U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #48, 97-04-03
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
Thursday, April 3, 1997
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
1 Welcome to Briefing Visitors
2-3 Secretary's Activities Today and Tomorrow
2,3 --Meetings with Portuguese Prime Minister
2 --Commerce Department Memorial Ceremony/Anniversary of Plane Crash
2 --Meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Mordechai
2 --Meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Bjoern Godal
2-3 --Meeting with Serbian Opposition Movement
3 Acting Asst. Secretary Welch and NEA Director Deutsch in N. Iraq
3 U.S. Foreign Policy Town Meeting, New Orleans, April 7, l997
3-4 Death of Eugenie Moore Anderson, First Woman to Serve as
4 Seminar on Criminal Justice Issues in the International
Exploitation of Women and Children, April 7-11
4 Saddam Hussein's Control in Iraq
4-5 Secretary's Georgetown University Speech on U.S. Iraq Policy
5 Iraq and the Middle East Peace Process
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
5 Prospects for a Comprehensive Peace in the Middle East
7 U.S. Assistance to the Palestinians
8 Final Status Negotiations
8-9 Reported Pre-Conditions for Restarting Negotiations
5-6 Israel Suspends Request for Extradition of Moussa Abu Marzook
6-7,13 Netanyahu's Visit to the U.S./Meetings/Agenda
9-10 Al-Khobar Bombing Investigation/Canadian Detention of Individuals
10-11 U.S.-Canadian and U.S.-Saudi Cooperation in Investigation
11-13 U.S. Call for Kabila and Rebel Alliance to Permit Assistance to
13-14 Criticism of Statements re U.S. China Policy
14 Schedule of KEDO Meetings
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 1997, 1:15 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome back to the
State Department. I want to introduce some honored guests. Mr. Mohamed
Adwan Gaber, who works for Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.
He is a press official who's been very helpful to American journalists with
the traveling party and to myself and others at many occasions in Gaza.
Nice to have you here.
I also want to welcome nine interns from the Atlantic Council here in
Washington, D.C., who are with us. Thanks for coming.
I thought I'd take you through the Secretary's schedule today.
I have a couple of announcements before we go to questions.
The first is that -
QUESTION: How's her arm?
MR. BURNS: Her arm's okay. That was a sinker ball yesterday, by the way.
(Laughter) It was sinker ball. It did sink.
And she's saving her hard ball for diplomacy. That was actually a stolen
line from Tom Brokaw. I like that line.
QUESTION: Somebody wrote it for him.
MR. BURNS: Probably Betsy Steuart. Her arm is fine, and she'll return
whenever they ask her to return.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Roger Clemens -
MR. BURNS: Roger Clemens, that traitor, pitched a fairly good game
yesterday for the Toronto Blue Jays. He's still a traitor.
He's a very good pitcher, though.
QUESTION: He pitches (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: No, but the Boston Red Sox defeated Anaheim in the ninth
inning. Henry gave me the blow-by-blow just about an hour ago on his
office computer. They scored four in the ninth to beat the Angels. We're
off to a good start, Barry. So it was a good day for baseball - for Cal
Ripken, Madeleine Albright and the Boston Red Sox.
The Secretary of State today. Secretary Albright went over to the White
House for the President's meeting with the Portuguese Prime Minister.
She's there now with the President for the lunch.
She is going to attend at 2:00 o'clock the celebration with the President,
with Secretary Daley. It's a celebration of the lives, honoring Ron Brown
and the others who perished a year ago on that tragic flight in Bosnia -
Croatia, excuse me.
She's going there because Ron Brown was a friend of hers, and she wants to
honor on behalf of the State Department all of those who perished on board
She has a meeting with the Israeli Defense Minister, Mr. Mordechai, at 4:00
p.m. this afternoon. I will be in that meeting and will be able to take
some calls from those of you who are interested in that. We don't have a
press opportunity for you, except for a camera spray, I believe.
She's then meeting the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Gama,
at 5:00 o'clock to review some issues that perhaps won't be coming up
during the Portuguese Prime Minister's meeting with the President.
QUESTION: Any opportunity to do that?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Any opportunity -
MR. BURNS: No, there isn't, because of the White House event.
QUESTION: The follow-up at the White House was not very productive.
