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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFF CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB #131
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 1997 12:45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)


MR. FOLEY: Hello. We're a little more numerous than yesterday, but still we're the happy few who remain.

I don't have any announcements today, so George.

QUESTION: Can you give us a verbatim rundown of the meeting in Beijing between the North Koreans and the United States?

MR. FOLEY: George, ever the optimist.

The meeting did take place. Mr. Kartman met North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan today in Beijing. The meeting was useful and productive. It was conducted in a professional manner. They will meet again tomorrow to continue their discussions. That's about all I have, George.

QUESTION: Did the North Koreans say if they would go to the talks next week in New York?

MR. FOLEY: Well, as is our practice, I can't get into the details of the discussions. As I said, they are going to be meeting again tomorrow. What I can say, though, is that we have no concrete news yet on that issue, but I will repeat again what I've been saying every day from this podium, which is that we've received no indication from the North Koreans that they are not going to be attending the talks. That's what they had agreed to do the last time, at the first meeting, the preparatory talks, and we understand that, on our side, all the parties are still expected to be attending the talks next week.

QUESTION: But if you say, we have no concrete news on that issue, that seems rather ominous since, if they were intending to go, why wouldn't they just say, we're adhering to our commitment?

MR. FOLEY: At the time that the first round took place, all sides made commitments to attend the next round of the four-party talks to begin next week in New York. There has been no indication of a falling back from that commitment ever since.

QUESTION: Well, but, I mean, in a way, you're sort of giving us two messages here. On one hand, you say there's no falling back from the commitment, but on the other hand you say we have no concrete news on that issue. So which is it? I mean, are they going or not going? Have they not told you?

MR. FOLEY: Carol, I'll have to let my statement speak for itself, that I have nothing new to report and that our operative assumption remains that all parties will attend the talks in New York next week.

QUESTION: Did the North Koreans raise the food issue?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware that they did; but as I said, I'm not in a position to give a full read-out of the meeting.

Betsy. I'm sorry. Laura.

QUESTION: Were they always scheduled to be two days, or is the second day at the request of the North Koreans?

MR. FOLEY: That's a good question. I wasn't aware yesterday that there were to be two meetings. I've been saying for the last several days that we regarded the meetings that have taken place as always useful -- the ones that took place at the office director level on our side in New York and Mr. Kartman's meetings in Beijing. So I think it's not a great surprise that they are going to meet again tomorrow.

Yes, Judd.

QUESTION: Did the subject of rescheduling missile talks come up?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not in a position to report beyond what I've said about the meeting.

George.

QUESTION: Did you say how long it was?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have that.

QUESTION: Is it expected to go more than a few days, then?

MR. FOLEY: I couldn't say that, either.

QUESTION: Jim, one more question --

MR. FOLEY: Betsy.

QUESTION: I'm curious about - there's one sentence in your statement that says that the talks were held in a very professional manner, I believe you said.

MR. FOLEY: I said they were useful and productive, and that they were - and that the meeting was, indeed, conducted in a professional manner.

QUESTION: I'm very curious why that language was put in there. I mean, I assume that means there were no food fights, but I -

(Laughter)

-- but what other manner would you expect them --

MR. FOLEY: I didn't answer the question about food, as you recall.

(Laughter)

QUESTION: What was it - could you translate that for me - what you meant to convey by those words?

MR. FOLEY: I'm really not in a position to comment in any more detail about the meeting that took place.

(Laughter)

We are pleased that there is going to be a second meeting tomorrow.

Yes, Bill.

QUESTION: Yes, I understand the North Koreans have asked for more food aid, in view of the tidal wave damage of a couple of weeks ago. Has the State Department received any such request, or has Mr. Kartman?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of any new requests. You may have asked that question once upon a time or even recently, but as I've stated before, we will entertain and take seriously any requests that come to us - in particular from the World Food Program. Our track record is quite excellent in terms of responding to such requests.

Yes.

QUESTION: You reach a tentative agreement, and are you waiting for formal reply from North Korean side? Is that right?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not sure I understand the premise of your question, nor can accept it. You said something about tentative agreement. What was your question?

