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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #9, 99-01-19

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


1231

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Tuesday, January 19, 1999

Briefer: James P. Rubin

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1		Secretary Albright to Address Center for National Policy,
		  Thursday, January 21

IRAN 1-2 Administration's Position on Iranian Initiative to Purchase US Grain 1-2 US Policy Toward Iran/Dialogue/Iran's Involvement in Terrorism

SERBIA (Kosovo) 3,5-6 Meeting with Generals Clark and Naumann and Slobodan Milosevic Regarding Racak Massacre and Explusion of Ambassador Walker 3-5,9,12 --US Reaction to Racak Massacre and Explusion of Ambassador Walker 3,9,16 --Secretary's Contacts with Foreign Ministers 3,5 --Situation on the Ground in Kosovo/Military Operation Underway 3 --Numbers of Displaced Persons 4-5,8 --Prospects and Conditions for Use of Force 5-6 --Compliance by Milosevic with October Agreement 6 --Prospects for Meeting of the Contact Group 7-8,9-10,12 --Status of Diplomatic Efforts 8-9 --Contacts with KLA 9 --Prospects for the Withdrawal of the Verification Monitors 10-11 --Serb Refusal to Allow Chief Prosecutor Arbour Access to Kosovo 11 --US View of Deployment of Ground Troops 12 --Determination of NATO Allies Regarding Kosovo 14 Secretary's Meeting with Senior Senators on Iraq and Kosovo

IRAQ 13 Iraq Liberation Act/Support for Opposition Groups 14 Enforcement of the No-Fly Zones 14 Secretary's Meeting with Senior Senators on Iraq and Kosovo

GERMANY 14-15 Reported Request for US Documents Regarding East German Stasi

NORTH KOREA 15,17 Reported Missing North Korean Diplomat 19-20 US-DPRK Talks in Geneva

RUSSIA 15 Explosion Outside of US Embassy in Moscow Over Weekend

TURKEY/ITALY 15-16 Departure of Ocalan From Italy

CUBA/ANGOLA/REPUBLIC OF CONGO 16 Reports of Cuban Troops in Angola and Brazzaville

CUBA/COLOMBIA 17 President Pastrana's Visit to Cuba/Signing of Agreements 17 President Pastrana's Acceptance of Castro's Help in Peace Talks

CHINA 17 Possible Release of Chinese Journalist/Prospects for Coming to US

PAKISTAN 18 Radioactive Debris from Pakistan's Nuclear Test

MEXICO 18 Human Rights Watch Report on Human Rights in Mexico

UNITED NATIONS 19 UN Budget/Criticism of Ambassador Sklar 19 Senator Graham's Criticism of UN Budget 19 Status of Richard Holbrooke's Nomination as UN Ambassador


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #9

TUESDAY, JANIUARY 19, 1999, 12:45 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing on this Tuesday. Let me start by saying we have a notice that we will put out with respect to Secretary Albright's speech later in the week, on Thursday, to the Center for National Policy on the challenges facing US national interests here at home and abroad. The speech will be at 8:30 a.m. for all you early risers, and it will be open for press coverage. With that announcement, let me turn to your questions.

QUESTION: Jamie, some congress people from farm states are trying to arrange huge shipments of grain, sugar to Iran. This may not be the final place for decision, but this is the place to ask about US policy toward Iran. Is this a wise move at this point?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think any decision has been made on this. An application for a license to broker a sale of US agricultural products to Iran has been filed with the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control and is under consideration. A sale of this kind is currently prohibited under the terms of the Comprehensive Economic Embargo maintained by the United States toward Iran. It would not be possible for me to comment on the status of internal deliberations other than to say that it's being considered. With respect to the details of this proposal, let me also say that because licenses involve proprietary company information, I cannot comment on the specifics of this particular license application.

QUESTION: Could I ask you, though, what the Secretary's size up currently is? In September, I think she said, when there was sort of a hostile statement from their representative, we'll have to watch and wait. It's a slow process to see if there really is change. Do you folks continue to see some moderate tone coming out of --

MR. RUBIN: Again, Secretary Albright made a speech last year, which was designed to see whether the Iranians were ready to engage in a parallel, step-by-step process that would reduce a mutual mistrust, deal with concerns on both sides through an authoritative and acknowledged dialogue. The Iranian government indicated it was not ready to enter a bilateral dialogue, and why that may be so is up to the analysts and the experts to determine.

In the meantime, we and the Iranians continue to support cultural, academic and sports exchanges as a means of increasing mutual understanding. There have been a lot of events in Iran in recent months of a different nature. There is obviously a lively political debate going on there. Anyone who has read Iranian newspapers can see that. With respect to the recent events - murders last week - we've seen press reports of killings. We understand the Iranian government has established a special commission to investigate the earlier murders of writers and political activists and that the investigations into these crimes continue.

So if they get to the bottom of this, we have said that that would be a welcome indicator of their commitment to the rule of law. There have been a lot of events of different kinds. We call them as we see them, as you know, with respect to the drug certification and other matters. We will continue to do so. In the meantime, our offer remains, and that is to engage in a process of step-by-step dialogue. We did not expect this to result in immediate action given the lively political debate going on in Iran. In the meantime, as I said, we're pursuing these exchanges.

