Background Briefing by Senior Administration Official
2:11 P.M. (L)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me simply do a little bit more of an overview and then ask my colleague, who has been, as our political director and representative in the development of this document, working on this.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That was almost the shortest background briefing of the week.
Let me provide a bit more of an overview and then ask my colleague to go through the document in some more detail and then we can try to respond to your questions.
We're pleased with the political declaration. We believe it's a sober, forward-looking statement of common principles and reflects many of the priorities that we have been advancing in terms of America's foreign policy priorities. In particular, the political declaration contains a very strong statement of support for reform in the Soviet Union for the reform efforts of President Yeltsin specifically in Russia.
It goes further than prior political declarations and clearly articulating nonproliferation as a first order priority in the post-Cold War world and specifically singling out North Korea, calling upon North Korea not only to come back into the NPT nominally, but also to abide by IAEA safeguards and to move forward with the North-South denuclearization agreement which provides for a nonnuclear Korean Peninsula.
We believe there's a -- the declaration contains a strong and realistic statement about Bosnia. I'll say a little bit more about that in a second -- a statement that was clearly enhanced by the discussion that took place both last night and today.
I believe for the first time -- my colleague can correct me if I'm wrong -- there is an explicit reference to Libya and the call of the international community for Libya to abide by U.N. resolutions, particularly with respect, as you know, to releasing the PanAm 103 suspects. For the first time, a declaration of the G-7 focuses on the problem of Iran and the destabilizing effects that Iranian behavior is having in the world.
This is, as you know, a priority that we have been emphasizing in all of President Clinton's bilateral meetings that have taken place over the last several months, in Secretary Christopher's speech at the NAC meeting there. And I think it's particularly significant that we have the international -- at least the G-7 coming to a clearer view that Iran presents a threat to the international community.
On Bosnia specifically, as David indicated, the leaders began a discussion last night at dinner that began in the context of a discussion of the United Nations. A number of thoughts were raised at that dinner, including one by Chancellor Kohl that if the Serbs and Croats persist in seeking to dismember Bosnia by force, they will place themselves beyond the pale of the international community.
This is an idea that was discussed at some length last night and was something that President Clinton, particularly, and Prime Minister Ciampi and others, thought ought to be added to the declaration because it does two things. Number one, it increases the pressure on the Serbs and the Croatians to have a clear statement from the international community that unless there is a negotiated settlement, they will be essentially treated as pariah nonnations by the international community, and for the first time raising the prospect of international sanctions against Croatia if it persists on its present course.
That discussion continued this morning when Bosnia came up. As David indicated, there were other ideas placed on the table in addition to the one that had been discussed the last night. That is, the idea of -- the notion of Serbia and Croatia being essentially outside the international community if there is not a settlement that is agreed to by the three parties. In addition, there was some elaboration in the text today on the commitments that have been made under U.N. Security Council 836, the safe havens -- essentially, the safe havens resolution, and language that, as you know, we have favored that is stronger measures not being excluded. A reference to the lifting of the arms -- implicit reference to lifting of the arms embargo or other stronger measures still being on the table also was added in this morning's discussion.
So in all, I would say it's an elaboration of the earlier draft. It reflects some strengthening of it, and I think it's a realistic statement of where the G-7 -- the common ground of the G-7 on Bosnia.
Let me ask -- before we go to questions, let me ask my colleague now just to elaborate a bit and then we'll both take your questions.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll try not to cover the ground that my colleagues have addressed, but let me trace very briefly the evolution of this process over the last four or five months, because the consultations about the elements that went into the declaration began shortly after we came into office in late January. So this is the culmination of a four or five-month process for all of us.
Early on we decided that there should be four general categories in the declaration which are reflected in the final document. The first are international organization matters, especially the U.N. and some others as well. Second, reference to Russia and other of the nations in the former Soviet Union. Third, an enhanced nonproliferation section which I'll come back to in a minute. And, fourth, a selected number of regional issues or countries, specific issues which are, again, reflected in the last part of the document.
