Read the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the Accession of Greece and Turkey (October 22, 1951) 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
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #128, 98-11-18

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


786

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Wednesday, November 18, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

STATEMENTS
1		Anthony Lake's mission to Africa / Bombing in Sudan 

NORTH KOREA 1,2 (Kartman's trip )Possibilities of Follow-on Meeting/Commitment to Access/Issue of Compensation 2,3 Terms for Access of Site/Issue of Nuclear Activities Taking Place/Agreed Framework 3,4 Perry's Role in Discussions/President's Travel to Region/Wide Gaps 13 Resumption of Missile Talks

GREECE 4 Issue of Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

SERBIA 4 Direct Meetings Between Serbs and Albanians/Hill's Meetings with Albanians on Draft Interim Settlement Plan 5 Possibility of Serbs Rejecting Draft/Issue of Statehood

IRAQ 5,6 Britain's Plan to Have a Meeting with Opposition Groups/US Supports Meeting/US Involvement/Arab Support-Characterization 6,7 UNSCOM Inspections and Time Tables/Priorities of UNSCOM/Access to Documents and Relevancy/SecState Contacts with Other Countries 7,11 US Concerns of Iraqi "tip-off"' of the Use of Force 7,8 Using Civilians as Targets/Did US Give a Deadline 9,10 Unanimous Support to US position for Use Force/Isolation of Iraq/US View on Hussein Standing Trial for Crimes Against Humanity/Tragedy against Kurds in Halabja 10,11 US Support for Seminar Being Held by Washington Kurdish Institute 10 UN Group Concern for Chemical Warfare's Agreement Not signed by Iraq and Israel 12,13 Issue of War Crimes and Hussein/US Doubts that Hussein Will Ever Comply/Easing of Sanctions in the Event Hussein Will Stand Trial

TURKEY 8,9 US Position on Ocalan's Extradition/Ocalan Must Face Justice/US Supports Ocalan's Extradition to Turkey/Why US Chose Turkey for Place for Extradition/Possibility of Rome Granting Asylum/International Human Rights Treaties/Italy's Law of Not Extraditing to States with Capital Punishment 8,11 Ocalan's and PKK's repudiation of Terrorism/US Skepticism of Ocalan


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #128

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1998, 12:30 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: A couple of housekeeping matters - I hope you'll notice, first of all, the on-time performance here today, and hope you're as pleased as I am about that.

We have a number of statements that we'll be putting out after the briefing - one on the Lebanon Monitoring Group, another on former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake's mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea, a statement condemning the bombing in Sudan of a hospital by the government forces, a notice on a background briefing this afternoon on new photo-digitized passports.

With respect to the rest of the week, there will be a briefing tomorrow and then on Friday, I expect Secretary Albright to have a joint press availability with NATO Secretary General Solana in the late morning hours.

Let me begin with the subject of North Korea. A US delegation led by US Special Envoy for the Korean peace talks, Ambassador Charles Kartman, met in Pyongyang November 16 through 18 with North Korean officials to discuss the serious concerns the United States has about suspect underground construction in North Korea. The DPRK delegation was headed by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan.

During the two days of intensive discussions, the US laid out our serious concerns about construction activities in Kumchangni, North Korea, and reasserted the need for access to the site and other steps necessary to resolve our concerns. Although we worked to resolve these concerns, I cannot say that we were satisfied with the response we received. At this point, we did agree to meet again as soon as possible, and we will settle the details, including the location, through the normal means - the so- called New York channel.

QUESTION: Do you have more details on the nature of the North Korean response?

MR. RUBIN: Well, first of all, they obviously denied they were - as expected - engaged in any prohibited nuclear activities. We did not get access on terms we find acceptable; and that's what we're going to be working on.

The goal of these discussions was to firmly impress on the North Korean side the gravity of this issue and through the Foreign Ministry officials to the North Korean leadership, the gravity of this issue. We pressed hard for clarification of the nature of the site at Kumchangni, and we supplied our ideas on how the North Koreans could resolve our concerns, including the necessity of access to the site.

We've expected that this would be difficult, and we told the North Koreans, as we've said before, that verbal assurances - as they are wont to give - are simply unacceptable. We told them that access to the site is essential.

