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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #153, 99-12-14

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>


1007

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Briefer: James B. Foley

STATEMENT
1	UZBEKISTAN: Parliamentary Elections Neither Free Nor Fair / US Aid
	 to Uzbekistan 
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
	 Bilateral Relationship 
TERRORISM
3-8	Update on Arrests & Terrorist Threat
3,7-8	Alleged Usama bin Laden Connection / Ambassador Sheehan's Meeting
	 with Taliban 
3-5	Will There Be Additional Arrests / Potential Extradition to US /
	 Millennium Related 
5	US Discussions With Governments Worldwide
6	Security at US Embassies / Relevance of Worldwide Caution to
	 Threats in US 
ROMANIA
9	Constitutionality of Prime Minister's Firing
CUBA
9	Update on Cuban Boy Case / INS Report / Migration Talks
11	Cuban Detainees Prison Uprising in Louisiana
CHINA
9-10	Property Talks / Legal Advisor Andrews Visit
COLOMBIA
10-11	FARC Attacks / US Aid to Colombia
IRAQ
12	Likelihood of Vote Today on UNSC Omnibus Draft Resolution /
	 Criticism of US Role / Importance of Resolution 
RUSSIA (CHECHNYA)
13-14	Report of Russian-Chechen Clash Inside Grozny / Update of Situation
	 / Vollebaek Visit / OSCE Proposed Ceasefire / Potential
	 Maskhadov-Volleback-Russian Meeting  
CHINA/TAIWAN
14,15-16	US Support for Taiwan Participation in World Health
	 	 Organization 
CYPRUS
14-15	Proximity Talks / Next Round of Talks
RUSSIA
16-17	Update on Bugging / State Department Security Guard Training

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #153

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 be.

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 tonight?

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 diplomatic measures.

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 cases?

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 time.

QUESTION: Can you say whether these arrests were made because of US intelligence information or was it because of information from the host country?

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 the world.

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 East?

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 it.

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 clear.

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 for --

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. Sheehan's --

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 moment.

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.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

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 month.

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 meeting.

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 concerning Turkey.

MR. FOLEY: I had not heard that. I would be glad to look into it for you, though.

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 Colombia?

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 regard.

QUESTION: I just want to know why you used the word "apparent" lack of interest?

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 know that.

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 afternoon?

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 job.

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 later today.

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?

(Laughter.)

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 problem.

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 its approach.

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 encourage that.

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 good news.

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.

Thank you.

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.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:05 P.M.)


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