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U.S. Department of State 96/04/29 Daily Press Briefing
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U.S. State Department Directory
U.S. Department of State
96/04/29 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
I N D E X
Monday, April 29, 1996
Briefer: Glyn Davies
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, APRIL 29, 1996, 1:10 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Welcome to the State Department briefing. This is starting to seem permanent on my part.
I want to welcome some visitors to today's press briefing -- seven Jefferson Fellows who are journalists from Asia. They're part of a program of seminars and field work which will focus on Asia-Pacific region issues. So welcome to the briefing.
I don't have any other announcements, so I'll go immediately to your questions. George.
Q: Did they come all the way from Asia to hear this?
MR. DAVIES: They did. It's frightening, I know.
Q: Could we stay on Asia?
MR. DAVIES: You can stay on Asia.
Q: Anything new on China sanctions?
MR. DAVIES: Nothing new on China sanctions. No announcements to make, no timetable to lay out for you at this stage. Still waiting to hear. The Secretary is still working very hard on the non-proliferation issue, and we'll make an announcement when he's ready to do it.
Q: Glyn, what do you read into Chairman Arafat's visit to the United States? Is there some message here, and it's his first visit, I believe, since being elected to the post. What's changed? What do you make of it?
MR. DAVIES: Judd, I don't know that anything has changed. I think it's quite normal for the Chairman to be coming here. This is a private visit. I don't even have the particulars on it to share with you. I believe he may be making a public appearance at some stage, and, of course, while he's here, you can expect that he'll be meeting with
some U.S. officials. But again, right now, nothing to announce to you.
I think this is a very normal development that he would come to this country, especially given some of the recent good news of the last several weeks, developments in his neck of the woods -- the amendment to the Palestinian Covenant. So he clearly is coming to give whatever kind of a speech had been laid out for him to do and to touch base in the wake of some of those positive developments; in the wake as well of the cease-fire that was arranged. Things are, we think, improving a bit in the Middle East, and so it's a good time for the Chairman to come, and we welcome it.
Q: China. Do you have anything on the press reports about a possible fourth wave of Chinese military exercises in the Taiwan Straits around the time of the Taiwan Presidential inauguration next month?
MR. DAVIES: I haven't seen those reports. I was unaware that China was contemplating what I guess would be the fourth wave of their exercises, if they carry some out. So I'm happy to look into that and find out if indeed they're intending to conduct exercises, whether there are exclusion zones -- all the aspects to these exercises that we've come to know so well. But I don't have anything for you.
Q: On the Ex-Im Bank, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Shen Guofang, said earlier today that the suspension or withholding of the approval of loan guarantees for China would hurt American commercial interests. Do you have anything on that?
MR. DAVIES: We certainly hope that's not the case, and I spoke to this a couple of times last week. This deferral of Ex-Im Bank consideration of loans -- deferral of decisions to either approve or disapprove loans meant for U.S. business doing work in China -- these are not meant as sanctions. This should in no way retard or damage American business interests in China. This is clearly temporary, though I can't right now tell you precisely what that means in terms of days or weeks, and we hope very soon to get beyond this stage.
It's our understanding that nothing that's that critical or time sensitive has been held up by this deferral, which has now been going on for a couple of months. So we hope very soon to get beyond it and enable some of these loans to go forward. Of course, there's a great deal of business activity with China that doesn't necessarily depend on Ex-Im Bank loans that continues.
Q: But are you ruling out Ex-Im Bank sanctions against China?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not ruling anything in nor am I ruling anything out.
Q: You seem pretty confident that this would be turned around in a short period.
MR. DAVIES: We'll see. We'll see what happens. The signal that we don't want to send -- and I think it's fair to say -- is that this is in any way going to do any great damage to U.S. business interests in China. Whatever decision the Secretary makes will be designed to get at our non-proliferation concerns, and it won't be designed in any way to do injury to American business interests there.
Q: Okay. How can you get over this soon, if the Secretary decides to go ahead with sanctions?
MR. DAVIES: We just have to see what kind of a decision is made and then we can parse it out for you and try to explain it after that decision is made. But the Secretary believes very strongly both in the importance of our non-proliferation agenda, non-proliferation concerns and enforcing the law and, of course, in the need to encourage American business, not just in China but all over the world.
So he'll make his decision when he's ready to do so, and he'll do it taking into account some of these various concerns.
Q: On the ring magnets, can you give us some notion of what the delay is? Does he doubt that the sale was made, or does he doubt that that is their unique role in mixing uranium fuel, or what is the complication here?
MR. DAVIES: Jim, I don't want to try to explain to you what's going on, not just in the Secretary's mind but in the minds of all the others who are working on this. I think the broad outlines of the issue are well known, and I don't think it's right to conclude that there's any kind of a problem necessarily.
This is -- and it's been said many, many times from the podium and by others -- a very complicated issue with many aspects to it that are cross-cutting. It's very important to get the facts straight, which has been part of this effort, as we've asked questions of the Chinese on numerous occasions and we've heard from them. That's been a back-and-forth process, and I don't mean to signal that that's necessarily over.
Then, of course, there's an awful lot of legal work and policy work that goes into examining an issue that's this broad and this complicated.
Q: Can you give us an idea of what are these cross-cutting complications that you talk about?
