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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #121, 98-11-04

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


Wednesday, November 4, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

1		Statements to be Released on Deputy Secretary Talbott's
		  Speeches; Demining Trust Fund; Swearing-In of Amb John
		  Shattuck to Czech Republic; and Joint US-Paraguay
1		Secy Press Availability with Danish Foreign Minister

IRAQ 1-2,4 Secretary's Contacts / UNSC Discussions & Impending Resolution / Authorization for Use of Force / UNSC Previous Actions 1-3 Defense Secretary Cohen's Travels to Gulf Region Accompanied by Under Secy Pickering /Gulf States Support for Military Action / Secy Cohen's Mtgs in Saudi Arabia / Media 5-6 UNSCOM Cameras Not Substitute for Full Access / Monitoring Declared and Undeclared Sites 6 Evidence of Reconstituting Weapons 6 Time Running Out?

UN 4-5 Status of Appointment of Amb Holbrooke as US Permanent Representative & Investigation

PAKISTAN 6-7 Deputy Secretary Talbott's Meetings with Foreign Minister / Agenda Items

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 7-9 US Role in Mediation & Implementation / Difficulties to Overcome / Mutual Confidence 8-9,11 Dealing With Arrests & Detentions 9-10 Public Discussion of Security Measures / Security Cooperation 10 Palestinian Work Plan 10 Permanent Status Talks to Begin in Near Future 10-11 Whereabouts of Amb Dennis Ross 11 Gaza Airport Approvals 11-13 US Assurance Letters to Both Sides / "Annexes" to Wye Memorandum 16 Vatican Involvement on Final Status Talks on Jerusalem

CYPRUS 13 UN Deputy Special Representative's Efforts

CONGO (K) 13-14 Asst Secy Rice's Trip to Region in Attempt to End Conflict / Meeting With Rebels /Zimbabwe President Mugabe's Action

SUDAN 14-15 US Sanctions / Overtures to US re Terrorism List

TERRORISM 15 US Message to Countries Giving Sanctuary to Terrorists

RUSSIA 15 Car Explosion Outside Kremlin

CHINA (TAIWAN) 15 Theater Missile Defense Study / PRC Reaction


DPB #121

WEDNESDAY, NOVMEBER 4, 1998, 12:40 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing, here being Wednesday.

We have several statements on some speeches that Deputy Secretary Talbott is going to be delivering; on de-mining trust fund; on the swearing in of John Shattuck as Ambassador to the Czech Republic; and on the joint US- Paraguay statement. That will all be available to you after the briefing.

The Secretary will be having a press availability with the Foreign Minister from Denmark At what time? Late morning, mid-day. Whether or not we will have a briefing tomorrow, we will let you know at that time.

With those announcements, let's go to your questions.

QUESTION: Could you give us an Iraq update, please?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, Secretary Albright obviously has been talking both internally and with others about the urgency of this situation. We are aware that discussion of a resolution on Iraq has begun in the Security Council.

As you know, we do not believe that an additional authorization for the use of force is needed. In our view, previous resolutions provide an adequate basis for such a step if necessary. However, we would be supportive and expect a clear, straightforward resolution which sends an unambiguous message to Iraq along the lines of the Council's October 31 press statement - namely that the Council rejects Iraq's escalation of this situation, and the Council regards Iraq's suspension of cooperation with the UN inspectors as a flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions.

So we would expect that to be moved on in the coming days. I don't have an exact day for you.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Cohen, along with Under Secretary Pickering, has continued his travels. I believe he was in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar today; and my understanding is that they were all productive meetings and that we continue to see -- both Gulf States and around the world - strong support for our determined opposition to Saddam Hussein's actions.

QUESTION: If there is a new resolution, would the United States want to see a new authorization for the use of force?

MR. RUBIN: It's just not an issue for us. We think that there is a basis for the use of force in previous resolutions, and we would be happy to see a strong message sent to Saddam Hussein, an unambiguous message sent. But it's just not an issue for us on the authorization question.

QUESTION: Wouldn't a new authorization of the use of military force be a very strong message?

MR. RUBIN: No, not necessarily; it depends on what the results of all that discussion would be. What's useful would be a very clear message of opposition by a unanimous group in the Council.

