U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #153, 99-12-14
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
Tuesday, December 14, 1999
Briefer: James B. Foley
1 UZBEKISTAN: Parliamentary Elections Neither Free Nor Fair / US Aid
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
1-2 Washington DC Talks / Secretary Albright's & Ross' Roles in Talks /
Martin Indyk's Title
2-3 Secretary Albright's Schedule to Meet & Greet Talk Participants
10 Secretary Albright's Goals for Talks / US Role in Syria-Turkey
3-8 Update on Arrests & Terrorist Threat
3,7-8 Alleged Usama bin Laden Connection / Ambassador Sheehan's Meeting
3-5 Will There Be Additional Arrests / Potential Extradition to US /
5 US Discussions With Governments Worldwide
6 Security at US Embassies / Relevance of Worldwide Caution to
Threats in US
9 Constitutionality of Prime Minister's Firing
9 Update on Cuban Boy Case / INS Report / Migration Talks
11 Cuban Detainees Prison Uprising in Louisiana
9-10 Property Talks / Legal Advisor Andrews Visit
10-11 FARC Attacks / US Aid to Colombia
12 Likelihood of Vote Today on UNSC Omnibus Draft Resolution /
Criticism of US Role / Importance of Resolution
13-14 Report of Russian-Chechen Clash Inside Grozny / Update of Situation
/ Vollebaek Visit / OSCE Proposed Ceasefire / Potential
14,15-16 US Support for Taiwan Participation in World Health
14-15 Proximity Talks / Next Round of Talks
16-17 Update on Bugging / State Department Security Guard Training
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1999, 1:15 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. FOLEY: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. I don't have
any announcements that I'm going to be reading; however, I will be posting
a statement on the Uzbekistan elections which were terribly flawed. We have
a statement that explains our position on those elections.
QUESTION: How much aid, if any, are we giving in Uzbekistan?
MR. FOLEY: How much aid are we giving Uzbekistan? No, it doesn't get into
that. I'd be happy to take the question, though, if you're interested.
QUESTION: Sure. If you think their elections were flawed, it would be
interesting what kind of relationship the US has --
MR. FOLEY: I'd be glad to get that for you.
QUESTION: Could you enlighten us on the whereabouts tomorrow during the
peace talks of the Secretary and Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk? Beginning at
the White House with the President - will they be in the talks? Will they
be close at hand? Will they join the talks? What is the expectation?
MR. FOLEY: I'll answer your question. In general terms, though, the
arrangements for the meetings are being handled by the White House. Any
announcements will come out of the White House. I believe, in fact, there
is a background briefing over there about the talks that will begin in
about 45 minutes.
My understanding, though, first of all, the parties have come to Washington
to meet with each other. That that is the principal purpose is for them to
resume their track of negotiations. Each side recognizes the important role
the United States has played historically in the Middle East peace process,
the helpful role we played in encouraging them to resume the track and our
willingness in the persons of President Clinton and Secretary Albright and,
indeed, Ambassador Ross to be as helpful as the parties want us to
But they are coming here to negotiate with each other. The President will
be meeting with the parties I believe at the beginning and the end of the
meetings and Secretary Albright will be available, as will Ambassador Ross,
to participate at any time during the two days that they are here in
Washington. I cannot predict when that will be, what form that will take;
it is simply an assertion of their constant availability throughout the
duration of these talks.
QUESTION: That helps, but as you go into the talks, the President will
talk to these two folks. Will the Secretary of State or Ross or Indyk - and
if Indyk isn't part of this, please correct me - will they be in any of
these meetings? Will they meet with the two, do you know?
MR. FOLEY: I don't have the participation in the meeting with the
President. I assume the Secretary will be in those meetings. I believe also
it's envisaged she'll be meeting, herself, tomorrow also at the time of the
White House meetings with both Prime Minister Barak separately and with
Foreign Minister Shara separately.
QUESTION: This is a purely technical question. I am confused by the
schedule that was put out today. Is Indyk both Ambassador to Israel and
still Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern--
MR. FOLEY: He's Ambassador-designate to Israel.
QUESTION: He hasn't been confirmed, then?
MR. FOLEY: I believe he has been confirmed, yes, but he doesn't become
ambassador until he arrives at post, presents his credentials.
QUESTION: Which he has not done yet?
