THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
2:10 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: The President, as I indicated, has been working with his senior foreign policy advisers to address the humanitarian situation in eastern Zaire. I'm going to go through a statement that we'll have a copy for you of, and then take some questions related to that.
The United States has been increasingly concerned that the humanitarian situation in eastern Zaire is deteriorating. There are thousands of lives that may be at risk by reports of a recent outbreak of cholera among the refugee population along the border and deeper now into Zaire. We've been working urgently to define the role a possible security force could play in a larger humanitarian operation in eastern Zaire.
Part of this process has involved extensive consultations with the government of Canada, which as I think many of you know, has offered to lead a multinational humanitarian force. The United States welcomes Canada's offer to lead the multinational force. It's a move that will clearly demonstrate the will of others in the international community to assume a fair share of the burden for the operations that we project will be underway to save lives in Zaire.
The President reviewed our efforts to address the situation in Zaire this morning in a telephone call with Prime Minister Chretien. The conversation was around 11 o'clock this morning, lasted about 15 minutes. It really was a culmination of several days of work that have involved National Security Adviser Anthony Lake and others, working through the question of how to structure and stipulate the particulars of this type of humanitarian effort.
Last night a delegation of senior Canadian officials met with a U.S. delegation that was headed by National Security Adviser Lake, and those conversations resulted in a general agreement on the mission definition, command and control arrangements, and the duration of the mission. I'm going to walk through some of the particulars that we have now identified that will be addressed.
I'd say at first, though, to summarize it in general, the results of all the conversations that have occurred within the United States government, with those that we have consulted within the international community, and clearly the call between Prime Minister Chretien and the President, has led the President to decide that the United States is willing in principle to participate in a limited fashion in this humanitarian mission, as long as certain conditions are stipulated to.
First, we need to be able to validate some core assumptions that we made about the nature of the mission. Those regard the nature of the threat, the environment in which a multinational force would insert itself into the region, the availability of other properly trained and equipped forces so that it would truly be a multinational effort. And the consent of concerned countries in the region that would have to provide assistance in basing and routing so that the force could be effective.
Second, the mission of the force would have to be very clearly defined. The mission of the force would be both to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid by civilian relief organizations and to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of refugees by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. There is an extraordinary amount of very courageous work being done by nongovernmental organizations and others currently addressing the very desperate humanitarian situation that over a million refugees now face in the area. The principal goal is to assist them in their work and to make sure they can conduct their operations in a safe manner.
There's also, simultaneously, a need to work with UNHCR to assure that those who have fled Rwanda can voluntarily repatriate themselves to their homes. In saying that, I would also say the mission of this force would not be to disarm militants, to conduct any type of forced entry, or to police some of the operations in the refugee camps that have now been established in the border region.
Third, this force would operate as a multinational force. It would have very robust rules of engagement that military planners at the Pentagon have been exploring with their counterparts in other governments. Following, we would expect the United Nations Security Council to authorize this multinational force most likely in an effort led by Canada to bring the issue before the Security Council for their review. It would operate under Chapter 7 rules under the U.N. Charter. It would therefore not be what we would typically think of as a blue-helmet operation.
Fourth , the cost of the mission would be borne by participating states. However, there need to be additional arrangements to support the participation by African nations. We think it's very important that forces from the region be a part of this multinational force, but clearly the costs of that should not be borne by those who would be force contributors, or at least should not be borne entirely by force contributors from the region. There would have to be arrangements worked out to enlist the support of non-troop-contributing countries.
Fifth, we envision that the humanitarian mission as it has been defined and as we currently assess it would be of limited duration, about four months. We're discussing with other nations the need for a follow-on presence beyond that time to ensure that there was not a return of the conditions that have led to this current humanitarian crisis.
Sixth, the contribution of the United States as we have identified the role that we could uniquely play in such an operation would consist of airport security around the airfield near Goma, which has been a principal point of delivery for humanitarian supplies and for those who are conducting relief operations, assistance in airlifting, deploying forces to the region -- in other words, participating in establishing the air bridge to the region, airfield services, the provision of security along approximately three-mile a corridor from Goma to the Rwandan border.
And we anticipate a significant number of those U.S. troops that would be deployed as part of this mission would actually be based outside of Zaire in neighboring countries. So in total you might have a large force of several thousand -- different estimates now because we're still assessing what type of U.S. contribution would be made. But the bulk of our deployment to the region would not necessarily be in Zaire on the ground, although we would place forces on the ground in Zaire as part of the multinational effort.
As always, U.S. forces -- and I want to stress this -- U.S. forces would remain at all times under U.S. command while serving under the operational control of a commanding officer; in this case, the commanding officer would be a Canadian officer. The United States would most likely provide the deputy commander to the Canadian commanding officer. But all the troops operating in Zaire would be under U.S. commanders. In other words, the tactical command structure would be with a U.S. commander in charge of units or forces deployed and they would retain, as they always would anywhere in the world, the direct chain of command authority to the Commander-In-Chief.
Now, where are we now? We've got, as some of you know, a military assessment team that has made its way to the region. They're assessing, obviously, things like the threat environment, what the security requirements would be, what type of infrastructure would be there to support the deployment of a force. We simultaneously have a humanitarian disaster assistance relief team from USAID that is present in the region just looking at what the humanitarian needs are. They are all, as they make these assessments, feeding back information both to the Pentagon and to others in our government so we can make a rational calculation on how to structure and size the force we're talking about.
The President has directed the National Security Adviser to go meet with Canadian officials and others, most likely in New York tomorrow, to put final touches on a proposed mission. He reserves the right to review that before making any final decisions related to deployment, but again, to summarize, in principle he agrees that U.S. participation in this important humanitarian effort is vital; it reflects our humanitarian concerns about the situation that exists now in eastern Zaire.
Q Mike, the President has just been reelected after a campaign in which he promised repeatedly, spoke repeatedly of the need for the United States to lead in the world. Here we have the first international crisis out of the box and somebody else is leading. Why?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President has said many times that the United States sometimes has unique leadership responsibilities in this world. But at the same time, he has indicated that we are not the world's superpoliceman to address each and every condition that exists anywhere in the world. In fact, it is encouraging that in this case a very close and trusted ally of the United States, the government of Canada, has stepped forward and offered to put together this force. We nonetheless see how important it is for us to participate in it. I think there are others who would be more likely to participate given U.S. participation.
