Browse through our Interesting Nodes of the Hellenic Communities of the Diaspora Read the Convention Relating to the Regime of the Straits (24 July 1923) Read the Convention Relating to the Regime of the Straits (24 July 1923)
HR-Net - Hellenic Resources Network Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Monday, 27 June 2022
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Interesting Nodes
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts

U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #9, 00-02-10

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <>


U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


Thursday, February 10, 2000

Briefer: James P. Rubin

1	Status of Iraqi Inspection Commission
1-2	Oil Smuggling and Oil for Food Program
2-3	Hijacking Ends/Passengers Released/Arrests Made
3-4	Ambassador Sheehan's Remarks at Brooking Institution on Terrorism
4	Trial of Pan Am 103 Suspects/Sanctions
4-5,6	Meeting of the Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group/Situation in
	 Southern Lebanon 
5	Reported Iranian Arms Shipment to Hizballah
5	International Child Custody Cases
6-7	Reported Nomination for US Ambassador
6-7,11	Reported Travel by Under Secretary Pickering to Venezuela
7	Gejdenson's Letter to Secretary Albright on Contacts with
	 Oil-Producing Countries 
7-8	Situation in Austria/Ambassador Hall's Return
8-9	Congressional Resolution on Rebiya Kadeer
9-10	Security/Military Ties
10	Signing of Friendship Pact
10	Secretary Albright's Meeting with the Foreign Minister
11	President Aliyev's Visit


DPB #9

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2000, 12:35 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing on this here Thursday, the first briefing of the week. It might be the last briefing of the week. Other than that, I don't have any announcements and I'd be honored and privileged to take your questions.

And don't call me a short-timer, okay?

QUESTION: How about lame duck? (Laughter).

The Iraqis are being even more assertive than usual about not accepting a renewed inspection program. Do you have any comment?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. Let me say that we have seen Iraqi authorities time and time again denounce the inspection regime, denounce the United Nations, and we've often found ourselves in a situation where one day they say no way, no how, and the next day magically they decide to cooperate. If they don't cooperate, it's very simple: the sanctions will stay on and Iraq will not be able to get the benefit of the new resolution that was put forward that will permit sanctions adjustments consistent with the necessary steps being taken by the new inspection commission.

Hans Blix is beginning to conduct his consultations. This inspection commission is going to get off the ground, and if Iraq wants to flout the will of the international community it will only have itself to blame as the sanctions stay in place.

We have reason to believe that the other countries on the Council, even those that abstained on the resolution, are united in their support for Hans Blix and for his mission. And so if Iraq refuses to comply with this resolution, not only will it be harming itself but it will be undermining even those who have from time to time sought to give them the benefit of the doubt on some technical points.

QUESTION: On that, do you believe that the leakage by smuggling of oil is sufficient so that they don't need the Oil for Food money?

MR. RUBIN: No. On the contrary, the Oil for Food numbers are much, much higher. We have seen an up-tick in that. For much of 1998, it was around 50, 000 barrels a day, and recently we've seen an up-tick to some 100,000 barrels a day. That is, illegal, illicit oil exports.

But even with that leakage, this is still the most comprehensive and tightest sanctions regime in history. Saddam Hussein continually seeks to get around it and continually seeks to get it lifted. So we believe it's very clear that it continues to sting despite this leakage.

QUESTION: But with oil prices getting up toward $30 a barrel, that amounts to a lot of money that they didn't have before.

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, the price of oil is not something that one can take into account in trying to keep a sanctions regime tight. That's just a fact of life that is not directly related. So we still believe that Iraq will need to sell oil to purchase food unless they do what they've never done before, which is use their own resources. Remember, the Oil for Food Program - Iraq could always purchase humanitarian supplies. They could use the billions of dollars that they've spent on their palaces and on the regime and the military hardware they continually try to buy, and buy humanitarian goods for its people.

But the only way to get aid in in the absence of them spending their own money, which they have refused to do because they really don't seem to give a hoot about their own people, is to use this controlled Oil for Food Program so that the oil sales go directly into an account used for humanitarian supplies.

