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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #163, 97-11-12

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>


931

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Wednesday, November 12, 1997

Briefer: James P. Rubin

UN
1-2,3-6		Vote in UN Security Council on Iraq, Sanctions/Travel
		  restrictions, Iraqi officials on UN list of travel
		  restrictions
1		UN Arrears
2,3		UNSCOM Inspection team schedule/U2 flights
3		Next Steps if Iraq does not comply
3		Continued US support for military intervention
14		Other Arab States position on Iraq UN Resolution
14-15		Definition of Immediate

DEPARTMENT 6 Secretary travel plans/Security concerns

PAKISTAN 6-7 Murder of 4 AMCITS, Motive 7 Number of AMCITS in Pakistan 7-8 Threats to AmCits/Kansi Connection to Murders 8 HEROES Program 8 Threats to Official Americans

EGYPT 8-9 Doha Economic Conference Attendance

ISRAEL 9 Secretary's Meeting with Netanyahu 13-14 President's Meeting with Netanyahu

BANGLADESH 9-10 Political situation in country 10 Meeting and Issues for Secretary Visit

TURKEY 10 Grossman meetings in London

CYPRUS 10 Holbrooke trip

VIETNAM 10-11 Aid Package

MEXICO 11 Extradition of Mexican narco-trafficker 11-12 FM trip to Washington

N.KOREA 12 Four Party Talks

IRAQ 14 Turkish report of No-Fly zone Violations 15 Status of Aziz visa


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #163

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1997, 3:00 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department press briefing. It's been a long morning, long lunch, and I apologize for the delays.

Let me start by saying that Secretary Albright was just informed about the unanimous vote in the Security Council. And she was very pleased that the entire world community has united -- that Saddam Hussein, as she said earlier, tried to drive a wedge through the coalition, and instead he ran into a brick wall of unanimity in the Council, and that the pressure has now been ratcheted up on Iraq; that countries that previously have been reluctant to support travel sanctions on the Iraqi leadership have now changed their position and now support those restrictions. So we have a united international community, united against the Iraqi leadership.

At the same time, Secretary Albright has been spending what she regards as an unfortunately great amount of time in the last day or two trying to work on another important issue, which is to obtain funding for the United Nations arrears that we owe and the reorganization plan that she has worked on so carefully.

Right now there is a real possibility that Congress may adjourn without passing that funding for the United Nations. The frustration that is developing is that we may be in a position where we may need to go back to obtain support from the United Nations for further measures against Iraq, and not having a package that the United Nations members are waiting for, looking forward to, go down at the very same time we're looking for their support could be very damaging to our interests in trying to deter and contain Saddam Hussein.

I'd be happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: Jamie, on the UN thing, what does this say about future measures, should you have to keep ratcheting up -- the unanimity that you have?

MR. RUBIN: I believe the signal is that the unanimity that didn't exist on travel restrictions now does exist; and therefore, there is a greater chance that, having given diplomacy time and having worked through the Security Council, that countries will support stiffer measures, if those are necessary. The resolution itself, as you know, says the Council will consider further measures as required to ensure that Iraq complies with the requirements of the United Nations.

So, again, we're taking this step by step, in a deliberate fashion, trying to maintain as much support as possible, internationally, for this stand- off, which pits Saddam Hussein against the world.

QUESTION: Is this an educated inference, or has she been told -- because she's worked the phones very hard, and we needn't get into specific countries unless you'd like to - but we know who the abstainers were, and they are not abstainers any more.

MR. RUBIN: This is a good thing.

QUESTION: Does she have any - so we pretty much know who it is that had to be brought along. Have these countries that have been brought along given her any sort of assurance that, number one, they've had it up to here with the situation; and number two, if the US gets tougher, they're along with them?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, we don't always consult with allies and friends on every step coming down the road. I think we do have every reason to believe that key countries are increasingly frustrated with the recalcitrance of Saddam Hussein, and his refusal to change course, having been given every reasonable opportunity to do so.

So what we are trying to do is to keep as much unanimity as possible in order to keep as much pressure as possible on the Iraqi leadership, with the hope - again, it is our hope that there is no need to take further measures, including the use of force that we have not ruled out.

If the Iraqi regime reverses course, we believe it will be more likely to do so when it is confronting a united international community.

