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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #129, 98-11-19

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


Thursday, November 19, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

1		Secretary welcomes decision of Israeli cabinet.
1		US to host Middle East peace donors conference on November

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 2 Secretary's telephone calls to foreign leaders on topic in past several days. 2 Past pledges totaled $3.9 billion, with $2.1 billion disbursed. 3 Programs are funded through project aid; AID directs US funds. 4 US expects to announce a pledge, after consulting with Congress. 4 US to consult with Israeli Government and Congress on additional funding. 5 Projects this money will fund 6 Question about Gaza airport availability for President's plane.

IRAQ 7 Assistant Secretary Indyk met with opposition leader Chalabi yesterday. 7 US will support opposition groups which agree with US policy. 7,8 US has program to compile war crimes data on Iraqi leadership. 8 US seeks, unified, effective opposition.

FRY (KOSOVO) 9 NATO issued statement of concern over deteriorating situation. 9 Situation has not spun out of control.

BOSNIA 9,10 Human Rights Watch report on allegations Serbs used chemical weapons against Muslims in Srbrenica.

NORTH KOREA 10 US dismissed requests for compensation to allow site inspections. 11 US has substantial, credible evidence to demand site investigation. 11,12 US believes failure to resolve issue will call Agreed Framework's viability into question.

PANAMA 11,12 US aware of reports about contacts between drug trafficker Castrillon and Pres. Balladares. 12 US goals were to agree on establishing a counter-narcotics center, arresting traffickers.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO 13 US seeks peaceful solution to conflict.

CUBA 13 US is pleased Catholic Church will bring more priests into country.

ITALY-TURKEY 13,14 US hopes Ocalan's extradition to Turkey can be worked out with Italian authorities. 14 US considers the PKK a terrorist organization. 15 US is highly skeptical of Ocalan's renunciation of terrorism. 14 Important differences exist between Ocalan, Pinochet extradition requests.

CHINA 15,16 US raises concerns about freedom of speech/press after expulsion of German journalist.

ETHIOPIA/ERITREA 16 Statement on Tony Lake's visit in the area .


DPB #129

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1998, 12:50 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing; today is Thursday. That is not my only announcement. Let me start by saying that Secretary Albright welcomes today's decision by the Israeli Cabinet. With it, the implementation of the first phase of the Wye Memorandum will be completed by the end of this week. Both sides are, in fact, carrying out their obligations under the terms of the agreement.

The very logic of the American initiative that Secretary Albright worked on so hard over the last 18 months was to remove the suspicions and doubts that each side had about the other's readiness to fulfill its responsibilities. That was our starting point. As each fulfills its responsibilities, we will see the situation on the ground changing in concrete terms. We will also, we hope, see the building of the kind of relationship so necessary to forge peace over the long term.

As the Israelis and the Palestinians move forward in fulfilling the Wye agreement, it is important for the rest of the international community to do their part. To that end, let me announce today the United States will host a conference to support Middle East peace and development on November 30, 1998, at the State Department.

President Clinton has invited some 50 nations and multilateral organizations to attend the conference at the foreign minister and minister level. Secretary of State Albright will chair the meeting. This conference will build upon the 1993 Donors' Conference and the Wye River Memorandum, signed on October 23, which specifically calls for additional pledges of enhanced levels of assistance.

Many nations gave generously in 1993 when they gathered in Washington, and ultimately, pledged nearly $4 billion towards an economic future for the Palestinians worthy of their commitment to living in peace with Israel.

This conference will build on that foundation. It has a three-fold purpose. First, it will review what has already been achieved over the first five years of the donor effort. Second, it will assess further development needs in the West Bank and Gaza. Finally, it will officially launch a second five- year phase of the assistance effort and call on additional donations by international donors to pledge enhanced higher levels of assistance for this next phase. For our part, the Administration hopes to increase US assistance to the Palestinians significantly over the next five years.

The conference will convene at the State Department on the morning of November 30, and there will be a press conference in the afternoon.

QUESTION: Jamie, I've got at least three questions on that; let me try to be brief. Since the Wye agreement and the well-publicized US appeal for help for the Palestinians and parallel appeal for social relations with Israel, can you report any progress?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that Secretary Albright -- some of you have asked this over the last few days -- has had a number of phone calls in the last couple of days, including with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince Hamad of Bahrain, the Emir of Kuwait, the Foreign Minister of Austria, Foreign Minister Saud of Saudi Arabia. I expect additional calls in the coming days.