MR. FOLEY: No, he has not left for Israel yet so he is still Assistant
Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary still planning to go to meet the arrivees
MR. FOLEY: Yes, that certainly is the plan. She is scheduled to greet
Foreign Minister Shara at Dulles Airport this evening and she is scheduled
to greet Prime Minister Barak when he arrives at Andrews Air Force Base. I
think all of you know the timing issues involved. It's going to be a
challenge for her to be present at both arrivals. That's her aim is to try
to do that. We're in contact with both the Syrian and the Israeli
Embassies. We're trying to coordinate as best as we can, but that is her
intention to try to be there for both.
QUESTION: Being in touch with the Syrian Embassy is quite an achievement.
MR. FOLEY: It wasn't me personally.
QUESTION: Well, somebody had a lot of patience. But are you sure about
Dulles because the indirect word we've gotten - and I say the Syrian
Embassy is a no-answer-the-phone operation or hello, how are you - was
Andrews. So Shara is Dulles?
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. And the Prime Minister - they answer the phone a little
bit more - is at Andrews. Do you know the times?
MR. FOLEY: I'm glad I'm not on the receiving end of these?
QUESTION: No, it's all right. It's just annoying, that's all.
MR. FOLEY: The scheduled arrivals are 6:45 p.m. for the Foreign Minister
at Dulles and 7:30 for the Prime Minister at Andrews.
QUESTION: Thank you so much.
QUESTION: Can we move on to the arrests? Can you confirm any of the
details that you have that suspected cohorts of Usama bin Laden have been
arrested and you're looking for additional suspects - any of the details
that have come out since yesterday?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not going to be helpful to you for obvious reasons,
and I'd be happy to get into them about some of the specifics of the
counter-terrorist efforts that are ongoing in this case. As I said
yesterday, we cannot provide very many specifics about the threat because
we are working hard to counter it using law enforcement, intelligence and
I can say, however, that suspects have been arrested in connection with
this threat. We believe they are members of Usama bin Laden's terrorist
group, Al-Qaida. That network has a global reach as was demonstrated in the
bombings of our embassies in Africa last year, and it is capable and
determined to carry out deadly attacks against innocent persons - again, as
was demonstrated given the very heavy civilian loss of life in the embassy
bombings in Africa.
Members of bin Laden's network have been indicted in connection with the
bombings in Africa last year and many enjoy safe haven, as you know, in
Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan.
Other suspects wanted in connection with planned attacks may belong to bin
Laden's network or to other terrorist groups. US Coordinator for Counter-
Terrorism, Michael Sheehan, met yesterday afternoon in New York City with
Taliban representative, Abdul Hakeem Mujahid. Ambassador Sheehan stated
emphatically that the United States will hold the Taliban responsible for
any terrorist attacks that are carried out by bin Laden's network.
I would like to reiterate something that I indicated yesterday, which is
that we are not trying to alarm the American public who may reside or
travel abroad during this time of year. Our efforts to counter this threat
will continue. It is, of course, our responsibility, though, to share with
the American public such information that we have that may have relevance
to their security and well being when traveling overseas.
Are there any more arrests envisaged and can you confirm the number? Is it
about a dozen?
MR. FOLEY: I can't get into the specifics.
QUESTION: Is there any indication that --
MR. FOLEY: What I can say in response to your first question, though, is
that, yes, this is an ongoing threat and, yes, there are ongoing law
enforcement efforts to counter the threat. That, I might add, is one of the
reasons why the whole issue is so sensitive.
I would like to say something in that regard, which is that I think that
many of you, most perhaps all of you in the press understand what is at
stake for the United States and for especially American citizens overseas.
I think you understand the sensitivity of this case. I know you are all
under very heavy competitive pressures to get to the bottom of the story,
but I think you also recognize that our ability to protect Americans is at
stake here. That is why I hope you will respect the fact that we can't be
as specific as you would like us to be.
I think that the press has been understanding of that. I cannot say I think
the same for some officials in the government who have been speaking to
members of the press. I ordinarily don't wish upon anyone to read the
transcript of my briefing, but I do hope that those officials in this city
are paying attention and understand that talking about the specifics of
this case is potentially detrimental to the security of Americans.
QUESTION: With that in mind, is it possible that some of these people who
were arrested could be brought here for trial in the African bombing
MR. FOLEY: I believe those are separate issues. Indictments have been
proffered by the Justice Department in connection with the Africa bombings.