QUESTION: When is the UN - the inspection team expected to go in again and try to do its work?

MR. RUBIN: Again, that would be up to Ambassador Ekeus. As you know, the Iraqi Foreign Minister has indicated that they intend to follow through on there --

QUESTION: You mean Butler?

MR. RUBIN: What did I say, Ekeus? Ambassador Butler. The previous UNSCOM Chairman was Ambassador Ekeus. Forgive me, Ambassador Butler.

The Iraqi Foreign Minister has indicated that they intend to follow through on their threat to toss out the American UNSCOM inspectors. I think Ambassador Butler and the UN have made clear that they're in together and they'll stay together and they'll go out together if that happens. It's our view the international community has made clear its strong condemnation of Iraqi measures taken thus far. If they were to take that additional step, we could only expect that Saddam Hussein carrying out that threat would cause the international community and the Security Council to react in an even stronger manner.

QUESTION: Are you talking about another diplomatic step, or have you made a decision that the next step would have to be some sort of military response?

MR. RUBIN: We have not ruled out military responses. What exact measures we would take we're going to hope that we don't face this circumstance. But again, we have not ruled out military responses.

Again, it's up to Ambassador Butler to make the decision of how to respond if the threat to kick out American inspectors occurs. He will make the decisions as to who will stay and who will go. So that's where we are as of right now.

QUESTION: Practically speaking, do you think that you have support in this country for continued talking and diplomatic action at the UN, while Saddam continues to sort of thumb his nose at the UN and the international community?

MR. RUBIN: I guess we'll call this a two-part question. I think the American people - and the Secretary, I know, believes this - would want to know that the United States Administration - President Clinton and Secretary Albright - went the extra mile diplomatically before resorting to the use of force. That is the best way to achieve the objective - to also demonstrate to our allies and friends around the world that we're going the extra mile before considering the option that we haven't ruled out. So that is something we're very comfortable with.

The time pressure is not a one-way street. In our view, with every day that the inspectors don't do their job, it becomes one more day that Saddam Hussein is away from having the clean bill of health declared by UNSCOM. At some point, the baseline begins to be destroyed. And when UNSCOM has to go back in, they have to start more from scratch than they would have if the inspectors can go back to work right now.

So the person who's being - the regime that's being harmed by continued time passing is the Iraqi regime.

QUESTION: Jamie, is it your understanding that Mr. Butler is going to continue with the U-2 flights through the week, and everything is going to progress as planned?

MR. RUBIN: I don't want to make any specific statement about when flights will fly. That's up to Ambassador Butler to decide. It is our understanding that he intends to continue to fly these UN reconnaissance aircraft.

QUESTION: And I know that the travel restrictions are something that was agreed upon. And you talked about building further agreement or - unanimity is the word you used for further action or further measures, should that be needed. But some critics will charge, rather, that maybe Saddam had a lot of wiggle room here, and he's still got a whole bunch of wiggle room. How would you respond to that?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know what that means.

QUESTION: Wiggle room in that he's had a chance to move equipment around. He's had this travel restriction. He's delayed stuff for, what - this is going into the second week now?

MR. RUBIN: Right, I don't understand why the travel restriction is a wiggle room.

QUESTION: Well, wiggle room in that you're still not talking about military action. You're not emphatically saying --

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, the objective here - although some of the critics may have a different view - the objective is not to take military action; the objective is to get the inspectors back to work. We are taking the course that we believe is necessary - going the extra mile diplomatically; ratcheting up the pressure in New York; uniting the world against Saddam Hussein. Our experience over the last six years - unlike some of these critics - I don't know quite who they are who would frame it the way you said it - is that that is what Saddam Hussein responds to - the unanimity of the world against him is what causes him to change his mind.

When he thinks that he can play one country off against another, he is more likely to be recalcitrant. But once he's concluded that the whole world is united against him, including countries that have a regular dialogue with him, that he is most likely to reverse course. That doesn't mean he will in this case; but it means it's our responsibility to have gone the extra mile, tried to take all reasonable steps we could take before considering other options. That's the responsibility of our government to do so, and that's what we're doing.

QUESTION: Would the United States Government have preferred a tougher version of the resolution?