MR. BURNS: We always give precedence to the White House and the President
on these occasions.
Let me also say that tomorrow the Secretary will be meeting at noon with
the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Bjoern Godal. There will
be a press opportunity - statements and questions and answers - at noon
tomorrow with the Norwegian Foreign Minister.
We are looking forward to this visit. The Secretary is looking forward to
it. We expect that European security issues, NATO enlargement, Russia, the
Baltic countries, Bosnia, as well as the Middle East, of course, given
Norway's role in the Middle East, will be high on the agenda for that
Also tomorrow - I believe it's 4:00 o'clock - the Secretary will be meeting
with the three leaders of Zajedno, the Serbian opposition movement.
Mr. Vuk Draskovic, Mr. Zoran Djindjic and Mrs. Vesna Pesic will be here
tomorrow to meet with the Secretary. They're in the United States to
attend a conference in New York on ethnic relations. They have meetings
with NGOs essentially, but the Secretary wanted them to come over to the
State Department to talk about the situation in Serbia in the aftermath of
the decision to respect the November 17th elections and to allow the
opposition to take their seats in the various municipalities.
That's tomorrow afternoon.
I wanted to let you know that our Acting Assistant Secretary of State for
Near East Affairs, David Welch, and our Office Director, Bob Deutsch, are
visiting northern Iraq today, for talks with the leadership of the main
Iraqi Kurdish parties - the KDP, the PUK, the Iraqi Turkomen Front, the
Assyrian Democratic Movement, and the Peace Monitoring Force.
The discussions are focusing on the Ankara peace process that was put in
place by the United States, Turkey and the United Kingdom last autumn. The
United States continues to believe that reconciliation and stability in
northern Iraq are in the best interests of all the inhabitants of northern
Iraq. I'll be in a position tomorrow to give you a substantive readout on
what David Welch and Bob Deutsch have accomplished in their trip to
QUESTION: Could we try you on (inaudible) before you move on to the next
MR. BURNS: I've just got a couple more announcements.
QUESTION: No, I mean Iraq. Okay.
MR. BURNS: Let me just go through these. I've just got two more things
really. I just wanted to let you know our next foreign policy town meeting
will be on April 7 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Under Secretary of State
for Global Affairs Tim Wirth, who you just saw, will deliver the keynote
address at 8:00 p.m. Other Department speakers are Ambassador Bill
Twaddell, who is one of our point people in the Zairian crisis, and
Ambassador Richard C. Brown, who will be talking about the economic outlook
for Latin America. This continues our tradition of foreign policy town
meetings around the country to try to bring our message to the American
I encourage all of you who want to attend - we've had a lot of journalists
attend these - to go from Washington to one of the meetings - to do so. If
any of you are interested, I'd be glad to arrange for you - special
arrangements to talk to Tim and others while you're in New Orleans.
The last thing I wanted to mention, and some of the veterans of the press
corps may remember this person: Eugenie Moore Anderson died on March 31st
at the age of 87 in Red Wing, Minnesota.
She was the first woman to serve as an American Ambassador.
She was also an Ambassador on the cutting edge of our diplomacy in the
post-World War II era.
As Ambassador to Denmark, she helped negotiate the enlargement of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization by working out an arrangement with Denmark
that brought Greenland into the NATO defense orbit, and she also negotiated
the creation and maintenance of the American bases there. She was a
working Ambassador in the best tradition of American diplomacy around the
world. She learned Danish. She got around the country. She distinguished
herself. She was an appointee of President Harry Truman.
She also served as President Kennedy's Ambassador to Bulgaria, and she
served President Johnson as the United States Representative to the United
Nations Trust Organization.
I wanted to mention her passing, because she broke a ceiling in the history
of American diplomacy and our diplomatic corps by being the first woman
American Ambassador, and she deserves that distinction. She deserves to be
remembered, and our condolences, of course, go to her family and her
friends upon her passing.
Last, I just want to let you know, I have a notice to the press.
There's going to be a seminar held between the 7th and 11th of April,
sponsored by the State Department in conjunction with the Department of
Justice on criminal justice issues in the international exploitation of
women and children.
