U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #131, 98-12-01
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Tuesday, December 1, 1998
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 Secretary's trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida and Atlanta,
1 Opening of Conference
1 Briefing by Under Secretary Eizenstat
1,4,5 Democracy in Serbia/Lifting of sanctions/Milosevic
2 Harassment of political prisoners/Shutting down of the
4 Situation in Kosovo
5 Department's view of Senator Lugar's recommendations /
6 Situation in Montenegro
6 Secretary Albright's meeting with Mr. Djukanovic
7 The arrest or two prominent dissidents / detention of
7 Elections results in Quebec
12 Secretary's meeting with Foreign Minister
12,13 Canada view on NATO nuclear strategy
8 US view of proposal for trial of Ocalan in an international
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
9,10 Remarks by Chairman Arafat at Donor's Conference re
10,11 Status of release of prisoners
12 President's trip to Middle East
13 Reported transfer of missiles by Romania to Iraq
13,15,16 US conducting search of Pinochet-era documents
17 US counter-narcotics funds / purpose
17 Anti-Muslim riots in West Timor
17 Security forces were not effective in restoring order
18 Crackdown on opposition and independent media
18 US calls on government to engage in dialogue with political
18-19 Dr. Perry's travel plans / discussions in Region
19-20 PAN AM 103 Anniversary / UN SecGen's plans to meet Libyan
officials / Status of hand-over of suspects
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1998, 12:50 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Sorry for the delay. I was a little frightened of the cameras,
so I needed to prepare myself for that.
We have one announcement with respect to the Secretary's schedule.
Secretary Albright will travel to Cape Canaveral, Florida, early Thursday
morning, December 3, to witness the lift-off of the space shuttle Endeavor.
The shuttle will be carrying the second element in the first launch from US
soil of the International Space Station. The first space station element,
the Functional Cargo Block, was launched November 30 from Kazakstan, and is
successfully in orbit. During the mission, the one Russian and five US
astronauts aboard will connect the second portion, Node-1, also called
Unity, with this Functional Cargo Block, FCB.
Secretary Albright will meet with NASA Administrator Dan Goldin, to express
support for NASA's efforts in promoting international cooperation through
the space program. She will then travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to participate
in the Rosalyn Carter Distinguished Lecture Series at Emory University on
December 3. We will have some further information for you with regard to
press coverage after the briefing.
With that schedule announcement, I turn happily to your questions.
QUESTION: I'll try a couple of quick Holocaust Conference questions on
you. I understand - I didn't cover the story, but I'm trying to help the
reporter who did - that she called for opening files, but she wasn't
specific, the Secretary, about what files. Do you want the Vatican files
opened? What files, -- if you have specific files in mind, what are
MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that Under Secretary Eizenstat and his
people will be briefing at the end of the day on the specifics of the
conference. I'd prefer to defer that until then, and they will have
specific answers to those questions.
QUESTION: Yesterday's statements that were made here about Yugoslavia and
Milosevic - one thing I noticed is that it states that until there is
democracy in Serbia there will not be a lifting of the outer wall of
sanctions. In that democracy in Serbia is associated with, I suppose, the
removal of Milosevic, is that to say that there will be no lifting of the
outer wall until Milosevic goes, in effect?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we try to make our policies clear; you sometimes try to
connect the dots. What I can say about our policy is that we want to see
democracy in the FRY itself. Democracy is more than an election; democracy
is a process. It is a process that doesn't include shutting down independent
media. It doesn't include harassing and jailing political opponents, and it
doesn't include many other aspects of the behavior that has come to
mark the Milosevic period in Yugoslavia's history.
We believe that President Milosevic's grip on power is weakening. We
believe far from the "greater Serbia" he envisioned several years ago,
things have shrunk. Not only is Croatia whole and independent, the Serbs of
Bosnia have an assembly and government control by moderates which rejects
Milosevic's influence. Montenegro has elected officials in open rejection
of President Milosevic, and key municipalities in Serbia itself are
controlled by opposition political parties.
And now Kosovo, which for ten years President Milosevic considered his own
backyard with no outside interference, is now a location where up to 2,000
or at least 2,000 international verifiers are envisaged to supervise
election. This most recent purge of senior officials in Belgrade, including
the head of state security and the chief of staff of the army, smacks of
desperation and distrust on his part.
Milosevic has been at the center of every crisis in the former Yugoslavia
over the last decade. He is not simply part of the problem; Milosevic is
the problem. We have been promoting democratic practices and reforms in
Serbia in a number of ways, including through independent media, including
democracy assistance programs for fledgling opposition parties. That is
something we are going to continue to do.
As far as what standard we will apply to the three issues -- that is Kosovo,
cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal and democracy in Serbia itself --
in order to change the sanctions policy, I don't want to prescribe for you
exactly what those issues would require. Simply to say we will know
cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal when we see it; we will know
democracy in Serbia when we see it; and we will know a real change in the
situation in Kosovo when we see it. We haven't seen any of those three
QUESTION: But if Milosevic is the problem -- and there is a lot of
evidence to back what you are saying -- then how can you continue to deal
with the problem? And how should the people of Serbia, or perhaps the
various forces in or out of the government at the moment, deal with the
MR. RUBIN: Well, let's remember there are sources of the problem, and
clearly Milosevic is the source of the problem and the original sinner in
this whole catastrophe that has befallen Yugoslavia in the last decade. We
have no illusions about that.