But as we did in Goma in 1994, we confine our role sometimes in efforts to address situations like this to those areas where we can provide unique capabilities. Now, we've got some unique capabilities we can provide here in terms of airlift, providing assistance in logistics, and we do recognize the importance of having a U.S. force participate on the ground in some aspects of the mission itself.
Q Can you explain how Canada came to be the big player here? Usually the lead player will be someone with historic or other special, vital interests in the place. What happened here? Was the United States just not particularly attuned to this because of the campaign, or what happened?
MR. MCCURRY: No, not at all. In fact, I would go back two weeks. We have had a series of very senior diplomats working with other governments that do, as you say, have some historic interests on the continent, working to address the finding. Ambassador Richard Bogosian, who's been our special coordinator for Rwanda and Burundi, has been in place in the region for some time working between Kinshasa and Kigali to attempt to bridge the differences, attempt to negotiate a cease-fire. He's been working very closely with Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's representative, Ambassador Chretien, who is Prime Minister Chretien's nephew.
These diplomatic efforts so far have produced discussion; they have not produced the kind of agreement for a cease-fire in place that we would want to see as one of the conditions in understanding what the threat environment would be. Nor have they produced a general agreement so far about the insertion of a force. Now, that relates to your question. There have been concerns expressed in the region about some who have stepped forward in the international community to suggest that they should play a lead role. That was one of the things that, diplomatically, we needed to work through in our consultations, and sometimes those with historic ties in the region are in a less -- less favorable circumstances arise for their leadership.
That's clearly what happened here. It's one of the things that we have attempted to address. It's one of the reasons why, for well over two weeks now, we've been engaged in consultations and then very intensive telephone conversations that National Security Adviser Lake has had with the governments of Great Britain, France, Canada, and then others in the region within the last several days.
Q Mike, you spoke of an overall force package of several thousand troops. How many troops are you talking about on the ground in Zaire for perimeter security -- Goma and the corridor from the airport to the border?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the overall structure of that multinational force is one that will be determined as senior military commanders from various governments work together with their counterparts. General Shalikashvili has already had discussions of that nature with his counterparts, particularly with some of the Canadian uniformed officers that would be in a leadership role here.
We have anticipated in rough numbers and, again, you know, part of the assessment is still underway, a U.S. contribution here in the neighborhood of roughly 1,000 ground troops in Zaire. But I want to make clear that there could be several thousand beyond that that would participate in the ancillary activities -- establishing the air bridge, doing some of the logistics, other things that we've looked at.
So we've got a general sense of the size of the U.S. contribution we're talking about, but, of course, that has to be fully integrated with those who will be offering troops from other countries.
Q In Zaire, you're talking about the airport and its relatively immediate environs?
MR. MCCURRY: Talking about these things -- the things that I identified: the airport security around Goma airfield; the assistance in airlifting deployed forces; airfield services; provision of security along the corridor that they want to establish running from Goma over to the Rwanda border.
Q How long is that?
MR. MCCURRY: Three miles long, I believe.
Q So everybody on the ground in Zaire would be close to the airport, right?
MR. MCCURRY: They would be in the general vicinity of Goma.
Q What's the outside number? You say several thousand. No more than --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the sources -- some of you have got sources from the Pentagon saying under 5,000. That even seems somewhat high based on some of the things I've seen. But that's probably an eyeball estimate, not a bad one, under 5,000. I've heard other suggested it wouldn't be any higher than 4,000, but that will depend on, you know, again, the final cut on a mission plan that would be put together after we work through details. There would have to be some decisions.
You know, this is -- I've given you a very good understanding now of what our conditions are, what are identification of a proper mission has been.
Going back to Brit's question, I'd say, really, for the last maybe three weeks this issue arose somewhat when Secretary Christopher was in Africa recently, because there was growing concern that some of the fighting might trigger another movement of refugees who have been parked over the border in Zaire. That did, indeed, happen. So we've watched that situation unfold in the time, really, since Secretary Christopher was in Africa. We've had, you know, urgent diplomatic consultations underway, had some of our folks working it, certainly working at the United Nations as well.
But we began really about two weeks ago to -- first at a lower level and then moving up to the President's principal national security advisers. We'd be, again, addressing the question if there was going to be some type of multinational force to address this humanitarian situation, what should it look like. Part of the concern were a number of governments stepped forward initially with what we felt were less than complete offers of assistance, less than complete mission plans.
So we began working what would be the nature, duration of the mission; what was the reasonable probability of success in addressing the situation on the ground; and then how best could we work with other governments to address that need. And, again, I would compliment the government of Canada, which worked through many of those same issues with us, arrived at -- based on the consultations that have occurred with the very acceptable definition of mission that allows us in principle to indicate our willingness to participate. We've now got to go back and get a final iron-through on that. And, of course, the Security Council would have to authorize the mission under the terms that I stipulated to, a Chapter 7 mission.
Q You talked about the potential for threat, and you have several thousand, tens of thousands of militia and other military people in the region. Do you have any agreement from them and do you have to have an agreement with their cooperation? Also, a secondary question, will you feed them as well, if they are in those camps? How will you separate them from the --
MR. MCCURRY: And, again, note that I said we would not make an effort to separate out militia forces. As a practical matter that would be next to impossible. At the same time, based on the work that Ambassador Bogosian has done, but more particularly and more directly the consultations that Ambassador Chretien has had on behalf of the United Nations, there would have to be agreements by both Rwanda and Zaire regarding this force and there would have to be an understanding by forces deployed on the ground, or at least those who are in a position to influence forces on the ground because the nature and makeup of some of the rebel factions in the region is a little difficult discern at times. But we know and believe that there are those who have got influence or are in a position to influence those forces. There would need to be an agreement that this would be a non-hostile environment for the insertion of a force. This is not a force that would be equipped or prepared to fight its way in. It would have to be a force that would go in with the complicity of governments in the region.
