Read the Schengen Convention (19 June 1990) A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Thursday, 20 February 2020
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Interesting Nodes
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts

U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #127, 98-11-17

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


Tuesday, November 17, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

1,2		Ambassador Kartman's Travel/Readout of Discussions/Access
		  to Suspect Site

IRAQ 2 Reported Iraqi Army Offensive in southern Iraq 3,4 Resumption of UNSCOM Inspections/Pace and Specifics of Inspections 4,5 Role and Purpose of UNSCOM / Iraqi Full Compliance and Comprehensive Review

BOSNIA 5,6 Nomination of Republika Srpska Prime Minister/US Concerns

CAMBODIA/THAILAND 6 Comments on the death of Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 6 Knesset Vote on Wye Agreement 7 Travel Plans of Ambassador Ross

SERBIA (Kosovo) 7 Current Situation in Kosovo 7 Ambassador Walker's Mtgs. with President Milosevic 8 Ambassador Hill's Mtgs. with the KLA /Status of the cease-fire 8,9 Interim Arrangements for self-government

TURKEY 9 PKK leader Abdulah Ocalan's extradition/Request for Political Asylum


DPB #127

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1998 12:55 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I just wanted to let you know that I had a full night's sleep; I feel much better. This whole briefing is going to be on background. (Laughter.) Just kidding.

Fire away. No announcements.

QUESTION: Jamie, Kartman is in Pyongyang and there's nothing coming out of there that I've seen. Could you tell us, for instance, if he's getting any place brought up or getting any place on the site you want to look at? And is human rights on his agenda; and to what extent will he make an issue of human rights in North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: I believe the purpose of his trip is focused primarily on the subject of getting access to the site in North Korea that we are so concerned about. This is the site where there's suspicious activity which, if not resolved, would call into question the viability of the Agreed Framework.

Ambassador Kartman did meet in Pyongyang yesterday with the DPRK delegation led by Vice Minister Kim Guy Guan. The talks adjourned at the end of the day and will continue today. It's not possible to go into details of these discussions, as they're ongoing. But again, the subject of these discussions is the suspect underground construction, and we did make clear to the North Koreans during the first day of discussions that verbal assurances will not suffice. We're pressing for concrete actions, including access, to clarify the nature of the underground construction.

I do not believe human rights was intended to be part of this discussion, despite our long-standing concerns on the subject.

QUESTION: Did they respond or was it their day to listen?

MR. RUBIN: I'm sure they responded, but at this point, in the middle of talks, I can only provide to you the basic position of the United States.

QUESTION: Did Kartman feel that the message was received or --

MR. RUBIN: I really can't communicate to you the ongoing nature of a discussion like this. I can certainly tell you what our goals are; I can tell you that Ambassador Kartman pushed very hard for access; that we do not believe verbal assurances will be sufficient. But where we are - especially with negotiations with North Korea - often takes quite some time to know where one is, and certainly not in the midstream of these two days of talks.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - President's delegation give him a briefing on his talks?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that they intend to consult with the Secretary and the President's party and let them know where they are. I don't know about any plans or need for them to meet in person.

QUESTION: Is it still Kartman's position that he'll stay there only two days, or would he possibly extend just to get a firsthand look at the site?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I don't think anyone expects him to get a look at the site while he's there. This is not that kind of issue. We have no expectation that he's going to be able to immediately get the access we are demanding.

His schedule is for two days. I can't rule out that he decides to stay beyond that. But that's what his schedule is.

QUESTION: And he's only been talking to Kim Guy Guan?

MR. RUBIN: Well, there's a delegation led by the Vice Foreign Minister.

QUESTION: Are they meeting at the Foreign Ministry?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know where it's taking place, but it's in Pyongyang.

QUESTION: Jamie, you didn't mean to imply that the Secretary was going on the President's trip, did you?

MR. RUBIN: No -- consulting and reporting back to the Secretary and to the President's party about the status and content of the discussions.

QUESTION: On Iraq, maybe.

QUESTION: Well, I have a -- (inaudible) - one. There are reports of an Iraqi army offensive in Southern Iraq against marsh Arabs.

MR. RUBIN: I have no information on that; I'll have to check that for you.

QUESTION: The inspections, which, the latest word is that they are to begin tomorrow -- some experts say that initial inspections will only be a test; that it will take a couple or three months to really dig in and that's when Saddam's true intentions should be clear. Could you speak to whether you think there will really be an early test of his sincerity?

MR. RUBIN: The pace and specifics of any inspection are to be determined by Chairman Butler under his own authority and pursuant to his professional judgment as to what they need to know and what they need to pursue. Clearly, Ambassador Butler has already spoken to the importance of getting the necessary documents from the Iraqis, getting the cooperation that has been so sadly missing all these years.

