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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #55, 97-04-15

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 15, 1997

Briefer: Nicholas Burns

1        Visitors
1-2      Secretary: Speech Tonight on East Asia at US Naval Academy /Speech
           Tomorrow on Europe and NATO at Ford Library, Grand Rapids, Mich
2-3      Hong Kong: Secretary's Meeting Yesterday with Martin Lee
3        Czech Republic: Foreign Minister Zieleniec's Visit to State Dept
3        Bosnia: Establishment of Single Currency Bank
3-4      North Korea: US Food Contribution for Children Through WFP

KOREA (NORTH) 4-8 Trilateral Talks in NY Tomorrow/Possible Four-Party Talks/No Link to Humanitarian Contribution/WFP Estimates of Needs/Responding to WFP Appeal/Targeting Children/Arrival of US Shipments/Sources of Food/Feeding Others/Agricultural Assistance for Future/Timing of Announcement of US Food Contribution 8 Size of North Korean Military/US Security Commitment to South 13 Japan's Decision on WFPAppeal

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 8-9,10 Special Envoy Ross Departure, Mtgs in Region/Not Attend Malta Mtg 9 PM Netanyahu Remarks on Har Homa Construction 11 Egyptian Envoy Osama Al-Baz's Arrival, Mtgs in Washington

EAST ASIA/EUROPE 9-10 Secretary's "Newsmaking" Speechs Tonight andTomorrow

DEPARTMENT 11 Successor to Asst Secy Gelbard

COLOMBIA 11 US Position on Narcotics Trafficking

IRAN 12 Test-Firing of Medium-Range Missile 12-13 Dep Asst Secy Einhorn's Testimony on Chemical Weapons Program & Dual-Use Material From China

GERMANY 12 Sharing Intelligence on Iran with US

ZAIRE 13-14 Evacuation of AmCits/Security Situation/US Urges Peace Talks, Continuation of Cease-Fire, and Rwandan Govt to Allow Refugees to Travel


DPB #55

TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 1997 12:53 P.M.


QUESTION: Yeah, they won.

MR. BURNS: What was the score? Ten to one?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. BURNS: Moe hit his first home run? Pardon?

QUESTION: Wakefield -

MR. BURNS: Wakefield dazzled them with his knuckle ball?

QUESTION: 76 pitches -

MR. BURNS: Boy, that's terrific. I didn't see the sports page.

QUESTION: But, who's in first place, Nick?

MR. BURNS: The team - what's that team from Baltimore? What's their first name? Is their name the Orioles, right? Yeah, okay. Well, the Red Sox won, so that's very good news for Barry and myself.

Good afternoon, welcome to the State Department briefing, ladies and gentlemen. I want to introduce visitors today from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. We have 11 students here, 10 or 11 students here. You're very welcome; we're glad you're with us.

I also want to let you know what the Secretary of State is doing today. She's going up to Annapolis this afternoon to give a major speech on United States policy towards Asia at the Naval Academy. As you know, she'll be arriving there at 3:20 p.m. this afternoon. She'll review a dress parade of midshipmen at 4:00 p.m. Following that, she'll have dinner with the top brass of the Naval Academy; and at 7:30 tonight, she'll participate in the Forrestal Lecture Series and present her speech. There will be questions from students.

This speech will focus on the major relationships that the United States has in the Asia-Pacific region, with Japan and Korea, allies of the United States; with China; with many of the Southeast Asian countries that are so important. She'll certainly want to talk about Burma, Hong Kong and a variety of other issues.

I'm hoping to get this speech to you, on an embargoed basis, by 3:00 or 4:00 this afternoon. It will be embargoed until 7:30 tonight. But that will allow all of the newspapers to at least write their stories this afternoon for inclusion in tomorrow morning's paper. I will be with the Secretary today, tonight, and hopefully I'll be meeting those of you who are going at 7:00 p.m. - a half hour before she makes the speech.

There is news in this speech. In fact, there's quite significant news about something that she's going to undertake. So I just wanted to make sure that all of you knew that. And I will be there at 7:00 p.m. to meet you. Alison is going to reserve a room for us so that we can go over the news and some other issues.

