U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #151, 99-12-10
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Friday, December 10, 1999
Briefer: James B. Foley
1-5 Under Secretary Pickering's Travel to Africa / Developments in Cote
US Commemorates Human Rights Day / Iraqi Oil Smuggling
1-6 Refusal to Participate in Oil-For-Food Program / Oil Smuggling
13 Pope John Paul II's Visit to Iraq / UN Sanctions / No-Fly Zones
6-9 Migration Talks / Elian Gonzalez / Diplomatic Note Delivered to
6 Secretary Albright will not Attend Handover Ceremony
8 Police Incident Involving DEA and FBI Agents
9-11 Expulsion of Russian Diplomat / Exceptional Cooperation Between FBI
Department's Diplomatic Service
11 US Supports Turkey's EU Candidacy / Threats to Cutoff Financial Aid
to Russia /
US and EU Deplore the Indiscriminate Use of Force Against Civilians
12-13 Deployment of Nuclear Missiles in Saratov Region
13 Pakastani Ambassador to the US / US-Pakistan Relations
14 Lifting of Japanese Sanctions / US Supports Japanese-North Korean
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1999, 1:25 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. FOLEY: I apologize for being more than ten minutes after Ambassador
Ross' briefing. I have a number of announcements. Something tells me this
is going to be an ordeal today; I hope everyone grabbed lunch after the
last briefing - those of you who weren't filing.
I have, as I said, a number of announcements, most of which I'll just post.
One is concerning Under Secretary Pickering's travel to Africa beginning on
Sunday through December 15. He's going next week to Angola and to Nigeria
and we'll post that statement. Secondly, in terms of developments in Cote
D'Ivoire, the United States is concerned about the reported issuance by an
Ivorian judge of an arrest warrant for Mr. Ouattara, who is the leader
of the opposition Republican Rally Party. We've not seen either the warrant
or the evidence upon which it's based. But I think the significant point is
that Cote D'Ivoire is having presidential elections in October of next year
and the United States supports no specific candidate for the presidency of
the Republic of Cote D'Ivoire, but we believe that all eligible candidates
should be allowed to compete in an open, fair and democratic election.
Moving along, today is Human Rights Day and we have a rather lengthy
statement from Secretary of State Albright in commemoration of Human Rights
Finally, if you'll go to - not the video, but the static chart, I'd like to
make a brief comment about the ongoing phenomenon of Iraqi oil smuggling
which continues to this day.
Recently declassified satellite photography - of which this is one example -
reveals that Iraq continues to smuggle oil in violation of UN sanctions.
This comes at a time when the government of Iraq has refused to participate
in an extension of the Oil-For-Food Program. While Iraq's refusal to sell
oil during this period has not caused immediate disruption to the
humanitarian program because of the back log or what was in the pipeline,
it's refusal to fund UN-approved purchases while filling the regimes
coffers with illicit revenue in defiance of the UN shows the regime's
arrogance and indifference. It demonstrates yet again that Saddam Hussein
puts the interest of his regime ahead of those of the people of Iraq. That
is because the revenues from the sale of Iraqi oil under the UN-administered
Oil-For-Food Program are controlled by the United Nations to ensure that
Iraqi imports are devoted solely to humanitarian purposes; whereas, the
proceeds from the illicit and illegal sale of Iraqi oil obviously are not
controlled by the international community or by the UN. They are controlled
solely by Saddam Hussein and his regime and therefore there is every reason
to believe that they are going for illicit purposes, or at least non-
humanitarian purposes. There's no reason to believe that Saddam Hussein,
who is denying his people the fruits of the UN's Oil-For-Food Program,
is surreptitiously providing for humanitarian needs of his people through
this sort of illicit smuggling.
Now, satellite photography taken on November 26 of this year - and this is
a satellite photograph taken on that date - shows that Iraqi oil tankers -
excuse me; not Iraqi, but differently flagged oil tankers - and these are
where the arrows are. This is in the Shatt al-Arab and you see tankers in
this waterway in the process of loading gasoil at a facility associated
with the Basra refinery in southern Iraq. That refinery is somewhere
off the satellite photograph.
