U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #123, 98-11-09
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
Monday, November 9, 1998
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1,17-18 Briefing on Upcoming Talks with DPRK on Suspect Underground
1-2 Contact Group Meeting Scheduled for Tomorrow
2 Peace Implementation Council Meeting in December
2-3,4,5-6 Prospects for the Use of Force in Iraq
3,4,5,6 Contacts With and Cooperation of European and Gulf State
4-5 Prospects for Unilateral Action Against Iraq
6-7 US Policy Goals Toward Iraq
7-9 Status of UNSCOM Inspections
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
9,10-11 Status of Israeli Cabinet Consideration of Wye Agreement
9-10 Actions by the Palestinian Central Committee and Executive
11 Travel Plans of Ambassador Ross to Region
11-13 Status and Extent of Sanctions
13-14 US Policy Toward Russia
14-15 Detention of Arab Americans/Consular Access
15-16 European Union and WTO Ruling re Banana Imports
16-17 General Pinochet Extradition Case
18 Taliban Deadline for Evidence Against Bin Laden
18-19 Travel by Secretary of Defense Cohen
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1998, 12:50 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: We have a sleeper in the corner there; can we wake him up?
Welcome to the State Department briefing. This is Monday, and it's good to
be here in the lion's den.
QUESTION: If you lie about that, you'll lie about anything.
MR. RUBIN: We have a briefing this afternoon on the upcoming talks with
the DPRK on the suspect underground construction talks scheduled for
November 16 through 18, Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.; which would be tomorrow,
considering that today is Monday.
QUESTION: Your special press officer is on that subject - a fellow
assigned only to DPRK talks?
MR. RUBIN: I don't know, but I'll check on that. I have no other
announcements, and I'd be happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, speaking of things coming up, you have what a meeting
tomorrow - Washington is the site tomorrow of a Bosnia Contact Group. Could
you explain a little bit?
MR. RUBIN: Yes. Ambassador Gelbard has been in the region, and he's going
to be talking more about that. He was in a position to assist in the
formulation of a governmental structure there in the aftermath of the
elections. He and some of his colleagues are going to be talking about that
and, obviously, the future of the many-faceted elements of our Bosnia
policy which has proved so far to have achieved many of its objectives.
That is the subject of the meeting.
These happen from time to time, where people review the progress and try to
coordinate their activities so that divisions of labor are created and the
right people are in the right place doing the right thing.
QUESTION: Is there any big decision looming?
MR. RUBIN: I don't see it.
MR. RUBIN: That's not my understanding. There is a December meeting of
the Peace Implementation Council in Madrid, and this Contact Group meeting
is designed to lay the groundwork for that meeting.
QUESTION: Where is the Contact Group meeting?
MR. RUBIN: I believe it's here.
QUESTION: In the building you mean?
MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get the location; presumably it would be in the
QUESTION: On Iraq, there's been a number of stories over the weekend
suggesting that the United States is on the verge of military action or
maybe not. I was just wondering if you could give some guidance as to
current policy toward Saddam Hussein.
MR. RUBIN: Well, I've seen a lot of different stories going in a lot of
different directions, and that sometimes happens.
But with respect to one of the elements of one of those stories - that is,
that somehow we've given up on UNSCOM - I think that is not our view. Over
almost eight years, the Security Council has clearly and repeatedly set out
Iraq's obligations through a series of UN Security Council resolutions.
Iraq must comply with these resolutions. The most recent resolution, 1205,
passed last week and it determined that Iraq is in flagrant violation
of its commitments to the world. Kofi Annan, on his trip, has also made
clear that he regards Iraq as being in flagrant violation.
What has happened in recent weeks is we've seen the coalescing and the
clarity of the entire world that Iraq is in non-compliance, that this
current problem is Iraq's fault. The blame of the whole world is resting
clearly and squarely on the doorstep of Iraq and the shoulders of Saddam
Clearly, for eight out of the last 12 months, UNSCOM has been unable to do
its work effectively for a variety of reasons due to Iraq's continued lack
of cooperation. But as I said, it is clear to everyone concerned, that Iraq
is responsible for this lack of cooperation and the reason why UNSCOM has
been unable to do its work.
The whole world has now called on Iraq to begin cooperation, to go back
into compliance, and, in fact, compliance is the only avenue for Iraq as we
move ahead. We also need to be sure that if cooperation is resumed, that
UNSCOM will be able to do its work effectively and without interference or
With respect to the question of military force, I have no new words to
offer you. I think everyone has been quite clear that there is a decision-
making process going on and pending the outcome of that process, I have no
new words to offer you.
