U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #122, 98-11-05
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Thursday, November 5, 1998
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 Statement on Disqualification of Form Kazakhstan Prime
Minister from Presidential Election
1,16 Renewal of Imposition of Comprehensive Trade and Economic
1,3-4,5 UN Security Council Vote on Resolution Today
1,2 Travel by Secretary of Defense Cohen
1-2 Travel by National Security Advisor Berger to Europe
2-3,4-5,8 Iraq and Non-Cooperation with UNSCOM and IAEA/Monitoring
and Inspection Regime
6-7 Middle East Peace Process and Building Consensus on Iraq
7 Threat of the Use of Force
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
8-9 Update/Status on Israeli Cabinet's Vote on Wye Memorandum
9 Call for Regional Participation in Middle East Peace
9-10 Possible Travel to the Region by Dennis Ross
10-12 US Clarifications Provided to Israel
12,16-17 Duma's Resolution Urging Yeltsin to Grant Political Asylum
to PKK Ocalan
15-16 US Food Aid Package For Russia
12-14 Increasing Tensions Between Serb Police and Kosovo
13 Serb Bailure to Issue Visas to War Crimes Tribunal
13 Reports KLA Holding Two Journalists
14 Energy Secretary Richardson's Plans to Travel to Taiwan
US Policy Toward Taiwan and PRC
14-15 Fighting Update/Threat to Blow Up Dam
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1998, 12:35 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing here
on this Thursday. We have a statement on Kazakhstan, on the disqualification
of a former prime minister and the concerns that raises for us; that will
be posted after the briefing.
Let me just answer one question that was held over from yesterday and then
go to your questions. That was with respect to the Sudan. We did renew the
imposition of comprehensive trade and economic sanctions against Sudan on
November 3, earlier this week, after determining that the government of
Sudan's support for international terrorism and violations of the human
rights of Sudanese citizens constituted an unusual and extraordinary threat
to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
The government of Sudan continues to engage in activities which pose an
extraordinary threat to US national security and foreign policy. President
Clinton, therefore, has renewed the sanctions for an additional year, and
in his renewal letter to Congress, he made clear that "it is necessary to
maintain in force the broad authorities necessary to apply economic
pressure on the government of Sudan."
I can walk you through some of the specific sanctions, but they're not new
and there are some fact sheets available on that.
Turning from yesterday to today, Barry Schweid.
QUESTION: Iraq. Is it just lack of electricity in the air, or have things
cooled down a little bit?
MR. RUBIN: I think nothing has changed, in terms of cooling down; on the
contrary. The Security Council members are expected to vote today on a
resolution that will do what I suggested yesterday - which is to send a
strong and unambiguous message that Iraq must rescind all its decisions
restricting the UN inspectors and the IAEA and comply with all the relevant
Security Council resolutions.
I would expect that text to become available during the course of the day;
but the gist of it, as I've said to you, is a strong and unambiguous
Secretary Cohen is continuing his trip; I believe he's in Egypt now.
National Security Advisor Berger, I understand, is going to be in Europe
After a discussion between President Clinton and President Chirac of France,
there was desire to have the national security advisors from some of these
countries get together, taking into account a previous plan for the German
President's National Security Advisor, Bitterlich, who was leaving and some
of then national security advisors were going to meet to bid him farewell.
Taking advantage of that, there's been a decision and I expect Sandy Berger,
the National Security Advisor - or more accurately, the Assistant
to the President for National Security Affairs - will be meeting in Europe.
The prime topic of that discussion, I understand, will be Iraq.
So this is a very grave matter. I think what we have seen in Secretary
Albright's consultations and Secretary Cohen's travels is there is a broad
consensus both in the Persian Gulf and around the world that Iraq's
violation of the UN Security Council Resolution, its defiance of the will
of the international community are grave matters, and that they are a
direct challenge to the authority of the Security Council, which we expect,
as I said, will pass a resolution sending a strong and clear message to
Iraq that it must rescind its decisions and come back into compliance.
We are also consulting with our allies in the region; and as I indicated
yesterday, based on these consultations, we are confident that the United
States will have the support we need to take appropriate action to uphold
the United Nations Security Council Resolutions. While we share a
preference for all -- a preference for a peaceful resolution to this crisis
-- all options remain on the table, including the military option.