Under UN Security Council resolutions and the Oil-For-Food Program, Iraq is
permitted to export oil only through the approved facilities in Mina al
Baqr in the northern Persian Gulf, which is, of course, way off the charts
here; and by the oil pipeline through Turkey through the port of Ceyhan.
The gasoil being loaded onto tankers in this photograph is being smuggled
illicitly outside the Oil-For-Food Program to supply revenue that is
totally under the regime's control.
What you see here, this is an oil storage facility. You see barges here;
what the barges do is they go out to the different oil tankers that are
positioned here and load the oil onto those tankers. These illicit oil
exports via the Persian Gulf averaged about 70,000 barrels per day in
November. And that represents the highest level since sanctions have been
in place. During the last month, Baghdad earned an estimated $21 million
from this trade. And again, at the same time, the regime of Saddam Hussein
has rejected two-week and a one-week extension of the Oil-For-Food
So, once again, the evidence shows that Saddam Hussein has no compunction
about preventing the international community from helping the people of
Iraq while at the same time insuring that he has enough money to line his
family's pockets, to build palaces and vacation villages for regime
supporters, and to buy prohibited goods, including inputs into weapons of
With that, I am ready to take your questions.
QUESTION: Are there any penalties that could be applied since he has
violated UN sanctions?
MR. FOLEY: This is a very difficult challenge for the international
community, precisely because there are a number of buyers and brokers in
the oil market that are willing to purchase smuggled Iraqi gasoil. There is
a maritime interdiction force which routinely patrols in the northern
Persian Gulf to intercept these kinds of vessels smuggling gasoil but it is
impossible to completely cut off the flow of illegal exports, given the
fact that even the littoral states in the Persian Gulf don't all necessarily
know what's going on in some of the shorelines there where the gasoil is
offloaded, sometimes to middlemen, illegal smugglers themselves who are not
necessarily acting with the knowledge, let alone the consent, of host
Our aim is to ensure that as much of Iraqi oil production as possible goes
through the approved Oil For Food facilities and to work with our partners
in the international community to limit Iraq's ability to evade sanctions.
I think you're aware that today there is, if it hasn't happened already,
there is going to be a six-month rollover of the current Oil For Food
Program which allows Iraq to sell, legitimately, up to $5.2 billion every
six months of oil, the revenues of which are strictly controlled by the
international community under the Sanctions Committee at the UN.
And, moreover, the Omnibus Resolution that is supported by the United
States, that is supported by a majority of the members of the Security
Council, would further enhance the Iraqi's ability to import oil. It would
lift the ceiling in fact. And this would really open a much wider
perspective for the provision of humanitarian assistance, of food, to the
Iraqi people. This kind of smuggling has nothing to do with the international
community's ability to help feed and care for the humanitarian needs of the
Iraqi people. It occurs precisely because it evades the controls of the
United Nations, allows Saddam to line his pockets, to build his palaces
and to otherwise import goods that would be prohibited by the UN.
It is a problem. I don't want to overstate the dimensions. We had not seen
activity of this degree through the month of September. It picked up
significantly in November. In terms of what punitive measures the
international community can undertake, it is obviously something that we
are taking up with our friends and allies in the Security Council.
QUESTION: Did you say 70,000 barrels a day earning $21 million in
MR. FOLEY: Yes, that's what I said.
QUESTION: I'm not familiar with the term "gasoil." Is that diesel
MR. FOLEY: I would have to get the technical definition for you. It's
something like that, is my understanding, yes.
QUESTION: Speaking of parts for weapons of mass destruction, earlier this
week I asked about these electronic switches that the Iraqis were buying up,
apparently buying medical machinery. Did you get any response yet?