UNSCOM is a very complicated operation and I don't want to presume to judge for them how quickly this could or would come to a head. The bottom line is Iraq can fail to cooperate at any stage. Certainly one of the early tasks is to check on the monitoring equipment and try to determine what information that monitoring equipment has provided, to try to ascertain other information and gradually try to get to the bottom of these numerous outstanding questions. But I wouldn't be in a position to put a time frame on that for you. That is really up to Ambassador Butler. But I could say, logically, at any moment Saddam Hussein could choose to thwart the inspectors and not provide them the cooperation they need; and we are taking this one day at a time.

QUESTION: What will happen if he does that?

MR. RUBIN: I think we've made quite clear our position on this. We are poised to act if there's not full compliance.

QUESTION: So there will be military strikes?

MR. RUBIN: I said we are poised to act if there is not full compliance.

QUESTION: Jamie, the suggestion that, in this interim period, he's probably moved a bunch of his stuff around, is that a view the Administration shares with the experts?

MR. RUBIN: Well, certainly our view of Saddam Hussein is laden with a heavy, heavy dose of skepticism about things he says and things he does. And certainly there has been no shortage of attempts by Saddam Hussein and his henchmen to try to deny information, access and cooperation to UNSCOM over the recent seven-year period, and only provide cooperation when confronted with irrefutable evidence or cornered by the work of UNSCOM inspectors or UNSCOM monitors.

So we have no illusions about their desire to try to mask their programs, hide their discrepancies; and that's why it is so important for UNSCOM to do its work. Let's remember what UNSCOM really does and what it doesn't do. There's some misunderstanding about this. UNSCOM gets proof. If UNSCOM cannot verify Iraq's declarations, we keep the pressure on Iraq to come clean and prove what it claims. The VX discovery, for example, is what we discover when UNSCOM applies scientific methods to verify what Iraq says.

We can also get new information. By continually pressuring Iraq and backing that up, UNSCOM forces Iraq to come out and admit things it has denied have ever existed. An example of this, obviously, was the offensive biological weapons program. Also, we get insurance: When UNSCOM is inspecting, it's a deterrent and a way of ensuring that it's harder for Iraq to begin to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction.

We've never claimed that UNSCOM has yet been able to uncover through simply stumbling upon whole treasure troves of data and equipment. Rather, what it does is, it corners the Iraqis and forces them to disclose their information. Sometimes people mistake the one for the other.

QUESTION: Jamie, you say indeed that this is an UNSCOM operation and that it's Chairman Butler's prerogative to decide one way or the other. But the President set down five criteria, benchmarks. So there is a strong US imprint on this operation. When, for instance, do you think the inspectors might get these lists that the President is demanding?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the President laid out things that the Secretary General has confirmed are his views of full compliance. That includes monitoring any sites they choose; providing free access; turning over all relevant documents; resolving outstanding issues; and not interfering with the independence or professional expertise of UNSCOM.

I am not saying that any one of those or any part of one of those is necessarily going to constitute action that will bring upon - what I'm saying to you is that when you put all that together - I almost got myself in trouble there, but pulled it right back in time.

When you put it all together, that is what full compliance is. And if Iraq wants a positive review during this comprehensive review, that is what it needs to do - be disclosing information, cooperating not only when it's cornered, but when it's asked. That constitutes full compliance. We will be poised to act if there is not full compliance, but I don't want to specify in advance what specific action will cause what result.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I understand; but I don't suppose China or Russia are waiting on pins and needles to see if Iraq complies. It's the United States which has taken the lead.

MR. RUBIN: The Secretary General has taken this view.

QUESTION: Well, it's become - all right, that's why I'm asking you if it's a UN operation - you understand. If the UN has adopted Clinton's criteria, then you mean any question about when do you get your list is for Butler and the UN to figure out?

MR. RUBIN: I'm sorry; I don't understand the question.

QUESTION: All right. The US has established tests for Saddam Hussein --

MR. RUBIN: That would constitute full compliance, right.

QUESTION: Right, which have been absorbed by the UN.

MR. RUBIN: That Secretary General Kofi Annan has confirmed are his views as well.

QUESTION: Does that mean the US has passed off to the UN judgment on whether Saddam is complying?

MR. RUBIN: No, I think what's important here is we think UNSCOM is returning with a stronger sense of international support for all of the things that I described to you than it might have had going in. By the Secretary General of the UN confirming that all of those steps constitute full compliance, any doubt that might have been in the minds of Iraqis or other countries about the extent to which the US and the UN had a meeting of the minds on what constitutes full compliance has been eliminated.

QUESTION: Non-essential personnel that was taken out of Israel and Kuwait, are they back?