At the same time, we did face this summer and fall the prospect of an
humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo -- hundreds of thousands of peoples'
lives were at risk. In order to deal with that humanitarian catastrophe,
that very near-term disaster, we did meet with President Milosevic. And as
a result of his belief that air strikes would ensue, he changed his
policies, removed his forces, stopped marauding in the country side and, as
I understand it, the UNHCR said that there is now no internally displaced
persons without some form of shelter.
So this humanitarian catastrophe was dealt with in a way that we felt met
the needs of the world in trying to prevent that catastrophe from unfolding
in a rather unique way. In an unprecedented action, NATO made a decision to
use military force inside Yugoslavia if he failed to meet the international
community's demands. So we took unprecedented action in that regard and we
dealt with President Milosevic, and he reversed course and stopped pursuing
the behavior that was causing this grave risk to the people there and
this grave risk of a humanitarian catastrophe. That is the reason
we did so.
We have no interest in propping up President Milosevic. We do have an
interest in preventing humanitarian catastrophe. We meet with many other -
when Secretary Albright was there, for example, I know, she met with many
of the opposition groups. She, I believe, spoke to B52, the radio.
Ambassador Holbrooke and Ambassador Gelbard and others who have been in the
region make it a point to try to lift up, through their activities and
through financial assistance, the opposition groups and the independent
media. That's how you balance principle and pragmatism in a very complicated
situation like Serbia.
QUESTION: You say you have no interest in propping up Milosevic. Are you
prepared to turn that around and say the US has an interest in seeing him
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think I've stated rather clearly our views on
President Milosevic. Nobody gets up in the morning thanking the Lord that
President Milosevic is the leader of Serbia. On the other hand, we do go
about promoting democratic change in Serbia as we do in other places
through these programs. I certainly don't think anybody would lose any
sleep if that changed.
QUESTION: One last thought. Kosovo is of great importance to Serbia. And
you describe the fragmentation of, first, of Yugoslavia, the problems with
what remains of Serbia - of what remains of Yugoslavia. Why then -- you're
coming awfully close to being happy with a destabilizing situation. But why
do you maintain a policy, then, of not wanting to see Kosovo go independent?
Because, in a sense, that might be the last nail in his whatever - if he
MR. RUBIN: Those points were designed to make clear the extent to which
Milosevic has harmed the interests of Serbs in Serbia and Serbs everywhere.
We have demonstrated that, I think, through the points that I've made about
the harm that his rule and his policies have caused. To the extent that
Serbs better understand the harm that President Milosevic has caused them,
perhaps they will understand better the danger of his rule to them. But
that's a very different point than changing our view as to how borders
should be changed in Europe in the modern era.
QUESTION: For the most part, I want to ask, has Milosevic kept the deal
that he was forced to change his mind about, change his policy about? And
if he's keeping the deal for the most part, then perhaps isn't he a guy
that NATO would want to deal with if they have a proven track record of
getting him to turn around? What do you say to that?
MR. RUBIN: Well, turning him around on problems he causes is not
something we take great joy in. If he didn't cause the problem, he wouldn't
have to reverse course and solve the problem. So that's the first answer to
With respect to is he complying, let me say that largely, yes; largely
Kosovo is relatively quiet. There are no cease-fire violations that have
been reported. Our observers continue to accompany police patrols in the
Malisevo area, and in that regard there is a concern we do have - that is
the excessive Serbian police presence at Malisevo remains a troubling
instance of Serbian failure to comply fully with the UN Security Council
It is the primary cause of the high level of tension in the Malisevo area.
The police presence in Malisevo is an issue that we have raised directly
with the government in Belgrade, and we have underscored to them the
importance of complying with UN resolutions in this as in all other
As the verification agreement authorizes them to do, our observers are
accompanying Serbian police patrols in the Malisevo region in an effort to
reduce tensions in an area where the KLA is particularly visible. Our
monitors' efforts have borne fruit over the last few weeks, as the number
of incidents of violence has dropped significantly. But we still do have a
problem with the excessive presence there.
QUESTION: But largely stable?
MR. RUBIN: Well, largely the compliance has largely occurred, as
evidenced by the lack of cease-fire violations.
QUESTION: I'd like to go at Barry's question from a little bit of a
different angle. There's a large British newspaper basing a report, as far
as I can see, from your statements yesterday; saying that the Clinton
Administration is actively seeking the overthrow of Milosevic. Is that
MR. RUBIN: As I said, I don't think we would lose any sleep if he passed
from the scene. With respect to our policies and what we are pursuing, the
policies that we are talking about are the ones that I am describing to you
in promoting democracy. I know there are a lot of reports out there about
other things that I just make it a practice never to talk about one way or
the other. And that's not implied meaning there's any truth to them,
QUESTION: Let me put it another way. If Milosevic complies in all these
areas to your full satisfaction, you're willing to continue to work with
MR. RUBIN: We want to see democracy in Serbia. There is no democracy in
Serbia. That is the long-term policy of the United States - to have
democracy in Serbia.
