U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #180, 96-11-06
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
Wednesday, November 6, 1996
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
Visiting Greek Journalist ............................... 1
Secretary's Trips to Cairo, Beijing, Shanghai, Manila ... 1-2,3-4
Lebanon Monitoring Group Statement Being Posted ......... 2-3
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
Israel-Arab Countries Economic Ties ..................... 3
Secretary's Plans to Visit Israel/Dennis Ross Travel .... 4
Secretary's Visit to Bangkok With President ............. 4
Resignation Plans/Talk with President Yesterday ......... 5-8,24-26
Travel Plans to Europe in December ...................... 5, 6
Personnel Changes ....................................... 6-8
Under Secretary Davis' Talks on Proliferation/Nuclear ... 8-10
Reactor Sale to Iran
Dissident Released from Prison/Travel Restrictions ...... 9
Nairobi Conference/US Objectives/US Envoys in Region/.... 10-12
Relief Supplies to Refugees/Location of Refugees/
Status of Cease-Fire
Proposals for Intervention Forces/US Participation in ... 12-15
Intervention Forces/Contingency Plans/US Logistical
Support/US Contribution to Relief/US Talks with Zaire
US Interests/Domestic Crisis/Former PM Bhutto ........... 15-16
US Sale of F-16s ........................................ 16-17
Status of Study for Post-IFOR Security Options/Report ... 17
to NATO Military Committee
Commitment to Dayton Accords on Indicted War Criminals/ . 17-21
Implication for Integration into Western Institutions
and Sanctions Leverage/Importance of Dayton Accords/
Follow-On Security Force
US Military, Civilian Contact with Indicted War Criminals 21-23
Turkish Troops Pursue PKK Into Northern Iraq ............ 23
Possible New US Initiative .............................. 23-24
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1996, 1:30 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: We have a distinguished visitor -- welcome to the State
Department -- Ms. Kartali, who is a journalist from Greek television and is
an associate of Dimitrios Apokis, who is our valued colleague. Welcome.
Thank you for coming.
I want to begin with a very important announcement. I have an announcement
concerning Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
Let me just announce that Secretary of State Christopher will be traveling
to Cairo next week and Paris -- and Paris.
Secretary of State Christopher will travel to Cairo, Egypt, to lead the
United States Delegation to the Cairo Economic Conference which will take
place on November 12-14, next week.
As you know, there were two previous economic conferences -- the Middle
East Economic Conferences in Casablanca in 1994, and Amman, Jordan in 1995.
The Cairo Conference is an important opportunity to promote the peace
process, to promote regional and economic development, to promote a
normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab countries. We expect
that many, many governments will be represented -- Arab governments as well
as Israel. More than 1,000 business representatives will participate from
all over the world, including 200 business representatives from the
United States alone.
Following the Cairo Conference, the Secretary intends to travel to Paris on
November 13-14 for a Ministerial-level Steering Board meeting of the Bosnia
Implementation Council. This meeting has been called by the Secretary's
colleague, Herve de Charette. It will include the Foreign Ministers of the
Contact Group countries and a variety of Bosnian leaders.
This meeting will focus on the attempts that all of us are currently making
and will continue to make to rebuild Bosnia over the next several years,
and to continue the Dayton Peace Accords.
The Secretary intends to return from Paris on the evening of November 14.
He'll be here in the office on November 15, Friday. Then I would expect
that the Secretary a couple of days later -- I don't have a specific date,
but I would think either Sunday or Monday -- would depart for China.
As you know, the Secretary will be making an official visit to China. He'll
hold meetings on November 20 in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart, Vice
Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, and other leaders of the People's
Republic of China. Here, he plans to discuss the full range of global and
regional and bilateral issues that are on the U.S.-China agenda.
The Secretary then intends to spend November 21 in Shanghai where he'll
deliver a major speech and meet with local government and business
Secretary Christopher, as you know, was invited to China by Vice Premier
Qian when they met together in Jakarta, Indonesia, in July.
The Secretary will then travel from Shanghai to Manila where he'll be
participating in the APEC Ministerial meeting. This is the APEC meeting of
Foreign Ministers which precedes the APEC Leader's Meeting, and that is on
November 22-23. The Secretary will then be in Manila, obviously, to
participate in the APEC summit meeting with President Clinton, when the
President arrives in Manila for that.
You know that the APEC Ministerial this year and the APEC Summit are being
chaired by the Philippines. The meeting will review implementation of the
1995 Osaka Action Agenda. This is the plan to achieve the goal of free and
open trade and investment in the APEC region. It will also consider the
program to strengthen APEC's work on economic and technical cooperation in
support of trade and investment liberalization.
The Secretary is very much looking forward to both of these trips.
Let me also say before going to your questions that I am posting today a
press statement on behalf of the Chairman of the Monitoring Group. This
press statement concerns the meetings on November 5-6 of the Monitoring
Group. They met at UNIFIL Headquarters near Naquora, Lebanon, to address
two complaints brought by the Government of Lebanon concerning violations
of the April 26, 1996 Understanding.
If you are interested in this, we can talk about that today, in this
briefing. But I would also refer you to the press statement which is a
statement that has been agreed to by all members of the Monitoring
QUESTION: Nick, has there been a slump in economic ties between Israel
and the Arab countries since the Netanyahu government came in?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I just don't in my head figures that would measure the
level of economic trade and investment between Israel and the Arab
countries. I think it's fair to say, as you know very well, that in the
last couple of years there's been a vast increase in both investment and in
trade between Israel and the Arab countries.
I don't know whether or not over the last several months, for instance,
because of some of the political difficulties, there has been a corresponding
downturn in economic activity. I'd have to check with the Department of
Commerce, with our embassies in the region. We can do that for you in
advance of this trip.