Q How do you get that?
Q Do you have it?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, you get that through the diplomacy that's underway at this very moment.
Q So you don't have that agreement right now?
MR. MCCURRY: No, and that's one of the reasons why the conditional acceptance of this mission, in our view, depends on gaining that type of assurance on the environment. At the same time, this is not a risk-free environment by any means, and it has to be a force that is prepared and equipped to defend itself, which is one of the reasons why our Pentagon has been so careful in addressing what the composition, size of the force would be, and what type of -- how it would be equipped to deal with any threat.
Q Mike, are you seeking those agreements from the regional governments and, if so, what guarantee do you have that these governments can control these militia forces?
MR. MCCURRY: From governments in the region and others. That's because it's a complicated situation on the ground, with rival factions in one way or another allied with or perhaps allied with Tutsi factions, Hutu factions. There has to be some general understanding of what the rules of the road would be on the ground, and that's what we're attempting to clarify now.
Q So when do you expect a final decision and some sort of announcement -- what sort of announcement by the President?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President himself would want at the proper point to say we've worked some of the issues that remain. That will depend on how Tony Lake's consultations go, depend on what type of review the Security Council makes of the situation, it will depend on the reports we get from the assessment team that's gone in there to look at exactly these questions -- who controls the ground, what type of control structure does there exist for some of these factions, in many cases tribal leaders who may be allied with other factions in the region.
Q You could be talking about a week here.
MR. MCCURRY: Not necessarily. I mean, look, there are people -- if it is true that -- and we don't have any reason to doubt it -- if it's true that they've now got reported of cholera -- it's known that there is malnutrition -- we've got to close to a million people who are in peril and thousands of them who are about to die, so --
Q When do you want to see the first troops go?
MR. MCCURRY: -- we want to do it fairly urgently.
Q Hours, days?
MR. MCCURRY: When will be when we've got good assurance that these issues that we've identified can be satisfactorily resolved.
Q Well, you're expecting that to be days, not weeks, not then?
MR. MCCURRY: I would expect it to be days, and --
Q But not hours?
MR. MCCURRY: Maybe even hours. Tony Lake can work fast.
Q Where would these forces come from? Which --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there have been some -- I mean, we would leave it to individual governments to announce their willingness to participate --
Q I was talking about ours.
MR. MCCURRY: Where would ours be -- I can't tell you that. I can tell you that by the end of the week I expect the Pentagon would be in a position to brief you in greater detail on any force contribution the United States might make.
Q But they wouldn't -- if they're briefing us on a force contribution at the end of the week, presumably that force would not have left by then.
MR. MCCURRY: No. But there would be -- presumably not have left. They would not have gotten a deployment order until the President is satisfied that he's in a position to make a deployment order.
Q So they couldn't leave before when?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't --
Q The forces couldn't leave before when at the earliest?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't -- I haven't heard anything. I can't make -- I can't even speculate on that at this point.
Q Overall mission force size would be what? We're talking about under 5,000 --
MR. MCCURRY: There have been public -- I don't want to dispute any of the public accounts that suggest a force between 10,000 and 15,000, which is what the Canadians have projected in some of the things that they've said publicly.
Q Mike, this thing has Somalia written all over it in terms of the things you're trying to avoid -- the limitations you're putting on the mission. Can you talk a little bit about how that permeated the President's thinking --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, you know, a lot of the questions --why not now, why not now, why don't you go do something right away -- reflects our desire to have a very carefully constructed mission that avoids some of the pitfalls we've seen in the past.
Q Mike, you say that we're not going to be disarming anyone; on the other hand, you want the food to get people back into the country. If you don't disarm the people that have essentially been holding people hostage, how do you get them to move?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the purpose of having a security force there is to make sure that it is an element of persuasion in allowing the humanitarian relief effort to do its work.
Q Has the President --
Q You can't disarm anyone? I mean, what kind of element of persuasion?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, it is with robust rules of engagement and properly sized and tasked, we believe it would be in a position to be of assistance to those providing humanitarian relief.
Q Mike, will the U.N. play any role in this?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the Security Council would have to authorize, under Chapter 7, the deployment of a multinational force. It would be not unlike the kind of acceptance the Security Council gave to the U.N. mission in Haiti. It would be that type of authorization by the Security Council.
Q What other outside countries would U.S. troops be in? What countries outside Zaire?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I don't, as a rule -- we have not -- we would need to go an arrange hosting arrangements with those governments, but there are a number of governments in the general vicinity where we have successfully gotten assistance in the past. Maybe an indirect way of answering that question is, look back to the Goma operation in 1994 and look at the assistance we got from governments like Kenya, like Uganda, like Rwanda, and assume that we're talking about something that, while may be larger and more complicated and certainly somewhat more dangerous, a similar type of humanitarian effort.
Q Mike, what has been the breadth and depth of congressional consultation on this mission, and what have they said to you on both sides of the aisle?
MR. MCCURRY: The President raised this with the leadership yesterday, as you know, and talked it through, and then there have been a series of consultation calls that have occurred this morning, walking leading members of the relevant congressional committees through some of those same things I've identified for you.
Q Has there been any
Q What's the reaction?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll let them speak for themselves.
Q But is the food only going to go into Zaire? Would there be any food over the border back in Rwanda?
MR. MCCURRY: The goal is to seek a voluntary repatriation back into Rwanda, so that one of the things they are looking at -- basically humanitarian routes or routings that would allow people to voluntarily return to Rwanda and there would need to be assurance of some provision of assistance for those who would need it, so there would have to be coordination.
I think, if I'm not mistaken, that some of the NGOs are doing work on both sides of the border already, so it wouldn't be confined to eastern Zaire or to the camps that have been established north and south of Lake Kivu, but it would be in that general vicinity.
Q How fast might food get there under the most optimistic scenario?
MR. MCCURRY: Some is moving now, and one of the things we are watching very carefully is seeing how the arrangements that have been made for the movement of some humanitarian relief -- how is that working now, what kind of environment are relief workers finding themselves in as they do the work now. It's been sporadic, but, in fact, up until two days ago, I think, it was impossible to get convoy traffic back and forth and impossible to move stuff from its landing point by truck into some of the camps. But they are now getting some relief supplies in. We're watching that carefully. And one of the things our team is doing out there is assessing how the humanitarian effort is doing.