MR. FOLEY: We're looking into it. We have begun to be in touch with the
UN Sanctions Committee. The facts are not, I think, firmly established. I
know I owe you an answer on that and we're going to continue to pursue the
matter. When I am in a position of having confirmed those details and that
information, I'll be willing to share it with you. In other words, we're
working on it.
QUESTION: Can you say, given the increase in this kind of activity, has
there been also an increase in the number of ships that have been caught by
the international community in -
MR. FOLEY: That's a good question - that's a good question. I'd have to
take that. As I said, it is difficult. Certainly, there is interdiction. As
I said, the maritime interdiction force operating in the northern Persian
Gulf area is patrolling and is intercepting vessels that are smuggling the
gasoil. And I don't have the latest report on the incidents of intercepts,
if you will.
But as I indicated, as these tankers go out into the Persian Gulf, they're
able to hug the coastline and evade detection to some degree and it really
requires a more concerted and vigilant effort on the part of some of the
littoral states in order to crack down further. I don't think it's a
problem that's going to be eliminated, but by giving greater publicity to
the problem today we hope to increase awareness and therefore cooperation.
QUESTION: Which countries' flags these tankers carrying where oil is
going to - which countries are they?
MR. FOLEY: There are numerous international flags, I think, under which
these tankers operate in terms of where the gasoil is going. As I said,
it's offloaded on the shoreline of the Persian Gulf. That involves, I think,
a number of countries. But that is not necessarily the destination of the
gasoil. It obviously can disappear or lose its identifying characteristics
once it arrives on the market. But we don't believe - at least it's
my understanding that the primary market for the gasoil would be
the states along the littoral of the Persian Gulf.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - the US or the UN are not putting pressure on
those countries who are buying the oil from Iraq?
MR. FOLEY: Again, I drew a distinction between those who actually wind up
buying the gasoil. That's, I think, probably impossible to track once it's
been offloaded and gone to market. But what we are doing is trying to work
with the countries of the Persian Gulf to try to see if they can upgrade
their efforts in cracking down on the smuggling. Other questions on this
or do you want to move on?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, sure.
MR. FOLEY: I didn't say complicit. I said that to some degree we do have
a problem with some of the states in the region. But to a large degree we
believe that a lot of this is happening without the knowledge of governments
in the Gulf.
QUESTION: So the ships whose flags are being flown may not necessarily be
MR. FOLEY: That's a separate issue and I believe that is also true,
QUESTION: To what do you all - you had mentioned earlier that the this
activity significantly since November and that relative to September it was
a greater volume of smuggling. Do you all have an analysis or to what do
you attribute this uptick in the smuggling?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not sure we've arrived at a judgment on that. As I said,
it was actually, in our judgment, rather negligible for most of 1999 and
through September and then it picked up significantly since then. I'm not
sure that it's possible at this stage to analyze the ups and downs of the
illicit activity. What we do know is that these revenues are not controlled
by anyone except Saddam Hussein and his regime and that's why it's so
QUESTION: You had also suggested in a previous statement that some of
this money may go to the regime's efforts to purchase items that may help
it reconstitute some of its WMD programs and we used to ask you and the
other spokesman from time to time about what your analysis was of Iraq's
progress while the inspectors were gone. What's your latest sort of sense
MR. FOLEY: I'd be happy to - or I'd be willing to go through that for
you. I did on Wednesday, I believe, and I'd refer you what I said because I
kind of probably to the consternation of many of your colleagues, I went on
at length about it. It was either Wednesday or Monday when I briefed.
QUESTION: Does the United Nations Security Council have all of this
information about this process throughout last year for example and how
does that factor into the discussions now under way on whether to continue
Oil For Food or vote on the Omnibus -
MR. FOLEY: Certainly, we are sharing this information with countries in
the Persian Gulf that are affected and with the United Nations and with
members of the Security Council.