I would just say that Secretary of State Christopher firmly believes that
peace has got to be broad. It can't be singularly political. It can't be
just people negotiating on Hebron, although that's a very important issue.
Peace between Israel and the Arabs has to be comprehensive. That means, in
addition to political relations and in addition to normalization of
diplomatic ties, economic ties have to be increased because that will
really cement the peace across the board. That's one of the reasons why
Secretary Christopher has been such a major supporter of these economic
conferences. He's attended both, and he'll be attending this one.
QUESTION: When will he take off -- Sunday night or Monday morning?
MR. BURNS: The current plans are to leave on Sunday evening for Cairo. We
would be arriving in Cairo I think late Monday afternoon. That could
possibly change, but I don't expect that it will.
Let me just say one housekeeping point here. Those of you interested in
traveling with us to the Middle East and Paris will need to sign up by
tomorrow in the Press Office. Those interested in traveling to Beijing and
Shanghai and on to Manila ought to similarly sign up in the Press Office
because we do have some visa forms you need to fill out if you're traveling
with us to China and the Philippines.
QUESTION: One specific question on the trip. You didn't mention Bangkok.
Does that mean that he will not be traveling with the President to --
MR. BURNS: The President's trip is slightly different. The President is
going to Australia, the Philippines, and to Thailand. The Secretary, I
don't believe, has made a final decision about whether he will continue
onto Bangkok. I think it's still an open question. He will be in Manila for
the APEC meeting.
QUESTION: The Secretary doesn't plan to go to Israel when he's in the
MR. BURNS: There are no current plans to go to Israel. He'll be in Cairo
on Monday evening and all day Tuesday. He'll be leaving Cairo -- current
plans are to leave Cairo for Paris on Tuesday evening and to spend all day
Wednesday and most of Thursday in Paris; and then to leave Paris in time to
get back to Andrews, probably sometime on Thursday evening.
QUESTION: Is Dennis (Ross) going to be going with him then, or will he be
going out earlier?
MR. BURNS: Dennis has no plans to travel to the Middle East right now.
Dennis will certainly accompany the Secretary to Cairo, but he has no plans
right now to make his own trip.
As you know, Dennis has said that he's quite willing to go back to
participate personally in the negotiations over Hebron. I'm sure at some
point he will, but he hasn't decided when that will be yet.
QUESTION: He hasn't decided to branch off afterwards and stay?
MR. BURNS: Oh, I just don't know what his plans are. I'm not aware of any
plans to branch off and stay. We'll have to treat this on a day-to-day
basis. I'll be quite willing to keep you up to date.
QUESTION: Will Secretary Christopher formally resign tomorrow, as
reported? Have you anything formal?
MR. BURNS: Bill, I just can't imagine why you ask. Bill, I think on that,
I would just say this. I have no personnel announcements to make. This is
not the place to make personnel announcements. We've been besieged by all
sorts of telephone calls, as you can imagine, this morning because of the
press reports. I just simply have nothing to announce, and I'm not in a
position to confirm these stories.
QUESTION: You're speaking of two trips immediately ahead. Does he
anticipate travel in December to those European events?
MR. BURNS: Yes. The Secretary then will return to the United States
shortly before Thanksgiving and then sometime in December -- the first or
second week of December -- there will be a trip to Europe. The Secretary
will certainly be attending the NAC Ministerial -- the NATO Foreign
Ministers meeting. I don't have the dates in my head, but I think it's at
the end of the first week, the beginning of the second week of December.
There's a possibility of some other stops in Europe, but he has not yet
made any formal decisions on those.
QUESTION: Will you be able to discuss these reports about the Secretary's
plans with the Secretary?
MR. BURNS: Which plans -- the plans to travel to the Middle East and
Paris and China and Europe?
QUESTION: No, the plans that have been alluded to in a number of news
MR. BURNS: Yes, I have. I've had several conversations with the Secretary
about these reports.
QUESTION: So the only thing that he's asked you to say or let you say is
that you have no personnel announcements to make?
MR. BURNS: First of all, there were a variety of -- if you read the
morning newspapers, there are a variety of rumors in the papers about
comings and goings of people here at the State Department -- the Secretary
and others. I just have nothing to announce today.
I would just remind you of one fact. We just had our own national elections
yesterday. President Clinton won a major victory. I think he deserves a day
or so to savor that victory. I don't think today is a day to make any kind
of personnel announcements. When we have announcements to make, we will
make those announcements.
QUESTION: Maybe you can just continue discussing the Secretary's travel
plans beyond December?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Any travel plans beyond December? You've gotten that far. Maybe
you can try January, February, and March.
MR. BURNS: Let me ask you a question. Let me counterpropose something. In
your experience, do you remember any Spokesman, any previous Secretaries of
State having -- giving you travel plans for anybody at anytime in their
tenure beyond one or two months? I don't think so.
QUESTION: You can always set a precedent.
MR. BURNS: I could set a precedent. I don't think I care to in this case.
I've just told you about three trips the Secretary is going to take. No, I
have nothing to say about the Secretary's travel after mid-December. He'll
certainly be here in the Department in December.
QUESTION: Just to get you on the record. Who will be the Chief of Staff
at the State Department tomorrow?
MR. BURNS: Is this "Jeopardy" or is this "Famous Chiefs of Staff for
QUESTION: Very, very soon.
MR. BURNS: Very, very soon -- tomorrow? Let me just say this. When we
have something to announce on that particular question, I will announce it.
Now is not the time to announce it. We're letting the President have a day
to recover from the campaign and enjoy his electoral victory. There are no
announcements planned for the Department of State today, and we're going to
keep it that way for today.