Now, tomorrow the Secretary, as I said before to you yesterday, I believe, tomorrow the Secretary will be traveling to Grand Rapids, Michigan. She'll meet with former President Gerald Ford. She'll speak at the rededication of the Gerald Form Museum in Grand Rapids. In the audience will be former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Al Haig; former National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zibignew Brzezinski and other luminaries. And she intends to address the issue of U.S. relations with Europe, particularly the issue of NATO enlargement; and also will address our position on the Chemical Weapons Convention. So two important speeches in the next two days. And again, I will be presenting that to you on an embargoed basis tomorrow - probably around mid-day if we're lucky.

Now, the Secretary last evening saw Martin Lee, who is the major opposition leader in Hong Kong. And he is widely viewed, I think, both in Hong Kong and around the world as one of the most articulate spokespeople for Hong Kong's continued democratic development. She met with Mr. Lee for 40 minutes in her office to demonstrate the strong support of the United States for the democratic process in Hong Kong, for protection of civil liberties in Hong Kong, as Hong Kong prepares for reversion to Chinese rule on July 1.

She listened to Mr. Lee's views on what he believes would be future developments in Hong Kong. She reaffirmed the very strong support that we have always had for the civil liberties of the people of Hong Kong - that's the rule of law, the protection of the civil liberties of the people and democratic institutions. She assured Mr. Lee that Hong Kong was very much on the Administration's agenda; that we would continue to speak candidly to senior officials of the Peoples Republic of China about the preservation of Hong Kong's autonomy and way of life after the change of sovereignty consistent with the Sino-British declaration of 1984.

That was a very important meeting. He is a very impressive man and I know he will be seeing the Vice President and other officials over at the White House later this week. He is most welcome here. I believe he is on a speaking tour of 15 cities in the United States. He and other Hong Kong democracy activists have been traveling in the Asia Pacific region, in Europe and in North America to make sure that all of us understand what is at stake here as reversion approaches.

The other thing I want to tell you about is that the Secretary did have a very successful meeting with the Czech foreign minister yesterday afternoon. Strobe Talbott had a lunch for him and there was a very good and detailed review with Minister Zieleniec of the Czech government's participation in the Partnership for Peace and other aspects of our relationship.

Now, two announcements, the first on Bosnia. This morning our Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum, our special negotiator Bob Gelbard and the new Acting Undersecretary of the Treasury, David Lipton, had a special meeting with the collective presidency, the three members of the presidency in Sarajevo. And I am very pleased to announce the following: that the three presidents have agreed with the United States on arrangements for establishing a single currency bank, as provided for in the Dayton accords.

This single currency bank will operate as a currency board. This will establish a single currency in Bosnia-Herzegovina valid for all transactions. It will be called the convertible marka. It will be linked at a one-to-one basis to the deutschemark, and it will be fully backed by foreign currency. This is a very important development. It means that there will be now a single way to trade and to transact business, and one that is backed by the international financial community. And these coupons, we understand, these convertible markas, will have a common design, distinct design elements, and all coupons will note that they are issued by the Central Bank of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It is a highly significant advance towards implementation of the Dayton agreement and we think an essential building block in the construction of a unified state in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We are very pleased by this development and we will support it fully, as will other governments that support the Dayton process.

My final announcement pertains to North Korea. In response to an expanded appeal targeted specifically towards feeding children, by the United Nations World Food Program, and after consultation with the Republic of Korea and the government of Japan, the United States government has decided to provide humanitarian assistance in the amount of 50,000 metric tons of corn, valued at approximately $15 million, for use in assisting the roughly 2.4 million children under the age of six in North Korea, who we believe are at risk because of the current food shortages.

Flooding in 1995 and 1996 destroyed considerable farmland in North Korea. This exacerbated North Korea's chronic food production shortfalls, resulting in very widespread food shortages and malnutrition. The World Food Program estimates this year's shortage at 1.8 to 2.3 million metric tons, or nearly half of North Korea's food needs. The United States government assistance will be in the form of PL 480, Title II emergency food aid. Specifically, the United States government will provide corn to feed nursery and kindergarten-age children under the age of six.

