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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #10, 99-01-20

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>


1086

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Wednesday, January 20, 1999

Briefer: James P. Rubin

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1		Secretary's Stops in London & Paris After Travel to Russia
		  & Middle East
1-2		Julia Taft Designated Special Coordinator for Tibetan
		  Issues
2		Background Briefing January 21 on Secretary's Trip to
		  Russia

SERBIA (KOSOVO) 2,5,9-10 Generals Naumann and Clark Mtg with Pres Milosevic / Continuing Consultations With Allies / Generals Sent, Not Diplomats / Amb Holbrooke's Role / Ultimatum 2-3,6,7,9 OSCE Verifiers / Amb Walker / Russian Reaction to Amb Walker's Expulsion / Extraction Force 3-4 Fall 1998 Situation re Pending Humanitarian Crisis / Political Crisis Unresolved / Current Crisis 4,6 Requirements for Pres Milosevic 2-6,8-9 NATO Readiness, Planning, Options / Use of Military Force / Activation Order / Deadline / Authority to Act 6-7 Renewed Serb Military Operation in Stimlje / Situation Update Elsewhere / Humanitarian Concerns in Area / Displaced Persons / US Humanitarian Assistance 7-8 Apprehension of Suspected War Criminals 8-10,13 Responsibility for Recent Atrocity / Autopsies / Acts of Terror 11-12 Situation Last Fall and Today / People at Risk / Numbers of Displaced Persons per UNHCR 12-13 Pres Milosevic's Modus Operandi

INDIA 13-14 Suspect Arrested in Threats Against US Diplomatic Missions / Pakistani Involvement / Accomplices / Suspect's Ties to Usama bin Laden

INDIA / PAKISTAN 14-15 Preparations for Missile Tests / Dep Secy Talbott's Travel

MIDDLE EAST 15 Chairman Arafat's Decision to Delay Statehood Announcement

GERMANY 15 Documents

NORTH KOREA 15 Alleged Defector / Four-Party Talks Continue

CAMBODIA 16 Report on Offer to Turn Over Pol Pot to US /

COLOMBIA 16-17 Peace Process / US Meeting With FARC Leaders

RUSSIA 17 Secretary's Goals and Agenda Items for Meetings in Russia / US Initiatives / Schedule

VENEZUELA 18 President's Talk About Dissolving Legislature

IRAQ 18 Cap on Oil-for-Food Discussions


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #10

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20, 1999, 12:50 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing on this Wednesday. I have a couple of announcements for you. First, after meetings in Russia and the Middle East, the Secretary of State will travel to London and Paris on January 28th and 29th . I assume you had a pool on that and somebody, I hope, won the betting.

She will meet with Foreign Secretary Cook in London and with Foreign Minister Vedrine in Paris. In both sets of meetings, she will discuss the situation in Iraq and Kosovo, as well as issues related to the upcoming summit. Those are the only additional stops and times I have at this time. So that's again -

QUESTION: Will it be overnight?

MR. RUBIN: The overnight is in London - both London and Paris on 28th and 29th.

QUESTION: Do you take questions on that, or do you want to move on?

MR. RUBIN: Sure, we can start with that, yes.

QUESTION: Well, if she's not going to see these two key players for a week, does that mean that the threat and the unsuccessful talks apparently with Milosevic, that the threat is one of those threats that's going to be on hold for at least a week?

MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't draw any conclusions from the Secretary's additional travel schedule. We can get the subject of Kosovo when I finish my other announcements. Secondly, Secretary of State Albright has designated Julia Taft as Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues. Ms. Taft will direct the Office of the Special Coordinator. A central diplomatic objective of the office is to promote substantive dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives.

In addition, the office maintains close ties with the non-governmental organization community and the American public. Consistent with our overall goal of promoting the protection of human rights in China, the Special Coordinator's Office will advance this goal in Tibet and seek to assist in preserving the unique religious, cultural and linguistic heritage of Tibetans. Julia Taft will take on this responsibility, in addition to her continuing role as the State Department's Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration.

QUESTION: That's the Greg Craig job?

MR. RUBIN: That is the job that Greg Craig had that was left open when he left, and the Secretary has chosen Julia Taft for this position.

QUESTION: Taft -- T-a-f-t?

MR. RUBIN: T-a-f-t, just like the president.

QUESTION: Great.

MR. RUBIN: Anything else on that? Okay, one other announcement I have with respect to a briefing we will be having tomorrow, a background briefing for some of you with respect to the Secretary's trip to Russia. We'll be talking with you on the schedule on that. Any questions?

