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Central Africa Mission Press Conference from Stuttgart, Germany - Nov. 22, 1996

Presenters: Lt. Gen. Maurice Baril,
November 22, 1996 9:30 AM EDT

Transmission of Press Conference with Lt. Gen. Maurice Baril,

Friday, Nov. 22, 1996 - 9:30 a.m. (EST)

(This event comes following a planning meeting of some 35 nations participating in the multinational force in Stuttgart, Germany. )

General Baril: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Madames, monsieurs, bon jour. Guttentag.

It is a pleasure to be here today. Let me begin by saying thank you to our hosts at European Command headquarters and the German officials here in Stuttgart for their hospitality. All have made us feel very welcome in a difficult time.

We began our military planning conference this morning. The purpose of this conference is to develop military options for possible multinational force deployment in response to the United Nations Resolution 1080. I must emphasize we are in the planning process and it will be at least another day before we can give a precise shape to the outcome of our deliberations.

We began this morning with a productive session attended by military representatives from 35 nations together with humanitarian organizations who are fully involved in our discussion and planning. We began by exchanging information about the situation in Eastern Zaire to help us determine the level of security assistance required. We are particularly concerned about the number, condition and location of refugees in Eastern Zaire that might need the assistance of a multinational force.

Assessments at the meeting varied, both as [to] the number and location of refugees. Some thought there were more than 500,000 refugees with the largest concentration northwest of Bukavu. Some delegations said they have observed perhaps 250,000. For my part, when I flew over a 60 kilometer corridor along the Zaire-Rwanda border from Lake Edwards to Uvira, I observed on the order of a 100,000 plus -- it's rather difficult to count from the air at high speed -- just west of Lake Kivu.

Funding for any multinational force depends critically on a clear picture of the situation on the ground. For that reason I have established a multinational assessment group, including NGOs, [and] UN agencies, to give us a better appreciation of the situation as we see it. That group is sitting now.

We also reviewed potential national force contributions to the multinational force with the understanding that firm commitments can only be made later by governments after they have considered the force options. This afternoon, we will begin the process of developing detailed military options for a multinational force. These options will be designed in light of what we know of conditions on the ground, to fulfill the tasks already agreed for the multinational force, and tailored to the military resources potentially available. They will necessarily be revised as the information becomes clearer, and as the situation changes on the ground.

I would hope by the end of the weekend -- and earlier if we can -- we will have developed a full slate of options. These options will then be referred to the governments for the decision on which, if any, they wish to implement.

Ladies and gentlemen, I will now answer your questions.

Q: (Inaudible).

A: (Provided in French. Translation not available.)

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: For the first part of your question, I think there is still, and from the briefings and the discussion that we have heard from the humanitarians. They are really concerned for large group that can go from a 100,000 to 250,000, and in the corridor that we're talking about. And the second part of your question you'll have to ask the country.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: Probably a combination of all. They will need the supplies to go in. But the reason that we are looking at and planning for a multinational force is because humanitarian organizations cannot reach them because they're moving to fast or because of the fighting that has been on the ground. But the idea and mission and the mandate that we have, is to open corridors to reach those who really need it with the humanitarians. We're not here to feed them or transport, we're there to open the corridor.

(Next six questions and answers in French. Translation not available.)

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: The accurate situation of the refugees -- where they are, what condition and what numbers -- has to be the basis of the decision of how they are going to deploy the multinational force, when and in what state we're going to do it. I think we're deploying a lot of means now -- very sophisticated -- as to where they are, find them and also what number they are. We're asking all the countries and all the agencies to share the information that they have and that's why I said at the beginning that's there's a large group of them -- militaries, NGOs and UN agencies -- who are all locked up in a room now and they're not going to come out until they start figuring out and agreeing on what it is. And if they can't agree we'll (inaudible).

Q: (Inaudible)

A: Well, I'm afraid there might be a divergent view if we ask Zaire, of course they would like to see the force there, and, by the way, many of the countries around the world feel the same way. If I talk to Rwanda. Well they think that have (inaudible) the problem of refugees -- more than half a million have returned to their country and they believe that a hundred or so are ready to go back in. But from their point of view, and only their point of view, they feel its not necessary. But I don't think those two countries who will decide. It's those who are going to provide the troops and also a very definite assessment of what is the condition on the ground.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: (Provided in French. Translation not available.)

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: Well if we have to go through the territory of Rwanda... Rwanda is a sovereign state. It certainly... We don't have a Chapter 7 to operate in Rwanda. We have a Chapter 7 to operate in Eastern Zaire.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: (Provided in French. Translation not available.)

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: I don't think it will add very much to the debate if we tell you which agencies because I didn't write it down. But it went from about 500,000 down to 100,000 depending who it is. If we (inaudible) to some of the countries we might have a higher number or lower. What is the reason? Maybe the sensors that they have used; the information that they have gathered or some other reason, that I don't know. But we're going to find out before we commit any troops.

Q: (Inaudible)

A: Well I don't like the word 'conference' first of all. It's a planning session that we're doing and we're starting as soon as I get away. My mandate, and what we're going to do from this afternoon and tomorrow and Sunday if we have to -- we are going to work out options. What are the troops required -- and we will present those options to the group of countries who are going to decide which option is going to be implemented, when and at what speed.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: No, I don't think I should be discussing what I will be discussing privately with them when I meet in New York at (inaudible).

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: (Provided in French. Translation not available.)

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: (Provided in French. Translation not available.)

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: If you tell me what kind of fighting is going on, I'll tell you how I'm going to handle it.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: At our event planning center that has been made available by U.S. European Command.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: In Stuttgart. Here.

A: Yes, we have an event planning headquarters that has been activated in here, and we have about 50 staff officers and other specialists who are here. Part of it was deployed last week and I just came back to this headquarters for a few days before returning to another headquarters element that we have in Entebbe, Uganda. We also have some forward in elements in communication in Kigali, Rwanda.

Q:

A: Well I think my intention is to give you some of the results as soon as we have them here this weekend, and hopefully be to give you some more information on what we have reached and as much as I can tell you about the ops.

Q: (Inaudible.)

A: It would be rather surprising that we go into the territory of Rwanda without having their specific agreement. The Chapter 7 that we have is to allow cooperation if regional conflict in Eastern Zaire, and was certainly not made to violate the country -- the sovereignty of the country to go in. But I've discussed [this] with the vice president of Rwanda personally last Tuesday. And I put the scenario to him that if this situation carried on, would he allow me to stage the troops through his country and use his air force, and he told me yes.

(Last three questions and answers in French. Translation not available.)

Well I thank you very much for attention and the good questions and I hope to come back and give you some more information before we send all the planning... not the planning teams, but the delegations that we have from the countries who want to provide troops. I thank you very much.