There will be 25 Russian visitors - Russian Federation judges, interior
officials, ministry of justice officials who will be attending, and this is
open to the press. Although, curiously enough, open to the press but off
the record. But I know a number of journalists have expressed interest in
this because of the issue, which is the exploitation of women through
prostitution, the exploitation of children, and it's an important
international issue, and I wanted to draw some attention to it by
mentioning it to you.
QUESTION: Nick, some of us broke bagels this morning with a Mideast
diplomat who can't be identified further, and I wouldn't have brought this
up except your reference to Iraq. This was a rather quiet presentation he
made off the record, but he did speak of Saddam Hussein being stronger than
ever, and he also thought that some place along the line Iraq had to be
included in any comprehensive settlement in the Middle East. He didn't
give us an approach how to accomplish this goal, and I wondered, could you
go down the first point. What do you think of Saddam Hussein's staying
power? Isn't he pretty well entrenched, though, despite all your efforts?
MR. BURNS: He seems to be entrenched, but he's someone who is embattled,
certainly, inside his own country, and he's certainly embattled
internationally. The United Nations sanctions applied to Iraq in March of
1991 will remain. They'll remain, because he has been in fundamental
violation of the sanctions and of U.N. resolutions for many years.
I see that Mr. Hamdoon made an intemperate statement up at the United
Nations today, accusing Secretary Albright - basically trying to rebut some
of the points that Secretary Albright made in her Georgetown speech. I
think Ambassador Hamdoon ought to look to the letter of the United Nations
agreement, resolutions and the sanctions resolution. Iraq is in violation,
because Iraq never answered for what happened to the 600-700 Kuwaitis whom
it took prisoner in the beginning stages of the Gulf War. Those people
disappeared. Iraq has never answered for that.
Iraq is a state that is being contained by the international community
because of its perfidy and because of its aggression against its own people
as well as its neighbors, and that policy will not change, and they don't
have a hope, as Secretary Albright said, of having the United States agree
to lifting of sanctions until they comply with all of the U.N. resolutions.
I don't think we're going to see that day as long as Saddam Hussein is in
The second point is most interesting to me. There's been dramatic,
historic progress in the Middle East peace negotiations between the
Palestinians and the Israelis since 1993 without the support of the
Government of Iraq. I think that we can certainly continue once we resolve
these very, very important and difficult problems on the
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Once we do move forward in the future,
we can resolve those problems without the help of the Government of Iraq.
QUESTION: Nick, are you saying that you think a comprehensive peace can
be reached in the Middle East without Iraq, and without Iran, for that
MR. BURNS: We are concerned about a peace between Israel and the
Palestinians. We want those negotiations to resume at some point in the
future, and we're working to that, as you know.
We want the Israeli-Jordanian peace to be solidified, and at some point in
the future - and perhaps it's not going to be soon - but at some point in
the future we do look to the day when Syria and Israel and Lebanon and
Israel will be at peace. That will be a comprehensive peace.
The outlaw pariah states, Iran and Iraq, will have to then live in bitter
isolation, as they deserve to live, unless they change their own policies
or unless they change their own leaders.
QUESTION: Also on the Middle East, the Israeli Government announced today
that it is dropping the demand for extradition of the man known as Abu
Marzook. What happens now?
MR. BURNS: I know that Attorney General Janet Reno spoke to that this
morning. She made a statement this morning that Abu Marzook would remain
in the custody of the United States, pending a review of all available
options by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. So this is a
question that is in the hands of the Justice Department. The Attorney
General spoke to it this morning, and I, of course, cannot improve upon her
QUESTION: What's the purpose of - under what grounds is he remaining in
MR. BURNS: As you know, the Government of Israel notified us yesterday on
its decision to suspend its request for his extradition to Israel. Based
upon that decision by the Israeli Government, the Attorney General said
this morning that he will remain in custody pursuant to a detainer filed by
the Immigration and Naturalization Service. This will essentially place
him in the position he was in before the Israeli Government filed its
As the Attorney General said, the INS will have to look at all of the
options available to it.
Since it's a judicial matter in the hands of the Justice Department, it's
not really proper for me to comment further on this matter.
QUESTION: Is one of those options (inaudible)?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Is one of those options extradition (inaudible)?
MR. BURNS: It's just not appropriate or proper for me to comment further
because it's in the hands of the Justice Department.
