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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #158, 97-11-03

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


Monday, November 3, 1997

Briefer: James P. Rubin

1-9		US Policy on UNSCOM Inspections Blocked by Iraq/UN
		  Diplomatic Delegation/Number of American Inspectors/UN
		  Security Council Unity Against Iraq's Actions/Next Steps/
		  Applicability of UN Resolutions
5		Amb. Butler's Remarks on UNSCOM Finding Nerve Gas
8		Possible Iraqi Troop Movements
15-16		Status of Kurdish Fighting in Northern Iraq/Turkey's

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 9-13 Secretary Albright's and Amb. Ross' Participation in Peace Talks/Agenda/Absence of Committee Chairmen in Palestinian Delegation 12-13 Update on Doha Summit

PAKISTAN 13 Secretary Albright's Trip to the Region in light of a Possible Military Takeover

GREECE/TURKEY 13-14 Meeting of Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers at the Balkan Summit on Crete/Military Exercises

CHINA 14-15 Pres. Jiang's Reference to Mistakes Made During Tiananmen Square in his Speech at Harvard/Post-Summit Assessment of US-China Relations

NATO 15 Expected Release Date of NATO Expansion Cost Study


DPB #158

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1997 12:40 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing room. It is a few minutes late. Please forgive me.

I have no statements; I am here to take your questions.


QUESTION: Saddam Hussein apparently has accepted a three-member team, proposed by Kofi Annan. Do you consider this to be a helpful sign?

MR. RUBIN: We hope that Saddam Hussein gets the message that he cannot negotiate; this is not the bazaar. He has to accept the responsibility of complying with UN Security Council resolutions.

We're hopeful that he will allow the UN to do its work, allow the inspectors to do their job, and allow this situation to be eased.

QUESTION: Is there anything to negotiate? Anything to talk about? I mean, as far as the Clinton Administration is concerned, what message would you like these people to carry to Baghdad?

MR. RUBIN: I think their message will be quite clear.

Iraq knows what the UN Security Council is requiring it to do.

It has to comply with all its obligations. This is not a negotiation.

UNSCOM's work - the UN Special Commission's work is not a subject of negotiation. If the Commission can't do its work, the Commission can't certify Iraq has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction.

The Council can't even consider the question of moving to the next phase, in terms of sanctions relief.

So Iraq has to comply with all of the relevant Security Council resolutions. From time to time, they try to negotiate the work of the Special Commission, and time and time again, the Special Commission makes clear that its work is not a subject of negotiation.

QUESTION: The French apparently have said that if there's any further action to be taken against Iraq that this would have to be decided by the UN Security Council in a separate action, a separate vote. Does the United States believe that the Security Council has all of the authority it needs now to take whatever action - including all the options that you have said are open to consideration, including military action? Do you feel that you have all the authority you need now to do whatever you need to keep them in line?

MR. RUBIN: Let's step back, first of all, and make clear that the Secretary General of the UN said that this delegation is being sent to Baghdad to obtain firm implementation of UN Security Council resolutions. The team has asked to meet with Saddam Hussein.

UNSCOM Chairman Butler has said the delegation is not going to Baghdad to negotiate over how Iraq should cooperate with UNSCOM.

It is going there to reinforce with the Iraqi Government the need to cooperate fully.

It is our view that the Security Council should be prepared to take firm action to bring about Iraqi compliance in the event that they don't change their mind in the next day or so. So it is not prudent at this point to examine all the different options we have ahead of us, all the different authorities we have ahead of us. Our view is that Saddam Hussein should change his mind, and allow the UN to do its job. Having received these representatives of the Secretary General, Hussein should make clear to them that he's prepared to let the UN do it's job.

In that event, none of the hypothetical questions that you raise -- namely what if we wanted to do something, and what if other countries didn't agree with every single aspect of it -- wouldn't come up. But, if they are not able to get Saddam Hussein to change his mind, our view is that the Security Council should be prepared to take firm action to bring about Iraqi compliance.

QUESTION: But that's the bottom line. You do think that some kind of Security Council action will be required?

MR. RUBIN: Well, no, that's not what I said. What I said was, our view is that if Iraq doesn't change its mind as a result of this mission, and doesn't get the message that this mission is going to bring, that the Security Council should be prepared to take firm action. Whether or not there are other options, other authorities, and other legalities is two or three steps down the road. I hope you will forgive me if we can just keep it at two steps down the road.