When you get into sometimes these technical legal issues, you get the message muddied. In our view, a clear basis exists for action. We see no reason, therefore, to seek further authorization.

QUESTION: Have the Gulf States given you authorization to use their bases if it becomes necessary or are the assets you have floating around near enough that you don't need to use them?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to that issue, I think it's quite clear to us from Secretary Cohen's trip and from the discussions Secretary Albright has had, we are confident we will have the support we need to take appropriate action to support the United Nations. That is based on the discussions Secretary Albright and Secretary Cohen have had with the Saudi leadership.

I think with respect to the Saudi meetings specifically, it's my understanding that Secretary Cohen had a warm and productive meeting with King Fayd and Crown Prince Abdullah in Riyadh yesterday. The King pledged that the kingdom will continue to support US efforts to preserve regional security and stability; and the Crown Prince praised American leadership in helping the United Nations to contain Iraq. Based on these meetings and her discussions, we are confident that the United States will have the support we need to take appropriate actions to support the United Nations.

With respect to the other three states, I don't want to add anything beyond what I just said -- which was that they were productive meetings, and we are sensing strong support from them for taking a united stand against Saddam Hussein.

QUESTION: But Jamie, that answer doesn't really go to the nub of the question - and that is, if military action is necessary, can US forces use bases in Saudi Arabia?

MR. RUBIN: I think it will come as no surprise to you, as a veteran of many of these trips, that those are questions that we just don't answer in public.

What we can say is that based on our discussions, we believe we will have the support we need to take appropriate action in support of the United Nations in this case. And with respect to specifics, it shouldn't be news to you or a surprise to you that we don't get more specific than that.

QUESTION: Well, in the Gulf War, I mean, it was very specific that Saudi Arabia was on the US side and allowed the use of its territory.

MR. RUBIN: I'm sure that 50 years ago other things were true. We're talking about this decade.

QUESTION: That was this decade.

MR. RUBIN: Just barely.


QUESTION: I know this doesn't really fall to you - it falls to the Pentagon - but it relates to the Administration's reticence to talk about its consultations with the Saudis. Would that have been the reason that the Secretary of Defense did not take any media along with him -- because he just didn't want to have them around to have to -- the Administration just didn't want to have them around to have to deal with that question or trample over the Saudi toes?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I certainly love having you around, and I know Secretary Albright loves having you around; so I will just defer to the Pentagon to explain their press arrangements. But I think regardless of whether people were on the plane, these are places where journalists are. Secretary Cohen wasn't going to places journalists don't have access to -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf countries; there are plenty of journalists there. So I don't think one should over-interpret the reasons for that.

QUESTION: Well, the Saudis are well-known for their feisty press corps and their free access to their officials.


MR. RUBIN: Are there other questions?


QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about Deputy Secretary -

MR. RUBIN: Same subject -- over there, the man in the trench coat.

QUESTION: Is unanimity in the Security Council important enough that the United States would be willing to soften the wording of any pending resolution, particularly as it might relate to possible use of force?

MR. RUBIN: I think in response to Jim's question I made very clear that we are not seeking a resolution that addresses directly the use of force question. So what we're seeking is a clear message of opposition to Saddam Hussein's action.

We think that Security Council authorization for the use of force already exists, and we see no need to have that reiterated or go through the exercise of trying to get it reiterated. So with respect to the resolution, my understanding is it's not being approached in a particularly controversial way by anybody, and that it's designed to be a very strong reiteration of the Council's opposition to Saddam's action and to its making clear that it's a flagrant and serious violation of Security Council resolutions to stop cooperating with UNSCOM.

That's what the resolution is about, and I just would urge you not to over- examine a particular word here or there; because we're not approaching it from that perspective.

QUESTION: Jamie, where does the appointment of Mr. Holbrooke as Ambassador to the UN rest?

MR. RUBIN: As I understand it, Secretary Albright has made very clear the strong support she has for his skill as a diplomat, a negotiator and a supporter of an activist and an effective American foreign policy.

With respect to his nomination procedure, as you know, that is something that is handled by the White House. We want to see a prompt resolution of the inquiry, and that is our view.

QUESTION: In other words, do you feel the lack of his being there at the UN at this crucial time?

MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't want to say anything - first of all, I think what I was trying to say in response to Mark's question was that we don't regard the resolution as crucial; that it's an attempt to reiterate a message to Saddam Hussein.

With regard to Ambassador Holbrooke's presence or absence, any answer I give will either offend Ambassador Holbrooke or Ambassador Burley, who's there now. So let me just punt.

QUESTION: Is the paperwork over or finished on the Holbrooke --

MR. RUBIN: I couldn't get into more detail than to say that we'd like the inquiry be resolved as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: You couldn't say if the investigation is ongoing or finished?

MR. RUBIN: I would have to check what my ability to talk about a matter such as that is.

QUESTION: Is it clear to you that Saddam Hussein is following through with his threats to cut off all cooperation or is that a little - not quite so clear-cut?

MR. RUBIN: Well, with respect to the cameras, which I think is the issue that is implied by your question, let me say this - we simply don't think allowing UNSCOM to service a couple of cameras is a substitute for the kind of full access for the UN inspectors and the IAEA necessary to do their jobs. On the contrary, allowing UNSCOM to service a few cameras is not a reversal of Iraq's obstruction of UNSCOM activity. But there is some of that that's going on.

As I understand it, the normal complement of roughly 120 inspectors is there and there are no plans for them to withdraw at this time.

QUESTION: Is he doing something different than he was doing since August, when he trimmed back his cooperation and nothing happened?


QUESTION: What is he --

MR. RUBIN: Well, if you go back to what - in order to do the proper job of inspection and monitoring of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction - forgive me for simplifying - but it's essentially dealing with declared sites on the one hand and undeclared sites on the other.

Declared sites are those locations where UNSCOM is monitoring production of say pesticides or motors that could be used for missiles or other facilities -- and there are many dozens of those facilities - which Saddam could make a decision to turn that production capability into production of weapons of mass destruction.

So you want a monitoring system in place to go to those places, to check it, to either use a combination of cameras or on-site inspections to be sure that those facilities are not being used or not going to be used to break out and produce, in military significant quantities, weapons of mass destruction.

Just allowing cameras to be serviced does not serve that goal. Inspectors need to go to these places to get early warning signs if things are changing. Cameras are part of the picture, but not the whole picture.

The second category are undeclared sites, and that's where you're trying to uncover what Iraq refuses to disclose; which is what they produced, when they produced it, how much they destroyed and what is left. That is done through a series of challenge inspections from what might be routine locations through to the most sensitive locations.

So in every way -- both undeclared sites and declared sites - UNSCOM is not able to do its job, with the exception of allowing some of the cameras to be serviced. So across the board in both the undeclared sites and the declared sites, Saddam Hussein is refusing to cooperate with the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

QUESTION: Is there any evidence so far that Saddam is taking advantage of this hiatus in inspections to begin, as you said, to the reconstitute the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction? And is there any urgency in that particular issue that he might be rushing to load --

MR. RUBIN: If we believed that they were reconstituting their weapons of mass destruction, we would act. We have no evidence of that at this time.

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask, so you think that inspectors should have the right to do challenge inspections and what.

MR. RUBIN: And undeclared facilities and challenge inspections and monitoring at declared facilities.

QUESTION: That's the agreement he made with Kofi Annan.

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: Could you give us a sense of timing? A month ago you were using, in the Kosovo context, words like "time is running out." I don't hear that kind of language now.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I wouldn't read too much into that. I think Secretary Albright made clear that we consider the situation grave. The message that she is delivering and Secretary Cohen is delivering is that we are dealing with a grave situation here, and the gravity of this situation needs to be understood by all concerned.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about Secretary Talbott's meetings with the Pakistanis?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I've read some interesting accounts of that. Let me simply say that the Pakistani Foreign Secretary is scheduled to meet with Deputy Secretary of State Talbott and Assistant Secretary Inderfurth today and tomorrow.

This will be the sixth in a continuing series of high-level negotiations on non-proliferation and security issues that the Deputy Secretary is conducting with Pakistan. In addition to the important non-proliferation issues, discussions will take place on a full range of relevant matters, including terrorism, narcotics, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan's strategy for addressing its economic difficulties, as well as the agenda for Prime Minister Sharif's December 2 visit to Washington.

On the non-proliferation side, clearly we've made steady progress; but there are important issues where we need to nail down commitments to deal with important non-proliferation concerns and important issues that still need to be resolved.

