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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #186, 97-12-23

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


524

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Tuesday, December 23, 1997

Briefer: James B. Foley

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1		UN Arrears and Track II Reform Package
2		Summary of Visit of PM of Turkey

TURKEY 2-3 Issues raised with PM-partition of Cyprus, membership in EU 3-5 Helicoper licenses 5 Israeli-Turkey cooperation 5 Shattuck invitation to visit Turkey 5-6 Human rights dialogue

RUSSIA 6 Bliss departure from Russia

MEXICO 7 Massacre of villagers in southern Mexico

IRAQ 7 Status of UNSCOM Missions

MIDDLE EAST 7-8 Ross travel plans and agenda 8 Status of time out issue, and other issues 8 Meetings in Jan. with Netanyahu and Arafat

DEPARTMENT 8-9 Secretary's plans


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #186

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1997, 12:50 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. FOLEY: Welcome to the State Department for our final briefing before the Christmas break. We'll be resuming next Monday.

I have a few announcements, one which I'm going to post on Guyana, a public announcement; the other two, I will read.

The State Department is pleased to note that the United Nations has approved, by consensus, a budget for the 1998-1999 bi-annium of $2.532 billion, which meets the congressional limitation of $2.533 billion, which represents a reduction from the 1996-97 budget.

The General Assembly also adopted Secretary General Annan's Track II reform program. A new scale of assessments was adopted, which includes a 25 percent ceiling for the United States, but which does include a provision, which was strongly urged by the United States, that allows the ceiling negotiations to be re-opened, depending upon congressional action to address our arrears and commitment to regularly pay the UN.

The achievement of these US objectives was the result of intensive negotiation efforts by the Administration over the past few months. It also represents a major achievement of the 52nd General Assembly and demonstrates continuing interest of the majority of nations in improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the United Nations.

Despite the lack of legislation allowing the US to pay its arrears, the Administration has been successful in building acceptance for the following - to recapitulate - first, a cap on UN expenditures; second, the possible re-opening of discussions on the scale of assessments; and lastly, the adoption of Secretary General Annan's Track II reform package.

Nevertheless, because Congress did not enact the legislation to pay our arrears, we could not achieve the desired reduction this coming year in the US share, as we and the Congress desire. So we now call upon the Congress - and we intend to work closely and cooperatively with the Congress on this - to seize this window of opportunity and to act early next year to provide the necessary legislation and funding for the US to pay its obligations to the UN and other international organizations.

Without action, we will not be able to re-open negotiations to reduce our rate of assessment. Each year we are unable to reduce our share, the cost to the US taxpayer is at least $60 million.

Secondly, to review the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Yilmaz, who visited Washington December 18 through 21, at the invitation of President Clinton; as you know, he met with the President, Vice President, and the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Commerce, and Energy, as well as officials of the IMF and the World Bank, and the CEOs of several major US corporations.

The substance of these meetings confirmed our long-standing close relationship with Turkey and a high level of engagement on issues of mutual concern. During the visit, we agreed on a focused program of high-level cooperation over the next year on energy, trade and investment, security, regional issues and Cyprus-Aegean issues. We agreed that Secretary Albright will travel to Turkey next summer to take stock of that cooperation.

The Prime Minister also issued an invitation to Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, John Shattuck, to visit in 1998. We signed a major contract between Boeing and Turkish Airlines worth up to $2.5 billion, and entered into force a treaty which will prevent double taxation of US and Turkish nationals doing business in each other's countries.

We expressed concern about the state of human rights in Turkey. The Prime Minister reaffirmed that human rights is his government's top priority and outlined a program of action which his government intends to implement in the year ahead.

Finally, we agreed to continue cooperation in the search for a solution to the Cyprus problem and on behalf of decreasing tensions in the Aegean. We expressed support for Turkey's continued engagement with the European Union, despite its disappointment with the results of the Luxembourg summit.

Now, I have a seven-hour drive through sleet and snow ahead of me after this briefing, so I will endeavor to --

QUESTION: Where are you going?

MR. FOLEY: I'm going home for Christmas. And I will endeavor to provide answers which are not long-winded to your relevant questions.

QUESTION: We have a lot of questions.

QUESTION: In this happy session you had with the Turkish Prime Minister, did he repeat what he told some of us, that partition of Cyprus is inevitable if Turkey isn't treated better by the European Union? Did he say there's a Christian club that kept Turkey - led by Germany - that kept Turkey out of the European Union? Were there any elements of US-Turkish relations, besides human rights, that maybe need a little smoothing over?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not aware that he raised specifically those couple of points that you mentioned, Barry, which we've seen had been communicated to the press at various points in the wake of the last EU meeting. But clearly, Turkey's disappointment with the EU's decision is no secret. We encouraged Turkey to take a long-term look. We reiterated our view that Turkey does have a European vocation and should move toward eventual full membership in the EU. And the Prime Minister, for his part, confirmed that he has not closed the door on those discussions, despite having some real disappointments.

QUESTION: What about Cyprus? Did the US say something about how it felt about the threatened partition permanently of Cyprus and the integration of northern Cyprus into Turkey?