This is a different case. That is not something that we're seeking at this
QUESTION: Can you say whether these arrests were made because of US
intelligence information or was it because of information from the host
MR. FOLEY: Well, as you know, we've been tracking the terrorist threat
that bin Laden and, indeed, other groups - because we are also vigilant
about other groups and we are watching other groups at this moment in
connection with the end of the year period. So I don't want you to conclude
from what I'm going to say that this is not something that we're following
extraordinarily closely; but I cannot answer your specific question because
it's a very sensitive matter.
QUESTION: Along the same lines, is there any indication from the
interrogations, information gathered from those arrested, that there are
other groups that might be looking, as ABC last night said, to attack
Christians in holy sites on New Year's Eve?
MR. FOLEY: Well, we've not been specific about the location of potential
attacks because we believe that, actually, some of the information reported
in the press is erroneous in that regard about specific locations. We have
a responsibility to inform Americans of information that, as I said, would
be relevant to their security and we have not been specific in that regard.
Rather, we have indicated that this is potentially a global threat and,
therefore, we issued a worldwide caution to Americans to be taking
precautionary measures as they travel and move about overseas.
The first part of your question was?
QUESTION: The question was have you garnered from the fact, you know,
from the first arrests --
MR. FOLEY: What I indicated - first of all, I'm not going to get into any
specifics about the arrests or about the nature of our ongoing work to
counter the threat. But what I did say to you a few minutes ago is that
other suspects wanted in connection with planned attacks may belong to bin
Laden's network and to other terrorist groups.
QUESTION: So there is an indication that there might be more than those
arrested that would be looking to commit terrorist acts?
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Jim, (inaudible) can you say, broadly speaking, whether these
threats are millennium-related?
MR. FOLEY: I think the answer to that question is contained in the Public
Announcement that we put out on Saturday afternoon where we indicated that
the credible, specific information we had involved targeting of American
citizens, among others, during the period of time leading up to and through
the beginning of the New Year and Ramadan events and celebrations.
QUESTION: How seriously are we taking this threat, number one? Number two,
if the State Department is in touch with the governments around the world
as far as US citizens and the Embassies are concerned there?
MR. FOLEY: First of all, I think it's clear we take this threat with the
utmost seriousness. Secondly, we have been in touch with governments around
the world and we are communicating, obviously, to the American public
through Public Announcements, through my statements here at the podium,
through our website, and through all the means that Americans can access
the specific information that each of our Embassies and Consulates
provides about specific security conditions in each country around
QUESTION: This is just a stab in the dark. There haven't been any other
arrests elsewhere related to this, have there, outside of the Middle
MR. FOLEY: I'm not in a position to get into specifics. I don't have any
new information beyond what I've just provided to give you.
QUESTION: Can you say that this is a worldwide threat because you are
seeking people outside of the area where these threats were made?
MR. FOLEY: I can't comment on the specific efforts that are underway. I
indicated they are of a law enforcement, of a diplomatic, and intelligence
nature and it would be, frankly, irresponsible for me to be more specific
than I have been already.
QUESTION: Has security at embassies been upgraded just in general for the
millennium and, obviously, also in response to these threats? Are the
embassies being protected at a higher level as well as you're asking
Americans to be more careful?
MR. FOLEY: As you know, ever since the bombings of our embassies in
Africa, we have been at generally a more heightened posture of alert and
we've been undertaking measures to protect our embassies better, and we've
received some fairly significant funding already from the Congress to
upgrade security, physical security, at our embassies. I don't think any of
our personnel in posts following what happened to our embassies last year
need reminding of what the threats are that they face at posts overseas.
I think their personal security awareness is at a very high level.
I can't comment on specific measures that embassies are undertaking. I'm
not aware of any in particular, but certainly it also depends on the
conditions at each post. But you can be certain, though, that our posts are
undertaking all the necessary security precautions.
QUESTION: Jim, understanding your lack of willingness to be specific
about certain places at certain times, any American traveling overseas and
intending to - I don't see how any American traveling overseas and
intending to be, say, in Manger Square on Christmas Eve or at the Vatican
on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day can read your Public Announcement last
Saturday in any other way except to avoid those types of large crowds.