QUESTION: If UNSCOM is not dead, why are the inspectors being withdrawn?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we've had opportunities in the past where UNSCOM
inspectors were withdrawn because of lack of Iraqi cooperation, and then
Iraq has capitulated on its stated position and UNSCOM has gone back in to
complete its work. They haven't been able to complete their work because
Iraq hasn't let them do so. So it's not a simple matter that because UNSCOM
is leaving that all the work is over.
QUESTION: Jamie, can you tell us, is there a difference between the state
of cooperation of our allies, European allies in the Gulf , at this
particular moment ,and the state of cooperation that existed in January-
February of this year? And, secondly, can you tell us about what happened
at Camp David -- specifically on the subject of Iraq -- this weekend?
MR. RUBIN: With regard to the second, that's easy. That was a meeting the
President held and it's up to the President and his people to talk about
such a meeting; other than for me to tell you that Secretary Albright was
there, that she regards this as a very grave matter and requiring the
utmost seriousness of discussion and planning. That is the basis on which
she was there.
With respect to your first question, I do think there's a difference. Under
Secretary Pickering and Secretary Albright together have been in touch with
a very large number of allies and friends around the world. To a country,
they are placing the responsibility for this crisis on Iraq's doorstep and
squarely on Saddam Hussein's shoulders.
In the past, there have been times when some countries have either made
excuses or at least repeated Iraq's arguments, and we are seeing little if
any of that this time around. So in that sense, I think Saddam has served
to unite the world against his policies and practices.
QUESTION: In your consultations, have you found the world also in favor
of your option of bombing Iraq?
MR. RUBIN: I have no comment on the use of force.
QUESTION: I'm sorry, Jamie, if I could just follow up. You say they all
are on board for condemning Saddam Hussein for not obeying UN resolutions.
Are they all also on board for a military option?
MR. RUBIN: I have no words to add on that subject.
QUESTION: Are you discussing any new diplomatic overture, or would you
think that would be appropriate at this time? Like the Secretary General of
the UN or --
MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard much discussion of that. Obviously, we're
talking to our friends in the region. We are not hearing much about that.
It's a pretty clear situation. Either Iraq is going to rescind its decision
and come back into compliance or it's not.
QUESTION: Well, how long is --
MR. RUBIN: We're not having a communication problem here; we're having a
policy problem , on his part.
QUESTION: Could you narrow this down at all? I mean, how long can you
sort of remain in these - how long do you think you can remain in this
pattern. The President and the Secretary of State are both going off to
Asia shortly. So presumably, you wouldn't take any action while they're
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't want to speculate on what decisions would be made
with respect to travel. All I can tell you is that the Secretary is
scheduled to leave on Thursday.
With respect to time, we have made very clear that Iraq must come into
compliance immediately. That's what the President said after the Security
Council made that very clear in its resolution. Beyond that, I don't have
much to add.
QUESTION: Jamie, I'm probably as guilty as anybody - there have been news
accounts that have said that only Britain stands solidly with the United
States on acting alone or the two of them acting if it comes to that. Is
that giving short shrift to some other NATO allies - Turkey and others -
who have habitually stood with the United States?
MR. RUBIN: It's a very effective way to get at Sid's question.
QUESTION: No, it isn't. Sid, I thought, had a legitimate question.
MR. RUBIN: Right, and I just can't answer it. I'm not going to repeat
what other countries' positions are on a question like the use of
With respect - let me try --
QUESTION: Is it as lonely as that might seem out there - that if it comes
to unilateral action, only the British will have the whatever it is - the
courage or the steadfastness - to side with the United States?
MR. RUBIN: It's a very legitimate question. Let me do the best I can in
saying as follows. Given the blatancy of Saddam Hussein's action and given
the wholesale non-cooperation that he has put forward and given our
consultations with other countries in Europe and around the world, we don't
QUESTION: But - and I keep saying unilateral - doesn't necessarily mean
just one nation. But if it's a narrow action just involving the US and one
or two or three other countries, does that make it more difficult to act
against Saddam? Does that muffle the message if he perceives that it hasn't
gotten wholesale support? Can you play one guy against the other?
MR. RUBIN: We have said that all options are on the table, that includes
a unilateral option, a semi-lateral option. So it's not a question of that
the way you put it. We're going to decide what we think is best to advance
the national security interests of the United States. When that decision is
made, we'll be in better position to talk about it.
QUESTION: Do you have the capacity to conduct a unilateral action at this
MR. RUBIN: Changes we have made to our forces in the region over the last
several months ensure that an adequate level of forces exists in the Gulf,
should their use be necessary.
QUESTION: Do you ask from Turkey any use of Incirlik Air Force Base, any
permission? The Secretary Cohen was there over the weekend. And also, are
you satisfied that the Turkish Government supports this subject?
