U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #187, 96-11-19
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
Tuesday, November 19, 1996
Briefer: Glyn Davies
Welcome to American University Students and
Foreign Service Officers ............................. 1
Statement re: MOU between Dept. & U.S. Air Carriers .... 8
A/S of African Affairs George Moose on Refugee Situation: 1-7
--Approx. 500,000 Refugees Return to Rwanda fr. E. Zaire 1,5
--Refugees Unaccounted for in E. Zaire ................. 2,5-6
--DART Team ............................................ 2
--Planning for Possible Multinat'l Force Continues .... 2-4,7
--Stuttgart Mtg. Chaired by Canada ..................... 3
--U.S. Pledge Toward Rwandan Relief Effort ............. 3
--Air Head/TALCE Unit at Kigali Airport ................ 3-4
--Need for Nat'l Reconciliation Processes ............. 4-5,7
--Additional Human Rights Monitors ..................... 5
--War Criminals/Judicial Process ....................... 5
--Location of Hutu Militants ........................... 6
--Report of Arms Supply from Czech Republic ............ 7
_MIDDLE EAST PEACE
--Reports of New Settlements in West Bank .............. 9
CHINA--Jailing of Wang Dan ............................. 9-10
INDONESIA--Report of U.S. Senators' Letter to President
re: East Timor ....................................... 10
Closing of Liaison Office .............................. 10
Submarine Incident ..................................... 10-11
Agreed Framework ....................................... 11
Reported Remark by FM Pangalos re: U.S. Foreign Policy . 11-12
Pope John Paul II Accepts Invitation to Visit .......... 12
RFE/Radio Liberty Annual Programming Budget for Belarus 13
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1996, 1: l0 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. DAVIES: Hello and welcome to the State Department briefing. Also
welcome to some visitors. We have two students visiting us from American
University. Welcome to you. Three Foreign Service Officers from the
Washington Tradecraft class, from the National Foreign Affairs Training
Center. Three newly hired Junior Officers, all here to see how we do
What we would like to do at the top of the briefing is something a bit
different. Given the prominence of Eastern Zaire in the news and the great
amount of work that is taking place in the U. S. Government to react to the
crisis in Eastern Zaire and Rwanda, we have joining us today Assistant
Secretary of State George Moose who will say a couple of things to you and
then take your questions, and we'll go just as long as you have questions.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Let me start off with a caveat which I think
all of you will appreciate which is that all of the numbers that all of us
have been citing these days are far from hard numbers. They are the best
estimates that our people on the ground and various other sources can
That said, we do believe that over the last several days some 500,000
Rwandan refugees have returned to Rwanda from Eastern Zaire, and we think,
based on that estimate and the estimate of those who are still on the road,
that by the end of today or some time tomorrow that figure could reach 600,
Needless to say, we are all deeply relieved and pleased by that development
because it means that a substantial part of the problem that we were
planning to deal with has in fact already been dealt with.
That raises two principal issues now. Number one, we clearly have needs for
those returning refugees, and need to assist both the government of Rwanda
and the international relief agencies which are currently trying to ensure
their safe, orderly return to their home communes, their reintegration into
society. And there are a lot of things that are going on on that score, and
let me come back to that.
But in the meantime what I want to stress as well is that we remain
concerned about the several hundred thousand -- we don't even know how many
-- refugees who thus far are unaccounted for in Eastern Zaire.
We have varying estimates and some question about estimates, but let me
simply say that it is still thought that there may be as many as 400,000 -
500,000 refugees who are still in Eastern Zaire. We think that most of
those refugees are in the vicinity and the area south of Goma, some between
Bukavu and Goma on the western side of Lake Kivu, and we have various
estimates of that and I won't get into the numbers right now. If you want
to come back to that, we can.
But then, moving further south and west, we have varying estimates of the
numbers of refugees who might still be in the area around Bukavu, and then
moving south towards Uvira, and indeed even further south of Uvira.
Those are the refugees about whom we are still concerned. For that reason,
we are doing two things. We are urgently pursuing our information
collection by all means available to us. That includes aerial surveillance,
and it includes, clearly, our collaboration work with the organizations,
international organizations, on the ground, as well as our efforts to get
our own people into Eastern Zaire.
Yesterday, our DART team from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance was
successful in getting into Goma and into Mugunga Camp. Tomorrow, we are
told, they will be able to get across the border into Bukavu. And, on the
basis of that, make some better assessment of what the situation is in and
So, first we are continuing our urgent efforts to collect information with
regard to the situation in Eastern Zaire, and, secondly, we are continuing
on an urgent basis our planning for a possible military mission to support
the repatriation and relief efforts in Eastern Zaire.