MR. FOLEY: Well, you're inviting me to identify a specific place or area
that might be subject to a threat, and I'm unable to do that principally
because we don't have that kind of information. As I implied in answer to
an earlier question, we have an obligation to share with the American
public information that we have that will bear on their security, and you
can be certain that if we have that kind of information that we will share
Nevertheless, the Public Announcement of Saturday is clear that Americans
overseas should review their security practices, remain alert to the
changing situation, exercise caution, be in touch with the American embassy
and consulate, and avoid large crowds and gatherings. I think it's pretty
QUESTION: Jim, can you say if the US, either through Sheehan's office or
another office, since your warning says - since your announcement says that
Americans are the subject of a specific --
MR. FOLEY: Among the targets.
QUESTION: Have you all asked any governments to take any extra measures
to better protect specifically American groups or places where there might
be large American groups? I know you've told Americans what they should do
or what security practices they ought to take, but are you asking
governments where such gatherings might take place to keep a better eye out
MR. FOLEY: Well, I think it's certainly in the interest of governments
around the world to do everything they can to work against terrorist groups
and threats and to protect Americans and other visitors, as well as their
own nationals in any circumstances. In response to an earlier question, I
said that we have been in touch with other governments but I'm not in a
position to specify the nature of this discussions.
QUESTION: I apologize if you were asked this yesterday, but does this
caution extend to this country?
MR. FOLEY: Apology accepted. With the proviso that it's important that
Americans understand that at the federal, state and local levels law
enforcement and responsible officials are supposed to be vigilant all the
time, and that will continue to be the case; nevertheless, the information
that we're sharing with the American public, the specific information that
we have, is related to threats overseas and not US soil.
QUESTION: I just want to make sure whether - in response to another
question - I'm confused. If you had information to (inaudible) making this -
suggesting a potential site, let's just say Dubuque, that there was going
to be an attack on Americans in Dubuque, does that mean that you would come
out and say that we warn people to stay away from Dubuque?
MR. FOLEY: I don't want to be overly specific because everything is done
on a case-by-case basis in terms of what information is provided. There are
all kinds of factors that go into the degree to which we can speak publicly
about intelligence information and law enforcement matters and efforts.
That said though, we have an obligation though to inform the American
public about threats or dangers to their security. So the basic answer to
your question is yes.
QUESTION: So if you had specific information about a specific site,
chances are that you would be saying specifically?
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Usama bin Laden is the problem of all the troubles that are
going on in this world as far as terrorism is concerned, and he is in
Afghanistan and sanctions are there --
MR. FOLEY: Let me, if I can interrupt, he is someone who has been
identified by not only the United States but by countries around the world
and, indeed, by the Security Council of the United Nations as an indicted
terrorist who has killed innocent people around the world, but he is not
the only terrorist threat in the world. There are other terrorist groups at
work that have a record of killing innocent civilians and that we believe
are still involved in planning terrorist activities.
QUESTION: I don't remember the exact wording you used, but a propo the
Sheehan meeting yesterday with Mujahid. You know, when he warns the Taliban
of consequences or serious consequences, what does that mean in light of
the fact that sanctions are already in place?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not going to be specific about what "serious
consequences" means. That's a term of art in the field of diplomacy and
it's serious, and I'm not going to spell out what "serious consequences"
means. But in diplomatic parlance, though, that's strong language.
QUESTION: Did the Taliban representative have any response to Mr.
MR. FOLEY: I'm not in a position to report his response, but I think he
left the meeting without any doubt as to the seriousness of the attitude of
the United States towards the consequences should there be any terrorist
attack by bin Laden, a terrorist who is harbored by the Taliban at this
QUESTION: You mentioned that Americans are among the targets?
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Are there specific countries also that are within that target
group, other countries' citizens?
MR. FOLEY: I don't have that information. I'm not aware that other
nationalities are specifically targeted, but the information we developed
was that terrorists were planning attacks that would have targeted
Americans and others.
QUESTION: What is the - well, I guess you can't give the exact time frame
but, for example, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, or would the entire
period be risky?
MR. FOLEY: I just have to refer you back to our statement that was issued
on Saturday that relates to the beginning of the New Year and into early
January and the Ramadan period.
MR. FOLEY: I didn't say that.