MR. RUBIN: I know there's been some reporting on this. I was actually with Secretary Albright when these decisions were made. She specifically instructed the delegation in New York that all we were concerned about achieving in this phase was as unanimous support as possible for the travel sanctions, and then consideration of further measures.

There may have been other delegations in New York who sought stronger words, but the United States certainly did not.

QUESTION: There's a bit of a level of frustration in the United States that it's been unable to come up with any kind of solution which would ensure that the scrutiny that the international community wants Saddam Hussein to be under is not resumed? I mean, basically, he's had this time with which he can be doing all kinds of things that the UN weapons inspectors won't know about.

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, let's bear in mind what these inspectors do and what they don't do. They are not in a position to know everything that's going on in Iraq at all times; that's not what they do. The reason why some believe we're in this stand-off is because they were getting closer to uncovering an elaborate scheme to hide weapons of mass destruction programs from them. But that means they've been hiding them all along. It doesn't mean that a week has gone by and now they're able to hide them, and before they weren't able to hide them. It means that the deception and the deceit and the concealment program that is conducted at the highest levels there has been going on all along.

So the perception that with each day, the amount of opportunity for Iraq to suddenly begin building weapons of mass destruction is simply incorrect. Frankly, we have other means of keeping track of what goes on in Iraq. As Secretary Cohen, I believe, said yesterday, yes, there does come a point at which the possibility of serious restructuring would have occurred, but what we're talking about is months, not days.

QUESTION: How will the travel restrictions be enforced by the United States?

MR. RUBIN: Well, as I understand the way the scheme will work - and please don't hold me to each detail, because obviously this will emerge now that the resolution has just passed a few minutes ago - is that the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations will draw up a list and inform all the member states of who is on that list. They will obtain that list by asking the UN Special Commission who they believe is responsible, who issues the orders that prohibit the UN from doing its work, the UN Special Commission. A list will be created, and the countries of the world will be asked not to permit travel, presumably through visas and other normal means that countries use, to that list of officials.

If there is deemed to be a reason to make an exception, for some overwhelming diplomatic purpose, then that Sanctions Committee can make an exception.

QUESTION: Will Tariq Aziz be allowed to come to the United Nations, or is it premature to --

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think that's a little premature. As a rule, again, as the host country of the United Nations, it has tended to be American practice to make sure that officials from countries are able to make their case, and I don't think the objective is to prevent that kind of an event, if that would help us resolve the crisis or get Iraq to reverse course.

QUESTION: Jamie, is it your understanding that senior Iraqi officials will be able to visit the Arab League headquarters in Egypt, and does that open a major loophole by allowing Iraq to continue lobbying officials of the Arab world?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get you an answer of who this is going to apply to. As I indicated, now that the resolution has been passed, I would expect some number of days to pass before the Sanctions Committee develops its list and issues these names to the 185, I believe - did I get that right - 185 countries in the world, and tells them who is on the banned list. So at that point, that would apply.

An exception, for such a meeting like the one you described, would have to be approved by the Sanctions Committee, which tends to act by consensus.

QUESTION: Jamie, is the Secretary going through with her trip, given all this Iraq stuff?

MR. RUBIN: I am packing. I think those of you who are going should pack. The Secretary intends to go forward with her trip at this time.

QUESTION: Has any of the itinerary in Pakistan changed?

MR. RUBIN: I don't believe so. Obviously, there will be some reflection upon the security situation, and her security people may make recommended changes. As you know, that's an issue that could develop at any time.

QUESTION: Segue, then, to Pakistan. Can we go to Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any information you can impart on what happened?

MR. RUBIN: What I know is as follows. Four American employees of Union Texas Petroleum and their Pakistani driver were killed this morning in Karachi, when the vehicle they were riding in was attacked. Their names are being withheld, pending formal notification of next of kin by the Department.

Secretary Albright condemned this brutal attack earlier today, and we offer our condolences to their families. We are working closely with Pakistani law enforcement authorities to bring to justice those responsible.

She received an indication from the Pakistani Foreign Minister that they intend to leave no stone unturned in their investigation of this effort. We will obviously be considering what the appropriate assistance we would provide to that investigation.

On Tuesday, the embassy and consulates in Pakistan issued a public announcement about possible threats to Americans as a result of the Kansi conviction. Although we were not aware of any specific threat in Karachi.

