U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #45, 00-05-16
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, May 16, 2000
Briefer: RICHARD BOUCHER
1 Secretary's travel to Florence next week, May 23rd to 25th
1-2 Postponement of Jesse Jackson trip / Status of Nigerian forces /
U.S. funding and logistics / UN mandate
2-3 Diamond mining / Legitimate diamond-trading countries
3-4 Foday Sankoh / Interlocutor for RUF / Lome Accords / Violation of
Accords / Moves necessary to demonstrate an interest in peace /
Increased deployment of UN forces
5-6 Congressional vote on funding for peacekeeping missions
4-5 Republican antipathy / Slashing of State Department budget / US
leadership in world / Secretary's speech on global leadership /
Rebuilding in Kosovo
ETHIOPIA / ERITREA
6 Arms embargo / Travel restrictions / Russian opposition
6-7 Framework agreement / importance of Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline /
Kazakhstan to examine commercial benefits
8-9 Special Middle East Negotiator Dennis Ross' meetings with Chairman
Arafat and Prime Minister Barak
9 Palestine / Renewal of travel warning
9,14-15 Latest attack by the FARC
9-10 Police charge eight suspects alleged to be involved in 1993
assassination attempt / U.S. support for Turkish counter-terrorism
efforts / New Turkish President sworn in
10 Possible travel of high-level U.S. official
10 U.S. welcomes release of prominent political prisoners
11 Upcoming elections / Senator Helm's suspension of aid /
U.S. denounces recent violence against candidates and activists
INDIA / PAKISTAN
11 U.S. continues to work with both countries on nuclear issues and
reduction of tensions
11 Sandy Berger's travels to Moscow
12 Visit of indicted Yugoslav war criminal Ojandic to Moscow / Taking
custody of indicted Yugoslavian war criminals
12-13 Declining Serbian opposition to Milosevic
13-14 U.S to remind Russia of UN obligations
14 U.S. remains committed to talks
14 U.S. remains committed to resolving tensions
14 Secretary's travels to region / Jailing of opposition figure
15 Secretary's meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister / Supply of
U.S. humanitarian aid to Aceh peace agreement
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 45
TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2000 1:05 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Pleasure to be here.
We will put out an announcement today, the Secretary's travel to Florence
next week, the 23rd to 25th, for NATO and other meetings there; leave the
details for the posting and encourage you all to go. We will be taking
press with us on the airplane.
Okay. With that, let me open it up to your questions.
QUESTION: By any chance, do you have anything on Jesse Jackson
postponing a trip to Sierra Leone? Was he advised to by the State
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything like that at this point. The
plans were certainly to leave today and to make the trip. Whether it's
been postponed, you'd have to check with him.
QUESTION: Well, he's certainly been -- (inaudible) --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the plans - that was the plan. Whether - I mean, I'm
not - I don't do travel arrangements, so I really can't tell you exactly
when he's leaving.
QUESTION: But has any advice been giving to him or to others about the
situation? In fact, why don't you --
MR. BOUCHER: We're in very close touch with Reverend Jackson. We're
working with him to put together the trip to make it effective. His
mission, as you know, is to consult with regional governments, reinforce
and express the United States support for their initiatives, and to help
the United Nations secure the release of the UN hostages and resolve the
crisis in Sierra Leone. He is looking to facilitate discussions in the
We definitely support him. He is being sent by the United States
Government, by the President, and we are working with him to put the trip
together. But exactly when he's leaving, I can't tell you at this
QUESTION: On the same subject, can you tell us whether the State
Department helped persuade Reverend Jackson to modify his - the way he
planned to approach his mission in West Africa and modify also his attitude
to the possible role of the RUF in Sierra Leone?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know why you would say "modify." We've been working
with him to plan the mission and to make it effective. That's what's
QUESTION: In Abuja today, the Nigerians are saying something to the
effect of that they're willing to play, but not pay, in Sierra Leone. And
I'm just wondering --
MR. BOUCHER: Is that your phrase or theirs?
QUESTION: Well, I don't know. That was the headline on our story,
"Nigeria Willing to Play But Not Pay."
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: So, basically, if they do send troops in, they want to get
reimbursed for them. And I'm wondering if the US is ready to contribute to
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to announce any pledges or a pledging
conference or anything like that. What is important, we have people in
Nigeria, teams there, that are planning, helping. We've said we'd try to
provide support in terms of airlift and logistics. And exactly how to put
that package together is still being worked on.