QUESTION: I want to make sure that there was no - you can't say, though,
there was any indication from the Taliban guy that there was any - there
was no indication that they were going to change their position?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not in a position to report his response.
QUESTION: Questions on Romania. Do you have any comment or reaction to
the political crisis unfolding there, specifically on the issue of whether
this firing of the prime minister is by the Romanian constitution?
MR. FOLEY: Yes and no. I have a comment but in terms of your key question
I'm not in a position to comment on the Romanian constitution. That's
something for the Romanians to sort out. There is certainly considerable
confusion in Bucharest right now about the implications of President
Constantinescu's decision yesterday to try to remove Prime Minister Vasile.
As of today, the Prime Minister had not resigned; however, all members of
his cabinet, including those from his party, resigned yesterday and
President Constantinescu has named an interim Prime Minister.
Internal discussions within the coalition are continuing. These changes as
of now should not affect the coalition's majority in parliament. The United
States is confident that regardless of what political disputes may occur
there, they will be resolved within Romanian institutions reflecting the
commitment of the Romanian people to democracy and the rule of law.
QUESTION: Do you have anything new today on the Cuban boy?
MR. FOLEY: Yes. Not a lot new, but I can report briefly about the
interview yesterday. As I indicated yesterday, however, the report that is
being drafted by and prepared by the INS officer in Havana is going into a
case file, the contents of which are, under INS procedures, confidential
and so I'm not in a position to talk about the interview itself and the
disposition of the case which will rest in the hands of the INS.
What I can tell you, though, is that yesterday's INS interview of Mr.
Gonzalez which occurred at his home was an important step in the process of
determining who legally speaks for the child. The meeting with Mr. Gonzalez
Quintana was essential to moving the INS process forward; but no decision
has been made as to the final outcome of that process. The INS officer
indicated that while we, just as Mr. Gonzalez, would like the process to
move forward as quickly as possible, it is impossible to predict the
outcome and the time frame for this process.
QUESTION: There are reports that in the immigration talks yesterday
between the US and Cuba that the Cubans asked for another meeting next
MR. FOLEY: That's true. The Cuban delegation did propose meeting again in
January. Our side did not agree to that proposal.
QUESTION: Apparently, there was an American delegation there on Tuesday.
It now being midnight in China, I thought you might have something on the
MR. FOLEY: You're referring to Mr. Andrews' delegation.
QUESTION: The compensation meeting.
MR. FOLEY: The State Department's Legal Advisor, David Andrews, is still
in Beijing - you're right - for talks related to property damage to
diplomatic facilities resulting from the tragic and mistaken bombing of the
Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and subsequent demonstrations directed against
US facilities in China where there was property damage as well.
These talks follow upon earlier discussions leading to an agreement whereby
the US Government provided humanitarian payment of $4.5 million to the
victims of the tragic accident and the families of those who were killed.
We continue to address US property losses in parallel with discussion of
Chinese property claims. These discussions occurred yesterday. I don't have
information as to whether they are going to resume on Wednesday, Beijing
time, or not; but they are going forward.
QUESTION: Moving on to the talks about Israel and Syria, what does the
Secretary hope to have achieved by the time the talks conclude here? And if
the talks continue, what will her role be beyond that point?
MR. FOLEY: I think I spoke to this yesterday. I'd have to refer you to my
transcript. The fact is Secretary Albright has spoken several times on
television and including during her visit to the Middle East last week, she
spoke about her hopes and her sense of the historic nature of the
opportunity that is upon us now.
I yesterday talked a little bit about the fact that this is indeed a very
historic occasion and a great opportunity which starts tomorrow, but we
don't expect that these initial two days of discussions will yield
agreement on the major areas - and there are four - that are to be
negotiated between the parties.
We expect that this will help the parties define the issues, determine how
they're going to negotiate, at what pace, at what level, in what location.
All this will come out and we hope that they will get a good start on the
substantive issues. But our understanding is that the parties want to take
a very intensive approach to the negotiations and so we would expect them
to resume in fairly short order. But you will have to wait for the meetings
tomorrow and Thursday for a determination on the follow-on talks and
all the details you're interested in that respect.
