Browse through our Interesting Nodes on the Baltic States A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Saturday, 29 February 2020
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Interesting Nodes
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts

U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #46, 97-04-01

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <>


U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing


Tuesday, April 1, 1997

Briefer: Nicholas Burns

1,5-6 Secretary Albright Throwing out First Ball at Baltimore Orioles
      Season Opener
1,2   Secretary Albright's Breakfast with Central American Foreign
      Ministers, Meeting at the White House with King Hussein, Meeting
      w/Argentine Foreign Minister Di Tella and Lunch Tomorrow with King
1-2   Public Employees Roundtable 1997 Public Service Award for
      International Programs to the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in
      the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs
11    Vote on Nomination of Congressman Peterson as Ambassador to Vietnam
11-12 Reaction to New Parking Regulations for Diplomatic Corps in New York
12    Incident with Russian and Belarussian Diplomats
12    Report that Diplomat in Washington Stopped for DUI

CHINA 2 Chinese Spokesman of Foreign Ministry's Response to Speaker Gingrich's Remarks on U.S. Defense of Taiwan 7 Reports of Military Maneuvers along Border

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 2-3 Netanyahu Trip to D.C./Possible Trip by U.S. Administration Officials to Region 3-4 U.S. View on Need for Arafat to Give a "Red Light" to Terrorism 4-5 Role of King Hussein in Restoring Peace Negotiations 5 Jordanian Role in Middle East in Light of Its Relations with Iraq

SYRIA 6 Visit of Iranian Minister to Syria 6-7 Role of Syrian Foreign Minister Shara in Arab League's Boycott of Israel

KOREA 7 South Korean Decision to Allow Private Rice Shipments to North Korea 7 Four Party Talks/Bilateral Talks in New York with North Korea 8 World Food Program Assessment that Food Shortage is Affecting DPRK Military

GREECE/TURKEY 8-9 Rock Concert in Imia/Kardak

RUSSIA/BELARUS 9-10 U.S. Reaction to Possible Union of Russia and Belarus

ALBANIA 13 U.S. Role in OSCE Multinational Force to Facilitate Humanitarian Assistance

RUSSIA 13-14 Washington Times Report of Bunkers Built in Russia in Fear of Nuclear War


DPB #46

TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 1997, 1:22 P. M.


MR. BURNS: We had a great trip to Florida, but that's over. Now it's back to reality, and the reality is that we are here on the opening day for baseball, and the game's been postponed.

The Secretary of State is very disappointed, because she's been working on her slider. It's a wicked slider, and she had hoped to unveil it today at Camden Yards. She'll have a chance tomorrow.

She's going to be going up tomorrow to throw out the first pitch when the Orioles take on the Kansas City Royals. We hope that all of you will come with us. We had an impressive group of journalists signed up, and if you'd like to join us, the more the merrier.

We'll have a van going up, or two vans if we have a lot of journalists, so let us know by the end of today, if you can, because she will be up in Camden Yards.

She spent most of this morning involved in two activities. First she had a breakfast meeting at Blair House with the Foreign Ministers of Central America and the Dominican Republic. They discussed the President's May 8 meeting with the heads of state of those countries in Costa Rica - the trip that's been announced by the White House. They also discussed the planning for the March 1998 Summit of the Americas to be held in Santiago, Chile.

She also spent time over at the White House with the President for the meeting with King Hussein, which I believe has concluded.

I know you have a report from the White House on that; also some good words from the President before the meeting.

So that is what her schedule has been today. She'll be seeing the Foreign Minister of Argentina, Foreign Minister Di Tella, at 5:30 today. That meeting was to have happened tomorrow. It's now been moved to this afternoon. Then tomorrow she has a meeting and a lunch with King Hussein here at the State Department. That will wrap up His Majesty King Hussein's visit to the United States.

I'll be glad to go into any of these issues with you. I also want to let you know there is some very good news today for the Department of State for our Bureau of Consular Affairs. Our Office of Overseas Citizens Services has been selected to receive the Public Employees Roundtable 1997 Public Service Excellence Award for international programs. I think all of you know that our Office of Overseas Citizens Services exists to help American citizens overseas. Last year alone they helped American citizens -- I believe they gave 1.7 million Consular services to American citizens overseas, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They handled 3,000 arrests of Americans overseas, 6,000 deaths of Americans, 11,000 international adoption cases, 1,200 international parental child abduction cases. These are just examples of the services that these officers, men and women, bring to American citizens who are traveling and living overseas, and we're very, very proud of the office for winning this award.