MR. DAVIES: I'm talking about the law, essentially, the various amendments and the non-proliferation laws that are involved here. I've in the past read from guidance that goes in some depth into the various provisions of the law, the various amendments that are at issue here. Many of you have researched it for the work that you've done.
I don't know that it's worthwhile my going into it. I've got three/four pages here if you'd like. I can share it with you perhaps afterward.
Suffice it to say, this is a complicated issue. This is an issue that involves making a number of judgments. The Secretary wants to make sure that those judgments are as informed and well grounded as possible before he makes his decision.
Q: Without going into unnecessary detail, is the crucial difference the fact that Pakistan is not a signatory to the NPT?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think it makes sense for me to try to indicate what the crucial difference is or the key challenge, or any of the rest of it. I don't know that there is one particular aspect to this that necessarily is dominant in the consideration of the issue.
The point is that the Secretary wants to get it right. He's a man who has built a very strong reputation on getting things right, and he's going to get this one right. When we make the announcement, we will explain what was crucial, what was not in the decision that was made.
Q: Glyn, the Chinese Embassy is a bit exercised over an apparent plan by the White House -- perhaps the Vice President -- to meet with Martin Lee sometime this week. Can you let us know whether that meeting is actually taking place; what our interests are in meeting with Martin Lee, and whether those interests have been communicated directly to the Chinese?
MR. DAVIES: This is a meeting at the White House that you're referring to. What I don't want to do is get out in front of the White House in making announcements of or judgments about meetings occurring at the White House.
So you would want, I think, to address your question to the White House.
Last week -- at the end of the week -- I talked a bit about the Martin Lee visit and our view of it. After the briefing, we can get you those portions of the transcript that dealt with the Martin Lee visit. But we've spoken to it, and I'm not normally in the business of talking about White House meetings.
Q: I wonder if we could switch over to North Korea really quickly. Could you give us a readout of Mr. Hubbard's meeting with Kim Jong-u last Friday? We were told, I believe from the podium, that there weren't going to be anything above office director visits. I was wondering if you could give us an idea what changed between Friday morning and Friday afternoon?
MR. DAVIES: Probably nobody informed me. When we talk about "working level" -- and I've been perhaps a bit loose in my nomenclature -- we've said essentially that there would be working-level contacts, which is to say below the Seventh Floor, perhaps the Assistant Secretary level as well. In a way, that's a bit of a nit-pick. But nothing changed, obviously, except that I didn't have among all of the things given to me his precise schedule and who he was going to meet.
If you want to read something into that, go ahead. Deputy Assistant Secretary/Office Director -- they're important players in our building. But if you look at the broad spectrum of officials, very often people at that level are referred to as "working level." I'm working level, for instance.
Q: Anyway, the more important aspect of that is --
MR. DAVIES: What happened.
Q: -- is what happened. Were the four-way talks brought up? Was any message sent to the United States?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have a readout. It wouldn't surprise me if the four-way talks came up. But what we don't have yet is any kind of a signal or an answer from Pyongyang that would lead us to conclude that North Korea has accepted the joint U.S.-South Korean proposal or not. We await that kind of a signal from Pyongyang. We hope it's positive. It didn't, as far as I know, happen in that meeting.
Q: Do you have any detail on the aid going to Lebanon? There was one million dollars announced the end of last week. Do you have any detail on officials that are going there to direct any U.S. aid or reconstruction effort that might be going over there?
MR. DAVIES: Peter, I don't have anything beyond what the Secretary, I believe, announced when he was in Lebanon, which is that would be the global value of at least what we would seek to provide as a first gesture here.
What I can do perhaps is find out how we plan to channel that aid into Lebanon. It's important, we think, the United States step up to playing a role in helping the Lebanese people recover from some of the destruction that occurred; it's part of the healing process of getting beyond the terrible two-week long exchange of shelling that occurred, that was brought about by Hizbollah's attacks on northern Israel.
What I'll try to do is get you some details on that.
Q: Are U.S. officials going there or --
MR. DAVIES: I don't know of any U.S. officials who are packing their bags right now to head out there. Certainly, that's possible. I can make that part of what I check into for you.
Q: On another subject. There was a meeting on Friday with Canadians and Mexican officials about the Helms-Burton law, and NAFTA --
MR. DAVIES: This was the meeting at the office of the U.S. Trade Representative?
Q: I don't know whether it was. I thought it was here.
MR. DAVIES: I believe it was at USTR. That's what I was told. Henry Champ was here on Friday, and he did a great job of asking me about half a dozen questions about it.
No. Good questions. I don't know that I satisfied him, but we can get you that transcript.
Q: I'll get it.
MR. DAVIES: The gist of it, of course, was that this was our briefing of those officials on what we thought would be the impact on NAFTA of the Libertad Helms-Burton legislation. It wasn't any kind of a big announcement or presentation of lists of affected companies or people.
Q: It went on all day Friday, yes?
MR. DAVIES: It wouldn't surprise me. I don't know. I don't know how long it went on.
Q: Do you have anything else today?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any details of it. It was another, I think, essentially a working-level kind of an affair. I'll be careful about being too sure of assigning it that label.
Is that it?
Q: Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:25 p.m.)