This is an ongoing process. There was no expectation that we were going to resolve it right away. What the goal was, was to get the leadership in North Korea focused on the gravity of our concerns and the serious consequences for our relations, should our suspicions not be resolved. We hope and expect the North Koreans will reflect on that message, and we'd obviously like to have a follow-on meeting quickly because of the importance we attach to this matter.

QUESTION: Jamie, what happens if you don't get a follow-on meeting quickly?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we have reason to believe we will get a follow-on meeting. But if we don't resolve our concerns, we've said before that failure to resolve our concerns will affect the viability of the agreed framework because of the seriousness with which we regard the suspicions we have on this underground facility.

QUESTION: You said you didn't get a commitment to access on acceptable terms. Did you get an offer on access on any terms whatsoever?

MR. RUBIN: Well, as we expected, the North Koreans brought up the issue of compensation and we flatly rejected that.

QUESTION: Do you have any figure on that?

MR. RUBIN: It's so not on as a possibility that I don't care to get into the figures.

QUESTION: So basically they offered to do it in exchange for some dollar amount?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't want to characterize their position in general. I've described to you very specifically what's gone on. The short version of this is we have not yet achieved terms for access to the site in a way that we find acceptable.

QUESTION: Did they agree to another meeting?

MR. RUBIN: We have reason to believe that another meeting will happen, and we're going to work on the venue through the New York channel.

QUESTION: So, Jamie, the US delegation is going back to Pyongyang again?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is they will be fanning out to Seoul, to Tokyo and to China -- different members of the delegation -- to brief those governments on the status of this issue. I'm not going to speculate on where and when that meeting will take place, other than we'd like to see it happen quickly.

QUESTION: While they're mulling over whether or not to have a follow-on meeting, could they not change or modify anything in the underground complex that would change --

MR. RUBIN: I think we've spoken to this issue as far as we can with respect to our concerns about this. We have stated that we don't yet believe it is a violation of the agreement, and we want an agreement to meet quickly so that we can resolve this issue before we reach that stage.

QUESTION: Jamie, about the agreement, the original framework agreement, does that deal with the one site where you believe they were developing nuclear weapons, or in the US interpretation does it deal with any nuclear activities undertaken by North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to parse the agreement because I don't have it in front of me. But certainly if nuclear activities were taking place in North Korea, it would go against the entire letter and spirit of the objectives of the agreement and it would affect the viability of the agreement.

QUESTION: Jamie, Kartman and company were there for three days. Were there discussions on other issues?

MR. RUBIN: As I understand it -- I spoke to Ambassador Kartman earlier this morning -- the actual sessions took place over two days. There were 12 hours worth of meetings; they were all at the Foreign Ministry; and they were all on this subject. I'm not excluding that in the margins other issues arose, because they often do; but the focus and the subject matter was this issue.

QUESTION: Jamie, apart from the compensation issue, is there any other obstacle to access?

MR. RUBIN: I'd rather not get into the details on this issue at this time. Obviously, it's an ongoing discussion and what's important is that we get the kind of on-site access that we think we need to assure ourselves that there is no activity that would affect the viability of the agreement.

QUESTION: Isn't Perry going to step in at some point?

MR. RUBIN: I've put out a statement, I believe last week or earlier this week, on the announcement of former Secretary of Defense Perry, also former Deputy Secretary of Defense Perry, who is joining in this effort, and we spoke to his specific responsibilities. I expect him to be in the Department in the coming days, working with Secretary Albright and others to begin the process of reviewing the issues.

QUESTION: Will Kartman brief the President in person?

MR. RUBIN: I believe he is going to Seoul to brief ROK leaders there. We will be, obviously -- the party has NSC officials on it and will be communicating the results of this trip, this discussion, to the White House. I'm not aware of any direct briefing by Ambassador Kartman of the President, but I couldn't rule it out.

QUESTION: Can you say that the North Koreans, then, agreed in principle to inspection just to work out the --

MR. RUBIN: I really don't want to characterize it any further than I have. We're working on this issue, we think it's extremely important, and we have not achieved agreement on terms acceptable to us, and there's wide gaps in our approach to this problem.

QUESTION: Jamie, after 20 days, did you find finally anything so far on the crucial issue that the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople under terrible pressure of the Turkish Government?

MR. RUBIN: I don't even know how to address the question as posed.

QUESTION: Why? What is wrong with the question?

MR. RUBIN: Let me try to get you something after the briefing on that.