QUESTION: Can you tell us if Jordan's requested extradition?
MR. BURNS: No, I simply can't comment on that.
QUESTION: Nick, can I - Monday's approaching, and as it turns out the
Israeli Prime Minister will be in the U.S. on Sunday to pay a hospital
visit to King Hussein. Will an American official see him before - what? --
before he gets going Monday here? And do you know if the Secretary will
have her own session with him? We know he's at the White House around
We know he has a speech at 7:30. Is there any gap to fill in?
Of course, we could ask the Israeli government.
MR. BURNS: We've seen the announcement by the Government of Israel that
Prime Minister Netanyahu will travel to Minnesota to meet with King
Hussein. It's always positive when leaders in the Middle East get together
to talk face-to-face, and we would hope that they would have a productive
We have not yet arranged the schedule, I don't believe in complete, for the
Prime Minister's visit. As to whether he'll see Secretary Albright
separately, I just don't know at this point, but I'll let you know once
those decisions are made. He certainly has an appointment with the
President, which is the main event on the agenda. We're looking forward to
these discussions, because we continue to believe it's very important for
the United States to use its influence with Israel and with the
Palestinians to try to help them find a way forward to resume and revive
the peace negotiations. That's our objective.
I know that if you're reading the Israeli press these days - as I'm sure
you are, and I have read it, too, and the American press as well, and the
Palestinian press - that there are all sorts of ideas floating around about
how will the United States try to bring the Israelis and Palestinians
I just can't talk about what ideas we may be considering. We want to have
some quiet diplomacy for the next couple of days.
We are talking to the Palestinians as well as the Israelis and others.
King Hussein's visit was extremely useful. We have great respect for him.
It was a very constructive visit. But we're going to, I think, go into the
silent mode for the next couple of days on what we're considering so that
we can work out a proper way forward for the Palestinians and Israelis to
try to resolve their own problems.
QUESTION: Any telephone calls by the White House?
MR. BURNS: Actually, let me check on that for you. There were none
planned. There may have been one this morning. Let me check, and I can
get back to you in the afternoon.
QUESTION: Nick, speaking of the Israeli press, there's a story - I
believe it was in Ha'aretz this morning - which says that Chairman Arafat
is maintaining a multimillion dollar slush fund in Bank Leumi in Tel Aviv,
and that he's using it outside the purview of any of the organizations that
are supposed to monitor the aid that he receives to pay for his own
expenses, employees, some 4,000 people. Is that something - it's a charge
you all have repeatedly denied knowing anything about.
MR. BURNS: We know nothing about it, and I wouldn't give the story a lot
QUESTION: Why not?
MR. BURNS: Because we've consistently said that the aid given by the
United States and the international community is going to the Palestinian
Authority for the purposes for which it's intended. We do monitor the use
of American assistance.
We know where American dollars are going in Gaza and the West Bank. The
money is being well spent. It's being spent to help the Palestinian people
overcome significant economic problems - infrastructure problems in Gaza
and the West Bank, longer term economic initiatives, $500 million over five
years. It's money well spent. It's money that's helping to support the
peace negotiations and support the Palestinian people who deserve economic
They've had a very tough road over the last 50 years, and they deserve this
support. We stand by our aid program.
QUESTION: This probably falls in the realm of things you don't want to
talk about but indulge me. The senior official Barry referred to earlier
MR. BURNS: Yes, tell me who this official is. It would be a lot more
interesting. I might be able to respond if you tell me who it is.
MR. BURNS: Secret journalism.
QUESTION: I don't actually need to cite him, because this idea's out
there. It's not his. Anyhow, the suggestion that the two sides, the
Israelis and the Palestinians, move quickly towards final status
negotiations and leapfrog Oslo implementation or do both in parallel. Does
the U.S. have any views on that?
MR. BURNS: We have a lot of views and a lot of issues, but we don't
choose to surface those publicly.
There have been a lot of suggestions made; some publicly, some privately.
We're going to continue, I think, to discuss all of these privately for the
next few days.
QUESTION: Nick, both sides have set forth what sound like conditions for
negotiations. You know what they are. The Palestinians saying, stop
construction, and the Israelis saying, stop the violence. Where does that
leave the United States? Are they preconditions. I know you don't like
But let's assume the Israeli Government doesn't change its mind about
Jerusalem overnight and that the violence doesn't stop overnight in some
How do you proceed? Can you get them to the table? Are they real
preconditions, or are they just demands?