MR. RUBIN: We believe that the whole world is making clear that it's on
our side and on the world's side against Saddam Hussein's failure to
With respect to any specific military cooperation issue, I have no
QUESTION: But Jamie, you look at the file and the Saudi Foreign Minister,
your great friend in the Persian Gulf - the US protects Saudi oil fields;
Americans have died to protect Saudi Arabia. There he is visiting your
other great friend of the Middle East, Hosni Mubarak, and he's announcing
that really what you need is a lot more diplomacy. Is there some dearth of
diplomacy to turn Saddam Hussein around, or have you been diplomatic
MR. RUBIN: We're not discouraged.
QUESTION: You're not discouraged. What do you think his message
MR. RUBIN: By what we're hearing from around the world. What we're
hearing from around the world is a clear and ringing call on Saddam Hussein
to reverse course - from every quarter, from every country. That is making
it very clear that it's Saddam Hussein against the world. That is what
we're hearing from around the world.
Beyond saying that, I have very little to offer you.
QUESTION: Are all options still open, including the option of military
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: What would be the goal of using military force?
MR. RUBIN: At this point, I do not want to begin down the road of
discussing the various pros and cons of using military force. And once you
begin to describe its objective, you find yourself quite naturally down
that road. I'm not in a position to be on that road.
QUESTION: Put it a different way, then, Jamie. You're engaged in a
process now with some idea of where you want to end up. Can you describe to
us where you want to end up - whether by force, by diplomacy or some other
MR. RUBIN: We have made very clear that until Iraq complies with the
requirements of the Security Council, it cannot get out from under the
sanctions regime and cannot regain its status in the world.
If Iraq does not cooperate with UNSCOM, sanctions will remain on indefinitely.
Clearly, UNSCOM has been unable to do its job for many months and for eight
of the last 12 months. That is a major concern; it's a grave matter. We are
considering our options on how to proceed.
Beyond saying that, I don't know how to answer your question.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary made any phone calls today or in the last,
say, 24 hours?
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say your objective is to have UNSCOM back up and
MR. RUBIN: Can we agree that this is a spare briefing?
QUESTION: On this subject.
QUESTION: Would it be fair to say that the US objective is to have UNSCOM
back up and running at full in Iraq, regardless of --
MR. RUBIN: That has been our objective for a long time; it's the whole
world's objective. There's nothing new about that.
QUESTION: And if UNSCOM is kicked out of Iraq then, obviously, that won't
MR. RUBIN: Obviously.
QUESTION: What would you do to --
MR. RUBIN: Are you trying to lead me down a certain path?
QUESTION: I'm trying to pull teeth here.
MR. RUBIN: Or put words in my mouth. You know how we love that.
QUESTION: And then if that happens, how do you maintain the checks on his
MR. RUBIN: Well, I've answered that question last week; I'm happy to
repeat it again today. If we have evidence that Saddam Hussein is
reconstituting his weapons of mass destruction, we will act. We have no
such evidence at this time.
QUESTION: Can we have a check on updating on any activity in the
inspection area - cameras. I know you consider it inadequate, but is there
anything that --
MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that UNSCOM, due to the fact that they
have been unable to do their job, has decided to reassign some of its
inspectors. UNSCOM has stated that five more inspectors left Monday, with
another ten scheduled to depart Wednesday. We also understand that over 100
inspectors will still be in Iraq after Wednesday.
QUESTION: How many?
MR. RUBIN: One hundred after Wednesday. Thus, UNSCOM remains fully
prepared to resume inspections if allowed by Iraq. UNSCOM decides which
inspectors to reassign based on the lack of activity. It is a fluid
situation, and we obviously think it's up to UNSCOM to report this.
The reassignment of inspectors reflects the situation in Iraq. There are no
UNSCOM inspections proceeding at this time.
QUESTION: Are the people being withdrawn being withdrawn without respect
to their nationality?
MR. RUBIN: UNSCOM decides which inspectors to reassign. We don't make
those decisions for them, and it reflects their expertise and professionalism
not, as far as I know, their nationality.
QUESTION: Is there unimpeded overflight access to Iraq to discern what
Iraq is doing with its weapons of mass destruction, if anything? And has
there been any challenge to U-2 flights?
MR. RUBIN: I understand that U-2 flights have flown previously. I don't
know when the next one is scheduled; I'll have to check that for you.
Obviously, we have our own ways of seeing what's going on there.
QUESTION: Satellite as well, I take it.
MR. RUBIN: We have our own national technical means.
QUESTION: To what extent does UNSCOM now have to change its method of
operation, to the extent you can talk about this from the podium? The Scott
Ritter case has been widely reported now and his methods of operation.
