U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #55, 97-04-15
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 15, 1997
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
ANNOUNCEMENTS / STATEMENTS
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
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
9-10 Secretary's "Newsmaking" Speechs Tonight andTomorrow
11 Successor to Asst Secy Gelbard
11 US Position on Narcotics Trafficking
12 Test-Firing of Medium-Range Missile
12-13 Dep Asst Secy Einhorn's Testimony on Chemical Weapons Program &
Dual-Use Material From China
12 Sharing Intelligence on Iran with US
13-14 Evacuation of AmCits/Security Situation/US Urges Peace Talks,
Continuation of Cease-Fire, and Rwandan Govt to Allow Refugees
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 1997 12:53 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
QUESTION: Yeah, they won.
MR. BURNS: What was the score? Ten to one?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
QUESTION: I want to go back to a North Korean issue.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
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.
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
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
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.)