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US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MAY 5, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, May 5, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly ANNOUNCEMENT Background Briefing Today on Presidential Decision Directive on Peacekeeping ............1 RWANDA Situation Update on Fighting ....................1 UN Request for Peacekeeping Troops ..............1 Diplomatic Discussions/US Delegation's Meetings .1-2 SINGAPORE Caning of Michael Fay/Impact on US Relations ...2-5 Ambassador to US Summoned to Department to Convey President's Reaction ..........................2-4 US Contacts with Michael Fay/Family ...........3 DEPARTMENT Reported Letter from Asst. Secretary Lord to Secretary re: Asia Policy ....................5-8 US Policy toward Asia ...........................6-8 IRAN Reported Flogging of American Woman .............8-9 CHINA Report US Ambassador Summoned to Foreign Ministry9-10 HAITI Departure of Ambassador Pezzullo ................10 New US Policy/Refugees ..........................10-12 MEXICO Secretary's Visit ...............................12 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA US Diplomatic Efforts/Contact Group/Ministerial Meeting Set for May 13 ........................12-13 Update on Fighting ..............................14 YEMEN Civil Strife/US Urges Negotiations ..............14 Visit of Asst. Secretary Pelletreau .............15-16 Safety of Americans .............................15-16
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, MAY 5, 1994, 1:29 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for the delay in getting the briefing started. I actually received a last-second phone call from Assistant Secretary Shattuck who you know is out in the region in connection with his work on the Rwanda crisis. I want to bring you up to date on the report from him in just a second.
I just had one short announcement before I get into that.
As you know, we posted a notice about a background briefing this afternoon on the Presidential Decision Directive on Peacekeeping. We have rescheduled that briefing for 4:00 o'clock this afternoon, not 4:30. This briefing will take place here in the State Department briefing room.
I just wanted to take a second to bring you up to date on the situation in Rwanda, particularly in light of the phone call I have just taken from Assistant Secretary Shattuck. As to the current situation on the ground, U.N. sources are reporting that unusually heavy artillery fire occurred last night in Kigali. We cannot confirm yet whether a major offensive combat is underway.
U.N. Secretary General Boutros-Ghali has asked African governments about the possibility of their contributing personnel to a U.N. peacekeeping force in Rwanda. We remain ready to consider such proposals.
The proximity talks which began on Tuesday in Arusha were recessed today by the Government of Tanzania. The delegates and observers are leaving Arusha today. Assistant Secretary Shattuck and his party are now in Dar es Salaam and will be discussing the next steps with the Tanzanian Government.
The report I have for you specifically from him, however, focuses on his meeting which took place with the Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, who received Assistant Secretary Shattuck and his delegation for in-depth discussions earlier yesterday and earlier today on the situation in Rwanda.
Both parties agreed that the horrors of mass killings and civil war in Rwanda were matters of urgent and universal concern. They agreed that Rwandan leaders must end violence against civilians immediately, agree to a cease-fire and return to negotiations within the Arusha peace process.
The two sides concluded that an international presence in Rwanda was needed to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced persons.
The Organization of African Unity has an important role to play in mobilizing African support for and participation in such an international effort which in the view of the OAU Secretary General should be under United Nations direction. The parties also agreed that an objective international investigation of the events which led to the outbreak of the mass killings and the gross violations of human rights in Rwanda following the death of the Presidents was also urgently required. They believe that a visit to the region of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights would accelerate the launching of such an investigation.
I'd be pleased to take questions on this or on any other subjects of your choosing.
Q Singapore. Do you have anything to say about the impact of what transpired there on U.S.-Singapore relations?
MS. SHELLY: I have a short statement to make on that which addresses Assistant Secretary Lord's meeting with the Singapore Ambassador, which I believe you know took place at noon today.
Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Affairs Winston Lord met at noon today with Ambassador S. R. Nathan, Singapore's Ambassador to the United States, to deliver President Clinton's response to Singapore's decision to deny clemency to Michael Fay.
Assistant Secretary Lord informed Ambassador Nathan that the President was very disappointed by this decision. Assistant Secretary Lord further stated that the Department of State would shortly be reissuing its Consular Information Sheet, warning American considering traveling to Singapore that they will be subject to harsh punishment under Singapore law if they are convicted of crimes there.
During the course of what was a frank and candid discussion, Assistant Secretary Lord emphasized that this incident will have to be taken into account in the overall relationship between the United States and Singapore.
