometimes it is not understood. Yes?
QUESTION: Nick, there are some reports that violence has been escalating
in East Timor for the last few weeks and (inaudible) gets government
position as well as public place. Do you have anything? It's also leads to
some arrests of the East Timorese, you know, indigenous East Timorese. Do
you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: I don't have a specific comment on the incidents to which you
refer because I just am not familiar specifically with who started the
incidents and what happened. If you are interested, I can take that
question and get back to you. But obviously, we hope for a peaceful
resolution on all sides and by all sides of the problems in East Timor and
problems pertaining to Indonesia's human rights record in general.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Yes. Yes, sir?
QUESTION: On Algeria, please. There are some press reports about the
dispute among United Nations observers. Some of them say the statement
issued is not objective, that it was drawn up by a small group. So, could
you tell us about what is the assessment of the American monitoring
MR. BURNS: The Americans there were part of the international monitoring
group, and I think the international monitors were quite clear. They did
not say the elections were free and fair, but the elections did take place.
I have made statement about them, and we just hope that something positive
can now result in Algeria as a result of these elections.
Thank you. Thanks very much.
(The briefing concluded at 2:17 P.M.)