THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Naples, Italy)
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
July 10, 1994
Palazzo Reale Naples, Italy
1:35 P.M. (L)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good afternoon. Why don't I begin by saying that President Clinton came out of this morning's meeting with a real sense of accomplishment. He felt that, first of all, the process worked well, here was engaged discussion among all the leaders; that he was delighted to see President Yeltsin, for the first time a full participant in the political dialogue at the summit. And he thought that the process itself was exceptionally worthwhile. And I think the others did as well.
Secondly, and you'll see when I go over the list of highlights, we all felt -- and the President mentioned this in particular -- that there was a very broad-based endorsement of many of the high priority items that the administration is working on -- some crisis operations and some longer-term things. And therefore, when you go down the list of subjects that was discussed during this three-hour period I think you'll find many of the things the administration has been working on, which, again, in a case by case basis, you will see not only had broad discussion of substance, but broad endorsement by the leaders themselves.
Going to the particulars, the statement begins with Bosnia, as you know. And it starts off with a very ringing endorsement of the Contact Group process, something in which the United States has taken a significant lead in over the past weeks. The ministerial meeting of July 5th came out with a statement that you're all aware of, and the President intervened quite energetically at this point, highlighting and changing the language in the communique to reflect the fact that if after the July 19 deadline one of the parties -- and everybody knows who that party might be; namely, the Bosnian Serbs -- refuses to endorse the plan, there will be certain consequences, certain measures that will be enacted, implemented by the Contact Group and the international community.
There was full agreement in the meeting this morning that this had to be the case. We're aware that the list of measures do include at some point as a last resort the multilateral lifting of the arms embargo. They did not get into detail about what would happen when. If the deadline was not met by the Bosnian Serbs, the President felt and intervened quite actively on this point that there was perfect understanding among the leaders that this was going to be the consequence from that.
On North Korea, there was understandably a good deal of interest on the subject. The President was invited because of the deep involvement of the United States and our leadership on the issue to take the lead in the discussion of North Korea. What he did was to suggest specific language changes that reflect, as you saw from the communique and you'll see in the text, specific leaders' endorsement of the North-South summit proposal that had been agreed to by the South and the North several days ago, and also specific endorsement for the continuation of the talks between the United States and the DPRK. And throughout that discussion, he was asked in some detail about what the situation was in North Korea, what our assessment was, and again, the leaders came out with a very strong endorsement of the comprehensive strategy that we have been directing on North Korea.
Moving to some other items in the list, I'm not going to try to comment on all of them. On the Middle East, again there was very broad support for the kind of role the United States has played, the Gaza-Jericho process was highlighted, and certainly the Russian role in this peace process was also mentioned quite favorably.
There was also, I think, quite an historic and important reference which was clearer than had ever been the case in the past to the ending of the Arab boycott. There was a very clear, precise call for the ending of the Arab boycott and reinforced, made even more important by the fact that the Russians fully associated themselves with it.
I'd have to say the same thing on Iran where, for the first time, there was not only reference to Iranian behavior that the international community has not found acceptable, but a first-time reference to acts of terrorism on the part of the Iranian government -- here again, the whole effect of this meeting and the Chairman's statement was enhanced by the fact that President Yeltsin strongly endorsed the specific mention of terrorism with respect to the kinds of things about Iranian behavior which worry us the most.
The President talked a fair amount about Haiti, explaining what our policy was. Here again, he received very strong support -- endorsement from the other leaders about the need for the de factor regime in Port au Prince to mend its ways or to leave. We don't think that there's much of a chance that it will mend its ways, but the impatience of the leaders in reflecting on the on the situation in Haiti was, according to everyone involved, quite palpable in the room. There was a sense of, really, outrage generally shared at the behavior of the de facto regime in Haiti.
Various nonproliferation items were discussed, things high on our agenda -- namely, the comprehensive test ban, other nonproliferation goals of the United States.
And then with respect to the United Nations, our demands for reform of the international organization, efficiency, accountability, were picked up by the other leaders and reflected in the statement; and also our desire for a much more equitable burden sharing when it came to assessments, which is something that we have taken the lead on to try to get the United States to play a much more equitable -- disproportionate share of the peacekeeping fees was also endorsed.
The nuclear safety and organized crime were also very much part of the agenda. You may be hearing this from our Russian colleagues, but that was an issue that President Yeltsin and President Clinton were very much involved in. It's been the subject of a lot of dialogue between ourselves and the Russians. And here again, it was a major subject of conversation this morning.