QUESTION: But --
MR. BOUCHER: How are we going to fund them? I don't know. At this point,
I can't say so.
QUESTION: What position are you taking now on the status of Nigerian
forces which deployed in Sierra Leone? Should they be fully integrated
into the UN system or would you rather that they operated under separate
auspices and, therefore, had a broader mandate as they had before under
MR. BOUCHER: That is one of the subjects that is still under discussion.
How they go in support of the United Nations is still under discussion. We
do think the UN mandate is quite adequate for the forces that are
QUESTION: Well, aren't we talking about -- (inaudible) -- forces that
are there now?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, for the forces that do the job that they need to do in
terms of seeing that the parties follow the Lome Accord, which is the goal
QUESTION: Both of the local papers this morning had op eds on the
nefarious role of the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, and one of them said
it makes no sense to broker peace in a resource-cursed country unless the
resources are brought under control. The UN force in Sierra Leone was
given no mandate to halt mining or even gather information about it. Its
first step should have been to take over the diamond fields.
Does the US have a position on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think what's important is to make clear that we have
been working really for some time with other countries in a variety of fora
and with the diamond industry on ways to deal with smuggled diamonds that
fuel conflicts not just in Sierra Leone. We do, at the same time, not want
to harm the legitimate diamond trading of countries like Botswana, Namibia
and South Africa. Our immediate priority in Sierra Leone is to secure the
release of the UN detainees, secure an end to the armed hostilities and the
resumption of implementation of the Lome Peace Agreement, but we are
working on the question of diamonds in a variety of fora.
QUESTION: What do you mean, "a variety of fora"?
MR. BOUCHER: I think this comes up with the United Nations, it comes up
with the G-8, it comes up with the regional states, so it is a subject that
is being worked on.
QUESTION: As to who should have control of the diamond mines?
MR. BOUCHER: How this can all be better controlled. I'm not saying that
we're not discussing with a whole variety of people whether UN should march
into a particular district or not.
QUESTION: Does the US still believe that Foday Sankoh should have - well,
first of all, that he should be the legitimate interlocutor for the
MR. BOUCHER: Let's go back a little bit here. I think the impression is
abroad - and frankly, the impression is in some local papers as well - that
we somehow forced the world into dealing with Foday Sankoh. I think it's
important to remember how the Lome Accords were put together. They were
done in Lome. We helped facilitate some of the contacts and discussions,
but in the end it was the government that wanted - that decided to make
peace in this way with a rebel group.
And so you have a democratically elected government of Sierra Leone that
wanted to make peace with a rebel group, and has done that under international
auspices with some facilitation and help from the United States, as well as
others, and with support from the United Nations, as well as others in
We now have one party who has clearly violated those Accords. But as we've
said before, he does still have a chance and the ability to prove himself
by making sure the hostages get released and getting back into line with
QUESTION: What kind of retribution should there be?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, we're talking about release of the hostages
and compliance with the Accords.
QUESTION: How comfortable are you in dealing with Charles Taylor in this
process? Jackson will see him. At least that's the schedule. And this is
a leader who has, you know, been a warlord himself and been responsible for
the deaths of a number of Americans in addition to his own countrymen.
MR. BOUCHER: He had a role in the original agreement. He has a role now.
I think it's important to deal with people who can influence the situation
positively and can bring about the release of the hostages and the
compliance with the agreements.
QUESTION: Is the fact that the RUF is holding these hostages, is that
deterring you from support of a more vigorous military campaign against the
RUF, or do you seriously believe that it is possible, basically, to patch
up the old status quo? A lot of people are criticizing you, saying that
the old status quo is gone and you have to rethink. You don't seem to be
willing to do that.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean, again, let's remember the government of Sierra
Leone offered the rebels, the Revolutionary United Front, an opportunity to
participate politically in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the
country. Now, it's true they have violated the Accord and wasted that
Agreement, but we think that Sankoh and his people can still demonstrate an
interest in peace by releasing all the detainees, ordering an effective
cease-fire, and disarming its forces.