QUESTION: Do you want a read-out or a non-read-out vis-a-vis these meetings?

MR. RUBIN: My experience is these tend to be read out de minimus. But let me see what I can get for you.

QUESTION: What is the US role in trying to mediate and arbitrate between the Israelis and the Palestinians; and how would you characterize the situation as it stands today? Is this a snag; is this a potential crisis?

MR. RUBIN: I think the word "crisis" would be an exaggeration. I'm not saying you used that word, but if somebody were to use that word that would be a stunning exaggeration.

We have a lot of experience dealing with the Palestinians and the Israelis on the matters of utmost interest to them. We are working very closely with both sides in recent days to try to move forward on implementation.

Secretary Albright spoke, I believe, again to Prime Minister Netanyahu today. We believe the Palestinians have provided the necessary work plan in accordance with the Wye Memorandum. Nevertheless, there are issues that need to be clarified. We're working very hard to get those issues clarified so that the process can move forward.

During the course of the Wye discussions, there were many clarifications sought. Some of them have been provided, and some of you have read about them on the Internet and in other places. So this is not a surprising issue for us that clarifications and extrapolations of commitments are being sought. We are working on those and trying to work our way through them.

There are some security issues where additional clarification is being sought. We're discussing these issues with both sides. But I think the real point is that this agreement is a good one for both sides. It offers them a pathway to get the peace process back on track, to begin to deal with the critical issues of permanent status. We need to take advantage of this new beginning and get to work on the permanent status.

Time is not on our side, given the fact that May 4 still looms large. We believe the leaders did make tough choices at Wye; that the deal that was struck responds to the needs of both sides. We came away very impressed with both leaders' ability to meet the needs of their country and the Palestinian Authority and at the same time, find ways to meet the needs of the others.

On the Israeli side, the Prime Minister's entire approach was grounded in security. He made clear from the outset that there had to be tangible, concrete steps taken to protect Israeli security interests. Peace with security was, therefore, embedded in our approach. We believe the final agreement does achieve that objective -- that it's good for Israel and good for Israeli security. Systematic efforts will be made by the Palestinian Authority to prevent terror and to attack the infrastructure that supports terrorists. A detailed, systematic work plan, a formal structure of bilateral and trilateral committees and a commitment to deal with the problems of illegal weapons and incitement to violence are all embedded in that.

So it's our job to overcome these issues that need clarification; to get on with what we think is an agreement that serves the interests of Israel and the interests of the Palestinian Authority.

QUESTION: Are you at all alarmed or disturbed by the fact that this agreement hasn't even been implemented and there are already problems in trying to get to that stage in the last just ten days?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I certainly understand the question. I would simply say that from our experience working with Israel and the Palestinians, that this is not unexpected - that there are going to be difficulties to have to be overcome, clarifications that are going to be sought, issues that are going to be debated and worked on.

But at the same time, we believe the schedule is being met. The Palestinians have taken the required steps prior to entry into force, in accordance with the agreement; meetings of the various committees, some of which have begun - including on the seaport. So things are happening, even while at the highest political levels additional work needs to be done to clarify issues of concern to the Israelis on security. That's what we're doing; that's what we would have expected -- perhaps not with the same drama, but it is not a surprise to us.

QUESTION: At the White House signing and subsequently, much was made of the new atmosphere/environment that was created -- restoration to some extent -- of the needed attitude of mutual confidence and trust. This glitch, this non-crisis - whatever you're calling this delay --

MR. RUBIN: I like that -- non-crisis -- good.

QUESTION: Does this affect, do you think, that promising atmosphere of mutual confidence?

MR. RUBIN: No. We said also at the White House -- and the Secretary said at the briefing at the White House briefing room -- that the hard part has now begun: implementation; and that the road ahead is going to be filled with bumps. This is a bump in the road, and we intend to get through it with our tires intact.

QUESTION: The Israelis apparently don't agree with what you are saying. On the record, they are talking about the Wye Accord calling for the Palestinians to produce a written timetable. For the arrests you are referring to, I think, you are referring to that as an extrapolation of a commitment. Is that a correct reading of what you said?

MR. RUBIN: Why don't you ask the other hard ones and get them all in one.