QUESTION: There was this meeting that took place in Pristina today, set up by the Serbs, what's the US attitude toward this? Do you think this is relevant, or is there any serious intent behind it? How do you feel about it generally?

MR. RUBIN: We have said that we believe that if there are going to be direct meetings between Serb and Albanian representatives, in order to be productive, they would have to be very well prepared and the modalities would have to be agreed to by both sides beforehand. It is my understanding that Serbian President Milutinovic met with other national and minorities in Kosovo because there were no Albanian representatives at the meeting. So obviously, this was not well prepared and the modalities were not agreed to in advance.

In the meanwhile, however, we've been working very hard. Ambassador Hill has met with various representatives of the Albanian side and had very constructive discussions with them in Kosovo on the draft interim settlement plan that we've been working on. Detailed comments were provided. This, again, is a draft; it's a set of ideas. We're meeting with a broad cross-section of Kosovar Albanian leaders to try to make sure we reflect all the views, including the views of the KLA. We believe that our draft provides the basis for further discussions, and that's what we're working on.

QUESTION: To follow up on that, Jamie, it looks like the Serbs are likely to reject that draft. If they do so, what happens next? Will you redraft your draft?

MR. RUBIN: Well, this is a rolling draft, as these drafts tend to be. If you remember the phrase "set of ideas" from the Middle East peace process, it should begin to ring a bell. The idea is that we would put down on paper a set of ideas that we think might bridge the gaps. Then we receive comments from the sides and we try to do the best to meet the objectives of both sides so that in the case of the Kosovar Albanians, they are in a position to influence policies that affect them through governmental structures; that they're in a position to have greater autonomy; and that they are in a position to have the democratic and human rights that they've been denied returned to them.

QUESTION: Since you raised it, in the end of the Israeli-Palestinian process, the question of statehood gets settled. How do you deal with that under your draft?

MR. RUBIN: I think we've explained very clearly, and I'm happy to repeat for you, that this approach is an interim settlement that is designed to achieve greater self-government for the Kosovar Albanians without prejudice to their long-term aspirations by deferring that question for several years - three years, in fact.

QUESTION: Does the fact that they had this meeting, does it make it more difficult to arrange the kind of meeting that you want to see?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that also, so the --

MR. RUBIN: It's just a meeting that's not going to be all that effective.

QUESTION: So the US doesn't have a view on independence for Kosovo? It's up to the parties?

MR. RUBIN: We've stated it -- Ambassador Holbrooke had a lengthy exchange with you on it; and I'm happy to provide you the transcript. Nothing has changed.

QUESTION: So it's still up to the parties to decide, at the end of the day, what they're going to do?

MR. RUBIN: I don't want you summarizing a very complex subject, but I'd be happy to get you the transcript.

QUESTION: Jamie, next week Great Britain is convening a meeting of 15 Iraqi opposition groups to urge them to resolve their differences and work towards diplomacy. Do you have any comment on that meeting next Monday?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we have been supportive -- and President Clinton spoke to this - of the idea of developing as rapidly as possible an engagement with opposition groups and other parties by strengthening our political and economic support for them. We want to do so in a prudent and viable manner that makes the opposition a more effective voice for the aspirations of the Iraqi people.

With respect to the British effort, we're obviously supportive of their efforts to do the same thing - which is to develop and work with the opposition to coordinate and make more effective the possibility that they could present a viable alternative to the current regime in Iraq. So we're supportive of the United Kingdom's efforts in this regard.

QUESTION: Will you all get involved in that --

MR. RUBIN: I don't know what specific involvement we will have in person, but we've been working very closely with many of these groups for a long time. We'll continue to do so. The British and American efforts are aimed at the same objective, and I expect to be coordinating closely with the United Kingdom.

QUESTION: Mr. Ahmed Chalabi was in town yesterday and possibly is today. Does he have any meetings in the State Department?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is he is expected to meet with Assistant Secretary Indyk today.

QUESTION: How would you characterize the support among your Arab allies towards this program - particularly those immediately surrounding Iraq and in the Gulf.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't want to characterize their position. Obviously, we want to work to support the Iraqi opposition to make this viable alternative as effective as possible. We will consult with other states in the region about our plans, but I prefer not to characterize their views for you.

QUESTION: On weapons inspections, the UNSCOM inspectors are back. What is the US position on how quickly and intrusively these inspections should take place?