MR. RUBIN: I was wondering - we had 25 questions without that; but go
QUESTION: The lengthy and exhaustive disclosures of how he operated would
suggest that that kind of operation is now finished. I mean, can UNSCOM
continue operating without using the kinds of methods that he was using?
Doesn't it have to reconfigure itself completely and --
MR. RUBIN: UNSCOM has always been much larger than any one inspector or
any one method of operation. UNSCOM is a very complex operation that has
many parts to it. Each of the parts may have their own views how important
a part they are to the operation. But Ambassador Butler and Ambassador
Ekeus before them have made clear that UNSCOM has been doing its job, even
when sometimes there is frustration at the lower levels on particular
Let's remember that the best way forUNSCOM to get its job done is for
Saddam Hussein to disclose the weaponry that has not been disclosed before.
No matter how wily or sophisticated or thoughtful an inspector is, we do
not believe that it's necessarily true that those inspectors are going to
miraculously happen upon all of the treasure trove of Iraqi documents and
materials. This is a systemic process that has to work with a myriad of
activities and not one single activity.
There's been a focus on one single activity, I think much to the detriment
of the enormous work and hard work and serious work done by hundreds of
other people who have been maligned by suggestion that their work was
irrelevant. Their work isn't irrelevant. Their work is extremely important.
The whole world thinks their work is extremely important, and that's why
the whole world is demanding that Iraq cooperate.
QUESTION: Didn't Ritter's disclosures, in his various interviews, in any
way affect UNSCOM's ability to carry on its inspections? Did they in any
way affect US policy?
MR. RUBIN: Well, they haven't affected our policy. It's certainly given
some talking points to some of the anti-UNSCOMers in the world. He
certainly played into the hands of those who would have believed that this
was somehow a spy operation, when in fact it was something mandated by the
international community through the Security Council where information was
specifically sought from countries around the world pursuant to a
Security Council Resolution and that information was supposed to be
There was a call in the original resolutions for all countries of the world
to provide information to UNSCOM so that they could do their job. The fact
that this is exaggerated and put in mysterious terms has tended to give
arguments to people that are the very arguments that Saddam Hussein has
been pursuing for some time. But it's more about arguments than it is about
QUESTION: So in some sense Saddam Hussein, if you have read the extensive
pieces that were even published on him, you would have reason to think that
there was a spy operation whether a rogue spy operation or a spy operation
going on. I mean, I don't know whether he uses this as an excuse, but could
he draw that conclusion?
MR. RUBIN: Now you want me to speak for Saddam Hussein? That's a job I
definitely don't want.
QUESTION: Jamie, back to the Middle East; last week the Secretary
expressed that the Israeli Cabinet would begin prompt consideration of the
Wye agreement right after the Sabbath. Obviously that hasn't happened. Has
she been in touch with the Israelis? Is Ambassador Ross going back?
MR. RUBIN: I think you've misunderstood what the Secretary said. She
didn't ask for it to happen -- today is Monday, the Sabbath ended on
Saturday; that's two days. She didn't specify that it should begin
QUESTION: No, I didn't say two days.
MR. RUBIN: You said obviously that what she asked for hasn't happened;
and so presumably you must have thought she asked for it to have happened
by today. All I'm saying is that's not what her view was; and if it wasn't
communicated well by me, I apologize for that.
In the wake of last week's bombing it is understandable that there would be
a short pause. We do believe that it is important that the Israeli
Government resume the political legal process soon and carry out its
responsibilities under the terms of the Wye Memorandum. By next week, it is
possible for both sides to carry out all the steps that were envisioned in
the first part of the Wye Memorandum timeline.
In this regard, let me say the Palestinians have begun to meet their
commitments. They have resumed full security cooperation and begun other
security steps. The PLO Executive Committee has affirmed Chairman Arafat's
letter to President Clinton, and they have designated representatives to
all the committees including the anti-incitement committee. Other steps
need to follow, but they have taken and begun meeting their commitments in
the way I just specified.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that he has committed to advancing the
agreement, and we expect that the Israeli Government will move ahead
QUESTION: The PLO action in this Executive Committee -- is that, from the
US Government point of view, satisfactory? Does that fulfill the letter and
spirit of the Wye Agreement?
MR. RUBIN: Yes, because if you look at the agreement -- which I now keep
by my bedside every night so that I know it as well as possible -- by week
two the Executive Committee and the Palestinian Central Council were
supposed to reaffirm the January 1998 letter. This is week one, by the
technical schedule of last Monday, and so this is one step in the
There's another step in the process which is the action of the Palestinian
Central Committee and then, ultimately, on week six, the meeting of the
invited members of the PNC and other organizations to reaffirm the annulled
clauses once and for all from Chairman Arafat's letter.