QUESTION: Did there - other factors that are ground into these types of decisions regarding Iran, can you bring us up to speed on where the Administration is in analyzing Iran's involvement in international terrorism? You said it last week - but acquisition of missiles and nuclear components?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any new status report, but I am not aware that any new judgments have been read. But I can get you the statements we've made in the past on those two issues.

QUESTION: This is - whether you grant it or not, does the application itself send a signal about Iranian inclinations toward the United States?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to their decision-making and what reasons they may or may not have had to make that decision, you would have to ask them those questions. But, obviously, we take such a request seriously and are considering it.

QUESTION: Well, one of the officials is quoted in one of the papers as saying that it was meant as a gesture toward the United States. Do you see it as that?

MR. RUBIN: I would prefer to leave our deliberations on this license to be discussed and weighed internally before we make any comment on both the motivation and the decision we will make in that regard.

QUESTION: Is there a time frame on this decision?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know the time frame, but obviously it's under consideration. I can try to get back to you on that.

QUESTION: Are they required to make a decision in a certain amount of --

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I'll try to get back to you whether there's a legal requirement, but I don't think it's reached the higher levels, really, at this stage.

QUESTION: Yugoslavia.

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you know if the Naumann-Clark meeting with Milosevic has ended and, if so, how it went?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding on the Kosovo situation is as follows: that the meeting between General Clark and Naumann and Slobodan Milosevic continues as of this hour. They took, I understand, a break and went back in. I don't have any preliminary readout to offer you at this time in the midst of those discussions. The expectation is, upon completion of the discussions, Generals Clark and Naumann will be returning to Brussels. There will be an opportunity for the North Atlantic Council to receive a report from them on the progress, if any, they were able to achieve on their main points here; and to remind you on those main points, we consider the current situation to be one of utmost seriousness.

We have been deeply outraged, both by the massacres at Racak and by Belgrade's confrontational and destructive response to the justifiable international anger, including the unacceptable refusal to allow Judge Arbour to investigate, including the unacceptable demand that Ambassador Walker leave the country. I understand that has been extended for another 24-hours; nevertheless, it's still unacceptable.

Secretary Albright has spoken to several foreign ministers in recent days, including the Norwegian foreign minister on three occasions, including the foreign minister of the United Kingdom and Germany today. She's been very encouraged in a series of phone calls over recent days by the uniformity and the unity of the international community in responding to this outrage, in demanding that President Milosevic reverse course, in rejecting the call for Ambassador Walker's removal and in NATO's very clear reminder and reiteration that the activation order for air strikes remains in effect. That is where we are right now.

As far as the fact situation on the ground that some of you may ask about, we do have reports this morning that some type of military operation is underway in the area near where the massacre took place. An estimated 400 military and police personnel from the Serb side are taking part in the action. I do not have further details.

Observers say that this action has displaced as many as 5,000 Kosovars from their homes in that area. The verification team and the UN High Commission on Refugees are on the ground there, trying to assist the displaced. Otherwise, our assessment is that Kosovo was relatively quiet. We have no reports of any significant violence elsewhere in Kosovo today, so that is where we stand as of today.

QUESTION: Did Serbia initiate it? Do you know enough to know -

MR. RUBIN: I don't have information as to who started what. I'm giving you what I know, which is that there's a military operation underway in the area. Clearly in the aftermath of the outrageous massacre, it would have behooved the Serbs to not compound insult to outrage by taking further military action.

QUESTION: Jamie, is it the US position that if Walker is allowed to stay in Kosovo that the need for air strikes is no longer as pressing? Does the US believe that it's still possible, despite what have been numerous infractions in the last several weeks and months, that the cease-fire can still work?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we'll have to see. Let's step back and remember what the activation order was originally intended to do, what it did do and what it didn't do. Those of you who exaggerate what we said about it, I would ask you to rethink that. What we said at the time was that the threat and the very real prospect of air strikes convinced President Milosevic to reverse course, which enabled us to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, and that hundreds of thousands of people who were in the hills, who were at risk of dying of starvation or exposure, were allowed to return to their homes as the security situation improved.

I watched as officials from our government explained to you that that did not mean that the underlying political crisis had been resolved. It most certainly did not, that there continued to be a requirement that President Milosevic and the Kosovar-Albanians come up with a peace agreement, and that we never envisaged that the cease-fire was going to be perfect.

What it did to - the threat of air strikes - was avert a major humanitarian catastrophe. That is what we said was its principal purpose at the time. We did not - and very clearly - did not overstate what its effect would be.

With respect to what will or will not yield a decision to take away the suspension of the activation order by the North Atlantic Council is not a decision for me to announce here. I can tell you that it is a very serious matter, that Secretary Albright has engaged very seriously on it, that the Administration has been discussing it intensively, and that we have very clear requirements from President Milosevic.

Number one is to reverse the requirement that he made that Ambassador Walker leave Serbia; number two, to allow the international criminal tribunal's investigators to do their work to get to the bottom of this; number three, to identify those responsible and those who gave the orders, and to ensure that accountability and justice is done; number four, to reverse the growing pattern of deployment and numerical violations of the accord that he agreed to with the West, with NATO generals, with Ambassador Holbrooke.

That is what the two generals are trying to achieve. I am not going to speculate for you what we will or won't do if one or all of these requirements are not met.