MR. BURNS: Our hope is the following: That the violence will stop, that
the Palestinian Authority will make very clear to its population and to all
groups operating in Gaza and the West Bank that violence is not the answer,
that terrorism is not the answer.
Our hope is that both sides - Israel and the Palestinians - will meet their
commitments in the Oslo process and that they'll find a way to revive
stalled talks because the talks are off right now because of the
differences between them.
We have a lot of ideas that we're considering as to how we might help them
more forward. Barry, I just can't go into the substance of those ideas.
QUESTION: No, no. I was asking - ideas don't have much meaning if,
indeed, there are intractable preconditions. If those preconditions are
not met, you could have all the wonderful - you could plan a meeting on
MR. BURNS: We would hope that both the Government of Israel and the
Palestinian Authority would be flexible in looking at ways to overcome
their present differences; that they not embed themselves so deeply in
rhetoric that they forget what the major objective here is. They are the
negotiating partners. They are negotiating partners. That means that they
have to take into consideration the needs - the political needs, the
sensitivities, the sensibilities - of the other guy, the other person, the
other group across the table. They can't lose sight of that because their
own fate, the history of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples is
intertwined. They've got to work out these problems together.
That's how we look at this proposition.
Therefore, we would appreciate it and hope that both sides would retain
flexibility, tactical flexibility, as we try to work out a resumption of
QUESTION: This is on the Middle East, but in Saudi Arabia.
Any problem? Canada holds currently two Saudi nationals, and you're
familiar with that. There are a couple of issues that are arising for
Canadians as a result of published reports in the United States.
One, of course, concerns the fact that the FBI now, according to the New
York Times, feels that the Canadian claim that they have evidence that
links this individual to acts of terrorism, and more particularly to the
bombing of the barracks. Is that so in your view, that, indeed, the
Americans now no longer consider this individual to be a prime suspect or
somebody that is important to that issue?
Secondly, during a briefing this morning, which was conducted by the
Foreign Ministry of Canada, a number of American journalists raised the
issue of cooperation between Canada and the United States, stressing that
Canadians at the moment are not agreeing to extradite this individual or
allow extradition -
MR. BURNS: The journalists stress that?
QUESTION: The journalists stress this. But the suspicion is that they
are talking to American officials before they're asking these questions -
at least, my suspicions. And, secondly -
MR. BURNS: Why would you believe that American journalists would talk to
American officials --
QUESTION: I get these flights of fancy every once in a while.
MR. BURNS: -- in such a conspiratorial way?
QUESTION: The second aspect of that is that -
MR. BURNS: We never do that around here.
QUESTION: And that Canada is in some way denying efforts of the FBI to
contact and speak to this person. Given that very loose question, can you
help us with the status of the gentleman Hani Sayegh?
MR. BURNS: We have a long-standing policy here at the State Department.
We do not comment on on-going law enforcement matters. This is clearly a
law enforcement matter. When this individual was detained in Canada, the
FBI made a statement that they would be interested in talking to him. But
it's a law enforcement matter, so I really can't take it much further.
I can tell you - and you won't be surprised by this - that we remember what
happened at the al-Khobar barracks with great clarity.
We are determined to work with the Saudis, the Canadians, and anybody else
to make sure we catch whoever bombed and killed 19 American servicemen.
They will not escape justice. Sooner or later they will be caught. That's
our message to them.
QUESTION: If I may follow up on that. Obviously, not withstanding your
comment on the justice issues of this, there are diplomatic aspects to
this. The question is, is the United States urging, asking, communicating
with the Canadian Government for more cooperation? I would take you back
to the G-7 concept, which is greater cooperation among these countries in
fighting terrorism and whatever.
In other words, notwithstanding whether the man is guilty or not or where
the evidence stands, is the United States satisfied with what Canada is
doing at the moment, do they understand the situation that Canada is
offering them? Or are you upset with Canada in terms of dealing with this
MR. BURNS: Henry, I just can't comment on any issue pertaining to this
particular individual because it's an on-going law enforcement operation.
