U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #183, 96-11-13
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
Wednesday, November 13, 1996
Briefer: Glyn Davies
Paraguay--Passport Fraud Case Announcement .............. 1
A/S Winston Lord to Discuss Trip to Asia ................ 2
Possible U.S. Participation in Multinational Mission .... 2-6,8-11
--Airport/Goma-to-Rwanda Corridor Security .............. 2,4,7
Refugee Situation: Cholera/Repatriation/War Criminals ... 6-8
U.S. AID Disaster Assist. Response Teams (DART) ......... 2-3
Joint Military-Civilian Team ............................ 3-7,10
Assessment Team ......................................... 3
Status of Cease-fire/Hutu Militia ........................3-4,8
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
Israeli PM Netanyahu's Trip to U.S. Canceled ............ 12
Dennis Ross in Region ................................... 12
Vladimir Galkin Case .................................... 13
NATO Proposals for IFOR Follow-on ....................... 13
Secretary Christopher/Sec. Gen. Solana Mtg. ............. 13
Report of SLORC Expelling Journalists ................... 14
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 1996, 3:00 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Sorry to be late. I wanted to first let the White House do
their thing on Zaire, and you heard Mike McCurry make his statement and
answer dozens of questions about Zaire. If you have more, I'll be happy to
take them in a moment.
First a couple of quick announcements. On Paraguay, to let you know that on
November 6, the police in Paraguay arrested an individual by the name of
Marwan Abid Adam Kadi, who was using the name Ibrahim Mahmood Awethe. Mr.
Kadi is wanted in the United States on passport fraud charges. The
Department's Diplomatic Security Service is providing assistance in this
Mr. Kadi was returned to the U.S. on November 9. He is facing passport
fraud charges in Chicago. Most of you know, since we've had cases like this
recently, that passport fraud is a felony that is investigated by our
Diplomatic Security service.
This is, of course, a pending case. I therefore can't comment at any length
any further on that, but we have an announcement that you can have. It's in
the Press Office.
QUESTION: Could you take a question on that? Was this related to the
travel warning or the -- in Paraguay around election day? Was this the same
MR. DAVIES: I can look into that. I don't have anything for you on that
now, but I can look into that.
MR. DAVIES: Simply because this individual was brought back to the United
States. It doesn't happen every day that a government picks up somebody and
the person is brought back to the United States and arraigned on passport
fraud charges. I wanted to point this out to you.
The Diplomatic Security Service is proud of its work, and they wrote the
announcement, so the announcement is back there for you.
Second, tomorrow, Ambassador Winston Lord, Assistant Secretary for East
Asian and Pacific Affairs, will come to the podium and will lead off the
briefing to talk about the Asia trip that the Secretary is taking. Of
course, the President is also going to Asia, to Australia and Thailand, in
addition to the China and APEC meetings.
Ambassador Lord will discuss the trip and answer your questions.
Third, just on Zaire, you heard what Mike McCurry had to say. Just to
outline some of the high points of it, he talked about a possible U.S.
participation in a multinational mission that would go to Zaire to address
the humanitarian situation. He indicated the mission would last about four
months; that the force would have robust rules of engagement; that the U.S.
mission would not include disarming militants or forcing entry in Zaire,
and that the cost of the mission would be borne by participating states.
There was, of course, a great deal more in his statement. I think what I
will do is talk briefly right at the top here about the refugee situation,
which he didn't get into at great length, simply to underscore the extreme
concern of the United States about the situation of the Rwandan and Burundi
refugees, as well as the internally displaced Zairians in eastern
We've seen, of course, a number of reports of starvation and outbreaks of
disease. Those reports remain unconfirmed. Our hope at this stage is that
the parties to the conflict that is ongoing in eastern Zaire will agree to
an effective cease-fire and will allow the international community
immediate access to the refugees as well as to Zairians displaced by the
Of course, the United States' twin objectives in eastern Zaire remain to
address the immediate humanitarian needs and to encourage the maximum
number of refugees to return home.