We think it would be premature at best, remiss, for us to stand down at
this stage. We need to continue that planning effort, and that effort is
going forward. As you know, there is a meeting that is planned now in
Stuttgart. We think it is now on Friday, not Thursday. That meeting will be
chaired by the Canadian designated commander of the multinational force,
General Baril of Canada. And the purpose will be, first and foremost, to
bring together all of the information collectively that we possess about
the situation. And on the basis of that, try to determine if there
is still a requirement for a multinational force mission. And if so, what
the configuration of that mission ought to be to deal with the problem.
Now, coming back to the Rwandan part of this, some of that you already know,
because Brian Atwood announced yesterday afternoon that the United States
was pledging $l42.5 million -- I think was the total figure -- largely
towards the relief effort in Rwanda, to assist UNHCR, UNDP, and the other
UN agencies, and the government of Rwanda to reintegrate the returning
refugees into Rwandan society.
As part of our effort there, we are also moving forward with the establishment
in Kigali of a small, if you will, air head at the Kigali airport so that
our military assets can be used if and as necessary to bring in relief
supplies or other equipment that is necessary to respond to the immediate
needs in Rwanda.
That effort is underway. I won't try to preempt or get into the details of
that, but it simply consists of putting in place in Kigali a small tactical
air logistical command element, TALCE, which would be available to
establish the end of an air bridge. Other elements of that air bridge will
be in Mombasa in Kenya and in Entebbe in Uganda.
That effort in Kigali will also be multinational in nature. The Canadians
are also planning to assign some element at the Kigali airport, obviously
with the approval and permission of the Rwandan authorities.
The other point I'd like to make is that the presence of that air head, the
facility in Kigali, also will enable us, if it is determined that an
operation is still required in Eastern Zaire, to move much more quickly
than otherwise would be the case.
So I want to stress, we are still concerned about what we don't know about
Eastern Zaire. Because of that concern, we are continuing to plan for a
possible mission. But the determination of whether such a mission is still
required is yet to be made.
I think I will stop there and try to address any questions you might
QUESTION: Can you address the question of the hostility of the Rwandan
Government to any presence of a multinational force in their country? Does
this create problems for people like yourself, and are you encouraging a
dialogue of sorts between the Hutu's and the Tutsi's, similar to the one
you have been encouraging in Burundi?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: You've got several pieces of that question.
Number one, I think the public statements by the Rwandan Government suggest
that they question at this time whether there is still a need for a
multinational force mission. By the same token, they understand our need to
continue to make plans for a possible mission based on the still undetermined
fate of the remaining refugees in Eastern Zaire.
I think we have been quite clear about that in our discussions with them.
There is nothing we are trying to hide in that regard.
In the meantime, I would say that first and foremost they have indicated to
us a need for assistance in supporting the repatriation, the reintegration
of the returning refugees, and it is for that purpose first and foremost
that they have given their agreement for the establishment of the facility,
our small TALCE unit at Kigali.
Now, the second part of your question really relates to Eastern Zaire, I am
assuming, what's happening there and what we anticipate will happen in the
QUESTION: The internal situation in Rwanda. In other words, you have the
situation in which the Tutsi's dominate the government, and they are the
minority, and it seems to me to be an inherently unstable situation; are
you encouraging them to have some sort of national reconciliation
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: The Rwandans, themselves, have indicated I
think on a number of occasions that they recognize the need for a process
of national reconciliation. That process in their view, and I think we
would agree with that, has multiple components.
I think the most immediate one is to ensure that those people who are now
returning are dealt with in a humane and decent manner, in terms of
facilitating their reintegration into society.
There are several components of that as well. Some of them are simply
material, but others are, if you will, political, psychological. In that
regard, you should know that the Rwandan Government has indicated its
readiness to receive additional monitors, human rights monitors, to be
present in the communes of the returning refugees in order to ensure that
they are being dealt with fairly.