When you talk about dealing with Milosevic, as in response to the last
question, and is he complying with a particular promise, let me point out
the promise that he's complying with is something that was only necessary
because of the policies that he pursued in the first place, which generated
the humanitarian catastrophe that then he turned around in the face of NATO
air strikes and solved.
So we prefer not to have the problem in the first place that Milosevic
would then have to reverse course to help solve.
QUESTION: But if he woke up a different person tomorrow morning and did
everything you want him to do, it's fine with you if he stays in power.
MR. RUBIN: Democracy in Serbia is the goal. It's not a personality-driven
policy; it's a process-driven policy - the process of democracy.
QUESTION: Can we move to another undemocratic country? Senator Lugar
yesterday, I think, in The Washington Post, wrote a list of suggestions on
what might be done regarding Yugoslavia. Do you have any reservations about
the various proposals he's made?
MR. RUBIN: Well, when we looked at them, in large measure we supported
them. That is largely because many of them are things we are trying to do.
We'd love to have additional support from the Congress for additional
programs to assist the media and to assist the promotion of democracy
there. That is something that we have been doing. It's a cornerstone of our
policy in the Balkans, to promote democracy and to assist in the development
of a free and independent media.
As I indicated yesterday, we are spending $15 million in the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia, including $2 million for independent TV. So the
kind of measures that Senator Lugar helpfully emphasized are measures that
we do agree with. We're always looking at ways to pursue such policies
better, and we'll take a careful look at his ideas.
QUESTION: What about his (inaudible) perspective, though; do you share
that as well?
MR. RUBIN: You need to be more specific.
QUESTION: Well, he does say that there is -- no lasting solution to the
Balkan crises is possible without fundamental change in Serbia and in the
leadership of Yugoslavia. Do you have any reservations --
MR. RUBIN: We have no illusions about President Milosevic. We do not see
him as a guarantor of stability in Kosovo or elsewhere in the former
Yugoslavia, including Bosnia. We also recognize quite clearly, as I have in
several responses this morning said to you, that we believe he is the cause
of many of these problems not the solution to many of these problems.
Beyond stating these positions as I have, I don't know how to be more
specific in response to your question.
QUESTION: You're not exactly stating a reservation to what Lugar is
MR. RUBIN: We read it with interest.
QUESTION: Then the other issue that comes up that I think you mentioned
earlier was Montenegro. That's really a place where they are trying to go
their own way, but it's a direct threat to Milosevic's rule. I was just
wondering, should the Montenegrins continue down the path they're taking
and find themselves in some jeopardy as a result, to what extent is the
United States willing to support them so that they are not put in jeopardy
or put at risk?
MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright had a very constructive with Mr. Djukanovic
when he was here in the United States. Other than being a very tall person,
which was astounding, he was someone who had a very tall view of democracy
and a view that we found quite appealing.
We have not taken the position that we are in favor of some breaking away
of Montenegro. We have said, and I can repeat, that we respect the
territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as the final
act of Helsinki commits us to do. But we will insist that the authorities
in Belgrade, including President Milosevic, meet their commitments under
the Helsinki Final Act to allow for democracy, independent media and
freedom of association and expression in Montenegro.
Beyond saying that, I don't know how to respond to what I think you would
acknowledge is a hypothetical case. However likely it might be, it is
hypothetical at this point.
QUESTION: Do you want to give an assessment, then, of what is a threat to
the regime of Djukanovic? Milosevic now has a new security chief, a new
army chief, people who may not be so reluctant to intervene in Montenegro
as the previous people.
MR. RUBIN: It's a matter of concern for us.
QUESTION: How do you address that concern, both with regard to dealing
with the Montenegrins and the Yugoslav regime? Are you warning Milosevic or
telling him what you think he should do there, or are you giving the
Montenegrins some sense of --
MR. RUBIN: Well, we're in regular touch with the Montenegrin authorities -
part of our normal policy in the region. We have certainly made clear to
President Milosevic the fact that his isolation from the world is not
solely a function of what he was instigating in Bosnia or not solely a
function of what he was instigating - the effect he was having on the
people of Kosovo, but is also a function of permitting the kind of
democratic freedoms and the freedom of independent media and association
and expression in Montenegro. We've made that very clear to him.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the arrest of two prominent
dissidents in China?
MR. RUBIN: With respect to that issue, let me say that we understand that
on November 30, Public Security Bureau officials formally detained Xu
Wenli. The officials also reportedly searched his apartment and removed a
computer, fax machine and documents related to the "China Democratic
Xu has been involved in recent efforts by political activists in China to
register a political party. We view his detention for peacefully exercising
fundamental freedoms guaranteed by international human rights instruments
as a serious step in the wrong direction. We conveyed our strong views to
officials in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs today in Beijing, and
urged the authorities to release Xu immediately.