As far as the U.N. is concerned and the issues in front of the U.N., there was general agreement from the beginning that reference should be made to the Secretary General's report agenda for peace. We felt it was very important and introduced the specific references in the draft to the human rights conference in Vienna which recently concluded, and also the reference to terrorism, which had appeared in previous declarations, but we felt a new and reinforced reference to terrorism should be in there. And that was accepted by my political director colleagues in the draft.
As far as Russia is concerned, again, given the importance of the Russian issue to the G-7, it was obvious that this would occupy an important place in the political declaration. Some of us also felt that it was necessary to make a mention of the Ukraine, which is in here as well, and the relationship between Russia and the Ukraine, pointing out the importance of improved relationship between those two countries and offering a sense of support to Ukraine. There's another reference to Ukraine in the nonproliferation section, but we wanted to bring Ukraine into the declaration in ways, in addition to nonproliferation, and we thought that was important.
On the nonproliferation section itself, this, I think was a common concern to everyone who was involved. Our Japanese hosts made a special effort to be sure that this section was very well researched, very elaborate. As my colleague has indicated, this is the section in which we demanded that the North Koreans remove their notice of withdrawal, or their pending withdrawal from the NPT, but that's not the only element in the nonproliferation section.
We wanted and succeeded in having some specific treaty references in here, so it's not purely oratorical. The three that are in here that we succeeded in placing in the draft were: the missile technology control regime, MTCR, the chemical weapons convention and the biological weapons convention as well.
As far as the country-specific and regional issues, Bosnia is obviously the first and foremost of those issues in paragraph 7. We decided among the directors that, given the evolving situation in Bosnia as we were working on the rest of the declaration over the last four or five months, that we were not going to start drafting language early on which would have to be substantially modified.
So there was a Bosnia section in our drafts that we were exchanging, but there was no Bosnia language until several days ago when we could get a pulse on the current situation. And that's why the language was in flux, and as my colleagues indicated, it was worked on very closely by the foreign ministers, by the heads of government themselves, again because we did not present them early on with drafts of Bosnia language for the reasons I gave you.
If we move down to the rest of the specific country and regional issues, we tried to achieve a balance between those issues where there was progress. This is not a political declaration that only talks about lost opportunities or crises, it's also specifically designed to make positive references to situations where there has been improvement. And that's why there are commendations with respect to the U.N.-OAS effort in Haiti, there's a strong statement here on developments in South Africa, obviously a passing reference to Lebanon.
There was also a commendation for the Middle East, the efforts being made implicitly by the United States in the Middle East peace process. Those are on the positive side, encouraging these positive resolutions of international disputes.
On the Middle East, I'd also like to draw your attention to the reference to the Arab boycott. Two years ago, there was a reference to the Arab boycott, but it was linked to Israeli progress on settlements. Reference here stands alone. The G-7 is unanimous in believing that there should be an unencumbered reference to the need to lift the Arab boycott. This was an issue which the administration took on very aggressively early on when Secretary Christopher went to the Middle East, many of you remember a month or so after we came into office he raised this at every stop in the Middle East. The Kuwaitis and some of the other Arabs have indicated that they have heard us and we see a slow breaking up of the Arab boycott
coalition -- not fast enough for us, but we're very pleased that there is this stand-alone reference to the need to lift the Arab boycott.
Now, on the problem areas, again, Iran has never been mentioned in this context, and we're delighted that the G-7 countries came along on this issue. It's also an issue that we have been working a lot. The President has mentioned it. Secretary Christopher, when he was meeting with the EC in Luxembourg last month achieved an agreement for an EC-U.S. study of Iran, and that is proceeding. And, therefore, we felt through our work over the last several months that we've conditioned some of our friends and allies to be more sensitive than they might have been otherwise to the dangers that are represented by Iran, and I think that's reflected in the document here.