QUESTION: Yes, I'd like to get to know that both sides agreed on some tentative - you know, the timing of the party talks. But the North Korean - anyway aside, Kim Gye Gwan needs permission from the North Korean Government anyway. So are you waiting for the formal reply from the North Korean Government?

MR. FOLEY: I said nothing of that nature in my remarks thus far.

Yes.

QUESTION: In the talks, did you talk about Ambassador Chang's defection issue? Can you say that?

MR. FOLEY: I have nothing more to add to what I said about the meeting.

Yes.

QUESTION: I have one. Is Mr. Kartman going to make any announcement - public announcement after the talk? Is he planning to do that after the series of discussions with the North Koreans?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of any such plans. They would have to be cleared here in the State Department, so I would know about it if it was something that was being envisaged. But I'm not aware of that.

Carol.

QUESTION: Another subject. Are Russia and China working with Iran in building long-range nuclear missiles?

MR. FOLEY: Well, as you know, the United States has been concerned for some time about - seriously concerned about Iranian efforts worldwide to acquire missile technology. Indeed we're very concerned by reports indicating that Russian entities may have provided ballistic missile-related assistance to Iran.

We take these reports very seriously, and have raised our concerns repeatedly, and at the highest levels of the Russian Government The Russian Government continues to assure us that it is committed to the highest non-proliferation standards. While we appreciate such assurances, we remain disturbed by the discrepancy between these assurances and reports of Russian firms cooperating with Iran. Giving the far-reaching implications of this matter, we will continue to pursue it at the highest levels.

We've been in constant contact with Russian authorities on this issue, again, as I said, at the highest levels. The President and President Yeltsin discussed this at the Helsinki Summit and at Denver. They agreed to raise the level and accelerate the pace of our contacts. The Vice President and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin have an ongoing dialogue on Iran. I note that they are going to be meeting in Moscow again in a couple weeks. And Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Primakov have discussed this issue of serious concern to the United States.

Finally, in early August, former Ambassador Frank Wisner led a small interagency team to Moscow to discuss ways we can work together to prevent missile technology from reaching Iran, and we expect this effort will continue.

As for China - I think you mentioned that as well - I would only say that any missile-related cooperation with Iran is of serious concern to the United States, and we continue to monitor and evaluate reports of any transfer that could contribute to missile programs of concern.

In October of 1994, China agreed to ban all exports of MTCR Class ground-to-ground missiles. We have no evidence that China has conducted activities inconsistent with this commitment. We strongly oppose any missile cooperation with Iran and have raised these issues also with the government of China in the past, and we will continue to do so.

QUESTION: So while your concern about Russia involves ongoing cooperation, your China concerns were allayed by this 1994 commitment; is that right?

MR. FOLEY: No, I would not say that our concerns have been allayed. Any missile cooperation with Iran is of serious and ongoing concern to the United States, and we keep these matters under intensive review. As you know, we have very clear legislation and law to apply on these matters, and we take our responsibility seriously. The threshold for applying sanctions in any of these cases is high. The law is very specific on when sanctions can be imposed. We have not made the determination, at this point, that any of the reports that we've seen are tantamount to sanctionable activity, have met the specific thresholds. The law is the law, and when we're able to make such a determination, if we are, we will apply the law.

QUESTION: I just want to make sure I'm clear on this, though. You're concerned -- you believe that Russia may be actively cooperating with Iran in this area?

MR. FOLEY: I didn't say that. I think the reports you're referring to refer to Russian entities, private or commercial entities.

QUESTION: Right. So you're --

MR. FOLEY: And we take then seriously. As I said - I can repeat that we are grateful for the assurances we've received from the Russian Government. We're grateful for their commitment to work with us and to cooperate.

I note Ambassador Wisner's visit and his ongoing mission in this regard. But we are disturbed by the discrepancy between the assurances we've received and the reports - the continuing reports that Russian firms are cooperating with Iran.

QUESTION: Well, do you think the government is capable of keeping control on these firms? I would say that apparently there were some statements out of Moscow today in which the government says basically it would know if these entities were actually doing this.