In terms of how it affects what's going on in the Security Counsel, in
other words, the review by the Security Council of the current Omnibus
Resolution which is designed, as I said, to actually enhance the Oil For
Food Program to the benefit of the Iraqi people, to return inspectors to
Iraq to do their job and to really do their job of disarmament of weapons
of mass destruction, that as this matter is being considered in the
Security Council today, we believe that it only - that this phenomenon of
gasoil smuggling only reinforces our determination to see that the
resolution which is going to be voted upon is a real resolution, a credible
resolution, especially insofar as it pertains to two factors. One, the
credibility of the inspection regime to go into Iraq to pursue disarmament
of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and, secondly, that
under the Oil For Food Program, that the revenues and therefore the imports
continue to be monitored and approved by the United Nations because it is
clear through this effort that Saddam is trying to circumvent that system
to obtain revenue that he can use for his own purposes, purposes, of course,
which we cannot verify and certainly approve.
QUESTION: On Cuba, Jim, in a couple of days the United States and Cuba is
going to start negotiations and discussions and the immigrations accords.
MR. FOLEY: I wouldn't call those negotiations. These are periodic
meetings to discuss the status of the implementation of the migration -
QUESTION: Are these going to take place or have they been suspended by
MR. FOLEY: What was your question?
QUESTION: Are they going to take place?
MR. FOLEY: My understanding is that those talks are going forward.
Certainly, I am not aware that on the Cuban side they've made any move to
suspend or to cancel those meetings and certainly not on our side. We think
it's important, but not only in our interest but certainly in everyone's
interest that we continue to assure safe, legal, orderly migration to the
QUESTION: We understand that the Secretary of State has decided to stay
in Washington and not to attend the ceremony for the transfer of the Canal.
Who is going to head the US delegation?
MR. FOLEY: I'd have to refer you to the White House because it's a White
House delegation that's going to Panama.
MR. FOLEY: Yes, I can confirm that she unfortunately will not be able to
go to Panama.
QUESTION: Who is the highest-ranking member of the State Department who
MR. FOLEY: I don't have a final answer on that. I do know that Ambassador
Romero will be traveling to Panama to attend the hand-over ceremony. But
that, as I said, the list of all who are going is going to be put out by
the White House.
QUESTION: Has the father of the boy - the Gonzalez boy been interviewed
by the US mission in Havana?
MR. FOLEY: No. Let me back up and give you a status. Do you have a follow-
QUESTION: No, go ahead.
MR. FOLEY: On Wednesday, we delivered to the Cuban Government a
diplomatic note outlining the procedures that the Immigration and
Naturalization Service must follow in this case, including the need for the
INS to interview the boy's father, Mr. Gonzalez Quintana, and the type of
documentation he should present. We also asked the Cuban authorities to
facilitate the delivery of a letter to Mr. Gonzalez Quintana from the INS
district director in Miami detailing the procedures that he should
Up until now, at least at the time of my briefing, the Cuban Government has
not responded to our diplomatic note. However, Cuban diplomats and
officials in both Washington and Havana met twice yesterday with US
officials to clarify the process and the regulations that will be followed
in this case. The Cuban Government, though, to repeat, has not agreed to
allow US, INS and State Department consular officials to deliver the letter
to the boy's father. What we understand from our contacts yesterday is that
the Cubans indicated that the father was aware of the offer of the United
States and that he would contact the US authorities if he wished to do so.
But that is really the latest information in terms of our contact
on this matter.
QUESTION: Do you see this - until recently, the Cubans have insisted that
the US just return the boy, no talk, just that this is some sort of
inalienable right and, you know, we don't want to discuss it. They did so
as recently as last night.
Do you see or can you say if these two contacts yesterday signal a greater
willingness by the Cubans to approach this in a more process-oriented
manner rather than simply a declarative manner?
MR. FOLEY: You mean in a propaganda exercise?
MR. FOLEY: I think it certainly is important to watch how the Cuban
authorities respond. We've seen a lot of demonstrations in the streets,
we've seen a lot of declarations and demands and certainly President
Clinton in his press conference here and Secretary Albright in some of her
television interviews this morning made it very clear two essential
principles that we're following in this case. One is, above all, what is
the interest of the child. The child is not a political football; this is a
six-year-old boy and his interests will guide the decision makers in this
case above anything else.