Q What does that last sentence mean? Will there be some change in -- I mean, some real change, or we just don't like them as much as we used to?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to speculate on what the implications of that sentence are. We simply have said that the incident and their action will be a factor in the relationship.
Q The family has urged that the United States impose some sort of economic embargo on Singapore. Is that considered a likely result of this situation?
MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen their statement to that effect, urging that, but it is not -- we are in contact with the family, we hear what they have to say, but that action is not under consideration at this time.
Q Has any Consular official seen Michael Fay?
MS. SHELLY: I have just a little bit on the Consular visits, trying to see if I could anticipate correctly what your questions might be.
Since Mr. Fay's incarceration on the 31st of March, a Consular Officer has visited him as often as permitted by prison officials. We had visits which took place on April 2, 4, 12 and 30. We have requested permission for another visit next week. So the last visit that we had with him was on April 30, last Saturday.
Family members and attorneys also, since the time of incarceration, have been permitted regular visits as well. At the last visit that we had with him, it appeared that he was receiving treatment in jail in accordance with provisions under Singapore law. At that time he advised our Consular Officer that he was in good health and he appeared to be in reasonably good spirits.
We have been in regular contact with his family and his attorneys, principally through the Embassy in Singapore. We will certainly continue those and, as I mentioned, we have requested permission to see him next week.
Q While we're on the subject of Assistant Secretary Lord, did you see the story in the Washington Post about a purported memo sent by him to the Secretary of State? Can you confirm that there is such a memo and it says what the Post story says?
MS. SHELLY: I'm prepared to get into that issue, but were there any other questions on Michael Fay before we move to the Asia relationship, generally?
Q So you have no idea of what shape this kid is in now after he has received the punishment?
MS. SHELLY: What we know is that there was a statement that was put out by the Singapore Government on this. They indicated that the caning had taken place and they indicated that Michael Fay had been examined by the doctor of the prison and that he was described as being in satisfactory condition.
Q And the overall impact on U.S.-Singaporean relations sounds pretty mild from your statement. In other words, it's something that the U.S. Government takes into account and we don't like it but acknowledges that there is little the United States can do about it and then we go back to dealing with the government on government-to-government basis; is that approximately correct?
MS. SHELLY: We have called in the Ambassador. We conveyed the views of the President of the United States on this. I think that this is certainly letting the Singapore Government know in no uncertain terms what our reaction to this action was.
I am just going to decline at this point in time to speculate about the impact that the decision to proceed with the caning will have. We have pronounced ourselves on that. We conveyed our views. The meeting lasted approximately 15 minutes. That, I think, where I'm going to leave it.
Q Christine, is it possible that at some time the State Department will come forward and volunteer and say what impact this has had on relations? Unless it's just an empty bit of rhetoric. If something is going to be done or considered and then done, would the State Department be announcing it?
MS. SHELLY: Well, Barry, that's a very --
Q Because we could ask periodically. Because we often hear about such -- they're often such statements that don't bear fruit.
MS. SHELLY: What I'm addressing is the here and now, what I have said I think very clearly, and we've sent the message to the Singapore Ambassador very clearly, the fact that this caning has taken place that it will be taken into account in the conduct of our bilateral relations with them.
I'm just not going to get into speculating how that will be taken into account for today. As to the future or any particular events that we have coming up, I'm just not prepared to get into that.
Q No, no. I was asking if we could expect -- I was just trying to save the time of asking, as I will now do, let's say every 15th and 30th of every month for the next year, how the State Department has taken this into account, unless I can expect that some announcement will be made?
MS. SHELLY: Again, it's not my job today, as the briefer, to get into what we might do in the future. So I've told you what we consider the impact of that to be, and I'm going to leave it at that.
Anything else on the Michael Fay issue?
Q Just a factual question. So it is true that no one except for this doctor at the prison has actually seen him since this happened? His family hasn't, his lawyer hasn't; is that correct?
MS. SHELLY: That's my understanding. I understand that his lawyer was permitted to see him prior to the execution of the sentence; but I'm not aware, at least based on what we've been told by the Singapore authorities, that there have been other visits yet.
As I said, for our part, we put in a request to see him early next week.
Q By the way, on the subject of human rights, and Mr. Shattuck, is there a date now for him to go to Syria? That was sort of in the works?
MS. SHELLY: I'll have to check on that.
Q Do you want to deal with the Lord memo?
MS. SHELLY: Sure. On your broader point about an article that was in today's Washington Post which discusses a memorandum which Assistant Secretary Lord is alleged to have written to the Secretary, I'm not going to get into the specific discussion of the points raised.