Let's be clear -- it is today and tomorrow when we expect the implementation of the agreement by both sides to really begin in force. We know that some countries in the region have said that they had their doubts as to whether this implementation will occur. We think that the appeal that we have made both for this kind of a conference and other measures will enhance as the implementation of the agreement occurs.

So the short answer to your question is we have assurances of ministerial participation by several -- roughly nine or ten countries -- including Oman and Bahrain, and we are hopeful that in the coming days, as implementation goes forward, there will be additional participation forthcoming and additional assistance obviously pursuant to that participation. So we'll see is the short answer to the question.

QUESTION: Are the Saudis coming, do you know?

MR. RUBIN: I know that she's been in touch with the two. I don't have that on my list at this time; I don't have an answer to that question.

QUESTION: Two more quickies. How close have contributions come to pledges in the past - delivery?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the pledges total $3.9 billion. First there was $2.3 billion during the 1993 conference; an additional $1.6 billion was pledged since then. We understand that the total for actual implementation disbursed was $ 2.1 billion -- $345 million of which was by the United States. So this takes time; there are a lot of aspects to this that need to be worked on. These programs are not simple. There have been some economic problems and logistical problems and technical problems; but there has been over $2 billion disbursed.

QUESTION: You've been very tactful in saying there have been some problems. Could you deal with the transparency question?

MR. RUBIN: Tactful, well, that's good; I like that.

QUESTION: Money has been skimmed off is what's been happening, and I wonder if -

MR. RUBIN: No, not in the - I'm talking about the difference between the $3.9 billion and the $2.1 billion.

QUESTION: I understand; So it's a two-part quick question, I hope.

MR. RUBIN: We're now up to part three and part four of your three-part question.

QUESTION: Correct, because we want to give this some contour, you see, not just report the statement.

MR. RUBIN: Why not?

QUESTION: Well, it's a good statement, it's a good statement. But there are a lot of people out there, very well intentioned people, who would suggest a different approach; instead of working through the Palestinian Authority would deal directly with projects -- call for assistance to specific projects, therefore, cutting back on what might be misplaced or misdirected and making sure that it's effective. So can you speak to transparency? Can you speak to that theory? Is that a theory the US is entertaining?

MR. RUBIN: I think the people who are saying that have a very low understanding of the way the program actually works. The programs are funded through project aid -- projects which are administered directly by USAID, using contractors and NGOs. There are laws with respect to direct funding to the Palestinian Authority. So most of this money goes directly to actual projects, whether they be projects that are for water, are for democracy in governments, are for economic opportunity. These are things that are done at the micro level, primarily -- at least in our case -- by AID directly. Other countries may have other approaches, and those people who have those views might address those views to those other governments.

QUESTION: Well, aren't you going to keep an eye on where the money - are you going to follow the money trail?

MR. RUBIN: We certainly keep a close eye on our money.

QUESTION: Jamie, nine or ten countries, I guess you meant Arab countries.

MR. RUBIN: No, I said already have agreed to attend at a ministerial level.

QUESTION: Of those ten, the two Arab countries were Oman and Bahrain?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: Jamie, would the United States be prepared to kick off the conference with a pledge of its own? Can you give us any idea of the amount and how the funding - whether there would be a supplemental appropriation sought, or --

MR. RUBIN: The other, of course, I expect Chairman Arafat to show up. Sorry.

QUESTION: One additional part to that question -- the President pledged to work with Congress to help both Israel and the Palestinian Authority implement the Wye accords. Is there any thinking on additional aid for Israel at this point?

MR. RUBIN: They're coming in left and right. Jordan and Egypt are also attending.

QUESTION: Operators are standing by.


MR. RUBIN: To get to your two questions --

QUESTION: Global CNN does it again.


MR. RUBIN: -- if I can remember them. With respect to the contribution by us to the Palestinians, we are currently in the process of determining exactly how much the US pledge will be. I would expect us to be in a position at that time to identify numbers. We intend to consult with Capitol Hill prior to the conference. In 1993 we pledged $500 million for five years, and we do hope to substantially increase that amount in the coming years.

With respect to the other side of the equation, US policy has always been to support those parties who take the risks for peace, and that's why we're committed to helping both the Israelis and the Palestinians. With regard to additional funding for the Israelis, we will be consulting both with the Israeli Government and with the Congress as to the amount of such additional funding. I understand there's some meetings that are going to begin taking place this weekend with relevant ministers. We have an ongoing process where we work very closely with the Israeli Government on the aid we've provided in the past, and any additional aid that would come about as a result of implementation of the Wye agreement.