We are waiting for further information from Chinese authorities on the
case. Specifically we have asked what crime Xu is suspected of committing,
and we do expect further information on this point. We have said for some
weeks now that we are disturbed by the recent number of detentions of
dissidents that serve to limit political debate in China. We have
repeatedly communicated this view to Chinese authorities, underscoring the
importance that the international community does place on freedoms of
association, expression and assembly.
QUESTION: On Quebec - have you picked an ambassador yet?
Let me say, what's your reaction to the prospect of a separatist movement
success in any future referendum? How do the results of the election -- how
have they been received by the State Department?
MR. RUBIN: With respect to that issue, the choice of a provincial
government is an internal matter for the citizens of that province. With
respect to the question of secession, our position on this issue is clear
and long-standing. The United States recognizes this is an internal issue
for Canadians to resolve within their constitutional, legal and political
We have always valued our close and productive relationship with a strong
and united Canada. We share many common bonds, including an unwavering
commitment to the importance of social justice, elections, an independent
judiciary and the rule of law. We greatly admire what Canada has achieved,
and see it as a model of how different people of different languages and
traditions can work together in peace, prosperity and respect.
QUESTION: So you'd like to maintain the territory -- you'd like to see
Canada's territorial integrity maintained? One of its great achievements,
of course, was building a nation out of disparate elements with different
European and other traditions. Would you like to see it break away?
MR. RUBIN: The United States recognizes this is an internal issue for
Canadians to resolve within their constitutional, legal, and political
system. We have always valued our close and productive relationship with a
strong and united Canada.
QUESTION: Do you look forward in the future to such a relationship?
MR. RUBIN: We recognize this is an internal issue for Canadians to
-- within their constitutional, legal, and political system. But we have
always valued our close and productive relationship with a strong and
QUESTION: Jamie, don't you have interests? I mean, this is a major
trading partner, you share a border, and it is a country that has
threatened - well, some would say - threatened to collapse. Why - well,
won't there come a point when you'll have to maybe say something?
MR. RUBIN: Do you want me to do that again?
QUESTION: No, I'm trying to address the fact, why you are sticking to the
MR. RUBIN: We recognize that this is an internal issue for the Canadians
to resolve - their constitutional system. I don't know how to be more clear
than that. At the same time, we've always valued a close and productive
relationship with a strong and united Canada.
That is what we think is appropriate for us to say about an issue that
Canadians are wrestling with.
QUESTION: Have you ever met with PQ leaders?
MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check on that; I don't know the answer.
QUESTION: So, do you know about their platform?
MR. RUBIN: Well obviously, Canada is a democracy and an open democracy,
and their material and positions are quite well-known to Canadians; and
we're capable of reading the newspapers.
QUESTION: Jamie, another subject -- is the United States supporting the
proposal by both Germany and Italy to try Ocalan in an international
MR. RUBIN: We are continuing to work with Turkey, Italy, Germany and the
international community to ensure that Ocalan is brought to justice for the
terrorists crimes he is accused of in a manner consistent with international
standards for due process and domestic legal requirements.
As we have said, our main priority is that he face justice. We will
continue to work with Italy, Germany and Turkey to achieve that end. We
understand that there is an obligation under the European Convention on the
Suppression of Terrorism to submit the terrorism charges for domestic
prosecution if he is not extradited. That is in Italy. We do want this to
be resolved. The idea you mentioned is one I know that people are wrestling
with. For now, we want to make clear that our bottom line is that he should
face justice. Beyond saying that, I don't have any new views to communicate
QUESTION: Does the United States wants to solve Turkey's Kurdish problem
using the PKK or the Ocalan case?
MR. RUBIN: This is a terrorism case to us. It may be a lot to a lot of
other people and may have a lot of other meaning to a lot of other people.
But to the United States, where terrorism is one of our highest priorities,
we consider this a terrorism case. When a terrorist is responsible for the
killing of innocents, they should face justice. That is the way we view it.
I know others have other views.
QUESTION: Your notion of justice doesn't encompass the type of sentence
that might be imposed?
MR. RUBIN: I think we should start with the trial.
QUESTION: Let me ask you about Yasser Arafat's remarks late yesterday at
the new conference and also - well, I'll take it one at a time. I suppose
your answer will be in line with previous answers.
MR. RUBIN: I will do them one at a time.
QUESTION: All right, so here we go. Jerusalem -- there he is at the end
of a day of great generosity, which the President thinks contributes to the
peace process, declaring unilaterally that Jerusalem is covered by the 242
and 338, and should be turned over to the Arabs. Presumably he just means
East Jerusalem. What do you think of that public statement?
MR. RUBIN: We are not unfamiliar with the process by which people on both
sides of this issue express their views on permanent status issues. We have
stated that unilateral actions or unilateral statements that are designed
to prejudge the outcome of what we hope will be a successful discussion and
negotiation on permanent status are not helpful. That remains our
There is modulation on both sides at different times and different
locations and different places. The bottom line is the less both parties
say to try to prejudge issues that are now under negotiation, since the
permanent status talks have begun, the greater the chance that we will be
able to have success in those negotiations. That's our view.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - Arafat and your answer applies to both sides,
MR. RUBIN: I could answer it specifically to Arafat, if you'd like.
