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U.S. Department of State 96/02/15 Press Briefing

From: DOSFAN <gopher://>

U.S. State Department Directory

U.S. Department of State

96/02/15 Press Briefing

Office of the Spokesman




Thursday, February 15, 1996

Briefer: Nicholas Burns



US, NATO Policy re IFOR Detention of War Criminals ..... 7-9 --Detention of Karadzic and Mladic...................... 8



Resolution of Aegean Dispute............................ 20




DPB #25

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1996, 1:15 P.M.



Q A question on another subject. Yesterday, Assistant Secretary Shattuck said that the United States will ruthlessly pursue Karadzic and Mladic. That seems to be a lot more proactive game-plan than what we've been hearing before, which is that the IFOR troops, if they encounter these people by chance, will detain them.

Was he signaling a change in policy, or is the old policy still in effect?

MR. BURNS: I listened very carefully to John Shattuck, and I think what he said is fully consistent with what Secretary Perry said two days ago and what other spokespeople of the Administration have said.

Let me break it down into two parts. First, I think Secretary Perry, John Shattuck and others have been very consistent. It is the duty of troops in IFOR to detain indicted war criminals, should they recognize them, should they encounter them anywhere -- on the street, at a checkpoint -- anywhere in the region where IFOR is currently patrolling. It's the duty. Secretary Perry made that clear.

Obviously, IFOR has let us know, privately and publicly, that they don't believe they have sufficient quality photographs and information on the 52 indicted war criminals to let their troops know who these people are.

Secretary Perry said two days ago that he would make sure that those photographs and any other information were in the hands of IFOR. Also, importantly, the spokeswoman for Justice Goldstone in The Hague said the same thing: that the War Crimes Tribunal would give to IFOR as much information as it needed to allow our young troops to be able to identify these people.

But what's very clear, what Assistant Secretary Shattuck and Secretary Perry and all of us have said this week, is it is the responsibility, it is a duty, to detain these people if, in fact, they encounter them. But both of them also said -- and I have said and others have said -- that it is not the central mission of the troops.

The central mission of the troops is to patrol the cease-fire zone and to enforce the cease-fire and maintain it, which is the central military mission of IFOR.

To go to the larger question, the United States strongly supports and supports unequivocally the War Crimes Tribunal in the objective of bringing each of these 52 people to trial. They have been indicted. They should be brought to trial in The Hague, and, if the prosecution is successful, they should then be convicted and incarcerated.

We have no doubt that war criminals number one and two -- Karadzic and Mladic -- are guilty of the murder of thousands of people at Srebrenica and Zepa and in other instances. It is our determination to bring them to justice.

It may not happen this week, and it may not happen next week or even any time in the next three or four months. But it will happen, and they will be brought to justice. Sooner or later they'll make a mistake and they'll end up in The Hague, and that will be a great day.

Q Going back to my basic question, the words "ruthlessly pursue" seem to go well beyond just getting better photographs and just hoping that they'll take a wrong turn some day and wind up in Bosnian territory. "Ruthlessly pursue" means something very active.

MR. BURNS: I don't think John Shattuck meant to assert a point that would change the military mission of IFOR. We are in complete agreement -- we in the State Department -- with the Defense Department and with our military leadership in the field that the primary responsibility of the troops has been to create a 600-mile zone of separation, to patrol that zone, and to maintain a cease-fire.

But they do have these additional responsibilities which they will carry out if in fact they do encounter these people. The first step is to give them the tools to do that -- the information to do that. So, Jim, I wouldn't think that Assistant Secretary Shattuck was trying to stake out new ground. But I think what he said was consistent with what all of us have been saying all along.


Q Mr. Holbrooke was in London yesterday. He met with the British Defense Secretary. They discussed certain issues. I think among the topics they covered was the Aegean issue.

Can you first tell us what did they exactly talk? And, secondly, how do you interpret the British stand on the Aegean issue, which seems to be sort of different than the U.S. stand?

MR. BURNS: I don't have a detailed report on Dick Holbrooke's discussions in London. I don't believe there are major differences between the United Kingdom and the United States on this issue, on the Aegean.

Q Do you stand by the British position that Greece and Turkey should resolve their outstanding issues by direct talks?

MR. BURNS: The United States believes that Greece and Turkey should resolve their problems peacefully, amicably, by whatever means they choose to do so, whether it's the International Court of Justice, whether it's some other form of mediation, whether it's direct talks. It doesn't really matter to us how it's done. It's fully up to them how they want to proceed on that basis. We're not going to dictate that to them. We're fully available to help if they would like us to help.


Thank you very much.

(Press briefing concluded at 2:04 p.m.)


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