Q Mike, you mentioned four months. Do you expect significant repatriation by then, or the food problem to be solved, or why four months?
MR. MCCURRY: One of the goals of the mission, the mission itself, would be to encourage and allow for voluntary repatriation, and ultimately allowing those innocent civilians who have fled Rwanda, allowing them to return to their lives, in western Rwanda principally, would be one of the goals, and that's ultimately one of the answers to the humanitarian situation that exists in the camps currently.
Q You talked about the need for a follow-on mission. Would that be to carry out the remainder of repatriation --
MR. MCCURRY: As you look long term, it's clear there's going to be a significant humanitarian need in that region, as we've already seen over the last two-plus years a significant humanitarian need already. That's likely to continue, but the best answer is to get people to return to their homes and return to places where they can engage in subsistence farming and the activities they undertook before fleeing.
Q Any time limit on the follow-on force?
MR. MCCURRY: That's -- all we're indicating is that there would need to be further discussions about what type of follow-up work would be done after the estimated period of up to four months -- about four months where we think this deployment would be necessary.
Q Can I just go back to where we started on this? Why is it that Canada had so much clearer a notion of what it could and could not do so much earlier than we did?
MR. MCCURRY: I think we had a pretty clear idea of what we would and would not do. We would not commit to an open-ended, ill-defined mission. We made that pretty clear in the consultations that we had. Canada has a historic role that they've played in peacekeeping operations. They obviously are proud of the work they have done. They were a key participant in the U.N. effort in Somalia, and had addressed this as a matter of some priority, I think in part because the Prime Minister's nephew was directly involved in the diplomacy. The Prime Minister has said publicly that he was encouraged to develop plans more directly by the reports he got from his family members.
Q In your list of the conditions you did not talk about exit from the country, and even with your troop estimates it is possible the Americans could make up the bulk of troops if you took the under 5,000 and the 15,000 figure you're taking about. Nonetheless --
MR. MCCURRY: No, we would make up significantly less than the bulk of the troops, as you can tell from what I outlined.
Q No, I mean, "larger of the groups" is the way I should have put that. But given that your entrance into Rwanda is minimally three miles, is there any commitment from the United States to assist any of the nations whose troops would be further into the countries should there be a problem that occurs or if this mission runs into serious trouble?
MR. MCCURRY: I frankly would need to leave -- that's an operational question that would be best left to the commanding officers that would structure the force. As you see in the deployment we have underway in Bosnia right now, they've got procedural tactics that allow them to address any hostile environment that develops. They've got units that are deployed for that purpose. But that would be a question that would reside with the commanding officer, although our troops clearly would be engaged in the types of things I've already identified for you. It doesn't indicate that type of role.
Q You talked about people being able to participate -- does that suggest that the rules of engagement have been determined?
MR. MCCURRY: No, it suggests that there would be further discussions of rules of engagement.
Q Has the President consulted leaders in the African-American community, like William Gray or Randall Robinson or Jesse Jackson?
MR. MCCURRY: He has had discussions -- I mean, frankly, during the course of the campaign this subject came up very often in meetings that he had with African-American leaders. The general humanitarian situation in Africa, particularly in Central Africa, in eastern Zaire in particular, is a subject he heard about often from leaders in the African-American community. I am not aware that in the last 24 hours he has made specific calls of consultation, but he's certainly had an ongoing dialogue with leaders in the community on humanitarian conditions in Africa and, in fact, was very interested in some of the reports generally on those issues that Secretary Christopher carried back based on his recent trip.
Also, as you know, we had Mr. Lake and Mr. Tarnoff from the State Department were in Paris recently for consultations with President Chirac on a number of issues, but this subject came up and, as I say, it's been an avid subject of discussion within our government for some time.
Q Mike, if the President was having consultations during the campaign, he certainly never spoke about this publicly out doing the campaign. Can you say why?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he had -- I mean, what I wanted to indicate is that this subject would come up from time to time as he met with African-American leaders much more urgently in that community -- came up questions that he addressed. In fact, I believe, if I'm not mistaken, he did talk from time to time about some of the concerns that had been raised by the leaders he met with. I know I can recall at least once or twice having briefed on some of the issues that have been raised.
Q But he never talked publicly about sending U.S. forces, yes?
MR. MCCURRY: No, but we had a situation develop here literally within the last three weeks, roughly the last three weeks, in the closing period of the campaign, or in the last week of the campaign I think this situation grew more dire and certainly the situation has deteriorated even in the last seven days.
Q Mike, this is one of the operations that we're sort of looking at in this present-day world; it's kind of a twilight area. Can you outline what the U.S. interest is in going into this part of the world for this kind of purpose?
MR. MCCURRY: Our interests here are largely humanitarian, to save lives.
Q But that's a level of commitment that is required at this point?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, look, the question was flipped around 180 degrees earlier -- why is Canada leading this effort. And I should let the Canadian government speak to that. But we have had humanitarian interests in that region, we have fought to stave off famine, we've worked hard in the Horn of Africa to reduce the risks of famine. We have made a deployment of U.S. forces to this exact region before to stem the effects of dehydration and malnutrition, and brought a unique capacity to bear in a very heroic effort to save lives. So we have an ongoing interest, humanitarian interest in saving the lives of refugees who are now at peril.
And, of course, we have a larger interest in stemming the violence and the fighting that has occurred on both sides of the Rwandan-Zairian border. There have been enormous crimes, even crimes of genocide that have occurred in that area and we have obvious interest in doing what we can with the community of nations to address a situation of that nature.
Q Mike, what other countries have pledged troops at this point?
MR. MCCURRY: There are I think about a dozen that have publicly identified themselves, or at least have responded. Most of these discussions have come subsequent to the announcement by Canada yesterday that they would be willing to lead this force. I don't --I wouldn't want to attempt to list all dozen or so, but that's basically available and it's probably out -- been discussed publicly. We would leave it to individual participating countries to talk about their own contribution. But a number of governments have said publicly now that they're willing to step forward. We think it's particularly important that this force include units from African nations, and that's the type of discussion that will be underway at the U.N.