QUESTION: Why don't you try, because that's what I asked about. I can ask
about Netanyahu, too, if you want, because he then said - which he has said
also many times -- that Jerusalem is Israel's eternal and undeniable
MR. RUBIN: Our view is that we don't intend to express a view on that
because of the importance of not undermining the environment for permanent
With respect to Chairman Arafat's statements about statehood, it has been
our position and remains our position that unilateral actions or unilateral
statements of that kind are not helpful.
QUESTION: Let me try one other thing. He has made it a point here - and
there's a point to my question - he's made a point here and elsewhere, and
his colleagues have, too, that Israel is not releasing a sufficient number
of political prisoners - or what they call political prisoners. He's made
this pitch to the President; I understand he's made it to the Secretary.
She's seeing him again today. Does the US have a view as to whether
the Wye agreement specifies at what stage, of the agreed releases,
political prisoners should be? Would you prefer, in the spirit of whatever -
reconciliation - that more political prisoners be released? What is the US'
position on this dispute?
MR. RUBIN: We prefer not to state our view on this subject. We do know
that there are strong feelings on the part of the Palestinians. We also
know that the agreement was to, in three tranches, release 250 prisoners;
and the first tranche has happened.
We are going to encourage - and it has already occurred - discussions
between the two parties, which is the best way to resolve problems like
this, so that the concerns are resolved. Whatever our view might be, we
don't think it would be helpful to make that public right now. We've had a
long experience in dealing with nettlesome issues in the Palestinian-
Israeli peace process, and we've found that on some occasions it's
preferable for us to state our views and on some occasions it's preferable
not to state our views. This is in the latter category.
QUESTION: If you saw a violation, the US wouldn't be shy about saying so,
MR. RUBIN: We hope that we're in a position to talk about successes and
talk about the way in which the agreement is implemented. There have been
many steps forward in recent weeks, and hopefully that's what we'll be able
to focus on.
QUESTION: But is release of political prisoners a helpful, positive step
so far? Has it been proceeding in a positive, helpful way?
MR. RUBIN: The 250 of the 750, as per the tranches, have been released;
and that's certainly a good thing. With respect to the composition of that
group, I am not expressing our view.
QUESTION: Jamie, what is the purpose of the meeting with him this
MR. RUBIN: Well, there will be a meeting of the US- Palestinian joint
commission, which is part of the way in which we build our relationship
with the Palestinians. I believe this is either the first or the second
such meeting. I'll try to get you the details on that.
QUESTION: I think it's the first.
MR. RUBIN: Okay, the first meeting of this commission, which is designed
to build stronger ties between the Palestinian Authority and the United
QUESTION: Is it a warm-up for inter-governmental relations?
MR. RUBIN: It is what it is.
QUESTION: Yes, but what do you think it is. I think I know what it is;
but what do you think it is?
MR. RUBIN: We think it is what it is, which is way to --
QUESTION: A relationship between a government and a --
MR. RUBIN: The Palestinian Authority.
QUESTION: This is going to be formed along the same lines as similar
commissions like Gore-Chernomyrdin and --
MR. RUBIN: We'll have to see exactly how it plays out. After their
meeting, I'll try to get you some more details on what the procedural plans
for the future are.
QUESTION: There will be a read-out afterwards?
MR. RUBIN: I will try to get you a read-out.
QUESTION: Jamie, for months now - maybe for years already - the US
position has been that unilateral acts by both sides are not helpful. And
yet we go through what I'm going to call a dance from this podium, from Mr.
Arafat's comments, from the Prime Minister's comments. Is that the way you
see it - that everybody's just doing this for --
MR. RUBIN: The Middle East peace process is not a dance or a game to us;
it's a very serious business.
QUESTION: No, but when you say that you don't like unilateral acts and
you've expressed this view publicly and privately to both sides, and yet
they both go ahead with it --
MR. RUBIN: Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.
QUESTION: And you think your influence on them has stopped them from
going ahead at various --
MR. RUBIN: It depends; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
QUESTION: A little ahead of the presidential trip - I wondered if you had
any plans or near plans - plans I suppose is the wrong way to get an
answer. There are never plans; things just happen.
Are you working on any possible arrangement for informing other countries
in the region of the outcome of the talks the President, the Secretary and
others will be having with Palestinians and Israelis?
MR. RUBIN: I think I know where you're going with that. I don't -
QUESTION: I haven't gotten there.
MR RUBIN: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I think I know where you're going, where we're all going.
MR. RUBIN: Where we're all going. I wouldn't bet on it.
The planning for a presidential trip and all its aspects is best announced
from the White House.
QUESTION: No, no, I'm asking about travel that would not involve the
MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright will be accompanying the President on his
visit to Israel and to Gaza. If she has additional stops in her plan, I
will let you know. But as far as I know, there are no such stops planned or
likely. Does that help?