QUESTION: Jamie, can I ask you two questions? One is, do you have a firm count on how many Americans are still there as part of this team? And secondly, just to press you a half step farther, do you believe that there is existing authority under current Security Council rules that you can take military action -- the United States can take military action under that authority without a new vote of the Security Council?

MR. RUBIN: On your first question, the information I have is that as of today, November 3, there are seven Americans in Baghdad assigned to the UN Special Commission.

As far as your second question is concerned, the technical answer to your question is yes--but that's not the point. The point is that if Saddam Hussein doesn't get the message, the policy of the United States is to see that the Security Council takes firm action to get Saddam Hussein to reverse his position.

QUESTION: So you're saying that the Clinton Administration feels it has all the authority it needs under existing resolutions to carry out military action, should it come to that? It won't require another vote; won't require anything--?

MR. RUBIN: I have not mentioned the words "military action;" you all keep mentioning the words "military action." What I have said is that - and I will be prepared to repeat what Secretary Cohen and Secretary Albright and spokesmen at the White House have said--we're not ruling out any options.

QUESTION: No, but just on the key point of whether you have actually - are able to keep all the options in under existing UN authority, that's the question; not what you're going to do, but whether you have the authority to do everything you might like to do.

MR. RUBIN: As a technical matter - you know, lawyers write books about what is and isn't permitted by Security Council resolutions.

Different countries occasionally have different views about it.

What I'm saying to you is, as a technical legal matter, I don't think there's any question in our minds that we have all the authority we need.

The policy of the United States to emphasize right now is that we want Saddam Hussein to get the message, to change his mind, to get on with the show of compliance with UN Security Council resolutions. If that doesn't happen, we want for the Security Council to take firm action to convince him to do so.


QUESTION: Would it be incorrect or correct to say that the United States views this UN mission going to Baghdad now as a - since there's nothing to negotiate, by definition - little more than a chance for Saddam to save some face before he backs down?

MR. RUBIN: Well, part of the answer to your question is, if I answered your question it couldn't be true. So let me answer it this way - whatever it takes for Iraq, for Saddam Hussein to get the message, we believe would be helpful. If discussing this matter with a group of prominent envoys, sent on behalf of the Secretary General will help Saddam Hussein to get it, that's fine with us. Whatever it takes, so long as this is not the opening of the bazaar, but this is merely the reinforcement of the message that the Security Council has already said. That's fine with us.

QUESTION: Jamie, I'm just trying to get some clarification on how many Americans were part of the three-member team that was turned away earlier this morning, or late last night - I forget which.

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that there were two Americans on a plane that were trying to fly in, that were part of UNSCOM, and one that was part of the IAEA. They were not permitted to leave the plane, so they did not go in.

There are other Americans who were prohibited--the inspection was prohibited because Americans were part of it. As opposed to coming into Baghdad, how many Americans were part of that effort, I'd have to get you that for the record.

QUESTION: If you could.

MR. RUBIN: I would be happy to.

QUESTION: Jamie, Saddam Hussein has done this time and time again. I'm just wondering why, in the Administration's view, you should show any flexibility whatsoever. Why should there be a mission to go there? Why should there be dialogue? Why are you sort of legitimizing his stand here with a bunch of diplomatic to-ing and fro-ing?

MR. RUBIN: We do not regard the sending of envoys to repeat the demands of the UN Security Council as the beginning of a dialogue.

I think I've been very clear here this morning - the bazaar is not open. Saddam Hussein must comply with UN Security Council resolutions, full stop, period.

And if receiving envoys of this kind and having it explained to him that the Council is united - he obviously miscalculated that the Council wasn't united - will help turn him around, that's fine with us.

QUESTION: Why, if I can ask you, do you think Saddam Hussein is doing this now? And do you believe this is an effort to split the United States away from its other allies in the Gulf Coalition and the Security Council?

MR. RUBIN: Last week this issue came up quite a bit, and I think my answer at the time was that he, from time to time, miscalculates what the temperature is in the Security Council and the extent of the support that all Council members have for the admission of the UN Special Commission.