Also, a reference to Libya, of course, which has never quite been this specific as well. And some were very pleased that, although we had to be selective, there are some obvious issues that were left out. We couldn't cite every problem in the world or every bit of encouraging news, that virtually all of the principal issues that the United States wanted to have covered in this delegation did emerge in this form that you have in front of you.
QCan you tell us in the language about stronger measures, first of all, what stronger measures you mean on Bosnia? Second, last year's declaration, when it talked about additional measures, mentioned military measures. Was that included among the stronger measures? And, if so, why is that not specified in the document, and what message do you think it sends to leave it out?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think as far as we're concerned, stronger measures, we've been pretty clear about what stronger measures we think are appropriate here, and that is lifting the arms embargo against the Bosnian government with compensatory air strikes until they receive weapons to defend themselves. That, as you know, the Europeans have, on the one hand, not accepted that, but on the other hand, have not ruled that out. And this is a reaffirmation that that remains an option that we will reserve the right to pursue.
Q-- strong statements here about Iran and Iraq and Libya. I've read this thing six times. Maybe I'm misreading, I don't see the word "terrorism" even in here. Are you talking about people's behavior?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Terrorism isn't -- QYou're talking about relevant U.N. resolutions? It's terribly nonspecific. What is so assertive about this and why don't you get specific?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: First of all, I think you have to read the documents in the context of them being collective statements of a group of seven countries in which you cannot always say in a simple declarative sentence what you want to say. But the point here is that for the first time -- we know that a number of the countries here have very full economic relations with Iran. And I think our concern here is that we do not look back in five years and say that the international community and the industrial world has made the same mistake on Iran as it made on Iraq.
And to get the other six and, in particular, those with strong trading relationships with Iran to explicitly say that Iran's behavior is a threat I think is not as far as we would go if we were saying it by ourselves, but is moving them along the path that we want to move along.
QThen it's comparable to Bosnia in the sense that the United States' position on both issues is really a stronger position than the ambiguous statement on Bosnia and the mild, tepid statement here on Iran, Iraq and Libya. I think that's what you're saying.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think, again, you have to look at this in the context of -- the Iranian statement in the context of past declarations in which there has been an unwillingness to single out Libya by name, to single out Iran by name, for fear that it would interfere with their economic relationship. The very fact that they are prepared now to say Iran is a problem is a step forward. We are prepared to say more than that, but we believe it's useful to have the others saying that.
Second of all, on terrorism, in paragraph 4 there is an explicit statement about terrorism. But, again, on Libya the same thing. We have pushed farther than some of our allies on sanctions on Libya. We would be in favor of strengthening the sanctions on Libya, including oil sanctions. The President said that during the campaign. We have been working with other allies to move them along that direction. The fact that they are now prepared at least in this document to single out Libya we consider a positive step.
QWas there ever an explicit discussion among the group of seven about the specific air strikes and within the embargo that the United States has advocated? Was that ever on the table at all?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can't answer that explicitly, Gwen, obviously not having been in the room last night when the discussion took place. I don't think there's any question on the part of the other six about the United States' position on that.
This particular language -- what happened on this language is when -- after there was a discussion today, a number of ideas put on the table, the foreign ministers then went off to draft. And Secretary Christopher felt it was appropriate in the context of the other changes that were being made in this paragraph to reflect our view that these other stronger measures should remain on the table.
QWe should not read in that sentence a endorsement by the other nations of the United States position on this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think it reflects a change in their position either.
QThe BBC is reporting that 2,000 Marines went ashore in northeast Somalia at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday. That would be about eight hours ago. What can you tell us about that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not much, Brit. I will get back to you on that. I don't have the details on that. I don't know the answer to that. If it didn't -- we'll get back on that.