I believe they'll be awarded on May 5 up on Capitol Hill, and I have a public statement that we're issuing today that tells you more about this award for the men and women of the Office of Overseas Citizens Services.

With that, George, be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: A procedural question: Is the meeting with the Argentine Foreign Minister open?

MR. BURNS: I think it's a camera spray.

QUESTION: Cameras only.

MR. BURNS: Yes, I believe it is.

QUESTION: All right. Newt Gingrich has irritated the Chinese, as you may have seen, with his comments, and your counterpart in Beijing, Shen Guofang, said today that "In China-U.S. relations, there is just one question when it comes to the issue of Taiwan. Please do not interfere in China's internal affairs."

I wonder if you have a response to that.

MR. BURNS: Not much of a response. I know that Mike McCurry and John Dinger had a lot to say on that yesterday, except to say that Speaker Gingrich is the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

He has an absolute right when he's abroad to speak out on these issues, as all of the U.S. Government spokespeople said yesterday, and the United States Government continues to have a right to comment on affairs on Taiwan. That just stands to reason.

So he has a right to say what he would like to say on his own behalf when he's overseas, and no one would take issue with that whatsoever, and he should not be criticized by the Chinese Government for speaking out on his own behalf when he's overseas.

QUESTION: Nick, can I ask you a question about the Middle East?


QUESTION: It appears that Prime Minister Netanyahu will not be coming to Washington as planned next week. Does that make it - is that a consideration in planning a possible trip to the Middle East by the Secretary of State?

MR. BURNS: I have not seen a public announcement from the Israeli Government, and I refer you to the Israeli Government for the travel plans of Prime Minister Netanyahu. The President was asked this morning over at the White House whether or not he'd be sending Secretary Albright to the Middle East, and he basically said that at some point she would go, but it would be in the context of a larger strategy that he and the Secretary would develop. I think that's obviously the best answer you're going to get out of us today.

She's always she'd be willing to go, as recently as yesterday, but it has to make sense as a part of other moves that we're making in the Middle East to try to calm the situation and return the Palestinians and the Israelis to the talks that they ought to have to resolve the many problems before them.

QUESTION: Well, for the purposes of this question, if Netanyahu does not come, would it be more effective for this larger strategy for the Secretary to go and have meetings face-to-face with him and other Middle East people? In other words, should the trip be postponed, will that postpone the larger strategy considerations?

MR. BURNS: I think whether or not Prime Minister Netanyahu decides to come to the United States, the United States Government will continue its efforts to try to work with Israel and the Palestinians to calm the situation, to reduce the threat of violence and the reality of violence, sadly, today in Gaza, and to do everything we can to use our influence to move the peace negotiations forward.

We'll continue that, no matter what happens, whether he comes or not.


MR. BURNS: Yes, Sid.

QUESTION: The President also said - offered some praise of Chairman Arafat for taking steps in recent days to show the red light, to curb terrorism. Can you point to any of those steps that he has taken that the President was referring to?

MR. BURNS: Sid, on this I just refer you to what the President said. I can't improve on what he said, except I think he used a very good phrase - zero tolerance. We ought all to have zero tolerance for violence in the Middle East. Nothing can justify violence and terrorism, and that's a message that we have given to Chairman Arafat as well as the other Arab leaders, and it ought to be, we think, their rule as they go about their own activities.

We think that they've got to do everything they can in word and deed - the Palestinians - to choke off the violence that we saw again this morning with the two suicide bombers in Gaza.

QUESTION: But you don't care to say what those steps are that you all are pleased about with the Chairman?

MR. BURNS: As I said, when the President speaks, generally I don't try to interpret the President or expand much on what he says because he heads our government. But as you know, we for some time now have been asking Chairman Arafat to use all of the influence and resources at his disposal to send the right signals - positive signals - to people in his own community, and those are that violence can never be tolerated, violence has no place in the modern Middle East, and that the Palestinians and Israelis need to get back to the negotiating table. That's the bottom line of the American position.