But beyond that, there are a whole series of other things that we have
talked about before. There is clearly a need to deal with the problem of
justice for those who are believed to have been implicated or involved in,
in some direct way, the genocide. There are problems with the justice
system in Rwanda which we are all aware of. There are now some 85,000
people in detention; judicial processing of them has yet to start in
That is a concern to us. It's a concern to others, as well. There is beyond
that, if you will, the question of a process of national reconciliation and
the Rwandans talk variously about mechanisms that might be used to address
That is a medium to a longer term problem, and I think it is one we are all
QUESTION: Do you have any idea now what started this tidal wave of people
going back to Rwanda? Was it -- did the suggestion of international
intervention trigger it, do you think?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I would be misleading you if I stood up here
and told you I knew exactly what triggered all of this exodus. I think
there were a number of factors involved clearly. The military activities in
Eastern Zaire by the so-called Alliance obviously was a factor.
But I have to believe also that the imminence of an international action
aimed at Eastern Zaire might have contributed in some way, probably did
contribute in some way, to the series of events that prompted the refugees
to return. But I don't know that any of us could give you a better answer
QUESTION: Assuming that your figures are right, that there are four to
five hundred thousand elsewhere, is there any way to promote a similar
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Number one, assuming that that number is what
it is, yes, we think that there might be ways to do that. But frankly until
we have a better sense of where these refugees might be and what their
condition is, and indeed what the impediments are to their return -- some
of those may be simple physical impediments, and the fact that they simply
can't get to the frontiers and across the frontiers under current
But I want to be very careful here. We need to know a lot more than we know
now before we can make that kind of a judgment.
QUESTION: What do you know now about the disposition, the whereabouts,
the capabilities of the Hutu militants, those who would control the
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: We know very little, except what we have been
able to discern from interviewing returning refugees, and other information
that has been brought to our attention.
There is an assumption that the ex-Rwandan military and some of the ex-
political leadership, Rwandan political leadership, had been in the area in
and around Mugunga Camp, headed west. And indeed their departure for the
west is what contributed to the liberation, if you will, of the Mugunga
Camp, and then the exodus.
We don't know how many they might be. There are reports variously of
somewhere between 75,000 and l00,000 people on the roads west of Mugunga on
the way towards Masisi.
Let me stress again, these are all estimates for which we have no hard
evidence. Where other elements might be, again frankly we don't know at
QUESTION: Last week there were threats of war by the Zairian Government
against Rwanda and Burundi. Has that threat been rescinded or is that a
factor in the United States, let's say, taking a closer look at the
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I can't factually answer your first question
because I don't know. What I do know is that what we have been encouraging -
- we and others have been encouraging for some time now is that there be
better dialogue, communication, first and foremost, between the Rwandan
Government and the Zairian Government.
But beyond that, between and among other governments in the region, and
beyond that specifically, clearly there is a need for a process of internal
dialogue within Zaire between the government and various of its citizens.
There was a set of grievances which have been articulated by residents of
eastern Zaire. Our advice to the government in Zaire has been for some time
that they need to address those grievances in a fairly forthright manner
through direct dialogue, discussion with the people on the ground in
QUESTION: Is this area in eastern Zaire militarily unsettled and
unsuitable for U.S. military-type of intervention or intrusion, or whatever
you want to call it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Let us be clear here, too. The President last
week took a decision in principle to participate in a multinational force
operation, the purposes of which were humanitarian. In the first instance,
to assist in the immediate assistance relief to the refugees who were at
risk in eastern Zaire and, beyond that, the facilitation of the repatriation.
That repatriation to be undertaken by the UN and other international
That was the purpose for which we signed onto, in principle, to a possible
mission. I think that's also the purpose for which many others signed
There is a problem in eastern Zaire, but that is of a very different
nature. Frankly, my own view is that that is a problem that does not lend
itself to anybody's military intervention. That is essentially a political
and diplomatic problem that needs to be addressed in those terms.
QUESTION: The Czech Republic supplied arms to the Hutus and probably to
other warring parties, clearly in violation of the United Nations embargo.
Have you something on that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: First and foremost, I cannot confirm -- I know
that the United Nations undertook an investigation. There was a report that
has been submitted to the Secretary General. I have not seen that report. I
do not know therefore the conclusions of the report. Therefore, I cannot
validate your initial assertion about who, if anyone, has been cited in
that report for possible violation of the UN arms embargo.
Simply from our perspective, it is important that there be maximum
compliance from all of those in the international community with this arms
embargo, precisely because of the volatility of this region of the world.
We will urge and cooperate in any effort that might result in some
restriction on arms and other things moving into that area.
(Following Assistant Secretary Moose, Acting Spokesman Davies resumed the
Daily Briefing at 1:27 p.m.)
MR. DAVIES: I have just one announcement before going to your questions.