If it's appropriate to make an announcement about that particular position
tomorrow, then I'm sure we'll do it.
QUESTION: I was just wondering whether you're going to give any notice,
or is this going to be a retroactive announcement?
MR. BURNS: Any notice to . . .?
QUESTION: When you say it isn't time to announce it --
MR. BURNS: Appropriate.
QUESTION: It isn't appropriate or --
MR. BURNS: Is there a requirement that we give the press notice, like 24
hours notice before these decisions are announced?
QUESTION: No requirement, as you well know.
MR. BURNS: I don't think so. Yes, exactly, exactly. I feel very
comfortable with what we're doing today. We're enjoying the day. It's been
rather quiet. I haven't heard from any of you at all, and thinking about
the substantive issues that engage us here at the Department of State.
QUESTION: You're saying the first announcement, if there is one, will
come from you. It wouldn't come from the "Jim Lehrer Newshour," for
MR. BURNS: "The Jim Lehrer Newshour." Now, that would be curious, Barry.
Why would you cite "The Jim Lehrer Newshour?"
QUESTION: Because of the Secretary's almost tropism --
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't use that word, Barry.
QUESTION: -- in appearing on the program several times a week.
MR. BURNS: I think the Secretary has a great deal of respect for Jim
Lehrer. He's been on the "Newshour" a couple of times in the last four
QUESTION: If we bring him over here, will that -- (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: That would help. If he were here, I'd probably have an
entirely different approach to this whole briefing.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) stories --
MR. BURNS: Steve.
QUESTION: Nick, two questions, if I may. First one, just to keep pushing
this for a second. Are you suggesting that Al Kamen's reporting that
Steinberg is about to become Chief of Staff and Donilon is going to go back
to O'Melveny & Myers, is (a) inappropriate; (b) premature; (c) not true;
(d) not any of the above?
MR. BURNS: Is there an "e"?"
QUESTION: "No comment," I suppose?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Barry has suggested an "f." (Laughter)
QUESTION: (Inaudible) until now.
MR. BURNS: We have been talking. Now we've been derailed, Barry. We've
Because I have a lot of respect for Al Kamen, let me just tell you this,
Steve. I had made no comment on Al Kamen. I hadn't brought his name up. You
brought it up. I have no comment on Al's story this morning.
When it's appropriate for us to make an announcement, we'll make an
QUESTION: My second question: Is it appropriate to have a comment on Jeff
Smith's suggestion today that the Chinese are trying to get on the United
States' good side before the summit by --
MR. BURNS: Whose suggestion was this?
QUESTION: Jeff Smith's story today -- by recognizing that Iran isn't
going to pay them for a nuclear power plant anyway, and so they're willing
to not sell it?
MR. BURNS: I don't have a particular comment to make on that. In general,
I would tell you Lynn Davis, as you know, had fairly broad talks with the
Chinese on Monday and Tuesday, the 4th and 5th of this week. She's pleased
by her discussions. She's enroute back to Washington. She'll be reporting
to Secretary Christopher.
Her discussions focused on proliferation concerns, and we believe that
China has made important commitments to the United States concerning
missile non-proliferation. In the coming year, we would like to build on
the commitments that China has made, and that is why we'll continue to
raise the specific concerns we have and look for ways to resolve these
issues through negotiations and discussions of the type that Lynn Davis has
We certainly will work with China to continue to try to build up and
strengthen their export control system. We'll continue to encourage China
to engage in restraint in potentially destabilizing missile developments in
East Asia itself.
She had good discussions. Those discussions, however, are going to
continue. Secretary Christopher, I'm sure, will be raising some of these
issues when he sees Vice Premier Qian Qichen during his trip to Beijing.
As for the article this morning, I really have nothing to say on the
question of Iran except to say that we have discussed this with the Chinese,
but I don't have anything particular to say about those discussions this
QUESTION: If you don't mind, Steve -- they've also released a dissident,
and they've announced that the travel restrictions on many Chinese
dissidents are being eased. Doesn't it seem to you that there are a series
of steps here -- liberalization steps being taken, and why do you think
they are being done on November 6?
MR. BURNS: We've seen the press reports that China has released Chen
Ziming, the noted dissident, on medical parole. We understand from the
press reports that he is with his family, and, if these reports -- they
seem to be true -- but in fact he has been released and will not be
returned to jail, we welcome his release on medical parole. He has been
suffering from cancer.
We felt all along, regardless of his medical condition, that he was being
held unjustly, as are other political prisoners, political dissidents. They
ought all to be released; but particularly in this case, given the
humanitarian concerns here, the fact that he's ill -- we were pleased by
the fact that he apparently has been released, and we hope that he will not
be returned to any form of incarceration.
QUESTION: And the travel thing?
MR. BURNS: David, I'll have to check into that. I have not been apprised
of that -- that there's been any kind of announcement on travel restrictions
by the Chinese Government. If that is the case, that would be highly
significant, but let me check into that.
QUESTION: To follow these questions, Nick, am I understanding correctly
that you cannot comment -- you cannot say if Lynn Davis spoke to the
Chinese more about the nuclear reactor sale to Iran -- if this topic even
came up in these --
MR. BURNS: No. I said that we've had a variety of discussions with the
Chinese on that particular issue, but I'm not in a position to make any
substantive comments on that discussion.
QUESTION: Okay, and you cannot confirm or deny the very confident Jeffrey
MR. BURNS: No. I read the article, but I have nothing particular to say
QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on the situation in and around
Zaire and Rwanda? There were some conferences yesterday, and the Times
has a report today that the United States is considering providing
logistical support for an international force. Is that the case?