Clearly he miscalculated on this case. It is obviously true that there were tactical differences between us and some of our allies about whether a travel restriction should be placed on Iraqi officials and how soon that should be placed. That's no secret. But that is not the same as a difference of view on whether Saddam Hussein should comply with the requirements of UNSCOM. And as he saw, once he tried to exploit what he perceived as a division, is that the door slammed in his face and the 15 members of the Council, in a record time, put out a statement demanding full and immediate compliance with the requirements of the UN. Whatever perceived wedge he might have thought was there evaporated quite quickly.

QUESTION: If I could just follow up, sorry. There is a - I'm curious if you agree that there is a wedge developing over what to do if he doesn't change his mind. I realize you don't want to get into hypotheticals, but Arab countries this weekend urged no use of force. The French and the Russians have clearly been reluctant to use force, and have said so, which makes using it harder, even if you do do it. So I wonder if you regard that as a wedge.

MR. RUBIN: On the contrary, I think we were all quite heartened that the moment he tried to separate out Americans from the rest of the UN Special Commission's work, all 15 members of the Security Council rallied very clearly and very definitively.

If you look at the French-Russian Foreign Ministers' statement from Saturday, you see very clearly stated that the Iraqis must comply with the UN, that their views are unacceptable, and that there is no choice.

As far as what countries would want to pursue what next steps, I've seen a lot of reporting about this, and some of it does not comport with our private assessments of what might happen if things do not change. I'm not going to get into a diplomatic discussion of what Secretary Albright believes to be the different positions of the different countries. I can say that she has been in touch with many - and we'll try to get you a list later today - of the relevant officials over the weekend; she's engaged in a round of calls with some of her colleagues and has done much work over the weekend. We think the world is united against Saddam Hussein, and he's making a mistake if he doesn't realize that.

QUESTION: Jamie, there's another - getting back to the question of Saddam's motive for doing this now. There were some comments I think were attributed to Butler, a day or two ago, that the Commission was close to closing in on some new nerve gas with ten times the potency of Sarin. Do you know anything about that?

MR. RUBIN: I would have to refer you to Ambassador Butler for a specific of what he was closing in on.

QUESTION: If you are so confident that the world is united in action against Saddam Hussein, why can't you be more specific, then, about this term "firm action" that you think the Security Council must be willing to take?

MR. RUBIN: Because if you go back and look at all the different cases of the United States and its allies developing policy options and pursuing those options, there is a time to be specific in public, and there is a time to be clear in public without being specific. Today is the time to be clear, "firm action," without being specific.

QUESTION: Jamie, to follow up on something that Sid had said earlier, you said that the door has slammed in Saddam Hussein's face this time, and it's clear that the world is united against - following through on its action against him and containing him.

Does the United States feel that they are confident that should this become - or rather, after this admonishment, are you confident that you will be able to contain him and he won't resurrect, and in the future these admonishments are going to actually do some good?

MR. RUBIN: We believe our containment policy is a success, that Saddam Hussein has been placed in a strategic box. He can't fly his airplanes in many places. He can't develop weapons of mass destruction. He's had the longest and most comprehensive embargo in the history of world placed on his country. And, although there is occasionally leakage, it still is the most comprehensive embargo in history. He's contained. His options are limited.

And he's miscalculated that it will serve his cause to stop the UN from doing its work.

QUESTION: Sorry. If they have, however, developed this VX gas --

MR. RUBIN: Again, I can't comment on that. I specifically referred the last questioner to Ambassador Butler in New York, and I'd be happy to have - -

QUESTION: Okay. Fine. But if there are weapons of mass destruction still there, is it really appropriate simply to threaten a travel restriction? Is that really an adequate response, from the United States Government's point of view, or are you looking at something more substantial?

MR. RUBIN: Well, you're going to ask me to try to get into specific options, and all I can say is, we haven't ruled any option out. As far as him having weapons of mass destruction, I would emphasize that if you look very carefully at Ambassador Butler's reports, what you will see is the extent to which enormous amounts of weapons of mass destruction materiel have been destroyed.

And, what we're talking about here is trying to make sure that he never again can produce them. They have been trying to get at the documents; find the evidentiary trail for all the different pieces and all the different parts. But, we feel fairly confident that at least in several key aspects - and I'd urge you to read that report for any specific comment on it - that this is not a situation where he's on the verge of developing a weapon like the one that was described.