So the question is still there that they can comply. We are certainly
increasing daily the deployment of UN forces. We're up to 94-96 UN troops
deployed at this point. And as you know, we have teams in Nigeria and
we're talking to the others - to others in the region and in the United
Nations about ways to accelerate the deployment and ensure a more effective
United Nations force to ensure that people do, in fact, comply with the
QUESTION: Given the Republican antipathy towards the cost of peacekeeping
and the fact that the forces are increasing and someone's got to pay for it,
what kind of consultation is going on with Congress right now to discuss
whatever decisions the Administration might make in terms of contributing?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, there's a lot of consultation going on with Congress
about peacekeeping and funding. As you know, they have not only slashed
the regular State Department budget but seemed to have slashed the
supplemental appropriations as well, including peacekeeping money in
And therefore it is vital to us and important to us, and therefore we're
trying to work with the Congress to point out the difficulties that this
causes for the United States leadership in the world and for the United
States and UN ability to deal with problems like this. And in that regard,
I would invite you to listen to the Secretary's speech this evening when
she talks about United States global leadership and the need to pay the
cost of doing that.
QUESTION: At the Olympic Committee?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, no. Tomorrow. Sorry, tomorrow. Tomorrow. Not --
(inaudible) - time. It would be a great speech. It's a great speech, but
it's maybe a little better for the global leadership people than for the
QUESTION: She's made such speeches before. The outlook is pretty grim,
isn't it, on Balkans peacekeepers? Wouldn't it cut you down to near
nothing? Do you have any chance of saving that - you took a leadership -
isn't there something else involved here? I mean, the peacekeepers do more
than show the US flag. Don't they attempt to address the horrors of war
and make life a little better for people there? Can't you get that message
through? Is it a matter of money, or is it pique, or is it politics? What
MR. BOUCHER: Well, there's a lot of things going on. And, again, if you
look at the Secretary's speech tomorrow, she will speak on the topic and
discuss some of the things that are going on in this area, But it's clear
to us, particularly if you look at a situation like in the Balkans and
Kosovo, without the money to fund civilian administration and institutions,
we can't complete the successful deployment of US forces.
The US forces were sent there to protect people and to provide an avenue
for the refugees to return. We have something like 1.25 million/1.3
million refugees have returned to their homes is Kosovo. We are seeing
developments there, including start of civil administration and schools and
things like that. The - what's it called? The Kosovo Transition Council,
I think it's called, has had meetings, called for tolerance in the region.
There are activities going on between Albanians and Serbs there.
So we have the start of the rebuilding, but we can't complete that process
unless the United States is prepared to step up to the plate and continue
with it. And it is only by continuing that process of rebuilding that we
can secure a successful departure for US troops leaving behind peace and
stability in this vital region. So it is very important that we fund these
things and we'll be making that case again and again.
QUESTION: Well, going back to this issue of Sierra Leone, because it is
in part based on today's vote on Kosovo, a lot of times Members of Congress
have said, "If you had consulted with us more leading into the peacekeeping
mission, we might be more willing to pay for it." Has H gone to specific
members, whether it's Hal Rogers or whomever that makes these decisions
about funding and specifically met with them and said, "What are you
willing to do in terms of Sierra Leone?"
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to specify individuals because I really don't
know, but I know that we have been actively working with the Hill and
consulting with the Hill on this, yes.
QUESTION: On funding for Sierra Leone?
MR. BOUCHER: On funding for Sierra Leone and peacekeeping in Kosovo and
all the other problems that we have right now.
QUESTION: Can we do Ethiopia now? I mean, any more Sierra Leone? The
US yesterday introduced draft language, a draft resolution, at the UN that
would impose an arms embargo on both Ethiopia and Eritrea and - what else -
travel restrictions on Ethiopia. Officials in Ethiopia are already
blasting this and saying they like a Russian resolution better. What kind
of fight does it - it focuses more on diplomacy and continuing the peace
How big a fight is this going to be for the US at the UN, and how do the US
Government's chances look for a --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not quite sure how to answer a question, "How big a
MR. BOUCHER: Sufficient, yes. Appropriate and sufficient. The United
States believes that we need a strong resolution in light of the hostilities
and the military operations that are underway. Member delegations at the
Security Council will meet today for further consultations on a resolution
to press for an immediate end to hostilities and a speedy return to peace
talks. And, as you mentioned, we do believe that the resolution should
contain an arms embargo. So we will be working this very hard at the
United Nations today.