QUESTION: Has Russia thought of that - the security advisors --
MR. RUBIN: I don't believe so.
QUESTION: Do you know any of the countries that will be?
MR. RUBIN: I would have to get from the White House. But I know the
QUESTION: The French and German.
MR. RUBIN: It came out of a discussion between President Clinton and
President Chirac, so it may or may not include other national security
advisors. I know that what I was indicating was that Mr. Berger was
planning to go to Europe to bid farewell Mr. Bitterlich, who was Chancellor
Kohl's National Security Advisor. So exactly what form that meeting will
take I do not know; but I know it will include President Chirac's National
Security Advisor and Sandy Berger.
QUESTION: But not the new German --
MR. RUBIN: Again, that is as much as I know. I was asked, is there
anything else going on; I thought that was relevant and so I passed it
QUESTION: How long will we prudently go without inspectors in Iraq with
the danger you've noted that the Government could resume developing
chemical or biological weapons?
MR. RUBIN: It can't go on indefinitely, but I don't want to put a
timetable on it. The President has met several times with his advisors in
the last week, and obviously Secretary Cohen is working and Secretary
Albright are working. I don't want to put publicly a particular time frame
on that because then that tends to be turned into assumptions about other
time frames. But obviously, this can't go on indefinitely.
With respect to reconstitution, which I think was part of your question or
implied by your question, we've said that if we had evidence that Iraq was
reconstituting its weapons of mass destruction we would act. We have no
such evidence at this time. But let me be clear -- simply allowing UNSCOM
or the IAEA to change cameras is no substitute for UNSCOM and the
inspectors going to visit the sites to make sure that the places where
weapons of mass destruction could be produced are not so doing or that
ballistic missiles of the relevant range could be produced are not being
That is what the monitoring and inspection regime is about. That is why
this is so important. But I wouldn't be in the position to be more specific
about a time frame.
QUESTION: How much harm is being done or could be done by this recess,
where we have no inspectors?
MR. RUBIN: Let me say the following. The way the inspectors do their work
is, they try to develop a baseline from which they can judge what Iraq has
provided to them in terms of information and materials about what they did
The monitoring regime is partly responsible for ensuring the accuracy of
the baseline. Without the ability to check the baseline, confidence in that
baseline does reduce over time. But I would prefer to leave that to a
technical weapons inspector - or maybe not even an inspector, maybe
actually an expert on the science of this to be in a position to give you
more detail than saying just that confidence does reduce over time.
QUESTION: Jamie, you said that the US wants to send - or believes that
this UN resolution sends a strong, unambiguous message to Iraq. As recently
as yesterday, you had said that you expected this resolution would include
language that said that what Iraq was doing by preventing UNSCOM from
coming in was essentially posing a threat to international security. But in
point of fact, that paragraph is not going to be in there --
MR. RUBIN: I didn't say that - I hope I didn't. What I said yesterday was
that we expected it to track the language from Saturday, which declared it
a flagrant violation. And I believe that language is in there.
With respect to Chapter 7, let me say that the resolution does refer back
to -- resolution of the Security Council - I believe it's 1154 - that made
clear there would be the severest consequences for non-compliance.
So whether it's this resolution's reference to 1154, whether it is the
underlying reality that by being in flagrant violation of the Security
Council resolution that imposed the cease-fire, we believe there is a basis
- as a result of this and many other resolutions - for military action to
be taken if necessary.
QUESTION: So the US is not at all disappointed by the fact that there was
a sentence, a paragraph that was not included -- because the Chinese had
asked that it not be included - that said that what Iraq was doing was
posing a threat to international security; that isn't a problem?
MR. RUBIN: I think, in response to several questions yesterday, I tried
to make clear that we were not seeking through this resolution to make a
large point about the authority to use force. We were seeking merely
unanimity on the flagrancy of the violation.
During the course of discussions - there are 15 members of the Security
Council and various countries put in various sentences and words. I've been
there; it happens. And some countries are concerned about that.
But we're not concerned that this resolution didn't specify explicitly
authority, because we believe the authority is already there.
QUESTION: Could I ask about - if literally you mean that the only
monitoring procedures that have gone on since Saturday is checking on
MR. RUBIN: Right.
QUESTION: -- I think Monday, in fact, you spoke of some basic monitoring.