Q Does the President plan to have an Oval Office address or some sort of address to the nation --
MR. MCCURRY: No. But I should tell you this is not --as you know, we're dealing with another issue related to a deployment of U.S. forces overseas almost simultaneously, that's the question of what happens after the expiration of the current implementation force in Bosnia. And that, we've now been presented with an assessment of the four options that have been under review by NATO military commanders. There is a North Atlantic Council meeting that is upcoming on Monday that is going to really get more deeply into the question of what kind of force ought to be available in Bosnia after the expiration of the IFOR. So that issue almost simultaneously the President has been addressing. I suspect sometime before departing he may want to speak publicly on both of these issues.
Q Mike, can you give us any kind of guidance on what nature of troops would be going? I mean, for military families who want to know, is my son going; what nature, where they might now be based.
MR. MCCURRY: I think the Pentagon will be in the best position to do that, Debra. I do not know. I know that they are going to be some type of, you know, armed units, particularly in the vicinity of Zaire. But it would be best for the Pentagon to do that because they could satisfy exactly the concern you expressed, those who would be a part of the participating force.
Q Mike, robust rules of engagement would presumably, as they always do, include the right for U.S. troops to defend themselves if fired upon. But would it extend to the protection of the refugees themselves? And is there a danger of falling into another Haiti situation, whereby U.S. troops were criticized for standing by and watching violence occur against civilians because their rules of engagement did not permit them to intervene at that time?
MR. MCCURRY: I'd suggest otherwise. It says, as demonstrated in Haiti there was a capacity by those on the ground who are assessing the situation --
Q Well, eventually. Eventually there was, Mike, but initially their orders were to stand by and not intervene. What would the orders be here? Would they, in fact, intervene to protect the refugees?
MR. MCCURRY: We do not normally, in circumstances, go into detail on rules of engagement, but they would be sufficiently robust so forces could protect themselves and that they could account for a situation on the ground. But the mission priorities are the ones that I identified.
Q Mike, one other question. I know there's so many layers to this, but if you were pushing for those people to be repatriated to their -- to Rwanda, are you going to get assurances from the Rwandan government that there will not be recriminations against these people once they go back?
MR. MCCURRY: There would need to be understandings about what type of situation would exist. Now, there are 6 million Hutus that are living already in western Rwanda and living there largely peacefully who have not experienced that kind of danger. But there are clearly those who fear reprisals and who fear the situation that would exist if they return home. And there are most likely a million-plus of them. Making sure that we can make the arrangements for them to peacefully return to their homes is part of the work that needs to be done diplomatically. What we can do is to assure through this operation that we can keep them alive while that type of longer term question is addressed.
Q Can you briefly recap what the '94 operation was, how many troops were involved and what they did, where they --
MR. MCCURRY: I can do it from memory, but I would probably get it wrong. Let's see if maybe we can try to get something for you on it.
Q Can you take a quick question on a different subject?
Q One more on this.
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, let's stay on this.
Q Mike, can you say as of late yesterday afternoon the President was not yet ready to commit in principle. Can you say what specifically was nailed down overnight in his meetings?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, specifically last night, as Tony and the U.S. team met with the Canadian -- I'll let the government of Canada talk more about their delegation, but it was composed of uniformed officers from the Canadian military, representatives of their Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As they met they went through many of these same questions that I just identified. We have now really put together what is the, you know, intellectual or conceptual framework for a mission that needed to be agreed to with the Canadian government and really stipulate things like how the command and control arrangements would work, the nature of the assignment that would be tasked to the United States if we were willing to participate, those types of questions. And we had very good consultations with the Canadians last night and came to these agreements.
Q Was that here, in New York, where was it?
MR. MCCURRY: They met here. They met here at the White House last night.
Q Tony is in New York today or he's going tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: The President is sending him up there tomorrow. We think New York is -- there's some possibility, David heard that he might be going to Ottawa, we believe it's New York.
Q Mike, I understand what you're saying about --
MR. MCCURRY: He would then be available to other security council members that might want to have further consultations.
Q I understand what you're saying about why Canada would take the lead in this case, but was there a particular reason that the U.S. did not want to take the lead?
MR. MCCURRY: There's a particular interest we have in making sure that in the world that we now live in, the post-Cold War era, others who share our values and share our principles and sometimes share our will to address situations like this do take on leadership roles when warranted.
The United States will always have to remain a force of last resort to address questions that need attention based on our own assertion of self-interest and based on our own unique position as the lone superpower in the world. But it is encouraging to the United States that in this case we see a very close ally and friend, Canada, stepping forward to shoulder a larger burden on a matter like this because they believe it's right to do. And there are times in our foreign policy when it makes eminent good sense for us to work with governments that want to take on that role.
We've seen around the world U.N peacekeeping operations -- I think particularly in the conduct of an election in Cambodia in which the government of Japan stepped forward and took a role. There are instances in which the United States can support those who share our values and share our interests in the world. And that's an encouraging thing in this world, because as the President has often said, the United States cannot be the world's superpoliceman of last resort. There are times when we obviously have to lead and sometimes where we have to lead alone. It becomes a very lonely exercise and we've certainly seen instances of that in the last four years. But there are times, encouraging to us, when we can share the burden with others.
Q So you're saying you don't want the U.S. to be the -- you want the U.S. to be the force of last resort, not of first resort?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, it's the force of right resort, when it reflects our interest and it reflects the vital strategic interests that we have in the world and our humanitarian and other interests as we assert them around the world. The situation needs to be right when the United States is compelled to offer up that kind of leadership and it needs to right when we agree to join with others in addressing an urgent humanitarian concern of this nature.
Q Mike, if the President speaks out on this issue and the Bosnian commitment before he leaves for Asia, what form is that likely to take? And a related question, what is the state of play on naming a new Secretary of State? Are the two likely to be tied together?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know necessarily the answer to either one. I think he would look for some opportunity prior to departure on Friday to have some type of remarks, but I don't want to -- I don't know yet what the venue for that would be. We'll have to address that.