As far as who is responsible for this, let me say I've heard one report of a caller claiming responsibility. We have no confirmation of any kind that that caller's responsibility was authenticated in any way. We do not know who is responsible for this murder. We do not know what the motives for the killing were. As I indicated, we did take precautions in this regard.

As far as the question of whether Union Texas Petroleum will be evacuating their employees - which I heard indicated - we are not aware of any full- fledged evacuation plans at this time. If they did choose to evacuate their employees, we of course, through our consulate, would assist them with documentation or other arrangements.

So we have every intention of seeing the killers brought to justice. The Prime Minister has expressed his resolve to apprehend the culprits. We will be working on that.

QUESTION: Jamie, since it was an attack on Americans overseas, does it appear that the FBI would be involved in the investigation?

MR. RUBIN: I would have to refer you to the FBI for that question.

QUESTION: Do you have any figures on the number of Americans in Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: The figures that I have indicate that there are about 4,000 private Americans in Pakistan, of whom about 2,400 are believed to be in Karachi. But we do not keep track of all of the different locations where the hometown of these people is.

QUESTION: I know that you're referring from speculating, but the question why this oil company was a target - has that been looked into?

MR. RUBIN: I would be impossibly - I think obviously the investigation will look into the motives, the targets, when it happened, where it happened, and try to make some --

QUESTION: And are you just - I just want to follow up on the Kansi, which has obviously been a question all day. Are you ruling out that could be a possible motivation?

MR. RUBIN: We're investigating. I'm not going to rule anything in or out.

QUESTION: When you issued the warning related to Kansi's - was that based on anything in particular? Just the general conviction, or does it go back and include the snatching - to use that word - of him a few months ago?

MR. RUBIN: We issued the warning as a public announcement about possible threats to Americans as a result of the conviction, believing that one should at least make citizens aware of the possibility - Americans - of this. Although we were not, as I understand it, aware of any specific threat in Karachi.

QUESTION: Jamie, when the embassy issues such a warning, how do they make the local American community aware of it? I mean, I understand there's a warden system when you're evacuating Americans, but when you issue a public announcement like that --

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get you details from consular affairs on that.

QUESTION: Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't this warning - this is a worldwide warning. This is not unique to Pakistan; is that correct?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check. I believe that - I'll have to check on whether this was a worldwide warning. I think that if you lived in Pakistan and you heard about this warning, and the basis of the warning was the possible conviction of Kansi, you probably were more concerned than you were in some other part of the world.

QUESTION: Is there any consideration of triggering that HEROS program, or offering some kind of reward for information about this?

MR. RUBIN: I think, again, this just happened; and that's a little premature at this point. We were pleased to receive the assurances from the Foreign Minister, and through the Prime Minister to the President, that they are going to leave no stone unturned in this investigation. We are going to consider how best to assist them in that investigation.

QUESTION: Just switching to official Americans who are in Pakistan, is there any concern that Americans might be targeted, and any special precautions being taken for diplomats who are serving in Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check the status of our warning system for diplomats in Pakistan.

QUESTION: Can we do Doha?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. One more on this? Yes.

QUESTION: In what way if any will it affect the Secretary's agenda in Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: I think I was asked that question. I have no information to indicate that we are changing our schedule or changing our plans for what we will do in Pakistan at this time.

QUESTION: But in terms of discussions?

MR. RUBIN: I suspect this case will be raised, yes.

QUESTION: As you may have heard, the Egyptians are not going to the Doha Conference. Do you have any reaction?

MR. RUBIN: Well, let me say we are obviously disappointed by this decision by the Egyptian Government. We do not think - it's not been an easy year to put on this conference. Obviously, the peace process is not where we want it to be.

That said, more than 750 businessmen and 400 officials from over 35 countries will attend. I hope that is borne in mind. Those who attend will benefit. They will benefit from a unique opportunity for public-private sector networking, and by looking investment opportunities in this part of the world. They will benefit, as others have before them in Cairo, Amman and Casablanca.

Those countries that do not attend will not benefit. From the point of view of the peace process, this is an important part of the peace process, in our view. It is part of the infrastructure. It's important to keep it going, even when the process itself is experiencing difficulties.