QYesterday when Secretary Christopher was briefing in here, he suggested that the foreign ministers had reached a final agreement on the draft, yet it was changed overnight even though he seemed to think there wouldn't be any additional changes. Was this a surprise to him that all of a sudden the leaders -- the heads of government decided there should be a strengthening of the language on Bosnia? And who specifically -- President Mitterrand or anybody else -- who specifically pressed for those changes?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think what you have here is a dialogue going on somewhat in parallel. That is, a dialogue of the foreign ministers leading to reaching closure on a document. At the same time, the heads of state who have their own views on this and were having a discussion of this last night and wanted the document to reflect some of that discussion today. I would say in terms of -- a number of people spoke to this -- President Mitterrand, President Clinton, Chairman Kohl, Ciampi. I think the changes here, the elaboration that was done today reflected really a collaborative effort, as David indicated.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can I answer Wolf's question about the surprise? I was with the Secretary with his colleagues yesterday afternoon. As I indicated beforehand, everybody knew that when the foreign ministers' own heads of government got together, that there would be a lot of talk about Bosnia. And while there was language developed initially by us and by the foreign ministers, it came as no surprise that the heads of government were going to spend a lot of time on this issue and strengthen and modify it eventually -- not on Bosnia.
QCan you clarify something? Do you not know if this report is correct or do you not want to talk about it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, no. Let's just see --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm just not aware of the details.
MR. GERGEN: Yes. My colleague from the State Department is here. We'll do something on background just for a minute to address Brit's question.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, we just -- on background, we had a notice of that early this morning. Obviously, the Pentagon would be the appropriate point to comment on that. But we had notice this morning that in connection with the UNISOM training mission north of Mogadishu, north Somalia, approximately 2,000 amphibious units were participating in a training exercise involving landings. And then they were also -- while they were on the ground deployed, were going to be assisting in some humanitarian efforts. But it was not anything beyond that as far as what we're aware of right now.
QAre they staying in Somalia or will they be going back to the so-called MARG in the Ocean?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATIN OFFICIAL: I'm sorry, Wolf, I don't know anything beyond the mission, other than it was connected to both the training exercise and the humanitarian effort.
QThis is in addition to the people we have there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATIN OFFICIAL: It's a UNISOM directed effort. They're doing training exercises out there fairly regularly in connection with the deployment through UNISOM in the area.
QAre we talking about people? You said 2,000 amphibious --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATIN OFFICIAL: No, I'm sorry, 2,000 personnel.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATIN OFFICIAL: Troops.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATIN OFFICIAL: Yes.
QWhere did they come from?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We'll get more detail on it. That's all we have --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There's a Marine amphibious unit that is off the coast of Somalia and has been there since the events of a couple of weeks ago. But let's get the facts right before we put --
QWhy aren't the Serbs and Croatians now considered pariahs -- non-nations, per se? I mean, what's the holdup?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think, clearly, they are by us. And I think what this says is that, number one, that Croatia, in terms that I think are somewhat more sharp than in the past, that it could be subject to sanctions which it is not now subject to. There are some preferential economic relationships between the EC and Croatia, which this certainly raises the prospect of those being severed as the Croatians have increasingly joined the Serbs in their attacks on the Bosnians. And I think it clearly says to both Serbia and Croatia that any notion they might have had that they could achieve a military victory and have sanctions and/or rejoin the family of nations is simply not a possibility.
QIs there anything in the words of the declaration that refers to the London statements and all that? Is there anything in there that the U.S. understands to mean that Serb forces would have to withdraw from within the internationally recognized borders of Bosnia, the ones you've recognized?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As you know, there are negotiations going on now in Geneva. We would hope that from those negotiations there could be an agreement that emerges from the three parties. If this does anything, it seems to me it puts somewhat more pressure on the Serbs and the Croatians in those negotiations and makes clear that the G-7 nations would never recognize any entity that did not derive from a negotiated solution that was supported by all three parties.