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: Can you give us a sense of what's --
MR. RUBIN: My understanding of the situation is the IAEA is being
distinguished by the Iraqis - something that we find unacceptable. The IAEA
is allowed to continue its monitoring. But UNSCOM, which does the missiles,
the chemicals, the biological weapons, has been limited to the question of
adjusting some of the cameras.
I think that Chairman Butler has told the Security Council that a clear
distinction between IAEA and the Commission's monitoring activities, which
Iraq has sought to draw, will be difficult to establish, considering the
inherent links between the mandates of the Commission and the IAEA.
Regardless, this is a very serious matter - whether or not some teams are
changing cameras - because allowing UNSCOM to change a few cameras is not a
reversal of Iraq's obstruction of the UN's activity. Full access for UNSCOM
- the UN inspectors - and the IAEA to do their necessary inspection and
monitoring activities is what we're looking for.
QUESTION: IAEA is distinct from the UN - this is not just a matter of
principle with the US. The IAEA cannot conduct sufficient surveillance or
monitoring to --
MR. RUBIN: Well, let me separate it; it gets very complex, but let me try
to answer it as best I can. The IAEA is charged by the Security Council
with the basic responsibility for monitoring on the nuclear question and
makes certain judgments. They also operate under the general purview of the
UN Special Commission. But the expertise and the actual work is done by the
What Butler is saying is that it's going to be very hard over time, if this
were to persist, to maintain some artificial distinction between the work
of the nuclear inspecting agency - the IAEA - on the one hand and the UN
Special Commission, which focuses on chemical, biological and missiles on
But regardless of all that - which are technical details - none of this is
a substitute for a wholesale return to cooperation, which is what the
Security Council will be demanding in its resolution.
QUESTION: Jamie, earlier you used the term "broad consensus" relating to
the resolution today, I believe. Would it be - let me just ask you, would
you extend the broad consensus to military action as well, if it comes to
MR. RUBIN: I don't want to be speaking for others on this question. I've
specifically avoided making any premature discussion publicly of the
question of military action; other than to tell you, number one, we believe
we have the authority in Security Council resolutions to act militarily if
necessary. Number two, all options - including the military option - are on
the table. Secretary Cohen is consulting with allies and friends in the
Gulf, and Secretary Albright has been consulting with her colleagues.
With respect to the specific question about the basing issue, we have said
that we believe we have confidence that we will have the necessary support
to act. But I don't intend to be more specific about the military
With respect to the broad consensus, I didn't refer to the Security
Council. I was referring to the consensus in the region and around the
world that Iraq's violation of UN Security Council resolutions and defiance
of the will of the international community are very grave matters.
QUESTION: Just as a follow-up, would the US be prepared to act alone or
alone only with Great Britain?
MR. RUBIN: All options means all options.
QUESTION: Jamie, is the Wye River Accord helping you build this consensus
on what to do with Iraq?
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't want to - there's been a tendency over time for
people to vastly exaggerate the linkages between the Middle East peace
process and Iraq. I am aware, from the trips where I accompanied Secretary
Albright, that there was a tendency in the media in certain countries - or
perhaps to the extent that it reflects the public in those countries - to
link these two; namely that because Israel was not pursuing, in their minds,
the peace process, that it was a double standard to require Iraq to
comply with the Security Council resolutions.
We always regarded that argument as baloney. But we recognize that in some
parts of the world the argument is either used or exists. Certainly,
whoever were putting forward such a phony argument would be in a much less
authoritative position to do so when the peace process has been placed back
on track. And with the Cabinet meeting that has begun now in Israel, we
look forward to its being approved very shortly and implemented.
So to the extent that argument ever had any saliency, which we didn't think
it did, I think that it no longer does.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up? Can you talk about some of the concerns
out there that the Administration is addressing? I mean, if there's such a
clear-cut case about Iraq, what are you discussing over all these weeks,
MR. RUBIN: Matters that we don't care to discuss in public.
QUESTION: Well, are you discussing or notifying; are you consulting or
MR. RUBIN: I think I used the word "consult." That is the word that
Secretary Cohen has been associated with.
QUESTION: Well, that suggests you need to know the sentiment of people
like the Saudis to know whether you have a basis for going against Iraq;
MR. RUBIN: You're making an assumption about what he's doing that I'm not
prepared to entertain.