We are, today, making an announcement that on November 18, Assistant
Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Mary Ryan, signed Memorandum of
Understanding reflecting best practices and procedures between the
Department of State and seven United States air carriers. The seven
carriers are American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta, Northwest, TWA,
United Airlines, and U.S. Air.
Of particular importance in this Memorandum of Understanding are the
provisions concerning exchange of information in airline disasters. The
provisions concerning the rendering of passenger manifests is the first
commitment on the part of the air carriers to establish a routine for
providing the Department of State with this much-needed information.
Many of you who have been in the briefing in the wake of air disasters have
asked questions about who was involved in the crash. Of course, we've had a
number of instances where family members have sought information quickly
after air disasters.
What this MOU does for us is, it sets up a regime according to which, in a
matter of hours, air carriers must provide to the government unverified
manifests of who was on board the aircraft. This is just an MOU so it
doesn't have the force of law. But the Department of Transportation is
working on a rule which will codify this so that in the future there will
be a very certain process by which air carriers can deal with the U.S.
Government in the wake of airline disasters. We, in turn, can perform our
function of helping the families of victims to know precisely what
has occurred to their loved ones.
There's a statement that goes into more detail on this that's available in
the Press Office.
With that, George, any questions?
QUESTION: I have no answerable questions. I'll pass.
MR. DAVIES: No answerable questions? You never know. You just never know.
QUESTION: Glyn, have you seen the new reports that the Israelis are
announcing a series of new settlements in the West Bank? Do you have any
MR. DAVIES: I have, Jim. We've seen those reports. I don't have anything
beyond what we've said many times from the podium; our position on Israeli
settlement activity remains the same; Israeli settlements complicate the
negotiating process that's now underway and create tension in the
We're looking into these reports to find out what we can about it. I'm not
certain that the Israeli Government has, in fact, made any kind of an
announcement about this. Our standpoint on this type of activity is clear,
that such settlement work, or new settlement work, is not at all helpful to
the negotiating process.
QUESTION: In this particular time, with the Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations hanging in balance, does this make it more complicating than
MR. DAVIES: It complicates the process. We don't view it as helpful to
the process that's underway. The best judges of the extent to which it
complicates the process and is unhelpful to the process are those directly
engaged in negotiations right now, which is to say Israel and their
partners in the region. You would have to go to them for a reading on just
what it means for negotiations out there. But we're clear on this. We
don't view it as helpful.
QUESTION: Does Dennis Ross have any travel plans?
MR. DAVIES: Don't know of any travel plans. I think Dennis is here in
Washington. I don't have anything to announce.
QUESTION: It's been reported that Secretary of State Warren Christopher
has said that the jailing of Wang Dan will not be an impediment to the U.S.-
Chinese summit. Some are interpreting this as a downgrading of the emphasis
upon human rights?
MR. DAVIES: I don't think so at all. A couple of things. First of all, it
would be the height of folly for me to get really too deeply into China
issues given the fact that the entire Secretary of State team is over there
in China right now, and they're answering these very questions.
But just as a general matter, human rights is one of a number of very
important issues on our agenda. It is an important issue and it's one that
the Secretary raises at every opportunity, that the President raises in his
meetings, that we raise at all levels.
We discuss these matters and the concerns that we have with the Chinese
when we meet with them. Furthermore, we've said that our relationship can
never be as good as it might be while we have in the mix these human rights
cases, these concerns that we have. Of course, it's all spelled out in our
human rights report on China, because we do have a number of concerns.
QUESTION: In terms of human rights, do you know how the President will
respond to this letter from, I think it's 15 Senators, urging the President
to take up the East Timor human rights issue with President Soeharto during
the APEC meeting?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have anything on if the President has responded, how
QUESTION: Does he intend on taking up the human rights issue, and
particularly East Timor with President Soeharto?
MR. DAVIES: I don't know that that will come up. That's a good question
for the White House.
QUESTION: North Korea said that they will close the Liaison Office at
Panmunjom as of November 20. What is the U.S. response to that?
MR. DAVIES: Our understanding is that, indeed, they are closing a Liaison
Office that was established in the wake of the 1991 North-South Basic
Agreement, which was an agreement that anticipated expanded cross-border
The Liaison Office was a working-level office that was unable to fulfill
its intended function because there have not been up to this point the
expanded cross-border contacts that were spoken of in the 1991 agreement.