QUESTION: A news agency out of Jerusalem reported that an Israeli
minister said that the US had made some assurances to Syria regarding
Syria's relationship with Turkey, that there was some understanding reached
that the US would help Syria sort out some of its bilateral issues
MR. FOLEY: I had not heard that. I would be glad to look into it for you,
QUESTION: Do you have any comment about the guerrilla attacks in western
Colombia over the weekend that left dozens of people dead? Do you still
have any doubt that the FARC probably didn't want to achieve peace in
MR. FOLEY: Well, we gave little credence to the FARC's proclamations of
their peaceful intentions and desire to negotiate seriously before this
latest incident. Of course, this incident only reinforces our skepticism
about the FARC.
We understand that members of the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia, attacked the police station and naval base at Jurado on Sunday.
These attacks once more demonstrate the FARC's apparent lack of interest in
moving quickly to achieve a peaceful resolution to the decades long
conflict in Colombia.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, do you expect the US to speed up aid
to Colombia because of these continued attacks?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I think Mr. Rubin made a statement on this maybe a week
or so ago in which he indicated that this was one of the issues that have
the highest priority of the State Department, the White House, the US
Government and, indeed, I would say the Congress as well. I think there has
been a lot of sentiment in Congress in favor of our assisting President
Pastrana as he implements his plan to counter the threat of the insurgents
and terrorists, to counter the narcotics threat, to build Colombian
institutions, to improve the Colombian economy, and we are very much
committed to assisting him. I think you will see early in the new year that
we'll be putting some concrete details out about our intentions in that
QUESTION: I just want to know why you used the word "apparent" lack of
MR. FOLEY: Well, I meant it rather sarcastically. I meant it sarcastically.
There is little doubt - there's no doubt I think about their lack of good
faith in this regard.
QUESTION: Are you aware of the prison uprising in Louisiana involving
Cuban detainees who cannot be released onto the streets of the US?
MR. FOLEY: I'm aware of it, yes. -
QUESTION: And they can't go back to Cuba because apparently the Cubans
don't want them back. It sounds to me like there is a diplomatic component
to this story.
MR. FOLEY: Well, we have raised the issue of the return of criminal
excludables, as they are called, with the Cubans during each round of the
migration talks since 1984, including yesterday. That might be 1994. I'll
have to check that for you. The Cuban Government has not agreed to accept
the return of such individuals. We will continue to work together on this
issue. It is a long-standing problem. We have not found a solution to it
yet, but we are going to continue to work the issue.
QUESTION: Are these all prisoners from the Mariel boat lift?
MR. FOLEY: I'd have to refer you to law enforcement in Louisiana. I don't
QUESTION: On the UN today, do you have any thoughts or expectations about
the vote this afternoon if it is still supposed to take place this
MR. FOLEY: Yes, I do. We expect a vote on the omnibus draft resolution
today. I don't want to be categorical about that. There could possibly be
slippage into later today or perhaps tomorrow, but my understanding is
there is a strong expectation that that vote will take place today. Again,
we would like to see the resolution adopted with the broadest possible
support among Council members but I don't want to make any predictions
right now about how the vote will turn out, but we expect it to pass.
QUESTION: Some critics say that the US gave up too much or dropped
important things from the language of the resolution like, "full cooperation,
" in an effort to keep Russia and China from vetoing it. What do you say to
the critics who say that?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I think from the very beginning that it has been clear
to our partners in the Security Council that the United States was
determined to remain faithful to our rock-solid bottom line in regard to
this resolution. We do not want to see inspectors return for the sake of
window-dressing. We want inspectors to go back to Iraq to do their job and
to receive all the cooperation that they will need in order to do their
It is a practical yardstick. We have demonstrated flexibility in these
talks. We have given an all-out effort. Secretary Albright has been deeply
involved in this effort working with her foreign minister counterparts. We
have gone the extra mile, but we have never left anyone in doubt that we
would not cross our basic red lines in this case. I think you will find
when this resolution is voted upon that what is being voted is a resolution
that will authorize the return of real inspectors to really do their
job and that the yardstick against which Iraqi performance will be
judged will be a credible one.
QUESTION: In light of the fact that Iraq has already vowed not to accept
new inspectors, why is such a resolution important in light of that?