The Assistant Secretary did address some of his thoughts to the Secretary, generally speaking, on our relations with Asia. That is, of course, exactly the kind of thing that Assistant Secretaries do as time goes on, and they have things they wish to address and points they wish to make.
As to our policy on Asia, because I think I would like to address that point generally, I think it's quite clear from the record of this Administration that from the very beginning engagement with Asia has been a top priority. There is widespread support in Asia for an active American role, for an active American economic, political, and military presence in the region.
We have established relations with Asia on a very solid basis for the future during this entire first year and some months. The other indicators in the U.S.-Asian relationship, we think, are very positive. U.S.-Asian trade, for example, went up by nine percent last year.
As you know from the pattern of visits and travel which have taken place, the President hosted a very successful APEC Leaders Meeting last November in Seattle which involved 13 Asian leaders. His first overseas trip was to Asia.
The Secretary has gone there four times in his almost year and a half as Secretary of State, so I think that gives a very clear signal as to our relationship with Asia.
Certainly, the relations have been reaffirmed, have been refocused for the post-Cold War era. We have had a lot of individual successes, I think, in such things as the Cambodian peace process and the newly democratically elected coalition government. We have reached agreement on Japan on a number of common-agenda items on global affairs.
The President has directed a new strategy of comprehensive engagement with China with which you are very familiar. Secretary Lord also addressed China yesterday in Congressional testimony. So I think we have a very solid basis for that relationship. It's a basis on which we will proceed forward from here.
We certainly reject the general notion that there is some kind of difficulty or problem in this relationship.
Q If I could just follow --
Q I don't understand. Why are you telling us all this? Has anyone suggested -- have any of us suggested that there is problem in the relationship with Asia?
MS. SHELLY: No. The article suggests that.
Q As I understand, the Assistant Secretary --
Q Are you responding to points raised by Mr. Lord?
MS. SHELLY: I'm laying out the framework for our relationship with Asia.
Q Did Mr. Lord, for instance, say the Secretary didn't make his first trip as Secretary of State to Asia, and you're telling us that he did? So you're correcting -- I don't know why you're giving us this sui sponte declaration of your accomplishments?
MS. SHELLY: First of all, I'm giving you an explanation of how we look at our Asia policy in light of the question which has been asked.
Q (inaudible) think you're doing a good job. We're not surprised. Nobody brought up the question. Nobody said that there's problem with relations with Asia. My understanding is that the Assistant Secretary laid out some problems in a letter, and you're responding to that -- to his points, not to our points. You haven't denied that he made those points.
I just don't understand why you felt it necessary to give us this long litany of how great everything is with Asia, unless you feel a certain sensitivity due to the fact that the Assistant Secretary, who is responsible for Asia, thinks that there is a problem.
MS. SHELLY: Alan, I think that we were concerned with the impression overall that was left by the article and its references to --
Q Maybe you ought to write a letter to the Washington Post.
MS. SHELLY: -- something which was an internal correspondence between an Assistant Secretary and the Secretary.
Q How do you deny that the points listed in the article, which the article alleged, Mr. Lord raised with the Secretary were, in fact, made? Are you in a position to deny that those points were raised by Mr. Lord with Secretary Christopher?
MS. SHELLY: As to the specific points that were or weren't in the Memorandum from Assistant Secretary Lord, that part I'm not going to engage on. I'm not going to say what was in that.
Q Are you saying that the article misrepresented what the letter said?
MS. SHELLY: I'm saying that the general impression that is left by the article and the particular references to certain aspects or issues that were addressed in it leaves an impression which we would simply like to get out there and counter, which is that we believe that the relationship -- on the whole, our relations with the countries are excellent. We're pursuing strategies with the nations in question. Whereas, there may be some individual difficulties which are encountered in relationships, we consider we have a very solid foundation for pursuing our relations with Asia.
Q I don't doubt that. But was the word "malaise" used?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I'm not getting into what was in the memo.
Q You ought to write a letter to the Washington Post instead of subjecting us to this litany, since we --
MS. SHELLY: Well, I get subjected to your litany so occasionally you can get subjected to mine.
Q Let's go back to the issue of flogging or maybe we're still on it.
Q Could I just finish up? One of the points made in the quotation in the Post, not a conclusion by the Post, was that the administration's short-term goals sometimes come into conflict with its longer-range strategy, such as human rights in China and the Michael Fay episode in Singapore.
Are you denying that there is a feeling within the East Asian Bureau that there is a dissonance in Administration policy that has to some extent spoiled the happy atmosphere that existed in November in Seattle at APEC?