MR. FOLEY: Well, again, Barry, I'm not aware that he made that specific statement, as was indicated in the press prior to his visit. But I can tell you that if it did come up, that we would have said that our view, of course, is to oppose any moves in that direction; that we believe in a negotiated solution which would result in a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation; that we fully support the UN's efforts in this regard.

The Prime Minister, I believe, met with Ambassador Holbrooke during the course of his visit. President Clinton reiterated the significance attached to Ambassador Holbrooke's taking up this position at his and Secretary Albright's request, and that we hoped that following the Cyprus elections in February, that the two sides can reengage under the UN aegis and move towards fruitful negotiations.

QUESTION: Follow-up?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: On this - there is also a helicopter tender worth, I think, $3 billion that Turkey - American companies were not granted marketing license, due to State Department objection. During Prime Minister Yilmaz's visit, has there been any progress towards releasing the necessary license so US companies can compete?

MR. FOLEY: I can tell you that several US companies, as you indicated, have sought to participate in a Turkish competition to acquire new attack helicopters. Their requests for marketing of these systems have been reviewed very carefully by the Department of State, in cooperation with the Department of Defense.

Secretary Albright today decided to allow US participation in this competition. Her decision is fully consistent with our policy concerning arms transfers to Turkey. We seek to support this important NATO ally's efforts to meet its legitimate self-defense requirements and to fulfill its NATO commitments.

Again, Turkey is a key NATO ally. It is entirely appropriate, we believe, for NATO allies to have sophisticated US military equipment in their inventories. Several other NATO allies have obtained or are obtaining US origin attack helicopters.

QUESTION: She says it's all right for firms, if they win the bid, to sell helicopters to Turkey, right?

MR. FOLEY: No, she did not say that.

QUESTION: Well, it was competition.

MR. FOLEY: She approved a marketing license so that American firms may compete. There are firms from other nations that are competing.

We've approved licenses that allow US companies to export technical information about US-origin attack helicopters so that the US suppliers can formulate competitive bids for the Turkish attack helicopter competition.

QUESTION: But they can't sell them?

MR. FOLEY: No, that decision has not been made.

QUESTION: When is that settled?

MR. FOLEY: Well, that will depend, ultimately, on Turkey's decision on whether and which system to purchase, to aim to purchase.

Now this is, as I said, an international competition involving US and other suppliers. If a US company is chosen, then we will consider separately the decision to sell the helicopters. There is a distinction between marketing and export licenses, which preserves the US Government's ability to control arms exports, should circumstances affecting the transfer change between the time the marketing license is approved and the time to approve the export license.

This procedure reflects the seriousness with which we view exports of military equipment. There's usually a significant period of time - sometimes more than a year, in the case of larger, sophisticated defense systems - between the time that a company begins marketing and the time when a contract has been signed and the system is ready for export.

QUESTION: You did basically the same thing with Latin American aircraft sales, right?

MR. FOLEY: That's right.

QUESTION: But there's no congressional problem here?

MR. FOLEY: We have consulted informally with the Congress about this decision. However, the Department of State issues marketing licenses on its own authority. There's no legal, formal, congressional consultation process as does exist with certain large exports of military equipment.

If Turkey does choose to buy a US helicopter, however, we will, of course, consult closely with the Congress, as we do on any such sale of US military equipment.

QUESTION: But there's no blanket prohibition?

MR. FOLEY: No.

QUESTION: While we're at it, does the US have a position about two things - about the accelerating relationship, military relationship, between Israel and Turkey; and generally about the tensions - the expulsion of an alleged spy? Is this reaching the boiling level, the Greek-Turkish tension?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I would decline to comment on that last issue. We believe that's a matter involving those two nations, which we don't take a position on. However, we have, from this podium and elsewhere, certainly encouraged the development of close ties between our close NATO ally, Turkey, and our close friend, Israel. We think that their relationship is conducive to stability and to peace in that part of the world.

We've made no secret of our view that we believe that cooperation is a building block for peace, and is not in any way an element of increased tension or hostility; quite the contrary. As you know, there's a humanitarian exercise that's coming up that involves US, Turkish and Israeli forces. I can give you some information on that, if you're interested. But it is a humanitarian search and rescue exercise that's taking place in international waters in the first week of January.

QUESTION: Could you just elaborate a bit on the human rights agenda? What might Shattuck raise during his visit?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't have his agenda, and we haven't set the time of his visit yet. But certainly human rights had been a major concern of ours in our dialogue with Turkey. We were very encouraged by the fact that Prime Minister Yilmaz stated clearly the priority of his government in the human rights area, and his determination to press ahead on the human rights agenda in the coming year.

The issue of what Turkey is or is not doing with respect to human rights will arise in connection with approval of a sale, should it come to that at a later time.

QUESTION: Another subject?

MR. FOLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: On human rights. With us, and I would imagine he would have said basically the same stuff in his several meetings with several administration officials, he had a whole list of examples of an improved record on human rights. First, he said all journalists have been freed from prison. He spoke of areas where, under his government, they've taken great measures. Do you have a checklist, or at least, in summary, does the US agree that he has taken these steps that he's credited himself with taking?