QUESTION: I don't know whether you can really answer this, but do you find it at all ironic that the US, which docked Israel for building settlements in the past, will now be paying to remove settlers from them?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm sure irony is something that you enjoy in your business. I enjoy communicating our policies, and it's not ironic that there is a very substantial step forward taken on the peace process, that a historic move is being taken by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government. That is not ironic to us.

QUESTION: Could we move to Iraq?

MR. RUBIN: Any more on this?

QUESTION: Is this sort of an open-ended push for funds? Is there a goal in mind as to how much you want to raise?

MR. RUBIN: As we get closer to the meeting, we will have more specific details. I mean, obviously, like any pledging process, one has goals that one tries to achieve. I think we have some goals in mind, but we need to nail down our own numbers before we specify what those goals are. But I do expect to have a multi-billion dollar goal for this.

QUESTION: What are the projects that the money will go towards?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, on our side, the projects have tended to go for direct programs to develop new systems for water, to facilitate elections, basic infrastructure and management systems for the Palestinian Council, micro-enterprise programs. That's what we've been doing in the past; I expect more of that. Certainly the concept for the future is to try to attract new investment in certain cases. You have the airport protocol that is going to be signed tonight or tomorrow; you have the Gaza industrial state, which is something we would want to work on; and some additional programs to work on at the lowest levels - the running water, healthcare, schools, that kind of thing - that people will be working on.

But again, as we get closer to the meeting, I think we'll be in a better position to spell out our goals and some of the specific projects in greater detail.

QUESTION: The airport -- (inaudible) - right now. Is that a logical place for the US to provide assistance, or is it still to be decided?

MR. RUBIN: We tend to have a burden-sharing process with the Europeans, where different countries do different things; and that may be something they tend to do.

QUESTION: The Arab invitees to this conference, is it all the Madrid countries? What about Syria and Lebanon?

MR. RUBIN: They are invited. I gather the Lebanese have already declined, which let me just point out - we want to work on the comprehensive peace process. We want to get the circle of peace closed to include the Lebanese track and the Syrian track. To the extent countries aren't participating in the process that is designed to lead one step by step to that end, it's hard to see how they're helping themselves.

QUESTION: And all the North African states and all the Gulf states?

MR. RUBIN: I think you can imagine the two Arab countries who we haven't invited.


QUESTION: Today is Lebanese --

QUESTION: Well, there are three.

MR. RUBIN: I don't consider the other -- who would your three be?

QUESTION: Sudan, Iraq and Iran.

MR. RUBIN: Sudan, I don't know; do they consider themselves an Arab country? Depends on who you ask, I guess.

QUESTION: Iran was not invited?

MR. RUBIN: I don't believe so.

QUESTION: If you want more irony, today is Lebanon Independence Day. If you could make a statement for Lebanese independence - but speaking of supporting people --

MR. RUBIN: I'll leave that irony to you.

QUESTION: Thank you. Speaking of supporting people, a visible meeting yesterday - Iraqi opposition fellow --

MR. RUBIN: Did you have more on the Middle East, Mark?

QUESTION: One question on the airport, if Barry would excuse me. Would you imagine that the Gaza airport might be up running and able to receive President Clinton's aircraft when he goes there in mid-December?

MR. RUBIN: It's a very big plane.

QUESTION: And a very small airport?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know the answer to that. I don't know what the plan would be on that.

QUESTION: The opposition figure who was here and saw Assistant Secretary Indyk yesterday raises again the question of whether - with all due respect - we're hearing rhetoric but we don't know whether there's any real physical or financial support; nor do we know too much about these groups. Unfortunately, some of the things we know include that they don't get along too well with each other, remembering General Powell's remark that he didn't think Thomas Jefferson was standing in the wings in Baghdad. Are you helping these folks? Are they democrats? What's afoot here?

MR. RUBIN: Assistant Secretary Indyk had a positive meeting with INC President Ahmed Chalabi. They had serious discussions, which is part of an ongoing dialogue. They discussed steps the INC might take to organize itself as an effective voice of the Iraqi opposition. We are in contact with a broad array of Iraqi opposition groups across the political spectrum, including Kurds, Suni, Shia, in an effort to build a strong and united and effective opposition.

