U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing
January 17, 1997 Briefer: Nicholas Burns

7-8 Status of the Four-Party Talks

8-9 Update on Carey Cavanaugh Meetings/Activities

QUESTION: I just want to know if there's been any progress on the venue for the briefing on the Four-Party Talks?

MR. BURNS: No agreement yet. No decision yet on the place where the Four-Party briefing will be held, but it will be on January 29. As soon as we get the city selected, I will report it to you. No decision yet.

Yes, Ugur.

QUESTION: In Cyprus, Mr. Cavanaugh said during the 16 months ahead, he may ask the Greek Cypriots to cancel the deal. Since you have voiced your opposition so many times from this podium, what's the logic behind Mr. Cavanaugh not asking for cancellation already?

MR. BURNS: I think that Mr. Cavanaugh in his conversations with President Clerides and other Cypriot officials made clear that we believe this is a mistake and that we believe the system should not be deployed, but that's a decision for the Government of Cyprus. They're going to have to take that decision, but that's our position.

He has finished his discussions in Ankara. They were useful discussions with the Turkish leadership. He is overnighting in Istanbul on his way to meet with the European Union in Brussels on Monday.

He's confident - Mr. Cavanaugh is confident - that an agreement on a ban on overflights of Greek and Turkish military aircraft over Cyprus is being taken very seriously. Likewise, I can say from media reports, just to even some scores from earlier in this week - we had a lot of people criticizing us for some of our public statements - that Mr. Gustave Feissel, who is the Chief of U.N. Operations in Cyprus, has been quoted by reputable media sources as saying that he is optimistic about the course of the discussions on reducing tensions along the cease-fire lines after his meetings with Mr. Cavanaugh and with President Clerides. Now, that's important. That means now that both the United Nations and the United States believe that the parties are serious about new steps to minimize and diminish the sources of conflict along the cease-fire lines.

QUESTION: Let me follow that up. I don't think Mr. Cavanaugh said to -- he will never ask for a cancellation of these missiles because it's the internal affairs of the Greek Cypriot Government. But he said within the 16 months, there may come a point at which he may raise the issue and directly ask for the cancellation. So what is he waiting - for what conditions have to be realized before he can ask up front for a cancellation?

MR. BURNS: I think there's probably a misunderstanding here. The United States position is, the system should not be purchased and deployed. It's a mistake. That's what Mr. Cavanaugh has relayed to the Cypriot Government officials. We've not changed our position.

I only meant to say - I didn't mean to say this is an internal affair of Cyprus. I didn't say that. I meant to say that the Government of Cyprus is the only government that can react to these statements by the United States or Turkey. It's got to make the decision. If it makes the decision to go ahead, we will still be opposed to it, and we'll let the Cypriot Government know that.

QUESTION: Just to be very clear about the record, he did not ask for a cancellation of these missiles; right?

MR. BURNS: I think I'm going to leave that - I wasn't in the room with Mr. Cavanaugh. I don't want to put words in his mouth. I'll leave it to him to decide exactly what he said to the Cypriot Government leadership. But there isn't a problem here. I think maybe there's a slight misunderstanding. He very clearly conveyed U.S. opposition to the sale and deployment of this system.