QUESTION: I thought maybe you - what about sanctions, for instance?
MR. RUBIN: Well, the other issue that comes up here - and I'd be happy to
speak to it - is that there's a lot of concern in the Arab world about the
Iraqi people. We recognize that. That is why the United States has done so
much to create a mechanism by which the Iraqi people have received billions
of dollars in food and medicine that their government refused to provide,
that has only been provided as a result of the oil-for-food and medicine
program that the United States put into place.
No country is more touched by the plight of the Iraqi people than the
United States. It's not a result of sanctions; it's a result of the
politics and policies of a regime that has not the least concern for its
We led efforts to establish and then expand the oil-for-food program, which
ensures that billions of dollars worth of oil is sold and billions of
dollars worth of food and medicine are provided to the people of Iraq. It
is the United States and the international community who are providing for
the people of Iraq, despite the lack of concern on the part of their
QUESTION: Just on the Wye discussions --
QUESTION: This has been going on for about five days now, and we hear
every day that all the options are on the table. Leaving aside the military
options, which, understandably, perhaps you don't want to talk about, what
other options are under serious consideration, apart from getting a
Security Council resolution, which you don't seem very interested in
anyway? What are these options - sanctions --
MR. RUBIN: Very well-formulated question, but in order to - extremely
well-formulated - but in order to answer it, I would have to discuss the
options that are being considered; and we don't normally do that until
we've chosen an option.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - change the pattern, it would be, the military
option remains on the table and you wouldn't have to say all the options.
Then you wouldn't be asked about other options. Your purpose is to say the
military option is out there, isn't it? Are there any other live options,
MR. RUBIN: You've started a flood.
QUESTION: It's been code for several years that you're not withdrawing
the military threat. But literally, what other options are there?
MR. RUBIN: The military option is on the table.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: There are other options?
MR. RUBIN: I have no further response.
QUESTION: You mentioned the IAEA is operating (inaudible) --
MR. RUBIN: Very clever, very clever.
QUESTION: -- is operating under two regimes: one of its own and the other
under UNSCOM. But isn't it true that the agency, under its own steam, can
only inspect what are declared sites - declared by the government of Iraq
to be nuclear installations?
MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check with the IAEA on exactly what it does and
doesn't do in Iraq. But the regime created by the Security Council, as
opposed to the IAEA's negotiated arrangement with countries around the
world, which the question of any time anywhere inspections comes in. But
with respect to Iraq, special provisions were allowed to provide the
inspectors, whoever they may be, the right to go anywhere they need to go
to do their job.
So whatever provisions may or may not exist in the IAEA's modus operandi in
other countries where they have an agreement I wouldn't think would apply
in Iraq, where the Security Council's authority supersedes.
QUESTION: Well, just to get to the point, as far as you understand it,
the atomic energy inspectors can go anywhere, look at anything and whatever
they find --
MR. RUBIN: Do whatever they need to do their job, right.
QUESTION: On the Wye Memorandum, since yesterday Netanyahu has obviously -
MR. RUBIN: I told you it was just a bump in the road.
QUESTION: Yes, well, right, that's my point. What did the US do to get
over this bump in the road? How did they pave it over?
MR. RUBIN: Our tires are still filled with air. The bump in the road is -
I guess in fairness, we might still be on the bump and the bump will not be
resolved until the decision is made.
Clearly, there were some clarifications that were sought by the Israelis
that we were able to provide to them on the subject of security that helped
move this to a position where the government of Israel's Cabinet is now
discussing this issue.
Let me say that we are very pleased that the Cabinet is now discussing this
issue. As we've said over and over again, we believe that Prime Minister
Netanyahu, in addition to Chairman Arafat, has made very courageous and
tough decisions in this process, including at Wye - decisions that we
believe demonstratively meet the stated criteria that he put down for an
agreement; namely, a comprehensive program to fight terrorism. There are
many components to that program -- some of which are laid out in the
memorandum of understanding, some of which are not.
So there are a series of discussions that occur on sensitive issues like
this, both in the agreement, orally, understandings are reached. Without
getting into the specifics, I can say that we were able to provide
clarifications that assisted them in making the decision to begin
QUESTION: Can the United States in some fashion ensure that these steps
will be carried out? Is there some assurance, some way it can offer
assurance that it can be carried out?