The United States government has chosen the World Food Program as the channel for this assistance because of the World Food Program's proven ability to monitor distribution of assistance to ensure that it ends up where it is supposed to end up. Now, this brings the total of U.S. food assistance to North Korea since 1995 to approximately $33.4 million. The United States remains the single largest donor of food assistance to the World Food Program.

Let me just give you, if it's of interest - I think it may be - some additional background information. On April 3rd, as you'll remember, the World Food Program of the United Nations expanded its outstanding appeal by an additional 100,000 metric tons, which brought its total appeal to 200, 000 metric tons, roughly $95.5 million. You know that the United States has already contributed $10 million to this food appeal in February, so our total contribution to both - to this appeal - to both parts of it, is $25 million.

The World Food Program expanded its appeal following the March visit to North Korea of its executive director, Catherine Bertini. Ms. Bertini found that conditions in North Korea were critical, and that the status of children's health and nutrition, in particular, in North Korea is grave.

And the expanded appeal specifically targets, as I said, children under six. Now, we consulted with the World Food Program over the course of the last several weeks, with Japan, and with the Republic of Korea. And we believe this response and the response of our allies and friends around the world will go a long way towards meeting the objectives of the World Food Program. The United States response alone to the entire appeal should constitute just under 40 percent of the tonnage of food commodities that is required, and just over a fourth of the value that is required. Now, our purpose in providing this assistance is solely to respond to the ongoing humanitarian food crisis in North Korea.

We've had many discussions with the United Nations, with American non- governmental organizations, with experts - agricultural experts, and we have information available to us through a variety of means that convinces us that the food situation in North Korea will reach a critical stage this Spring with certain vulnerable groups, especially children, severely at risk. We have already heard reports, credible reports, of death by starvation in the North Korean countryside, and it is our belief that the United States and other countries must respond to this appeal in order to help save those children.

We believe that if no further outside assistance were to be forthcoming, malnutrition would become more serious and could lead to more civilian deaths by disease and by starvation. The World Food Program has an effective monitoring system in place in North Korea, working with North Korean government agencies. And you can be sure that we will monitor the distribution of this food aide very carefully, to ensure that it reaches the intended recipients.

I think that is all the background information that I wanted to give you, but if you have any more questions about this, I'd be glad to take them. George.

QUESTION: There was no mention of tomorrow's meeting on the four-party talks. Could you be more explicit and say there's no linkage between today's announcement and tomorrow's meeting?

MR. BURNS: I can certainly do that. We do intend to meet in New York tomorrow: The North Korean Vice Foreign Minister, Kim Gye Gwan, as well as the South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister and their delegations for a tri- lateral meeting. That meeting is to hear the North Korean response to our suggestion, with South Korea, for four-party talks to improve stability in the Korean Peninsula.

There is no relationship between the announcement by the United States today on food aide to the political discussions that will take place tomorrow. We view the issue of food for children as a humanitarian issue only. It is not linked to politics, nor should it be.

Yes, Laura.

QUESTION: As you're well aware, a congressional delegation recently returned from a trip to North Korea. And while they, in anticipation of this announcement today, were welcoming the Administration's decision to contribute, but were actually asking for a greater amount. It was their assessment that more was required - that it is, as you said, a very dire situation. I know you just gave a list of the various departments and individuals who were involved in the decision, but how did you reach this amount? Do you feel that this is going to be sufficient for what you view as a problem there?

MR. BURNS: Well, we hope so; we certainly hope so. We have to rely on the designated and acknowledged experts here, namely the United Nations and the World Food Program. These are the people that have gone into North Korea time and again over the past couple of years. They're the people who visited the orphanages and the countryside and the farms and the cities to see the depravation of the North Korean people.