QUESTION: Anything more on the visit with Milosevic by the two NATO generals yesterday?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that the Generals Naumann and Clark had, I guess it was roughly, a seven-hour session with President Milosevic. They returned and reported to NATO. In our view, the response of President Milosevic was unsatisfactory across the board. We are actively consulting with our allies on next steps, both through the North Atlantic Council channel where our ambassador is discussing this with his counterparts.

Secondly, Secretary Albright will be talking, I expect later today, to additional colleagues about this subject. In addition, obviously, there are a number of internal meetings going on here. This is a very serious situation. The fact that President Milosevic has failed to cooperate and has provided unsatisfactory responses across the board is deeply troubling to us given the seriousness of the situation.

Beyond saying that, I think it's evident from Brussels that NATO is now taking certain steps -- military steps -- as precautionary measures to put NATO in a position to move rapidly, if the North Atlantic Council makes a decision to use military force. So these steps are being taken. I think they were described in NATO.

On the specific steps, I would ask you to contact the Pentagon for the specific deployments and other operational details; but, clearly, NATO has made clear that a set of precautionary steps that would make it possible to act rapidly, if the North Atlantic Council made this decision, was deemed necessary.

QUESTION: Is it time to pull the verifiers out of Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: We will make that decision in consultation with Ambassador Walker and his - he will be making that decision in consultation with the OSCE Chairman in office and others. We have not made that decision at this time. There are obviously emergency evacuations procedures that the OSCE has had since the beginning, as well as the fact that there is an extraction force in Macedonia for the purpose of assisting in any emergency evacuation. But, to my knowledge, no such decision has been made. Ambassador Walker is still in the region, and we regard the decision by the Serbian Government to expel him as unacceptable. We are calling in the clearest possible terms, as the entire international community is doing, for that expelling order to be rescinded.

QUESTION: What will William Walker do now? Is he planning on staying there?

MR. RUBIN: He's not moving as of now. He will meet Foreign Minister Vollebaek of Norway, who is the Chairman in the Office of OSCE. He is expected to be in Belgrade tomorrow. I am sure he will have an opportunity to consult with Ambassador Walker, who is a representative of the OSCE, and Foreign Minister Vollebaek is the Chairman in office of the OSCE. So they will be talking about any further steps that he might take.

QUESTION: You clearly have defined this as an unsatisfactory situation and rhetorically said that NATO is making preparations if it needs to use military force. But this shouldn't come as a new - it doesn't come as a surprise that the Serbs are again acting in a way that offends a lot of people. I just wonder what it says about US policy, about NATO policy, that after all so many months, a result happens that could not have been unanticipated. Yet, NATO seems still to be unable to know what to do. Did you not plan for this? Were there not contingency plans for another atrocity by the Serbs?

MR. RUBIN: There are a number of assertions in your question that I find hard to respond to directly except to say that I think you've mischaracterized seriously the situation. NATO's decision to activate the activation order for air strikes in the fall, as I indicated yesterday, was predicated on several problems, primarily, a risk of a massive humanitarian disaster this winter, where over 100,000 people were at risk of starvation and exposure in the hills of Kosovo. The decision to activate this order, to put it on a time table and then to get an agreement from the Serbs, was designed, primarily, and succeeded, primarily, in avoiding that humanitarian catastrophe.

At the time, in briefings in this very briefing room, we made very clear that the underlying political crisis had not been resolved, and that there were major problems, and that we should to expect to see continuing conflict. We had received an agreement from President Milosevic to pull back his forces, to deploy them in a way to avoid this humanitarian catastrophe. But we never said that the Kosovo situation was resolved, and the political underlying crisis was resolved. In fact, if you look at what we said at the time, I think you'll find that we predicted major problems in this area.

The fact that a massacre has occurred over the weekend -- and today is Wednesday -- and we have not acted militarily to satisfy those critics who are anxious to see force used, I think is merely the reflection of a responsible posture on the part of the government and NATO. We've been trying to ascertain the facts. We've sent officials into the field to try to get the decisions reversed. We regard the response of the Serbian authorities as unsatisfactory. We are now consulting with our allies. We will choose the timing and the decisions not based on any pre-cooked, knee- jerk response but based on the situation as we see it in consultation with our allies. That is the way to do responsible policy-making, not to set in motion an automatic process that may or may not fit the current circumstances.

It's certainly a fact that, in recent weeks, there have been provocations by the KLA that have affected the mindset of some of our allies. That is a fact. Critics who, perhaps, have made the points that you made in your question dismiss those facts because they don't have to deal with them. We have to deal with the reality that we believe the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is the right way to respond to this crisis in Europe. We are consulting with our allies about what the right response is. Those are real allies. Those are not strawman allies that others can assume will respond one way or another in a particular situation.