MR. FOLEY: Well, we hope that they can maintain that kind of control. We credit their assurance that the Russian Government is committed to the highest non-proliferation standards. But regardless of that, our law is clear. If we have the evidence that these entities or any entities are in violation, then we will apply the law.

Yes, Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: I was told by Mr. Holbrooke yesterday that Mr. Tom Miller was in Ankara.

MR. FOLEY: By whom were you told?

QUESTION: By Mr. Holbrooke, Mr. Holbrooke. That Mr. Tom Miller was in Ankara on a fact mission. Do you have any read-out on what he succeeded so far in Turkey?

MR. FOLEY: I spoke to him yesterday, and he was very satisfied with his stay in Ankara. He felt he had good meetings. I'm not in a position to tell you specifically what transpired in his meetings with Turkish officials.

But he noted something that was at issue here in this briefing room yesterday, which is the rising tone of rhetoric in the region that we think is very counterproductive. So, as he will do on his visits also to Athens and Nicosia, he urged a general toning down of the rhetoric, and expressed the US Government's support for continued efforts to achieve peaceful solutions.

Yes.

QUESTION: As I told you last time, Mr. Tom Miller was not in a position during his briefing to clarify US policy vis-à-vis to sovereign in Northern Cyprus. Could you please clarify it? Do you support finally one sovereignty or two sovereigns over Cyprus. It's a pending question, anyway.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I would refer you to the transcript of my briefing yesterday, which was very clear on the subject.

Yes.

QUESTION: I would like to turn back to the Iranian missile subject. In the last couple of years, the United States posed concern about this Iranian nuclear program, the missile program and the Russian cooperation and Chinese cooperation. But today's news show that the Iranian missile threat one of your NATO allies, Turkey, other one is the Israel and the Central Asia to some vested interest.

Do you planning to some constructive, other than to condemn, concern, something that is substantial thing to against Iran?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we have a concerted across-the-board effort to deny Iran not only the weapons of this nature, themselves, but also the means to acquire such weapons through our economic sanctions and approach.

So I think, in every conceivable way, we are making this one of our highest foreign policy priorities. These efforts - Iranian efforts - to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them indeed pose a threat to some of our closest friends and allies in the world. That's why we think everyone has a stake in addressing this issue very seriously.

Yes.

QUESTION: Turkish and Greek prime ministers will meet in the island of Crete on November 3rd. Who will be representing United States at this meeting? What are the expectations in Washington about this meeting?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I'd have to take the question, specifically. But any time the Greek and Turkish prime ministers meet, the United States will be deeply pleased and encouraging both sides to, first of all - let me say, the very active -- their meeting is something that we encourage, because we think it promotes dialogue and can contribute to negotiated solutions. But in terms of US participation, I'd have to take the question.

Yes.

QUESTION: Mr. Foley, yesterday I asked a question about the situation in Azerbaijan. Do you have any response for me?

MR. FOLEY: Yes. I looked into the question, and we have no information suggesting that Mr. Elchibey -- former President Elchibey was arrested. We received unconfirmed reports of a police build-up over the weekend in the village where he resides, in Ahichivan*, but we have since heard that this presence has diminished.

The United States Government continues to engage the government of Azerbaijan, including during President Aliyev's July visit to Washington, on the importance of fully respecting human rights. We have urged the government to allow all of its citizens, including members of the opposition, the right to express freely their opinions and to play an active, unhindered role in the political process in Azerbaijan.

Yes.

QUESTION: What do you have on Algeria? Your ambassador met with the president there today.

MR. FOLEY: Yes. It was Ambassador Neumann's farewell call on President Zeroual. He made a statement at the close of that meeting, and I can make that available to you if you'd like. I can draw from the highlights now, but it might be easier just to release it.

QUESTION: Specifically, I was wondering if you could shed some light on his - apparently his statement that we support military measures consistent with the rule of law, which was taken as a green light to the Algerian Government to crack down on Islamic militants.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I can only refer you to his statement, and I don't see that in his statement. He noted that the United States Government condemns the horrible massacres, bombings and attacks on Algerian civilians that have taken place recently. He said, indeed - I'm coming to it - that we support military measures that are consistent with the rule of law to protect civilians. I think that statement is very clear.