I can tell you that we continue to have an excellent relationship in all
respects with the Canadian Government. We obviously are having
conversations on this issue. Let's wait and see how this issue ends before
we take that much further.
QUESTION: So, Nick, you wouldn't agree with the New York Times in saying
that Canada is rebuffing your efforts to -
MR. BURNS: I'm just not going to comment on any aspect of the issue,
except to say we have an excellent relationship with Canada, and we expect
that will continue.
QUESTION: "Rebuff" doesn't indicate an excellent relationship.
MR. BURNS: You can't always believe everything you read in the
newspapers; even the New York Times, sometimes. I just don't want to
associate myself with those comments. We have great respect for the
Government of Canada. We'll deal with the Government of Canada. We'll
communicate with them privately on this particular matter, not publicly.
QUESTION: Nick, (inaudible) the Zairian rebel leader to allow access to
these refugees yet? You said yesterday that you had asked for it and it
was a matter of urgency?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I'm pleased that you asked about that.
Because the United States wishes to renew today our call upon Mr. Laurent
Kabila, of the rebel alliance, to permit the international community to
assist the refugees, many of whom we believe are at risk in Kisangani, in
Let me take you through this just in a little bit of detail.
It's a very important issue, because 50 people died in Lula, in Zaire, this
weekend because they didn't have international assistance. That
international assistance was not permitted to reach them.
There are tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees in the Ubundu-Kisangani
corridor. Their situation remains dire, unpredictable, and quite unstable.
We're concerned that there must be rapid and decisive action to enable the
refugees to be cared for and to allow them to return to their homes in
We have been in contact with the rebel alliance in support of the plan by
the United Nations to repatriate many of these people.
In fact, Ambassador Dick Bogosian of the State Department spoke directly to
Mr. Kabila yesterday by telephone to let him know personally of our very
strong concern about the actions of the rebel alliance.
In addition, Ambassador Bob Hudec of the Department of State is discussing
this issue today in Kisangani with representatives of Mr. Kabila.
We have welcomed in the past the cooperation that Mr. Kabila and his
associates have given the international community. But, frankly, we need
to see an improvement. We need to see more action by Mr. Kabila and his
associates to help these refugees.
Yesterday, I understand that they have allowed the refugees who have fled
Kisangani to stop at two sites. One is 16 kilometers south of Kisangani;
the other is 25 kilometers south of Kisangani.
The UNHCR repatriation plan - that repatriation plan has been sent to
Mr. Kabila. It was sent to him on March 29th.
It calls for the following. It calls for the United Nations to repatriate
by air the most vulnerable of the refugees - those who are in danger of
losing their lives or who are severely malnourished or unable to walk to
these U.N. collection points.
This is an estimated 20-to-30,000 people. The remainder of the refugees -
a much larger group; perhaps two to three times larger than the group of
20-to-30,000 - will return to Rwanda by road.
But the United Nations needs access to the airport in Kisangani and to the
road leading out of Kisangani - east out of Kisangani - so that these
refugees can begin to move.
The United States has given $3 million to the United Nations to rent an
Iluyshin aircraft with staff, to fly that aircraft into Kisangani, and to
get those refugees out. We cannot do that in a war zone without the help
of Mr. Kabila. He has not yet given us that help. We appeal to him. We
call upon him to give the United Nations High Commissioner that help.
Because these refugees will be in very dire straights, indeed, without that
concrete assistance by the United Nations.
We hope that this message, which we gave to him personally and directly via
telephone yesterday, is being heard in Kisangani and in eastern Zaire, in
QUESTION: Why hasn't he given permission?
MR. BURNS: I believe that the rebel alliance is concerned about security
issues. There is a civil war. There is fighting with the government
troops. Frankly, the rebel alliance has a humanitarian obligation to help
tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees who have been caught in the midst of
this fighting. Fifty people died over the weekend. We cannot stand by and
allow further people to die. We must act.