QUESTION: If I could just follow up very quickly. Did Ambassador Walker's expulsion merely expedite what the US would have seen as inevitable, that is, that the threat of air strikes -- the suspension be removed over last weekend's massacre?

MR. RUBIN: We have not taken a position on whether we should go now to the use of air power. I think we've all been very clear on that. What we did move to over the weekend was a view that the underlying activation order on air strikes needed to be reiterated by NATO. That view was taken prior to Ambassador Walker's expulsion or threatened expulsion. What I do think Ambassador Walker's threatened expulsion did do is to compound international outrage against President Milosevic and further dig a hole for the Serbs internationally because the OSCE is an international body - including the Russians - who denounced this move. To blame the messenger for Serb atrocities is simply unacceptable.

The whole underlying purpose of the agreement was - let me put it this way, a critical component of the October agreement was the acceptance by President Milosevic of a verification mission - and an independent verification mission - run by the OSCE. That means it is not up to President Milosevic to decide who heads that mission, but rather it is up to the Serbs to ensure that they have the safety and security they need.

Finally, let me say on the cease-fire, I just indicated to you that fighting continues. I have indicated to you in recent weeks that fighting continues. There have been provocations in recent weeks on both sides. We have worked through the verification mission to try to tamp those down. But we have always made clear that the underlying problem that has caused the political crisis - which has then caused this kind of rolling cease-fire violations - is caused by President Milosevic's refusal to give the Kosovar- Albanians in Kosovo the rights that they deserve. That is the primary cause of this problem.

There may be provocations here and provocations there. There may be problems that the verification mission is trying to deal with, but they stem from the underlying problem that I just identified.

QUESTION: I've got a follow-up.

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: But, Jamie, at this point, then, how would you characterize Milosevic's compliance with what was agreed to in October? Is he in total violation of it, partial? Also how would you characterize the Kosovar- Albanians?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not going to give a score card here. I think I indicated in response to the last question that the main purpose of the agreement was to reduce the presence of Serb forces so that we could avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. I think those that have been in the field and independently verified this for themselves see that that occurred, that hundreds of thousands of people who were either in the hills, or in other people's homes, or at risk were able to get shelter last Fall.

Number two, we required certain specified deployment patterns and deployment ceilings pursuant to that agreement. That is something that General Clark is now discussing with the Serb leader. That is something where we have seen increases in both the numbers of Serb military and police units, above what is spelled out in that agreement and understood in that agreement; and including the deployment posture of forces that are there and what they will do in response to provocations, including not having overwhelming military responses; and, especially, including not massacring innocents the way clearly they did over the weekend.

So there are major problems here, but that does not mean that the underlying purpose of it - the purpose being to change what was going on last Fall and to get people back to their homes -- has yet been lost. I think those who follow this closely have made clear that we are in a serious situation, and we could see an escalation, and could see some major, major problems here. But I think one needs to compare the two.

QUESTION: Jamie, I'm still not clear. General Clark says this is a grave, grave crisis, a very serious situation. My question number one is that there is no deadline as far as NATO is concerned, seeking conformance by Milosevic, is that correct? This is no deadline, and there is no specific trigger yet that has been enunciated? My second question is, what is the State Department's understanding of the reason for General Clark's expulsion, the specifics that he was told by the Yugoslavs?

MR. RUBIN: In response to your two questions, first, I'm not going to speculate on timing or political decision-making on the activation order for air strikes. Secondly, with respect to Ambassador Walker, who I think is who you mean who was expelled -- not General Clark because he's there -- Ambassador Walker - you can read it for yourself. They put out a statement. I've had a copy of it. I'd be happy to provide you one except to the extent that I hope you don't believe it because it's nonsense - utter nonsense . It's an attempt by the Serbs to blame the messenger for reporting to the world the massacre that Serb forces committed. They obviously don't like the truth and are trying to eject truth tellers.

QUESTION: So it's very important to the United States and NATO that General Walker stay on the job?

MR. RUBIN: That Ambassador Walker remain in his position as head of the OSCE mission. It's over at the Pentagon they have all those generals. We do ambassadors here.

QUESTION: You said the Secretary's been in touch with several allies. Can you tell us whether, not a decision, but is there any discussion of a ministerial level Contact Group meeting or anything like that is a possibility?

MR. RUBIN: I can't rule out such a meeting. There is scheduled to be a political director's meeting of the Contact Group later in the week. That would be where decisions would be made or recommended for higher level meetings. But there is no such Contact Group meeting scheduled at this time.

QUESTION: Do you know where this meeting will be?

MR. RUBIN: In Europe this week, mid-week. I don't know the location.

QUESTION: In Europe.

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Jamie, can you say something about the nature of the diplomacy that's going on now? It used to be that Ambassador Holbrooke would have sort of taken part or might have led a mission at a stage like this instead of sending in two generals. Secondly, are they delivering what is effectively an ultimatum, or is there flexibility on these major points that they're presenting?

MR. RUBIN: On the first point, I don't believe you've accurately characterized the situation. At several times during this Kosovo crisis in the Fall, General Clark and General Naumann and Secretary General Solana met with President Milosevic to hammer out details on the military side and met with him several times to try to ensure compliance. It is true that Ambassador Holbrooke negotiated the basic agreement, the underlying agreement, that created the verification mission and that was very important in October.