QUESTION: How do you feel about the resolution of the hijacking in Britain? And are you concerned about further terrorist incidents, particularly since we've seen a couple of this nature recently?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think we're always concerned about terrorism. It's one of the highest priorities this government has. It's something that Secretary Albright follows closely every day, with Ambassador Sheehan's good work.

With respect to the particular hijacking in the UK, we are thankful that the ordeal ended peacefully. We applaud the British for their superb handling of the situation. All the passengers were released without any concessions having been made. Several arrests have been made by the British, and they are continuing to interview occupants of the plane.

In our view, this was a brilliant performance on the part of British authorities.

Could you make sure that the Reuters correspondent heard that?

QUESTION: Are you going to use that?

QUESTION: Jamie, is that equivalent to "bravo"?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say, "Bravo."

QUESTION: On that, may I ask probably a dumb question but I --

MR. RUBIN: There are no dumb questions. There are only dumb answers.

QUESTION: No, this one is. In light of the flight - I mean, will there be an exemption for the flight ban to get this plane back to Afghanistan?

MR. RUBIN: Well, you know, these flight bans have historically in the case of Libya or Iraq or wherever, there are humanitarian exceptions and exceptional circumstances by which the sanctions committees in New York exempt certain flights. Whether they will choose to do that in this case and what the Afghans want to do and what the British intentions are with respect to the plane and its condition, I really don't know. But there are ways that that can be done.

QUESTION: On terrorists, Ambassador Sheehan suggested today that there may be a rethinking under way on the various - the two terrorist lists.

MR. RUBIN: Where did he suggest that?

QUESTION: He was speaking at the Brookings Institution.

MR. RUBIN: Well, that's good that he's getting out there and talking to those think-tankers.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could throw any light on what possible changes are under consideration, not necessarily removing countries but adjusting the way that it's structured.

MR. RUBIN: I don't think he was intending to suggest that we would adjust the way it's structured. I think he was, perhaps, prematurely indicating that they're reviewing very carefully some of these cases.

Certainly, for example, if North Korea and the United States resume our dialogue on counter-terrorism and they were to take the additional steps that we think are necessary, they are a country that could be removed from the list. As you know, Ambassador Kartman is intending to work this month on the final arrangements for a high-level visit here next month of a North Korean official, and one of the things that we would be wanting to do - we've been prepared to do this for some time - is to sit down and explain the additional steps necessary. And, hopefully, those steps will be taken.

Beyond saying that, I don't have any comment on any specific countries, but it's not my understanding that there is a fundamental restructuring of the report and its laws.

QUESTION: Given that the public perception of this list is - it has many questions about it, and transparency is important in this, could you throw light on what steps they do have to take in order to get off the list? We've asked this question many times and we just get rather evasive answers.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't think there's a big problem with the public. I haven't had any demonstrators outside my door demanding to know what the additional steps -

QUESTION: They're not allowed to pass.

MR. RUBIN: And I haven't seen them outside the State Department demonstrating to know exactly what it is that North Korea has to do to get off the list.

Let me be very clear. Counter-terrorism is a very sensitive subject. It's not a subject that lends itself to a lot of public discussions. But, obviously, we would need to have the kinds of assurances that there is not going to be the state sponsorship of terrorist acts on a repeated basis and evidence or steps that we consider sufficient to justify their lack of linkages to such groups.

Beyond saying that, I don't think it would be appropriate to discuss it in public.

QUESTION: You volunteered the case of North Korea as a possible candidate for removal. Would you like to volunteer any more?

MR. RUBIN: I only volunteered it in the context of a recent development. For those of you who were around when we made an announcement about the high-level visit here in March, there was some commentary in the region about counter-terrorism and the terrorism list. That was a new development that I responded to at the time, and so I used that as an example of developments that are new. But, again, it requires actions by the North Koreans.

And beyond that reference to new developments, I think my volunteering has come to an end.

QUESTION: Well, how about this: Isn't there also the possibility in the near future that there might be a development regarding Libya?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to go country by country. If countries take the necessary steps to meet the criteria, they can be removed.

QUESTION: Regarding the Pan Am 103 trial, whenever it's over - I mean, however it ends, on trial are two suspects. Once it ends, would the United States consider the case of Pan Am 103 closed or does the United States have any intention or any mechanism or any desire to continue pursuing this matter?