Secondly, we are a nation of laws and we respect procedures and that's
exactly how this case has been handled and will continue to be handled
according to the book. And so it is not a question simply of acceding to
demands or to demonstrations but, rather, (a) doing what's in the interests
of the child and, (b) doing it by the book according to procedures.
Now, we have made clear - and I said this on Wednesday - that the
regulations of the INS recognized the right of a parent to assert parental
interest in an immigration proceeding. That is very important. And so what
we have done is, through our contact with the Cuban authorities, was to lay
out the process by which, according to normal procedures, the Immigration
and Naturalization Service can ascertain the father's rights and claims and
interests in this case.
So to the extent that the Cuban authorities are really interested in the
welfare of the child and in a just disposition of the case, I think they
would respond in a cooperative and a facilitative manner to the communication
that we sent to them on Wednesday.
QUESTION: On another diplomatic note, we are aware that the US Government
presented a diplomatic note to the Mexican Government on December the 3rd
and asked them to clarify if the Judicial Police was involved in the
incident in Matamoros where a DEA agent and an FBI agent were surrounded by
narco-traffickers. It is true that you present to the Mexican authorities
that diplomatic note?
MR. FOLEY: I have not heard that. I have to take the question and look
into it for you.
QUESTION: Who will decide where the child goes? Is it the INS or is it
the state court of Florida?
MR. FOLEY: The determination in this case will be made by the Immigration
and Naturalization Service. That's how the system functions. It is their
decision to make.
QUESTION: And then can the relatives in Miami block the INS in state
MR. FOLEY: My understanding - I'm not a lawyer - is that they are
separate issues. The Immigration and Naturalization Service determines
custody based on the law and regulations in this case in the interests of
the child. And the INS will, hopefully on the basis of having been able to
meet with Mr. Gonzalez and establish his relationship to the child, will be
able to make its decision, I believe in a matter of weeks, and will do so
the way it would in any similar case.
After that decision is made, it is at least theoretically possible that it
could become a matter for the courts if anyone were to challenge the INS
decision. But that's not the procedure, though, for determining in the
first instance custody of the child.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - yesterday, is it your understanding that the
Cuban government, as they have said, the father understands the nature of
this note and what is required of him, even if he has not seen it
particularly, so the next step then is for him to come up with these papers
and have the meeting or do you still have to wait for an official
diplomatic response to the earlier note?
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, could you repeat the question? Do we have to have a
response from him by letter?
QUESTION: A response back. Do you have to have a letter back or can he
now come, if he understands correctly what the next step is, have that
meeting and then move from there? What's the next -
MR. FOLEY: I would hesitate to get into the particulars of the issue.
After all, you are raising a sort of a procedural question, whether we need
to have a letter from him. I think what we are interested in is not sort of
the bureaucratic aspect of this case. It is important for the child that we
have all the facts and we believe that the way to - and the only way to
adjudicate this is for the INS to be able to talk directly with Mr.
Gonzalez. So what's important is that this meeting take place. How the
Cubans or the father himself is able to communicate to us, I think,
is of lesser importance than the actual fact or not of a meeting.
But referring back to Ben's question, what must happen is that the INS must
make a decision regarding who has the legal authority to speak on Elian's
behalf. Once that is established, then the INS can assess what Elilan's
immigrant status is. And the documents that we're seeking from the father
are necessary to help the INS answer these questions. And we are well aware,
certainly, whatever the outcome, there is going to be a political reaction
and we're going to have to take the heat, regardless of how the INS
decides the outcome of the case. And it's important, I think, in all
things but especially in this sort of a matter that the right thing
be done, regardless of the outcome or regardless of the consequences.
It's important to do the right thing on behalf of the child.