QUESTION: I'm sure there's been some discussion ahead of time before the
resolution was introduced. Do you know how well supported it is at this
MR. BOUCHER: I would assume that it would be widely supported because, in
the middle of hostilities, it would be appropriate to impose an arms
embargo and other things. I think people are indeed concerned about the
situation, but we'll be consulting in New York to work this resolution
today. And how exactly it will turn out, we'll have to see.
QUESTION: A Russian official is saying that Moscow is firmly opposed to
an arms embargo because it would only worsen the situation.
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen the quote, but I can't imagine what the logic
would be. I can --
QUESTION: But is that reflected in the United Nations as well - that
MR. BOUCHER: Again, you can ask the Russians about their views in New
York or elsewhere.
QUESTION: Did you see the Caspian Oil story? I think the one official
who was quoted works in this building on a floor that we're not supposed to
MR. BOUCHER: He has a telephone. As those of you who traveled with us to
Central Asia will remember, the Secretary discussed the issues of oil and
pipelines in the Caspian; as those of you who attended the signing ceremony
only a few weeks ago on the framework agreement will remember, the
Secretary places quite a bit of emphasis on this area and the possibilities
that are here.
I don't want to get too far into reports of what the find may be. We do
need to remember there is only one well; it's still being drilled. The
partners, as far as I know, have not made any announcements yet. When the
Secretary was out there, she did discuss oil, not only with the government
in Kazakhstan but also with US businesses that are out there looking for
it. So certainly it's a matter of great interest.
We have always felt that the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline was important
because to look at multiple East-West pipelines that could gain Western
markets for the oil and the possibility of another large field obviously
underscores the importance of that.
We expect Kazakhstan to examine the commercial benefits of the Baku-Tiblisi-
Ceyhan pipeline. We've looked to all the regional oil shippers to examine
the commercial attractiveness of the pipeline, including those whose oil is
not in this particular field.
QUESTION: So you're very interested in seeing the Kazakhs use the
pipeline once it's built for this enormous find of oil - alleged enormous
find of oil?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. First of all, we're waiting to see what the find
actually is, and; second of all, we're interested in multiple pipelines,
and we've worked very hard in a concerted way with the people in the region
on the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline and would like people to use that
opportunity and to use that pipeline because it's one of the key routes.
QUESTION: Can I just make one very small point? At that signing
ceremony you mentioned last week - and I had totally forgotten about this -
was it two weeks ago, whenever - it was advertised as the final legal
agreement for this thing to be completed. As it turns out, it was not the
final legal agreement. It had to be - there was some change in it and I
think the one - there was another signing ceremony afterwards with the
Turks that was, in fact, the - but, anyway, I would plea for a - to be
QUESTION: Honestly in advertising.
QUESTION: I'm not - I'm just noting that.
MR. BOUCHER: We strive every moment of every day to be completely and
absolutely accurate for you. The legal framework is in place for the
pipeline. It needs to be ratified - the framework that's been signed. The
next stage is for potential investors to come together in a sponsors group
to discuss how the pipeline could meet their needs. And there is an oil
consortium involved in the process, and decisions about the commercial
operation feasibility of this will be made by the consortium.
So there are other elements, but the legal framework is in place.
QUESTION: No, no. The legal framework actually was not in place at the
signing ceremony in Washington. There was another signing ceremony - all
that stuff that you just said --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as of 1:31 p.m. today, it is in place. And we're
happy for that.
QUESTION: On a new subject. Can you update us on Dennis Ross and his
MR. BOUCHER: Dennis is in the region. He is in Israel. He's been having
meetings. He met with Chairman Arafat already and he is meeting with Prime
Minister Barak today. Discussions will also be taking place between the
I want to make clear it is our view that negotiations are serious and that
both sides are making a real effort to reach agreement. They have also
found that the situation has calmed, and both sides are working to calm the
environment as well. So we're out there working the process.
QUESTION: Can you say anything about in terms of what happened in the
meeting with Arafat and also in terms of, given how violent the past few
days have been, what that portends for peace?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it reminds us of the importance of peace. I mean, I
guess that's sort of a non sequitur, but the fact is that what they're
working on it to try to get an agreement that will end the conflict. And
that's the point. So they continue to do that and we'll work with both
parties, who are making a serious effort.
QUESTION: Can you say if he arrived there after attending these not-
anymore-so-secret meetings in Stockholm? Did he sit in on those meetings,
or what role did he play with --
MR. BOUCHER: I can say he's in Israel.