Q What's the state of play on the --
MR. MCCURRY: On the Secretary of State? I asked the President again earlier today. I said, you know, they're dying for me to just come out and announce your Secretary of State; why don't you give me a little tip that I can pass on. And he said, you're still safe, still safe in saying that I'm considering at least one name that I haven't seen in print anywhere. I said, that's good, I love telling them that because it drives them nuts. (Laughter.)
Q Is that likely this week, or still likely, or possible?
MR. MCCURRY: He indicated to me he didn't want to be held to any artificial timeline. He's got a number -- he's looking, by the way, at his national security team. And this has to be a team and has to work well together as a team. We've got a vacancy at Secretary of State. I think many of you know that Secretary of Defense Perry has made some -- said some things or indicated some things regarding his own future. So the President is thinking of different pieces that must fit together and fit together well.
I don't, by the way, rule out the possibility we might end up with announcements -- eventually might end up with announcements in other positions before we say something about Secretary of State.
Q On that matter, Mike, has the President accepted --
MR. MCCURRY: There's a good rabbit that I just let out of the cage for you to chase the rest of the day. Yes, sir.
Q Has the President accepted Secretary O'Leary's resignation?
MR. MCCURRY: She intends to submit one and I believe has submitted one. The President has with great gratitude for her exemplary service at the Energy Department indicated he would accept it, and as we are with all of our departing Cabinet members looking for an opportunity at a future date in a more formal setting to express the gratitude that he feels for the service of those who are departing.
Q Energy Department officials say the letter was sent here today, that the Secretary did not take it with her to her meeting with the President yesterday. Did he ask for her resignation?
MR. MCCURRY: No. You know, I guess she decided she just didn't -- put it in the mail or something. It came over today. I think she wanted to compose the letter after she had an opportunity to meet with the President, that's my understanding.
Q Can you talk any more about where Erskine and Evelyn are in terms of talking about organizational restructuring --
MR. MCCURRY: Right up there, over there in their offices.
Q How far along is that? Is that --
MR. MCCURRY: Good, in that case are we ready to switch subjects? I've got at least five other things that I want to talk to you about today, so we're going to be here awhile. This is not a --better one.
Q Before you get off the Cabinet, Mike, there was also a query that we got today. Apparently there's a report from Denver that Pena submitted his resignation -- formally submitted his resignation this morning and had it accepted. Is that --
MR. MCCURRY: That what?
MR. MCCURRY: That what about him?
Q That he formally handed in his resignation this morning and had it accepted. Is there anything to that?
MR. MCCURRY: The Transportation Department put out a release yesterday announcing his resignation and expressing the President -- they had a quote from the President in it.
Okay, a couple of other things. As you know, I briefed some of you on the President getting -- will you guys go get this forklift out of here? (Laughter.) What's that forklift doing? Ladies and gentlemen, watching at home on C-Span, there's a forklift outside my window, painting the White House white so the White House will be white when you come visit. It looks real pretty.
It will look very good for the President's second inaugural which I'll tell you more about it a minute. But first, these highlights.
The President, after he was reelected began to get some congratulatory calls from foreign leaders. I've told you about some of those calls that he already accepted, but I want to run through some additional ones that he has made today. He's basically returning calls of congratulations that he received after last Tuesday.
He had a good conversation this morning with President Mubarak of Egypt. I would describe it as a general discussion of the peace process. But it was an opportunity for the President to compliment President Mubarak on the excellent work he did sponsoring the Cairo Middle Eastern conference that just concluded. That was an extraordinary session. Secretary Christopher represented the United States there. There were, I think, some 1,500 business leaders from over 70 countries around the world who were there to look at the investment potential for peace in that region -- looking for new opportunities to help Arab and Jew thrive in a new environment of peace as they seek their own economic livelihood.
But obviously a call with President Mubarak would also be an opportunity to touch base on the peace process. President Clinton and President Mubarak talked about the need to complete an agreement on Hebron, the belief that that agreement would in a sense be sort of a threshold that the parties could cross over as they begin to address other issues that are still in dispute related to implementation of the Oslo Accords. The President -- President Mubarak expressed --
Q Do you know anything about Netanyahu breaking off his U.S. trip because there might be an agreement on that?
MR. MCCURRY: I heard -- heard tell before -- we came out -- the question was if Prime Minister Netanyahu would cancel his U.S. trip. He was, by the way, coming here during a period in which the President was going to be out of the country. There were no plans for the two of them to get together.
The question is, what does that mean related to Hebron. There was a lot in the Israeli press today about where they are in the Hebron agreement. I really don't -- I don't want to speculate on where they are other than to say, as Secretary Christopher did yesterday, that there is going to be an agreement. The Secretary expressed confidence at that. But it would be an agreement that would be a complicated one because the issue is complex and it was likely going to take some time to address. How long was a matter of speculation, but there were a lot of things that indicated that the parties were working hard to resolve their remaining differences on Hebron.
Back to President Mubarak. He expressed appreciation for Secretary Christopher's speech at Cairo. He also told President Clinton how much he had personally enjoyed working with Secretary Christopher and how close he felt the relationship had been between the two of them personally and how that had made relations between the United States and Egypt even closer.
The President then talked to King Hussein of Jordan -- again, a discussion about the peace process. They talked about Hebron. The President wished King Hussein happy birthday -- tomorrow is his birthday -- and expressed appreciation for the King's friendship, talked about the things that we have been doing to try to engage with the parties and move them forward, following up on some of the things that we talked about when we were all together here last September.
He talked to, then, President Kim of the Republic of Korea -- again, a good opportunity to just touch base on the critical issue of security on the Korean Peninsula. The President said that he looked forward to seeing President Kim in Manila when the President is there for the APEC meeting. So, in other words, they did not get deeply into issues. But the President did reaffirm the importance of the four-party peace proposal that he had made with President Kim and the intent of the United States to pursue that. The President expressed condolences on behalf of the American people for the death of soldiers from the Republic of Korea who were involved in looking for those who disembarked from the submarine that recently found itself nearby.