MR. RUBIN: UNSCOM has announced that monitoring staff continue to arrive in Baghdad and that the immediate priority will be to reestablish - as I indicated yesterday - monitoring infrastructure, like testing communications equipment, rebooting computer files, confirming the location of tag monitor equipment the Iraqis may have moved. It's the necessary work to do serious monitoring.

I am not going to preview UNSCOM's work for you. We have great confidence in Ambassador Butler, and whatever program of work he develops we believe will be an effective and important way to achieve the objectives of the UN Security Council resolutions. It's really up to him to describe that plan. I've talked to you about the broad requirements for Iraq to comply with in recent days, but it's really up to Ambassador Butler to announce his intentions as to how to go forward with an effective program. We will be supportive of his efforts.

QUESTION: Follow-up on that - an official Iraqi scientist said yesterday that the Iraqis would hand over relevant documents for weapons inspection, implying that non-relevant documents would not be. Is that good enough, as far as the US is concerned?

MR. RUBIN: Well, if the definition of relevant is relevant, that will be fine. The problem has been that Iraq has denied documents, using whatever excuse they can and whatever definitions they can.

What's relevant are documents that directly or indirectly bear on the amount of weapons of mass destruction Iraq has had, the programs that it developed and what happened to those programs. That is relevant. To the extent that they provide relevant documents for the first time in a cooperative, disclosing way, that will be an important indicator of their intent to cooperate. But we're not holding our breath.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary been in touch or been working on the diplomatic front in case --

MR. RUBIN: She has been in touch with certain countries about this issue. I don't have a list of calls right now, but she's been working on the Iraq issue, including with phone calls.

QUESTION: Do you know what region -- phone calls in the region, do you know?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have the list.

QUESTION: I don't know if you can address this, but does the State Department have any concerns that Iraq might have been tipped off on any of your plans concerning the region?

MR. RUBIN: People have spoken to this; we've seen the reports. First of all, I don't think it would take an intellectual genius to know, after Friday, that things were getting hot. I think that was something that you all seemed to be quite familiar with. So you didn't need a Ph.D. in military planning or an elaborate intelligence apparatus to know that things were getting very close to the point where force might have been used.

With respect to any specific tip-off, I'm not aware of a big effort to try to determine that; that doesn't mean there aren't people in the government who were not concerned about things like that -- that's their job to always be concerned about things like that.

QUESTION: Do you know, Jamie, if the Iraqi Government had organized any kind of deployment of their citizens around potential targets on this particular occasion, this last weekend?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of that, but I don't know all the details of what they'd done.

QUESTION: Don't most governments put their citizens underground in some protective place?

MR. RUBIN: Well, Iraq is a country that tends to make its citizens pawns in the process. For example, their refusal to buy food and medicine for many years for their own people and then to claim concern about those people put us in a position where we developed the oil-for-food plan, which provided billions of dollars' worth of food and medicine that had to go their people. They've in the past shown great cowardice and the worst kind of behavior in putting their citizens at risk. I just don't happen to know the facts as to what they did on this occasion.

QUESTION: Could you comment on the reports that the US Government now does not want the Kurdish national leader Abdullah Ocalan to be extradited to Turkey?

MR. RUBIN: I can comment on that question.

QUESTION: Yes or no, this is the question.

MR. RUBIN: I will comment on it. I just wanted to let you know that I am going to be able to. We are deeply skeptical of this PKK leader's repudiation of terrorism, given the number of times he has renounced violence in the past; on each previous occasion the PKK continued to engage in ruthless acts of terrorism. As we have said many times, we look for actions, not words, to prove Ocalan's intentions. As the result of their many ruthless acts, the United States designated the PKK a foreign terrorist organization. We believe that he, therefore, must face justice on the charges brought against him.

We welcome his arrest as an important step in the fight against global terrorism. We commend the Italian Government for its action on this matter. We believe he should be extradited and brought to justice, and we hope a way will be found to extradite him to Turkey consistent with international and Italian law. Turkey is the only country to inform Italy of its intention to file a formal extradition request; moreover, the vast majority of the terrorist acts committed by this man were against Turkish citizens on Turkish soil.

QUESTION: Why have you decided to go for Turkey? Yesterday and the day before you didn't have any particular view on where he should be extradited.

MR. RUBIN: Well, we discussed this matter with governments and Turkey is the only country to inform Italy of its intention to file a formal extradition request. As I said, the vast majority of the terrorist act committed by Ocalan were against Turkish citizens on Turkish soil; that's the reason.