Now, I spoke yesterday about the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team.
In fact, there are two in the region; just an update on what they're doing.
One of the DART teams was turned back by Zairian rebel officials yesterday,
minutes after being allowed into Goma. They were invited to return to
A second DART team was also prevented from entering Bukavu. It was told to
return at another time when officials with the necessary authority to grant
passage would be there to facilitate their entry into Bukavu.
You heard a little bit from Mike McCurry about the team that has gone in
from Italy -- the team of 40 or so military and civilians. That's an
interagency team, a joint military/civilian team, that on the civilian side
is being led by Ambassador Richard Bogosian. You heard Mike McCurry talk a
bit about that.
Meanwhile, an assessment team from the UNHCR World Food Program and UNICEF
successfully crossed into Goma yesterday, for the second day, in order to
assess how to deliver assistance and re-establish a humanitarian presence
in the area.
That's what I have by way of an update. George.
QUESTION: Mike McCurry didn't say anything about when the forces would go,
and also do you have anything on efforts to achieve a cease-fire?
MR. DAVIES: Mike McCurry didn't say anything about when for a good reason,
and that is that the agreement that was reached -- that we've reached now
with the Canadians -- is in effect an agreement in principle that the
United States would take part -- that United States forces would take part -
- in this mission, which would be led by Canada.
What we still have to work out are many of the details here, and that's
being done just as rapidly as possible and at very senior levels. The
discussion that occurred last night between Canadian officials and U.S.
officials here in Washington was an important discussion, because it
enabled us to reach this stage of agreement in principle.
George, your second point?
QUESTION: What is being done to achieve a cease-fire?
MR. DAVIES: The United Nations, according to reports I've seen, has
achieved at least a preliminary cease-fire in a region of eastern Zaire
near Goma to allow them to begin the process of moving humanitarian
supplies into at least Goma town, if not the surrounding area.
In conjunction with UN efforts, of course, Ambassador Bogosian and our
Embassies in the region -- in Kinshasa, in Kigali -- are very active in
trying to deliver this message to the militias that it's important that
they understand that the international community is working very hard on
this mission; that we are now, as Mike said, just days away from making
final decisions and actually launching something in motion; and they would
be well advised to create the kind of environment that will facilitate this
mission going forward.
QUESTION: Can I follow up. Did I hear correctly from Mike that first
there must be a cease-fire in place? And, second, a prerequisite before any
U.S. troops would enter into Goma would be that the country of Zaire would
invite the U.S. in. I take it that would just be Zaire's invitation,
because the CNN reporter on the ground has said that --
MR. DAVIES: Bill, on the second question, I don't think there's going to
be a problem from the Zairian side in terms of U.S. forces and other forces
entering Zaire. The signals we get are that this is not going to be an
issue, so I don't think that's a problem at all.
QUESTION: There are armed forces -- according to reliable reports --
armed forces around the airport, controlling the roads, controlling Goma --
MR. DAVIES: That is a concern -- a serious concern -- the fact that there
is fighting going on. It's important to bear in mind that the inter-ethnic
fighting between the militias is not fighting directed at outsiders. It's
fighting directed at each other. So we're not talking about an environment
that is per se hostile to this outside intervention. But we are talking
about a dangerous environment, and that means that the work over the
next couple of days on the ground has to be impressing upon the militias
the importance of ceasing their fighting and cooperating with the
international effort that's to be mounted.
QUESTION: There are also not many outsiders there at present, correct?
What happens when an armed force from outside shows up and adds to the
MR. DAVIES: I mean, there are some unknowables here, clearly. But we do
have the 40-person team which went into Uganda today, which intends to next
go into Rwanda and which may or may not pass and cross into Zaire,
depending on what they find in Rwanda and what they develop as their
mission while they're out there.
That team will be prepared clearly to defend itself if it needs to, but I
don't think at this stage anyone is anticipating that the militias would be
reckless enough to try to take on an international force of some considerable
size that is contemplated here.