QUESTION: Concerning the extrapolation of commitments, I am interested if you could expand on that a little bit.

MR. RUBIN: I have seen accounts suggesting that we are moving closer to the Israeli position on this matter; and that is simply not correct. We are sticking to what was agreed at Wye, what was understood at Wye, what we expected to see clarified after Wye. Nothing has changed. We are trying to overcome some problems that have cropped up, but none of that should be a suggestion that we are leaning toward one side or the other on these subjects.

With respect to arrests and detentions, let me simply say the agreement spells out a procedure for dealing with this. Among other forms of legal assistance in criminal matters the requests for arrests and transfers, suspects and defendants, pursuant to Article 27 of Annex 4 of the interim agreement, will be submitted through the mechanism of the joint Israeli- Palestinian legal committee and will be responded to in conformity with Annex 4 of the interim agreement within the twelve week period. Requests submitted after the eighth week will be responded to in conformity, et cetera, et cetera, within four weeks of their submission. The US has been requested by the sides to report on a regular basis on the steps being taken to respond to the above requests.

There is a mechanism to deal with that issue. It is being dealt with, and we do not believe that the Palestinians are failing to act in conformity with the agreement. With respect to the arrests more specifically, let me simply say that those who Israel believes have committed acts of violence and terrorism against Israelis, we believe the Palestinians will act against these people in a way that is consistent with the agreement and that will meet the needs of the Prime Minister of Israel and the security needs of Israel in general. That is what we believe will happen.

QUESTION: Okay, so, you are suggesting that the Israelis should submit their list to this committee.

MR. RUBIN: I can't be more - I mean, I'm trying very hard. I know in the region that there's a tendency to provide details on sensitive security matters. We think that's a grave error. We think the more sensitive security matters are discussed in public by either side, the less likely the security of either the Israelis or the Palestinians will be served. We think it's a mistake for people to put names out there, to publish lists of things, to describe highly-sensitive security matters. Some people choose to put it out there. I don't understand what they're thinking when they do it.

We're not going to do that. We're going to describe the agreement, describe our understanding and try to get the job done in private while not trying to win points in public.

QUESTION: No, I understand that; sorry if you misunderstood. That wasn't my question at all. I asked you about your comment about the extrapolation of commitments are being sought. You responded that -- I believe you responded by reading a passage in the agreement which talks about a procedure for the Israelis to request arrests or investigations.

MR. RUBIN: That is the way I responded, yes.

QUESTION: So, if you could back, then to the --

MR. RUBIN: You want me to draw the connection.

QUESTION: Yes, would you do that?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to the connection that you quite understandably are seeking me to draw, let me simply say that there are many levels under which security cooperation occurs. There are committees set up in the Wye Agreement. There are certain things we are prepared to say publicly with respect, for example, to the security work plan being provided in accordance with the agreement by the Palestinians -- and we believe that has been done -- and there are certain things that need to be done privately.

We are seeking and working on clarifications so that concerns that may exist on either side can be resolved. I can't be more specific than that without putting in jeopardy what we're trying to achieve.

QUESTION: Are the Palestinians expected to submit anything else at this point?

MR. RUBIN: In general, we believe the Palestinians have provided the necessary work plan pursuant to the agreement. Clarifications can be sought and may or not be achieved; and that doesn't change the fact that, in general, they have met the requirements of the agreement.

QUESTION: Where does that stand with the permanent status talks that were supposed to begin immediately?

MR. RUBIN: We do understand that they will begin in the very near future. I'm not sure the level they will occur. I mean, I think in the beginning they will tend to be at a lower level and there will be preliminary discussions. We've heard nothing to suggest that they won't occur very soon.

QUESTION: And Dennis Ross?

MR. RUBIN: I believe he still intends to go the region. I did see him here in the building this morning, so I can't tell you that he's left yet. But my understanding is that he is expected to go. As soon as I have time of departure for Ambassador Ross, I will try to get it to you all.

QUESTION: This week?

MR. RUBIN: Yes..

QUESTION: In the region they're saying he is expected there tomorrow.

MR. RUBIN: Well, he'd have to leave pretty soon to get there tomorrow because it's already tonight there.