MR. RUBIN: I didn't say assurance; I said a clarification. With respect
to the arrest issue, for example, we believe the Palestinians will act
against the relevant people in a way that is consistent with the agreement
and that will meet the Prime Minister and Israel's needs. That's an example
of something that we can assure that is our best understanding. But it's up
to the Palestinians to fulfill these responsibilities.
What we can do is, as an honest broker, often communicate on sensitive
issues between the two.
QUESTION: But you can't - I mean, as a matter of logistics or whatever,
you can't offer an assurance that these, for example, people will be
arrested. You can offer assurances that you think the Palestinians will do
it, but you can't offer an American assurance of these people's arrest.
MR. RUBIN: I think that goes without saying. It's so obvious, I don't
understand the question.
QUESTION: Can I ask a Middle East question if I can't get to Kosovo?
About ten days ago, the Secretary called on Arab countries to become more
involved in the Middle East peace process. Has she seen any outcome from
this cry to these people to help you?
MR. RUBIN: Not as of yet. We're certainly hopeful that they will be
living up to what we regard as all the world's responsibilities to assist
the peace process.
We've specified ways in which we think that can happen. Hopefully, there
will be an approval of this agreement in Israel very shortly, and then
implementation can begin in earnest of some of the provisions. And then we
certainly hope that as implementation occurs, that Arab countries, who've
been calling for this very kind of implementation and this very kind of
process, will begin to act in the ways that we've specified.
QUESTION: Were the clarifications sought by the Israelis that you were
able to provide them in the form of side letters similar to the side
letters given at Wye?
MR. RUBIN: The clarifications that we provided are things that were done
privately that are between two governments. I don't want to specify the
form in which they were done, but they were done.
QUESTION: Is Ambassador Ross going back to the region?
MR. RUBIN: I expect him to go at some point, but his plans have not yet
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: There's some confusion out there whether Thursday or this
MR. RUBIN: Not yet finalized -- when we know we will tell you.
QUESTION: Not always.
QUESTION: I would like to ask about the clarification. Israel claims that
the United States assured them that the arrest of the 30 suspects will be
implemented by each step of the 12 weeks period. And if so and if for any
reason there is a situation where these suspects are released, the United
States will see it as a violation of the agreement. That's what the
government of Israel is saying. Is it accurate?
MR. RUBIN: Let me answer your question as clearly as I can. I specified
to you our view that we believe the Palestinians will act against these
people in a way that is consistent with the agreement and that will meet
the Prime Minister's and Israel's needs on this subject.
I can certainly point you to the fact that Article 2, Section A.1 specifies
that the Palestinian side will apprehend the specific individuals suspected
of perpetrating acts of violence and terror for the purpose of further
investigation and prosecution and punishment of all persons involved in
acts of violence and terror. This is important -- E in that Section, a US-
Palestinian committee will meet to review and evaluate information
pertinent to the decisions on prosecution, punishment or other legal
measures which affect the status of individuals suspected of abetting or
perpetrating acts of violence and terror.
That is the way we have to try to end what has been a legitimate concern of
the Israelis on the subject of the revolving door. We will have an
involvement that will let us know if people are being arrested in one door
and let out in another. It is certainly our impression that the Palestinians
have been working very hard in recent weeks on not only plans, but actions
to fight terror.
With respect to your question on violations, let me simply say yes; but I'm
not going to get into a recitation of what is and isn't violations. We're
looking ahead toward compliance, not non-compliance. Suffice it to say that
if either side doesn't fulfill its obligations, they will be in violation
of the agreement on a whole number of provisions.
QUESTION: What if one side doesn't fulfill its agreement and the other
side, as a consequence, chooses not to fulfill its end of the bargain. Are
they both in violation? Or just the one that kicked it off?
MR. RUBIN: It depends on the circumstances.
QUESTION: The reference in the agreement to specific individuals is kind
of puzzling because nowhere else in the document are they, in fact,
specified. Can you explain to us, are these specific individuals mentioned
in the text, are they the 30 who the Israelis wanted to see arrested, and
are they named in some kind of annex?
