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recent evidence related to the bombing of the La Belle disco
The U.S. believes the appropriate response to Qadhafi's policies remains one of isolating Libya and minimizing Libya's
presence abroad to demonstrate to Qadhafi the cost of his
objectionable policies and to limit his capacity to take
The administration recently renewed its
wide-ranging economic sanctions against Libya.
We do not view Qadhafi's stated readiness for a "live and
let live" relationship with the U.S. as a meaningful
Improved relations between the u.s. and Libya will
not be possible as long as Qadhafi continues to support
What we seek is concrete evidence of a durable
change in Libyan policies, not mere words.
SOVIET NAVAL BASE AT TARTUS
Q. There have recently been reports that the Soviet Union has opened a naval base on the Mediterranean at the Syrian port of Tartus.
--IS this accurate?
--If so, what are the implications for U.S. interests and
for the military balance in the region?
We have indications that the Soviets are making
improvements to the facilities at Tartus.
However, it is not
clear how extensive these improvements will be, nor whether
they will result in the creation of a Soviet-controlled "base"
at Tartus, as opposed to the Soviet use of Syrian facilities
which has gone on for some time.
Nevertheless, any improvement
in support facilities in Tartus would increase the capability
of Soviet naval forces in the Eastern Mediterranean.
development will have to be taken into account by our military
PLO Office Issues
Mr. Secretary, I am confused regarding U.S. policy on the PLO Observer Mission in New York. Secretary Shultz says the Congressional law closing the office was dumb and urge's it be fought and replaced. Congressional sponsors never specifically urged, to my knowledge, that international legal obligations be discarded when this law was passed; and yet the Justice Department has said that the PLO UN office must be closed, the law passed by Congress negates international legal obligations and the U.S. will go to court to force closure.
What is U.S. policy on this issue?
The Administration strongly opposed enactment of the
Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987. Nevertheless, the bill was enac ed, and the Attorney General has determined that it requires him to
close the PLO Observer Mission in New York.
Q. Does last week's action by the Justice Department represent U.S. policy?
By its terms, the Act is effective March 21, 1988
(90 days from the date of enactment, December 22, 1987).
Why is, the U.S. not seeking to arbitrate this issue pursuant to its agreements with the UN?
The Attorney General has determined that the Act
requires him to close the PLO Observer Mission irrespective of any
international legal obligations of the United States. The Justice Department has indicated, however, that it will take no further action to close the Mission pending decision by the courts. While
the matter is pending in our courts, we do not believe that
arbitration is timely or appropriate.
Q. Why wasn't an effort made to clarify Congressional intent if there was a question?
The Department advised Congress on several occasions
of our view that enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act would be
viewed as violating the international legal obligations of the United States. This view was also conveyed to individual Members
and their staffs and was repeated by Department representatives at
the Conference Committee Congress was thus fully aware of the
Department's position when it passed the bill.
Q. Doesn't this issue seriously complicate U.S. efforts to try to urge Palestinian groups and the PLO to support U.S. diplomatic efforts?
2. Several Congressmen, led by Congressman Crockett, have introduced legislation to repeal the law closing the PLO office in Sew York. Secretary Shultz said earlier he supported repeal.
Q. Does the State Department support this particular legislation?
In response to a request from Chairman Fascell, the
Department will be forwarding an official position on this
legislation to the Congress shortly.
3. Several UN legal experts have said that the move to close the UN PLO Observer Mission would be a treaty violation under the 1947 Headquarters Agreement and that it was a "watertight case."
Do you agree or disagree with these assertions?
We have made our views on this issue clear on several
In letters to Chairman Fascell and Congressman
Broomfield dated November 5, 1987, for example, we stated that
"The proposed legislation would
effectively require closure of
the PLO observer mission in New York.
Such a move would break a
40-year practice regarding observer missions by nations hosting UN
bodies and could legitimately be viewed as inconsistent with our
responsibilities under sections 11-13 of the United Nations
We could expect strong criticism in the
UN, including from our friends.
The UN could, moreover, refer the
issue to the World Court, where we would probably lose and the PLO would reap a propaganda gain."