The World Food Program itself has estimated the needs at roughly 200,000 metric tons of food commodities. The United States is supplying 40 percent of the tonnage, and one-quarter of the value that is needed. That is a highly significant contribution by one state out of all the states around the world who ought to be seriously considering a contribution to this.

We do appreciate the views of members of Congress who have returned from North Korea. We've talked to them. We want to learn as much as we can from them, because we don't have U.S. government officials, as you know, stationed in North Korea. We have to rely on the United Nations for this expertise of whether or not this is the right amount of food aid. And we believe we are working with the right organization here.

QUESTION: Do you know, though, I mean, based on what has been pledged so far, whether or not the appeal that the World Food Program made has been met? I mean, I don't actually have the figures in front of me but I don't know if this contribution now puts them at the point where they have completed the appeal, or is there more?

MR. BURNS: I don't believe that the total appeal has yet been met. I think I have to refer you to the government of South Korea for what it intends to do. I would have to refer you to the government of Japan for what it intends to do. There are many other countries around the world, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, who ought to seriously consider this. Surely we can put politics aside to help children, especially very small children who are at risk.


QUESTION: You have mentioned several times that the money will go to children. Is that because that is all the World Food Program is asking for, or is the United States making that specification?

MR. BURNS: No, the World Food Program has decided to target its current program on children under six because they believe that that is the segment of the North Korean population that is most at risk, where malnutrition and even death by starvation is taking place right now. So that is the affected group that they want to help and we are very pleased to contribute to that effort.

QUESTION: Nick, have any of the first shipments, have any of them arrived yet in North Korea?

MR. BURNS: The shipments from the $10 million contribution that we announced in February will arrive in two shipments by two vessels from Houston, Texas, to Nampo, I believe, in the first two weeks of May.

Now, we do have arrival schedules, I think, for the fourth, and the second is a week or so beyond that. But arrival schedules are somewhat general and they are targets, so I would think safely to say the first two weeks of May we expect the first two ships to arrive from the United States with the $10 million. We'll now have to go out very quickly and contract for additional ships from the United States to undertake - first of all, we will have to procure the corn in the United States, and then the transport of the corn to a port in the United States and the shipment by sea. All that will take time.

So this $15 million contribution, I think we are talking about food arriving probably as quickly as a couple of months. It does take quite a long time, but all this has been factored in. We do have American food arriving in just a couple of weeks from the first shipment.

QUESTION: Is it possible to buy food under this program someplace that is closer so that these people can get the food sooner?

MR. BURNS: Well, you know, the World Food Program is obtaining food from a variety of sources so some of the food that will be obtained will be closer to North Korea and, therefore, that food will be used first. But this food shortage is going to continue for many, many months, if not throughout the entire year. So American food will arrive when it can and it will make a difference when it arrives.

There are laws that we have to operate under here, P.L. 480, Title II, does, of course, require a purchase of American food commodities in the United States and shipment from the United States to North Korea. But certainly the United Nations can take additional food shipments to make up the immediate needs of the population.

QUESTION: Pardon my ignorance and for being late on this briefing, but who will feed the older children and the adults that are malnourished in North Korea? And I have another little aspect of that I would like to ask.

MR. BURNS: Bill, this is a very large and diversified effort to try to improve the food situation of the North Korean population.

There are other private voluntary organizations, international agencies, that are at work here. There is also bilateral, has been bilateral food assistance in the past from South Korea to North Korea. There are many avenues and channels of distribution. We have chosen the World Food Program because of its effective distribution system and because we, frankly, share the belief that children are the most affected by the current food shortages.

QUESTION: The under six-year-old children, are those who will receive U.S. grain, donated U.S. grain?

MR. BURNS: That's right, yes. There are roughly 2.4 million children under the age of six who we believe are adversely affected by the food shortages. The 50,000 metric tons of American food will go towards those kids.

QUESTION: And then on the other issue of agriculture in North Korea to sustain themselves in the future - is the U.S. offering any agricultural assistance?