QUESTION: But isn't it a little concerning, nonetheless, that in these circumstances, we still don't have a common position shared by all 15 members of the Security Council?

MR. RUBIN: I would reject the premise of your --

QUESTION: Even on a travel restriction?

MR. RUBIN: I reject the premise of your question. We have a common position of all 15 members of the Security Council. I urge you to poll each one of them; and they will all say that Iraq's position is unacceptable, and that it must allow the UN to do its job, that it cannot pick and choose between inspectors.

That is a united position of all 15 members of the Security Council.

QUESTION: When people brainstorm here - as they must, over all these several days of impasse - what is the going theory, if there is one, as to his motives? Is he trying to hide ingredients of chemical and biological weapons from prying eyes? Or is he hoping to benefit from the allies not always agreeing, as they didn't the last time the US tried to impose tougher sanctions?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I think the only answer that I'm comfortable giving in this setting is to suggest that it's possible that he misinterpreted the differences between us and some of our allies on whether to impose additional travel restrictions on Iraqi officials as the beginning of some split in the coalition--which proved to be not true the moment he tried to exploit it by suggesting that the Americans be treated differently from others on the inspection teams. All 15 members - the entire world, through the Security Council - rallied behind us and behind the UN, and made clear that Saddam Hussein cannot split off the United States from its allies, and that all of our allies are united against it; so he fundamentally miscalculated.

QUESTION: Jamie, you say that technically there is all the authority that is needed for any action that the US might believe was necessary, in the event that he doesn't back down.

But you also say that you, in the event he doesn't back down, expect the UN Security Council to take firm action. Is that - can we read from that that you're confident that France and Russia will vote for the kind of thing that the US would call firm action?

MR. RUBIN: David, we're at a position now where we have a team going out, probably later today. Ambassador Butler will be reporting to the Security Council later today. We probably won't hear back from the team going to Baghdad for a day or two.

At that point, the Security Council would be in a position to decide what its next steps are.

What I'm saying to you is that we would envision the Security Council taking a firm stand against this position, and firm action as the next step. As far as what that would be, who would support it, and how it would be negotiated, that is two steps down the road, and we're not prepared to discuss that at this time.

QUESTION: Isn't there a threshold step that might be less likely to have any division--the threshold before military action of declaring a cease- fire is irrevocably suspended by Saddam Hussein actions?

MR. RUBIN: There are many different options that exist in cases like this - sanctions, declarations of materiel breach--they've occurred before. I mean, just to give you some historical background, so all of you might be able to put this in context, on several occasions - perhaps as many of half a dozen occasions - Saddam Hussein has refused to allow the UN Special Commission to do its work. And on roughly half a dozen occasions, the United Nations Security Council has declared him in materiel breach. At that point, he, in most of those cases, agreed to allow the UN Special Commission to do its work. So there are many different paths.

Again, our objective here is to get the UN to do its work and to get Saddam Hussein to reverse his unacceptable stand that he can pick and choose who the inspectors are in these inspection teams.

QUESTION: Without prejudging whether there's a gap in the Security Council on the question of what is firm action, does the US retain the option unilaterally to act if it doesn't consider Security Council actions sufficiently firm?

MR. RUBIN: I think I've done my best to answer that within the confines of the current situation three or four times now.

As a technical legal matter, I believe the answer is yes. But that is not what our next step is about. Our next step is about the Security Council taking a firm stand. So, what is a technical legal matter is not what the policy goal is right now that I am specifying for you.

QUESTION: Do you expect any sort of action today from the Security Council, or will they wait for the --

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that Ambassador Butler will report - and it's possible Secretary General Kofi Annan will describe the purpose of his sending these envoys - towards the end of the day today. I would expect the whole process of those people getting to Baghdad and back to take more than a day or so. That would be, presumably, the next time the Security Council would act, other than to make clear what the mandate of those envoys are.

QUESTION: Jamie, I'm sure you would have brought this up were it the case, but just to ask the question - has the United States noticed through any means any odd or unusual movements of troops in Iraq since this all began? Anything that would indicate that something is afoot aside from just the diplomatic stand-off as it exists now?

MR. RUBIN: Again, that's a tricky territory to begin to wander into but I can say that right now, we believe we are engaged in a discussion about how to get Iraq to comply with the UN Special Commission.

New subject?

QUESTION: Jamie, you mentioned that you have the legal authorization for military action --

MR. RUBIN: That's not what I said.