We are carrying this conference off in an environment that is difficult; the Secretary recognizes that. But she believes it's very important for her to follow through on the American commitment to have the United States Secretary of State go, and we follow through on our commitments.

The list of attendant countries is a good one. Qatar, Israel, Jordan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen. In addition, there will be many extra- regional representatives from North America, Europe and Asia. These conferences have never been about doing a favor for one country or the other; rather, they have provided a unique opportunity for public-private sectors to look at the region through a modern lens -- trade, investment, integration - rather than simply the lens of the progress of the peace process.

But are we disappointed by the failure of Egypt and other countries to go? Yes, we are. We believe it is in their interest to go. As far as our specific reaction to Egypt is concerned, we are disappointed. Clearly, there are many issues on which we and Egypt agree. This is obviously not an issue on which we agree.

QUESTION: A relation question. Israel TV is reporting that when the Secretary meets Prime Minister Netanyahu in London, she is going to tell him that she holds him responsible for the breakdown of the peace process. Do you have any response?

MR. RUBIN: I think that I will make a practice of trying not to respond to every report in the Israeli media. That is not the agenda -- who is responsible for the difficulties in the peace process is not the agenda for her meeting. I've seen the preparatory papers. I didn't see a heading that says, who is responsible for the breakdown of the peace process. On the contrary, they will be discussing a four-part agenda -- the time-out, the question of security, the question of how to get to an accelerated permanent status, and the question of further redeployment of Israeli forces. That's what they will be talking about.

QUESTION: Jamie, on Bangladesh, the Bangladesh -- Secretary Albright is making a trip to the region, including Bangladesh. The political situation in Bangladesh has lately been wormed up with a lot of strikes and demonstrations against the government. And the American ambassador also had been very much active during this period of tension that is going on. Could you please highlight some of the issues and the expected date of the arrival of Secretary Albright in Dhaka?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say, first of all, on the question of the political unrest in Bangladesh, violence often resulting in deaths is unfortunately a pervasive element in the Bangladeshi political process. We have repeatedly urged both major political parties to seek political accommodation. This theme will figure prominently in Secretary of State Albright's upcoming visit to Bangladesh. Ultimately, however, the political disputes in Bangladesh will have to be solved by Bangladeshis acting in the best interests of the people of Bangladesh.

We are going to try to get you a briefing for the Secretary's trip to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. At that point, you will get any further details you probably would be looking for.

QUESTION: Assistant Secretary Grossman, when he was in London, he met one of the Turkish religious party officials, Mr. Abdul (inaudible). Can you give us some [PA(1]information about this meeting; for example, what's the purpose, and what's the promises on this meeting?

MR. RUBIN: I have no information on that specific meeting. They normally don't - we don't normally provide information on every specific meeting an assistant secretary has. If we did, I suspect I couldn't fit it even in this book. So we'll try to get you an answer to that question.

QUESTION: Mr. Holbrooke was in the area. Do you have anything on this meeting?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I do have some information on Mr. Holbrooke's trip. He spoke to me earlier today. He met with President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash in Nicosia Monday night, and then with both leaders jointly on Tuesday. The joint meeting took place at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the UN buffer zone, and lasted nearly four and a half hours.

He indicated publicly that he didn't want to get into the substance of the talks, but he indicated that they were very candid and intense, and were held in a very positive atmosphere, with both leaders willing to approach the issues openly and directly. There were no substantive results, nor did we expect any. The purpose of these meetings was to keep the process going, keep both sides talking, and create opportunities for progress.

From Nicosia, Ambassador Holbrooke and his party traveled to Ankara, where Ambassador Holbrooke met with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to brief them on their discussions. He briefed Greek officials by telephone, as I understand it, and will be meeting with key Greek officials in Brussels tomorrow.

He is now in Bonn, Germany, where he will consult with German officials. He will then head to Brussels to participate in the conference with business leaders from Cyprus, Turkey and Greece, November 14 and 15.

So I spoke to him earlier. He felt pretty good about the discussions. He considered them a starting point, and they were very frank and very useful.

QUESTION: Vietnam received an aid package of about $600,000 --

MR. RUBIN: Sorry.

QUESTION: Vietnam --

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: -- received an aid package of about $600,000 today. Could you tell us what kind of aid that is, and is that the first since 1975?