QUESTION: I'd like to follow up on this. First of all, I didn't say anything about the political situation having been resolved because obviously it wasn't. But why do you suggest that military force is the only option in this case? I mean, why isn't some reimposition of some of the sanctions that have been loosened on Belgrade not a possibility?

MR. RUBIN: I most clearly did not say that military force was the only option in this case, and I hope that that wasn't misunderstood. I was talking about those who suggest that NATO should immediately react yesterday, the day before, tomorrow. I was responding to that criticism.

With respect to other options that NATO has, let me simply say that we are consulting with our allies about what the appropriate next steps are. We believe these kinds of consultations need to begin, at least initially, in private. When we have decided that it's appropriate to discuss these particular proposals or ideas publicly, we will do so with you.

QUESTION: I don't want to jump the gun, as you say it needs to be done initially in private. But in the attack on Iraq, the United States acted only with British help and sort of seemed very isolated compared to in '91 with 26 other countries. Can you tell us now which countries in NATO are supporting an attack?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, you are all doing what you tend to do when the question of military force comes up, which is going about five steps down the road. First of all, let me remind you is you make casually the analogy to 1991, that in 1991 Iraq had invaded Kuwait. That was a clear violation of international law. It was a country invading another country. That is a standard that is different than the problem we dealt with Iraq last month, so I would hope that in any serious analysis of it, people would bear that in mind.

With respect to the views of other allies on the use of force, all I'm telling you today is that we consider this a serious matter; that the response of President Milosevic is unacceptable; that he must rescind his decision to expel Ambassador Walker; that he must allow the international criminal tribunal to investigate; and that he must put his forces back into compliance with the agreements that he made last October.

As far as what we will do in the coming days, I have not said what we will do. I said that NATO made certain precautionary measures to be able and to be in a position to react quickly, if a decision to use force was made. No such decision has been made. We are consulting with our allies. That's the right thing to do. We're discussing it very seriously internally. This is a very serious situation in which one wants to think through all the options, think through all of the consequences in advance.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up? The decision to make precautionary measures, such as moving the ships and to cut down on the time that it would take to actually launch an attack, was that made on the basis of a consensus of all the NATO member states?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Why were generals sent to Belgrade instead of diplomats? Was there no diplomatic negotiating to be done? Was it an ultimatum they were issuing? Why generals?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I was asked this question yesterday by one of your colleagues. We believe that at different times, at different moments, different messengers can have different effects. We made the judgment that the question of Ambassador Walker was a yes/no question. Are you going to expel him or not going to expel him? The question of access by Louise Arbour and her investigators was pretty much a yes/no question.

Thirdly, with respect to compliance, the details of his non-compliance were worked out with, precisely, General Clark last fall. So on the major issue of the military deployments and on the issue of Ambassador Walker, there's not a lot of room for nuance here. Either they're going to let the OSCE verification mission do their job - and that means allowing them to tell the truth and be independent as Ambassador Walker was - or they're not. So at different times, different messengers are determined. This was what the NATO alliance determined was the best way to deliver the message.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on asking, the activation order that you pointed out exists still, but it is suspended, is it not?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: Would it not take a decision of the NAC to withdraw that suspension?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: So once again, you have to have agreement of all 16 members before you can do anything?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: There's a Russian envoy in Belgrade. How important do you regard his visit as being?

MR. RUBIN: We were encouraged by the clarity with which the Russians responded to the expulsion order for Ambassador Walker. As a member of the OSCE, the Russians, like all of us, regarded this is an outrageous attempt to dictate who and how the OSCE should operate. We were quite encouraged by the strength of their reaction and the clarity of their reaction.

It is hard to speculate on what will motivate President Milosevic to reverse course on these three matters. He has clearly not responded positively, in fact, has provided unsatisfactory responses on the three issues so far. These meetings today may provide another opportunity for him to rethink this position. It's hard to know what will precisely do it.

Obviously, the goal here is to get him to come back into compliance, to allow an investigation to determine exactly who's responsible for this atrocity, and to allow the OSCE's verification mission to operate. That's the objective. If different voices from different parts of the international community can help him to draw that conclusion, that's fine with us.

QUESTION: Does the Russian envoy share and does the Russian Government share the four points that you raised yesterday and just now raised again?

MR. RUBIN: You'll have to ask the Russian Government their position. What I did try to communicate to you is the clarity and strength with which, we believe, they reacted on the question of Ambassador Walker.