QUESTION: Different subject. On the spy investigation, can you tell me
how the investigation is going? Are you continuing to interview people in
this building and out?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not going to be able to comment in any kind of detail
about the work of law enforcement, the work of the FBI, the work of the
State Department's Office of Diplomatic Security. I can certainly
underscore what was said here yesterday, which is that there has really
been exceptional cooperation between the FBI and the State Department's
Diplomatic Security Office in the months preceding the apprehension on
Wednesday. And you saw that displayed here at the podium yesterday and that
cooperation is continuing.
I can confirm, because Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Carpenter yesterday told you,
that the process of the investigation has shifted and they are now
interviewing people in order to determine or develop leads in the case. I
can't comment, though, on the specifics of how that is going and we'll have
to see how that goes. I think Secretary Albright, in some of her TV
interviews this morning, I think, pointed out the fact that there are
different phases of this case and we've now entered a new phase and that it
has to be done in a sequential way; that it was necessary in order
to protect our ability to detect and neutralize the operation, that a
certain approach be taken up until the time that it was shut down. And Mr.
Gusev was apprehended on Wednesday. And now we're in a new mode and a more
open investigation is underway to determine everything that needs to be
known about the incident.
QUESTION: Are you absolutely confident that there are no other bugs in
MR. FOLEY: I'm glad you asked the question because one of your fellow
networks - a major network - in its report last evening, made the rather
remarkable claim that people in the State Department are pulling their hair
out over the possibility that there are many bugs here in the State
Department and that walls are going to be torn down to look for those bugs.
And that, of course, was at complete variance with what Mr. Carpenter
He made it crystal clear; (a) that we had a program of sweeps that did not
cover the entire building - and he explained that - underway before the
incident but that, upon learning of the existence of the bug, a very
thorough going sweeping effort was undertaken throughout the Department.
And so I checked when I saw that television report and I checked not only
in this building, but elsewhere and the reaction was one of dismay. I can
assure you that Diplomatic Security has undertaken extensive sweeps
and believes that there are no such instruments here in the building
at this time.
QUESTION: And what about any of the other numerous buildings that this
Department occupies around town?
MR. FOLEY: Certainly it's an ongoing effort and it's one that has to be
prioritized, as Mr. Carpenter indicated yesterday. Given that we have only
so much manpower, one has to concentrate in the first instance on the most
sensitive and important areas of the State Department. Although, let me
back up and underline what Secretary Albright said this morning and what
Mr. Carpenter said yesterday that the effort to ensure the integrity of
the most sensitive areas of the State Department had been ongoing
even before this incident and that the bug that was found was not in any
such area. But the effort to complete the task of sweeping all of our
facilities, I believe, is ongoing.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you quickly, the Russian foreign ministry
today has made a statement that the way that this accused Russian spy was
treated was a crude violation of the Vienna Convention, that he has been
improperly treated and this is clearly a tit for tat, any reaction?
MR. FOLEY: There are two parts to the question. On the allegation of a
tit for tat action on our part, I think that the briefing that you had
yesterday was fairly compelling in that regard, that indeed this was
something that was spotted and identified many months ago. Secretary
Albright indicated this morning she had been briefed a number of months
ago; it was something that we were watching and watching in a way so that
we could, at the right moment, neutralize the operation. And our briefers
yesterday indicated why the timing occurred as it did and when it
In terms of the first part - and so therefore this was not a retaliatory
exercise by any means. In terms of the first part of your question, I have
not heard or seen that quotation from the Russian authorities. Was it the
foreign minister you are referring to? I have not seen that. But, certainly,
without seeing it, I can reject the claim. I think that Mr. Gusev was
treated very responsibly. He was - because he enjoys diplomatic immunity -
was given back into the custody of consular officials of the Russian
embassy. He will not be charged. Because he has diplomatic immunity, he
will - has been required to leave the United States within 10 days,
starting Wednesday, last Wednesday, so he has eight days to go.
QUESTION: One of the Russian folks here in Washington told me that Gusev
was going to leave today. Have you heard that?
MR. FOLEY: I have not heard that.