MR. BURNS: Not formally, on a government-to-government basis. I know that former President Jimmy Carter has done some work with agronomists in this area, as have a number of American PVOs. Essentially, we believe that the North Korean economic system, the Communist system, is certainly in part to blame for the current economic woes of the country. Communism has failed all over the world. It's failing again in North Korea. The economic system is failing because it doesn't make sense, it doesn't add up. It's never worked anywhere in the world that it's been.

That's why China has had to convert its own system to a free-market system, its own economic system. Certainly government inefficiencies have contributed to this. We want to be of help. There is a humanitarian urgency to do so.


QUESTION: Could I ask about the timing? If you were to, say, announce this on Thursday, it could be interpreted as a reward for North Korea if they say yes tomorrow to the four-party talks. What would your response be to that?

MR. BURNS: Well, you know, we can't - what we have here is, we have two tracks of issues with North Korea right now. We have the political track, which is our hope that the North Koreans will respond to the four-party talks proposal. And we have this track of a food emergency. Now, we're responding to the timing of the U.N. appeal for food, which was quite recent - just in the last ten days. We've responded very quickly to this appeal.

Frankly, we're mindful that a lot of people think that we're doing this for political reasons. We're not. And to make that very clear, we decided to announce it before the talks started - before we even knew what the North Korean response would be to the four-party talks proposal. And if the response is negative, the food aide goes forward. If the response is positive, the food aide goes forward. We have to meet humanitarian imperatives before we meet political ones.

QUESTION: I assume that it's coincidental that today is Kim Il-song's birthday.

MR. BURNS: I wasn't aware of that. He wasn't in my birthday book.

QUESTION: But his successor-Kim Il-song's successor--appointed 120 new generals today, according to wire service reports. Does the U.S. have concern about the size, the (inaudible) size of the North Korean military at a time when the world has to provide food?

MR. BURNS: I believe the North Korean military is one of the largest standing armies in the world - over a million troops that face our troops and South Korean troops, just north of the DMZ. That's obviously a concern of the United States. There's no reason for North Korea to have an army that large. North Korea ought to spend more of its time attending to the needs of its own people - devoting less resources for military purposes, and more for the good of its own people.

And frankly, what we hope to achieve in the four-party talks, if we can get the North Koreans to come to the four-party talks, is a series of measures that would further stability in the Peninsula, and ultimately lead to a peace treaty to end the Korean War that the armistice stopped in July 1953. There is no reason to have an army that size on that peninsula. We want peace and stability in the peninsula; and the quicker the army is reduced in size, the easier that will be.

But in the meantime, because that army is there, the United States, 37,000 American troops, are joining several hundred thousand Republic of Korea troops to defend the Republic of Korea. And Secretary Albright was over at the L.A. Times editorial board this morning. It was televised so you probably saw it. She said several times the United States has a security commitment to South Korea. We will meet it. We are meeting it today. We will continue to meet it until that threat disappears from the north.

QUESTION: On another subject, the Middle East, is Dennis Ross leaving today?

MR. BURNS: Yes, Dennis Ross is leaving today for the region. He intends to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Chairman Arafat in Gaza. He is going to be pursuing with both of them a continuation of the discussions that President Clinton and Secretary Albright had with the Israelis, that Secretary Albright had with the Palestinian delegation last week.

The United States has presented to them some ideas that we hope might bridge the differences between them. We need responses from them. Obviously, at some point, we want to talk through in more detail what we have in mind and we want to resurrect the peace negotiations. Now, it may take us a while to accomplish all of this. I can't predict success in one or two days. It may take a lot longer than that, but we are continuing this and we are determined to move ahead.

QUESTION: There have been reports from Israel that Prime Minister Netanyahu is telling people that the actual construction at Har Homa wouldn't begin until the year 2000. That is, presumably, after the final status talks. Has he told the United States Government anything like that?

MR. BURNS: We have not heard that officially from the Prime Minister. And rather than react to that, those press reports, Jim, I think what we prefer to do is have Dennis speak to the prime minister about exactly what he has in mind, exactly what he means, and then we will see whether or not we can say something in public about it. But we are just not aware in any detailed way of this proposal or the facts as he has presented them about the rate of construction at Har Homa.