MR. RUBIN: I prefer not to speculate on what the outcome of a trial will be. It depends on what the outcome of a trial will be. We'd obviously have to review the trial, what the results were, what the evidence was, and make our own judgment. But with respect to the sanctions and the suspension of sanctions by the Security Council, obviously the trial was an important factor.

QUESTION: Jamie, do you have any more information about the meeting by the Monitoring Group tomorrow?

MR. RUBIN: No, just that the meeting is intending to take place tomorrow morning, and the five parties that have been the parties that have traditionally met, with the US and France as the co-chairs, will convene Friday. It's certainly something that we think is helpful in trying to defuse these crises.

Let me be clear. We've made it known - and I want to repeat - that we deeply regret the loss of life and injuries on all sides. We also regret the civilian infrastructure that has been damaged and the disruption to civilian life that has occurred. Now we have to focus on defusing the crisis but, at the same time, one shouldn't expect these things to happen overnight. There is every reason to think that this is going to continue to be a difficult process.

But more important in the long run, these kinds of crises will continue unless and until we can get the kind of comprehensive peace arrangements put forward that we were discussing, for example in Shepherdstown, and that we would like to see Israel and Lebanon discussing directly.

QUESTION: In the context of Chechnya, you spoke a lot about the disproportionate use of force. Do you think that bombing power stations and depriving hundreds of thousands of people of electricity is a disproportionate use of force?

MR. RUBIN: Well, at this point, I think we prefer to have this issue discussed in the Monitoring Group. I think it's fair to say that we certainly regret the loss of life. We regret the damage to civilian infrastructure and the disruption to civilian life. I think we clearly regret that.

With respect to the situation, I think it's clear that Hizballah, which is an enemy of peace and therefore enemy of peaceful life for the people of Lebanon, the people of Israel and the people of the region, saw an opportunity to try to throw a wrench in the works of peace for the people of Lebanon, the people of Israel, and provoked attacks with the Israeli soldiers. And that remains our view.

QUESTION: There is a report that that the Hizballah recently received a shipment of arms from Iran that included TOW missiles. Do you have anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have anything on that kind of specific report. We've been concerned for some time about Iran and support for Hizballah, but I have nothing on that specific report.

QUESTION: Yesterday on the Hill there was an event at which some parents of abducted children talked about their cases and were quite critical of the State Department - insinuating, if not actually saying, that very little is done on their cases and the State Department hesitates to ruffle feathers with some of these countries like Sweden, like Austria previously - irrelevant to the situation now.

Is that fair, or is it so that these cases are brought up recurringly with the governments in these countries when there is international law governing the cases?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have the specific cases in front of me, but let me say that my sense is that is unfair; that our Consular Affairs people work day and night to try to resolve many of these custody cases; that, especially with countries that we have good relations with, they know that we work assiduously for them. And I think it's a disservice to the people who work in this Department every day trying to deal with these types of issues to say that somehow there is a policy of not wanting to ruffle feathers. It's simply not correct.

We recognize that these cases tend to be very emotional and the people involved are obviously frustrated in this area, but I think it's just simply wrong to suggest that we have some policy of not ruffling feathers.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the countries that are refusing to send these children back in defiance of international law, in defiance of custody arrangements?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I'd need to see the specific cases and get some more information about them. But in general, yes, we do believe that countries should be respecting international law in these cases. And those who don't, we have no hesitation in saying so.

QUESTION: Could I go back to Lebanon? You talked about you regret the loss of life and loss of civilian life and of the attacks on the infrastructure. Do you have evidence that the Hizballah has been attacking civilian targets?

MR. RUBIN: The issue there is not that, Jim. The issue in respect to the agreement is whether they have been using civilian infrastructure from which to launch attacks, and there is plenty of evidence of that during recent weeks and months.

QUESTION: Could I switch to Austria?

MR. RUBIN: Let's go in the back and we'll come back to you.

QUESTION: The US Embassy in Caracas has announced that Donna Hrinak going down as US Ambassador. Can you confirm that? It must be true because it's being published down there.

And, also, that Mr. --

MR. RUBIN: Boy, you gave me a nice, big softball there. I can't wait. Finish.