QUESTION: You just said that we do not believe the Palestinians are failing to act in accordance with the agreement. By delaying the Israeli Cabinet vote, Israel's saying that it wants the timetable for the arrest of the 30 fugitives. Do you believe that Israel is failing to act in accordance with the agreement?

MR. RUBIN: No, we recognize -- although from our standpoint we agree the agreement went into force, pursuant to its terms, on Monday. We recognize that Israel has a political and legal process, including a Cabinet decision, including Knesset decision; and we still see no reason, if things move quickly, why that needs to hold up in any way the implementation of this agreement -- at most by a day or two, but not in any significant way.

QUESTION: If the agreement went into force on Monday, should Arafat be able to fly back from Spain into the Gaza airport? I mean, is it open for business or will it be open?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check where the airport stands.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) by agreement?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check where the facts are.

QUESTION: The Israelis say that if the agreement does not contain the necessary approvals that the airport can't open.

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that the approvals relate to other parts of the agreement. But I'll have to check with our lawyers about that.

QUESTION: Why was it important for the United States to give assurance letters to the Israelis over and above the Wye Memorandum?

MR. RUBIN: It's a very normal procedure. As the honest broker, sometimes the way to break through a problem is to have the United States give certain clarifications to one side in lieu of having to try to negotiate those words with both sides. That's a pretty standard negotiating technique.

Similarly, we have assurances with the Palestinian side. So it's nothing new. I think if you look at what was published from those assurances, you will see that the words are based on things that I said here from the podium last week. So I don't think one should exaggerate the newness of them.

We've made clear - whether it's on the Palestinian National Council, whether it's on the third redeployment, whether it's on reciprocity, whether it's on unilateral acts - certain statements from the podium which represent the official position of the United States. To the extent that parties sought those words to be clarified in minor ways, if that will help them get to yes, then we're happy to do that.

QUESTION: Did the United States also provide letters of assurance to the Palestinians?

MR. RUBIN: I think I just said that.

QUESTION: The annexes to the Wye Memorandum - are those just the assurances, are they not the assurances?

MR. RUBIN: It is normal practice - we try to put into the memorandum an extraordinary amount of detail. For those of you who have found your way clear to read each sentence carefully, you can see how detailed it is. That doesn't mean that it isn't appropriate for us to have discussions about issues related to the agreement and have issues laid out in private.

You've seen some of those; there may be other ones of those - none of which are inconsistent with the terms of the memorandum. But I'm not in a position to detail each and every one of those assurances.

QUESTION: That's what the 200-some pages of annexes are - just the assurances?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of anything in that realm.

QUESTION: Well, at one point during one of your famous conference calls at Wye, you or another US official, perhaps, talked about --

MR. RUBIN: Uh-oh.

QUESTION: -- what the agreement looked like. You said it was 11 or 12 pages with about a 200-page annex.

MR. RUBIN: If I or any US official said a 200-page annex to you, it must have been because I or that official hadn't slept well the night before, because I've never heard of such a thing.

QUESTION: But there is an annex to the agreement that is something --

MR. RUBIN: No, there isn't an annex, okay? It is normal for some communications to occur privately between the United States and parties to an agreement - especially when we're playing such a critical brokering role. But there isn't a formal annex to the agreement.

QUESTION: These letters.

MR. RUBIN: There may be private assurances, but there isn't a formal annex to my knowledge - unless somebody hasn't told me, and I think I would know.

QUESTION: There is an impression that the US does not provide enough support to the efforts by Deputy Secretary Hercus in the Cyprus process. What is the US approach to these efforts by Deputy Secretary Hercus?

MR. RUBIN: The US strongly supports the efforts of the UN Secretary General's Deputy Special Representative for Cyprus, and we have worked very closely with her and will continue to do so.

She is conducting an important series of discussions with the two sides on Cyprus on behalf of the Secretary General. Both sides stand to benefit from this process, and we have strongly encouraged both sides to work cooperatively with her to make progress.

QUESTION: Today in Kigali, Susan Rice met with some of the Tutsi leaders who are active in Congo. Can you talk about what the message might have been today?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think in general Susan is now on her way to Uganda. She has been trying to see what we can do to try to end the conflict in the Congo, based on our principles of preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Congo; the need for an immediate cease-fire; the need to recognize the legitimate security concerns of countries bordering the Congo; and the need for a broad-based inclusive political process to ensure legitimate transition to democracy in the Congo.