MS. SHELLY: No. I don't think that that is our feeling. Every relationship has its challenging moments. There are times where issues have to be very actively worked. There are times when there may be some short-term setbacks to longer-term relationships. I think that we have some issues, certainly, with the Asian countries which are tough, which are complex, but I think that our feeling is that the foundation is very strong, and that we work through the difficult moments, and we are overall in a positive position.
Q Back to flogging, this time in Iran. The wires have picked up a Tehran newspaper story which says an American woman from Texas was picked up in park while drunk with her dog, admitted to prostitution, received 80 lashes and a $6.00 fine and is to be deported.
Not much in this seems to have the ring of truth to it, but do you know anything about that?
MS. SHELLY: We've seen at least one wire service report on this and naturally when we see something like this on something involving an American citizen, it's something that we look into quite expeditiously.
As you know, we don't have a presence there. We operate our relations through the Swiss as a protecting power. So when the reports of this reached us, we began looking into it. We've raised it with the Swiss and have asked them to investigate it, and I may be able to shed a little more light on the situation.
It seems like a kind of odd story with some rather unusual elements in it. So we are checking via the Swiss and hope to be able to give you a little bit more on that once we get an answer back.
Q Christine, back to happy hour in Asia. The Japanese Minister of Justice made some comments about denying the rape of Nanking. Do you have anything to say about that?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have any comment on that.
Q Why not?
MS. SHELLY: Because I just don't have a comment.
Q Well, could you get a comment?
MS. SHELLY: I'll look into it and see if we would like to comment.
Q When a government minister, senior portfolio, casts doubt on a major atrocity committed by that country before the Second World War, it would seem to me that it would be appropriate for the State Department, even at the risk of spoiling some of the good vibes that are coming from Asia, to have something to say about that.
MS. SHELLY: I'll see.
Q Still in Asia. The U.S. Ambassador in Beijing has been summoned in to receive a strong protest, I understand, about recent U.S. legislation referring to Tibet and Taiwan, also the setting up of Radio Free Asia. Have you got anything on that? Any response?
MS. SHELLY: I've seen that report. I don't have anything to say on that right now, and I'll see if we'd like to say something on that later.
Q Do you have any comment on the points made by Ambassador Pezzullo in his piece on the OpEd page of the Washington Post or in his various interviews?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot to say on that. We naturally have seen the article and have read it. I think we have a pretty good indication of what his position on some of the issues in question is. Haiti is a very difficult issue which we have acknowledged many times, and U.S. government officials, all the way right up to the top, have expressed a lot of frustration over trying to achieve our policy ends which remain unchanged. It's the restoration of democracy and the return of President Aristide.
I think that what we have -- we also explained publicly a couple of times the circumstances which led to Ambassador Pezzullo's departure. We indicated he had had a meeting with the Secretary, at the end of which they mutually concluded that Ambassador Pezzullo would leave his position.
Certainly, the Secretary senses Ambassador Pezzullo's frustration. It's been frustrating for those others who have been involved in working this policy. Precisely the lack of success in achieving the desired policy ends is what led to the decision to have a rather comprehensive policy review, at the end of which it was decided to make some adjustments to the strategy which we were pursuing, designed to achieve the ends which I mentioned.
Those efforts that we had made had not yielded the success we would have liked, and we've got a new policy in place now. We've indicated what those elements are, and that the emphasis, as the first step, is on a much tougher sanctions regime to be adopted up through the U.N. Security Council, and we've moved on to address the issue in light of the elements of the policy we described.
Q As part of the new policy, is there now a de facto policy to allow those Haitians who helter-skelter arrived in this country aboard various boats to remain in this country?
MS. SHELLY: I addressed --
Q Like the 490, for example.
MS. SHELLY: I addressed this issue at length actually yesterday, and I don't want to -- those of you who were here yesterday, I'm sure you don't want me to go through that. So I might refer you to the transcript of what we said yesterday.
The policy remains unchanged, and one of the reasons that the policy remains unchanged is because we believe that the in-country refugee application process program, which is in place in the country, does represent a very realistic means of providing for the exodus of those refugees who would qualify for refugee status and not take to the boats and risk their loss of life on the sea.
So it does remain our policy that we will continue the repatriation of the boat people because we consider that the in-country refugee program is a real alternative for them.
Q I remember the briefing yesterday vividly. Among the things you said, however, were that these 490 plus the other -- 90, is it? -- would remain in an INS installation in Florida. Is that still the case?