QUESTION: Is there a new operation underway now? There was a wire story about this morning.

MR. RUBIN: You will have to be more specific. What kind of operation?

QUESTION: A military operation by the Serbian Army.

MR. RUBIN: We have reports of continued violence in the Stimlje area, including the fatal shooting of one policeman, who was reportedly guarding the massacre site at Racak -- that's a Serb policeman. Two other policemen were reportedly injured in that incident, so we do have reports of continuing violence in that area. Elsewhere in Kosovo, things remain generally quiet, but tensions are high. The KVM reports that there have been at least three recent killings in the Pec area of ethnic Albanians.

In addition, the humanitarian aspects of the massacre are beginning to be felt. Our reports indicate that residents of Racak and nearby villages continue to flee from their homes. A UN team met with some of the displaced who were with a group of 60 to 70 families who had spent three nights in the open, a period in which two infants died from the cold.

More generally, according to the UN, about 5,300 people have been displaced from Racak and other villages in the Stimlje municipality. About 1,000 of those are without shelter. The UNHCR team is in the field working on that problem. Fighting in other areas of Kosovo appears to be relatively light at this time. In other areas of the province, there are no persons without basic food and shelter, although longer term requirements - health care, education, psychological and social adjustment to the horrors of war -- are still being addressed. We have no reports of interference in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. As you know, the United States has provided over $66 million for Kosovo to the UN and other organizations since the crisis began last year. That is the situation report I've been provided.

QUESTION: (Inaudible), I take it you don't have anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: I have just given you the situation report provided to me.

QUESTION: I just wanted to be sure on Walker, is it the U.S. Government's intention to keep him as head of the KVM even if he is expelled?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think I've indicated that we find it hard to see how the KVM can operate at all, if the Serbs expel those who are independently verifying and monitoring what's going on. We have a very clear position. This order has to be rescinded.

QUESTION: And if that order on Walker is not rescinded, is that then the end of KVM?

MR. RUBIN: The order has to be rescinded. Anything else is unacceptable to us.

QUESTION: You made a point yesterday, and you haven't covered it today, that the generals would want to know who gave the order for the massacre, and who carried it out. Did they make any headway on that?

MR. RUBIN: No. Not to my understanding. I may not have every detail, but, no.

QUESTION: Does it hurt the US presentation that top senior Serbs, war crime suspects from the last war, have never been brought to justice, and they're readily available to be apprehended for the decision to get them? How can you ask for war crime suspects in this horrible conflict, when the big guys from the previous one roam about?

MR. RUBIN: Right. War crimes is about two things. It's investigation --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: Barry, do you want to answer the question, or do you want me to answer the question?

QUESTION: No.

MR. RUBIN: Okay. It's about identifying and investigating to determine who's responsible. Once that is determined and the indictments are issued, it's about obtaining those who have been indicted. The War Crimes Tribunal has made a lot of progress, despite the skeptics, in identifying who was responsible for war crimes in Bosnia. I can get you some numbers, but a very large portion of those indicted in Bosnia have now been brought to justice, either voluntarily surrendering, either being picked up by SFOR or other forces, or by removing themselves on the list by failing to go quietly with SFOR.

So we've made progress. We have not completed the task. But I think the message is quite clear, in Bosnia and throughout the former Yugoslavia, that war criminals are going to be brought to justice one way or another and that there is no statute of limitations. That may be precisely why President Milosevic and the Serbs are reluctant to allow the War Crimes Tribunal investigators in because of the seriousness and the consequences and the follow through have been demonstrated in Bosnia.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one other follow up on that, please? Given the fact that two very prominent Serb rebels were implicated in the Bosnia atrocities, and now you have an atrocity again, is there any question in the US mind who ultimately is responsible for this? Do you feel subordinates are responsible for these things?

MR. RUBIN: Our view is that Ambassador Walker said what he saw. We believe if the Serbs have any doubt about what he saw, the best way to resolve the doubt is to allow an independent investigation to go in and see what happens. Our view after that has always been the investigator should follow the evidence where it leads, with respect to criminal and legal responsibility.

With respect to political responsibility, clearly, President Milosevic has not only taken away the rights of Kosovars over the last decade in Kosovo and overseen a pattern of abuse, discrimination, and now atrocities by forces there, but has refused to negotiate a solution. That is the pattern that has existed in Kosovo. I think we've always been quite clear on that. That is the political responsibility. With respect to the legal responsibility, those are matters for the international criminal tribunal to decide, to get access and to follow the evidence where it leads.