QUESTION: The other day, the PLO representative in Washington said that
there would be no vote in appeal in the PNC because it is not feasible to
reconstitute a legislative body which hasn't met for years. Would your
understanding of the Wye agreement make it clear that there has to be a
MR. RUBIN: I do understand the Wye agreement, having it by my bedside
every night; and what the Wye agreement makes clear is that the process
leads to the reaffirmation of Chairman Arafat's letter. It specifies that
members of the PNC, the Palestinian Council and the heads of Arafat's
ministries will be invited to a meeting which President Clinton will
The purpose of this meeting is to reaffirm Chairman Arafat's January 22
letter to President Clinton, nullifying each of the Charter's provisions
that are inconsistent with the PLO's commitments to renounce terror and to
recognize and live in peace with Israel. This process of reaffirmation,
which will include relevant procedures, will make clear once and for all
that the provisions of the PLO charter that call for the destruction of
Israel are null and void. We believe it will do so in a way that satisfies
the needs of the Israelis.
QUESTION: Relevant procedures in the agreement or is that your --
MR. RUBIN: That word is not in the agreement - "relevant procedures."
That is our understanding it will be relevant procedures to reaffirm.
QUESTION: So the US is getting closer to saying that they have to take
some action; the can't just say uh-huh. That sounds like a legal - now, I
agree that the agreement is vague on the point. It sounds like Israel gave
a little ground on that. But they were asking for nullifying the provision
or nullifying the Charter. What the agreement calls for is reaffirmation.
Now, you're talking about relevant procedures. Is a vote one of your
MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to start parsing what relevant procedures are
five weeks ahead of the meeting.
QUESTION: Nice of you to throw it in, though. Can I ask you - no, because
that elaborates on it - can I ask you a more direct and immediate
MR. RUBIN: But apparently it wasn't enough, however nice it was for me to
throw it in.
QUESTION: Your long statement before Jim got into questions causes a
direct question here. Is it the State Department's position, contrary to
virtually all press reports from the region which began almost before
Netanyahu got home, that Israel is not at this point delaying implementation?
The fact that they didn't take it up at the Cabinet meeting Friday or take
it up Sunday - are they still in compliance? In other words, is it not
until next week that the clock actually ticks as to on-the-ground
actions Israel is supposed to take? I know you want them to act -
you keep saying that - and you give the Palestinians good grades for
what they've done so far. But is Israel so far delaying implementation or
MR. RUBIN: I'm having a tough day keeping my smiles in.
QUESTION: No, that's a very straightforward question. They're accused
regularly of delaying implementation. And I think you're saying, we'd like
them to act quickly but they haven't done anything wrong yet.
MR. RUBIN: We believe that if they act soon, they will be able to act in
time to implement on schedule the timeline of the Wye Memorandum.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: You didn't answer the question of whether Ambassador Ross is on
his way back.
MR. RUBIN: No, he's not on his way back to the region .
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - request for a little precision. In the first of
your series of answers, you said --
MR. RUBIN: I think I've been really precise today. I'm very careful to be
QUESTION: You said by next week. Does that mean by the beginning of the
week, by the end of the week? Can you --
MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check the schedule, but we do believe that if
they act soon they'll be able to be acting in conformity with the timeline,
which you can see for yourself, on all the relevant provisions.
QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit more about how the decision was made
to waive the sanctions on India and Pakistan, given the comments that
Deputy Secretary Talbott made in his speech on Thursday, I guess it was,
when he said specifically that he wasn't sure that you could be successful
in actually turning this whole thing around, and the fact that, clearly,
they haven't gone as far as you'd like them to go?
MR. RUBIN: Let me first say that I agree with Deputy Secretary Talbott
that it is not clear that we are going to be able to get all the way there.
The logic, however, is that we wanted to respond positively to positive
actions on their part.
In two of the four categories - that is, India and Pakistan declaring a
moratorium on further testing and publicly committing to move towards
adherence to the CTBT by September 1999 - both have agreed also to expand
controls on sensitive materials and technology and strengthen their export
control regimes. Those are two of the relevant categories. In addition,
they will participate in fissile material cut-off negotiations, and finally,
the discussion of Kashmir in the Indo-Pakistani dialogue. Those were
several things that we had specified.
There are other things that we've specified where they still fall
significantly short of our objectives, including restraints on further
development and deployment of nuclear missile systems. That's an example of
where we still have a lot of work to do.