Q-- contemplates a change in your recognition and the international community's recognition of the boundaries of Bosnia --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think what the President has said about that before is that -- is that --
Q-- declaration about it.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think the declaration changes the status quo on that issue. We have always said that we would support an agreement that the three parties could reach, that we would be willing to participate in the enforcement of that; and I don't think this document changes that at all.
QWhat's the practical import, though, of the language that says we will not accept any territorial solution that the three parties don't agree to? Does that mean simply that the G-7 will not recognize new boundaries, or does it mean -- or is there some other import beyond --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think it means that we'll not recognize new boundaries. It means that economic sanctions will continue. It means that isolation by the international community would continue.
QWith this communique, can you tell the people in Sarajevo that they can sleep more safely tonight?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would not presume to make that statement.
QCan you walk through the -- what last year was unrealistic and whether this was discussed and what they thought should be done about --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was a discussion last night, as I understand it, more generally about the U.N. and about U.N. peacekeeping and about what could be done to strengthen U.N. peacekeeping and U.N. peacemaking. And that discussion ranged not only from Bosnia, they talked about Somalia, they talked about Cambodia, they talked about Haiti last weekend, which is, I think, was a great success for the U.N. with U.S. participation.
But there obviously are -- the context of the discussion was, there are some inherent problems in the U.N. as it now exists in terms of this increasing responsibility that's being placed upon it. There are financial constraints. There are questions of where the troops will come from to do peacekeeping around the world. So that in that context, there was a discussion of Bosnia.
I think it would be fair to say that there was some -- there was a view that we should not in this declaration succumb to grandiose statements of intent, but sober statements of where the statements -- of what the international community will do and is doing. And I would remind you that we are continuing a very substantial humanitarian effort. We are continuing very tough economic sanctions against Serbia that are being felt in Belgrade. We now have a U.S. unit going into Macedonia in a monitoring capacity. We are enforcing the no-fly zone. So there are actions that we have been taking.
QLast year was dealt only with -- not explicitly.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can't answer that question explicitly. I just don't know the ebb and flow of the conversation enough to know whether it was --
QWhy was nothing in the communique about Somalia? You say that they discussed it. They didn't come to any agreement on what they are going to do? Are they going to try to get Aideed? Are they going to restart the negotiating process? What's the aim of the G-7?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was some, at least at the level of the political directors and the ministers there was some brief discussion of Somalia and many other issues which were not finally incorporated. But in answer to your specific question, there were not operational discussions, at least at the Foreign Minister or political directors' level, about tactics and what should be done on Somalia or any other issue.
QWith regard to the language on Iran, you said earlier that it's not as far as we would go -- how much further would you prefer to go, and is there resistance from the other six to go further, or is it just for you to go --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me answer the first part, then I'll ask my colleague to answer the second part. We have, I think, said very clearly if you look at Secretary Christopher's speech and where, someplace -- a memorable speech that -- Secretary Christopher's well-known speech -- (laughter) -- that we view much of Iran's behavior as that of an international outlaw. And I think it's our view that with respect to supporting radical movements in the Middle East and elsewhere in seeking to disrupt the Middle East peace process in support of terrorism Iran is a serious threat to the stability in a country whose behavior needs to be contained and a priority for this administration.
And a very big part of that is to get the other industrial nations to be far more cautious in their trading relations with Iran than they are now, with respect, particularly to dual use technologies. And I think the significance of the statement is a policy statement by the other six, by all seven, singling out Iran, which I think will be very helpful in our continuing dialogue with them to try to get them to stop, to restrain their high technology, dual use exports to Iran.
QCan I ask a Korea question? On the portion about nonproliferation, did the Japanese at all get a chance to express their concerns about the continuation of the NPT in light of the fact that they don't really trust North Korea to ever rejoin it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me add a sentence on Iran, and then I'll come back to the other, and my colleague as well.