QUESTION: I believe you said the US is consulting with its allies about what to do but from the US perspective, is the clock ticking? I mean is time running out for Milosevic to reverse course and pullback?

MR. RUBIN: You're new here, so I will tell you that I have given up metaphors on ticking clocks. What were some of the other ones - string that was running out, windows that were closing, sands in the hourglass. Your colleagues obviously have heard a lot of these over the last couple of years. Let me simply say that this is a serious matter, and NATO is consulting on what should be the next steps.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- a NATO military response in Kosovo without prior approval by the UN?

MR. RUBIN: Let me answer that I have tried to be very clear what I'm talking about and what I'm not talking about. What I'm talking about is consulting with our allies about next steps. If you want to ask me, whether our position has changed from last October, that a UN Security Council resolution is not a necessary precondition for the authorization of force by the North Atlantic Council, NATO concluded, at that time, that there were legitimate grounds for the alliance to threaten and, if necessary, use force last October. It has been our view that that did not require prior UN authorization. To my knowledge, that view hasn't changed. I would point out that in its meeting on Sunday and by virtue of its actions today, the North Atlantic Council is reiterating and reaffirming that the ACTORD remain in effect.

QUESTION: I got here a little bit late. I would like to go into the subject of the verifiers and what might come to pass if Walker is pulled from Kosovo. Would it be best for the verifiers, do you think, under the circumstances, that they should make their way out of the country without his escort? Or, would the protecting forces definitely come in and rescue them? There's been speculation in the press that rescuers are going to come to the rescue here if it comes to crunch.

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that the OSCE has established emergency action procedures for the monitoring mission, the verifying mission. NATO has also deployed an extraction force in nearby Macedonia. They are prepared to do what is necessary if a decision is made by Ambassador Walker, in consultation with others, that the situation merits their departure. I would not want to preview what steps they would or wouldn't take for obvious security reasons.

QUESTION: Would it be, in your opinion, dangerous for the extraction force to come in at any time, particularly dangerous when they have two armed forces already in conflict in Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: The security of the verification mission is our highest priority. We have taken steps to ensure that the procedures are in place to protect these people if it comes to an extraction. Those procedures are in place, and I do not want to speculate on them because of obvious security reasons in the event they need to implement that extraction.

QUESTION: Two quick questions. Is there any role envisioned for Ambassador Holbrooke at this stage?

MR. RUBIN: No plans for Ambassador Holbrooke to return to the region.

QUESTION: Secondly, on the issue of autopsies, the Serb authorities have, as you know, removed the bodies and done their own autopsies. I think they said that there was no mutilation. In fact, they have been accusing the OSCE of having done mutilations after the deaths of individuals. Do you have any view on that?

MR. RUBIN: Based on our experience and, unfortunately, there is a long experience in this area in this part of the world, we regard the Serbian claims of their forensics investigation to be a sham. If they do not bear responsibility for this atrocity, and they want that proven, there's a simple way they can do that is to allow an international investigative team to go in and make a determination.

QUESTION: Following up on David's questions, you explained why generals were used to go in and talk to Milosevic. Was there an ultimatum given? Was any sort of threat of force told to them?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to comment on the specific discussions that Generals Naumann and Walker had with President Milosevic. I have been willing to comment on what they were seeking to achieve, what responses the international community is demanding. I think we have been quite frank in saying that they received unsatisfactory responses across the board. With respect to anything that was or wasn't said, it would be inappropriate for me to comment in this forum.

QUESTION: Has there been any conversations with Ambassador Holbrooke? I mean, I know you say he's not going to the region. Has the Secretary spoken to him? Has the President spoken to him?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I hope you wouldn't expect me to know about the President's and Ambassador Holbrooke's phone calls, but I can tell you Ambassador Holbrooke and the Secretary have been in regular contact in recent days.

QUESTION: Generally speaking, what sort of advice is he offering?

MR. RUBIN: Are you now asking me to tell you what internal deliberations are?

QUESTION: Well, it is his deal, and it is falling apart. Maybe he's got some rabbit he can pull out of his hat.

MR. RUBIN: First of all, when you say that the work that was done last fall -- although I know that nobody has written it and seem determined to exclude it from their stories -- was to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, and it was avoided. There were underlying problems that existed at the time, that we were very candid about. Not just the political problems, but the prospect of continuing fighting and continuing conflict that would not end, until the two parties learned that the only solution was a political solution and not a military solution. Candidly and frankly and easily throwing around the word, "success," and "failure," and "falling apart," and all that, I just hope you bear that in mind.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to add to the reports from New Delhi about a plot to bomb the US Embassy?