MR. BURNS: There have been a variety of diplomatic discussions around the
world on this. The Nairobi conference of African countries -- the United
States is represented by our Special Emissary, Howard Wolpe -- we believe
was a useful conference, and that conference having now ended, we believe
that the countries that met there ought to continue to discuss what we can
do together to try to help the more than one million people who are
suffering because of the fighting in eastern Zaire.
Let me remind you what the United States' objectives are here. First, we
believe that Rwanda and Zaire and the militias fighting in eastern Zaire
ought to agree to an immediate cease-fire. This is the most important step
that they can take to help the refugees. That would allow them -- the
international humanitarian relief organizations -- to return to eastern
Zaire and to supply food and medicine and water to the refugees.
We are working on both fronts. Ambassador Dick Bogosian, who is our Special
Coordinator for Rwandan Affairs and Burundian Affairs, is in the Great
Lakes region. He'll be meeting with the Rwandan and Zairian Governments.
Ambassador Howard Wolpe is also in the region. He'll continue his
We had a State and National Security Council group in Geneva, and they're
now in Brussels, talking with the UNHCR about the humanitarian aspect of
things. I know there have been some press reports about where and when
these refugees should receive humanitarian relief supplies. I've even seen
a statement by the Zairian Government that these people, these refugees,
should not receive relief supplies in Zaire itself but only in Rwanda or
We don't agree with that. We think that relief supplies should be given to
these people wherever they are, and the vast majority of them -- over one
million people -- are in Zaire. I think our latest count is that only about
2,000 people out of more than one million have returned to Rwanda, and
these are Rwandan Hutus; that the vast majority remain in Zaire and many
heading west, not east, in Zaire.
It's a humanitarian imperative that when relief agencies get back in at
full strength, they be able to assist those people in Zaire, contrary to
some of the statements made this morning by the Zairian Government.
So we are operating on a very urgent basis here, both diplomatically and on
a humanitarian basis to try to help in this situation. We have received a
number of proposals for an intervention force, humanitarian corridors. We
are looking very carefully at all those proposals. We've had some specific
discussions with France and other European allies. We have not made any
decisions on those proposals, and, when we do, we'll let you know about
QUESTION: Could you address Zaire specifically? I mean, they didn't
attend the conference in Nairobi, it seems.
MR. BURNS: No. It's very disappointing. Zaire had given indications as
late as 24 hours before the conference that it would be represented at
Nairobi. It decided at the last moment not to participate, and that was
most unfortunate, because this meeting was to discuss a crisis that affects
more than one million helpless people. Every country has an obligation to
participate in those discussions.
QUESTION: What are you doing about that? I mean, is one of your envoys
going to Kinshasa, or are you relying on the United Nations to deal with
MR. BURNS: I would remind you that Ambassador Raymond Chretien, who is
the UN Secretary General's personal envoy, is meeting in France with Mr.
Mobutu; that Ambassador Dan Simpson, the American Ambassador in Zaire, has
been talking to the Zairian Government day and night for more than two
weeks about this, and that we have Ambassador Bogosian in the field. So
there's no lack of diplomatic contacts here, and obviously we hope now that
Zaire and Rwanda will do everything they can to pull back from this
QUESTION: What if the Zairians do not? I mean, they have not accepted the
cease-fire, is that correct?
MR. BURNS: I don't think any of the parties have accepted a cease-fire.
In this kind of situation, as you know, Roy, it requires all the parties to
accept a cease-fire for it to be successful.
QUESTION: Rwanda also hasn't?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Do you mean Rwanda has not --
MR. BURNS: There is not a cease-fire, and that is the responsibility of
all the parties, not just one party. It's the responsibility of Zaire,
Rwanda and the militias fighting.
QUESTION: If there's not a cease-fire, can you say what is going on
MR. BURNS: There is no cease-fire. There is continued fighting, and it
ebbs and flows. It's in one area or it's in another, but there's certainly
continued fighting, which is impeding the ability of the humanitarian
organizations to ship assistance to the refugees who need it?
QUESTION: Specifically, is one of the proposals that you are reviewing
the possibility of sending American military men to the area to supply
protection for those logistics?
MR. BURNS: There have been a number of proposals made -- several
different ones -- and we're looking at all of them. Some of the proposals
would require logistical support by the United States Armed Forces. We're
not talking about ground force units here; logistical support, and we're
looking at that question.
QUESTION: And would it require the permission of the sovereign country
involved, in this case Zaire?
MR. BURNS: Normally in these instances, it does. Whether or not the
Zairian Government is willing to work with these proposals, we don't know.
That is one of the questions. We have raised a number of questions about
these proposals, as you would expect us to do, in a situation like this. We
want to help and we want to work internationally with our partners to try
to help in eastern Zaire, but we've got to be assured that the plans are
sound, that they're logical, and that they would work. That's really
been the focus of most of our questioning and most of our discussions
QUESTION: Would this be a multinational force, or it would be primarily
MR. BURNS: Oh, I don't think anyone's talking about a primarily American
force. As I said, these ideas come from other countries -- France and other
European countries -- and they're very different. I don't think that anyone
has proposed a major contingent of American ground forces. I believe that
both of the proposals have been more in the line of American logistical
support, and that is a question that we must at least consider.
But the Administration -- certainly, Secretary Christopher and others in
this building -- Secretary Christopher working with the President and
others, have not made any decision about these proposals. So we continue to
discuss them. We are looking at this on an urgent basis, considering the
plight of the refugees.