QUESTION: You said that the Secretary is going to make some news this evening in Annapolis.

MR. BURNS: And I assume you are all in favor of the Secretary making news.

QUESTION: All right. But without telling us what the news is -

MR. BURNS: I couldn't possibly do that.

QUESTION: Does it have to do with Burma?

MR. BURNS: Oh boy, George, are we going to play this game? This is like Trivial Pursuit. It has to do with Asia. It's not about baseball. She has already made her news on baseball. It's not about Tiger Woods. It's about Asia. Asia.

QUESTION: That narrows it down.

MR. BURNS: It does. It narrows it down to a specific part of the world that she is focusing on. But, I mean, I really want you all to be surprised and I want you to have something to write about. I would hate to spoil all that right now by telling you what it is.

QUESTION: Is she going to make any news in the speech tomorrow? (inaudible).

MR. BURNS: Well, you know, we might surprise you both days. You never know. But I know that there is news in tonight's speech.

QUESTION: Then again, you might not.

MR. BURNS: Then again, we might not. But tonight I can guarantee you, Charlie, there will be news in tonight's speech that will intrigue and interest all of you. And that will indicate again that we have a vibrant policy in the Asia Pacific region and that she has thought very, very hard about what our priorities should be and how she should participate in bringing those priorities to full fruition.

How is that for a lead-in?

QUESTION: Can you say what she might say about Burma?

MR. BURNS: I know that she will be discussing Burma in her speech, but I'm not going to speculate on what - I don't want to speculate publicly on what exactly she will say about Burma.

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

MR. BURNS: Pardon?

QUESTION: : It wouldn't be speculation.

MR. BURNS: It would be informed speculation, yes.


QUESTION: Is Dennis going to go to the meeting that's currently being held in Malta?

MR. BURNS: No, he's not. He'll not be traveling to Malta. He's going to arrive at Ben Gurion sometime tomorrow morning, or noon-ish, I guess. And he'll be going to meetings with both Arafat and Netanyahu.

I don't know, at this point, the sequence of the meetings. I think he's trying to - the schedule needs to be worked out. We have heard reports of a possible meeting between Israelis and Palestinians in Malta. We would certainly encourage it. But we can't corroborate it.


QUESTION: What about Osama Al-Baz's trip? Who will he be seeing and when?

MR. BURNS: Yes, I can confirm that Osama Al-Baz is arriving today for consultations with the United States. He's being sent by President Mubarak. And he'll be seeing senior officials, both at the State Department and at the White House. I'll try to get a sense of his specific schedule after the briefing.

QUESTION: But nothing will happen today?

MR. BURNS: Oh, I'm sure that something will happen today. I'm sure he'll be meeting some American officials.

QUESTION: No, I mean, is he meeting somebody today?

MR. BURNS: He won't - well, I know he won't be seeing Secretary Albright today because she is going up to Annapolis. But I will try to get back to you with the schedule as soon as I can.


QUESTION: Did you say when there will be a replacement for Assistant Secretary Gelbard in the Counter Narcotics Post?

MR. BURNS: Well, as soon as we can do it. You know, the appointment of assistant secretaries and ambassadors is a labyrinthine process, and there are many, many hurdles to jump over. It's a presidential appointment - when the White House is ready to announce that, I'm sure they will do it.

The Secretary has, of course, focused on that issue because it's a big hole. Bob Gelbard was an extremely effective and vigorous assistant secretary on the narcotics and crime portfolios; and they are big shoes to fill. And she is thinking - the Secretary is thinking very hard about the best person to fill that job.

QUESTION: There has been some concern expressed that since Gelbard is gone, since he was really the point person on the Colombia issue in particular, that there might be an softening of the political line in relationship to policy.

MR. BURNS: I don't expect any changes in our policy with Colombia on narcotics. Our ambassador Myles Frechette has also been a very determined advocate of the American position. But most importantly the President and Secretary Albright set the American position, and they're still in office.