QUESTION: The Secretary last night met with the Canadian Foreign Minister,
and apparently he raised again the issue of no-first use in nuclear
weapons. I was wondering if you could -
MR. RUBIN: Well, our view on that has not changed. We don't see any need
to open the can of worms that would be associated with a major discussion
of NATO nuclear strategy. We think NATO nuclear strategy has served the
Alliance and the world extremely well, and we don't see the need to cast
doubt on such an issue or to change the uncertainty that is created by
NATO's nuclear strategy. So we think NATO's nuclear strategy is doing just
fine, thank you. We have made that view known to all those who have
expressed concern about it or desire to have an extensive dialogue about
QUESTION: What about the argument that it would go a certain distance in
addressing the situation with India and Pakistan?
MR. RUBIN: We think the argument is actually backwards; we think that
argument is incorrect. We think that the countries in the world that pursue
nuclear programs do it without regard to what NATO's nuclear strategy is.
They do it for their own reasons and they don't make those decisions based
on whether NATO does or doesn't have a first-use policy.
In fact, the reverse is probably true, which is the uncertainty created by
the United States' nuclear strategy provides a certain degree of protection
to countries that might, in the absence of that protection, consider the
need to develop nuclear programs.
So we think the best way to promote non-proliferation is to continue down
the successful path we've been going down for these long years and deal
with the cases -- India, Pakistan, others -- as they arise on their own
merits, rather than promoting a new situation where other countries feel
the need around the world to develop some nuclear defense of their
QUESTION: While we're on nuclear, has the US picked up any suspicious
behavior by Romania, so far as Romanians - not necessarily with government
approval - providing nuclear technology material to Iran or other such
MR. RUBIN: Well, I know there's an issue with Romania and Iraq that came
up today. I believe it was with regard to missiles and not nuclear. But
other than that, it was a perfect question. (Laughter.)
My answer will be almost as effective as the question, which is that we've
seen the reports; we are looking into it. It's obviously based - underlyingly
based on an intelligence issue, which makes it difficult to discuss in a
public forum. But we're going to look at it and if we have something, we
will get back to you.
QUESTION: There's a rumor that you're going to release some Pinochet-era
documents. Is that true?
MR. RUBIN: On the subject of Pinochet, let me simply state that the - we
have condemned the abuses of the Pinochet regime when it was in power and
played a very supportive role in encouraging Chile's difficult transition
to democracy. We are committed - the United States is committed to the
principle of accountability as evidenced by our support for the tribunals
in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. The record of the United States in seeking to
hold accountable those who abuse human rights is very strong.
Different countries, when emerging from authoritarianism and conflict,
strike different balances between justice and reconciliation and have done
so without sacrificing the principle of accountability. South Africa has
had its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There was a different model in
Bosnia, where we sought to prosecute war criminals. There is no single
right answer to how a country should balance these demands. It is important
to support democratic countries in their efforts to strike this balance.
While it is vital to promote accountability, there may be different ways
to accomplish this goal.
In that regard, let me say we're not prepared yet to state our views about
the legal merits of the law lords' decision. We continue to study the
opinions. But with respect to documents that may shed light on human rights
abuses during the Pinochet era, due to the interest in this case the
Administration is conducting a review of documents in its possession that
may shed light on human rights abuses during the Pinochet era. We will
declassify and make public as much information as possible consistent
with US laws and the national security and law enforcement interests
of the United States.
QUESTION: Would the US support an alleged deal between Britain and Chile
to let him go home?
MR. RUBIN: Again, I tried to state our view very carefully, and I'm going
to do that carefully in response to your question -- and that is that we
don't have an opinion on the merits of this case. We think this is a matter
for the courts.
We do have an opinion on Pinochet's behavior, and we've stated very strong
condemnation for the abuses that took place during his rule. We also have a
general view about the importance of giving respect to democracies as they
go through the process of balancing justice and reconciliation so long as
they do so without sacrificing an important principle of accountability.
That is our view. This is a matter for the governments concerned. We
have not been agitating to one or the other to do a particular thing,
but the views that we have expressed privately, as you can imagine, would
be consistent with the ones that we have expressed publicly.
QUESTION: What will you be doing with these documents?
MR. RUBIN: Well, right now we're going to be reviewing the documents that
may shed light on human rights abuses; and then we will declassify and make
public as much information as possible, consistent, obviously, with our
laws and national security and law enforcement needs.
QUESTION: Why are you doing this?
MR. RUBIN: Because of the interest that this case has generated.
QUESTION: These documents will deal only with the human rights abuses,
and will not deal with US policy toward Chile during the late Allende
MR. RUBIN: Well, as I understand the mandate - I mean, this is going to
be something that evolves over the time when one tries to collect all these
documents. The reason and the motivation, because of public interest in
this case, is to focus on documents that shed light on human rights abuses
during the Pinochet era and not every different thought anybody in the
government might have had about Latin America.
QUESTION: Jamie, any idea how long this could take?
MR. RUBIN: No, I don't have any prediction at this time. Obviously it's a
significant number of documents.
QUESTION: Jamie (inaudible) that Chile has tried to achieve reconciliation
through its reconciliation commission. But there is a question of whether
they've achieved sufficient accountability. I'm just wondering if you have
view on that point.