QUESTION: In the interests of clarity, you're suggesting these proposals
you refer to are coming in from others -- from France and elsewhere. But I
believe that for quite a few months now there has been active contingency
planning going on here, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and elsewhere
-- the Pentagon -- indeed for just this kind of situation, very similar
situation, and focusing on how the U.S. would provide logistical support
using the Pentagon resources or private resources or other resources. So
there's a great deal of contingency planning, both in the Administration
and in connection with other countries to the UN (inaudible) and other
So I'm a little bit confused by your comments where you're suggesting that
you're reviewing these plans coming in, when in fact you've had quite a bit
of time to develop your own contingency plans. So I wonder what -- are you
looking -- have you set some benchmarks for what you would -- the
circumstances under which you would take part in these things, such as a
cease-fire? But I think there was a mistaken impression that these were all
ideas coming in from outside.
MR. BURNS: It's not a mistaken impression. Contingency plans are one
thing. My lord, if you looked in the files of most U.S. Government agencies,
we've got thousands of contingencies plans for any kind of situation around
These are specific proposals coming to us from other countries, and we are
working with these countries on those proposals. We are offering some of
our own ideas, as you would expect. We have thought about these potential
crises. We want to learn from what happened in the spring of 1994 in
So we've thought about it ahead of time. But the specific proposals are not
from us; they're from other countries.
QUESTION: Why aren't you putting forward your proposals? You've had
months now to have been drawn up over recent months, and do you require
certain standards required before you --
MR. BURNS: The United States has been very actively involved over the
last couple of weeks in this crisis. As you know, we have contributed $30
million towards the immediate relief supplies, $875 million over the last
two years. As you know, we've been very active diplomatically on the first
order of business, which is the cease-fire.
QUESTION: Nick (inaudible) something about an airlift and engineering.
MR. BURNS: I'm not talking specifically about anything. I'm just saying
that there have been some proposals made, some ideas put forth to us, and
we're considering them.
QUESTION: But don't the ideas focus on those two things?
MR. BURNS: They focus mostly on logistical support. I don't want to be
specific, because these negotiations are private.
QUESTION: Nick, seeing as how the Zairian Government hasn't been
cooperating exactly, and that they didn't attend yesterday's meeting,
wouldn't you -- and these plans all require a landing in some country, most
likely Zaire -- wouldn't you think -- wouldn't it be urgent before you
could even consider these plans, to discuss directly with the Government of
Zaire whether they'd be willing to accept them? So far they've said they
MR. BURNS: Certainly, that's one of the relevant questions. It's the
Government of Zaire's attitude. It's also the Government of Rwanda's
attitude as well, because, as you know, Rwandan troops crossed the border
last week, and they should not have done that. So it's two governments
we're dealing with here; not just one.
QUESTION: What is their attitude as you probed it so far?
MR. BURNS: I don't care to go into that. We have private discussions with
both Zaire and Rwanda. But, obviously, this is one of the issues that is
QUESTION: Public statements have been in both cases to have rejected this
MR. BURNS: I've seen the public statements. They speak for themselves. We
don't agree with them.
QUESTION: It seems that President Mobutu and Jonas Savimbi are at the
moment taking Jonas Savimbi's troops from coming (inaudible) in Zaire to
eastern Zaire. Now, the French seems to be part of the project, and that's
why they are insisting that they should go there, so that they can bring
weapons to these troops. Does the U.S. -- do you know anything about
MR. BURNS: I have said "absolutely no comment" on that. I'm not aware of
those particular troop movements. I'm just not aware of it.
Mr. Arshad, welcome back.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen you in a long time.
QUESTION: Yes, I was away on vacation. Thank you, Nick. This is Arshad. A
very quick question on the crisis in Pakistan, which may have a snowball
effect in the region. The (inaudible) are hopping within the winds of the
political development in Pakistan, and we in Bangladesh -- we have got a
similar situation where we have got the softer outward reaches where we may
be also threatened. In a situation like that, what is your observation of
the United States, in particular, about having democracy restored in
these two countries and to support democracy in that area, as opposed
to extra-constitutional (inaudible) government. I appreciate your kind
comment to that, calling (inaudible) Pakistan.
MR. BURNS: We have been very careful not to intrude on a very delicate
and tumultuous, actually, internal situation in Pakistan. We have an
interest here. The interest of the United States is to have a stable and
positive relationship with Pakistan, which we have had for a number of
years, and which we wish to continue.
We will work with the duly constituted Government of Pakistan. It appears
that the President of Pakistan acted within his constitutional authority in
taking the action he did. It is also true that former Prime Minister
Benazir Bhutto has made very clear this morning that she intends to contest
that, to appeal that decision.
That is an issue not for the United States to decide or comment upon but
for the Pakistani courts and for the Pakistani authorities on both sides of
this issue to deal with. We're going to keep out of this. We're going to
concentrate our attention in making sure that United States' interests in
Pakistan are met.
We have a very active and able Ambassador -- Ambassador Tom Simons, a
Foreign Service Officer -- in Islamabad, assisted by a very able Embassy
staff. They're there to represent United States interests, and they will do
that very well.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) placing Benazir Bhutto under house arrest in the
Pakistani constitution when they talk about this situation?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I'm not an authority on what's happening in Islamabad. I
don't believe she is under house arrest. She had a press conference this
morning, and there's a statement from the government that she's able to
move around. I'm not making any qualitative judgments, by the way. I'm just
describing to you what we've seen in the press. I just want to correct the
record slightly in what may be the facts of the case.
She's obviously quite opposed to the action of the government. She's
appealing it. She's talked about the incarceration of her husband, which
she does not obviously agree with, but it's not appropriate for the United
States to get involved in this -- to get into the center, to interpret it,
to take sides. We're not going to do that. We're going to just try to
represent American national interests in Pakistan and hope that our
relationship with the country and the people of Pakistan continues to be
a good relationship, which it ought to be.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up. Do you think those interests still include
the attempt to sell Pakistan's F-16s to Indonesia?