But because the areas where I defined progress constitute, in our view,
real and substantive progress, and because we want to create the maximum
climate possible to create progress in the remaining areas, we decided to
limit the extent of the coverage of the sanctions. So there are still
sanctions in place - significant sanctions that are in place; but some have
been suspended or waived or adjusted. That is, in our view, a very flexible
and carefully-crafted approach that's designed to induce and promote
additional progress on these extremely important issues on deployment on
missiles and nuclear weapons - rather, restraints on the deployment
of those weapons.
So the logic here is you want to respond positively to their positive
actions, but not clear the slate because there are still significant gaps
and significant problems that we want to overcome.
QUESTION: But substantively, there doesn't seem to have been much new
since the UN speeches. I mean, the new things, the new factors that I'm
aware of are an election here and the impending visit of the Pakistani
Prime Minister. So I'm just sort of puzzled as to why you didn't make a
MR. RUBIN: I understand your question; I just wouldn't see the timing the
way you do. Government doesn't work as quickly sometimes as you all work
and other experts outside can just write their opinion on a piece of paper
and then it's done. In their view, it should just happen the next morning.
Government, on the other hand, has to weigh all the relevant factors.
People sit down and discuss it so we think through all the consequences.
In recent weeks, they've been doing that; and the conclusion was that with
respect to OPIC and TDA and Ex-Im - that is, the economic relationships -
and with respect to the IMET program, the military relationships, that we
were better off responding positively and promoting better responses in the
But I wouldn't see it as linked to an event in the last two weeks, but
rather the logical conclusion. If you recall when this first happened and
there were first signals that we were going to get authority from Congress
to do such a thing -- that was many, many months ago -- I said from the
podium on behalf of the government, that we would respond positively to
positive actions on their part.
This action we've now taken is the implementation of that policy formulation
from many, many months ago.
QUESTION: You also said that Pakistan had to have an appropriate
stabilization agreement with the IMF for the United States to go forward;
and that hasn't yet come to closure.
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't think we've decided anything other than if such
an agreement can be agreed on, that we would be supportive of multilateral
development banks assisting in that. So we haven't made a judgment on
behalf of the IMF.
QUESTION: Deputy Secretary Talbott also gave a speech on Friday
MR. RUBIN: There have been a lot of speeches on Russia - Larry Summers
today, Secretary Albright a couple weeks before that. Do you want me to
repeat the elements of these speeches?
QUESTION: No, no.
MR. RUBIN: I hope not, because I don't have them all in front of
QUESTION: No, just the broad policy. It appears that there's a new policy
now towards Russia. If so, could you state that policy?
MR. RUBIN: I'm always told that we never have new policies.
MR. RUBIN: There has never been a change and nothing moves that quickly.
Having stated that --
QUESTION: How do you feel about the czar?
MR. RUBIN: Having stated that, I think we've made clear that in the case
of Russia, that we are concerned about some of the indicators that we're
seeing in the economic area. We are concerned that the kind of plans being
formulated are ones that focus too much on having a large state role in
economic decision-making and that provide for large budget deficits. We
think this is unlikely to create a favorable condition for growth and
investment, and we think the plans that we've seen tend too much on trying
to spend one's way out of very real structural problems.
We would prefer to see focus on restraining the budget deficit, stabilizing
the exchange rate, fighting inflation, restructuring the banking sector,
restarting the payment system and finding cooperative ways to address
obligations to private creditors.
So I think beginning with Secretary Albright's speech in Chicago, where she
identified very clearly our views on Russia and its evolution, we've stated
in a very hard-nosed way what we think is necessary in order for us to be
supportive. That is not new, but it is certainly in the context of
different decision-making in Russia. Remember, what's changed here is the
decision-making in Russia and which directions they're signaling, not so
much the American goals.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up - Talbott's speech went well beyond the
economic relationship. He talked about chaos in the Soviet Union and a
reassessment of the United States' strategic position towards Russia -
diplomatic, strategic and military position towards Russia. It was really
quite an alarming speech if you read it closely. I mean, is that taking it -
MR. RUBIN: I am a strong advocate of close reading of Deputy Secretary
QUESTION: But he's only the Deputy Secretary; he's not the President,
he's not the Secretary of State. I mean, is that --
MR. RUBIN: And I have no reason at this time to quibble with any of the
words that he's chosen to describe the situation. Sometimes I think you all
may confuse characterizations of the future and possible futures with
changes in policy. We have always known that there are possible futures in
Russia that are quite alarming. That is simple analysis and careful
analysis, and they undergird what it is that we're doing.
So I wouldn't over-interpret the fact that Deputy Secretary Talbott laid
out difficulties Russia could face and problems that Russian actions could
cause themselves and others. That's been part and parcel of our policy from
the beginning. I don't see anything new about that.