This is going to take time. We don't expect to have results overnight. Congress authorized $8 million in funds in the last two years for opposition activities, including war crimes efforts, Radio Free Iraq, support for opposition groups including the INC. It's premature for us now to describe everything we're going to do; other than to say that this is a serious effort, but it's going to be a long haul because of the difficulty that we've identified in this area.

With respect to what groups and whether they're Thomas Jefferson or not, I don't care to comment directly on General Powell's statement; other than to say that the groups we will be supporting are those that we believe support democracy, support human rights and support the territorial integrity of Iraq. Those are the criteria and the law that we're very supportive of.

QUESTION: Those groups you're in touch with, are any of them in country, or are they all exile groups?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not in a position to specify that kind of detail, other than to say that we try to speak broadly to as many groups as possible because we do believe we need a united, unified and effective opposition if there is going to be a credible alternative to the current leadership.

QUESTION: Jamie, can you say anything more today about the request for $2 million that was being considered yesterday in the - I think you called it a seminar, but this healthcare project on the long-term effect of chemical weapons and the effort to gather more evidence on possible war crimes against Saddam?

MR. RUBIN: We were able to contribute around $52,000 to the cost of that conference, which is examining an egregious human rights violation.

With respect to Saddam Hussein and war crimes, let me say that government of Iraq has clearly committed atrocities against the Iraqi people and the people of other countries. We have a program to compile information regarding allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by Iraq's current leaders as a first step towards bringing to justice those directly responsible for such acts.

We have thousands of documents relating to the Halabja campaign, when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against his own people. These documents need to be translated and processed for possible war crimes presentation.

We also support efforts by non-governmental organizations like the INDICT campaign to draw attention to Saddam's record. We're not going to prejudge the case for a war crimes indictment of Saddam Hussein and key members of his regime, but making such a case is something that we believe we should be supportive of; and it is the role for an internationally-constituted investigation leading to an international tribunal.

With respect to the specific $2 million pledge that was described to you, I'll have to get more information; I don't have any information on that.

QUESTION: A technical question - you might not have the answer. Could the current War Crimes Tribunal, the one that was - could that deal with --

MR. RUBIN: Well, it's been expanded. The original tribunal was for Yugoslavia, and then it was expanded with some overlap to deal with Rwanda; but it is now limited to those two areas.

QUESTION: So is it - well, it may be jumping the gun, but is it your view that it could be expanded further or is that --

MR. RUBIN: Well, theoretically, it could be. But first what we think we have to do is to put together the case that an internationally-constituted investigation could handle, leading then to the question of a tribunal.

QUESTION: Since these sundry groups that we're trying to round up to throw against Saddam are partly based in the countries of his neighbors, are you risking splitting our coalition against Saddam by, in effect, waging war from other people's territory?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we haven't made any decision to arm those groups. We haven't ruled that out, but it would be premature to speculate on that.

With respect to the countries in the region, we do consult with them closely about our plans and work closely with them. Certainly it is a high priority to keep the coalition - especially the strength of the coalition that we just saw in recent weeks - intact. We will bear that in mind as we work on these issues.

I think, depending on the country, some are more or less concerned about the problem you mention.

QUESTION: You say we haven't said we're going to arm them. I would assume it's assumed we're going to arm them; otherwise, what are we talking about here?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I haven't assumed that; I don't think the groups have assumed it. It's premature to discuss that. What we want to get first is a unified, effective group that can speak for an alternative and present a credible alternative and that has broad-based support. Then we can address the question of arms, which at this point is something we haven't ruled out but is premature.

QUESTION: Switching subjects, but talking about arming groups or groups that are armed --

MR. RUBIN: I love these transitions.

QUESTION: -- can I go to Kosovo and ask you how --

MR. RUBIN: We don't arm them.

QUESTION: I know, but ask you how we're doing with convincing them not to use their arms?

MR. RUBIN: Well, today NATO has sent an appeal to both the Kosovar Liberation Army and to the Belgrade authorities. At the request of the North Atlantic Council, Secretary General Solana did issue a statement expressing concern over the deteriorating situation. Senior NATO ambassadors in Belgrade were instructed to deliver tough messages both to the FRY and to the Kosovar Albanian leadership. The messages demand that both sides take immediate action to comply with all agreements undertaken and cease any more provocative actions.