MR. RUBIN: As I have indicated to you, some in the region seem,
inexplicably, to put forward very specific information on very sensitive
matters -- who seem to think that somehow it is important to put out facts
that could endanger the goals. Our goal is to get those specific individuals
specified arrested and to be in a position to ensure that they are not re-
released. That is a good way to fight terrorism and to make clear there is
punishment for those who commit acts of terrorism.
A bad way to do that is to let people know that they are going to be
arrested. Some may do that, but we have chosen not to do that.
More specifically, in response to your question, this security program
operates on many levels. There is the agreement, which I'm sure you have
had a lot of time to look over; I know I have. There are oral understandings
that take place between relevant people -- whether they be at Wye between
political leaders or between security experts. I think we've been quite
clear on that. There are other kinds of understandings that are put into
place or are expected. This operates on several levels.
The level that I have been talking to you about for the last week is the
level specified in the agreement, which is a public document. I'm not
prepared, even if others do, to specify details of things that go on
between governments that are not public.
QUESTION: Jamie, don't you think that there are some people in that
region, this region here -- particularly when it comes to matters of
security -- that feel government should be a little more forthcoming; that
what Dennis Ross and others do in the form of letters should be a little
more public and not so secretive?
MR. RUBIN: Maybe after the briefing we can have a debate about the nature
of diplomacy and the press, and I'd be happy to have with you.
QUESTION: It's not a debate. The point that you all are being extremely
un-public with something that's quite important to people in the region --
particularly when it comes to security, specific people who one side claims
have killed other people. What I am hearing from over there is that people
don't think those are really matters that should be left in the dark. The
governments that are elected by the people should --
MR. RUBIN: I have no comment on your polemic.
QUESTION: It's not a polemic; it's a question.
MR. RUBIN: I didn't hear the question.
QUESTION: I said don't you think that some of these people -
MR. RUBIN: That sounds like a polemic to me.
QUESTION: The Russian Parliament - Duma -- yesterday decided to give
asylum to the PKK terrorist organization leader. Also today, 109 Greek
parliamentarians invited the same man to Greece. What's your reaction?
MR. RUBIN: Let me simply say, as I indicated yesterday -- and I hope you
will find that it flows directly from what I said yesterday -- that
Secretary Albright designated the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, as a
foreign terrorist organization last October. We have asked the Russian
Government to investigate whether PKK leader Ocalan is in Russia, and to
take the necessary steps to expel, deport or extradite him immediately. No
nation should give sanction to terrorists - and that means no nation.
QUESTION: Two questions -- one on Kosovo -- it seems that the KLA is
moving in more than they were before in the areas that have been left in a
vacuum by the withdrawal of the Serb forces and in at least one case have
denied KDOM the right to inspect at gun point. Do you have any -
MR. RUBIN: Yes, generally speaking, we do believe tensions between Serb
police and the Kosovo Liberation Army seem to be increasing in Kosovo as
the KLA operates more overtly in many regions.
Our observers report that the KLA has carried out three apparent retribution
killings in the past few days. The victims were ethnic Albanians charged
with collaborating with Serb authorities during the fighting. Serb
authorities reported to KDOM today that a specialized police truck and
other Serb vehicles were attacked with small arms and grenades along the
road between Suva Reka and Stimlje. Reportedly, no one was hurt.
The police appear to be hardening and winterizing some of their positions.
The monitors have received reports that some of these posts are new and
unauthorized under the agreement. The observers have also confirmed the
existence of one of these sites in the Glogovac area. They are investigating
We have a report from the police that three mine workers from Obilic were
shot. One of the three injured miners is said not likely to live. The other
two are in critical condition. The monitors checked this report out
yesterday, viewed the site of the attack and talked with mine officials.
Those officials thought the assailants to be from the KLA. We have no
confirmed reports of other attacks.
Let me simply say that there are many reports of incidents throughout
Kosovo. The investigators have found very few to have substance to them.
Kosovo is a hot bed of rumors and misreports. We pass on to you those
reports which we have been able to verify. We condemn any incidents from
both sides which are in violation of the cease-fire.
With respect to this, however, I think it is important to put it into
context. There is an overall calm; peace is maintained generally. These are
problems that we are trying to deal with. On the humanitarian side, the
relevant agencies including our monitors' report that most internally
displaced persons now have shelter and there is a gradual and continued
normalization of life. Humanitarian convoys have been deployed and have
been able to deliver their food.