On Iran, agreeing with everything my colleague said, I think there was also a realization in the room, at least for the political directors and the foreign ministers, that this will be noticed in Tehran. The fact that this is the first time that an explicit reference has been made to Iran, that there is serious concern about aspects of Iranian behavior, and that Iran is being called on to remedy these serious defects will, without a doubt, be noticed in Tehran because it's not an American statement; they're used to it, but it's coming from governments which have diplomatic relations and close commercial relations with Iran. And that's why we think it's an important statement.
On the question of Japan and the NPT and North Korea, we did not go into much detail on the Japanese debate on the question of the extension of the treaty, indefinite extension passed in 1995. The Japanese obviously are concerned, have been working very closely with us and the South Koreans on the specific issue of the withdrawal by North Korea from the NPT and their failure to implement other aspects of nuclear policy, and that's really where we concentrated our efforts.
Q-- indefinite extension?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There is. It's in there. It's in the objective. We agreed that there would be an objective -- to have indefinite extension of the NPT in the documents.
QWhat did Chancellor Kohl want to talk to the President about? And has it been scheduled?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was a bilateral scheduled. An interesting thing happened during this break when the foreign ministers went off, and I think it was about 45 minutes. And it was a time when President Clinton sat one-on-one with a number of foreign leaders at some length, including Chancellor Kohl had a long conversation with Prime Minister Campbell. At one point I came in the room and he was talking to Miyazawa. In a sense, there were a whole series of little Clintonesque bilaterals going on --
QWas that around the table?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- around the table with the President sort of moving around, doing what you've all seen him do in other contexts.
MR. GERGEN: Last question.
QDuring that session, the Chancellor asked specifically for a meeting with the President, and the President said he would try to schedule it.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We had intended to have a meeting with Chancellor Kohl at some point during the two days. I don't know whether -- my point is, I don't know whether the two days -- my point is I don't know whether the conversation they had from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. overtakes the need for them to get together.
We have tried -- President Clinton has tried to meet with, I think, every leader one-on-one during the summit. We met with Ciampi, we met with Miyazawa. Last night, very late, Prime Minister Major came over to the hotel -- the two of them talked. We're scheduled, obviously, to see President Yeltsin. So some of these bilateral will be sort of one the edge of the meeting.
QDid Chancellor Kohl seemed to have something particular on his mind? If you could find out, that would be great.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't -- I will find out and I will get back to you.
QYou talk about progress on nonproliferation and, yet, at least in two cases you have weaker language than in 1992. One is on the NPT when last year the commitment to an early and indefinite extension seemed to me much stronger. And also, on the question of Ukraine, last year you looked forward to early adherence, and I just wondered how you factored that in with your claims of progress.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, again, on the NPT question, because of the North Korean threat and the decision which has yet to have been made by the Japanese government on a firm governmental position on indefinite extension, the language is the way you noticed. But Japanese delegation was very strong in wanting a reference to the objective of indefinite extension just because of the upcoming election and the fact that all of us are reviewing our -- what to do about North Korea that it wasn't possible to commit every government at this point. But there seems to be little doubt among the seven that, come 1995 and even beforehand that commitment will be attained.
On the question of Ukraine, there are two references to Ukraine - - as you know on the nonproliferation section, and then in the section dealing with the former Soviet Union. As I mentioned before, it was felt by all of us that there should be more than one reference to Ukraine. That support for reform in Ukraine, better relations between Russia and Ukraine should be balanced by a reiteration of concern with respect to NPT and ratification of the START Treaty. So it's a dual track approach -- with respect to Ukraine.
MR. GERGEN: Thank you all very much. If you can believe it, we'll be back again.
MR. GERGEN: After this session ends. We'll come as close as we can to 6:30 p.m.
QHow about something after Yeltsin?
MR. GERGEN: There's a dinner tonight. It's a social dinner. I don't anticipate any briefing after a social dinner. But we'll be back -- unless there's something that arises. But I would think the next briefing will be the final briefing of the day.
END2:50 P.M. (L)
William J. Clinton, Background Briefing by Senior Administration Official Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/272283