Thus, to summarize that call, it was again not a full exploration of our bilateral interest, but it was clear from that discussion that there is no difference in the views, no gap in the views between the Republic of Korea and the United States government on issues that are central to the question of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.
Finally, the President talked to President Cardoso of Brazil -- just again, a congratulatory call. And the President thanked President Cardoso for receiving Presidential Counselor Mack McLarty who will be in the region recently to talk about -- soon --
Q Recently or soon?
MR. MCCURRY: Will be there soon to meet with him and will be in the region following up on Summit of the Americas agenda items that were identified in Miami. And, no, I don't know whether the President promised he would be in the region but, yes, I think the President will probably be in that region sometime early in his second term.
Okay, more. You ready? You had enough?
Q I have. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: More. This just in. I want to talk a little bit about transition, because some of you asked just a moment ago about where are we with transition. The President has formally designated a transition team which, beginning yesterday or today --
MS. GLYNN: Yesterday.
MR. MCCURRY: Beginning yesterday will now meet on a daily basis to design the architecture --
MR. MCCURRY: The architectural plan for the --
MR. MCCURRY: Dare I say, bridge to the 21st century.
MR. MCCURRY: Okay, here's the team that will plan the bridge to the second term. It will be led by Chief of Staff Leon Panetta; coming in at a close second in that category -- no, obviously the designee -- the Chief of Staff designee, Erskine Bowles will work very closely with Leon in providing leadership to this team, although Leon will actually run it. The other members of the team in alphabetical order are: Deputy National Security Adviser Sandy Berger; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros; Tipper Gore's Chief of Staff Skila Harris, and I think many of you know her; Director of Public Liaison Alexis Herman; Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes; Vernon Jordan, who needs no title --
Q Presidential friend.
MR. MCCURRY: Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor; the Vice President's Chief of Staff Ron Klain; the other Deputy Chief of Staff Evelyn Lieberman. She won't like being called "the other," will she?
Q Too late.
MR. MCCURRY: The singularly vital Evelyn Lieberman.
Q Does this mean all the people who are not having jobs next term?
MR. MCCURRY: No. Counselor Mack McLarty; Director of Personnel Bob Nash, White House Counsel Jack Quinn; Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; Senior Adviser to the President George Stephanopoulos; and the First Lady's Chief of Staff Maggie Williams.
It's such a relief for me to put that list out, because now there are so many more people that you can call to try to produce the nonsense that you've been flooding the air waves and the newspapers with.
Q And this whole unwieldy group meet every day?
MR. MCCURRY: They will meet every day. They will probably break into -- my guess is that, hearing some things, they will probably begin to focus on individual Cabinet vacancies and some of the larger questions about staffing the administration for a second term, begin working through different ideas and combinations of people. Clearly, excellence is their goal, diversity is their mandate. They will be doing a lot of work to recruit and identify individuals who will provide superior performance to the President of the United States of America in a second term.
Q Are they raising money?
MR. MCCURRY: No.
Q Mike, which of these people are going to be dealing directly with the inauguration?
MR. MCCURRY: The Inaugural Committee. Are we ready to move on? Any more on transition? The President today announced the formation of a presidential inaugural committee to organize the celebration of his inauguration for a second term. He's pleased to announce, and I'm pleased to tell you, that Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes will coordinate inaugural activities here at the White House. There is an inaugural committee that will be co-chaired by Terry McAuliffe and Ann Jordan, and the new executive directors for the committee will be Craig Smith, who did an absolutely first-rate job as the Political Director for the Clinton-Gore '96 Campaign Committee -- a wonderful guy -- and Debbie Willhite, who did such a great job running the convention.
We also have a very prominent group of 17 individual Americans who will serve as vice-chairs of the Inaugural Committee, and we've got the paper ready to go now? Paper ready to go? I probably miscounted on the number. A number -- 15 -- 15 prominent people.
MR. MCCURRY: My name seems to be missing.
Q Sixteen. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, we've got paper on that.
Q These people will be raising money, though, Mike, for ancillary --
MR. MCCURRY: No, actually let me tell you a little bit about the budget. The 1992 Inaugural cost about $33 million. Now most of the proceeds for that --
Q In federal --
MR. MCCURRY: No, no. These are -- this is money -- the basic deal here is if you go to one of these inaugural balls, you've got to buy a ticket. And then there are other revenues generated. Remember they have the big gala, there was advertising from the gala that created a revenue stream. They basically got revenues for the 1992 Inaugural of $43 million. Have I got the numbers right? No. Forty-two million.
MR. MCCURRY: Forty-two million. So in other words, they had a revenue -- they had revenues for the '92 Inaugural of $42 million. They spent a total of $33 million.
Q What do you do with the leftover?
MR. MCCURRY: The $9 million that is now left over becomes basically the seed corn for the '97 Inaugural. What they intend to do is to try to do exactly as they did in '92 to make it as much a self-financing operation as possible. There were, as I looked into this, only about $50,000 worth of actual contributions that went to the Inaugural Committee in 1992-93. Our intent is to, yes, fully disclose any contributions that they do receive; more importantly, fully disclose any loan arrangements that are made by the committee.
What basically they did in the '92 Inaugural is to go out and draw lines of credit at banks which were then repaid with the proceeds from the Inaugural itself, so it becomes, in a sense, self-financing. But they'll use the leftover $9 million to sort of capitalize the 1997 Inaugural, and in the environment we're in we obviously will need to fully disclose the financing and accounting arrangements for the committee which we will certainly do. We'll have a contribution limit of $100 on any amount that any one individual can give to help defray expenses for the Inaugural, and we will have a $100,000 limit on loans; is that correct?
MR. TOIV: Yes. In '93 we borrowed from individuals and corporations.
MR. MCCURRY: Right. They brought it from individuals and corporations in '93. There is some chance they may not need to do that. And one of the things -- by the way, this group that will be under Harold's direction for the Inaugural, one of the things they've got to do is decide, after talking to the President and, you know, others in the administration, what kind of an inauguration do you want. And we don't have an answer to that question yet.
Q Well, in the interests of full disclosure, will you also disclose this time, which I don't think you did the last time, who gets the concessions of various kinds that go along with this and generate money for the Committee? And, also, what percentage of the money generated is returned to the concessionaires?