QUESTION: Has this view been passed on to Rome?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Are you pushing the envelope a little bit in your statement now, out of concern that Rome might be willing to grant -- comments they've made publicly indicate they may be closer to granting him asylum than before he renounced terrorism?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any answer to what Italy's intentions are. We've encouraged Italian authorities to seek assurances from the Turkish Government that Turkey will fulfill its obligations under international human rights treaties and that Ocalan will receive equitable treatment under the law. We have no doubt that this man is a terrorist and he therefore should received no safe haven.

QUESTION: The Italian law, I guess (inaudible), is that they don't extradite to countries that have capital punishment. How do you plan to deal --

MR. RUBIN: Look, we think that's the kind of issue that can be resolved between Italy and Turkey, and we hope they resolve it. Some assurance that there won't be capital punishment, or something of that effect, is the kind of thing that governments can work out in a case like this -- we hope, given the nature of his crimes.

QUESTION: Can I ask another Iraq question?

MR. RUBIN: Please, I love Iraq questions.

QUESTION: Prior to the last crisis, or during the last crisis, the United States was talking a lot about unanimous support for the United States' position. How would you characterize the allied support today if you did find yourself in a position where the military option again became an option?

MR. RUBIN: I think the decisions Iraq made in the run-up to the recent crisis were ones that put them in flat opposition to all the countries in the world. The fact that they were so isolated, that no country was prepared to stand up for them, is a fact that remains. We do believe the world is united in demanding Iraqi compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions. In particular, UN Secretary General, former Under Secretary General but current Secretary General Annan's statements about the importance of cooperation by Iraq strengthen UNSCOM's hands as they go about their work.

So we think that what happened is a result of the recent crisis is that Iraq painted itself into a corner, lost its friends, had to capitulate and is now facing a greater and greater demand from the international community for more and more complete cooperation with the UN Special Commission.

QUESTION: What is the US view on whether Saddam Hussein should stand trial for crimes against humanity?

MR. RUBIN: Well, in that regard let me say the specific case of Halabja is an example of behavior that is truly horrific and we have talked about the crimes Saddam committed against the Iraqi people in Halabja and neighboring areas in 1988. An estimated 5,000 people were killed when he used poison gas against innocent Iraqi Kurdish civilians.

As part of our effort to help the international community focus attention on the regime's crimes against humanity we have worked with Dr. Christine Godsden, a UK scientist who has done research on this issue, and with the Washington Kurdish Institute to support a seminar that is designed -- that is going to be held this week. It is designed to explore the implications of the Halabja tragedy and ways in which the international community can deal issues like this.

We have committed funds to help bring this seminar into being and we've obviously worked internally and with other governments for many years to try to develop evidence on the subject of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

QUESTION: The United States maintained friendly relations with Iraq after Halabja, but that was a different Administration.

MR. RUBIN: Well, fortunately I don't have to speak for all previous Administrations or it would be even harder than it already is.

QUESTION: This seminar - who did you say was going to be sponsoring it? Are you sponsoring it?

MR. RUBIN: We have provided support for a seminar organized by the Washington Kurdish Institute on Halabja and Iraqi chemical weapons at Meridian House this week. Funding for this conference comes from some of the $5 million appropriated by Congress to support the Iraqi opposition.

In other words, one piece of this whole puzzle is getting greater and greater understanding around the world for the horrific crimes committed by Saddam Hussein's regime.

QUESTION: Do you not, then, have a specific position about war crimes trial for Saddam Hussein?

MR. RUBIN: I think we've spoken to this issue in the past. Let me try to get you some past guidance on that.

QUESTION: Same subject - there was a report that the United Nations group concerned with chemical warfare - I'm sorry, the chemical warfare agreement out in Geneva has noted that Iraq and Israel are among those who have not signed. Is the Administration urging Israel to sign, despite the fact that Iraq hasn't signed and that Halabja exists and we know that she's used chemical warfare weapons?

MR. RUBIN: We have a universal position that all governments should sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.

QUESTION: Is there any attempt to get Saddam Hussein to sign that you know of?

MR. RUBIN: I think that we prefer that he start cooperating with UNSCOM. We'll worry about treaties later.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, back to this seminar - this is an open seminar; anyone can go who would like to go?