But at different times, different reasons, different players play a role. It was judged that the right message right now was for Generals Clark and Naumann, on behalf of the NATO alliance, to go to Belgrade and underscore in a clear and forthright way the solemnity of this moment, the seriousness of this moment, the gravity of the situation President Milosevic has generated and make very clear what specific things needed to be done. I expect there will be others who will meet with President Milosevic, too, but there is no current plan to my knowledge for Ambassador Holbrooke to do so.

QUESTION: Is there anything going on that entails that they're negotiating? These are not simply a follow-up on a previous agreement? These are what look like, from your description, a wholesale violation of the agreement and, so, it threatens the entire regime that Holbrooke set up.

MR. RUBIN: Well, you will do that interpreting as you're fully capable of doing. I didn't use the word wholesale. So you will interpret what I said. I made very clear what I thought, which was that the agreement clearly didn't envision the ramping up of forces. It clearly didn't envision the pattern of deployment. It clearly didn't envision overwhelming military responses, including massacres. Those are clearly violations of the agreement.

With respect to how to get President Milosevic to reverse course to come back into compliance, to reverse his decisions on Ambassador Walker and the international tribunal, we think - in our judgment - the best way to do that right now is to have Generals Clark and Naumann underscore the seriousness of the situation to President Milosevic. That's our judgment. Others may have different judgments.

QUESTION: The second part of my question was whether what they're delivering is, in effect, an ultimatum, that he's got to comply on the Walker issue and letting Louise Arbour in and on stopping the offensive, or whether there's some flexibility and some give? Because you seemed be allowing earlier that maybe you wouldn't get satisfaction on all points but you get it on some points?

MR. RUBIN: No, I didn't allow no such thing. In response to one of your previous questions, I said I am not going to speculate on what response we would have if one or all of the demands are not met. That hardly seems to be allowing flexibility. It seems to be a clear answer that indicates I'm not going to speculate for you on responses. What I can tell you is that after these requirements are made clear to President Milosevic, and he has had a full chance to make his decisions and discuss these matters with Generals Clark and Naumann , they will leave Belgrade, report to the North Atlantic Council and at that time, people might or might not be in a position to say publicly what our next step is.

Right now the step that is underway is to make clear the seriousness and discuss the matter with President Milosevic, who has the power to reverse these decisions, and then judge and make determinations on the next step at that time.

QUESTION: National Security Advisor Berger spoke about the threat of force. Last time, you used force to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. In this case, what would the purpose of force be? Would it be punitive, or would it be tactical to persuade the Serb forces on the front to withdraw, or what?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, I think you're mixing political and military objectives. What I said in response to earlier questions was one of the purposes for the alliance concluding that the use of force was justified was to try to avert a humanitarian crisis. That's the question of political objectives justification, not military objectives -- what specific targets are going to be hit and what effect that will have.

The alliance also made clear that an agreement was reached to not only avoid a continuing conflict, but to avoid a humanitarian crisis from recurring. So there are two problems: how to avoid a cease-fire - rather three problems we mentioned at the time - how to avoid a deterioration in the cease-fire, how to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and how to ensure that the region is not destabilized by the conflict in Kosovo. Those are reasons why NATO began to consider and then made a decision to act militarily if certain things didn't happen.

Where we are now is that the humanitarian crisis of last Fall was averted, but now the situation has been reversed by Serb atrocities and by a series of provocations. We're at another serious moment. The underlying reasons why we would consider the use of force haven't changed, but obviously the discreet indicators of those reasons are different today than they were last Fall. But I'm not going to speculate on the military targets except to say that the activation order that was reiterated is the same activation order with the same air operation plan that remains in effect. So there's no real difference on that front.

QUESTION: Did the US work the other side of the street? Is anything specifically - or anything in detail being said to the KLA?

MR. RUBIN: We have made and been discussing on a daily basis, in the field and elsewhere, with the KLA that they are making a big mistake if they think that they can resolve this conflict through provocations and military actions because they can't; and that with each day that they become responsible for provocations, they weaken international support, not only to respond to Serb atrocities, but to give them the kind of support that they obviously are looking for for their cause. So, yes, we've been engaged with them regularly.

QUESTION: Have you sensed that they maybe don't listen to you so much because the US isn't proffering the break-away that they apparently would like and is suggesting a middle course of autonomy?

MR. RUBIN: Well, some listen better than others. Clearly, there is fragmentation amongst the Kosovar-Albanians. That also makes it hard to know who is communicating what messages to whom. Clearly, there are Albanian groups that have aspirations that we have not supported. But they also recognize that without the support of the West, that their situation is only going to get worse and worse and worse.

QUESTION: Is the Administration considering calling for the withdrawal of the monitors? Is that an appropriate --

MR. RUBIN: That is a decision for the verification mission to make based on its own assessment. I think I've indicated that it's hard to see how the verification mission can work if those who tell the truth are P&Ged and expelled.

QUESTION: You all are absolutely 100 percent certain that the Serbs carried out the massacre of the 47 people? There's no - absolutely no question in your mind that it was the Serbs?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think one can ever be certain about anything in this world, including what the next question will be. But I've indicated previously that we have no reason, whatsoever, to dispute the account put forward by Ambassador Walker and his team who were there on the scene very quickly and had a chance to investigate.

QUESTION: A couple of questions. Jamie, does the Secretary have plans to talk to the French foreign minister about all this?