QUESTION: Is there evidence that message being heard by Chairman Arafat, that he's taking steps in response to that message?

MR. BURNS: I think you've seen his own statements, both after the suicide bombing against the caf&eacute; in Tel Aviv a week ago Friday, and even statements today. I think that our message is that nothing can justify violence. We have seen from the Palestinians in the last several weeks sometimes public statements, not really by Arafat but by people who speak for him, that in one way or another justify the violence that we've seen and the terrorism based on decisions made by the Israeli Government on Har Homa or other issues.

The President said again today - and we have said all along - that nothing can justify violence. So the Palestinians ought not to make excuses or to try to even explain why people would blow themselves up and try to kill innocent civilians in the process.

This is terrorism, pure and simple, and it ought to be called what it is - it's terrorism - and it ought to be rejected by the Palestinians and everyone else.

QUESTION: Nick, King Hussein obviously is a major figure and player in all of this. What in the best of all possible worlds would - what role would he play? What specifically might he do as he goes away from this visit to Washington to assist your larger strategy?

MR. BURNS: I think there are few people for whom we have greater respect, as the President said this morning, than King Hussein. He has shown by his actions, by his deeds as well as his words, that he is committed to the peace negotiations.

Jordan and Israel have signed their own peace agreement, and when violence does occur, he rejects it in an uncategorical way - unequivocal way, which, of course, is what we're looking for from all the leaders in the Middle East.

So we're hoping that out of the very, very difficult situation in which the peace negotiations and the peace negotiators find themselves today that the King and others - the Prime Minister of Israel, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority - will work together to put back together a peace process that has been splintered.

We Americans have a long history with all these leaders and in this process, and there have been some very, very bleak moments in the past. You remember a year ago March, just over a year ago, after the four suicide bombs in Israel, we did see a resumption of some movement in the peace negotiations. After the terrible violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in September of 1996, we saw a resumption of the peace negotiations. We saw the five-month negotiations that led to the Hebron agreement.

We will work with King Hussein, with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Chairman Arafat and others to try to reassert in the peace negotiations that sense of movement and cooperation. That's all we can do.

We certainly are not in a position or inclined to give up. We're not going to give up. We'll keep trying to appeal to the better natures of all the people in the Middle East, the people on the street, and to implore them to give up the sword and embrace the peace negotiations.

QUESTION: But what specifically would you like to see him do, rather than - you answered in general that you would like to see him -

MR. BURNS: I don't believe that he is the person that is at the center of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. It's Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu who need to take together - consider what steps are necessary to move forward on the peace negotiations. We think that King Hussein can be helpful because of the fact that he's a person of great stature in the Middle East, and he has open relations with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

He can certainly be helpful in the process, but the main burden of responsibility lies with the Palestinians and the Israelis to revive the peace negotiations. The United States will be helpful to that process. But, as the President said again today, we need to rely on the efforts of others to make that happen.

QUESTION: Hussein seems to differ with the United States on another central point in the Middle East, which is how to deal with Iraq. He seems to want to open relations, particularly trading relations, with what Jordanians call their natural trading partner, Iraq, which would seem to be in total contradiction to what the Secretary of State expounded last Wednesday at Georgetown. Did that come up at the White House? And (2) do you have any exceptions to take of the philosophy expressed by the Jordanians?

MR. BURNS: I believe it came up, but I can't give you a readout or a briefing on it because I wasn't there at the White House today. But I think that Mike McCurry and David Johnson can probably do that for you - first. Second, I can't speak for the Jordanian Government on its own position on Iraq. I do know that the Jordanian Government continues to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolutions and sanctions in place against Iraq, which is very important, and we support that.

I can also tell you that the Secretary of State's speech last Wednesday was intended to send a very strong message, and that is that we know who Saddam Hussein is. He needs to be contained, and we will continue to lead the international effort to do so.

So we are very convinced of the strength of our own policy here.

QUESTION: Nick, I have a slightly lighthearted Middle East question.?

MR. BURNS: Is it possible to be lighthearted? We'll see.

QUESTION: Yes, I know. Is the Secretary going to ask King Hussein to join her tomorrow at Camden Yards? Would Middle East peace be served by a trip to Camden Yards?