That is our understanding of why the office was closed. It was an office
that, for the last five years, didn't do much, if anything, and so closed
QUESTION: There were some reports in Japanese and Korean newspapers that
the North Koreans had indicated to the United States, in New York, in their
meetings that they were willing to come out with some statement of regret
concerning the submarine incident. Can you comment on that, or can you tell
us what your understanding of the current North Korean position on that
MR. DAVIES: Our position on the sub incident is unchanged from recent
days, and that is, we view the sub incident as a serious act, a provocative
event. We've said, and stick by, the fact that North Korea needs to make an
appropriate gesture to the South in order to improve the atmosphere. It has
yet to do so. We've called on it repeatedly to do so. So that's where it
I'm not going to get into describing for you what the North Koreans have
told us in New York or what we've replied specifically. We'll keep those
talks confidential. That's our position on the sub incident. It is there as
an impediment to the relationship between the two sides on the peninsula.
We think the North Koreans should make some kind of a gesture as a way of
redressing that problem.
QUESTION: What kind of a gesture -- an apology?
MR. DAVIES: That's up to them. It's up to North Korea to work out. It's
really between North and South Korea to work out. We think it's important,
though, that the Agreed Framework go forward. By all indications, it is
We certainly are playing our part in the Agreed Framework in the delivery,
for instance, of heavy fuel oil. KEDO -- the organization set up by the
Agreed Framework -- has, in fact, taken on some new membership recently,
including most recently the European Union. So that process is alive and
well and should remain functioning.
QUESTION: Any signs that the North Koreans are seeking to slide out of
the agreement in any way?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any signs to report to you right now that
they're sliding out of the agreement. Our understanding is that they're
fulfilling their role in the Agreed Framework. We believe they should
continue to do so.
What I'm talking about here, as regards the sub incident, is the relationship,
such as it is, between North and South Korea and how the North can get back
to the slightly better track that they were on before the sub incident
occurred with South Korea.
QUESTION: Glyn, the Greek Foreign Minister, Theodhoros Pangalos, was
reported as saying that the United States could turn into a global tyrant
if it fails to bring its foreign policy under control. I just want to know,
what's your reaction to that remark?
MR. DAVIES: Two things. I haven't seen that statement -- number one. And,
number two, that's an awfully broad and sweeping statement. I'm not sure
what you do in response to a statement like that.
U.S. policy is not out of control. We're not a tyrant. That would be our
response. I haven't seen the statement. I don't even know that he made
QUESTION: The press reported it; also the major Greek newspaper
MR. DAVIES: I'll take a look at that. We'll see if there's something
appropriate to say in response.
QUESTION: Is there a reaction from the State Department about the
invitation by Fidel Castro to the Pope, John Paul, II, to visit Cuba?
MR. DAVIES: We understand that the Pope received Fidel Castro for about
35 minutes. The meeting was described by Vatican officials as a private,
The Catholic Church has a long history of promoting democracy and
protecting human rights. The Pope, undoubtedly, can play a constructive
role in promoting democratic change and in protecting human rights in
We do understand from the Vatican press briefing that occurred after the
meeting that the Pope accepted Castro's invitation to visit Cuba during
1997. Our hope is, if the visit takes place, that it will serve to further
the cause of freedom for the Cuban people, which is the cause that we've
championed for over three decades now.
QUESTION: Glyn, any comments with respect to the Pope's position on the
use of economic sanctions?
MR. DAVIES: I'm not sure I can articulate the Pope's position on the use
of economic sanctions. I've seen some press reports.
QUESTION: To be against the use of the sanctions?
MR. DAVIES: I don't have any particular reaction to that. You're talking
about in the Cuba context?
QUESTION: Well, yes.
MR. DAVIES: I got into this yesterday. George, didn't I do enough on this
yesterday? I did enough on this yesterday -- on Cuba and sanctions. That's
our position. You can look it up from yesterday.
QUESTION: I raised this yesterday, but I want to know if there's anything
new on accusations that are being made in the extremist press in Russia
that are now showing up in Belarus about large sums of money being spent by
the United States Voice of America in broadcast in Belarusia? I was
wondering if the Department has any comment on it?
MR. DAVIES: You'll be impressed that I actually looked into this and got
some statistics on precisely what it is that is being spent for VOA
broadcasts in Belarus.
What I can tell you is that the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty annual
budget for programming in the Belarusian language is $1.255 million. That's
$990,000 for programming, and $265,000 for transmission of that programming
The Belarusian programming is heard 28 hours a week. The Voice of America
does not itself broadcast in Belarusian but it's Russian and English
language broadcasts are also received in Belarus. So those are the facts as
I've got them.
Anything else? Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:42 p.m.)