MR. RUBIN: She has been in touch with the French foreign minister in the last few days. I'd be surprised if she didn't speak to him soon. I try to give you a running tally of the calls as I get them. She may have spoke to him while I've been standing here. I do not know. But I would expect her to be in consultation with Foreign Minister Vedrine on this subject.

QUESTION: Can you say what Ambassador Hill is doing at this point?

MR. RUBIN: I do not have an indication of his whereabouts. Obviously, the negotiating track that we are trying be pursued cannot be pursued right now in the climate that the Serbs have created through this massacre and through this threatened expulsion of Ambassador Walker. But he has been working with the parties, especially the Albanian side to try to create greater unity of goals and approach by the Kosovar-Albanian side and has been doing that on a regular basis. I just don't have his whereabouts right now. The information I have is focused on the meetings now going on in Belgrade on the situation I've described.

QUESTION: How concerned are you that the investigating judge, the Serb lady, ordered apparently the removal of the corpses to Pristina and, meanwhile, was accusing, indirectly, suggesting that Ambassador Walker and others may have been involved in some kind of attempt to present a picture that's totally false?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that having first been appraised of this massacre, I've heard three or four different excuses and bold faced falsehoods from the Serb side. First, that it was the KLA who did it to themselves. Second, somehow, the CIA was involved. Third was, these were all soldiers. So I don't know how to respond to such blatant propaganda that any serious person can't take seriously. This is from the same types of officials who held up a phony document to try to fool the world on what was a very simple democracy assistance program. There's no way to respond to such spurious and ridiculous charges.

With respect to your specific question on the evidence and the forensic question, I'm not aware of what this particular Serb official has said they would or wouldn't do. But obviously, we want the prosecutor Arbour to be able to get access to the site and to the bodies so that she can do a serious investigation. We wouldn't want anything to be done that would harm the chances of having that kind of investigation. We're, therefore, concerned about the fact - deeply concerned about the fact that Judge Arbour hasn't been able to get in there, and that each passing day, makes it harder and harder to get the best possible examinations.

QUESTION: -- saying that the bodies were removed to Pristina. They're now being examined by a joint team of Serbs and Belarussian forensic experts. So it looks something like a cover up.

MR. RUBIN: Well, thanks for providing me with new information that I have no confirmation of. We try to take wire reports seriously in this job. When we have been able to ascertain the authenticity of those reports, I'll, perhaps, be able to offer you a comment on it.

QUESTION: -- also raises the broader question. If this is the process of justice as an investigation as they conducted in Kosovo -- and going back to the point you made about the blatant falsehoods that you've been trying to confront - well, can you really expect the Kosovar-Albanians to reenter into a negotiating process with those folks on the other side?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, we have never claimed to trust the word of the Serbs in these matters. We look for actions. The reason why the verification teams are there pursuant to this agreement is to ensure that we don't have to trust, we can verify. That's precisely what they did this weekend. They were able to verify an atrocity. Had they not been there, you can imagine the backing and forthing in explanations and counter accusations that would have recurred. The advantage of having independent verifiers there is that the world found out very quickly what happened. We don't rely and don't expect the Kosovar-Albanians to rely on anything related to trust. We expect things to be verified and monitored. We've always envisaged that as part in parcel of any peace agreement that may or may not ever be able to be achieved.

A couple of quick questions. As the US knows all too well, it is the threat of force that makes Milosevic listen. Is it the US position right now that it is not worthwhile to have a ministerial meeting or on whatever level necessary for the NAC to remove the suspension on air strikes?

MR. RUBIN: It is our view that the underlying threat of military force, not only remains on the table but is very much there in the decision of the North Atlantic Council to reiterate that this activation order is in effect. That is there. If there is any decision to take new action in that regard, that will be a decision for higher political authorities. I'm not going to speculate on such decision-making.

QUESTION: Second question, if Milosevic agrees to everything within the Clark-Naumann proposal, is it the US position that the current crisis will have been diffused, and there is no need for further -- reprimand is too light of a word - but repercussions for Milosevic in light of what happened this weekend?

MR. RUBIN: Well, if there is accountability for this massacre, if there is a reversal of the decision about Ambassador Walker, if there are appropriate steps to make sure the deployment of forces is in conformity with the agreement, and if Judge Arbour is able to do her job, we will be in a vastly improved situation than we are now. But where that will leave us and whether that will be implemented are things we want to judge day by day. We're certainly not there today.

QUESTION: Since it seems pretty clear that the Serb forces carried out this massacre, do you have information now on how high up the chain of command within the Serb forces - political or military - the approval for this, or the execution order, or the condoning of it or whatever goes? I mean, anything that traces it directly to Belgrade?

MR. RUBIN: That would begin to address subjects I really can't talk about in this forum except to say that one of the things we're demanding from Milosevic is that he identify who gave the orders and who took the action.

QUESTION: Two questions. How does the Administration feel about the large deployment of NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo to separate the forces and keep -

MR. RUBIN: On that subject, we have nothing new to say. What we've said is that we would not provide combat ground troops to the force in Macedonia to extract the verifiers; that we've made no decision on what force, if any, we would deploy or participate in if there were a peace agreement. We would obviously consult with Congress. That's where things stand right now.

QUESTION: More philosophical, do you think that the international fallout from the bombing of Iraq will affect NATO's ability to bring a consensus together for reactivating the activation order? If not, why not?