MR. RUBIN: There has been no change in our authorized departure notice and order.

QUESTION: It was just a dozen, wasn't it?

MR. RUBIN: A couple of dozen we expected to take advantage of it. But the authorized departure, the order, has not changed.

QUESTION: If I understood you correctly, earlier you said the inspectors would go in and check monitoring equipment and ascertain information. It doesn't look like they'll be very aggressive.

MR. RUBIN: I don't know how you can possibly draw that conclusion. We expect UNSCOM and its inspectors to, as I - I was asked a question about how they will go about doing their work. If you've been gone for a while, the first thing you do is you check your equipment, check your materials, find out what's there; and then you go about setting up a plan of inspections. Any suggestion that they won't be aggressive -- I don't understand how you could draw that conclusion from what I said.

QUESTION: Bosnia. You issued a statement late yesterday, expressing objections about the nominee to be prime minister of Republika Srpska. You did not outline what it was about this fellow that bothers you. Do you have any detail on the background of this fellow?

MR. RUBIN: Well, for one thing, Bob Gelbard has been over there and has been working very closely with the various officials in Bosnia. Based on his assessment, we do not believe that the chosen candidate can receive the approval of the RS assembly.

Already there are press reports that the Serb People's Alliance and the Socialist Part of the Serb Republic have stated that Kalinic's nomination was a "waste of time" and his nomination would not have their support. We expect the process to take a little time to play out, and hope the President's next nomination will better represent the Assembly's majority views.

He is someone who is obviously not from the moderate majority that we're looking to see Bosnia become and this Republika Srpska become. So we believe that he's not committed to Dayton, based on our information.

QUESTION: You don't have any details about his --

MR. RUBIN: I may be able to get you some of that if you can hold just for a moment, there. He's the head of the Serb Democratic Party, which was founded in 1990 by Rodovan Karadzic, who has been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal, and is known for promoting ethnic intolerance. Therefore, we do not believe that this choice reflects the moderate majority within the Republika Srpska Assembly that was elected in September. He comes from an extremist party whose head is an indicted war criminal.

QUESTION: I'm not defending him in any way, but --

MR. RUBIN: I should hope not.

QUESTION: I mean, you certainly would - if they choose to endorse the nomination, that's their choice, is it not?

MR. RUBIN: Absolutely; and it's our choice to not support those who don't support Dayton. We will review our policies across the board in every way and it will redound to the great disadvantage to the people of the Republika Srpska if they end up with a prime minister who doesn't support Dayton and holds and propounds extremist positions.

QUESTION: New subject - anything on the whereabouts of Khieu Samphan?

MR. RUBIN: I've seen reports about this, but we do not, I believe, have any specific information. We're not able to provide independent confirmation of his death nor the cause of death. We're consulting with both the Thai and Cambodian Governments, and request they share with us any information they obtain.

QUESTION: On the Wye agreement, Chairman Arafat's clarification, I guess - what do you have to say about that?

MR. RUBIN: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken to this and regards it as a positive action. We hope very much and expect to see a strong vote of approval in the Knesset today - tonight - today our time, for the Wye agreement. We're very hopeful that in the coming days the Israelis will be fulfilling their part of their obligations under the Wye agreement. We think this issue is behind us.

QUESTION: As far as Mr. --

MR. RUBIN: I know that always makes it a little less interesting when things work out, but --

QUESTION: It depends on who you are. The Foreign Minister's comments - would you like to have seen a similar retraction?

MR. RUBIN: We've taken that issue up with the Israeli Government and made our views known.

QUESTION: Any calls - can you detail who's spoken to who?

MR. RUBIN: Ambassador Ross has been in the region; I've been in touch with him a couple of times. I think he's been in touch with both parties.

QUESTION: Is he going to come back today?

MR. RUBIN: I understand he's leaving very shortly and leaving his able deputy, Aaron Miller, in his place to continue to work on implementation of this.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary speak with Chairman Arafat yesterday?

MR. RUBIN: I don't believe so, no.

QUESTION: I had another question on a new subject. What can you tell us about Ambassador Hill's meetings in Pristina? And what is the current situation right now in Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: Tensions remain high in a few areas, particularly the Malisevo region. Yesterday our observers intervened in several potentially serious situations. By doing so, they averted possible confrontations between Serbian police and the KLA. In one case, a team near Malisevo helped Serbian police extract themselves from an ambush by the KLA. In another incident, the KDOM convinced Serbian police not to retaliate after they took fire.

Our observers, along with those of the European Union and others from UNHCR, are in the village of Ljubisda, near Prizren, today, to check reports that the village received an ultimatum from the Serb military to turn over arms and smugglers by today "or else." The else was not specified. Our personnel are increasing their presence in this particular village to reduce the potential for violence.