MR. BURNS: I think His Majesty the King has other plans, but I'm sure he'd be delighted to go otherwise. I don't believe he's got the time to do it, although I can check, Betsy. It's not a bad idea. We can say that NBC is proposing it.

She's very excited about this, and she was really disappointed that the game was postponed today. We hope the game can be played tomorrow. The winds are severe. But she's been working on her pitch, and she's ready to take the mound before Mike Mussina, if he is going to pitch, or Jimmy Key, tomorrow afternoon.

I do have some very, very disappointing news - very disappointing indeed - and that is that I heard from a source at the Boston Globe today that the Red Sox, who open in Seattle tomorrow night, have already been mathematically eliminated from the AL East this year, we were all crushed to hear that. It's April Fools' Day.

I wanted to say something really provocative and interesting on April Fool's. But every time I ask our regional experts - the African Bureau, the European Bureau - they all cringed because they remembered Ronald Reagan's off-camera remarks about 10 years ago, and they didn't want me to start an international crisis anywhere, so we decided to stick to baseball.

QUESTION: Do you want to repeat what Reagan said ten years ago?

MR. BURNS: No, I don't; no. I remember that, George.

I hope you all come up to Camden Yards. You ought to take the afternoon off; just forget about the problems in foreign policy - you know, to see the American national pastime. The second best team in the AL East is playing tomorrow. I know that's hard - the Orioles. We'll live with the Orioles for a day. Right, Betsy? The Secretary has decided to do that as well.


QUESTION: Is it true, as I've been told, that the Iranian Defense Minister recently visited Damascus? Are you aware of any new military supply arrangements between Iran and Syria?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that the Iranian Defense Minister has - I don't know if he's visited or not. We'll have to check on that, whether we are aware he's visited. In any case, we would strongly encourage the Syrians not to have a military relationship with Iran. We've been disappointed, I think, in the past. We encourage all countries in the region to avoid a close relationship with the Iranians because our policy of containment we think, again, is centered on the right values, and that's containing the military power of Iran which is a negative power in the Middle East.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Shara seemed to be taking the lead in the Arab League's meeting in which they called for a resumption of the boycott and curtailing of ties with Israel.

Do you have any comments on his participation in that?

MR. BURNS: I can just say the deliberations of the Arab League were most disappointing. Surely, it cannot be the right policy for the Arab countries to avoid Israel, to downgrade their relationships with Israel at a time 49 years after the creation of the State of Israel, of the start of the Arab-Israeli wars, when, finally, over the last couple of years we've started to make progress.

Surely, the Arab countries need to be serious about peace with Israel. They need to be constant in their application of a policy of peace. When things go wrong in the peace negotiations, as they've surely gone wrong over the last couple of months, one's relationship with Israel, if you're an Arab country, cannot be used as a threat to be held above the head of the State of Israel. They have got to be constant in their application of having a mature, cooperative relationship with Israel. When things dip, you've got to stick with the policy that you've decided to pursue, which is peace.

So we don't find these statements to be helpful - the ones coming out of Cairo, or the statements that we've seen from the Syrian Foreign Minister this morning.

QUESTION: On North Korea, do you know anything about military concentrations on the Chinese border, or military maneuvers there?

MR. BURNS: No, I've not seen any reports on that; any public reports this morning on that, no. But we are pleased that the South Korean Government has made a decision to allow private rice shipments to North Korea. We think this is an important humanitarian step which we hope will contribute to redress some of the very urgent and clear food problems in North Korea itself.

QUESTION: Anything new on the Four Party talks?

MR. BURNS: No, we have not heard from the North Koreans.

The ball is in their court, meaning we've made our pitch, our proposal up in New York - we and the South Koreans. We think it's a good one. We urge the North Koreans to accept our proposal to begin these talks, but we've not heard anything from them since.

We are going to be very interested to talk to the members of the U.S. Senate who were in Pyongyang over the weekend. You've seen the very interesting press reports on their visit. We'll be interested to get a briefing from them on what they saw and heard.

QUESTION: Any recent meetings in New York with the North Koreans?

MR. BURNS: We normally meet with them once per week.

I assume that happened last week, but I don't have any report on it. John (Dinger), do you?