MR. RUBIN: I urge you to get in touch with the Washington Kurdish Institute and they - it's taking place on November 18 and 19.

QUESTION: Okay, because there was some feeling that people participating in it would prefer to do it in private.

MR. RUBIN: You'll have to talk to them; I just don't know. It's their show. We're supporting it because we believe the issue is important.

QUESTION: Do you have there the dollar amount the US has put in? I mean, you said it's part of the $5 million.

MR. RUBIN: I don't have that level of detail.

QUESTION: Jamie, to go back to Mr. Ocalan, you said you were skeptical of his --

MR. RUBIN: Please go back in all my previous references to this terrorist should be made sure that I properly pronounce his name; but I'm not really too concerned about offending him.

QUESTION: You said that you were skeptical of any renunciation of terrorism he might make, and that you looked at actions not words. You seem to be implying there that there is hope for redemption; but then at the same time, given time he might be able to prove himself --

MR. RUBIN: I think, on the contrary, what I was signaling is that we've heard these kinds of statements before from the PKK about them not intending to conduct terrorism, and then they follow that up with terrorist acts. So those who may be seeing recent statements by him as a repudiation of terrorism, we're telling them we're skeptical because of past practice.

QUESTION: So you're more than skeptical; you're not interested in them and you think he should stand trial for what he did in the past, regardless of what he does --

MR. RUBIN: We're skeptical about his repudiation of terrorism, and we think he should stand trial.

QUESTION: And another question -- on the tip-off question, can you give us firm assurance that the United States did not in some way, in fact, inform -- give Iraq a deadline and inform them --

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of any such thing.

QUESTION: Because there was a very suspicious coincidence in the timing of the --

MR. RUBIN: Certainly it was unique timing, but I'm not aware of any ultimatum, deadline timing, that we gave to them. I'm just not aware of it.

QUESTION: Jamie, just to go, I'm sorry, go back to the --

MR. RUBIN: The conference?

QUESTION: Well, the bigger, the larger issue of the conference

MR. RUBIN: I really think you should go to this conference.

QUESTION: Believe me, I -

QUESTION: It's on background, he won't go.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Don't start with the background. I waiting for the passport briefing. Earlier this week, or maybe late last week, it was said that if Saddam, as unlikely as it probably is, if Saddam met the requirements of the weapons inspections, you could dispense with the other issues, and --

MR. RUBIN: No, I didn't -- nobody said that.

QUESTION: It could be handled easily, and --

MR. RUBIN: Nobody said that.

QUESTION: They would fall under - okay, whatever it was you said, whatever your words were.

MR. RUBIN: I stand by my words.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Whatever your words were, my impression was that it was something like, we can handle -- the other issues can be dealt with rather quickly.

MR. RUBIN: I think I'm going to have to restate it all over again; but what's the question?

QUESTION: Okay, the question is, how does that thought - however you'd like to interpret it - jive with this, now with the war crimes issue? Apparently, no matter what Saddam might or might not do, the position of the Clinton Administration is, he first has to - the issue of the war crimes has to be dealt with before anything else.

MR. RUBIN: I think I'm not going to have to repeat the issue, because it's very simple. We have serious doubts as to whether Saddam Hussein will ever comply with Security Council resolutions because of the behavior, including behavior like killing your own people with chemical weapons. But as a matter of legal and international policy, of course, if he were to meet the conditions of the Security Council resolutions, we would see our way clear to act pursuant to those resolutions. But we think that's a moot point, because we have no reason to believe that he ever will do that, given past practice.

QUESTION: But on top of the Security Council resolutions, will you also hold him - hold up any easing of the embargo, as far as the United States is concerned, on his coming to justice or standing trial for these charges?

MR. RUBIN: We have a position on the question of Saddam Hussein and responsibility for war crimes that I offered to provide you in writing.

QUESTION: Okay, and also how that would jive with the easing of the embargo as well?

MR. RUBIN: Sure.

QUESTION: And can we expect to get that by the end of today?

MR. RUBIN: As soon as we can get it for you, but I can't give you any expectations.

QUESTION: One more back to North Korea -- in the meeting, did Ambassador Kartman raise the resumption of the missile talks?

MR. RUBIN: I don't - I know the subject and focus of the meeting was the other; I don't know whether that came up.

(The briefing concluded at 1:05 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 Wednesday, 18 November 1998 - 22:54:29 UTC