Yes, Bill.

QUESTION: Iran. Can you comment on the Israeli report of the test firing of a medium range Iranian missile designed to carry an unconventional - it says unconventional war head - I presume that is nuclear? What does the U.S. have to say about this?

MR. BURNS: What kind of Israeli report is this?

QUESTION: The Israelis reported that a 930-mile range missile was tested by the Iranians -- one that could reach their nation with an unconventional warhead is what it says. Do you have any comments?

MR. BURNS: No, I don't. I have not see the report. So I can't comment on it.

QUESTION: And has the U.S. asked or have the Germans volunteered to help in providing intelligence on Iran to the United States?

MR. BURNS: I can never even discuss the word intelligence or any information related to it.

QUESTION: How about increased cooperation by the Germans?

MR. BURNS: I would refer you to the German government.

QUESTION: In the Middle East?

MR. BURNS: I refer you to the German government on that issue.

Yes, George.

QUESTION: Did you see The Washington Times story about Mr. Einhorn's testimony last week and how he may have softened it 24 hours after a statement was -

MR. BURNS: Well, The Washington Times - you know. Yes, I did see The Washington Times story. And I, you know, I was not alarmed by the story. I hope The Washington Times isn't alarmed by the story.

You know, it's well known -- and Deputy Assistant Secretary Einhorn testified to this effect a couple of days ago - that the United States has some continuing concerns about the government of Iran's chemical weapons program, and about dual-use material obtained from Chinese companies.

And we have talked to the Chinese about this. And the Iranians are fully aware of our concerns. We have not determined that any action by the Chinese government has violated its international obligations or U.S. law. But we are mindful of the allegations. We look into them very seriously. We follow them with a great deal of resources behind that effort from here in Washington, D.C. and in the field. And nobody has been more concerned about this than Bob Einhorn.

Now, usually what happens when you go to the Hill, you testify and often the Senators and House members ask you follow that with written testimony. We did submit written testimony and we made a minor change that altered the substance of the testimony. But that happens, too. Nothing surprising in that.

And, of course, the second version represents what we wanted to say. And we will continue to follow this very closely. But I wasn't very alarmed by the supposed - by some of the histrionic charges in The Washington Times story.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: I want to go back to a North Korean issue.


QUESTION: Do you know that Japan's government is still very reluctant to give another food assistance for North Korea? What kind of conversations do you have with the Japanese governments? Actually, what does the United States want Japan to do?

MR. BURNS: Well, Japan has to make that decision. Only Japan can make the decision as to whether or not it contributes to the food appeal by the United Nations. We understand that Japan has - that both the government and many people in Japanese society have a number of concerns about the way that North Korea has treated Japanese citizens in the past, including the alleged abductions of Japanese citizens over the past couple of decades by North Korean agents. That's a very serious matter.

At the same time, there is a humanitarian crisis underway in North Korea, particularly affecting children. And we - Americans believe that that's a very important imperative that has to be considered.

Judd, yes.

QUESTION: Well, sort of a catch-all. Anything that would move the meter forward as far as the United States is concerned - any further thoughts on evacuating personnel?

MR. BURNS: No, we continue to watch the security of American citizens on a day-to-day basis very, very closely. Kinshasa was quiet today because it was the second day of the general strike. And there were very few people, as we understand it from our embassy in Kinshasa, on the streets. That made the security situation perhaps more comfortable than it had been in past days.

We have not been able to confirm reports that Mr. Kabila or members of his entourage have flown to Cape Town for a continuation of the UN-sponsored talks. We urge the government and the rebel alliance to go to South Africa and to negotiate away their differences. We urge them to continue the cease- fire and to make sure it's permanent.

And we continue to urge the Rwandan government to fulfill its own humanitarian obligations and to allow the tens of thousands of refugees stranded in Kisangani either to travel to Goma or into Rwanda itself. We still have no response today from the Rwandan government on the urgent humanitarian appeal to help the refugees near Kisangani.

Thank you very much.

(Press briefing concluded at 1:27 p.m.)


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