QUESTION: Oh, all right, could you clarify that?

MR. RUBIN: I've answered this question five times, and I don't see the value of repeating it. What I said is, in response to specific questions, we have technically, as a legal matter, the authority to do what we think we need to do.

I'm not going to spell out what the 17 different options are.

I'm not suggesting exactly the way you formulated the question.

That is, however, not the next step that we are pursuing. We are pursuing making clear that these are the United States' inspectors that have been denied access and as a result, the United Nations has been flouted. Saddam Hussein is now in contravention of the entire United Nations system, and not the United States.

You can keep asking me about what the US technical legal authorities are, and I will keep telling you that what this is about is not the US technical legal authorities, but about Saddam Hussein's Iraq confronting the entire UN system.

QUESTION: Let me rephrase the question. Will Resolution 678 be applicable here?

MR. RUBIN: I believe that's the pre-war sanctions - you're talking about 687?

QUESTION: No, 678 was the use of all necessary means, which was the authorization for the beginning of a conflict.

MR. RUBIN: Right, but there's a subsequent resolution, 687.


MR. RUBIN: So what's your question?

QUESTION: Which of the two resolutions would be applicable here?

MR. RUBIN: We can get you a technical, legal answer; 687 imposed the cease fire, which is what's currently applicable.

QUESTION: And, if in fact any firm action is taken, would that be taken under Resolution 678?

MR. RUBIN: You keep trying to get me to talk about the use of military force, and I have specifically not done so. So you can keep trying, and I'm not going to do so.

QUESTION: Can we try and change --

MR. RUBIN: Change the subject, yes.

QUESTION: Is there an early line on the Middle East? Specifically, we know the Secretary's agenda; did she go over it again? How long is she the US mediator? When does Dennis kick in, et cetera? Are you still saying a few days? When do you shift to Virginia? Do we get free buses there? You know, whatever. We'll take almost anything at this stage.


QUESTION: Because we know there has to be peace in the Middle East.

MR. RUBIN: Okay. We've now added - any more before I try to respond?

QUESTION: Yes. I mean, I'm sure Barry knows it, but could you describe the Secretary's agenda for these talks, what the United States hopes to get out of them? I mean, are we still in the interim -- the airport and the seaport? Or are we more ambitious?

MR. RUBIN: The situation is as follows. Secretary Albright has met separately and together with Foreign Minister Levy and Abu Mazen. They met a couple of times in different ways this morning. Ambassador Ross is now discussing with the delegations the important issue of how to get down to work on the various subjects. We are --


MR. RUBIN: Here. They are still in the building, or they were when I came down here. I can't confirm that they didn't leave in the last 35 minutes, while we were talking about Iraq.

The Secretary is concerned, however, that the Palestinian delegation was not in a position to discuss some of the interim issues related to the airport, the seaport, the industrial park, and other matters.

They are working on, right now, trying to obtain additional negotiators from the Palestinian Authority in order to be able to do that.

That's been what's focused Ambassador Ross in the recent hour or so.

But once we get that procedural hurdle resolved, the subject matter is to try to combine progress on the interim issues--namely, opening the airport, getting the seaport, getting the industrial park, safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank. These are concrete steps that can show the people of the Palestinian Authority that the peace process brings benefits to them-thus, combine that work with the current question of how to get from here to an accelerated permanent status negotiation and in between, the two extremely difficult issues: the question of an additional deployment, further redeployment of Israeli forces from the West Bank, and the question of what the Secretary has called the "time-out."

That is, how to make sure that unilateral actions don't occur during the course of getting to accelerated discussions on these permanent status issues. Then during the discussions, if we get to them that these unilateral moves don't undermine any chance of solving what will be the most complex issues in the history of the Middle East peace process.

QUESTION: To pick up on the first point, there's at least two possible explanations. One is that Palestinian officials -- maybe Arafat himself, I can't recall -- have dismissed seaport/airport/industrial park as sort of peripheral issues, not to the heart of what they hope to accomplish. Another possibility for inaction right away is that they were supposed to be sending only three negotiators instead of a full team.

So did they only have - do they have only Erakat, Abbas, and Scha'ath here? Or do they have the back-up that could deal with that?

MR. RUBIN: Just the three, and that's what I said.