QUESTION: You don't have any plans for -

MR. BURNS: No. This is the normal meetings, I think, that we have bilaterally with the North Koreans. George, is that what you're referring to? We can check that for you, George.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: Still on North Korea?

MR. BURNS: Still on North Korea, yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the World Food Program statement that the food crisis there is beginning to affect the military and that North Korea could be out of food in two to three months?

MR. BURNS: I don't have any particular reaction to that except to say that we've made our own $10 million contribution to the World Food Program. I believe that the ships will be underway.

We gave you the schedule for arrival of the two ships leaving from Houston, Texas.

QUESTION: Is it the Department of State's understanding that food to the military is being affected?

MR. BURNS: Food to the military - meaning, the military is short of food?

QUESTION: That's right.

MR. BURNS: I just have to check that for you. I don't know if we have an opinion or a view on that particular issue; if we can agree or not agree with the statements from the WFP.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: I have on Imia. On July 25, the Greek magazine Nemesis is organizing on Imia Islet a very -

MR. BURNS: "Nemesis," meaning adversary?

QUESTION: Exactly. - a very crowded music and dance festival for a full day with the slogan "rock on the rocks" in order to clarify your statement you made after the Imia crisis.

An obvious effort. (Inaudible) to figure out if the U.S. Government considers Imia a Greek, Turkish, or - could you please comment?

QUESTION: Remember, it's April 1st.

MR. BURNS: Is this an April Fool's version. Is this a Greek version? Do you have April Fool's Day in Greece? You must.


MR. BURNS: April Fool's Day.


MR. BURNS: Do you commemorate that in Greece? My kids will be glad to know, it's probably the first time I've been responsible for a rock concert. It's not bad.

Mr. Lambros, my appreciation of the situation on Imia is that it was a very small islet. I don't know if you could even get the remaining members of the Beatles on Imia with their entourage and have room for spectators.

QUESTION: It's big enough.

MR. BURNS: Is it big enough?


MR. BURNS: I'm not familiar with Nemesis, which is quite an unusual name for a magazine, but perhaps that tells us a lot about that particular magazine. It's the first I've heard of this rock concert.

Our position on Imia will not be changed by a rock concert, I can assure you.

QUESTION: What is your position on it?

MR. BURNS: About Imia?


MR. BURNS: It has not changed in the year that you and I have been having a dialogue about it. That's part of the constancy.

To have a successful foreign policy, you need to stick with your principles, and the United States is stuck with its principals on Imia/Kardak, and that is, it should be decided by consensual means. That was a good April Fool's question, Mr. Lambros.


QUESTION: Does the State Department have a view on the arrangement or signing of an agreement between Russia and Belarus today?

MR. BURNS: Russia and Belarus, yes. We've said many times, because there's been a lot of talk over the years, particularly since President Lukashenko took power, about some kind of union.

We've said many times that we would need to know more about this particular agreement before we would have a particular reason to say much about it. But we certainly would want to make sure, in looking at an agreement like this - and we'll be looking at it from this perspective - that any agreement is voluntary; that's it's mutually beneficial, that it's outward-looking and does not create new lines of division in Europe.

We certainly would want to be assured that the people of the countries affected would have had a chance to express themselves, express their views in a fair and open political process.

Certainly, the conditions in Russia are agreeable to a fair and open political process where the views of the Russian population can be considered. I'm not sure that Belarus is such a state.

The environment in Belarus has been increasingly autocratic and dictatorial and anti-democratic, particularly over the last several weeks with the arrests of journalists and the arrest of people who have done nothing wrong except to protest peacefully their opposition to the policies of the Government of Belarus.

So we'll have to look at it through that kind of prism and have to acquaint ourselves in more detail about the exact outlines of this agreement before we can give you a better answer. But that is how we'll look at any agreement that may or may not result between President Yeltsin and President Lukashenko.

QUESTION: Nick, would you like to see President Yeltsin exert some sort of democratizing influence over Belarus?

MR. BURNS: In general, Russia is a positive example for Belarus. Russia is a democratic country with an open political process. They've just had freely contested elections this past year with a very active media and a very active political opposition in the Russian Duma - among them, Communists and other authoritarian parties. That's not true of Belarus.