MR. RUBIN: I will have to check. I believe it is the largest since 1975. I don't know whether it's the first, in terms of government-to-government aid.

We have offered our condolences to the Vietnamese people who have suffered greatly in this disaster, and have responded to appeals for assistance from the Vietnamese Government. The amount of disaster relief assistance provided by the US has amounted to approximately $636,000. Several federal agencies are contributing to the relief effort, which is coordinated by the USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Ambassador Peterson has utilized his disaster assistance authority of $25, 000. AID has supplied plastic sheeting for shelter and portable water containers, while the Department of Defense has shipped tents and shelter material, medical equipment, blankets and clothing. For additional details on the amount and kinds of assistance being provided, you would have to obviously speak to AID.

In general, the US has been providing humanitarian assistance to Vietnam prior to the disaster, amounting to amount $3 million per year. USAID has given grants to American private voluntary organizations to provide prosthetics and rehabilitation services. Some of you know that Secretary Albright visited that kind of effort in Vietnam, and the State Department has also provided Vietnamese returnees to Vietnam with reintegration assistance.

QUESTION: Jamie, yesterday, the United States requested another extradition for a Mexican narco-trafficker. I just wanted to know if you had any comment on that. And also, the Foreign Minister of Mexico is coming to the State Department tomorrow to meet Secretary Albright. I want to know if you have any comments on what they are going to discuss. And also, who is going to represent the State Department in the meeting with Presidents Zedillo and Clinton, Friday at the White House?

MR. RUBIN: We understand that a purported high-level member of the criminal gang of the Arellano Felix brothers was captured on Saturday in Mexico by local law enforcement authorities. We have requested his provisional arrest pursuant to a possible extradition request. We commend Mexican authorities for apprehending the suspect, and understand there was rapid and effective cooperation between our two governments in this matter. As far as any specifics on the charges, I would have to refer you to the Justice Department.

Mexican President - the second question - Ernesto Zedillo will make a working visit to Washington on November 13 and 14. As you know, President Clinton was in Mexico last May, and these visit exemplify the importance and closeness of our bilateral relationship. During the visit we will discuss important issues such as trade, law enforcement and migration.

Following President Zedillo's meeting with President Clinton on Friday, they will visit the headquarters of the OAS to commemorate the signing of an OAS convention against trafficking and firearms. Vice President Gore will host a luncheon in honor of President Zedillo at the State Department on Friday, November 14.

As you know, the Secretary will be traveling on Friday, but she will meet with Mexican Foreign Secretary Gurria on Thursday at the State Department, to sign a maritime boundary treaty. That will be a multiple signing ceremony, which will also include the signing by Attorney General Reno and Attorney General Madrazo of protocol to our extradition treaty, signings by Secretary Daley and his counterpart, and also a presentation by General McCaffery and the Attorney General of Mexico. So there will be a full- fledged set of meetings and progress on the agenda President Clinton set out in his last trip to Mexico.

As far as who will represent the State Department in the meeting with the President, that is not normally information we provide.

QUESTION: On North Korea - on Korea, the Secretary said in her speech today that she expected a plenary meeting to be held next month. I wondered, is this the resumption of the talks in New York that failed in September?

MR. RUBIN: We did have working-level talks in New York on November 10, with participation from South Korea, North Korea, the Chinese and the United States.

The participants had earlier agreed that such talks might be held when useful. Similar talks were held in July. We can't give you a read-out of those discussions, but as we said in late October, the North Koreans have indicated a willingness to resume discussions, and the four parties are exploring how to proceed.

We are still working on trying to make that plenary happen as soon as possible; and that's what we've been discussing in those working groups.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, she seemed a little bit more forward-leaning in her remarks today.

MR. RUBIN: You can interpret --

QUESTION: Saying that it was expected to be happening next month.

MR. RUBIN: Well, far be it from me to contradict the Secretary of State. I'm merely giving you a read-out of what happened in New York at the working level. Her expectation, we hope, will be met by the work that is done through these working-level contacts in New York.