QUESTION: Yeah, but did he arrive there --
QUESTION: Has he been to Stockholm recently?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to do his travel any more than I do Jesse
QUESTION: Well, but that's already being reported that he came from
MR. BOUCHER: There's a lot of things being reported.
QUESTION: So is it accurate?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to comment on travel.
QUESTION: On the subject of Palestine --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's go to the back.
QUESTION: About the yesterday question in Iranian --
MR. BOUCHER: I guess we have to finish with the Middle East first,
QUESTION: Yes, on the subject of Palestine, does there appear to the
State Department to be a correlation between the times that the negotiations
are - the going gets tough in the negotiations and there's quite a bit of
tension there, and the times that these riots break out in the West
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'd make that correlation. There may be some
that some experts would study. But I think the point is to try to reach a
peace agreement, and we pursue that end whether there's violence in the air
or not. Any more Middle East?
QUESTION: Was this kind of violence what you were fearing when you put
out that travel warning or were you more concerned about real terrorist --
MR. BOUCHER: The travel warning was put out on May 11th, one day before
the previous travel warning expired on May 12th, so it was basically a
renewal. But it was a recognition that there is a threat in the region and
travelers need to be careful and that that threat continues.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about this latest attack by the
FARC in Colombia yesterday? They placed a collar about this thick around a
woman's neck and it exploded, killing her. They were asking for $7,500.
Another policeman was killed who was trying to deactivate the bomb.
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't know the details and we have seen the reports and
we're looking at them. Obviously, we don't agree with that kind of
We had a question in the back -- (inaudible) --
QUESTION: Yesterday I asked the two Turkish well-known respected secular
journalists, they killed or two bomb attack which they claim that is the
true Iranian Embassy staff. They placed the bomb under this journalist's
car. Do you have reaction - do you have any - on the subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we know the Turkish police have charged eight suspects
who are alleged to have been involved in the - 1993 assassination, it is?
We have also seen press reports that they have detained several suspects
earlier this week and one of the suspects reportedly confessed that he
planted the car bomb that killed Ahmet Taner Kislali and another journalist
in October of '99. But I have to say the government of Turkey has
refrained from public comment on any alleged Iranian involvement pending
the results of its investigation, and the United States has no independent
information about Iran's possible involvement in these assassinations.
We do support Turkey's counter-terrorism efforts, and we think it is
important to pursue the investigation but also to ensure that all the
suspects are afforded due process and treated according to international
human rights norms.
QUESTION: Also, today, is the Turkish President Day and the new
president is sworn in. Do you have any comments?
MR. BOUCHER: We have our congratulations. We congratulate President
Sezer on his election. I probably could have come up with this by myself.
No. We do congratulate him on his election. President Clinton has written
to President Sezer to congratulate him on his assumption of office and to
expresses interest in continued close cooperation between the United States
and Turkey. The President has also written to former President Demirel to
express his appreciation for his leadership and wisdom during his seven
years as President of Turkey.
QUESTION: Is there any plans by a high level official to go to China
between now and the time Congress votes on normal trade relations - perhaps
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check. I'm not aware of anything. I mean we're
into the House vote sometime next week. So I'm not aware of anything right
now, but I'll check and see if there is somebody.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the release of a prominent political
prisoner in Cuba?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we welcome the two releases, one of Marta Beatriz
Roque and the earlier parole of Felix Bonne. But we urge the Cuban
authorities to free the remaining two members of the dissident working
group, as well as all the other prisoners that are being held for political
Furthermore, we join nations around the world who have called upon the
Cuban government during the Ibero-American summit last November and the
United Nations Commission on Human Rights session last month. These
nations called on the Cuban Government to abolish the laws it uses to jail
citizens like the dissident working group for peacefully expressing their
QUESTION: Does the US have an estimate of political prisoners in
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that; I don't here.
QUESTION: Not Cuba, but different - today, the people in the Dominican
Republic are voting, but across on the other side of Hispanola, there is
allegedly going to be a vote on Sunday in Haiti. And I am wondering what
you have to say about that, the first round of this vote which you have
been calling for for some time. And, also, if you can give us an update on
the aid that Senator Helms suspended to Haiti.
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to double check on the aid question. We do
think that the electoral council in Haiti has made significant progress and
there is time to complete the remaining tasks before the first round of
elections occurs as scheduled on May 21st.