QUESTION: Can you just give us a little guidance on how far you would
interpret this comment by Talbott; and that is that "the US-backed
financial help from the IMF must wait until the Russian Government shows
itself willing and able to make the difficult structural adjustments
necessary for recovery and growth." Are you saying that you are going to
actually vote against IMF actions on behalf of Russia? Are you counseling
the IMF to hold off on any further tranches of the current commitment? Are
you saying you're not going to vote for loans in the future? Where
exactly are you coming down on that?
MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get you - talk to Deputy Secretary Talbott and
see how he would like me to characterize that sentence. But there's nothing
new about that; that's what I just said to you from here, it's what
Secretary Albright said in Chicago, it's what Deputy Secretary of the
Treasury, Larry Summers, said today. That has been part and parcel of what
we've been doing all along, which is only as the IMF is able to come up
with a credible plan has our support been forthcoming. That strikes me as
very little different than anything we've said before.
QUESTION: Jamie, this morning a group of Arab-American and human rights
groups had a press conference to talk about the case of an 18-year-old
American-born American citizen of Palestinian ancestry who was arrested
several months ago in Israel and subjected to what the Israelis call
moderate physical pressure. The US was denied consular access. The question,
I guess, is have you had problems with the Israelis in getting consular
access to American citizens who have Arab-sounding names?
MR. RUBIN: Let me try to check with our Consular Affairs Bureau and get
you a considered answer on the patterns in this area.
QUESTION: And if I could ask a follow-up on that, this same group called
for a travel advisory to tell Americans with Arab or Islamic-sounding names
that they could not be protected by the American Embassy in Israel. Is
there any plan to do that?
MR. RUBIN: We'll add that to the question.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: I have a question - many times the Secretary expresses her big
interest in religious freedom issues. I'm wondering if the State Department
has a reaction on the events surrounding the theological school in --
(inaudible) - Istanbul.
MR. RUBIN: I did see some material on that; that is still being worked
on. Let me try to get you something after the briefing.
QUESTION: The Europeans are very exercised about possible sanctions
against - under Super 301 statutes because of the continuing dispute over
MR. RUBIN: Miscellaneous four, bananas.
QUESTION: Right. Maybe it wasn't a deadline, but the due date for making
the decision, I think, was yesterday. Has there been a US decision on Super
301 sanctions against the Europeans?
MR. RUBIN: We have begun the process for developing the list for possible
retaliation against the European Union if it does not comply with the WTO
ruling. We would have preferred to have a negotiated consistent with the
WTO solution to this problem, and remain willing to sit down with the EU to
I can't speculate how or when we might retaliate against the European Union
earlier. We would have preferred a negotiated settlement, and we've begun
the process of developing a list for possible retaliation. I will check and
see whether that has advanced along.
QUESTION: Is there any goal for when this list would be complete?
MR. RUBIN: Let me check on that for you.
QUESTION: Does retaliation seem inevitable now; is that what you're
MR. RUBIN: We would still prefer a negotiated WTO-consistent solution to
QUESTION: But it doesn't look like it.
MR. RUBIN: So far.
QUESTION: A question on Pinochet - the lords are considering the case
right now. There are a lot more extradition requests that have come in to
the British Government. But so far as I know, none has come from the United
States. There has been some discussion, apparently, in the Justice
Department on whether to request his extradition. Can you give your view on
MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that the spokesman for the Justice
Department made very clear that that was being done at lower levels.
With respect to our view, we are very understanding of the emotions and
concerns that a case like this has generated. Certainly, in different parts
of the world, human rights abuses like the ones we have condemned that
occurred during Chile's awful period have been resolved in different ways
in different parts of the world -- whether it be by a truth commission in
El Salvador, by the recent steps that have been taken in South Africa.
There are many different ways in which different parts of the world resolve
these problems. We have certainly been at the forefront of those who
have talked about and made clear the extent to which abuses occurred in
But it remains our position that the United States will not state publicly
how a legal question between Spain and the UK and Chile should be
QUESTION: The American case itself, which is certainly the Letelier
events alone would justify it, it would seem, some kind of extradition
MR. RUBIN: There has been no policy decision by senior US officials to
request Pinochet's extradition from the UK. It remains our position that
the Spanish extradition request for Pinochet is one between the UK, Spain
QUESTION: Is the United States considering requesting his extradition? If
you've made no decision, is it under consideration?
MR. RUBIN: All I can tell you about this is there were some reports on
Friday that the Justice Department had opened an investigation of Pinochet.