As you may know, Ambassador Walker met yesterday with President Milosevic for 90 minutes. He raised with Milosevic several issues of Serb non- compliance with the Kosovo agreements. He told President Milosevic that the verification mission will not allow itself to be intimidated by either side. In particular, he talked about an incident in which the Serb forces apparently fired in the direction of a monitor's vehicle, declaring this unacceptable. Although Milosevic insists that these were backfires from some car, we do not believe that was the case.

With respect to Ambassador Hill, he was in Kosovo. He met with KLA representatives to discuss the security situation, and he urged -- as we have from Washington - the Kosovar Liberation Army to exercise restraint and reduce their aggressive presence on the highways.

QUESTION: How would you characterize the cease-fire at this time? Is it holding?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I think it's holding. There are problems and there are going to be continual problems until we resolve the political - the crisis underlying this situation, which is the political crisis between the Kosovar Albanians and the Serbs. We don't expect anything other than having incidents that we're trying to deal with. That's what all these verifiers and monitors are trying to do, is to make sure that incidents don't spin out of control; that they get on top of them very quickly. So the cease-fire is, broadly speaking, holding; but there are problems in several areas.

QUESTION: Wire reports I read imply that Ambassador Hill's meetings with the KLA did not go very well.

MR. RUBIN: Well, it's never an easy task to talk to either side in this discussion - either the Serbs or the KLA. Ambassador Hill is a very able diplomat who works very hard to try to communicate the American position. We've made clear that if the KLA doesn't hold to the cease-fire and conducts provocations, that will negatively affect international support for their cause.

QUESTION: Did you see the quotes attributed to the lead the Kosovo Albanian negotiator, in which he said for the first time that he would be willing to allow Kosovo to remain part of Yugoslavia for a five-year period -- experimental period?

MR. RUBIN: I did see those quotes. Let me say that our objective has been to try to get an interim arrangement where, for some three-year period, the question of the permanent status of Kosovo is deferred, and the issue of specific autonomy and self-government is nailed down for those three years: where police and other functions are permitted to be run by the Kosovar Albanians, and their mechanisms are developed to ensure that there is no Serb veto over activities in Kosovo.

So the fact that some Kosovar Albanian leaders are starting to understand that an interim arrangement doesn't mean that the Kosovar Albanians need to forego permanently their aspirations, but rather is an interim solution that will bring them what they haven't had for more than a decade, which is real self-government in real ways, including their own police force, and that that can calm some of the tensions, return some of the rights that have been stripped, and put us in a position where maybe, after three years, it will be easier to resolve this long-standing question. So it's encouraging, but it's not by any means a breakthrough, given the difficulty of the situation.

QUESTION: Jamie, how much progress was made on that timeline that was set out, back, I think it was in September?

MR. RUBIN: We're still working on it.

QUESTION: But how much progress was made? I mean, there were certain things that had to be --

MR. RUBIN: Well, what happened was that President Milosevic made certain unilateral concessions. He specified positions he had never taken before by the date certain that was described -- including greater self-government, including police for the Kosovar Albanians. In the meantime we are now at the negotiating table, trying to bring the positions of the two sides together, and it is a difficult challenge, and Ambassador Hill is working on it daily. Certainly, the fact that some Kosovar Albanians are recognizing that there can be an interim solution without prejudice to their long-term aspirations is encouraging, but we've got a long way to go. This is a very difficult political problem to resolve.

QUESTION: About the PKK terrorist leader Ocalan's extradition to Turkey -- do you have any new developments on the subject from the US perspective?

MR. RUBIN: Only that we believe that this is something that should be worked out among Germany, Italy and Turkey; that known terrorists, should not be -- that we believe that they should be in jail and face the charges that they deserve. We believe this a terrorist organization; but we don't have a specific position we intend to state publicly about this, other than our view that terrorists should face charges for their crimes.

QUESTION: How about his request for political asylum?

MR. RUBIN: Again, this is an issue for those three countries, and I'd prefer to leave that for the three of them to work out.

QUESTION: You said earlier that you didn't think he should receive asylum anywhere. Is that not still the position?

MR. RUBIN: We do not believe that he should receive asylum. But with respect to a specific statement by a specific government on a specific issue, we do not want to take a position, other than to say that he should be extradited and brought to justice. Exactly how is for the three governments to decide.

QUESTION: Back to Constantinople?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we've checked and somebody told me there's a place in Texas called that. I haven't found any other.


QUESTION: Coming from Texas, I can tell you that's not true. It's Istanbul, Texas.


QUESTION: Thank you.

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

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
Back to Top
Copyright 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
All Rights Reserved.

HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
std2html v1.01b run on Tuesday, 17 November 1998 - 22:45:37 UTC