MS. SHELLY: This is actually not my jurisdiction. I've actually seen some press reports indicating that a large portion of the 419 have now been released. But that is really an INS issue. It's not a State Department issue.
Q Well, does that conform with the policy of forcible repatriation and its various facets?
MS. SHELLY: I think that you know well what the policy is. For those who actually reach the shores of the United States, it's a somewhat different regime. They still have to apply for refugee status, and that is what -- there was processing that went on in terms of identifying the people in question and eliciting some information about them.
But it's my understanding that they will be going through the process of application for refugee status in the United States. And while this process is underway, they are permitted to stay. That's what the law is, and that doesn't affect what happens for those refugees in boats who might be interdicted on the high seas.
Q Right. But you say being allowed to stay. But as I understand what's happening now is they're not staying in these INS installations; they are out on parole, as it were.
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is, due to an extremely crowded situation down in this particular refugee center just outside of Miami, the crowding situation was such that it simply became a physical impossibility to keep all of them at that center for an indefinite period. This actually will take some months for the application process and eventually for the decision process to reach its conclusion.
So therefore they have been released from the facility. I don't know if all of them have been. I understand that at least by today that a significant number had been. I think that this smaller number who had reached Florida earlier in the week, that the intention is that they would also be released from the facility while their applications are under review.
Q Do you have anything you can tell us about the Secretary's agenda in Mexico?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot. I hope that we're going to be putting out some kind of a statement on this a little bit later today. You know that it is a meeting on the 8th and 9th -- or departure for the Secretary on the 8th -- a meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission in Mexico City on Monday, May 9.
Secretary Christopher travels to Mexico City, leading the U.S. delegation which includes several Cabinet-level officials and other agency chiefs. I expect to post a statement on this this afternoon which will give a few more details on this.
Q Do you know if he's meeting with any opposition figures?
MS. SHELLY: I do not know. I don't have that information.
Q Christine, a specific question on that. One of the items that may be on the agenda is the question of extradition from Mexico. They have never extradited anyone, I believe, and there are a number of celebrated cases where extradition is being sought. I wonder whether you could ask whether that's on the agenda for Reno or the Secretary.
MS. SHELLY: I'll check.
Q Christine, there's a Foreign Minister's meeting shaping up on Bosnian next week, with the Secretary attending. I wondered if you could bring us up to date on what Redman and the other Contact Group emissaries have let you know about any disposition the parties might have to negotiating a settlement.
MS. SHELLY: Ambassador Redman and the Contact Group are currently in Bosnia for another round of talks with the Bosnian Government and with Bosnian Serbs. They just arrived back in the region after some consultations back in their respective capitals. The second round of this discussion is just starting, so I don't have any details on the latest things.
As I think you know, the Contact Group is working specifically on two sets of issues: the general cessation of hostilities question, as well as territorial issues in the context of the peace process.
As Secretary Christopher and Foreign Minister Kozyrev announced in Cairo yesterday, plans are underway for a ministerial meeting involving the Foreign Ministers of the participants in the Contact Group. Based on the Secretary's discussions with his colleagues on this, he and Foreign Minister Kozyrev indicated that they believe that such a meeting could take place on May 13.
The meeting will review the overall state of play in the Bosnian peace negotiations, receive the reports of the Contact Group on the subjects that I mentioned, and perhaps consider additional issues as well.
Q A slightly -- maybe I have the wrong impression, but it sounds like they're going to go ahead whether or not there's a basis for negotiations. The impression I got in London, when the group was established, was that -- to send out mediators with some hope that you could get a settlement discussion going, and if they reported back something positive, why, the Foreign Ministers would jump on it and meet. Maybe I had it wrong, but this is sort of a survey -- right? It doesn't necessarily mean there's hope. It's just, take another look at it, right?
MS. SHELLY: It doesn't mean that there isn't hope, Barry.
Q No, no. But you're not waiting for a positive reply?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, there had been discussion about having a ministerial meeting, possibly as a first stage in this and it was then decided that the Contact Group would first be formed, would travel out to the region, meet with the parties, elicit the views, have some time to reflect and consult and then get back together. So this is the process which is underway.
I think it was genuinely expected that something like two weeks or two and half/three weeks -- something like that -- would elapse from the time that Secretary Christopher had his ministerial level meetings in London prior to going to the Middle East and the possible meeting of Foreign Ministers in this format to see where the prospects were and then to take it from there.
So they're going to get a report on this based on how far the Contact Group was able to come and then decide what will be the next steps.