And I believe their spokesman clarified on Friday that this was something
being done at lower levels. I certainly know that in this building there
has been discussion of this issue. It's a natural State Department issue of
how we should respond to the Spanish public extradition request. What
I can tell you is that we have not made a decision to request Pinochet's
extradition from UK. When I say that we have been discussing it, I don't
mean to say that we were discussing seeking his extradition. That would be
something the Justice Department would have to do; and their spokesman has
indicated that this is being done at the lower levels.
I'm merely stating the obvious -- that given the well-known aspects of this
case and the very strong feelings people have about human rights and the
very strong steps that we have taken to condemn them where we see them --
that we are aware of the issue and have talked about it, but have concluded
that it is not for us to publicly say how such an extradition request
should be handled by other courts.
QUESTION: What is your understanding of what lower levels means in
MR. RUBIN: I will have to check. Call him up - Burt is a hell of a guy;
I'm sure he'll tell you.
QUESTION: This might be on your agenda for tomorrow, but the fact that
the North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman came out and said we will not
tolerate any types of inspections of the underground site, prior to the
meeting tomorrow or the briefing tomorrow, do we feel competent that the US
delegation will be able to inspect that underground facility? Do you have
any comment on this subject?
MR. RUBIN: I have specifically steered you all away from the idea that
this delegation is going to have a short stop in Pyongyang on the way to
this underground facility. On the contrary, given our experience with North
Korea, we do not expect them to instantly provide what we have said is
required. That is, verbal assurances are not sufficient for us; we need on-
site inspections. And in the absence of clarification on this issue, it is
one that is important enough that it could call into question the
viability of the agreed framework.
So our people are going to work very hard at trying to get access, and they
are going to make clear that access is a necessity. But the idea that they
are going to quickly achieve that from the North Koreans has not been
something we have taken as a given.
QUESTION: So we have no expectations of seeing that site prior to leaving
MR. RUBIN: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: Is it your understanding that the North Koreans have asked for
a cash payment in exchange for access?
MR. RUBIN: It isn't new for North Korea to put out rather dramatic
positions like that, calling for compensation for providing information
necessary to see the agreed framework lived up to. In previous discussions
in New York leading up to this agreement to have this meeting, they did
raise subjects like that; that's not new for us. Given that kind of posture,
it's why we don't expect to see this resolved because we don't intend to
pay money to see whether they are living up to their obligations under
the agreed framework.
We have said that failure to live up to the agreed framework could have
negative consequences; and by contrast, we've also said in the past that if
on the missile issue and on this issue and several other issues there was
progress, we could see an improvement in the relationship down the road.
But the idea of a cash bribe like that is simply not on the table -- not on
our side of the table.
QUESTION: A housekeeping question, Jamie, you said there's a briefing
today -- where and when?
MR. RUBIN: It's tomorrow. I got my days wrong.
QUESTION: Apparently the Taliban has set a deadline of November 20 for
the United States to prove that Bin Laden is a terrorist or else they are
going to consider the case resolved or in his favor. What do you have to
say about that?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I mean, it doesn't sound very serious to me. The federal
district court handed down an indictment on this and other issues. These
facts speak for themselves. The real issue is not as described by the
Taliban; the real issue is why the Taliban continues to provide safe haven
to Osama Bin Laden. We have made clear to the Taliban on several occasions
that it must stop harboring well-known terrorists like Osama Bin Laden.
We believe that Osama Bin Laden should be brought to justice swiftly for
his crimes, and any suggestion that one needs -- that this has expiration
date, there is no expiration date on terrorist acts of this kind.
QUESTION: So are you planning any new consultations with the Taliban to
try to, I don't know, give them a copy of the indictment or explain it to
them or anything like that?
MR. RUBIN: We have been in touch with the Taliban from time to time,
urging them to do the right thing here. They have not done so as yet. We
will continue to talk to them, but I wouldn't be in a position to specify
what exactly we would say in such a diplomatic channel.
QUESTION: Would it be inappropriate for a country where an extradition
has been requested to ask for evidence supporting the extradition
MR. RUBIN: We don't recognize the Taliban as the leader of Afghanistan.
So you can't start using state-based analogies with me.
QUESTION: Okay, well, then don't call them a country; call them the
people that run the neighborhood. Would it still be inappropriate to give
them -- I mean, they do have the ability to produce him. Would it be
inappropriate to present them with evidence?
MR. RUBIN: We would make the decision as to what we would think would
best serve our purposes; and I'm not prepared to speak about it publicly.
QUESTION: The diplomatic part of the mission of Bill Cohen, is --
MR. RUBIN: We're back on Iraq?
QUESTION: No, no, we're back on what he did before he had to fly back to
the States. He has got a very serious negotiation in Japan and some in
Korea as well. Do you know when or if he will be back to do that?
MR. RUBIN: I would recommend you speak to Secretary Cohen's people about
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:45 P.M.)