MR. RUBIN: I think they still want to stick to Kosovo, but I appreciate the thought. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Jamie, to stay on the last point of the situation last fall and the situation as you describe it today. In realizing, as usual, that no two situations are ever the same, but last fall there were hundreds of thousands -- I mean large numbers of people at risk. It took a while, but, as you say, that situation was defused or worse things were avoided.

MR. RUBIN: At least somebody noticed, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, you've got a situation where you're saying, today, that at least a thousand people have been displaced and are homeless.

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: My question is it just a fact of life in these things as you coordinate and consult with allies that this will go on for some time and by the time it is resolved, there will be some people who are going to suffer as opposed to --

MR. RUBIN: You have to run that by me. I liked the preamble but when you got to the question, I didn't understand it.

QUESTION: I mean, at some point before it was resolved last fall, there were less than hundreds of thousands in the hills.

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: It took going to a point where there were hundreds of thousands in the hills and starving and dying until it was resolved. Now, you've got a thousand people already. Is it going to be 5,000 or 10,000 before --

MR. RUBIN: I think we have said, for the United States, that we had wanted to act earlier last year. I think we were quite frank about that in this room and elsewhere. We are consulting intensively with our allies about this situation. There isn't a perfect analogy but, clearly, if the conflict deteriorates and we go back to the kind of conflict we had last fall, the humanitarian disaster could be before us again.

Now we have another situation where President Milosevic is attempting to tear apart the very essence of the agreement he made last fall with respect to the verification mission, which was central to the agreement, by expelling its chief. Thirdly, we have a massacre in Racak last weekend.

So all I can tell you is that we are very cognizant of the problems in Kosovo, of the prospects in Kosovo, the dilemmas that Kosovo faces. Based on that knowledge, we are consulting with our allies as to next steps. But I'm not going to make a wildly hypothetical speculation as to at what date and at what level responses will or won't be made.

QUESTION: You did say quite clearly that this has the potential on the humanitarian side to escalate into the situation that we saw several months ago with hundreds of thousands of people in the hills?

MR. RUBIN: I indicated to you that last fall we said, if you don't bring greater security to the people of Kosovo, if they are, across the whole of Kosovo, in fear of Serbian forces, they will run to the hills. That's the point that we made in the fall, that bringing some security and stability to the region was what was necessary to bring them down from the hills and avoid this humanitarian tragedy.

With these kinds of actions and the fear that is created by massacres of this kind, we run the risk of generating the same kind of exodus that occurred last time. We've already seen some signs of it. I provided the information to you. Let's just make sure we've all got this right because I heard different numbers being thrown out: 5,300 people have been displaced. Of these, about 1,000 are without shelter. That means 4,300, some form of shelter has been found for them in recent days. So displacement of 5,300, 1, 000 without shelter are the reports that UNHCR has provided.

QUESTION: Mr. Milosevic's modus operandi usually is brinkmanship. What is your operating assumption about what he is up to this time? In other words, is it your assumption that he is, as usual, going to carry this right up to the last moment and then back down just enough so there isn't force? Or has he perhaps crossed the line this time?

MR. RUBIN: The only assumption I care to share with you is that he has made a grave miscalculation here. The fact that from Russia, to France, to the United Kingdom, to the United States, to Italy, all roundly condemned the expulsion order of Ambassador Walker and the killings over the weekend, I think probably came as a shock to him. But with respect to what tactics he will pursue to reverse course or not reverse course - he reversed course last time, we'll have to see whether he reverses course this time.

QUESTION: Milosevic's rationale -- and I'm sure you're familiar with it -- is that he's got every right as head of the government and head of the country to crack down on what he refers to as a terrorist insurgency. How would you respond to that?

MR. RUBIN: He made an agreement with the West last fall to keep his forces under a deployment ceiling and in a deployment pattern that would avoid the kind of catastrophe we were facing last fall, where instability could be created in the region through the massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of people. He made that agreement. The fact that he is violating it means that even under his own framework, he's violating the agreement. As to why we came to this point last fall, I think you and I talked about this. I'd be happy to get some of the transcripts.

QUESTION: But his commitments were premised on a cease-fire that's been broken by all accounts by both sides.

MR. RUBIN: We made clear that we understood the need for proportional police work. But, clearly, the kind of massive use of heavy equipment and the reported way in which it's been used - and obviously the massacre -- is simply inconsistent with the agreement.

We recognize the appropriateness of police work; but, clearly, when police and army shellings of whole towns yield the killing of innocents in a massacre like this, that's simply unacceptable to the international community.