MR. RUBIN: I think the determination of NATO allies on the subject of Kosovo is directly related to the fact that it's on their continent; and that their willingness to go along with any efforts in that regard is based on their calculations as to whether it's in their national interest, given the fact that a crisis on the European continent of this magnitude and this barbarity is something untenable to them. That is what they will judge, not whether or not each one of the 16 agreed with every step the US took in Iraq - and I would point out that most of them did.

QUESTION: Assuming that the expulsion concerning Ambassador Walker sticks, is it your understanding that it is an American prerogative to replace him with another American?

MR. RUBIN: He's been chosen by OSCE. I have not heard anybody suggest we're planning a replacement. It's a totally, wildly hypothetical question.

QUESTION: There has been speculation that one of the reasons for the order was that Walker's deputy is somewhat more favorably disposed to the Serbs than he - Walker was. Do you see any validity to that?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to try to ascertain why the Serb side would make such an outrageous, unacceptable decision. They can give all sorts of excuses about who is more this, who is more that. There is no doubt in the minds of anybody that I'm familiar with about what the Serbs did in Kosovo last weekend. They are trying to shoot the messenger for delivering the news about the massacre in Kosovo this weekend.

QUESTION: Jamie, in the four requirements for Milosevic that you spelled out --

MR. RUBIN: desiderata .

QUESTION: There is desiderata --

MR. RUBIN: I would like to see that in The Baltimore Sun.

QUESTION: There's no demand for active participation in negotiations?

MR. RUBIN: That remains our requirement. That's part and parcel of what the original agreement envisaged, the original steps he took place. I'm not going to parse this down to what we will and won't do if one or the other of the things we demand is or isn't accomplished. I think those things that are necessary to bring us back to a relatively stable situation, I've identified. They include a serious effort at negotiation because the underlying conflict, as I indicated at the beginning, cannot be resolved militarily and can only be resolved with hard political choices on both sides that will lead a genuine and fair agreement, including greater self- government for the people of Kosovo.

QUESTION: Yes, the Iraq Liberation Act, we hear that you may have taken a decision on identifying the groups which would be eligible for US support under the act. Can you tell us who they are?

MR. RUBIN: I cannot identify the groups. Our preliminary notification to the Congress has been by this hour been transmitted to the Congress with respect to those several groups that we have identified as eligible for assistance. Secretary Albright is also intending in a short number of days to be able to select a team of officials including a coordinator for the Iraqi opposition. We will continue to consult with Congress about the eligibility and, more broadly, about our policy in this area. But until it's been discussed with the Hill, we are not prepared to announce the names.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up. Having identified them, is that all you are required to do under the Iraq Liberation Act?

MR. RUBIN: At this time frame, January 15th notification; January 30th, final report of the groups.

QUESTION: January 30th?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Having identified, do you envisage any further steps in the immediate future?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not going to preview any decisions that we will be making in this area. We've said we're not going to rule out taking steps pursuant to that act on the military assistance side. First things first. First, we're going to identify the groups. Then we're going to make our decisions on a step-by-step basis so that we make clear to all concerned that the responsibility for mounting an effective movement for change in Iraq lies with the opposition leaders themselves. We will continue to intensify our contacts with the opposition to look at ways in which we can help them more effectively oppose Saddam's rule. We will proceed prudently on a step-by-step matter that avoids needlessly putting lives at risk.

QUESTION: Can I just have one quick follow-up?

MR. RUBIN: Sure.

QUESTION: Judging by preliminary accounts, the choice seems to be - seems to under-represent the Shiite southerners. Any particular reason for this?

MR. RUBIN: I think to answer that question effectively and responsively, I would have to be using the information that I am told I am unable to announce at this time.

QUESTION: Jamie, has the Administration made any decision on the requests from the two main Kurdish groups to expand the northern no-fly zone?

MR. RUBIN: I have not heard of any such decision.

QUESTION: I've got a follow-up on the previous question. Secretary Albright, has she been on the Hill, or is she on the Hill now with Secretary Cohen telling Congress - giving them the decision you're talking about?

MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright was meeting with a very senior group of senators earlier today. She's back. The subject of Iraq and this aspect of our Iraq policy was extensively discussed, as was the current situation in Kosovo.

QUESTION: Do you know who the senators were? Was Majority Leader Lott --

MR. RUBIN: I said it was a very senior group of senators. I'm sure your Capitol Hill correspondent can nail that down in about 15 minutes.

QUESTION: -- is that still a few days in coming, or has that been made?

MR. RUBIN: I think I just indicated about four paragraphs ago when you read the transcript that Secretary Albright will be selecting a team of officials, including a coordinator, in a short number of days.

QUESTION: As far as you know, Jamie, are the fly zones - north and south - in Iraq continuing to be patrolled in the standard way? The second question is, there hasn't been an attack against US aircraft for five or six days now, and is there any particular reason that you know for that?

MR. RUBIN: We will continue to enforce the no-fly zones. It's up to the Pentagon to describe daily military activity over those zones by the United States and coalition aircraft. I don't want to speculate on the reasons why Iraq has chosen not to take provocative steps. Although, I would point out that each time they have done so, they have paid a price.

QUESTION: So that has been the case, they haven't taken any provocative steps since last week?