MR. FOLEY: What's important in the first instance to reestablish
consensus in the Security Council. It is important in that regard now for
nations to stand up in the Security Council and be counted and determine
where they stand on the importance of a credible inspection regime going
back to do its work in Iraq. That is what we are going to find out about
But it is not up to Iraq to determine what the Security Council is going to
decide. Iraq does not have a voice. Iraq is under obligation through a
series of Security Council resolutions dating back to 1990 and 1991 to
comply. It has failed to do so thus far and if, as we expect, the
resolution is to pass, this will be an emphatic message to Iraq that it
must comply with the requirements of the Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: Just before we came in, Interfax was reporting that Russian
troops were clashing with Chechen rebels inside Grozny for the first time.
Can you confirm that?
MR. FOLEY: No. I have not seen that.
QUESTION: If it is confirmed, how would the US view this?
MR. FOLEY: I think you should take a cue from your colleagues' reaction.
We have been very clear that we have been very sympathetic to what the
Russians are facing and trying to achieve in Chechnya. They are facing a
terrorist problem, they're facing a problem of an expanding insurgency that
went into neighboring areas of Russia; and, yet, we believe they are
profoundly mistaken in the manner in which they are approaching this
It is indisputable that innocent civilians have been killed and injured and
certainly displaced and that this is counterproductive to Russia's aims and
it is damaging to Russia's reputation and standing in the world. So we have
been very clear, along with other members of the international community,
that Russia - while we sympathize with Russia's aims, Russia should rethink
We have seen some signs in recent days that Russia understands the problem
that this conflict is causing Russia internationally. Foreign Minister
Vollebaek is now in the region undertaking the mission that the OSCE
mandated him to take. Prime Minister Putin the other day indicated that
Russia has initiated contact with political leaders in Chechnya. We want to
encourage those efforts. We think that is the avenue to a real, humane and
a lasting solution of the problem in Chechnya.
QUESTION: Minister Vollebaek yesterday proposed a cease-fire, especially
around Grozny, Mr. Foley, and a continued cease-fire until all those
civilians and non-combatants that wanted to get out could get out. Does the
United States support that cease-fire and would the United States support
some kind of a transportation shuttle to get those folks out of Grozny?
MR. FOLEY: Well, Foreign Minister Vollebaek is the Chairman-in-Office of
the OSCE and it's in that capacity that he's visiting these regions of
Russia, and he'll be traveling to Chechnya tomorrow. We applaud his efforts
to promote dialogue about the parties in Chechnya and to look for a
political solution to the conflict. We and Foreign Minister Vollebaek share
the view that the cycle of violence in Chechnya, particularly the
indiscriminate use of force against civilians, must end.
In terms of your specific question, we certainly would support a lasting
cease-fire across Chechnya by both sides in this conflict. We believe the
issue here is much broader. The Russians have an obligation to stop
indiscriminate use of force against civilians, to provide for the safety of
all civilians affected by the conflict, and to ensure that people who want
to flee the conflict are able to do so. Those are ongoing obligations. They
are not a one-time event. We would like to see an active dialogue that gets
parties on the path to a political solution. We believe it is important
that Russia take meaningful steps toward that goal, including support for
Foreign Minister Vollebaek's trip to the region.
QUESTION: The Chechen president whose name I won't try to say --
MR. FOLEY: Maskhadov.
QUESTION: -- has apparently said that he is willing to meet with
Vollebaek and with the Russian Emergencies Minister. Are you aware of this?
If you are, or even if you aren't, is this the kind of meeting that you're
talking about that you would like to encourage?
MR. FOLEY: First, I am not aware of the report. Secondly, yes, we would
QUESTION: On a different subject. I have a question about Taiwan's
participation in the World Health Organization. Recently Congress passed a
bill sort of mandating the Administration to support Taiwan's participation
in WHO. The President also signed the bill which means, I suppose, the
Administration has to implement that law; however, I understand the State
Department takes the position that the US cannot support Taiwan's
membership and participation in WHO because that organization requires
statehood for whatever members that apply for membership.
How do you jive the two? On the one hand you have the law which the
President signed which means that you have to implement it; on the other
hand, State Department, if I'm correct, takes the position that you cannot
back up Taiwan's participation in WHO.
MR. FOLEY: I don't know if it was intentional or not, but you've
formulated the question in a very clever way because you began with the
premise that what the law was about had to do with Taiwan's participation
in the WHO and then shifted into a different premise that it covered
prospective Taiwan membership in the organization.
