THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 25, 1994
PRESS BRIEFING BY U.N. AMBASSADOR MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
Intercontinental Hotel New York, New York
3:00 P.M. EDT
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: Well, it's very nice to be with you all, and we're very glad to have you all up here.
Let me just say that one of the hallmarks of President Clinton's foreign policy has been to work closely with the United Nations, because we see that there area number of issues where the United Nations' role can be very instrumental in a complementary way with the United States.
It is particularly appropriate at this moment because, as we are looking at the Haiti operation, that, of all operations at the moment, is truly showing a classic cooperation between one state, a multinational coalition and a United Nations peacekeeping mission that will follow on. And also, in terms of Bosnia, though, as you all know, we all know, there have been some aspects of it that have been difficult, there is no question that the cooperation between the U.S., U.N. and NATO is one that also is pointing to a direction of how many regional problems can be solved and worked on together.
This afternoon, President Clinton is going to be meeting with the Secretary General. They are going to be talking about Haiti and how to make a very smooth transition occur between the multinational phase and the UNMIH, the U.N. peacekeeping operation. And so they will be discussing Haiti and how to make sure that the transition between the multinational phase and the U.N. UNMIH phase, how to make sure that it works smoothly.
They will also be talking about Bosnia, and then a series of issues to do with U.S.-U.N. relations, probably on funding issues and assuring closer cooperation.
Then the President is going to be meeting with President Izetbegovic. We see this as a critical time and potentially a turning point in the Bosnian crisis. And, therefore, we do think that this is also a very important meeting.
Finally, the President is going to be coming up to my residence in order to host a reception for African leaders. It is, obviously, because the President of the General Assembly this year is an African, and also it gives the President an opportunity to discuss with these African leaders our interests in development issues and the health of the African continent, one about which we care a great deal.
So we have in this initial pre-UNGA day, pre-General Assembly session day, a series of important speeches which -- important meetings, which I think really kind of set the tone of what the President is going to be working on during the day that he's here.
Q May I ask you a little bit more about Bosnia? Could you give us your latest appraisal of what type of peacekeeping operation is likely to remain on the ground should the administration lift the arms embargo against Bosnia; and your own assessment of whether the fighting would increase or the level of fighting would stay about the same? In other words, the threats of the British and French and all to pull out -- will all hell break loose, and will this be something the President will try to avert during his stay here?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: Well, one of the things we've been doing is working very closely with not only the members of the U.N., the UNPROFOR group, but also within the Contact Group, and the kinds of issues that you're talking about aren't being discussed in that setting. And it is my own feeling that, although we may not all always have exactly the same pacing in terms of what we're doing, we certainly have a common interest to make sure that the crisis in Bosnia ends and that BosniaHerzegovina is -- and the Federation, are, in fact, in place and that there is multiethnic Bosnia.
So I would say that nothing is set in stone at the moment. We want -- all of us -- to have the exclusion zones enforced. We all are determined to have the Bosnian Serbs accept the map. That's what this is still about. And therefore, I think, speculating about other parts of this - we are -- what I think this session is going to be important about, because everybody will be here, is to show the Contact Group united effort to make sure that the Bosnian Serbs accept the map.
Q Small follow up, please. Some of us saw the Prime Minister on Friday and -- of course, the President is going to see President Izetbegovic. They feel, of course, betrayed. You spoke of enforcing the safe zones; they thought the promise was they would be expanded if the Bosnian Serbs kept up their fighting, as they are keeping it up. Are you going to do -- do you anticipate any expansion of these havens?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: We're going to be talking about that, and I think also in all of our meetings with the Prime Minister, he obviously wants us to move forward and be supportive. And I think that in the course of the next days, you will see that the relationship is a very strong one, that they understand that; that is, the Bosniacs, that we are going to be working with them to make sure that the process is moving forward in a positive way and that there will not be a sense of having been abandoned.
Q Ambassador, can you give us a brief preview of the President's General Assembly speech tomorrow?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: Well, it is still in the process of being worked on. But the general themes are that the commonness of purpose that the United States feels with other countries in the U.N.; the importance of pursuing democracy and free market development; the importance of this generation building on what the previous generation did with the United Nations; and a stress that we need to not just celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.N., but think about what it should be doing in the future; and then looking at how the U.S. role in the world fits in with this commonality of purpose in really supporting democracy and free markets. So those are very general themes.
Q Ambassador, what degree do you think the fire fight over the weekend in Haiti will accelerate efforts in Congress to pass a resolution that would set a deadline for removing the troops?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: I think, first of all, that was one incident in what has been, I think, an amazingly successful operation. Let me just say, because having help put this together and press the resolution in the United Nations, to me, what has been so interesting is that it was possible for the Pentagon to turn around from having what was basically a very robust military operation entering into a hostile environment, be turned around into a robust operation entering into a peaceful environment and adjusting various aspects of it to deal with a new situation. And every day, I think, has brought progress.
That is not to say that there have not been bumps in the road and will not be bumps in the road. It is also my sense that as Congress sees that we are -- have, in fact, been working and will continue to work on a good handoff strategy to the United Nations -- which is why the meetings are so important -- I think that there will not be the sense that we are into something open-ended. I think Congress is afraid that we are into something open-ended when we know very clearly that we are not.
Q Why did you say this is a turning point in the Bosnian crisis?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that we are all working very closely to try not to have some of the issues that Barry raised in terms of problems with UNPROFOR. The Secretary General has indicated that he doesn't know where UNPROFOR -- what the next phases are. We're coming up to the deadline on lifting the arms embargo. We had a set of sanctions resolutions that we passed late Friday.
So there are a series of issues in terms of where we're looking at the relationship between the Serbs and the Bosnian Serbs, the exclusion zone question. There are just an awful lot of issues. And I meant "turning point" only in the following way, which is that you have a critical mass of people here that are all interested in this issue who will be within a small area of New York City talking to each other about an issue that is important. So I think if you kind of look at, as we used to say, the correlation of forces, I think that there are just a lot of issues on the table with interesting people to discuss them.
Q Have you sounded out some of the allies about lifting the U.N. embargo against Haiti? And will the President pursue that while he's here?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: Let me say that the Security Council resolution was very closely tied to the return of President Aristide to Haiti in order to lift the arms embargo. And as I have reported on what we have done in terms of our multinational force, there have been questions as to -- and also there were -- it was alleged that we might lift the embargo. There's a very strong feeling against that here at the U.N. People believe that we should stick by the Security Council resolution.
And they also understand, which I hope others do, is that we are able, through the humanitarian exclusion that has always been there with the embargo, to deliver large amounts of assistance. One of the reasons we were not able to do it before was that there was no delivery system. Now, 14,000 American forces are there, which makes it considerably easier.
We're also looking at ways that the aspect of the Security Council resolution that says "all necessary means to provide a secure and stable environment" does allow us to make sure that more goes into Haiti without actually having to lift the arms embargo, which we believe should be tied to President Aristide's return.
I'm afraid I have to go to these meetings. Thank you very much.
END3:12 P.M. EDT