So that message is being transmitted through NATO authorities. For those of you who will be here tomorrow, you'll have an opportunity to ask more about that when Secretary General Solana and Secretary Albright have a joint press availability.

QUESTION: Just to follow up, can you tell us what the --

MR. RUBIN: Just a public service announcement I threw in there.

QUESTION: -- what the Administration view is of the KLA's actions and how deteriorated - or how far downhill has this gone?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the violence has not upticked dramatically. There have been tensions. Our observers and the verifiers have been working assiduously to try to calm those tensions. We have made clear to the Kosovar Liberation that we do not look kindly and we oppose strongly provocative actions that they've taken. So far, the situation, although there have been incidents and significant incidents, has not spun out of control. When we have concerns, as we do have now, one of the ways to communicate those concerns is through the offices of the NATO Secretary General.

QUESTION: I have a related question, please. Human Rights Watch released a plea today, and I think also a report, for more extensive investigations of allegations that gas was used against Muslims fleeing Srbrenica. Has the US done any studies on this? Do you have any findings from any such studies?

MR. RUBIN: Several expert teams, I understand, did investigate previous allegations, and it's my understanding there isn't any direct evidence presented in this study. We're obviously going to study the study, but so far we have not found credible evidence that agents which fall under the control of the Chemical Weapons Convention or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, that is, specifically prohibited, internationally-defined chemical weapons, were used.

There are agents, such as tear gas, that have been used, and we believe that they have been used, but wouldn't fall under that rubric and, therefore, wouldn't be illegal. But we're going to look at this report seriously, and we will pursue any leads that we find, seriously, in examining this report.

QUESTION: The organization claims that reports were done by this government and others, and that the results were not released because we were concerned that they would upset the Dayton accord apple cart.

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, I have been provided what we believe to be the case and, to the best of my knowledge, there are agents such as tear gas that have been used but are not illegal. We don't have credible evidence of other activity. We've certainly had reports of that, and there are a lot of reports that came about during the Bosnian war. All I can tell you is what I've been provided doesn't indicate that we have that information; and I can't imagine why we wouldn't be releasing it if we knew it to be true. We've told a lot of the story of what happened in Bosnia, including the massacres at Srbrenica and other parts of it, and we certainly have nothing to hide on this score.

Again, what happens in these cases, and I've been through them a lot, is people hear a report that we have a report, and then they conclude that the US Government has concluded something. That is often the reason why there's misunderstanding. I don't know the facts in this case, but the facts that have been provided to me are those there.

QUESTION: North Korea. There are reports that the United States is being asked by the North Koreans to pay $300 million for the privilege of inspecting their underground site. Do you have anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: We did hear requests and claims by the North Koreans that they wanted compensation, and we dismissed those ridiculous numbers out of hand. We're not going to pay compensation to confirm that they are living up to their obligations under this important nuclear agreement. We have substantial evidence that there are suspicious activities going on at this site. That is the reason why we consider this such an important issue, why we wanted to bring home to the North Koreans the seriousness of this issue and why we have said that a failure to resolve the issue could affect the viability of the agreement and could have very negative consequences for our relationship.

So we take this seriously. There is substantial evidence, and we don't intend to compensate the North Koreans for any access. That's simply out of the question.

QUESTION: But how about the figure -- $300 million? Is that in the ballpark?

MR. RUBIN: Without baseball analogies, that would be a place that one might play.


QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about a report that the soil and water samples taken from these two sites -- -- (inaudible) - last year? If so, what significance do these tests have; what do they say about --

MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't be able to get into the basis of our evidence; but let me say we have substantial evidence. We have credible evidence, or we wouldn't be in this situation of demanding this kind of direct discussion on this subject. I've identified the site's name to you yesterday, and we have reason to believe that something suspicious in the nuclear area is going on there or else we wouldn't be raising this to such a high level and to such a level of importance. But I would not be able to get into the reasons why we have reason to believe.

QUESTION: Have they gotten back to you on the next meeting?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have a new date for you, but I would expect it to occur in a short number of weeks.

QUESTION: Closely related question -- in the midst of these delicate negotiations as well four-party talks to achieve the peace in the Peninsula, our people are being told in Honolulu that people there are drawing up plans to obliterate the North if it steps over the DMZ. Does the State Department know about this? Is there any reaction to it? How does that affect peace efforts?

MR. RUBIN: I've seen those reports and I suggest you address them to the Pentagon.

QUESTION: Panama -- have you seen the report in The Washington Post; do you have any reaction to it?