MR. RUBIN: Well, there have been numerous calls and they've been
increasing in recent days in Chile for additional efforts at truth,
reconciliation, and accountability. We've taken note of those calls. Again,
I'm trying very carefully not to declare ourselves on a issue that is not
right for us to declare ourselves on. I think it's appropriate for us to
make clear that we give respect to Chile as a democracy that's going
through this wrestling with the demands of justice and the demands of
reconciliation as other countries -- South Africa, El Salvador and
elsewhere -- have done.
On the other hand, let me make clear that we regard the abuses of Pinochet
as condemnable and have condemned them. And finally, this is a matter
before the courts and we are obviously awaiting final decisions by the home
secretary. It is not the place of the United States Government to give
advice to Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, nor are we giving advice to the
Chilean people or anyone else. Therefore it's very important not to
overstate any particular view we might have at a time like this.
QUESTION: Would it be (inaudible) the Chileans devising some kind of
instance or form or court to provide more accountability in this case?
MR. RUBIN: There have been calls for additional efforts at truth,
reconciliation and accountability and we think that's a good thing,
QUESTION: Another subject -- are you planning to release also documents
of the Americans who were killed or disappeared during this regime?
MR. RUBIN: To the extent that they were killed or disappeared pursuant to
human rights abuses, which I think goes without saying, yes, the documents
would reflect that.
QUESTION: And also, are you condemning his success in overthrowing
democratic and an elected president (inaudible) Allende in Chile, or just
the human rights abuses?
MR. RUBIN: The human rights abuses is the motivation for this current
case. It is the motivation for the public interest in the case, and
therefore what we focused our documentation on and we will do the best we
can on this. It is very complicated; we don't do it very often. Perhaps it
might even be noted that we are going to extraordinary lengths to try to do
it because we believe in this and we are doing it to try to shed light
on human rights abuses that occur during that period. That is the
QUESTION: Can I follow up in this continent?
MR. RUBIN: Unless someone else has this case. This continent and then
we'll go over here and then over here and then behind.
QUESTION: On Chile, could you expound a little about the motivation for
this. You said because of the interest this has aroused. What do you intend
to do? Do you intend to come to any conclusion or recommendation as a
result of this review of documents?
MR. RUBIN: I think you know there are many groups, many governments, many
people who are interested in these cases. There has been interest expressed
in what we might have available that will help people come to their own
conclusions about what transpired. This is not a report of the United
States Government; it's not a conclusion of the United States Government.
This is an effort on our part, given the extensive human rights abuses that
occurred in Chile, to try to assist those who want to know more about
a problem like this.
That is the reason for it. It's not designed for us to reach conclusions,
but for us to provide raw information that will help others reach
QUESTION: But it would strengthen the case of those who want to see the --
MR. RUBIN: Well, it depends on what the documents say. I mean, presumably;
but we can't know that until we have the documents.
QUESTION: Those documents will be provided to the Chilean Government, for
MR. RUBIN: They would be declassified and made public, as much information
With respect to other governments - that is, in particular, the Spanish
judge who is looking into this - the United States, through the Department
of Justice, has been cooperating with the Spanish court for over a year,
pursuant to a request under the US-Spain Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. We
will continue to do so. We have not received any new requests from the
Spanish court to review secret files. If we receive a new request from the
government of Spain, we will cooperate under the terms of the MLAT,
consistent with US laws and the national security and law enforcement
interests of the United States.
For questions about this MLAT and how that might work, I would have to
refer you, in any greater detail, to the Department of Justice.
QUESTION: On Colombia, The New York Times has an article on the front
page saying that with the increase of the US military aid to that country,
the national police could be using this equipment against the rebels. Do
you have any comment on that?
MR. RUBIN: You always find an interesting way of interpreting these
QUESTION: No, it's what they said.
MR. RUBIN: That's not the way I read the article. We support the recent
funding increase for counter-narcotics in Colombia. As this particular
account notes, 80 percent of the cocaine used in the United States is grown,
processed or transported through Colombia. In addition, more than half of
the heroin used in the eastern part of the United States comes from
Our current counter-narcotics program, which includes eradication of
illicit coca and opium poppy, alternate development, interdiction and
judicial and legal cooperation will be expanded with these additional
resources. In particular, we will step up our eradication efforts against
these illegal crops.
We do not provide assistance for counter-guerrilla operations in Colombia.
Our assistance is provided to combat narcotics production and trafficking
and may be used to counter all those who are actively involved in the drug
trade. When personnel and equipment are attacked during counter-drug
operations, whether by guerrillas, paramilitary or narcos, they will return
fire in self-defense. The US government does not provide assistance for any
QUESTION: How about to Indonesia -- more reports of religious warfare -
large numbers of people, Muslims, fighting Christians, things out of
control there. Does the United States have faith in Mr. Habibie's
government to be able to keep this situation under control, or to bring it
back to control? What do you have to say about it?
MR. RUBIN: Reports from West Timor indicate that attacks on mosques and
shops there continue. While details are unclear, it appears the disturbance
began during a day of mourning for those killed in a Christian-Muslim clash
in Jakarta on November 22. Security forces are on the scene, but they have
not been effective in completely restoring order.
In cases such as this, there is a clear need for law and order to be
responsibly enforced by the security forces in order to protect all
Indonesian citizens and prevent acts of violence and vandalism. We call on
all Indonesians to assert opinions and express grievances in a peaceful
manner and to refrain from violence.