QUESTION: Could I follow that up. Yesterday, you were saying that one of
the things that was delaying any U.S. decision was that you needed to know
what the U.S. forces would be getting into and what the mission would be
and even where the refugees were. You are now telling us that the U.S.
teams which have been sent out to collect such information have not been
able to get into the area.
So the question is, what do you know today that you didn't know yesterday?
MR. DAVIES: Jim, it's not that they haven't been able to get into the
area; it's just that they've just arrived from Italy, and they're moving
forward now, and they'll move into Rwanda.
QUESTION: What do you know today that you didn't know yesterday?
MR. DAVIES: What has changed from yesterday is the fact that we've had a
very good in-depth discussion with the Canadians; that our diplomacy both
in the region and with our other partners has advanced a considerable bit.
We're in a position now to go the to next step, to make the statement that
you saw Mike make, which is to agree in principle that the United States
can be part of this, provided we can work through certain issues. So
there are still issues to be worked through. There's no question about
QUESTION: Among those issues to work through, are you going to have to
send your teams in first, and are they going to have to bring back an
authoritative assessment of what the situation is, where the refugees are,
and what the food needs are before you actually send in your people?
MR. DAVIES: An important part of this is finding out what the team that's
out there on the ground has to say. That absolutely will be factored into
the decision-making that's made in the U.S. Government.
You heard Mike McCurry go through a list of, let's call them issues, that
have to be worked through here. In essence, all of those issues have to be
addressed satisfactorily, or we have to be sufficiently far along for the
United States to commit itself finally to do this. But there is no lack of
commitment on the part of the United States to do what is necessary to see
that the international community responds to the humanitarian crisis that
is clearly emerging there.
We've had these reports of cholera outbreaks. There are reports of terrible
privations of food and water among the refugees. That's a serious situation
that the United States wants very badly to see addressed and will help
address, depending on how we work through some of these issues.
QUESTION: I think I hear you saying that it may be weeks before the U.S.
people actually --
MR. DAVIES: No, I wouldn't say that. People are working very, very hard
on this. They have been for a number of days. We got into this a bit
yesterday, and I won't bore you with the recitation of all the factors I
listed. But we're talking about a very, very complicated situation that the
United States has to have a certain number of assurances before it can go
into, number one. Number two, you can go in there willy-nilly and
try to bring some relief on a humanitarian basis, and you can end
up creating a situation that at the end of the day will be even worse.
I mean, you don't want to reset the trigger that was pulled when this
crisis began a matter of weeks ago. You want to get yourself in a position
so that you can move on to something better.
QUESTION: Ambassador Bogosian's team -- can you give us a little more
precision on what precisely they are supposed to do, and how is security
being handled for them?
MR. DAVIES: The 40-person team which Mike discussed is jointly led, as I
said, by Ambassador Richard Bogosian, who's the Rwanda-Burundi Coordinator;
and then also U.S. Army Major General Edward P. Smith, who commands the
Southern European Task Force, headquartered in Vicenza, Italy.
They are going in with a number of specialists; they'll have specialists in
the medical field, in engineering, in civil affairs, in security assistance.
And their objective -- and they've just begun today to perform their work --
is to develop an itinerary and develop a set of objectives there on the
ground as they work through some of the challenges that you heard Mike
So they are going to be the eyes and ears out there on the ground of
planners back here as we move forward with this.
QUESTION: Are they going to be surveying landing strips?
MR. DAVIES: They have with them, obviously, experts who will be able to
help with questions like the Goma airport: Is it in the kind of condition
for U.S. aircraft to go into? They'll have security experts with them,
civil affairs experts.
QUESTION: What kind of security arrangements are being made for the team?
Have they got armed Marines supporting them?
MR. DAVIES: You would have to ask the Pentagon. My understanding is that
they're lightly armed and they're prepared to defend themselves if that
should arise. We don't expect it to, though.