QUESTION: Do you consider these killings or the attack on police by, apparently, the KLA overnight, in which one was killed? Is this an act of terror, or is a policeman a legitimate military target?

MR. RUBIN: No. I will have to get the formal response from the Department of State for that for you.

QUESTION: I have a question on South Asia. Do you think that the timing of the allegation by India that Pakistan was involved in an attempt to bomb the US missions in India is in any way related to - like is India throwing a tantrum in regards to the economic assistance by US and the IMF to Pakistan? Also, the US is currently trying to determine the credibility of the threat. How is that being done?

MR. RUBIN: Which threat?

QUESTION: The bombing -- the planning and everything.

MR. RUBIN: Syed Abu Nasir, named in the Indian press, is being involved in a plot to bomb US consulates in Calcutta and Chennai was detained by Indian authorities in December and formally arrested on January 19th. Embassy officials have been working closely with Indian authorities to try to determine the credibility of the threat. US security officials are in India to assess the situation. There has been a heightened level of protection around all of our diplomatic facilities in India since the bombings in East Africa. We are maintaining that enhanced protection and will continue to do so. We obviously regard with grave concern and take very seriously any threats to our personnel, both American and Indian.

With respect to the question of involvement of other intelligence services, Indian authorities are continuing their investigation. We have no knowledge of the alleged involvement of Pakistan. I don't care to speculate on the various motives of an event that is being investigated.

QUESTION: Has there been an arrest?

MR. RUBIN: We have seen press reports of arrests of accomplices. I indicated that Syed Abu Nasir was detained by Indian authorities in December and formally arrested yesterday.

QUESTION: Was the US embassy in New Delhi involved? You spoke of consulates, I believe.

MR. RUBIN: Embassy officials have been working closely with Indian authorities to try to determine the credibility of the threat.

QUESTION: No. I meant is there at least - was there a threat or --

MR. RUBIN: To bomb U.S. consulates in Calcutta and Chennai.

QUESTION: Not the embassy.

MR. RUBIN: That's the information I was provided. Calcutta and Chennai, C- h-e-n-n-a-i. How did I do? Chennai?

QUESTION: Chennai.

QUESTION: Do you know if this individual that was arrested had any ties to Usama bin Laden?

MR. RUBIN: We're trying to determine the credibility of the threat and investigating the matter. I have no additional information for you.

QUESTION: Is this individual, Mr. Nasir, someone known to the United States?

MR. RUBIN: I will have to get a formal request made as to what we can say about what we know about him.

QUESTION: While you're on South Asia, have you had any more information about India and Pakistan in preparations for missile testings?

MR. RUBIN: We remain concerned about the matter. We've been discussing it with them. I don't have any new information to offer.

QUESTION: It sounds like you haven't gotten any satisfactory response, though.

MR. RUBIN: We remain concerned about the possibility of such tests. We continue to discuss the matter with them.

QUESTION: And Talbott's still going on his trip?

MR. RUBIN: That's my understanding.

QUESTION: Do you know when he's going?

MR. RUBIN: I believe it's the end of the month, beginning of February.

QUESTION: On the Middle East, the Middle East negotiations?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Yasser Arafat has apparently - the Israelis say he has said he will not unilaterally declare a Palestinian State this May, but he will put it off until December. The Israeli say that --

MR. RUBIN: You'd prefer that he declare it? (Laughter).

QUESTION: The Israelis say that is not sufficient, that timing is not the question. The question is whether he does it at all. I was wondering if you have seen these. If you're aware of this information, do you have any comment on it?

MR. RUBIN: I am not aware of that particular report. I think you know our views, and I don't have any information on that particular report.

QUESTION: On another subject, do you have anything to add to what you didn't say yesterday about the STASI secrets?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: It's still an intelligence matter that you cannot discuss?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: I have another question -- you couldn't say anything about it yesterday. The North Korean -- now that Seoul has kind of let the cat out of the bag on the record, said that this guy has defected, can you say anything about that?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: Is there any renewed tension in the four-way talks in Geneva? Is there any additional -- has there been an increase in tension?

MR. RUBIN: We don't believe this question is relevant to the four-party talks. They are not an appropriate forum in which to raise concerns about such questions. The four-party talks are continuing today and are scheduled to run through Friday.

QUESTION: The report in the Far East Economic Review about the apparent suicide of Pol Pot that followed indications that a top deputy named - what was it -- wanted to turn him over to the United States. The United States did not want to accept Pol Pot, would not put him on trial.

