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USIA - State Department Report, 97-04-10

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

From: The United States Information Agency (USIA) Gopher at <gopher://gopher.usia.gov>


REPORT ON STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, APRIL 10, 1997

(Korea, Germany/Iran, NATO/Solana, Iraq, Zaire) (1110)

There was no regular briefing, but State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns did speak on-the-record with reporters. No transcript is available of this briefing.

KOREA -- Representatives of the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will meet April 16 in New York City. "The North Koreans have requested this meeting," Burns said, "and we anticipate that they will provide a response to our proposal for a four-party peace conference. We, of course, hope that this response will be positive."

Four-party talks would bring together officials from North Korea, South Korea, the United States and China to discuss a permanent peace agreement for the Korean peninsula.

It is expected that the delegations will be led by the same individuals who met on March 5 in New York for the initial U.S.-ROK briefing for DPRK officials on the four-party proposal. Leading the respective delegations were Acting Assistant Secretary of State Charles Kartman, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan and South Korean Assistant Foreign Minister Song Young-shik.

The United States will have a bilateral meeting with North Korean officials after the April 16 trilateral meeting to discuss issues such as missile proliferation, missing-in-action military service personnel, and technical issues relating to the establishment of liaison offices, Burns said.

Regarding the World Food Program's appeal for more food contributions for North Korea, Burns said that the United States expects to have a response by next week.

GERMANY/IRAN -- "The United States commends the courage of the German prosecutor, the German judges, and the witnesses in the Mykonos case," Burns said. "We are confident that the verdict was based on the court's objective evaluation of the evidence that was presented."

Media reports said that German prosecutors indicated that Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the killings of four Iranian Kurdish leaders in Berlin's Mykonos restaurant in 1992 and that Iran's President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani approved the slaughter of the dissidents.

Burns said that the German court's verdict "corroborates our long-held view that Iran's sponsorship of terrorism is authorized at senior levels of the Iranian government." He added that "German authorities will now have to draw their own conclusions about how they wish to do business with Iran after this strong and unambiguous verdict." He noted that the German government has recalled its ambassador from Tehran and is deporting several Iranian officials from Germany April 10.

Burns reiterated the U.S. view that Iran is a "terrorist state. It is an outlaw state. It must be contained by the international community."

Burns said that the United States "will maintain its own sanctions on Iran, and we strongly encourage our European partners to do the same."

Germany had been attempting to maintain a "critical dialogue" with Iran. The U.S. view, Burns said, "is that the 'critical dialogue' has not succeeded in its original aim, which was to modify and moderate Iranian government behavior through a series of discussions between European governments and Iran. There is no evidence whatsoever that that critical dialogue has made any difference. In fact, we know for sure that Iran continues its support of terrorism. We know that Iran finances directly Middle East terrorism groups. And now we have a German court decision that Iran ordered the assassination of four individuals."

NATO/SOLANA -- Secretary of State Albright had a one-on-one meeting April 10 with Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO. Burns said the U.S. hope is to conclude soon the negotiations with Russia for a Russia-NATO charter.

According to Burns, "Solana has a negotiating mandate that is pretty clear. NATO has already agreed on what we want to see in terms of the joint consultative council and many of the other issues. What hasn't happened is that NATO hasn't finished the negotiations, hasn't fully agreed with Russia." Burns would not predict when all the issues might be resolved.

IRAQ -- The United Nations Sanctions Committee met April 9 and 10 to discuss Security Council Resolutions 661 and 670 which established the sanctions regime currently in force against Iraq. The Security Council has the authority to decide on appropriate response to violations of that sanctions regime by Iraq.

Iraq sent a plane of Muslim pilgrims into Saudi Arabia without clearance April 9. Burns said the U.S. view is that "the Iraqi government violated it (the sanctions regime), because this is a flight that took off without any prior flight clearance by either Jordan or Saudi Arabia -- the flight went through the air space of both countries -- and is a direct violation of the sanctions regime."

Burns noted that Iraqi Muslim believers are permitted to make "the hajj" -- a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad -- by land routes. Burns called Saddam Hussein's decision to order an Iraqi plane to cross international borders without any flight clearances as "reckless."

ZAIRE -- Burns confirmed reports that the rebel alliance under the leadership of Laurent Kabila now occupies Lubumbashi, Zaire's second- largest city. Kabila has called for a three-day lull in the fighting to allow Zaire's President Mobutu Sese Seko to negotiate his own departure.

The Mobutu era is over, according to Burns. "Frankly, the handwriting is on the wall," Burns said. "The rebel alliance is marching through Zaire like a hot knife through butter. Mobutu is back, but he is back in the most chaotic way, with three prime ministers in two weeks and chaos in the political system and people dying in refugee camps. Sooner or later you have to call it like it is."

Burns said the United States has had a relationship with Kabila for decades. But Burns emphasized that "I would not associate him (Kabila) with the word 'democrat'.... He is a rebel leader. He does not have an established record as a leader of any government. We'll have to see what he does if in fact he takes power. We would encourage anyone in this transition to follow democracy, human rights, respect for people, and to commit themselves to an electoral process."

Burns chided reporters for suggesting that U.S. public statements calling for elections in Zaire are just useless rhetoric. "If you look at the last four, five years around the world -- Cambodia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, South Africa -- elections have taken place in the most unlikely places," Burns said. "Why can't they take place in Zaire?"


From the United States Information Agency (USIA) Gopher at gopher://gopher.usia.gov


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