QUESTION: Could you discuss the repatriation aspect of this, please? What
does the U.S. Government -- we know what you hope to achieve, but how do
you hope to achieve it? And will you be arresting people that you come
across who are wanted by the War Crimes Tribunal?
MR. DAVIES: To answer those questions, well, we have to have answered a
number of questions that are still out there. We don't have precise answers
on how the refugee situation can be dealt with. This is part of the
dialogue that we're engaged in with our partners; specifically, with the
Canadians. This has to be worked out. There's a security dimension to this
that's very, very important.
You heard Mike talk about the mission of U.S. forces, that they would be
concentrating primarily on running the airport, on airport security and
providing security along the corridor from Goma to the Rwandan border --
about a three-mile long corridor. That corridor could well be part of the
system, if you will, of getting Rwandan refugees back to Rwanda.
Of course, before you can get them to go back into Rwanda, you have to
convince them it's in their interest to do so.
QUESTION: The policy hasn't changed?
MR. DAVIES: The international community is not in the business -- and
certainly the United States is not in the business -- of forcing people at
gunpoint to go where they don't want to go.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) those wanted in war crimes?
MR. DAVIES: That's an issue that will have to be dealt with. Absolutely.
QUESTION: About 10 days ago Brian Atwood talked about -- this is before
this crisis really reached a peak -- Brian Atwood was talking about
establishing relief centers in Rwanda that would be a magnet for the
refugees to go back. Is this still something that's being talked about?
MR. DAVIES: He gave you a little bit of a window on some of the thinking.
This is quite a challenge and, in a sense, unprecedented. How do you
convince over a million people that in fact it's safe to go back to Rwanda?
We believe it is safe. We believe that they can go back to Rwanda. They
clearly have a different view.
Influencing their thinking are the actions of some of these armed Hutu
militia forces that are out there. So this provides a real challenge to the
international community to try to figure out how to make the case to the
Rwandan refugees that it is, indeed, safe for them to go back.
QUESTION: Why does the United States think it's safe? Because of the
rhetorical commitments of the government in Rwanda, or is there some --
have you found some complete change in their attitude?
MR. DAVIES: Of course, in discussions with Rwandans -- have made clear to
the Rwandans the importance of a safe atmosphere for these refugees to
Our assessment, based on our diplomatic activity on the ground, is that it
is in fact safe for these refugees to return. But within that general
assessment, of course, we have some of these issues about the Hutu militia
and how to deal with these some 40,000, which is a small fraction of the
1.1 million Rwandan refugees, but a fraction that has to be paid attention
QUESTION: Why is this operation in the national interest of the United
MR. DAVIES: Because people are dying. People are under a great deal of
stress. There is, I think, in the United States, a very strong humanitarian
streak that understands that when you're confronted by a situation like
this, it's important to help resolve it.
QUESTION: It was arguably just as bad in Bosnia for three years, and the
list is endless?
MR. DAVIES: And you'll recall that in Bosnia we engaged in an extensive,
expensive, elaborate air drop campaign to get foodstuffs behind the lines
to those who were in need of them.
We're talking here about a humanitarian crisis that's very serious, that's
evident to the world community. We can see it on our television sets and we
hear the reports coming from the region. It's very much in the interest of
the United States to address this crisis and to play a role in the
international community to do so. So that's the basic rationale for
QUESTION: I must have missed something. I thought this was the Administration
that said humanitarian concerns were not in our national interest. Although
we commiserate and sympathize and feel bad about it, that's not something
that's worth American lives. When was the change and why?
MR. DAVIES: I would turn that back on you. When was the statement? I
don't recall the United States Government ever coming out and saying that
helping starving, thirsty people is not in our interest.
QUESTION: Sometime between the dragging of American helicopter pilots
through the streets of Mogadishu and the death of 2 or 300,000 Muslims in
MR. DAVIES: I take strong exception. I think many, many Americans
understand the need to respond to a crisis of this kind, and many Americans
would support it. I would think the vast majority of Americans.