QUESTION: That's in West Timor?
MR. RUBIN: It's West Timor; it's called Kupang.
QUESTION: On crackdown on opposition in Azerbaijan, there are many
reports about efforts by the Azerbaijani Government to crackdown on
opposition and the independent media. The hunger strike of 20 newspaper
editors has continued for 19 days. One opposition activist was jailed last
Friday. What is the State Department prepared to say to the Azerbaijani
Government about these events?
MR. RUBIN: With respect to the 18-month prison sentence given to a 23-
year old student for writing an article that was never published, let me
say the US is concerned by this verdict, which is the latest in a series of
government steps to harass the opposition and restrict freedom of thought
We call on the government of Azerbaijan to engage in dialogue with, not
harassment of, its political opponents.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea when the Administration is going to have a
final decision on the proposition to create a national commission to review
US policy --
MR. RUBIN: When we have a decision, we will tell you very early
QUESTION: How is Dr. Perry acclimating to his new position?
MR. RUBIN: Very well.
QUESTION: Very well, good. In his review of the US strategy to gain
access to the underground site, is he entertaining any new incentives, any
new strategic ways to entice the North Koreans?
MR. RUBIN: The next meeting of that is scheduled for the end of the week
in New York and then in Washington the beginning of next week. That will be
the next opportunity for the United States to make clear to the North
Koreans the critical importance of their providing access to the site.
With respect to Dr. Perry's conclusions, my understanding is he is expected
to go to the region shortly, in a short number of days. At that point, he
will have a chance to talk to officials in South Korea, Japan and China.
He's been working in the Department with experts here - Secretary Albright
had a lengthy dinner with him last week. When he is ready to draw some
conclusions and make some recommendations, we will provide that to you at
the appropriate time but not in a seriatim, half-baked way. I mean, we're
going to - he's doing a very serious project and when he has some
recommendations to make, he will make them; and I'm not going to preview
what they might be.
QUESTION: But could you announce the trip when it's nailed down,
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you think he might come down and see us before he goes?
MR. RUBIN: When he's ready to see you all, I will tell him of your
interest, yes. I believe everyone of you in some form or another has
expressed some interest in that, yes.
QUESTION: Lockerbie -- the anniversary is approaching and a few things
seem to be happening. What signals are you getting from the Libyans on this,
on whether they are willing to go along with your plan or not?
MR. RUBIN: We have seen reports that the Secretary General plans to meet
Libyan officials in the region on this upcoming trip. We do not have
specific information of where and with whom these meetings will take
The Security Council resolution makes it clear that the United Nations
Secretary General is responsible for the implementation of the resolution
in arranging the physical transfer of the suspects to the Netherlands. We
would expect a meeting between the Secretary General and Libyan officials
to substantially advance the hand-over of the suspects. The Secretary
General and his legal representative have been providing to the Libyan
legal team clarifications on legal and procedural matters relating to UN
Security Council Resolution 1192. This is not an negotiation. We are
expecting a prompt response from Libya to the Security Council's demands.
Secretary General Kofi Annan will be in a position, presumably, to advance
With respect to what the Libyan position is, over the years I have watched
this very carefully and I've come to regard with great skepticism the
different comments of lawyers and officials purporting to speak on behalf
of Qadhafi. We will believe that they are willing to hand these suspects
over when they do so. In the meantime, we are leaving the clarifications in
the hands of the Secretary General.
QUESTION: Are you concerned, though, that the Secretary -- you seem to
suggest that the Secretary General is traveling here without your advance
MR. RUBIN: It's his job to clarify legal and procedural matters relating
to the Security Council Resolution 1192. We have briefed the UN legal team
extensively on our proposal. They know what's required; they know that this
is not a negotiation -- that clarifications are one thing; negotiations are
another, and they are not engaged in negotiations. They are clarifying the
proposal that Qadhafi's people allegedly wanted all along.
We have now said that a Scottish trial in The Hague with Scottish justice
meets the demands of justice and the question is whether Qadhafi is going
to put up or shut up on this subject.
QUESTION: Do you have the date of when your proposal was made?
MR. RUBIN: I'll give it to you after. I couldn't possibly have that kind
of data in the book in front of me.
QUESTION: I only ask that you provide it, if you would, given your
response that you expect a prompt response from the Libyans. It strikes me
that the proposal was some months ago, right?
MR. RUBIN: Right.
QUESTION: It can't be prompt if he's three months or four months behind
MR. RUBIN: It all depends on how you define prompt with Qadhafi.
QUESTION: Is Qadhafi's willingness to cooperate, other than handing over
the suspects, his willingness to cooperate by providing evidence and
witnesses. Do you have an opinion on that?
MR. RUBIN: That's a factor, obviously, yes.
QUESTION: Given the jailing of two of the key witnesses -- the conviction
of two key witnesses --
MR. RUBIN: I don't have anything new to offer on that. I mean, look, if
this happens it's going to be an extensive and unprecedented exercise; and
we will comment on that aspect of it if it happens.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:45 P.M.)