The United States has given the United Nations the money this week to fly
that Iluyshin aircraft in there and to get those people out. That's the
kind of action that we're calling on Mr. Kabila to take. If he wants to be
taken seriously by the international community, he needs to act in a
civilized way. He needs to be concerned about the welfare of these
Let me also say on the politics of this situation in Zaire. The United
States, of course, remains fundamentally committed to the territorial
integrity of Zaire. We understand that now the new Prime Minister - Prime
Minister Etienne Tshisekedi - has begun to form his new Cabinet. He has
talked about including members of Mr. Kabila's organization in that
Cabinet. He has effectively held out an olive branch to Mr. Kabila. The
United Nations Special Envoy, Mr. Sahnoun, hopes to convene peace talks
this weekend in South Africa between the government and the opposition.
The United States supports the United Nations. We want the peace talks to
begin this weekend. We hope that it can quickly lead to an effective
cease-fire so that the fighting can stop and the innocent civilians who
have been affected - particularly, the refugees - can be saved.
QUESTION: You heard the rebels have rejected Tshisekedi's offer to -
MR. BURNS: We've seen a statement by a rebel official that the offer has
been rejected. We hope that the rebels will listen carefully to the offer
of the Zairian Government.
QUESTION: Who will be representing the United States - or will the
U.S. be represented at this meeting this weekend?
MR. BURNS: At this point, the United States is not planning to send a
representative. This is a simple meeting. It's being put together by the
U.N. Envoy, Mr. Sahnoun with two groups: the rebels and the government. If
we're asked to assist these talks, we'll, of course, be open to that, but
we're very pleased to support it in its present basis.
Further on Zaire?
QUESTION: Regarding this weekend's meeting in Minnesota between
Mr. Netanyahu and King Hussein, did the U.S. have any role in bringing that
MR. BURNS: I think this was an initiative of the Israeli Government.
That's my understanding.
QUESTION: Following up on that. Will the State Department send any
representative to the meeting? And, second, do you know who initiated the
meeting? And, third, does the State Department have any reaction to
Netanyahu's new talk about a broad, comprehensive peace being the only
solution? Does this open the way for another Camp David, or is this an
impediment to it?
MR. BURNS: I'd refer you to the Israeli Government for who initiated this
and who is going to be there. I don't believe the United States will be
present. I could be mistaken. I don't believe we have any plans to be
We do encourage face-to-face talks between Arab leaders and Israeli
leaders. As for your last question, I think I've answered that today
several times. I don't know when you got here but we had a long discussion
of this. We're not going to say much about all these various options that
are being bandied about because we think we'll be more effective if we
engage in quiet diplomacy.
QUESTION: The Chinese Foreign Ministry is criticizing the United States
for having two foreign policy voices - that is, Newt Gingrich and the State
Department. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: My good friend, Shen Guofang - Mr. Shen Guofang and other
Chinese Government spokesmen - need not be mystified by the Americans.
We're a democracy. In a democracy, you have separation of powers. You
have an Executive Branch which is responsible for the conduct of
U.S. foreign policy - for it's implementation - but you have a Legislative
Branch directly elected by the American people. Here, you have the highest
official in the Legislative Branch, the Speaker of the House - Speaker
Gingrich - who also, of course, has every right in the world to comment
upon United States relations with China, upon the Taiwan issue, or any
Frankly, it's a little bit puzzling to see this criticism from the Chinese
Government that somehow Speaker Gingrich doesn't have a right to speak out.
Of course, he does, and we'll defend his right to speak out.
We don't always agree with everything he says, and, as you know, the other
day, obviously, he was speaking personally when he made the comments that
he did about Taiwan. But he has every right to say what he did.
United States' policy toward China has been constant since 1979.
We've had a one-China policy. The Taiwan Relations Act has governed our
unofficial relations with Taiwan. We've had an ongoing relationship with
the People's Republic under the one-China policy.
There's no cause for concern here. There's no cause for confusion, and
nobody in Beijing ought to be confused by American policy.
It's very clear. The Secretary of State and the Vice President have both
been there recently. They've reiterated this with the Chinese Government.
I think we're just seeing, perhaps, some - you know, there may be other
reasons why the Chinese Government is making these statements. But I can
tell you, I don't believe there's any cause for concern here whatsoever.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: A question on KEDO. A KEDO delegation is going to North Korea
in the coming weeks, or what's the situation with KEDO?
MR. BURNS: I will have to take that question and see.
I'm just simply not aware of all the delegations that KEDO is sending to
North Korea, but we fully support KEDO, and I'll be glad to take the
question for you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:47 p.m.)