QUESTION: Glyn, is the French participation in this multilateral force a
problem or a concern? This morning, Zairian rebels were saying that they
will shoot at the French if they show up in eastern Zaire?
MR. DAVIES: I think that's a question that has to be addressed to the
French and to the Canadians who are organizing this effort.
QUESTION: Will the U.S. troops come to the aid of French troops if they
came under fire from --
MR. DAVIES: Carol, you're getting so far out ahead of where we are and so
speculative. We can paint all manner of scenarios in eastern Zaire and try
to kind of walk through them, but it just simply wouldn't be useful because
we don't yet know the full shape of this.
QUESTION: I think the last question was pretty fundamental. If you're
going to be part of an international mission, don't you have responsibilities
to protect --
MR. DAVIES: But the degree of speculation there is so deep. I don't know
what role the French would play, if any. We would have to see.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) that they would be participating, then?
MR. DAVIES: I'm sure there will be some French participation. The degree,
the shape of it, I simply don't know.
QUESTION: On Sid's question, is it fair to say at this point that the
decision the President has made, in principle, that there will be U.S.
forces involved in this means that in this humanitarian effort there is
going to a risk to American lives? American soldiers are going to risk
their lives to try and stop starvation?
MR. DAVIES: There's an element of risk here that's not inconsiderable,
MR. DAVIES: You have reports, even today, of mortar fire, for instance,
small arms fire in the vicinity of Goma. I think it would be a massive
error for me to try to underplay the degree of difficulty involved here and
the degree of danger.
That said, I am not a military planner and I can't sit here and tell you
exactly what kind of danger calculus the military is going to use as it
plans this. They plan for danger. That's one of the reasons they exist, to
deal with it. They may have more specific answers for you.
QUESTION: If we can come back to my inquiry, following David's question,
is the United States prepared to accept the risks of a peace enforcement
role that's under UN Chapter 7, specifically without the consent of the
Rwandans, consent of this group -- this rescue effort coming in against the
will of the Rwandans? What do you say?
MR. DAVIES: What I can say is that, first of all, in the run-up to this,
everything is going to be done to create a permissive environment to ensure
that there is not any kind of resistance. That's number one.
Number two, decisions will have to be made down the road, as we move to
making a final decision on our participation here, about how to deal with
any non-permissive activity that is found on the ground by this assessment
team that's out there.
We have to see to what degree the militias in the area are willing and able
to provide the kind of secure conditions that we need. Based on that, we'll
have to make some decisions.
QUESTION: Did you ask the European Union to participate with troops in
this humanitarian mission in Zaire?
MR. DAVIES: Canada is organizing this mission. That's important to note,
so we're working with the Canadians on this.
QUESTION: Since all the neighboring countries around Zaire's territory
claims against Zaire, I'm wondering how you're going to complete this
mission in such a hostile environment?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that all the neighboring countries have
territorial claims against Zaire.
QUESTION: Last Sunday, there was a big article as far --
MR. DAVIES: Then, it must be true, huh, if it was in the paper? I don't
know that that's the case. There are eight or nine countries bordering
QUESTION: Who controls, politically, Zaire today?
MR. DAVIES: I believe President Mobutu Sese Seko is the President, and
the Prime Minister is Kengo wa Dondo.
QUESTION: Do you communicate with him directly? He's in France.
MR. DAVIES: Have we communicated directly with President -- we're in
touch with the Government of Zaire.
QUESTION: The dictator, Mobutu --
MR. DAVIES: We're in touch with the Government of Zaire.
QUESTION: Excuse me?
MR. DAVIES: We are in touch with the Government of Zaire. Absolutely.