QUESTION: It is fair, though, to compare what you might say about Netanyahu with what the White House spokesman says, because you're on the same level. There is no time in the President's schedule to see the Prime Minister of Israel. The Secretary is seeing him. Can you help me put that together? Is her meeting with him good enough? Or does she stand in for the President? Are things not at an important enough pass that while the Congress is spending a week in this country, the President can't find ten minutes just to --

MR. RUBIN: I guess the later I do the briefing in the day, the more likely I face the prospect of troublemaking.

QUESTION: You've got to do it before the White House and the Pentagon.

MR. RUBIN: All right, let me also state, far be it from me to ever contradict or disagree or even show any space between the State Department spokesman and the White House spokesman.

QUESTION: Indeed. You might want to correlate your two views.

(Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: As I understand it, a meeting is planned. It's not a question of whether there will be a meeting with the President with Prime Minister Netanyahu; it's a question of when. So that's a scheduling matter. And having known a little bit about the difficulties of scheduling with the President of the United States, I'm not going to - you'll forgive me if I don't dive into that.

QUESTION: No, but you can - (inaudible) - visit? A meeting on this visit - -

MR. RUBIN: What I'm saying is that as I understand the position of the White House that has been communicated to me, the question is not whether there would be a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the question is when. Whether they will be able to have such a meeting in this visit, I guess the answer is no. Whether they will be able to have a meeting this year, I think the answer is they're working on trying to schedule it.

So Secretary Albright has been working on the Middle East peace process on behalf of the President. When Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with her, I can assure you President Clinton very quickly finds out what he said. So there won't be any gap between what she does and what he knows, the President. So we hope to have constructive discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday in London. Those will be communicated very quickly to the President.

QUESTION: Isn't Arafat on Saturday?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: And how about - here's a wild idea - the two of them coming here and seeing the President?

MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard any discussion of that, any serious discussion. Every day I hear somebody in this building propose a meeting between Arafat and Netanyahu and somebody.

QUESTION: They're probably in other bureaus.

MR. RUBIN: Well, they're certainly not on the seventh floor, or at least in the corridor where I work. But I have not heard any serious discussions, serious planning, serious effort underway to schedule such a meeting in the near term. But I wouldn't rule it out over some number of weeks or months in the future.

QUESTION: Jamie, do you have any information on Turkey's report of increasing Iraqi violations of the no-fly zone in the north? And is that a serious problem?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any current information on that. We can try to get it for you. I expect the Pentagon might be in a better position, but we'll try to get you an answer from this building.

QUESTION: Back on Iraq just briefly. You speak of unanimity, of course speaking of the vote.

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: Can you give us some characterization of how countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia feel now about their being available? They may feel the same. They have been available from the outset. But how are they lined up now, should it become necessary to use the force option? Can you count on them?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I don't think we're at that phase; I think we've made that clear. When and if we begin consultations with countries about that kind of a question, it would not be for me to say publicly what their positions were. But I think you can conclude the following.

When the entire world, by the voice of 15 members of the Security Council, take a stand against Saddam Hussein, that should increase the chances that if we ever come to a situation where the use of force is considered - and again, it hasn't been ruled out at this point - that it will increase the chances that countries in the Arab world will see that the UN and the United States and the French and the Russians and the British and the whole world went the extra mile in trying to get Saddam Hussein to resolve this problem diplomatically.

QUESTION: I have another question about the resolution. What is meant by immediate compliance? A minute ago, Ambassador Richardson said that Saddam Hussein would be expected to comply immediately with this resolution. But of course, immediately doesn't mean one minute after it's passed. He may need to hear from Tariq Aziz, or whoever he listens to, talk to the Russians or the French or whatever. What is meant by immediate?

MR. RUBIN: Let me follow my pattern. Not only wouldn't I want to disagree with Secretary Albright or Mike McCurry, I certainly wouldn't want to disagree with Ambassador Richardson.

Immediately means as soon as the message finally gets through in Baghdad and an order is issued. It will take a very short amount of time once the decision is made. It's a one-man decision-making process there.

QUESTION: Does Tariq Aziz have - I heard he might be getting a visa limited to five days?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know his current travel schedule. We can try to get you that.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, if the US imposed travel restrictions? I mean, I understood the visa would be --

MR. RUBIN: He didn't choose to speak today before the Council. So he may have other places he wants to go.

QUESTION: Is it all right with the US if he hangs around?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get an answer for how his visa is restricted, if any.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 3:40 P.M.)


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