MR. MCCURRY: In the form of their individual profit as opposed to proceeds for the Committee?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll check into that. I don't know the answer to that. I haven't heard that question addressed.
Q And will you identify the concessionaires this time?
MR. MCCURRY: That's a good question that we'll put to our new executive directors for the inaugural.
Q Mike, when will the transition and inaugural committees begin briefings on what they're doing?
MR. MCCURRY: What, am I not doing a good enough job for you? (Laughter.) The inaugural committee -- it is my fondest desire in the world to have someone you know and love as the director of communications and press spokesman, who will be in a position to answer press inquiries. They are going to be up and running as fast as possible. And we'll tell you more about how they're going to staff out for that, but there will be someone who will be able to do press inquiries related to the inaugural very shortly.
On the transition team, I expect to handle those chores here. There's not going to be a separate effort somewhere else, other than here at the White House.
Q And where do you expect the inaugural folks to set up shop --
MR. MCCURRY: Are they going to try to take what used to be Clinton-Gore '96 headquarters, or are they going to get new quarters?
MR. TOIV: I've got 810 I Street, I believe it is.
MR. MCCURRY: They're going to take office space --
MR. TOIV: No, 801 I Street, I'm sorry.
MR. MCCURRY: Office space nearby.
MR. TOIV: It's in the GSA space.
MR. MCCURRY: GSA space.
Q Mike, what was that 100,000 figure about?
MR. MCCURRY: Loans, that's the amount, no loan in excess of that amount to the inaugural committee --
Q From any one institution or individual.
MR. MCCURRY: -- from any one institution or individual, right.
Q Is there a cap on corporate contributions -- $100 cap you said on individual. What about corporate?
MR. MCCURRY: It was a $100 --
MR. TOIV: $100 limit, period.
MR. MCCURRY: $100 limit across the board.
Q So IBM couldn't give more than $100?
MR. MCCURRY: Right. Although, remember, my point was that that's not the way the inauguration is financed. It's financed principally by proceeds of sales, tickets principally, and then revenues that are generated by economic activity around the inaugural -- the TV gala that they did and, presumably, I'm learning from Mr. Plante, the guys who made the T-shirts and sold the buttons and did all that.
Q Mike, do you know what the official government appropriation for the inauguration is? I mean, there is always one to do that, to handle -- the 104th Congress appropriated how much?
MR. TOIV: The Congress handles the ceremonial aspects of this.
MR. MCCURRY: Barry, come on up. Barry's been looking into this. I'm going to turn it over to Barry here.
Q The United States Congress is responsible for the official ceremony, right?
MR. TOIV: I don't know of any official contribution. There are in-kind contributions that they make. There's phones and computers that come from the government. Obviously, the D.C. government as well, in terms of security provides, in-kind assistance. But there's no direct appropriation, at least on our end of things.
Now, I don't know -- the Congress is in charge of the ceremony, for example. And I understand the military is in charge the parade to some degree.
Q But I mean, there must be for those kinds of things and for the building of the platform and doing the --
MR. TOIV: Well again, the platform would be part of the ceremonial aspect of it. And the Congress and --
Q That's what I mean. And there is presumably a Congressional appropriation for that.
MR. TOIV: Presumably, I don't know what that would be. I think it's a bipartisan -- I think there's a bipartisan inaugural committee that's established every four years.
MR. MCCURRY: We, by the way, had a -- someone told me that Wendell Ford mentioned earlier that they're going to go out and drill the first or hammer the first nail on the platform itself up on the west front of the Capitol today.
Q Did you have a limit on contributions or loans four years ago?
MR. MCCURRY: There was a $100,000 limit on loans, Barry says.
MR. TOIV: And there was no contribution, no donation greater than $5,000.
MR. MCCURRY: No contribution, donation greater than $5,000 four years ago.
Q No donation happened to come in greater than $5,000, not there was a limit.
MR. MCCURRY: Correct. Okay --
Q Thank you.
MR. MCCURRY: Is that all? Did I do everything I was supposed to do today?
Q Any other reaction since the Gulf War Committee met this morning from the President?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I haven't had -- I've been doing the other stuff and did not get a readout on Deputy Secretary White's testimony. I believe it was going to be very similar to the briefing they gave at the Pentagon yesterday. And I'll have to assess what the reaction of the commission members were. I just don't have that yet.
Q Hey, Mike --
MR. MCCURRY: But the President was encouraged to see the Deputy Secretary of Defense indicate yesterday that the Pentagon, as a high matter of priority, would be addressing the issue of devoting additional resources to it. There was a much more extensive briefing over at the Pentagon on this subject yesterday.
Q Any reaction to Bob Dornan's apparent defeat?
MR. MCCURRY: Is it true? (Laughter.) Is it for sure?
Q There still counting.
MR. MCCURRY: Is there any chance he will rise up yet, Phoenix-like?
Q There's still a little doubt.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we would be delighted to hear that Linda Sanchez won. The President campaigned for her. We had a great event for her when we were down in Southern California. And there would be one more late return that would give many of us cause for great cheer if true.
Q Did all these developments deep-six your plans to go straight to Manila and skip Hawaii and Australia?
MR. MCCURRY: No, that's probably what I'm going to do -- go straight on out there.
Q Straight on to where? Where are you going to be going?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm going to try to skip -- I'm going to try to just confine my future schedule to the Philippines if I can do that.
Q Mike, when you said that the President will be going to Latin America early in his second term, are we talking '97?
MR. MCCURRY: I knew you would ask that question. I didn't specify any date. I didn't specify a date, because --
Q But you said "early"?
MR. MCCURRY: Early. It's a four-year term.
Q Okay. But he will be going --
MR. MCCURRY: Sometime '97 and '98.
Q He will be going to Latin America?
MR. MCCURRY: I would say sometime '97 and '98.
Q No, but I mean, you're confirming he's going down there, though?
MR. MCCURRY: Sometime before Mary Ellen Glynn departs to make millions of dollars, since she's always wanted to make that trip. All right. Bye, everybody. It's been real.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:15 P.M. EST