MR. BURNS: The United States is going to go forward with that arrangement,
as we've said many times, and I have nothing to say that would change
QUESTION: Did you notify Congress that you're going to go forward with
MR. BURNS: I believe the intention is to notify the new Congress, once
the new Congress comes in session in late January. There does have to be a
formal notification of Congress, but Congress is now out of session, so I
believe that will happen in a couple of months' time.
QUESTION: I'm sorry, one last thing. I may have got my dates wrong, but
wasn't today some NATO Council meeting on Bosnia, at which there were
supposed to be suggestions made about what might follow on IFOR or
MR. BURNS: Yes. I think the North Atlantic Council was briefed today on
the status of the ongoing military study for post-IFOR security options.
What are the options available to NATO as we look at the future of Bosnia.
The members who met today -- the members of the North Atlantic Council, the
Ambassadors, the permanent Ambassadors in Brussels -- instructed the NATO
military committee to continue its work. The North Atlantic Council
did not set a precise date for the military committee to finish its
work. So this is an ongoing study.
As you know, as we've said before, we expect this study will be concluded
shortly. I don't know what "shortly" means, given the action today. Once
it's concluded, then it will be available to the NATO leadership -- the
Foreign Ministers, the Defense Ministers and the heads of state -- to look
at, and a decision will have to be made about this question of whether or
not after the IFOR contingent leaves in mid-December, it's appropriate to
put a follow-on security force and whether or not the United States should
contribute troops to that security force.
It's a very important question. It will be one of the key questions,
obviously, that the Administration will be focusing on over the next month
or two, and we take it very seriously. But apparently the NATO Ambassadors
decided today that perhaps more work needs to be done on this particular
study before the decision-makers can focus on it.
QUESTION: But it's your understanding that there was at least a partial
briefing and then a decision taken to keep at it.
MR. BURNS: That's right. That's my very clear understanding.
QUESTION: Also on Bosnia. (Inaudible) don't have any comment about the --
or any reaction specifically to all six of those indicted war criminals
working in posts in the Republic of Srpska. Can you say what the Secretary
of State or what the Administration would like to see happen to them in
terms of implementing the Dayton agreement? I know that under Dayton, they
shouldn't be doing that, but how do you actually carry out Dayton?
MR. BURNS: All indicted war criminals -- and there are many of them --
ought to be turned over by the competent, relevant authorities -- countries
there, the relevant authorities on the ground -- to The Hague for
prosecution. That's our clear position.
Dayton is very clear about that. There are commitments that these people
made at Dayton on November 21, 1995 when they initialed the accords. Dayton
is going to be successful if the parties that agreed to the Dayton accords
honor them. They are responsible. They're the parties that one has to go to
for enforcement. We've had a very spotty record on the issue of war crimes
over the last year or so.
By and large, the Bosnian Government in Sarajevo has complied with its
obligations. By and large, the Serbian Government and the Bosnian Serbs
have not complied with their obligations. The Croatian Government has a
most unfortunate record as well. We know that there are indicted war
criminals in Croatia, who have not been apprehended by the Croatian
authorities, and they ought to be.
We continue to hammer away at these issues; and, when Secretary Christopher
meets in Paris on the 13th and 14th on this issue, this will be one of the
issues that he talks about. Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck has
been in Banja Luka just over the last couple of days. He's been in Zagreb,
and he's been in Belgrade. He's talking to all of these authorities --
these recalcitrant authorities -- on this issue, about this issue.
We're not happy about it. But, ultimately, Roy, the situation -- the Dayton
accords have got to be implemented by the people who signed them and
QUESTION: What do you plan to do about it if they aren't? I mean, if they
continue to show impunity?
MR. BURNS: In the case of Croatia, we said this will certainly have an
impact on our willingness to make sure that Croatia -- our willingness to
support steps to integrate Croatia into European and Western institutions.
In the case of Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs, we're maintaining the so-
called outer wall of sanctions. The outer wall of sanctions are very
important. It denies Serbia the right of membership in very important
international financial institutions: the IMF and the World Bank, and it
also calls for a denial of their membership in organizations beyond
We're going to maintain those outer wall of sanctions until we see some
progress on war criminals and some progress on Kosovo by the Serbian
authorities. That's a very important point of leverage for the United
States because of Serbia's desire for normalization. They want economic
ties. They're not going to have those until we see a better performance by
the Serbian authorities.
QUESTION: But there's nothing on implementation specifically, just
MR. BURNS: No, I disagree with the way you phrase your question. We have
leverage here, and we're exercising the leverage, and it's effective
QUESTION: There's no implementation, is there --
MR. BURNS: The implementation has been very disappointing, and we are
looking for improvements.
QUESTION: Did I understand you to say just now that Dayton will succeed
if the parties meet their obligations? Do you mean to be saying that if
these other parties -- Serbia, Croatia and the Bosnian Serbs -- do not turn
over war criminals, there cannot be success for Dayton?
MR. BURNS: We have said from the very beginning of the Dayton process,
when we were in Dayton and after, that ultimately the success or failure of
the Dayton accords -- long term, looking into the future -- were going to
depend on the people who signed the accords; that we in NATO would try to
give them a couple of years to get their houses in order by providing
troops for security, by separating the armed forces, by helping them to
hold elections, by setting up this new state that is emerging -- the
unified state -- with unified institutions.
We'll be there for some period of time. The troops are there until
December. There may or may not be a follow-on security force. There will
certainly be a continued civilian presence with Carl Bildt's operation. But
at some point all those people are going to go home. At some point you're
going to have the Serbs and the Bosnians and the Croats, and they're going
to be the ultimate arbiters of whether or not Dayton succeeds -- four or
five or six years down the road.
