THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Paris, France)
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
June 7, 1994
The National Assembly Paris, France
6:20 P.M. (L)
Q What's happened today on Bosnia [name deleted]? The President met with Chuck Redman, apparently. Can you give us some --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Why don't I start just in shorthand? The speech is designed -- the President, for the last few days, has been talking about what his generation owes to the previous generations that fought in World War II, and then prevailed in the Cold War. And he said now it was our obligation to build on the future. And the point of the speech today was, with regard to Europe, to lay out his vision as he did on a previous trip to Europe of an integrated, broader Europe in which peace is defined through integration rather than through division. And you heard the speech and I won't go on about that.
If you've got any questions about his meetings today with Chirac and Balladur --
Q Can you tell us about Korea, about the --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was really -- in both bilaterals a relatively brief discussion of Korea, and in both cases, the President expressed our very firm intention to pursue the issue of sanctions at the Security Council, and the French -- both officials said, as I recall, that they very much supported that position; there was no disagreement and not very much discussion.
Q Did they want a stronger position from the United States?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. In each case, they said that they agreed --
Q And can you just say what your reaction is to the Korean announcement that they will not permit inspection ever of the two other waste disposal sites?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I just heard about that. I've been on the fly all day and I haven't seen it. It's often important to see the context, so I'd rather not -- let me finish, okay? So I don't want to give a specific reply to a statement that I haven't read or seen its context. But in general, let me say that this decision is really up to the North Koreans. They have certain obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty which they signed.
If they wish to go down the path of engagement with the international community, then they can do so. If they choose the path that in recent days they seem to have been choosing, then they face isolation and a much harder future than their people deserve. That is their choice, the ball is in their court, and we will see what they decide.
Q But the truth is that so far, you haven't really gotten a promise from China to go along with you on these sanctions. Isn't that really important for us?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The point of the discussions now at the Security Council is to build a consensus behind sanctions. The Chinese, if you've seen their statements over recent days, have by no means said that they will veto such a resolution. They're not in the habit of announcing in advance of what their final position will be, publicly, and we will work this through in our discussions with them. But we are --
Q So can you say at this point --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can't predict a Chinese decision; I truly can't. Nobody could. But we are not at all discouraged by the public position that they have been taking over the past few days.
Was there a Bosnia here somewhere? Okay, Korea?
Q Why will sanctions work on Korea if they haven't worked against Serbia and Haiti? What is different here? They're even more isolated than those countries. Why will sanctions work?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sanctions against Korea would be designed to do two things: one is, for the sake of the nonproliferation regime elsewhere, it is important to show that there are penalties for breaking your international obligations. Secondly, the North Korean economy is in truly terrible shape, and we believe that sanctions can have an impact there. Third, I would argue that sanctions against Serbia have had an impact. That certainly is the impression that we have gotten over the months from Milosevic as he has encouraged the Bosnian Serbs to be more flexible than they have been. And, fourth, the tightened Haiti sanctions are just beginning to come into effect. You've seen activities now on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic that offer some hope that that border can get tightened up, in which case the sanctions could bite.
Q report in the paper about the situation in Yugoslavia, that they've been able to overcome great inflation.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, it is true that with regard to inflation they -- and to the financial sanctions, that for the past three or four months they were able to stabilize the dinar. But apparently they did it, at least in important part, by pulling out a lot of money that had been stashed away from the World War II period. And when that runs out we will see what happens to their economy then. And that could be sooner rather than later.
Q If they won't permit inspection of those two other disposal sites, is there no other alternative to make up for the removal of the 300 key fuel rods? Wasn't that the only alternative?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think if they did not allow those -- if they do not allow those inspections in the future, it would be very difficult, extremely difficult to determine what happened in 1989.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, first of all, Ambassador Redman came to meet with the President for, I'd say, about 15 minutes at the residence simply to fill him in on where we are now in the two sets of talks that are going on. One being the talks, as the President said, called by Akashi to try to negotiate a cessation of hostilities; and the other being the work in the Contact Group to work through a proposal for a final settlement, which can then be taken to the two sides.
It's much too early to tell whether or what kind of progress we might be able to make in the coming days. The reason for that meeting was that since Ambassador Redman was here in the same city and this is a very important issue, we thought it would be useful for him to get together with the President.
In the bilateral meetings, there was a discussion in both about how then we can encourage further progress. In both cases there was an absolute agreement that the only way to resolve the issue is through a political settlement and not through further military action. And there was a rather -- I think the key part of it was that there was quite a direct discussion of how best the United States and France can work together on this issue. There was a recognition that last year we had had occasional disagreements which had only the effect of encouraging the parties to believe -- and especially the Serbs -- to believe that they could drive wedges between us.
They agreed that in recent weeks we had been working much better together, including in our joint efforts at the end to gain the Sarajevo ultimatum, and that it was of extraordinary importance that we work absolutely in lockstep now in the coming weeks.
Q In terms of that, it seems that you've now adopted the French -- you're supporting the four-month ceasefire, which the Muslims are against and the Serbs are for. What is that about? I mean, you're presenting a united front, but it's much less supportive of democracy.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, we have always been for a cessation of hostilities linked to negotiations on a final settlement. And that remains our position, that you -- as you know, the Serbs are most interested in the cessation of hostilities. The Bosnian government is most interested in the final settlement. And today -- the context of today's discussion was absolutely that we have to move on both tracks at once.
Q Is the U.S. more inclined to accept the view that the French have had about the division of the former Yugoslavia? No?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. I think our differences in the past have not been strategic but more tactical from time to time. We have moved towards the European position in recent weeks in agreeing that it made sense to put forward a proposal along the lines of the 51-49 map. There, we have moved toward the European position.
I would say that they have, in this process, agreed that we must not impose a settlement on the parties even as we urge the parties to accept one. But in strategic terms, I don't think there ever has been a big difference.
Q There's always been a sense that the French were much willing to pressure the Bosnians to take a deal than the U.S. was. And the Bosnians have always looked at the U.S. as the ones who are going to keep them from getting a bad settlement crammed down their throats. Can they still count on you?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It remains our position that we will not force a settlement on the parties because such a settlement would be very difficult to implement since the parties would not have perceived it as in their interest. At the same time, we agree with the Europeans that we must use our influence with them to try to gain a settlement because a military solution to this terrible conflict is simply not in prospect for either side.
Q supported the Akashi proposal for a lengthy cessation of hostilities -- you've always supported cessation, but not this long.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We're not saying that a cessation of hostilities has to be four months. We're saying, if there is a four-month cessation, we would support that. If the parties were to agree to some other period of time, we would support that as well. The essential thing is to support the cessation of hostilities.
Q Akashi plan is that --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure, yes, yes. But the Akashi plan is not built around the immutability of four months. Four months is an effort to try to find a period of time that might be acceptable to both sides.
I really am going to have to run in a second.
Q Is this the first time he has done that, endorsed Akashi?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think, probably, yes.
Q Was there any discussion about --
Q Did they talk about the duration of the French role in the U.N. force? He mentioned French troops being --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President emphasized the usefulness and, indeed, also the bravery of the UNPROFOR troops. The French gave no indication that under the current circumstances that they were preparing to remove UNPROFOR troops. Of course, that is a decision that would have to be made by the French government, and not one that an American official should speak for them on.
Q Did they say under what circumstances they would feel it necessary to remove them?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, not in any detail, no.
Q Was there any daylight between Balladur and Chirac on this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The discussion with Chirac was much more brief about Bosnia than with Balladur.
I've got to run.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END6:31 P.M. (L)