QUESTION: Mr. Pickering is going down in mid-March for the high-level delegation, a congressional group is going. Does all of this represent some change in policy towards Venezuela or some effort to get something done, like increased production of oil?

MR. RUBIN: Well, let me say that I wouldn't assume that if it's published somewhere that it's necessarily been announced by the United States or anyone else. I don't make announcements about US Ambassadors. That's done by the President.

With respect to our interest and engagement with Venezuela, I think it's been quite strong for some time. Secretary Albright has been following events there closely. Assistant Secretary Romero has obviously spent a lot of time on it. So I wouldn't assume that there is some grand linkage between the price of oil and our interest in Venezuela.

QUESTION: Sam Gejdenson, ranking Democrat of the House International Relations Committee, wrote to the Secretary earlier this week asking her to contact allies within OPEC and press for an increase in production. Do you know whether she has responded or whether she is going to? Have there been any contacts?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, she has responded to the letter. Let me say this: We are regularly in touch with oil-producing countries about these kinds of questions. I don't have any details to provide to you, but I can seek them.

QUESTION: Yesterday the Secretary several times was quite vociferous about Austria and the statements and lack of clear action. Is the Secretary worried that this situation in Austria -- xenophobia and rejection of foreign refugees -- that this might replicate itself in other European countries, such as Germany or France?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that certainly many of the leaders in those countries have made that point and have expressed quite openly their concern about this issue beyond Austria.

With respect to the Secretary's actions and statements about Austria, it is focused on Austria. That doesn't mean that she's not aware of concerns throughout Europe about a potentially broader phenomenon.

But from our perspective, what the Freedom Party leaders have said is what has concerned us, and our actions have been focused on those statements and our concern about the Austrian Government. And that has been the motivation for our actions. That doesn't mean she's not aware of concern that you described.

QUESTION: Do you know what day Ambassador Hall is going back?

MR. RUBIN: I believe this weekend she'll be going back.

QUESTION: Mr. Haider said that --

MR. RUBIN: What did he say today?

QUESTION: He said that European politicians - and I think he might include US politicians, too --

MR. RUBIN: He might? Is that your interpretation?

QUESTION: That's my interpretation.

MR. RUBIN: I see.

QUESTION: -- had insulted his country and his party and owed them an apology. He said Europe is adopting an attitude which could be dangerous for the continent. Do you have any respect to this?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think the United States owes Mr. Haider an apology. That strikes me as the pot calling the kettle black. I hope that translates well. And with respect to his view about the Europeans, I'll leave them to respond.

But let's be clear. It's the statements of Mr. Haider one day saying one thing, the next day saying he didn't mean it or he apologized, the next day saying something else, that have created this situation. And just as Austria has every right to create a government based on its election, we have every right to have an opinion about it. And that is what we've done is used our rights to express our concerns. And that doesn't mean we don't respect Austria's right to have its government.

QUESTION: Did you see the story about the Chinese woman who was arrested in western China shortly before she was supposed to meet with congressional staffers, and that the Chinese basically have stonewalled congressional efforts at least, and perhaps Administration efforts, to find out what has happened to her?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. Ms. Kadeer is a successful private business woman. She is not known to be a member of any political movement and is, in fact, a past member of the Chinese Political Consultative Congress, an important Chinese Government body. She was arrested while en route to a meeting with a congressional staff delegation in Urumqi in Xinjiang Province in China.

We are deeply disturbed by her arrest and her long detention without formal charges, as well as the fact that she was arrested on her way to a meeting with congressional staff. We note that her long detention without formal charges is in violation of China's own criminal procedures law, as well as international human rights standards.

We've seen nothing to suggest there is any basis to Chinese charges that she has provided state secrets and intelligence to foreign organizations. We've met several times with Ms. Kadeer's husband who lives in the United States, and we have repeatedly raised the matter of her arrest with Chinese authorities, including at high levels.

We call on China to immediately release Rebiya Kadeer.

QUESTION: This arrest took place a long time ago, I understand?

MR. RUBIN: Some time ago, yes.

QUESTION: Do you have a date for it? It's been months or something?

MR. RUBIN: One second. Last April.

QUESTION: She's still held?