QUESTION: Does that include the President?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if we've had recent contact with --
MR. DAVIES: I don't know if we've had recent contact with President
QUESTION: Switch the subject. There is a report out of Jerusalem that
Prime Minister Netanyahu has postponed or canceled his private trip to the
United States. Have you seen it, and does that have any relevance to the
MR. DAVIES: I've seen it. I've seen that he's canceled his trip. We
understand from Ambassador Indyk that, in fact, that's the case that he's
put off his trip. I can't comment for you any further. I'm not an Israeli
Government spokesman so I can't explain why he's canceled the trip. I've
seen all the speculation about it. I simply have nothing to add.
QUESTION: Where is Dennis?
MR. DAVIES: Dennis is, I believe, on his way to Israel. I don't know
whether Dennis is simply going there to catch a flight back to the U.S. or
whether he has plans to do any work in Tel Aviv, or in Israel. We'll just
have to stay tuned and find out.
QUESTION: Has Indyk and Abington given any sense that a deal is
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything to report to you. You've heard what the
Secretary said just earlier this week about our desire to see an agreement
quickly and our hope that, indeed, we see an agreement in a matter of days
instead of way down the road. But I don't have anything to add to what the
QUESTION: How could the Israelis and Palestinians have reached an
agreement without Dennis?
MR. DAVIES: Dennis' presence is felt, even if he's not there, believe me.
Dennis is engaged even when not present.
QUESTION: Well, he stayed in Cairo to continue talks, correct, when the
Secretary went off to France. Do you know that he had talks last night with
the various parties?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have a rundown on Dennis' activities. It's correct
that he stayed behind in Cairo to do some further work, but I simply don't
have a listing of with whom he spoke or what he was up to. I understand
that after remaining in Cairo for a little bit, he's now moved on to Israel,
and whether he comes back here or stays there, I don't know.
QUESTION: But wasn't Dennis just supposed to change planes in Israel and
then come to the United States?
MR. DAVIES: That was one plan that I heard. I'm watching that bouncing
ball, as are you. We'll see.
QUESTION: Are there any plans for the Secretary to go back to --
MR. DAVIES: I don't know of any. I have none to announce to you,
QUESTION: Another subject. Have the Russians informed you of their
intention to arrest American former intelligence officers in Russia in the
future in the event that Mr. Galkin is not released?
MR. DAVIES: David, I have no such information. I don't know of any words
from the Russians like that.
QUESTION: Could you take that question?
MR. DAVIES: I can look into that.
QUESTION: Bosnia. Back to Carol's question about the French and U.S.
relations with the French at this time. In the wires today, the French have
stated that they proposed an IFOR peacekeeping force to stay in Bosnia
until 1999, slowly tapering off, I believe, in numbers, and they would like
-- I believe they would like to turn over the command and control of this
force to the Bosnian Government. Does the U.S. favor this kind of --
MR. DAVIES: Bill, the action on IFOR follow-on is right now with NATO,
and you followed the news recently that NATO authorities have come up with
a set of proposals for the political leadership, and right now the various
member nations of NATO are looking at the proposals that have been made. We
may have some further word as early as next week, as there are NATO
meetings scheduled in Brussels. But right now I can't tell you anything
QUESTION: Is Secretary General Solana still seeing Mr. Christopher on
MR. DAVIES: I believe that meeting is still on, yes.
QUESTION: Would the U.S. be in favor of having U.S. troops under IFOR --
under the command of the Bosnians?
MR. DAVIES: No, what we're doing right now, Bill, is we're looking at the
proposals that have come to us from NATO authorities for follow-on options
in Bosnia, and it would be irresponsible of me to try to get out in front
of that process.
QUESTION: On a different subject.
MR. DAVIES: Sure.
QUESTION: On Burma. Is it your understanding that the SLORC has ordered
all foreign journalists out of Burma?
MR. DAVIES: I had not heard that, no.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on the wires.
MR. DAVIES: On the wires. I had not heard that. I'll look into that. That
would be a dramatic development.
QUESTION: Would you take that?
MR. DAVIES: Sure, absolutely.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. DAVIES: Anything else? Thanks.
(The briefing concluded at 3:30 p.m.)