MR. RUBIN: I didn't say that. I said, it's up to the Pentagon to describe the status of military activity in those areas. I was telling you a fact about previous actions.

QUESTION: There's some confusion. Could you tell us if the US Government has made a decision to return to Germany some documents which had been procured by the US Government relating to the Stasi, the East German secret service?

MR. RUBIN: I have prepared comments on that. It's five questions. As far as I can tell, each of them ended with the same sentence that won't help you very much. I'm happy to go through this with you, but I think it basically is that this relates to an intelligence matter. I'm not in a position to confirm anything on that.

QUESTION: One more question about us, relating to Germany. Has there been a North Korean diplomat who sought political asylum?

MR. RUBIN: Are you in the diplomatic beat or the intelligence beat? I have no comment on that. We don't comment as a normal rule on alleged asylum requests.

QUESTION: Just to go back to the German question that he raised, can you just --

MR. RUBIN: Even after I indicated to you the specific guidance that I have --

QUESTION: Please, just read it because there is a story out there.

MR. RUBIN: We do not comment on intelligence matters. Former East German opposition leaders presented a petition to the US embassy in Berlin on November the 9th. The text was referred to the White House for full review. We do not comment on intelligence matters. German activities would have to be confirmed by the German government. Do you want me to keep going? That was about it.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the - I don't know whether a bomb is the correct word to use - but the explosion outside the US embassy in Moscow?

MR. RUBIN: On the subject of the explosion, an explosion occurred in an official police vehicle at 10:40 a.m., January 17th, outside the US embassy in Moscow. There were no injuries to US or Russian citizens and only minor property damage, mainly broken windows. Ambassador Collins and embassy security officers are working closely with the Russian authorities to investigate this incident and their investigation continues. With respect to the cause of the explosion, we are awaiting the results of the investigation to draw conclusions.

QUESTION: So you don't know what was the propellant that was --

MR. RUBIN: We are awaiting the results of the investigation.

QUESTION: You said it was inside of a police car, is that what you said?

MR. RUBIN: The explosion occurred in an official police vehicle at 10:40 a.m., outside the US embassy in Moscow. So we have the in and out in the same sentence. That could confuse you a little bit, yes.

QUESTION: Mr. Ocalan has left Italy. Since you are so keen on his extradition somewhere, do you regret his departure from Italy and freedom?

MR. RUBIN: It seems like not only have you explained what we've done before, but you've also previewed our views. You're obviously quite well aware of the situation. We are aware that Mr. Ocalan has left Italy. We have no further information at this time. The United States believes that Ocalan should be brought to justice for the terrorist crimes of which he is accused in a manner consistent with international standards for due process and domestic legal requirements.

Based on what we know so far, we regret that the path chosen by Italy does not appear to have advanced the objective of bringing Ocalan to justice. We are aware of unconfirmed reports in the media speculating on this whereabouts. We do not have any further information to offer you at this time.

QUESTION: Have you told the Italians of this regrettable path they've chosen?

MR. RUBIN: I think the Secretary and Foreign Minister Dini spoke yesterday or the day before on Kosovo. I believe this subject was raised.

QUESTION: Did she protest?

MR. RUBIN: I don't intend to provide any more details of her private conversation than I did in response to the last question.

QUESTION: But does the United States protest this?

MR. RUBIN: I think I just said we regret that the path chosen by Italy does not appear to have advanced the objective of bringing Ocalan to justice.

QUESTION: Mild for somebody who has been labeled a terrorist.

MR. RUBIN: Well, you can make that judgment. That's our position.

QUESTION: The last time was before -- it was in Russia, in Moscow. The same scenario they played -- the Russians -- they were denied, they were not. But suddenly, it arises he was nearby Moscow. Do you have contact with the Russian government? Because the prime minister of Turkey right now is announcing he is in Moscow -- nearby to Moscow.

MR. RUBIN: I have no more information to provide you on this subject.

QUESTION: Jamie, there have been reports in the Portuguese press that Cuban soldiers or former soldiers have arrived in Angola to help the government fight UNITA. There have been other reports that Cuban mercenaries or former soldiers or active soldiers have arrived in Congo, Brazzaville, to support the governments in power. Do you have any comment on these?

MR. RUBIN: Let me get reaction for you to those press reports.

QUESTION: And on the Korean thing, you have nothing to say about this - it's an intelligence matter - the defection of the diplomat? What was the reason for not saying?

MR. RUBIN: The reason for not saying was that we don't --

QUESTION: But you can say that you're not saying, right?

MR. RUBIN: I am happy to do that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. RUBIN: As soon as I can find it. If I recall it correctly, is that we don't comment on alleged asylum requests.

QUESTION: Cuba. Do you have any comment on the decision of the Colombian government to call Fidel Castro to mediate the negotiations with the rebels?

MR. RUBIN: As we understand it, the leaders of Cuba, Colombia, and Venezuela - we don't have a readout of this discussion completely. We understand that President Pastrana concluded his state visit in Cuba, January 17th, with the signing of a number of Colombian-Cuban cultural, trade and anti-drug agreements. We understand that Castro accepted Pastrana's request to help at some future point in Colombia's peace process as a facilitator.

If this were to occur, let me simply say that we hope that Castro would convey very clearly to insurgents that the time for violence is over, and that all Colombians should be working towards a negotiated settlement with full respect for democratic institutions and human rights.