Belarus is an authoritarian, dictatorial state, and we've now decided upon a policy of very distant relations between the United States and Belarus - selective engagement - only on those issues where we think that the United States interests are truly of concern.

We're not going to be working with Belarus on a lot of other issues because it's record is so disappointing to us.

QUESTION: Has the Ambassador gone back to Minsk yet?

MR. BURNS: I'll check on that for you. I don't know if Ambassador Yalowitz is in Minsk or not. I'll be glad to check.

QUESTION: Does this look to you like retaliation for planned NATO expansion?

MR. BURNS: No, I wouldn't conclude that at all. There's been talk for years about some kind of union agreement between Belarus and Russia. What we've seen on the margins today does not seem to be a true union. It seems to be perhaps increased cooperation. But we'll have to look at it more closely and get the facts and then we'll have something more to say.

QUESTION: Do you know if there's a new military component to the agreement?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware there's any military component whatsoever but we'll have to see what, if anything, is said about that tomorrow.

QUESTION: On a separate subject. There's supposed to be a vote in the Senate next week to confirm Pete Peterson's appointment as Ambassador to Vietnam. I'm wondering if you think that vote will go ahead without a glitch?

MR. BURNS: We hope it goes ahead. Congressman Peterson has been waiting now for eight months to be confirmed by the Senate - for his nomination to be confirmed.

He is a great American. He was held for six and a half years in North Vietnamese prison camps. He emerged from that to be a leader in our own country. He is a man of great principle.

He is ideally suited to be the American Ambassador, to try help normalize our relationship with Vietnam now that the war has been ended for such a long time.

We think, after having waited throughout the fall, throughout our election campaign, he ought to be confirmed at the earliest possible moment, and we hope it's this week or next, by the U.S. Senate.


QUESTION: The New York policy apparently are handing out tickets to U.N. diplomats which has caused several diplomats, among them the French, to complain about this, with one French diplomat saying New York isn't the only place to put the U.N. headquarters. There is nothing to stand in the way of this organization transferring more important positions of what it does to Geneva or Vienna. I'm wondering if the United States has any feeling about that?

MR. BURNS: With that comment by that not very senior-ranking French official is perfectly ridiculous. No one is thinking about moving the United Nations out of New York. Let's remember, it was Franklin Roosevelt's vision that created the United Nations.

We are the host country; we're the founding country. We're a member of the Security Council. The United Nations is going to remain in New York and that's because no one seriously wants to move it. The French Government repudiated the statements, these ridiculous statements of this mid-level official earlier today.

We're very pleased and gratified to see those constructive statements out of Paris, out of the French Foreign Ministry, and that's what counts.

Ambassador Richardson and Mayor Giuliani have agreed on a program that we think reflects what has happened, what has gone well here in Washington, D.C. in this very vexing problem of getting diplomats to obey American laws.

The first thing I should say is that diplomats who serve in New York or San Francisco or Washington or Chicago or Houston, or elsewhere, ought to obey and must obey American laws. They have a responsibility under the Vienna Convention to do so.

American diplomats overseas are expected to obey laws. So our advice to foreign diplomats in New York is the following. Don't put yourself in a position where you parked next to a fire hydrant or you're parked illegally in a place where you should not be parked. Don't put yourself in a position where you violate the law.

Some governments, some missions, have tens of thousands of parking violations over the last several years alone. There's one delegation that has five cars and 1,200 parking tickets in 1996. It's really deplorable. So our advice is, obey our laws.

Our second piece of advice is, if you do violate our laws, unwittingly or wittingly, pay the fine. Any American citizen who gets a traffic violation must pay their fines. I've never been in that position, as Sid knows. But if I ever do get a parking ticket, I'm going to pay it. That is the advice we must give to foreign diplomats.

The city of New York also has some responsibilities here, and we've been assured by Mayor Giuliani that the city will live up to its own responsibilities. If people violate our laws over the next year, within a year, the State Department will begin to take away license plates, and that's the way it should be.

So we firmly support the policies put in place by the city of New York and by the United Nations Mission.

We are very open to any comments by member states of the United Nations, by the U.N. Secretariat, if they have any problems with this. We're quite sure that any problems can be ironed out. But let's stop this diplomatic whining, frankly, from New York about parking tickets. They ought to pay them and, first and foremost, they ought to obey our laws.