MR. FOLEY: With a close friend and ally, we don't have a checklist, as such; we have a dialogue, a productive dialogue. And we do believe that Prime Minister Yilmaz attaches the highest priority to this issue and to improving the human rights situation in Turkey. He made that clear himself, on his own initiative, I believe, in his meetings with President Clinton. And we look forward to seeing his commitment play out over the coming year to address some of these issues of concern.

QUESTION: Another subject?

MR. FOLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Senator Feinstein's office is reporting that Mr. Bliss of Qualcomm in San Diego is being let out of Russia today. Do you have anything on that?

MR. FOLEY: We understand that Mr. Bliss may depart Rostov, Russia, today on a Qualcomm chartered aircraft for the United States. We understand that there was an agreement concluded under which Mr. Bliss will depart, that was concluded between Mr. Bliss, Qualcomm and the Russian security services. We are not privy to that agreement or yet familiar with all of its details, so I would have to refer you to Qualcomm for any of the particulars about that agreement.

QUESTION: You must know the general parameters of that. I mean, does it involve a payment of money?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of that, no. No.

QUESTION: What about any kind of an admission of guilt?

MR. FOLEY: No, you'll have to go to either the Russian authorities or to Qualcomm for those details.

QUESTION: Have the charges been dropped?

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Have the charges been dropped?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware that they have been dropped.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the massacre of some four dozen people, villagers in southern Mexico?

MR. FOLEY: I've not seen the report. Was that today? We would obviously regret that and hope that the Mexican Government will attach the highest priority in investigating the incident, if it has taken place, and finding the perpetrators. But I'd not heard about that before coming in here.

QUESTION: It offers allegations that forces allied with the ruling party or the government were responsible?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I certainly can't comment on something that I haven't seen and that we haven't had a chance to study, certainly.

QUESTION: New subject, on Iraq today. Are you aware of UN weapon inspectors out on the job today? And have you had any reports of any interference with their missions today?

MR. FOLEY: I've not had any reports of that nature. I'd have to refer you to UNSCOM headquarters for details. I understand that UNSCOM did today complete a five-day inspection campaign of several new sites in Iraq, but we have not yet received a briefing from UNSCOM on the results of those inspections.

QUESTION: And no reports of any interference with their mission?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of any reports.

QUESTION: Is Dennis Ross going to the Middle East?

MR. FOLEY: He is scheduled to go to the Middle East, yes. We expect that - I don't have the date finalized. I understand it's possible he may be arriving on January 5, but that hadn't been firmed up at the moment I was coming into the room.

QUESTION: Where's he going?

MR. FOLEY: He's going to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority.

QUESTION: Why?

MR. FOLEY: He's going to be working on several issues. First, and I think on a priority basis, he's going to be working on the interim arrangement issues that remain outstanding. I think you'll recall, following the Secretary's trips last week, we had a briefer from the podium who talked about the need, really, to accelerate progress and maybe to reach closure on some of those interim issues, which we believe can have a positive influence as we address the four-part agenda and try to move towards permanent status negotiations.

So that, I think, is the main focus. He also will be discussing, Barry, the four-part agenda as a way to advance Prime Minister Netanyahu's and Chairman Arafat's visits to Washington, also in January.

QUESTION: Are you taking a time-out on your time-out?

MR. FOLEY: I don't understand the question.

QUESTION: Is he - you don't seem to be making much headway in your request for a time-out. Certain activities and certainly some of them are proceeding - you didn't make that the focus of the trip. So I wondered if you've taken a time-out on your time-out.

MR. FOLEY: I did, in fact. I noted the --

QUESTION: The four-part agenda.

MR. FOLEY: The interim issues.

QUESTION: No, no, --

MR. FOLEY: The four-part agenda, as you know, includes the time-out. He would certainly reiterate the Secretary's well-known position on the need for a time-out.

QUESTION: The interim issues means the airport, the seaport.

MR. FOLEY: That's right.

QUESTION: On this meeting in January, the plan was to have separate meetings between the President and those two leaders?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Does the United States feel that this point might be a good idea to bring them face to face with the --

MR. FOLEY: Well, the Secretary recommended to the President that, at this stage, he hold separate meetings with the two leaders; and that recommendation has not changed. I think it's hypothetical what other kinds of meetings could take place some other time in the future. But for the January time frame, we believe that we can make progress best on separate tracks, in terms of the meeting with the President.

QUESTION: Does the Bosnia - the stop if Bosnia end the Secretary's official activities for the year? Is she now on vacation?

MR. FOLEY: No. She is on vacation, but she's back just prior to the new year, next week, in Washington.

QUESTION: Oh, really?

MR. FOLEY: Yes. I don't have the exact date, but it's, I think, one or two days before the new year actually. She will be in the office that week.

Any other questions?

QUESTION: Happy holidays.

MR. FOLEY: Happy holidays.

QUESTION: Have a nice trip.

MR. FOLEY: Thank you, Barry. Through sleet and snow.....

(The briefing concluded at 1:15 P.M.)


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