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

MR. RUBIN: This is something that is being done by President Pastrana in his discussions with the Cuban leaders. We hope that Castro, if he chooses to do anything at all, would convey very seriously a message to the insurgents that the time for violence is over. If the communist leader of Cuba thinks he can persuade communist insurgents to lay down their arms, we're not going to complain about it.

QUESTION: Jamie, in Reuter's today, there was a piece about the Chinese journalist Gao Yu who, it appears, now may be released from prison after a six-year term. I was wondering are there any moves underway to bring her here, as was done with figures like Wei Jingsheng and Liu Niachun?

MR. RUBIN: I will have to check. I don't have any information about such transportation or other arrangements.

QUESTION: New subject, South Asia. You've just clarified that you won't comment on intelligence matters. But the CIA just found out that Pakistan used plutonium in the May explosions. What is exactly the significance - it should be good news that they have the uranium program frozen and they are using plutonium. So is that just an export-control matter now?

MR. RUBIN: Let me make clear, there is no good news in Pakistan's nuclear program. With respect to the question about radioactive debris, these are all intelligence questions that I can't comment on. With respect to various reports about disputes among the labs, you will have to talk to the Department of Energy. With respect to the question of the danger posed by this debris, we have no indication that the test posed a significant health hazard. With respect to the question of whether a release would violate the limited Test Ban Treaty, let me point out that treaty prohibits causing radioactive debris from a test to be present outside the territorial limits of the state conducting the test, and that Pakistan has acceded to that treaty in 1988.

QUESTION: Last week Human Rights Watch criticized the way the State Department is dealing with the human rights situations in Mexico. Do you have any response to those guys?

MR. RUBIN: You don't need to add the word Human Rights Watch criticized in the future. You can just say what they did because I assume that they would criticize. We have seen the Human Rights Watch report but have not yet had the chance to study it in detail. While we recognize that Mexico has made notable strides in political and electoral reforms in recent years, we remain concerned about persistent human rights problems in Mexico.

On January 11th and 12th, we held a human rights dialogue with Mexico's director general for human rights. We addressed many of the concerns this report raises. We discussed cooperative training programs to enhance the efficiency of the Mexican judiciary and to professionalize the police and military. Such programs - some of which we are already supporting - addressed the problems described in this report.

On the question of Chiapas, we raised our concerns about politically motivated violence in its southern states. The Mexican government informed us that 97 people have been arrested with connection with the massacre in December 1997 in Chiapas, and that seven people have been convicted of crimes related to that incident.

We encourage the government of Mexico to continue the investigations and trials of the others arrested. We encourage the government of Mexico to continue its efforts in this area to reinitiate talks with the insurgents in Chiapas. We will reciprocate with a visit to Mexico in late February or early March to continue these bilateral consultations.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up. Since the massacre in --(inaudible)-- occurred last December, the embassy of the United States in Mexico says that they will be sending diplomats to follow up the investigations. This step has been completed, or there is still US diplomats in the region following the investigations?

MR. RUBIN: I'll check with the embassy to find out the latest state of play with respect to their embassy officer's actions.

QUESTION: Mr. Sklar at the UN, do you got anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: Do you really want me answer this question?

QUESTION: I got you. I've got to ask you've got to answer.

MR. RUBIN: I don't much agree with anything that was reported about this. Ambassador Sklar is a very effective ambassador. The United States was an active participant and took very seriously the recent negotiations on the budget outline for the UN 2000-2001 biennium. UN budget discipline remains a priority for the United States. Ambassador Sklar was in charge of our day- to-day efforts in this matter and has been an energetic and effective representative for the U.S. While we were disappointed with the outcome, the budget outlines serves only as a guideline for preparations of the actual budget for the biennium. This action does not break the budget cap mandated under US law. We will be working with the secretariat and member states to assure that all projected savings are accounted for in the Secretary General's draft budget, which will be voted on in the General Assembly next December.

With respect to the issue of countries expressing concerns about Ambassador Sklar's blunt comments, let me say that the US mission to the UN has dealt with these issues. We consider the matter closed.

QUESTION: Senator Gramm has offered some really bitter criticisms of the United Nations and US policy towards the United Nations. Could you just comment briefly on their response to these criticisms?

MR. RUBIN: I will have to get those for the record. Senator Gramm has been making criticism of the US participation in the UN for some time, and we've been rebutting those criticisms on substantive grounds. I'm sure that pattern will continue, and I will get you some direct responses.

QUESTION: And a final - a final related question on this whole issue . Ambassador Holbrooke, when do you think that that process might move forward?

MR. RUBIN: I have no new information on that.

QUESTION: Saturday, Sunday, US and North Korea had talks in Geneva. And there is one report that North Korea requested one million ton of food aid for the price of the access for the sites?

MR. RUBIN: I'm sorry --

QUESTION: North Korea requested - there is one report that North Korea requested one million ton of food aid for the price of the --

MR. RUBIN: I see. Okay, these talks are ongoing. They will continue in Geneva, Saturday, January 23rd. In that we are in the middle of negotiations, I don't intend to comment on what was said back and forth. We have repeatedly said - and I'm happy to repeat - that we will not pay North Korea to ensure compliance with its obligations under the agreed framework.

(The briefing concluded at 1:45 p.m.)


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