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Daily Press Briefing by State Depar

Subject: Daily Press Briefing by State Department (10/03)

Attn: Free Burma Activists
Daily Press Briefing of State Department
October 3, 1996

QUESTION: Do you have anything on Burma? 

MR. BURNS: There was a White House announcement. Do you want to go on to

QUESTION: Didn't yesterday's statement about the meeting praise the Slovaks
for all of the good things that they've done vis-a-vis democracy? 

MR. BURNS: I noted some of the good things that have happened, but we do have
continuing concerns, especially about Slovak actions just in recent months,
and those concerns will continue. 

QUESTION: But it's curious that you've mentioned them today, but they were
not mentioned in yesterday's statement. 

MR. BURNS: I didn't brief yesterday, so I'm just giving you some information
to that. 

QUESTION: There's a written statement in your name, I believe. 

MR. BURNS: I know that. I'm very familiar with it, and I just thought I'd
give you some
further information, further insights into the meeting that we had this past
week. I
always try to be helpful. Give you more information sometimes than maybe even
you want to have. (Laughter) Sometimes less; sometimes more. 

QUESTION: It's a pretty unusual step to take to exclude the leadership of a
country even if
there are human rights suppressions there, and I'm just wondering is there a
legal basis for this? Is this required under some act of Congress or law or
some other

MR. BURNS: First of all, I think the rationale is quite clear. There was a
White House
statement on this, and you know the President and Mike McCurry have spoken
about this. The fact is that the SLORC has consistently and fundamentally
undermined the democratic
political opposition in Burma, especially the National League of Democracy,
and done it in
a brazen, transparent way. That is quite unusual in Asia or any place else in
the world. 

We have very deep concerns about the direction of the Burmese Government and
the policies that it's following towards its own people, including towards a
Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi. So we've taken this rather extraordinary
step in order to express our very deep unhappiness with the policies of the
Burmese Government. 

The United States does not require any prior legislative or judicial
authority to do this.
This is a decision that the President of the United States can make under the
Constitution, using his executive powers. But it is consistent with the
recent legislation
on Burma passed by the United States Congress on a bipartisan basis, which
gave the
Administration the leeway to take this kind of action -- sanctions, if you
will -- should
that be necessary. 

I think given the fact that several hundred democracy activists, including
democratically elected legislators, were arrested and detained last week just
for the sole
purpose because they wanted to convene to have a meeting, that was in essence
the last

I think you also may have seen some of the ludicrous and outrageous charges
made by the Burmese Government about the activities of the American Charge
d'Affaires in Rangoon. These charges are fundamentally untrue. They're false,
and they're a fabrication by the Burmese Government, and frankly it is just
extraordinary to see the Burmese Government launch an attack against an
American diplomat of the type that was launched against our diplomat this

So for all these reasons, I think the United States has just decided that if
we can't have
a civil discourse with the Burmese Government, we can certainly keep their
officials out
of our country; deny them the pleasure of visiting our cities. If they want
to come on
official visits to the United Nations, we'll judge that on a case-by-case
basis. But
they're not welcome here in the United States. 

QUESTION: Nick, what is the level of drug enforcement assistance to Burma
from the United States, and is there any consideration being given to cutting

MR. BURNS: I will have to check on the level, David. I remember several
months ago we had those figures, and we actually gave them to you, and I'm
sure we can give them to you by the end of the day. 

QUESTION: Is there any further consideration being given to cutting it? There
have also been reports that the money is not going for the purpose that it
was supposed to be sent for. 

MR. BURNS: I think it's certainly the will of the U.S. Congress. We've worked
very closely
and well with the Congress on the question of Burma that the United States
should retain
the option to consider other actions, should that be necessary, in order to
put forward a
policy towards Burma that reflects our own beliefs and our own self-interest,
and that
would be one of the questions that one would have to ask. But I'm not aware
that any
decision has been made about that. 

QUESTION: Are there members of the families of the Burmese leadership who are
in the United States now or who are being educated here who will have the
immediate result of being expelled? 

MR. BURNS: The visa proclamation that was issued this morning by the White
House does not apply to diplomatic personnel of the Burmese missions in
Washington and New York, and there will be occasions where the United States
has an international obligation that would require the issuance of a visa,
fundamentally for Burmese diplomats attending United Nations events in New

But it does suspend the entry into the United States of persons who are
judged to be
formulating or implementing policies that are impeding the transition to
democracy in
Burma, or people who benefit from such policies and their immediate families.

So the Department of State will be implementing this Presidential decision
and order, and
we will be drawing up specific guidelines. But I think we know where the
lines of
separation are here, and I think we'll be very careful in implementing this. 

QUESTION: But my question is, are there students -- let's say Burmese
students from the
children of the executive branch there or the SLORC who are in this country
who will now
be expelled as a result of this order? 

MR. BURNS: We'll just have to try to, I think, survey who the likely people
are in the United
States presently who might fall under the purview of this decision. Immediate
family means
immediate family, and our Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs will be
responsible for dealing with this question. I can't answer the question at
the present
time, but I'm sure we can get you an answer as we go down the road
implementing this.

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