QUESTION: The room where the bug was, can we confirm that it was the
Oceans Conference Room, the Department of Oceans and Environmental -
MR. FOLEY: I don't know whether you can confirm that, but I'm certainly
not going to confirm that.
QUESTION: You're not going to confirm that?
MR. FOLEY: No.
QUESTION: Okay. And the room in which the bug was found, who met in that
room? What kind of level of people and what kind of discussions? Were there
diplomats from other countries who met in that room?
MR. FOLEY: That is all subject to the current, ongoing investigation. I
am not in a position to talk about that.
QUESTION: There was a report that 50 to 100 meetings took place in the
room before the bug was discovered. Can you confirm that?
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry. This is certainly a matter that is under active
investigation at the moment. But, as was indicated yesterday, this is
something that we have to let the investigators work on and we're not going
to be able to talk about it publicly for different kinds of reasons until
their work has advanced and been completed.
QUESTION: And I've asked and been turned down to visit this Oceans and
Environmental Conference Room on the seventh floor. Would you allow us to
visit this room?
MR. FOLEY: I would have to look into the question. I frankly doubt
QUESTION: Can you confirm that you all called the Russian Ambassador in
again yesterday and could you describe what the reason for that meeting
MR. FOLEY: I will have to look into that and get back to you after the
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - made a decision today to give a candidate status
to Turkey? Do you have any comment on that decision and the role of Greece
in this decision?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, I do. Of course, we've said many times we're not - the
United States, we're not members of the EU and we believe enlargement is an
internal matter for the EU to decide. However, as President Clinton has
said on numerous occasions, we strongly support Turkey's EU candidacy. So
we are pleased to hear that the EU has decided Turkey is a candidate
destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteria applied to
other candidate states. So the news that we heard out of Helsinki
was very welcome.
QUESTION: And the role of Greece in that decision?
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: The role Greece played in that decision? Do you have any
comment on that?
MR. FOLEY: You know, this has just happened earlier today. I am not in a
position to assess the procedures or the deliberations that occurred in
Helsinki that led up to this important decision. But certainly Greece, as a
member of the EU, certainly played an important role in today's deliberations.
QUESTION: And also, my last question on that issue, according to some
information, Turkey is not satisfied with the rules the European Union puts
on that decision for Turkey and the other countries, obviously. Do you have
a comment on that, if there is a rejection from Turkey of the offer?
MR. FOLEY: I heard that report before coming in here and I checked and I
believe that is not true, that Turkey has rejected the EU offer. On the
contrary, Turkey is apparently seeking some clarifications, has some
questions. I think Mr. Solana and other EU officials are traveling to
Ankara. But we believe that this is a strong candidacy offer and that the
EU action has created a more favorable situation for progress than was the
case after previous EU summits.
QUESTION: Also on the EU, they apparently are threatening to cut off
financial aid to Russia over the Chechnya situation and I am wondering
whether you have a comment on that.
MR. FOLEY: I'd have to see the specifics as to what the EU has decided to
do. I know there have been some declarations by the members collectively
and by individual personalities. But I can assure you, though, that the
United States and Europe sees eye to eye on the very alarming situation in
I think both the US and the EU have deplored the indiscriminate use of
force against civilians. We all believe that the means Russia is using is
undermining the ends that they seek and indeed aggravating the cycle of
violence in Chechnya. As the situation in Chechnya has unfolded, we have
been in frequent close touch with our European partners coordinating our
actions and responses and certainly the consensus we reached at the
Istanbul summit is a sign of our common approach.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - do you have any idea what kind of message they -
(inaudible) - ?
MR. FOLEY: I think that Mr. Rubin was very clear on this last week; that
we were going to scrupulously respect the news blackout that the UN
requested in conjunction with the proximity talks in New York.
QUESTION: The Russian military deployed ten new - what are known as Topol-
M nuclear missiles and for the second time in two years has done so and do
you have a comment?
MR. FOLEY: You've got more information there than I've got here. Does it
give any specifics about location and other descriptive elements?