It's up to them. They've got to make the permanent peace. We cannot do it
for them. We can help them, but we can't stay there for 100 years to
QUESTION: But I was going to ask you whether it's your judgment that
Dayton can succeed without these war criminals being turned over?
MR. BURNS: I think it's a very important question. We've always said that
in addition to peace, justice is important. Part of answering that question
will be, is justice going to be served if you've got 50 or 60 war criminals
running around the countryside and free, and they're not being asked to put
themselves on the dock in The Hague to defend themselves against these very
serious charges -- the most serious that have been made in Europe
since the second world war. Justice will not be served until all those
people are sent to The Hague for trial.
QUESTION: I'm just wondering, I guess the President probably regards the
Dayton accords and the Bosnian settlement as one of the achievements of his
first term; whether he isn't going to feel in his second term that that
achievement needs to be protected. I fail to see how you're going to
convince these people to turn over war criminals unless the United States
is willing to take steps itself, which it could easily take, if it wished
MR. BURNS: I'm going to make a familiar point, but I think I should make
it, and that is we have already succeeded. We stopped the war, and we
helped them build a peace. It's up to them to cement that peace. I think
this is going to be an ongoing preoccupation of the Clinton Administration
for the next couple of years.
We never had any illusions about Bosnia. We knew that after we stopped the
war, we stopped the killing, we helped them make the peace, it would be a
multi-year project to help them implement the peace.
That's why we always said, our economic assistance is going to be
apportioned over three years. We've just given the first year's economic
assistance. We've got two years to go; that Carl Bildt's operation should
be in the field long term. Not for a year, as the soldiers are, but for
Now, we have a question about soldiers -- whether there should be a follow-
on security force. I don't know what decision is going to be made finally,
but that's at least a question that has to be looked at.
QUESTION: Nick, the NATO report on the follow-on force. I'm just
wondering how long the United States believes that a decision on this can
be delayed? I mean, if it's still Christmas and you're talking about this,
do you think this is an expeditious way to handle it?
And, second, might there be any connection between the delay in the report
and President Clinton's post-election vacation and work trip to Asia?
MR. BURNS: Oh, I'm not aware of any link between the President's travel
plans and this decision. As you know, this decision is a NATO decision.
It's not a United States decision alone. The NATO Ambassadors have sent
this study back for continuation of work. Once it re-emerges, and once the
North Atlantic Council Ambassadors, at least, sign off on it, it will then
go to the policymakers in capitals. We expect that to happen at some
point in the near future. I just don't know what the days are for that,
but we'll keep you posted on it.
This is a question that has got to be looked at in the coming weeks.
There's no question about it, given where we are on the timetable.
QUESTION: But you have no problem if it gets to be December or January 1,
or something like that, and you still haven't engaged on this issue?
MR. BURNS: This is not my decision to make. It is the decision of the
NATO leadership. I can't make the decision on timing for them.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) since Monday, whether U.S. personnel -- military or
civilian -- in the Bosanski Samac area, which is under U.S. responsibility,
whether they had any contact with this deputy mayor or President of the
Municipal Council, whatever he was?
MR. BURNS: We've asked the question. It's very hard to know. There are so
many Americans. There's tens of thousands of Americans in Bosnia. It's hard
to know who had contact and who didn't.
I can tell you this. The United States Government was not aware that an
indicted war criminal -- we would not have a normal relationship with an
indicted war criminal. Once we were apprised, in the case of the four
policemen -- which is a separate case -- and these individuals that they,
in fact, were working in responsible jobs and were indicted war criminals,
we made very strong representations to the proper authorities that they
ought to be kicked out of their jobs and that they ought to be sent to The
Hague for prosecution. We have a very clear position on this.
QUESTION: Do you mean to suggest that the Americans in that region who
seem to know the elected and non-elected officials in these various
municipalities didn't realize that one of the top officials in their own
area of responsibility was on the posted "Wanted" list?
MR. BURNS: Roy, I think I just said that I can't account for the tens of
thousands of Americans in Bosnia, who had conversations with which
individuals, what did they know at what point in time about this person --
this indicted war criminal's activities. It is impossible to answer that
unless you collected all the Americans in Bosnia, put them in a football
stadium, and had a press conference with each of them. We can't do
I can't answer a question that is impossible to answer.
QUESTION: A remarkable oversight. My own contacts with the military there,
in a different part, was that they led me to think that they had a very
good idea of everybody they were dealing with and of the authorities in
every town. You're suggesting that maybe they didn't.
MR. BURNS: I'm suggesting that I can't possibly give you a direct answer
to the question you asked. You asked, of the tens of thousands of Americans
in Bosnia, who had contact with these people and what did they know, what
they didn't know about these people? I simply can't answer. But I've given
you a very clear answer, clearer than most governments are willing to give,
by the way, and that is that the United States believes that all
these war criminals ought to be tried. They ought to be put on trial.
We've had a very consistent position; no country in support of the War
Crimes Tribunal as we have. That will continue in the second term,
QUESTION: Did they not know who was in the top offices? And did they not
compare the list --
MR. BURNS: Roy, you're asking me about people who I don't know. You're
asking me a collective body of tens of thousands of people. I cannot answer
that question. You've got to give me a break here. You want me to be direct
with you. I'm trying to be direct. I can't mislead you. I'm not willing to
QUESTION: I'm sure you've made inquiries from other departments. It
sounds like they are not answering your inquiries, and it sounds like they
are pretending that they were not aware?
MR. BURNS: What really matters here is what the President of the United
States and the Secretary of State think. They have signed on the bottom
line. They have put the United States fully behind the War Crimes Tribunal,
and we're going to support the War Crimes Tribunal at every corner.