MR. RUBIN: This is with respect to -

QUESTION: To the Colombian narco-trafficker and the President of Panama.

MR. RUBIN: With respect to reports that we ignored information in this area, the simple answer to that is no. While the US government was aware of press and other reports regarding possible contacts between Colombian and drug trafficker Castrillon and associates of President Balladares, we saw no evidence to confirm that money from the drug trafficker was used in the Presidential campaign. When the source of this money became known to President Balladares, he had that fact publicly disclosed and asked the attorney general to investigate.

The embassy in Panama reported extensively on this problem, and so we did not ignore corruption in order to pursue some other goal. We had two important goals in this area. One was to conclude an agreement to establish a multilateral counter-narcotics center; and the other, of course, is to ensure that drug traffickers are prosecuted and arrested. That is also a high priority goal and, in the case of the drug trafficker, it is a goal we achieved.

QUESTION: There are two checks that were given by this narco-trafficker to the campaign, that also the government of Panamanian - Panamanian government has accepted that. My question is, what kind of difference did you see in this issue with the case of Ernesto Samper in Colombia, that you suspended his visa, because you saw money from the narco-traffickers in --

MR. RUBIN: First of all, that's in the past, and we have a new government in Colombia, and things are going swimmingly.

With respect to your direct comparison, we have standards that we apply to these situations. No two situations are the same and, for example, when President Balladeras became aware of and the fact was disclosed about the source of this money, he asked the Attorney General to investigate. I don't know all the facts in Colombia, but I suspect we didn't think that there was the same approach.

QUESTION: You mentioned the negotiations of the multilateral center. How is the situation on that negotiation?

MR. RUBIN: It's - no situation.

QUESTION: Do you mind getting another question on North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: I'd be thrilled and honored.


QUESTION: Is the burden now on the North Koreans to prove to your satisfaction that nuclear weapons development is not going on at this suspicious site; and if it is, that it be stopped in its tracks?

MR. RUBIN: We believe this issue is sufficiently important, that we believe failure to resolve it will call into question the viability of the agreement. We are not going to accept verbal assurances on this subject; we need access. How one defines the burden of responsibility here, we have substantial evidence that makes us deeply concerned about this problem, and we're going to require access. The burden is certainly on North Korea to give us access to satisfy ourselves on this important issue.

QUESTION: Jamie, have you all told the North Koreans some - you've told them of your concern. Have you told them what some of the evidence is that leads you to strongly suspect that illegal activities are going on?

MR. RUBIN: I can't get into the level of detail that was discussed, but certainly we've made clear certain facts that we know about the situation, yes.

QUESTION: Do you - would you like to criticize the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for not taking part - deciding against taking part in these peace talks organized by Mandela, or do you not have anything - any views on this, or what?

MR. RUBIN: Well, certainly we want there to be a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Congo. Several recent meetings, regional meetings, have been proposed. As you know, Assistant Secretary Rice was there.

The details of the Botswana meeting are a little sketchy to us and, before we jump to criticize, I want to get more details about what specific meetings were proposed by whom. Often there's a description publicly that doesn't relate to what really is going on, so I would prefer to withhold on that question pending further discussions about what meetings are going on.

QUESTION: Do you accept the proposition that those who rebelled against Kabila should be part of the talks, which the --

MR. RUBIN: I believe we've spoken to that in the past, about the need for people to talk to them, yes.

QUESTION: On Cuba -- do you have any reaction to the decision of the Cuban government to accept the 19 Catholic foreign priests?

MR. RUBIN: We've seen reports about this. Of course, we are pleased the church will reportedly be able to bring more priests to Cuba. According to press accounts, this brings to 305 the number of priests in Cuba; there were 700 priests in Cuba before Castro took over, with a much smaller population.

So we certainly hope this will be a first step in meeting the church's request for more religious freedom and more priests.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) any independent verification of that or just press reports?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the extradition situation around Ocalan in Turkey and also the arrests --

MR. RUBIN: Ocalan, yes, I spent all night learning that. It is our understanding that the Italian authorities are still considering the matter. We made our views on this issue clear yesterday. The matter is in the hands of the Italian authorities. We hope that they will work with Turkish authorities to find a way to extradite Ocalan to Turkey, consistent with international and Italian law.

QUESTION: Anything on arrests in Turkey of Hadep -- people from --

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any information on that.