The bill requires the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress on
Administration efforts to, quote, "more actively support Taiwan's
participation international organizations, including in particular the
World Health Organization." In accordance with our one China policy, while
we do not support Taiwan's membership in the World Health Organization or
any international organization that requires statehood for membership, we
believe that the people on Taiwan should be able to contribute to, as well
as to benefit from, the work of the WHO.
QUESTION: In Europe, the Cypriot indirect meeting and direct talks will
have some kind of break right now and the two Cypriot leaders will go home
. They told today's press conference, they said that they will come to New
York or United States - they don't know where and the time - in the next
year. Do you have any comment on the subject?
MR. FOLEY: I just heard that report before coming in, so I'll have to
have our experts take a look at it. I think on a preliminary basis,
certainly we can very strongly welcome the fact or the report that the
parties to the proximity talks in New York are going to resume those
discussions under the UN's aegis. I don't have the time frame, but that's
Thank you. I'm sorry. Yes?
QUESTION: Bear with me. I just want to go back to my previous question.
MR. FOLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: You know, regarding that bill supporting Taiwan's participation
in WHO, I still want to get a better understanding where the State
Department stands. Are you in agreement with that bill passed by Congress
and signed by the President?
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: You are?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, of course.
QUESTION: But then, on the other hand, you say --
MR. FOLEY: We share - let me give you an answer.
QUESTION: You also say that you can not back up Taiwan's membership in --
MR. FOLEY: As I said, your question seemed to marry two separate concepts
altogether, and the legislation has to do with enhancing or encouraging
Taiwan's participation in international organizations, including the WHO.
The legislation says nothing about membership. We don't support Taiwan's
membership in international organizations that require statehood as a
condition for membership.
We do want to encourage Taiwan's participation and we share the overall
goal of the legislation to facilitate appropriate ways for Taiwan to
participate in international organizations. In fact, we've been working
actively to identify appropriate ways for Taiwan's voice to be heard in the
WHO and other international organizations where statehood is a requirement
for membership. We've also supported Taiwan's membership in international
organizations like the WTO where statehood is not an issue.
QUESTION: How can you achieve this goal? I mean --
MR. FOLEY: I don't understand the question,
QUESTION: Well, in the sense that you want to see more participation by
Taiwan in international organizations.
MR. FOLEY: Right.
QUESTION: On the other hand, you know, you have certain organizations in
the case of WHO which says you cannot participate unless you are a member,
and you can't qualify as a member because you're not considered a state.
This is why I'm asking.
MR. FOLEY: Well, again, there are two separate issues: membership and
participation. We strongly back Taiwan's participation and we're looking at
ways to facilitate that in such organizations.
Is that a question in the back or is that a camera man in the back?
QUESTION: I came in late and this might sound familiar, but in your
discussions of the discovery of the listening device, have you all had any
discussions about this company which provides the security guards for the
perimeter of the building?
MR. FOLEY: I'd have to take the question. I'm not aware of that.
QUESTION: They're contract security guards. They're not federal officers.
They have significantly less training than federal officers. And I'm
wondering if this - if there's been any talk about if this may have any -
if this created an opportunity for somebody to get in here and put a
listening device in.
MR. FOLEY: I have to take the question in terms of whether anybody is
looking at that particular company that's providing that service. I don't
know if you are referring to or alluding to an article in the Washington
Times on Saturday and yesterday that repeated unfounded assertions from the
summertime, so that was three times that the paper alleged that those
security guards received very minimal training in counter-terrorism and the
use of firearms.
In that respect, let me say that the security guard officers receive three
weeks of basic training; 40 hours of this training is devoted to weapons
training. They also receive training in self-defense, CPR, operation of
security equipment, identification of explosive devices and hidden weapons,
and perimeter control. Each year on or about the anniversary of the
employee's hiring, each guard is required to attend 40 hours of refresher
training, including 8 hours of training on weapons.
Keep in mind that the purpose of this guard force is access control and
safeguarding classified information, obviously not SWAT teams. In other
words, the claim in the article - repeated three times - is wrong.
QUESTION: I wonder, though, if some of the intricacies of the nature of
espionage are shared with these people. I mean, can they recognize --
MR. FOLEY: Their job, in the area that you're talking about, is to
safeguard access to the State Department. That's their job - make sure that
people who come in are employees, are cleared, and only those people can
come into the building. That's their job.
(The briefing concluded at 2:05 P.M.)