QUESTION: Nick, have you heard from New York City about the incident with the Russian - I think the Belarus diplomat that happened last New Year's?

MR. BURNS: I was thinking of that this morning. I think that was an incident that occurred on December 28th. As I remember it, the ball was in the court of the city of New York. They were to provide the State Department with a comprehensive police report.

I'll have to check with our Bureau of Consular Affairs to see if they did provide that to us. I haven't heard anything about it since then.

QUESTION: Has there been any movement on the case of the Russian diplomat that was stopped by Maryland police on Sunday?

MR. BURNS: I understand that the Maryland police will provide the State Department with a report on the incident. That is normal procedure, and we very much appreciate the counties in Maryland and Virginia doing that.

QUESTION: They've done that?

MR. BURNS: I don't know if they have. If they have, we'll just have to check with our Bureau of Consular Affairs. We've not been told that they have provided that report. If they have, we'll look at it and perhaps have something to say. I really have nothing to add to what John Dinger said yesterday - the excellent work done by John Dinger, I should add, during my absence.

QUESTION: Nick, on Albania.


QUESTION: But why the U.S. is not participating in the multinational force for Albania?

MR. BURNS: Because we think that the force is well in hand with the leadership given to it by the Italian Government, the French Government, the Greek Government, the Romanian Government and other governments that I should not leave out. They're all doing a good job. In fact, a number of them have pledged specific troop commitments today, led by the Italian Government, and we've said many times that if they do require the assistance of the United States, we will be in a position to give it. But I have checked with the Pentagon this morning, and I can tell you that we've not been asked to render any assistance to date.

QUESTION: You have not been asked so far.

MR. BURNS: No, we have not been asked, no. But we're very pleased that the OSCE and the U.N. Security Council have approved the formation of this multinational force, which we hope will help to re-establish order in Albania, to protect the relief supplies coming in. We still, of course, are working diplomatically, led by our Embassy on the ground in Tirana, to help the government get itself together and reinstall some civility and stability in the life of Albania.

QUESTION: Is there any comment on the report in the Washington Times that Moscow is building bunkers against nuclear attack, and could this be connected to the expansion of NATO?

MR. BURNS: I was gone for eight days, and I thought maybe I'd come back and things would be different, but they're not different. I find that Mr. Gertz spends most of his time collecting alleged intelligence reports and then regurgitating them on the pages of his newspaper. Most journalists in this city, including I think everybody in this room, do their job in a very different way. You go out and do your own research. You talk to people. You go out and you work hard, and you sweat to get your stories.

Clearly, there must be another way of reporting on the U.S.-Russian relationship than leaking alleged intelligence documents. So I don't think I'll give it the time of day, frankly, except just to sound off again against the modus operandi of Mr. Gertz.

QUESTION: No credibility to the -

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

MR. BURNS: No, I'm very serious. I'm always serious, Sid.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) you guys are leaking it to him.

MR. BURNS: Excuse me!

QUESTION: Not you, but somebody -

MR. BURNS: I don't know anybody in this building who's leaking highly classified intelligence documents. Obviously, somebody in the U.S. Government is, and those people ought to be found and frankly prosecuted. It is a crime to leak to people not cleared highly classified intelligence documents. It's against the ethical oath, the oath that we all take as officers, and it's against the ethics that people have serving in government. I think it's a very serious issues.

If you ask, do I admire reporters who spend almost all their time secreting these documents out of the U.S. Government and putting them in the pages of the newspaper, no, I don't. I don't admire it, and I don't applaud it.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, I'm just back. I'm going to tell it like it is, like my boss.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) he talked to a former CIA employee, and his name is also printed.

MR. BURNS: I don't believe that former employees of the CIA ought to be talking about intelligence activities. I don't believe that's ethical.

QUESTION: He even has a book coming out.

MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, I don't believe it's ethical.

I'm not going to read it. (Laughter) The State Department library won't purchase it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BURNS: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:55 p.m.)


U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
Back to Top
Copyright 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
All Rights Reserved.

HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
std2html v1.01 run on Wednesday, 2 April 1997 - 0:08:47 UTC