No other questions? Yes.

QUESTION: I just wondered if you had anything to update us on the situation with the transmitter in Bosnia. I know there was some fairly tough language out of the Pentagon yesterday, and I don't know if there has officially been a warning made to the Serbs that control the transmitter or exactly what has happened since yesterday.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think it was clear from what I said yesterday that we expect another shoe to drop. I can't tell you when that's going to be. I'd have to refer you to SFOR and the Office of the High Representative.

QUESTION: Can you tell us, then, who - I know Ambassador Gelbard is going tomorrow, and I know there's a large group of observers, but is anybody else from the State Department accompanying him?

MR. FOLEY: He will have some interagency officials accompanying him. And of course, we're going to have a very large American presence throughout Bosnia on the election days. About 420 Americans will be part of a larger OSCE group of about 2,500 observers.

On the elections, I would like to say, though, that the United States Government and the international community fully expect that the elections will go ahead as scheduled. Those who do not support the election process are interfering with the implementation of Dayton. They are disenfranchising their own voters, and they are harming the democratic process.

However, there is no doubt that the elections will go forward this weekend. We call on the political leaders to meet the responsibilities to their voters. We expect the guarantors of Dayton - Serbia Montenegro and Croatia - to meet their obligations and to use all of their very considerable influence to ensure that municipal elections go forward.

We firmly believe that those who, in the end, boycott the elections - if that's what happens - will emerge as the losers.

QUESTION: Who are these 425 Americans? Are they --

MR. FOLEY: Well, we put out an announcement last week of the first 200 or so who went. I'd have to refer you to that.

Yes, Bill.

QUESTION: A couple more issues on North Korea.

MR. FOLEY: I will have little more to say, Bill, on that subject.

QUESTION: Well, try this. The North Korean - high-ranking North Korean official today said that North Korea was still very angry about the defections. Specifically, he blamed the CIA. He did not blame the US Government; he just blamed the CIA. Does the State Department have any comment on that man's statement?

MR. FOLEY: No comment, no.

QUESTION: Okay. The second one - a number of spy lists have come from Mr. Hwang, the defector in South Korea, and apparently from another source. These spy lists are causing great political problems in South Korea. Have you any knowledge or comment on that?

MR. FOLEY: No, I don't.

QUESTION: Have you heard from the Cubans on the bombings?

MR. FOLEY: No, no we've not received, to my knowledge, any communication whatsoever from the Cuban Government in response to our offer to be of assistance in regard to those accusations.

QUESTION: The Saudi who may or may not be extradited back to Saudi Arabia?

MR. FOLEY: Do you have a question?

QUESTION: Well, what are you hearing from the Saudis on this one? I mean, have they applied --

MR. FOLEY: Well, they have indicated that they will seek Mr. Al-Sayegh's extradition to Saudi Arabia. That's really all I have.

QUESTION: Nothing in paper yet from them.

MR. FOLEY: Nothing that we regard as a formal definitive request.

QUESTION: Is there anything more on the salmon suit?

MR. FOLEY: I have nothing terribly new on the subject. Deputy Secretary Talbott did meet with our facilitator, Mr. Ruckelshaus yesterday. I can get that for you in one second.

We're still in the process of talking and collecting information. That's true on both sides - on the part of the Canadian facilitator, Dr. Strangway, and on the part of Mr. Ruckelshaus. The consultations are ongoing.

In their meeting yesterday, the Deputy Secretary thanked Mr. Ruckelshaus for taking on this task, and heard a report from him on his initial contacts - both with the stakeholders on our side and also with Dr. Strangway, with whom he's been establishing a very good working relationship.

It's obviously a very difficult and complex issue. Mr. Ruckelshaus is working on developing a common US position in his role as facilitator.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: On the Aegean, do you have anything to my pending question since last time of the continued Turkish violations over the Aegean, since Turkish planes are crossing the islands, too? What is finally your position, if you have one?

MR. FOLEY: I gave my final position the other day, Mr. Lambros.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:05 P.M.)

[end of document]

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