Q This may not be correct. Did you really mean to say that the Haitians have an option to mend their ways or leave?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. I said that they did not -- since they were not about to mend their -- their was general agreement that they were not about to mend their ways, there was not any prospect of change of that regime; that therefore, the kind of increased sanctions that we have advocated were generally supported, and a growing sense of impatience in the room that the situation there was increasingly intolerable.
Q The military leaders have got to step down?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Absolutely.
Q Mending their ways is not good enough.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. No, that they are not about to mend their ways and, therefore, they must step down, they must leave, and that was felt very strongly and universally.
Finally, let me say that the President came away with a good feeling about the nature and the substance of the dialogue. He felt that there was a strong substantive endorsement for the kinds of things the administration considers to be of the highest priority. And many of the leaders afterwards made very clear that they felt that his personal participation on several of the items that I've highlighted to you made an enormous difference. And he felt very much engaged in the process and looked forward to continuing discussions with other leaders, including, of course, immediately President Yeltsin who he's meeting with now.
Q On to the problem in Bosnia, could you give us some idea of how much help the Russians are ready to provide to get the Serbs to agree to the math?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We felt, Barry, coming out of the ministerial meeting on July 5, that the Russians were fully prepared to play a very active role. As you know, Prime Minister Kozyrev has been to Belgrade since the meeting of the foreign ministers in Geneva. He made clear to them and then reported to us that he told Milosevic that the Contact Group operation was one that the Russians fully supported; that there would be consequences if, after the deadline, the Bosnian Serbs were unwilling to comply.
And I might add that he reported to his fellow foreign ministers separately in a meeting that took place at the same time as the leaders meeting, about his sessions in Belgrade.
Q Will Kozyrev be making any trip? You know, Jiuppe and Hurd are going to the Balkans --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Kozyrev has just been in Belgrade.
Q On Haiti, could you tell us the purpose -- why President Clinton decided to send so Saul Linowitz back to Panama to meet with President Endara, what's the purpose of the Linowitz mission?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think the purpose was to remain engaged with the Panamanian government and to continue to explain exactly what the nature of the safe haven policy is, what the rationale is, what the mechanics would be.
There is, as you know, going to be a change of administration in Haiti in the coming weeks and this would give -- sorry, in Panama in the coming weeks -- and this would give us an opportunity to explain to the current government, as well as the incoming administration, exactly what the rational was. And since Ambassador Linowitz was very much involved in the Panama Canal Treaty negotiations a dozen years ago, the President decided that he would be an ideal person to have these kinds of conversations.
Q Are they still under way or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know. I think he's either back today or tomorrow. I don't know.
Q Why would you want to send somebody on a mission like that when the Endara government, by the accounts from our government, has not only backed out on something it volunteered to do, but in so doing has said a lot of things about the behavior of American diplomats which our government says were absolutely false?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: All I can tell you is that when the Endara government was approached with the proposal that we send Ambassador Linowitz down, they welcomed it. They thought it was important to continue the dialogue, to understand maybe better than they had been previously exactly what the nature of our position was. And since Panama is a country with which we have important relations we felt that here was an opportunity to continue the conversations with that government, and also to see whether some members of the incoming Panamanian administration could also be engaged in this dialogue.
Q Prime Minister Jiuppe had indicated that the communique would have some stronger language on Haiti to the extent that they would endorse all necessary means to install Aristide. Why is the language a little less muscular?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That language was never presented. We felt that what we wanted in this part of the communique was a very strong endorsement of U.S. policies and expression of outrage at the behavior of the government. So, I mean, I can't answer what the French may have had in mind.
Q stop the flights?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We have not, to my knowledge, received a final confirmation from the French about received a final confirmation from the French about a date for the termination of those flights. But we are actively engaged with them in discussing the issue.
Q This October conference on organized crime, what are the objectives that are going to be sought there and what is the U.S. role -- how much is that our initiative? What are we aiming to get out of this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: On the October conference on organized crime, that is a conference organized here in Naples by the Italians. We were approached early on, some months ago, and since the whole question of organized crime, which, of course, is mentioned in a prominent way in the communique -- in the Chairman's statement, as you know, is a subject of very high-level interest in our government. We immediately agreed to participate actively.