On the other hand, on the War Crimes Tribunal side, we do have some very
deep concerns. There was a failure to issue visas to a delegation of
investigators from the War Crimes Tribunal's Office of the Prosecutor. We
agree with Judge McDonald and Prosecutor Arbour's statements that the FRY -
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - is failing to comply with their
obligations by not issuing visas to these investigators.
We categorically reject the Serbian authorities' view that the Tribunal
does not have jurisdiction in Kosovo. We intend to raise this matter in the
Security Council as clear case of non-compliance.
The final category is detentions. Resolution 1199 calls for individuals
being held under non-judicial detention to be released. We are aware of
reports that the KLA is holding two journalists with the Tanjug News Agency,
and we've made known in private contacts with the KLA such detention is
simply not consistent with the goal of establishing democratic structures.
It is clear, however, that the Serb security forces are responsible for the
vast bulk of the non-judicial detentions in Kosovo; and we call on them to
release the hundreds of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo who have been arrested
without due respect for judicial processes.
With respect to the monitors being held up, I just don't have any
information on that and I'll try to get it for you.
QUESTION: I know that you've been in touch with the KLA on --
MR. RUBIN: Various matters, right.
QUESTION: -- not being too aggressive about moving into these positions.
But have you again reiterated to them that there could be consequences; and
what consequences could there be?
MR. RUBIN: At this time, I'd prefer to leave it as that we are making
very clear to them that they will lose support of they are the provocateurs.
QUESTION: I understand the Department of Energy is putting out a
statement on a trip to Taiwan by the Energy Secretary. Do you have any - I
know it's not strictly your business, but --
MR. RUBIN: Yes, broadly speaking, there's been some suggestion this
reflects some new view; and let me say very clearly, Secretary Richardson's
trip does not reflect a change in US policy. Our policy towards Taiwan and
the People's Republic of China continues to be governed by the Taiwan
Relations Act and by our three joint communiques with the People's Republic
The United States recognized the government of the People's Republic of
China as the sole legal government of China in 1979, and since that time we
have had unofficial relations with Taiwan. Secretary Richardson's trip is
consistent with this framework.
In 1994, as part of our policy review, we endorsed periodic visits to
Taiwan by Cabinet-level officials from economic and technical agencies,
which is precisely what Secretary Richardson is. He is traveling to Taiwan
at the invitation of the US-ROC Taiwan Business Council, a private business
group, to address its annual meeting with its Taiwan counterpart. US
Cabinet officials have attended past sessions of this event that highlight
our strong economic ties with the people on Taiwan. Then-Secretary of
Transportation Pena attended the Council's meeting in Taiwan in 1994, as
did Small Business Administrator Lader; later Carla Hills, as the
Trade Representative, attended in 1992.
We have an extensive economic relationship with Taiwan, and we are pleased
that Secretary Richardson will be able to participate in this conference
and advance the economic and commercial interests of the United States.
QUESTION: Is Secretary Richardson still officially the Ambassador to the
MR. RUBIN: No, he gave that title up some time ago.
QUESTION: So he's only Secretary of Energy now.
MR. RUBIN: Correct.
QUESTION: Do you know if he's going to meeting with Taiwanese officials?
MR. RUBIN: We expect that Secretary Richardson will meet with President
Lee Teng-hui during his visit. For further information on his schedule, I
would refer you to his office.
QUESTION: Different subject - what do you know about the situation in
Tajikistan right now, as far as the threat to blow up a dam that would
apparently flood large sections of Central Asia if done so? Are you doing
anything to stop that?
MR. RUBIN: Fighting in Tajikistan continued today, following yesterday's
report of a force of 600 to 1,000 armed men led by Colonel Khudoiberdiyev
that attacked government facilities in the northern province of Leninabad
and captured the city. According to a government press statement, over 50
of the rebels have been killed while government forces have sustained 39
casualties and 29 wounded.
Today these forces announced a list of demands to the government, including
amnesty for political prisoners, creation of a state council in which they
hold 40 percent of the seats, and holding of a parliamentary session in
Khojand. These forces also began a drive south towards the capital, which
met little resistance. According to press reports, they have also occupied
the town of Aini, which is 140 kilometers north of Dushanbe.