QUESTION: Is that the problem?

MR. RUBIN: The problem is that they've been discussing this morning how to get the additional committee chairmen, or committee heads -- the ones who know the details about the airport, seaport, and industrial park - to come to the United States and make these --

QUESTION: And that could take at least a day or two?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, confirming for you that they are not here --


MR. RUBIN: -- and that a significant part of the morning was discussed about our concern that, without them, we won't be able to make any progress. And that is what they are working on now, and trying to get them here.

QUESTION: Are they not here because Arafat and his people consider those minor issues? Or are they not here for other reasons?

MR. RUBIN: Barry, I'm not going to start the process of divining the intentions of both parties in the Middle East peace process every time they make a procedural decision.

What I can say is that we're concerned they're not here, and we're trying to get them here.

QUESTION: Okay, let me try one quick one - a hair-split, maybe. Did A or B occur? A, the US tried to begin with these issues and couldn't because of the absence of experts. Or B, simply you noticed this wasn't necessarily the first item on the agenda, but you wanted to deal with it right away as best you could.



QUESTION: C -- so their understanding was they would send a full delegation to discuss the interim issues, as well?

MR. RUBIN: Their understanding?

QUESTION: The Palestinians.

MR. RUBIN: Well, obviously, if that was their understanding, they would have brought the full delegation.

QUESTION: So the question is, did they do this intentionally?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I assume that not having plane tickets and not bringing somebody with you was intentional. Whether it was intentional to send a signal, as Barry suggested, I urge you to ask the Palestinians their reasons.

What I can tell you is our view; and our view is that this is a matter of concern. Were working to fix it.

QUESTION: The Americans are annoyed they're not here.

MR. RUBIN: I didn't say that. It's a matter of concern, and we're trying to fix it. If we don't fix it, that might be a different story.


QUESTION: Have they agreed to then bring the additional negotiators?

MR. RUBIN: That's what we're working on right now.

QUESTION: So there is some hesitance on their part to bring them over. I mean, it's a simple question - they're not here, bring them over --

MR. RUBIN: They're not here, and we'd like them to be here, yes.

QUESTION: But there's some resistance on their part to bringing them here?

MR. RUBIN: Well, there must have been, or they would have been here in the first place.

QUESTION: Did they offer any explanation as to why?

MR. RUBIN: Again, you'd have to ask them their reasons.

QUESTION: How about the issue of statehood in Jerusalem?

Is that on the agenda at all for this meeting?

MR. RUBIN: Well, first we've got to get the committee chairman for the airport here; then, we'll worry about those very complex final status issues.

QUESTION: Just one more, and forgive me if you covered this while I was away. But are we any closer to the Doha Summit?

MR. RUBIN: Are we what?

QUESTION: Any closer to the Doha?

MR. RUBIN: The date is approaching, yes.


QUESTION: There is a - (inaudible) - summit in the island of Crete underway --

MR. RUBIN: Let me just repeat so that people don't get the wrong impression. Secretary Albright is intending to go to the Doha Economic Conference. We are hoping that as many countries as possible send their representatives to this meeting. We don't believe it is a favor to one side or the other. We would like to see this conference go forward with the maximum representation from as many countries as possible.

On that point? Yes. Sorry, I'll come right back to you.

QUESTION: On the question of her trip, there's been a development in Pakistan over the weekend. Some analysts say the military may be preparing to take over.

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware that there's any change in her current plan and intention to go to that region. The date is still to be worked out.

QUESTION: Even if under the hypothetical, the government - there's a military take-over?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I can't answer that hypothetical.

QUESTION: Jamie, did you - sorry, this is on the Mid-East still - say how long you think these talks are going to go on?

MR. RUBIN: They were scheduled and planned for during the course of this week, roughly.

QUESTION: You still think that these talks will end by the end of the week?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we'll see.

QUESTION: I changed my mind.


Seriously, there is a Balkan Summit in the island of Crete right now.


QUESTION: On this side, Turkish and Greek prime ministers will also meet, I understand. Do you have a reading, expectation for this summit?

MR. RUBIN: We understand that the Greek Prime Minister and the Turkish Prime Minister will be meeting tonight while they are in Crete for the November 2-4 Balkan Summit. We are pleased that this meeting is taking place and hope that it will prove constructive in improving Greco-Turkish relations.