QUESTION: Do you know whether the PKK has ever been responsible for the killings of Americans or for any acts of terror in the United States?

MR. RUBIN: I will get you a copy of our annual terrorism report, which lays out in great detail the reasons why we believe the PKK is a terrorist organization and, therefore, is under certain restrictions here in the United States, and why we think this Ocalan should be extradited and put in prison.

QUESTION: I just have one other follow-up. This is under the "no two situations are the same" category. Why are you so voluble about the extradition of Mr. Ocalan and so quiet about the extradition of General Pinochet?

MR. RUBIN: Because the answer to your question is contained in the question itself.

QUESTION: Can you spell out --

MR. RUBIN: Shall I repeat your preamble?

QUESTION: Can you spell out the differences that have to do with this?

MR. RUBIN: We make judgments based on what we think the facts and the circumstances are. In the case of Chile, as we've said to you before, there was a process in place, as there has been in South Africa and El Salvador, where the people involved developed a process to deal with horrendous human rights violations that we've spoken to.

In the case of the PKK, we're talking about an ongoing terrorist operation with a leader who is leading an ongoing terrorist operation. In the case of Chile, you're talking about a legal question between three countries about events that occurred in the past, where some process in Chile unfolded to deal with it. So there seem to me to be 10 or 15 or 20 differences between the two cases.

QUESTION: Can I have one other follow? Granted, there was a human rights truth commission but there wasn't a commission on terrorism. As I understand it, two federal courts in the United States have found that forces under Pinochet's direct control were responsible for an act of terror in the United States. That would seem to be an independent concern apart from anything that goes on in Chile. I'm wondering what your position on that is.

MR. RUBIN: Well, we've spoken to the issue of whether the Justice Department is looking into this matter. I still don't see the connection when you're talking about two very different cases.

QUESTION: I'm going to go that same route. There's some suggestion today - -

MR. RUBIN: Is this also a why-is-everything - compare and contrast everything in the world?

QUESTION: Well, you know, we're on the boat; let's keep going. There's some suggestion, mainly from Italian officials speaking on an unnamed basis, that --

MR. RUBIN: I thought you don't believe in that.

QUESTION: That's right. I'm just reading it. That his renunciation of terrorism might lead to a dialogue with the Turkish Government that could resolve the - lead to a resolution of the whole Kurdish question. Is that not a --

MR. RUBIN: I think yesterday I spoke to this. We've seen this particular leadership, whenever convenient, make suggestions that it was going to give up its terrorist practices; and then very soon thereafter, terrorist activities take place. So we are highly skeptical about any such suggestions; therefore, others who are not highly skeptical have different judgments than we do about what's likely to unfold.

QUESTION: Would you rule out Mr. Ocalan at some stage playing a constructive role in the settlement of the Kurdish problem in Turkey?

MR. RUBIN: From jail?

QUESTION: In any way -- from asylum in Italy, from --

MR. RUBIN: I'm going to refuse, as a matter of practice from this day forward, to rule in or out the future behavior in a peace negotiation of any particular individuals so that we can avoid these compare and contrast questions in the future.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the expulsion, if it hasn't happened already, it will happen soon, imminently, of the German journalist from Beijing?

MR. RUBIN: I do. We have seen reports that a journalist with the German news magazine Der Spiegel has been ordered to leave China and not return for five years. His treatment and expulsion coming roughly one month after a Japanese journalist was expelled raises serious questions about China's willingness to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

The Chinese constitution states that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fundamental rights enjoyed by all Chinese citizens. We encourage the Chinese to apply this standard to all journalists working in China.

The circumstances of this incident strongly suggest a case of harassment and an attempt to quash free-journalistic inquiry. Attempts to restrict freedom of speech and press are violations of internationally recognized human rights norms and standards. We have raised our concerns at the highest level with Chinese officials and we will continue to do so.

QUESTION: Tony Lake spent a considerable bit of time in Ethiopia and Eritrea, finally returned this week and the silence is deafening on what he accomplished. Encouraging? Are you encouraged by his mission, discouraged by his mission?

MR. RUBIN: It may be silent but I did have a statement that I didn't read, so maybe that is why you didn't hear it. But there is a statement on the subject I will be happy to provide you after the briefing.

QUESTION: The new government in Germany is putting out a proposal for NATO to declare a no-first use nuclear policy? Is that something you can deal with today?

MR. RUBIN: I've just heard some reports on that; I'll try to get you something.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:30 P.M.)

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