Q Yesterday, the Kozyrev-Christopher meeting that you referred to, that resulted in a statement -- it called for a cease-fire, an end to hostilities all across the country, etc., etc. It said it was urgent and everything.
Have you detected anything either on the ground or from other governments echoing this request? In other words, have other governments come forward and said, "We're with you on this?" But more importantly, has there been any follow-up in the fighting? Has there been any suggestion that anybody is listening out there?
MS. SHELLY: The general situation in Bosnia has been rather quiet, certainly relative to some of the periods of time that we've had over the last few months. The reports that we got is that there is still some small arms fire that continues in episodes and in pockets. It's not possible for us to track down or confirm every single report of that kind.
My understanding is, there has been some shelling in the Brcko area of late. The most recent timeframe, probably within the last day or so.
The situation in Croatia is still calm, with occasional small arms fire being recorded.
So the overall picture -- there also was another incident, which I think occurred today, when the airplane carrying the new German Ambassador into Sarajevo was hit by small arms fire while it was landing at the airport.
This is, generally speaking, the type of fighting and violence which continues to go on.
Q Do you have anything on Yemen, following Mr. Pelletreau's visit -- reports today of air raids over Aden and Sana'a and a state of emergency declared? Things are getting worse, obviously.
MS. SHELLY: Right. I have bit of an update on that for you. Since yesterday afternoon, we have heard various reports of the air attacks in Sana'a and fighting in Aden and other areas. We remain in very close touch with our Embassy in Sana'a about the situation.
I would reiterate what I said yesterday. The United States believes there is no military solution to Yemen's problems, and we urge their leaders to work together to try to solve the differences peacefully.
Assistant Secretary Pelletreau arrived in Sana'a yesterday as part of the previously scheduled tour throughout the region. He met with the Yemen President Salih. In his meeting with the President, Assistant Secretary Pelletreau conveyed the U.S. concerns for Yemen's peace and stability, and he emphasized also that military options are not the solution to their problems.
The U.S. is, as you know, not an official mediator, but we had been trying to use our good offices to promote a cessation of hostilities and to try to get a meaningful political dialogue resumed and get a negotiated settlement to Yemen's problems.
As to the most recent events which have taken place on the ground, we are preparing a travel warning advising Americans to avoid travel to Yemen and recommending that Americans in Yemen depart. Our Embassy in Sana'a will remain in close touch with the American community regarding developments.
My reports are that all private American citizens and Embassy personnel are safe and accounted for.
Q Mr. Pelletreau says -- he's emphasizing that the military option is not the right one but he's clearly not being listened to, is he? Are you going to do anything further?
MS. SHELLY: This is not something which just occurred as a single action and then we had a conversation and then there wasn't a result. Since the unification of the country took place, there have been a lot of tensions between the North and the South that have required good offices and occasionally mediation by other countries in the region to try to sort through the difficulties. That is certainly still very much what we would like to see happen. And our statement yesterday also focused on the types of confidence building measures that we would like to see happen.
But, obviously, the most recent developments of the last 24 hours suggest after -- because there had been some fighting four or five days ago and then it seemed to have calmed down again -- obviously, the last 24 hours indicate that there is an outbreak again. It's hard to know exactly if this is just a single outbreak or if there's going to be a continuation of this type of thing.
It's only prudent of us to make contact with the American community there and make sure that we are taking actions that we deem prudent regarding advice to American citizens who either might be there or might be thinking about traveling to the region.
So it certainly is still very much our hope that we can get the situation settled back down again and then to try to move forward with the kinds of measures which we think would reduce the tensions between the northern and southern parts of Yemen.
Q Do you know how many Americans are there -- private and official?
MS. SHELLY: The official community would include the dependents and also there is a Peace Corps unit there of 46 people. The official community is 150 people, and the private American citizen community in Yemen is something like 5,000 Americans.
Q Are you planning (inaudible) evacuations?
MS. SHELLY: Not at this point. I'm not going to definitively rule out anything. I have nothing for you on that at this point.
Q Is Pelletreau still there, and what are his plans for --
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry?
Q Is Pelletreau still there, and what are his plans for leaving?
MS. SHELLY: I believe that he now has left. He had plans to visit several countries in the region. I think we put the details of that out in the statement yesterday on Yemen. My understanding is, he's proceeding now with the rest of his travel.
Q When the Secretary goes back to the Mideast next week, are any other stops apart from Syria or Israel likely, or just those two?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything on his trip to the Middle East. No details on that.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
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