The situation in the capital, Dushanbe, is reportedly calm. However, these
forces appear to be headed in that direction. The government has sent
reinforcements to the Anzob mountain pass, which is 100 kilometers north of
Dushanbe, and claims to be holding the pass.
The leader of these forces is not a member of the United Tajik Opposition.
Though these events threaten peace and stability, these actions are outside
of the context of the peace accords. The opposition has announced its
willingness to fight in support of the government, and the Commission for
National Reconciliation, which is made up of half government and half
opposition representatives, has publicly affirmed its support for the
government in this crisis.
That's the information I have right now. I can try to check on the dam
question that you raised.
QUESTION: The claims are that it would flood large portions of Central
MR. RUBIN: Yes, we'll try to check on that after the briefing.
QUESTION: Do you have an opinion - you've recounted the facts sort of as
you know them. Do you have - what would you prefer to happen?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we're not in favor of rebellions against those who have
tried to reconcile themselves after a bitter civil war. So these people are
acting in a way that we oppose.
QUESTION: To Russia, the food package was announced. What do you say to
ordinary Russians who view this as deeply humiliating - the fact that again,
the West is --
MR. RUBIN: We would hope that the reaction of ordinary Russians would be
to understand that what we're trying to do is help - that they have
problems that were identified by their government to us, requests were made
to us for assistance; and we're spending considerable sums and providing
considerable loans for a package that involves 3.1 million tons of food.
That would include wheat - 1.5 million metric tons of wheat - to provide it
as a grant for regions where there's a food deficit and to needy people;
1.5 million metric tons of commodities under a concessional loan, including
wheat and soybean and other products; and 100,000 tons of commodities to be
distributed through private, voluntary organizations.
We hope these discussions can be concluded this week. We are continually
assessing Russia's food situation and its ability to meet its needs. We
believe our assistance program will improve the food supply situation. We
remain prepared to consider additional assistance as well.
We provide countries that are in need food -- it's one of the principles of
the United States that we have carried out many times -- in response to a
formal Russian request based on the Russian Government's assessment, which
we have independently confirmed, that there are likely to be real
shortfalls in Russian food supplies this year.
Beyond responding to this appeal by their government, I think any views the
Russian people hold about this and any concerns they have about why the
Russian Government needed to make this request is not really for us to
speak to; it's something between the government and the governed.
QUESTION: You say you expect discussions about this to be completed. What
is to discuss?
MR. RUBIN: Well, there are some details related to a sound plan for
distribution, making sure there's monitoring and accounting for the food,
assure that US assistance is exempted from taxes and custom duties. These
are details for how the food would be provided and some of the terms under
which it would be provided.
QUESTION: Could I go back to your original announcement about Sudan and
the extension of the sanctions? Was there some specific action by the
Sudanese Government that prompted this renewal?
MR. RUBIN: On the contrary. We believe Sudan is a terrorist state. We
would love to have new action that would signal a lack of support and a
stopping of support for terrorist organizations.
In the absence of new policies by the government of Sudan, the President
renewed the existing sanctions.
QUESTION: Back up to the PKK question - I didn't quite hear the question,
but the PKK leader has gone public now; he's apparently in Russia and has
asked for political asylum there. Are you aware that he is actually
MR. RUBIN: I don't know that I'm in a position to confirm publicly his
whereabouts. But I can say we've asked the Russian Government to investigate
whether he is in Russia and to take the necessary steps to expel, deport or
extradite him immediately. No nation - and that means no nation - should
give sanction and succor to terrorists.
QUESTION: Where would you like to see him extradited to; to Turkey?
MR. RUBIN: I would have to check with experts on precisely where we would
want him to go. But we certainly wouldn't be concerned if he was wandering
around without a home.
QUESTION: Would you mind if he went back to Syria?
MR. RUBIN: We don't think any nation should give sanction to terrorists.
QUESTION: Is it a good thing that he has left Syria? Is that something
good that Syria did?
MR. RUBIN: To deal with that, I'd have to deal with whether and how and
to what extent I can describe our knowledge about his whereabouts. I'll
have to check that.
QUESTION: And have the Russians responded - when did you make the request,
roughly, and have they responded in any way?
MR. RUBIN: I don't have any information about a response.
QUESTION: And when it was made - the request.
MR. RUBIN: Recently.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:25 P.M.)