MR. RUBIN: It says last April here. Last August 11th it says as well, so let me get you the date.

QUESTION: It says August as well?

MR. RUBIN: We'll get you the date.

QUESTION: She was arrested twice, or there's a mistake in there someplace?

MR. RUBIN: Thank you for --

QUESTION: Well, I'm not sure --

MR. RUBIN: And should we get the person who made the mistake up here and you can ask him some more questions? We'd be happy to do that.

QUESTION: No, I wasn't - I was just trying to figure out --

MR. RUBIN: After the briefing we'll try to get you our knowledge of the exact date. But if you want to go over there and, you know --

QUESTION: And pummel someone.

MR. RUBIN: Okay.

QUESTION: Why does this come up today?

MR. RUBIN: I think it's that congressional concerns have led to the possibility of a congressional resolution being put forward.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the report of the increased military cooperation between Russia and China?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. On that, let me say that sales of Russian military equipment to China have been reported for several years. We are well aware of these developments. We monitor them quite closely. We don't want to either minimize the potential threat, nor exaggerate that threat.

We maintain an active dialogue with Russia on the issue of arms sales reflecting our concern about proliferation. We closely monitor the development and modernization of China's military and its potential impact on US security.

As far as that particular destroyer is concerned, we don't believe that the purchase by China of the ship poses a significant threat to the US military posture in Asia. While clearly improving China's naval capabilities, it is fair to say the appearance of one additional modern warship will not fundamentally alter the regional balance of power.

We have made clear our concerns to the Chinese Government regarding Chinese military developments, including its missile deployments and their influence on the situation in the Taiwan Strait. We retain and continue to have a strong interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. That is why we have approved defensive arms sales to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act and consistent with the various communiques.

We will continue to monitor the military balance in the Strait closely and meet our obligation to make available to Taiwan the arms it needs for an adequate defense.

QUESTION: And do you have anything to say about this new friendship treaty signed between Russia and North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: Right. With respect to the friendship treaty, let me simply say we haven't seen the details of it. I would say we welcome any measure that members of the international community take to engage North Korea to enhance the possibility for greater stability and peace on the Korean peninsula - and we certainly hope the treaty will have that effect.

We've certainly been in close contact with Russia regarding our efforts with North Korea to deal with fundamental issues like the nuclear weapons issue, the missile development issue and nonproliferation concerns.

QUESTION: The US and Argentina have always had a close, tight relationship, particular with the Menem administration. And some analysts have said that now with the new administration, things might get a little moderate. You know, they might cool off a little bit.

We understand that the Secretary met this morning with Minister Rodriguez- Giavarini. And did you see that reflected on that meeting, or what was the overall meeting about?

MR. RUBIN: Obviously, it was a get-acquainted session because it's the first time they've met since the Foreign Minister took office in December. They certainly had a good meeting and we have exceptionally good relations with Argentina, and that we're always seeking for ways to improve those relations.

We certainly welcome and have thanked Argentina for support they've given us on issues at the United Nations on subject like Haiti, for example, on Ecuador. And I expect this to be more of a get-acquainted session for the Secretary to give a briefing on Middle East issues and that kind of thing.

QUESTION: Anything on President Aliyev's visit on Saturday? And, in particular, do you expect him to be announcing any progress in relations with Armenia? There was a partial agreement --

MR. RUBIN: I've heard about that visit. I don't have the details of it and I will try to get those for you immediately after the briefing.

QUESTION: Going back to the visit of Secretary Pickering to Caracas --

MR. RUBIN: Did I announce that visit?

QUESTION: Has it been announced?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think so, so it's hard to talk about it.

QUESTION: Yeah. You don't want to talk about it, then. It's being described in the Caracas press as an attempt at reconciliation.

MR. RUBIN: I didn't know there was anything to reconcile. We have a good working relationship with Venezuela, but that doesn't mean that in any good working relationship there are not issues of concern that need to be worked on. But we certainly will continue to do that.

(The briefing concluded at 1:05 P.M.)

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
Back to Top
Copyright © 1995-2022 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
All Rights Reserved.

HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
std2html v1.01b run on Friday, 11 February 2000 - 2:00:05 UTC