U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #46, 97-04-01
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Tuesday, April 1, 1997
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
1,5-6 Secretary Albright Throwing out First Ball at Baltimore Orioles
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
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
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
6 Visit of Iranian Minister to Syria
6-7 Role of Syrian Foreign Minister Shara in Arab League's Boycott of
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
8-9 Rock Concert in Imia/Kardak
9-10 U.S. Reaction to Possible Union of Russia and Belarus
13 U.S. Role in OSCE Multinational Force to Facilitate Humanitarian
13-14 Washington Times Report of Bunkers Built in Russia in Fear of Nuclear
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 1997, 1:22 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
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
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?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
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
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
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.
QUESTION: Nick -
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
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
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 café 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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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.
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.
QUESTION: Fool 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
QUESTION: Nick, on Albania.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
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
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 -
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.
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
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
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:55 p.m.)