While public disturbances have declined over the last month, there has been
recent violence against several candidates and activists from a range of
parties. We would strongly urge the Haitian Government to arrest and
prosecute the perpetrators and to ensure a secure atmosphere for elections
and open political debate. We also urge all of Haiti's leaders to publicly
denounce acts of violence and to encourage all citizens to demonstrate
their support for democracy by turning out to vote in full force.
In this regard, we would note that former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
has written to a number of officials in Washington to condemn the political
violence, to reaffirm his party's intention to participate in the elections
and to call for maximum international observer presence. So we expect
everyone to live up to those words.
QUESTION: So you think the situation, though, is such that the election
can be held on Sunday without - it can be an acceptable election?
MR. BOUCHER: It can be, but some of these things need some attention and
could still get some attention before the actual vote.
QUESTION: Richard, it looks like the tension between India and Pakistan
is still again building like Kargil, or more than Kargil. At this hour, we
are speaking here at the UN -- (inaudible) -- Association. The Foundation
of American Scientists are releasing images and photos - India, Pakistan
and Israeli nuclear and ballistic missile programs. So do you have any
contact with the parties to defuse the tension that doesn't go beyond
Kargil, like in the past?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know about the specific press conference or the
specific reports you're talking to, but obviously we have been in very
close touch with the parties all along and keep working with them on
nuclear issues and reductions of tensions.
QUESTION: As US officials - or at least Sandy Berger, US official -
heads to Moscow for sort of pre-summit talks, Yugoslav Foreign Minister
Jovanovic has been there and in a joint press conference today with Ivanov
has said several things, such as that opposition to Milosevic is waning in
And he apparently has been asked why - or the Russians, actually, have
allowed the Yugoslav Defense Minister, who is an indicted war criminal, to
visit. Are these things that are going to be coming up in talks between
the US and Russian officials as well - the Yugoslav topic?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
MR. BOUCHER: The visit by the indicted war criminal Ojdanic we found very
deeply dismaying, frankly. He met with senior Russian officials on May - I
think between the 7th and the 12th. Russia, like all UN member states, has
the obligation under Security Council Resolutions 827, 1244, and other
resolutions to arrest war criminals who enter its territory. Russia was
served with a copy of Ojdanic's indictment by the International Tribunal in
May of 1999. There can be no doubt, therefore, that they knew that he was
an indicted war criminal when they received him.
All UN members are required to carry out the Tribunal's arrest orders
against any indictee who enters their territory, and there are no
exceptions to this obligation. The press reports say that Ojdanic and his
Russian interlocutors discussed implementation of Security Council
Resolution 1244. In our view, the only aspect of 1244 that the Russians or
anyone else should be talking about with Ojdanic is his immediate surrender
for trial in The Hague.
QUESTION: Can you make a statement like that when, for instance, Jesse
Helms has ridiculed the posting of a reward for the arrest of these, the
top three people, Mladic, Milosevic, and Karadzic, saying, "You don't have
to post a reward. All you have to do is arrest them." I mean, the US has
had ample opportunity to make arrests of war criminals, too, and I don't
see the Russian Government putting out statements about how you're not
fulfilling your obligations. What's the problem? I mean why single out - I
mean, taking - I mean, having the guy visit may be one thing, but --
MR. BOUCHER: Let me say two things, Barry. I mean, first of all there is
a difference between picking somebody up in the Balkans and inviting them
to come and visit and have a big ceremony. Second of all, that there - you
know, there have been 94 publicly indicted war criminals by the International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. There have been 48 people
taken into custody so far.
When the implementation forces went into Bosnia in January of '96, there
was one in custody, so we have been taking people in custody. I think you
are quite aware that over the last few months, there have been a number of
people taken into custody by the NATO forces that are in the region, so
that process will continue.
QUESTION: Anything on the declining opposition? Do we support
Jovanovic's perception that opposition to Milosevic is decreasing?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we make quite clear in recently our view, and I
think what's clear is that the Serbian opposition has made quite clear
their view. Just the other day, there was a major opposition demonstration
that brought out thousands of people. And I think we put up a statement
two days ago about that. So the evidence doesn't show a decline; the
evidence, rather, shows that there is more and more activity by the
QUESTION: Richard, on the Yugoslav Defense Minister --
MR. BOUCHER: Why don't we go back here for a second? The gentleman has
had his hands up.