I can't give you the full agenda, but we think the opportunities for very close cooperation not only among the countries represented here at the summit, but broader range of countries -- and many more will be here at Naples -- is quite opportune, quite important.
Q Can you describe for us the views that were expressed by the other leaders on American military intervention in Haiti?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I've got to tell you that during the morning, discussion of this issue -- the leaders really wanted to understand the framework of our policy and our concerns. We did not get into a level of detail which discussed various options, but there was a high degree of support for the overall thrust of American policy, for our analysis of the situation. There was no specific questioning, though, of any particular hypothetical option.
Q Was the President asked about military intervention in Haiti?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: To my knowledge, it was not raised specifically.
Q No one express any reluctance about the possibility of such an intervention -- there was no one?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The answer is, no, there was not.
Q When you mentioned the Air France flights, you said there was no word on the date for the cutoff on the flight. Bud do you mean to imply there is an agreement in principle with the French government that these flights will be cancelled?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I didn't mean to imply that. I mean, it's our hope, obviously, that all countries will find it possible to cut off all commercial air traffic, and that's a subject of discussion between ourselves and the French government.
Q Why does it take so long; what is the problem?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's not a question that we should be able to answer. We just hope that there will be a positive decision as soon as possible.
Q Was the communique revised in any way to reflect President Yeltsin -- did Yeltsin want anything changed in the statement?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He did contribute quite actively. I can't tell you whether there was any textural change that he asked for.
Q language refer to Estonia? Can number 9 be applicable -- rights of persons belonging to national minorities? I mean Latvia -- sorry.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sorry, I can't hear you very well.
Q Does number 9 refer to Latvia? Is that what that's about?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Number 9?
Q Rights of persons --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. We're talking about general U.N. activities. There was no specific reference to any part of the world --
Q Would it be reasonable to --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The point was that there was no specific discussion of Latvia in this connection.
Q You mentioned there was no specific deadline to restore multilateral lifting of the embargo against Bosnia if the Serbs don't behave under this ultimatum, or whatever you want to call it. Nevertheless, the language expresses very strong impatience and a desire for quick resolution of this conflict. What sense can you give us, generally, as to how early the arms embargo against Bosnia might be lifted by all of the countries if, in fact, the Serbs maintain their opposition to the Contact Group plan?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was really no sense of timing. I mean, I think you're right to say that,as I reflected before, there was a great sense of urgency. The leaders really are demanding that responses by the parties -- especially by the Bosnian Serbs -- come ahead on the 19th or 20th of this month, which is the deadline that was presented by the Contact Group. And it was clear that if, at that point, there is not agreement by the Bosnian Serbs, the international community should begin active consideration of the whole range of consequences that were described by the Contact Group.
Q Alternatively, are you now assuming that with all their reservations, the Bosnian Muslims will comply with the Contact Group?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, we have received word, and it's been announced, that the Bosnian government is prepared to recommend to its Parliament on the 18th of this month acceptance of the Contact Group proposals. And we believe that's a sincere commitment on their part. There is a legislative requirement for them involved. But, yes, we have every reason to believe that they are absolutely firm and clear with respect to their support for the Contact Group plan.
Q Can you discuss the importance of Yeltsin signing off on the Bosnian language? And what other threats, besides lifting the arms embargo, are really being considered or were talked about?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, in a sense, Yeltsin signing on to the Bosnian language is not really a surprise because the Russians, of course, have been part of the Contact Group process. And what this language does, above all, is to support the work of the Contact Group. But again, the President made a deliberate effort to make sure that everyone was clear on the consequences that the Bosnian Serbs would risk if they did not agree to the plan by the 19th. And Yeltsin, of course, who's been very much part of the process -- Russia being part of the Contact Group -- of course, subscribed to that.
Q On that point, you spoke of a full agreement. Does that extend to the lifting of the arms embargo, did everyone agree to that particular point?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not sure I --
Q Was there full agreement if the Serbs reject this plan? Does that extend to all the steps including the lifting of the arms embargo?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, I mean the -- the question is, does the lifting of the arms embargo follow from the list of consequences if the Serbs do not agree? I mean, all I can say --
Q Did everyone agree?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Everyone agreed that that should be a consequence to be considered seriously by the international community, along with other consequences. There was no decision on timing or sequence. But there was agreement that the multilateral lifting of the arms embargo should be considered along with other consequences if one of the parties -- in this case, the Bosnian Serbs -- refused to endorse the Contact Group proposal.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END1:55 P.M. (L)