MR. RUBIN: I have looked into that report and, preliminarily, the people in this building regard that as an inaccurate statement. There was never such an offer to us. The United States has I think done an enormous amount to try to assist in the bringing to justice of Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for war crimes. The suggestion that we were engaged in a negotiation where such an offer was made and we rejected it is completely counter to the information provided to me.

QUESTION: Could it have been what the situation was at the time and what the correct ways to describe those events?

MR. RUBIN: The way to describe those events is that we were working with many different governments and many different people to try to see how we could bring to justice and assist in bringing to justice Pol Pot and other Khmer Rouge leaders, and we have never wavered from that determination. Any suggestion that we were offered him on a golden platter and said, no, is simply inaccurate. Sorry, silver platter.

QUESTION: The guerrillas, FARC, yesterday said they will stop talking to Colombian Government they say because of paramilitary movement. What does the United States have to say?

MR. RUBIN: The issue of violence in Colombia is the principal reason why Colombians in resounding numbers want peace. President Prastrana's highest priority is to deliver peace to his countrymen. We fully support his efforts.

In that regard, we would echo his recent call for all actors to consider immediate measures to humanize this war by removing all forms of violence, particularly against the civilian population. All armed groups bear the responsibility of addressing the peaceful aspirations of the Colombian people.

QUESTION: Does the US plan a second further meeting with the FARC leaders?

MR. RUBIN: I believe I indicated in response to the last time around that we wouldn't rule it out, but I have no new information for you.

QUESTION: I did an interview with a Colombian magazine and one of the leaders of this guerrilla group, said, explicitly, that they would like to meet with the US again.

MR. RUBIN: What I said is, at the time, remains, which is that we wouldn't rule out such a meeting. But I have no information about a planned second meeting.

QUESTION: On the war in Colombia?

MR. RUBIN: War in Colombia, yes.

QUESTION: Are you keeping in touch with the FARC even though there is this freezing conversation?

MR. RUBIN: I think I just answered that question with respect to a second meeting.

QUESTION: But this is different. It's keeping in touch with them.

MR. RUBIN: In order to have a meeting, you have to keep in touch with them.

QUESTION: I know we have a briefing on it tomorrow but in this forum, would you be able to tell us what the Secretary hopes to accomplish in her trip next week?

MR. RUBIN: Clearly, on the Secretary's agenda will be the current crises in Kosovo and Iraq and the need for as much agreement as possible between the United States and Russia in meeting those challenges. We have made a commitment to work closely with Russia on the issues where we can cooperate together, and there are many of those. If there are differences, as there have been over Iraq, to try to minimize those differences through a lot of consultation and discussion and policy of avoiding surprises. So I would expect us to be discussing with Russia those two issues, assuming they are still on the agenda, which I think one has every reason to believe they would be next week.

In addition, Secretary Albright will be working to advance a whole series of initiatives we have with Russia including the President's discussion last night of the need to increase the funding we provide to avoid the possibility of risks coming out of the nuclear infrastructure of Russia. We have been having a very successful program with them. I'm sure that will be high on her agenda.

In addition, we've had some serious concerns about proliferation problems with Iran, including with institutes on nuclear and the missile side. As you know, we imposed sanctions on three entities last week. That, obviously, will be on the agenda, too. I'm sure the Russians will have a lot of things they want to talk about, so it will be a busy, busy trip.

QUESTION: On that subject, the Russians are saying the Secretary is trying to arrange a meeting with President Yeltsin at his hospital.

MR. RUBIN: I have no information for you on the Secretary's schedule in Russia. If we have information for you on a meeting with President Yeltsin, I will provide it to you.

QUESTION: Would she like to meet with the president?

MR. RUBIN: We're discussing with Russia the schedule, and that's normal. She has been to Russia meeting President Yeltsin. She's been to Russia not meeting President Yeltsin. We will have to see what develops from our discussions with them.

QUESTION: On Venezuela.

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: The President-Elect is going to be inaugurated in about 10 or 11 days, and he is already talking about dissolving the legislature. Do you have anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: We are encouraged - we expect that he will govern and institute change consistent with Venezuela's democratic traditions and as required by the Venezuelan Constitution. That is what we hope and expect from his presidency.

QUESTION: On Iraq -- have you had any --

MR. RUBIN: Boy, things have changed. If it's an hour-and-ten minutes in, and Iraq now arrives. There's a switch there.

QUESTION: Have you had any further response to your removal of the cap on the Oil-for-Food?

MR. RUBIN: We continue to discuss this with our allies and friends and others in the Security Council.

END TIME 1:50 P.M.


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