QUESTION: Did you bring this up with the Russians while this guy was in
Moscow? Or is this your first public --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure when we knew, because I think the press reports
we saw say he was - you know, he had come and gone. But I'm not sure if we
knew along the way.
QUESTION: So you didn't know that he was there at the time?
MR. BOUCHER: We are raising this on an urgent basis, is the way I'd put
QUESTION: So you didn't know at the time?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I have to say we are raising this on an urgent basis,
and leave it at that.
QUESTION: What does that mean, to raise it "on an urgent basis"?
MR. BOUCHER: It means we'll be talking to the Russians about him --
QUESTION: I mean he has already gone; right?
MR. BOUCHER: -- and giving them our view, as we have given it to
QUESTION: Okay. But, I mean, he has already gone, so what is the
purpose of raising it on an urgent basis?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean the purpose is first and foremost to hear if
they have any kind of explanation and; second of all, to remind them of the
obligations. Should they think of having him over again, we think they
should arrest him.
QUESTION: But wait a second. You just said that there was no exception,
and so there obviously can't be any explanation. I mean, if you are
basically accusing them of violating their UN obligations and saying that
there are no exception to these obligations, all UN members must arrest
them, but you are still waiting to hear their explanation? Is there
anything that they can say that --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't say that. I think I would say, obviously, they
will have something to say. But, clearly, the most important point is to
remind them of their obligations.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say on Cyprus, the effective delay in
the new round of talks, a new timetable or a new place, or do you think a
delay would affect the process?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we remain committed to the process; the United Nations
remains committed to the process. As you know, the delay was for reasons
of President Clerides' health. It will be up to the United Nations to tell
us a new date.
QUESTION: How much interest is the US taking in solving the bloody war
in Sri Lanka and also if anybody from this Department is in touch with the
Sri Lanka Government? Now, the tension is really high, very high.
MR. BOUCHER: We take quite a bit of an interest. I think I spoke about
that in the last day or two - I can't remember which one it was - and,
obviously, we have an embassy out there that's in touch with the government
QUESTION: When the Secretary was in Central Asia last month, she went to
Kyrgyzstan, and the president and her came out and made a speech in which -
- and the president said that - basically welcomed her visit and said that
everything was wonderful. One of the things that the Secretary raised with
him was the jailing of an opposition figure named Mr. - I don't remember
the first name, the last name is Usenov and the president's comments led
one to believe that he was taking everything she said under advisement.
Well, earlier today - and I'm sorry, I just saw this before I came out -
but Mr. Usenov has been sentenced to three years in hard labor, two years I
guess - the good news is the two years of the sentence were suspended, but
he's still got a year in hard labor and this will make him ineligible to
run in the election to oppose the president. I am wondering if you have
anything to say about that or could look into it?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I hadn't seen the report, so I don't think I have
anything immediate to say about the particular case. Clearly, the
Secretary spoke repeatedly in public and in private about the importance of
allowing the political process to go forward, of not criminalizing the
opposition, and of making sure that the progress that had been made in
democracy was sustained. So these matters are of great concern to us and
to her in particular. I am sure if this is happening again, we would be
QUESTION: Could we maybe later get an answer on this FARC attack. I
know you are not ready to answer it on this, but President Pastrana just
announced in Colombia that the Colombian Government will be ready to walk
away from the table of negotiations with the FARC if it is confirmed, in
fact, that they did that.
MR. BOUCHER: As awful as some of these attacks are, I'm not sure that we
should be in the business of commenting on every single one. We have
supported President Pastrana in his attempts to make peace. We have
supported President Pastrana in his attempts to bring stability to the
country. But the actual steps along the way and when he's in and when he's
out, that's up to him.
QUESTION: Yesterday before she met with the Indonesian Foreign Minister,
the Secretary said that the US would supply humanitarian aid to help out
the Aceh peace agreement. I'm wondering if during that meeting if this was
narrowed down a little bit more, if we know what kind of aid, how
MR. BOUCHER: No. At this point, they did have discussions on what might
be needed and what might be done in the next steps in the process in Aceh.
As you know, we have a cease-fire and that has to be turned into an
agreement, but the discussions will help us narrow down what kind of needs
might be there and might be met. The initial humanitarian portion is
probably relatively small, and we're looking at that. But the discussions
helped us narrow down the kind of assistance that might be necessary but
didn't - don't come up with a specific number or anything like that.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:45 P.M.) (###)