We also want to commend the Greek Government for taking the initiative to host the Balkans Summit and hope that it will enhance security and economic prosperity throughout the region.

QUESTION: Both sides are right now conducting exercises in the region. Are there any heightened concerns about this recent escalation?

MR. RUBIN: We have urged the governments of Greece and Turkey to ensure that their military forces conduct national exercises with restraint, avoiding any behavior which might lead to increased tension between Athens and Ankara.

We have also noted that recent events involving the Greek and Turkish militaries point up the urgency of NATO Secretary General Solana's initiative to develop procedures to improve communication and lessen tensions between the Greek and Turkish militaries.

Such procedures might include new understandings on national exercises. We have encouraged Athens and Ankara to engage now with Secretary General Solana of NATO to bring this initiative to fruition.

QUESTION: On China, on Friday in his Harvard speech, Jiang made a comment about short-comings and mistakes, which everyone sort of read to mean that he's indicating some sort of revisionist thinking about Tiananmen Square. I wondered how the United States read it, whether you saw any change in the glacial mindset.

MR. RUBIN: I read the accounts of the speech, and I've subsequently read several accounts by the Chinese officials, interpreting the accounts of the speech. From my reading of the Chinese officials' interpreting the accounts of the speech, I don't see evidence for a major rethinking on this subject.

QUESTION: As someone who agrees with you on that topic, can I ask you whether Jiang Zemin's visit -- now that the smiling Chinese President has departed our shores - has it made it easier, do you think, or harder to go forward with the Administration's policy of constructive engagement with a wider base of popular support?

MR. RUBIN: We'll have to see precisely how all the trips around the region affected Americans' views of the Chinese President.

And only time will tell whether his trip to Capitol Hill changed any minds or changed any thinking.

We believe that over time, the American people will absorb the agreements that we reached and understand that we can have a relationship with a country as important as China. We can reach agreements, and then have fundamental disagreements on a subject like human rights. I think it was a rare thing to see, so starkly and so clearly, the differences between two major powers played out in a press event, as it was last week.

And the more that that sinks in to the American people and to the Congress that we don't have to put aside our concerns about human rights, we don't have to lay them aside in order to have a relationship with a country as important as China is to our national security. Our national security, in this case, meaning trying to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction -- no higher priority than that for this Administration; our national security meaning the importance of preventing war on the Korean peninsula, a place where there are 37,000 American soldiers, and nothing could be more important than taking all the diplomatic steps we could to make sure that war doesn't break out there.

I can go through the list, but to the extent that over time, after the visit has been absorbed by the public, by the Congress, and by others, that it is understood that the Clinton Administration can pursue an engagement policy without endorsing Chinese policies in the area of human rights, and that that is an appropriate way to conduct the nation's business. We hope this will be the final message.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one more thing, which is, do you have an estimate on when the NATO study of the cost of expansion is going to be ready? They, I gather, are limiting it to only one of the three categories --

MR. RUBIN: Common costs, I believe.

QUESTION: -- of the sort of Pentagon study.

MR. RUBIN: Right. Let me try to get you a proper answer, for the record, on that.

In the back, please.

QUESTION: Yes. Instead of the US and the Turkish diplomatic efforts easing the tension in Northern Iraq, the two Kurdish groups are fighting each other. We heard that. Is the fighting fierce fighting? Is this true? Do you know? Do you have anything on this?

MR. RUBIN: I have no new information for you. I certainly can reiterate our view that we would like to see a cease-fire in that area.

QUESTION: Jamie, have you had any opportunity to rethink your opinion of what the Turks are doing vis-a-vis air strikes and security zones and so forth?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware that there is - I mean, again, on the question of involvement in Northern Iraq, with respect to their concern about the PKK and the terrorist threat, we have said that any Turkish involvement ought to be limited in scope and duration, and should be undertaken with due regard for human rights. And that view has not changed.

QUESTION: But there is this assertion by one of the Kurdish groups.

MR. RUBIN: Well, we haven't seen that position adopted by the Turkish Government, so it's hard to comment on a proposed --

QUESTION: So your opinion is that the Turkish Government is not bombing the Kurds?

MR. RUBIN: No, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the security -- establishment of a security zone.

As far as the bombing is concerned, let me get you an answer for the record on what we know and what we don't know.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:20 P.M.)

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