QUESTION: The Saratov region - I'm sure you know where that is.
MR. FOLEY: No. I'd be glad to look into it for you, George.
QUESTION: The Iraqis have said that the Pope can't go to Iraq after all.
You obviously had reservations about the trip in the first place. Were you
pleased about this development or do you have any comment on the way the
Iraqis explained their decision?
MR. FOLEY: Yes. There are several parts to your question. First, no,
we're not pleased. We certainly had reservations that had nothing to do
with the Pope's intent. We were concerned that Iraq would try to use his
visit to exploit his presence in Iraq for propaganda purposes. And so we
were in discussion with the Vatican about our view that it would be
important to the extent possible to try to avoid having or allowing the
visit to be exploited by Saddam Hussein's propaganda machine. But we fully
respected Pope John Paul II's intentions in that regard.
We believe the Iraqi Government has reconsidered its position on the visit
of the Pope precisely because the Iraqis - or the regime, rather, of Saddam
Hussein - was concerned that the Pope in his visit would tend to highlight
Saddam Hussein's horrible abuses and horrible human rights record. And so
we respect the Pope's - as I said, his intentions. We understood what he
wanted to achieve by the visit. It's clear that perhaps Saddam Hussein
felt that he couldn't adequately exploit the Pope's visit, but rather would
have suffered from increased international opprobrium as a result of the
In terms of the last part of your question, though, as to the reasons
advanced apparently by the Iraqi regime for disinviting the Pope, we
believe those arguments are bogus. The UN sanctions and the no-fly zones
were never an impediment to the Pope's travel to Iraq. Had the Pope
requested assistance, we, on our part, and I'm sure others in the UN, would
have done everything possible to facilitate his visit and to ensure his
QUESTION: Does that include suspending attacks on Iraqi air defenses
during his visit?
MR. FOLEY: I can't get into operational matters of that nature. But I can
repeat what I said. We would've done everything possible to facilitate the
visit and ensure his safety.
QUESTION: Can you confirm that the credentials of - Ms. Maleeha Lodhi as
Pakistan's new ambassador to Washington have been accepted? And also, since
she was for three years in Washington as the ambassador of the civilian
government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and now comes under - for
ambassador of military government which had ousted the civilian government
and - (inaudible) - in jail. So how will the US and Pakistan relations will
change under her ambassadorship?
MR. FOLEY: I don't expect that US-Pakistani relations will be affected
one way or the other on the basis of the employment history of the next
Pakistani Ambassador to the United States. I think that Mr. Rubin has made
clear on numerous occasions that when we're in a position to say something
about the next Pakistani ambassador, we will. It would probably come out of
the White House and so you'll just have to stay tuned on that.
QUESTION: On North Korea, Japanese Government is considering to lift the
sanctions on North Korea after a long, long - (inaudible) - sanctions.
Although they haven't decided yet -
MR. FOLEY: They haven't decided to?
QUESTION: They haven't decided to lift the sanctions yet. But they are
MR. FOLEY: Certainly we believe - first of all, it's a matter for our
Japanese friends to decide. Secondly, we've been fully supportive of the
dialogue that's accelerated recently between Japan and North Korea. Thirdly,
we've been in very close touch with our Japanese and South Korean friends
throughout the past many months as we have dealt with our North Korean
policy and we've very much worked in sync and we believe that's the
best recipe for success.
QUESTION: New subject. An indictment against Wen Ho Lee is expected
fairly imminently. I'm guessing you probably don't want to comment on the
specifics, but could you tell us anything more generally about any final
assessments on what kind of damage this Los Alamos scientist might have
done or what, if anything, the Chinese received from his information?
MR. FOLEY: Not only your first bit of information, which I have no
knowledge of, not only is that something I can't comment on because it's a
law enforcement matter, but so is the progress of the investigation itself.
I'm not in a position to tell you how it's going; certainly to give a
snapshot. But it won't be something that the State Department will be
announcing in any event.
(The briefing concluded at 2:15 p.m.)