In Rwanda, specifically, she expressed the deep concern of the United States about the current crisis in the Congo and our belief that it is essential that a peaceful solution be found. Such a solution, again, would have to be based on the principles that I described, in addition to the importance of providing safeguards against further ethnic violence and genocide and ensure the participation of all Congolese in the political process. She made clear, and we believe, that it is necessary to prevent further escalation of the violence there.

With respect to the rebels, Assistant Secretary Rice met with representatives of the rebels in Kigali, and the delegation did this with the knowledge of leaders in the region. We have repeatedly stated, and she made clear to them, that we support a comprehensive settlement that will lead to a withdrawal of foreign forces and secure borders in the region.

But more specifically I can't be, in the absence of an actual full report from the delegation.

QUESTION: Can you report any progress? I mean, she's almost ended her tour.

MR. RUBIN: She wasn't bringing a peace plan; she was seeking consultations. Those consultations have been useful.

With respect to where it's going to leave us, we just don't know at this point.

QUESTION: Was it Congolese rebels that she met with in Rwanda?


QUESTION: You said that would be unlikely last week when that subject was raised. But we won't make a big deal out of it.

MR. RUBIN: I appreciate that.

QUESTION: Now, I read that - I believe it was --

MR. RUBIN: Good thing I didn't rule it out.

QUESTION: I think I read somewhere that President Mugabe of Zimbabwe left the US delegation cooling their heals for several hours. Is that correct, and do you have anything to say about it?

MR. RUBIN: I will have to check on that; I don't know.

QUESTION: Also on Africa, apparently the United States has renewed sanctions on Sudan - this apparently happened the other day. And I was wondering what the reasoning was for that and how that plays into reports that the Sudanese have made some overtures recently to the United States to try to --

MR. RUBIN: Well, our sanctions are based on actions not overtures. The position of Sudan with respect to terrorism and its support for terrorism hasn't changed.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: I will check on what specific action was taken; but that is our view on Sudan - that nothing has changed.

QUESTION: If it's so, could you issue a piece of paper or something?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, we can provide a piece of paper on that.

QUESTION: Could you talk a little bit more about the extent to which - or what you think about the overtures that Sudan trying to --

MR. RUBIN: Well, it's not new for Sudan to make overtures to the United States in which they explain how they are not a country that supports terrorism, and in which we explain back that they are. That happens a lot.

The question is, will they take actions - not overtures - to deal with the problems; and so far they have not.

QUESTION: On this report, several times you emphasized the US is against terrorism. Under this perspective, do you have any message to countries which give sanctuary to terrorist organizations and their leaders?

MR. RUBIN: Our message to those who give sanctuary to terrorist organizations and their leaders is to stop doing so; that the terrorist threat is real to all countries in the world, and that the only way terrorists can sustain themselves is with the support or acquiescence of others. If they were completely isolated and denied funds and denied support, denied access by everyone in the world, they'd be much less effective and the rest of the world and the United States would be much safer.

QUESTION: Jamie, do you have any information on a car that exploded outside of the Kremlin earlier today?

MR. RUBIN: No, I didn't get anything on that. I'll check for you, though.

QUESTION: Will the State Department and I guess the Administration generally approve and pursue the Theater Missile Defense study for Taiwan, as was mandated in the congressional funding most recently? And will this be under the TRA - the Taiwan Relations Act? That's my first question.

MR. RUBIN: Well, let me get you some information about that. We'll certainly follow the law. Next question.

QUESTION: Well, the next question is that the Chinese are kicking up quite a fuss about this - the PRC has - saying, we hope the US Government will explicitly oppose the legislation and feign from transferring Theater Missile Defense Systems and related technologies. That was from last week from the Chinese spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, according to Reuters.

MR. RUBIN: I understand from my able deputy that you and he have discussed this issue last week. So why don't we finish that discussion after the briefing, and I think all your questions can be answered at that time.

QUESTION: Okay, no, I don't think we discussed this particular matter of a comment by the PRC. Thank you.

QUESTION: Does the Administration have a position whether the Vatican should be involved in the final status talks on Jerusalem?

MR. RUBIN: I'd have to check.

QUESTION: That's the right answer.


QUESTION: Thank you.

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

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