QUESTION: A different subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: On Turkey. Turkish troops crossed the Iraqi border yesterday
for hunting PKK terrorists in this area in hot pursuit. It was reported
that 8,000 troops were involved. Apparently, KDP or PUK, for that matter,
have shown an unwillingness or inability to prevent terrorist attacks from
the southeastern border of Turkey.
Does the United States have any objection to this major operation in
MR. BURNS: First, I can't confirm the particular operation. You'll have
to address yourself to the Turkish General Staff or the Turkish Foreign
Second, Turkey made it very clear, at the beginning of September, that
there would be occasions when its troops would cross that Turkish-Iraqi
border in pursuit of terrorist groups; namely, the PKK.
The United States said at the time, and continues to believe, this is part
of Turkey's right to defend itself. Turkey has assured us they would not
garrison its troops in northern Iraq; that any cross-border operations
would be limited and they would only be undertaken in the pursuit of
defense of Turkey's border, which is legitimate. Turkey is a NATO ally, and
we have strong support for its ability to defend itself against terrorists.
The PKK group is a terrorist group.
QUESTION: Another question. Actually, on Cyprus. In light of Clinton's
victory yesterday here in the United States, both sides -- from Cyprus --
leaders express their hope for Clinton to launch a new initiative. Are you
aware of any new initiative in that matter?
MR. BURNS: I don't think we've thought of a new one since last night. But
if you give us a couple of weeks or months, stay tuned.
President Clinton and Secretary Christopher and Ambassador Albright and
Ambassador Holbrooke, who used to be here, and now Ambassador Kornblum have
all dedicated themselves to have the United States play a responsible role
here. I'm not aware of any new initiatives from last night or this morning.
But we're going to be continually involved, as we have been.
We want to work with the Government of Cyprus -- the two communities in
Cyprus -- and the Greek and Turkish Governments on this question.
QUESTION: Speaking about the elections, can you tell us why Secretary
Christopher thought it would be a good time on Tuesday to discuss his
future with President Clinton? Would that be to give me enough notice to
ensure a smooth transition? Why did he want to talk about his future?
MR. BURNS: Were you not here at the beginning of the briefing when I gave
QUESTION: Yes, I was here.
MR. BURNS: -- very full and complete answers to all these questions?
QUESTION: Yes, yes. I think it was full. "I have no personnel announcements
MR. BURNS: Exactly.
QUESTION: I believe that you're --
MR. BURNS: Let me tell you about the background of yesterday's meeting.
The President invited Secretary Christopher to come down to Little Rock.
They met together between 4:00 and 6:00 in the afternoon. They had an
excellent discussion. They discussed a wide variety of issues. The
Secretary was very pleased by his conversation. The Secretary was frankly
honored that the President would take time on an election day to spend time
with him and discuss this wide variety of issues.
As Mike McCurry said yesterday, the Secretary of State was instrumental in
1992 in the transition, in helping the President to establish his Cabinet.
The Secretary is a senior member of the Cabinet, and I think the President
honored him by inviting him down yesterday. The Secretary was very pleased
He returned here last night. He was able to watch the late returns and
watch the acceptance speech and watch Senator Dole's speech. It was a long
night, a long day for the Secretary. He's back today. He's going to be
meeting in a couple of minutes on eastern Zaire. The Secretary is going to
receive another briefing today on that. He's talked to Dennis Ross about
the Middle East peace process.
In general, the Secretary gave instructions to all of us this morning, who
met with him, that we've got a lot of work to do. It is the day after an
election, but we've got a lot of work on our plate; everything from the
Middle East to Bosnia, to China, and a lot of other issues beyond
The Secretary intends to keep working as hard as he can on all these issues,
as he has done everyday that he's been in office for the last four
QUESTION: I understand that. But I believe Mike said that they discussed
Secretary Christopher's future. I was wondering, without revealing whatever
personnel announcements you might or might not have to tell us any time in
the near future, why Secretary Christopher chose Tuesday to discuss that?
Perhaps, he thinks --
MR. BURNS: Again, Lee, let me just point you back to an important fact
here. The President of the United States invited the Secretary to Little
Rock, and the Secretary went down. He works for the President. The
President said he wanted to talk about a variety of issues. The Secretary
went and he did that. The Secretary was very pleased and honored by that
QUESTION: Nick, was this conversation one on one with the President, or
were there others present?
MR. BURNS: I think most of it was one on one, but I think there may have
been others in the room at varying times. But I think the great majority
was one on one.
QUESTION: What's it do to U.S. policy and the image of stability in U.S.
policy when, at a time, as you acknowledge yourself, that there are many
important issues on the plate, that both -- and for the sake of dealing
with your comments at the beginning of the briefing -- the Secretary and
now the Defense Secretary are both purported to be planning to resign in
the near future? What symbol does that send to the world?
MR. BURNS: Let's just cite some other facts. The President of the United
States was just re-elected by a resounding margin. That ought to send a
signal of certainty and stability, and certainly a signal of assurance to
countries all around the world that American foreign policy continues at
full throttle; that we understand that we have a lot of priorities on our
plate today and that we're going to pursue those very vigorously.
Second, the Secretary is now going to be embarking on three trips over the
next five to six weeks -- three very important trips -- in the Middle East,
in Europe, and in Asia -- to work on some of the most important issues
confronting the United States. I think that sends another signal, that we
have an active, vigorous diplomacy. That will continue.
As for personnel decisions, as I said at the beginning of the briefing,
these decisions -- any personnel decisions are going to be announced when
they're going to be announced. There's nothing being announced today. The
Secretary of State is working today. He's working very hard today, and
he'll continue to do that.
Thanks very much.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:22 p.m.)