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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #133, 98-12-04

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>


1202

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Friday, December 4, 1998

Briefer: James B. Foley

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1		Special briefing Monday on Kosovo by senior State officials
		  after regular briefing.

RUSSIA 1,2 US remains concerned about difficulties with economic situation. 2 US prepared to help if Russia makes necessary economic choices.

UK-FRANCE 2,3 US welcomes statements on European efforts to do more for its own defense. 3-5 NATO remains central Transatlantic security link.

LIBYA 5 UNSCR 1192 makes clear SYG Annan's role in facilitating hand-over of Pan Am 103 suspects. 6,7 Incarceration of those convicted would be in UK. 7 US' patience on this issue is not unlimited. 6-8 UN sanctions would be suspended if suspects were handed over.

SERBIA 9 Dep. PM Seselj's comment equating US with Nazi Germany is Orwellian. 9,10 Arrest of Gen. Krstic entirely within SFOR's mandate. 9,10,20 Hague Tribunal is a fair setting to try indicted war criminals. 10 Outer wall of sanctions remains in place because of Milosevic's lack of cooperation.

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 11,12 US has been in contact with parties; both sides should move ahead with Wye agreement. 11,12 Wye memorandum should be implemented without further conditions. 11-13 US opposes and will oppose any unilateral declarations or actions. 12 Israelis have released prisoners as agreed to in Wye agreement. 13,14 Secretary spoke with PM Netanyahu yesterday; US has had contact with Chairman Arafat also.

NORTH KOREA 14 US urges DPRK to lower "temperature" of its recent rhetoric. 15 US requires access to suspect underground sites.

VENEZUELA 15 US hopes for and expects a free, fair, democratic election.

TERRORISM 17 US is not urging a specific course of action in Ocalan case to bring him to justice.

PAKISTAN 17 Prime Minister Sharif had a good visit, but there is still a way to go on nuclear issues.

CANADA 18 US committed under international conventions to provide consular notification.

CYPRUS 19 UN process is underway to reduce tensions, work toward overall solution.

BOSNIA 20 Congress passed authority to offer rewards for persons indicted by Hague Tribunal.


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #133

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1998, 2:00 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. FOLEY: Welcome to the State Department's noon briefing.

In terms of announcements, first of all, you're aware that at 3:45 this afternoon, we're going to have a senior Administration official briefing on the NATO -- U.S. views on the NATO Ministerial that Secretary Albright is attending next week.

In addition, I would like to announce that on Monday, the Department's Spokesman will be briefing, we think at 12:45, if not a few minutes sooner. He has to depart quickly -- so it will be a very short briefing -- to get to Andrews Air Force Base to accompany Secretary Albright on her trip to Brussels and Paris. But immediately following his short briefing, we think at 1:00, senior officials from the State Department will provide an on-the- record update of the situation in Kosovo. The briefers will include Ambassador Chris Hill who is going to be back here for part of next week, Ambassador James Pardew and Assistant Secretary Julia Taft, with whom you are all familiar with.

Beyond that I'm going to post a couple of announcements on our immigrant visa processing improvements in that regard, and, secondly, on the Central Bank of Georgia's decision today to allow its national currency to float. So you can get those in the press room. With that I'll turn to your questions.

QUESTION: Jim, there was a little announcement of Summers and Strobe and Fuerth going to Moscow. Are they going to get a chance to see Yeltsin? Are they going to try to see Yeltsin?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware that they are going to be seeing President Yeltsin, or even that they have sought an appointment with them. That's not my understanding. My understanding is that they are going to be meeting -- having a heavy schedule of meetings while in Moscow to include meetings with Prime Minister Primakov, his economics team, legislative leaders, and other government and foreign policy opinion leaders.

QUESTION: I know an announcement like that is usually cut and dried and there isn't much said in it. But there isn't any sense in it, so I wondered if there was any sense in the building of some - of a desperate situation in Moscow? I mean, it's projected as sort of like we're in touch all the time. You know, we always talk to them and I suppose you're preparing whatever -- what the Gore-Chernomyrdin would now be called. But isn't there some urgency? Some special anxiety at this stage as these high-level people prepare to go?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't want to hype the concern. I think it's no secret that we're concerned about the situation in Russia, given the economic difficulties and the difficulties, in particular, that the reform program has had. We've noted - I don't probably need to repeat it, though - our comments following the IMF Managing Director, Mr. Camdessus, recent visit to Moscow for discussions between Russia and the Fund, in fact to identify an economic strategy and policies to help resolve Russia's economic difficulties. I think, of course, our senior officials are going to be discussing a range of issues with Russian counterparts -- but certainly, the economic situation and our view on the need for Russian authorities to grapple with the situation and undertake the kinds of tough decisions and reforms necessary to turn around the situation necessary to enable Western assistance go forward. As I said, that's going to be very much at the top of their agenda.

QUESTION: Same subject?

MR. FOLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Same subject?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, same subject?

QUESTION: Same subject, Russia. Is there a concern, pardon me, on the part of the US Government that the funds from the IMF or from any other governments might, in fact, go to line the pockets of the Russian mafia, which according to many sources now is largely in control of the Russian government? Is that a concern, Jim?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think it's no secret that one of the factors that has contributed to the economic decline in Russia has been an inadequate or incomplete transition to a true market economy. There have been distortions. It's reported in the press - I have no particular information, though -- that individuals have profited from some of those distortions. But what we're focused on, though, is a sound program. The United States is ready to support further assistance for Russia's efforts if - and I stress if - Russia is able to make the tough choices required for effective reform.

I can repeat what some of those areas of reform are. Russia needs to address its fundamental economic policy challenges to include restraining the budget deficit, stabilizing the exchange rate, fighting inflation, restructuring the banking sector, restarting the payment system, and finding cooperative ways to address obligations to creditors.

QUESTION: New subject. Do you all have a comment on the agreement between - signed today by Chirac and Tony Blair about European Defense Identity - or whatever it is they're calling it.

MR. FOLEY: Just preliminary comments at this point. We've only just received a copy of the document. It's an important document, and we'd reserve the right to take a look at it in a mature way and comment further on it, perhaps next week.

But in general, I can also tell you that Foreign Secretary Cook conferred with Secretary Albright this morning briefly, largely on that subject is my understanding. I don't have a readout of their conversation. So it's premature for us to assess the specifics. But in general terms, we are encouraged by the document's references to strengthening the capability of Europe's armed forces so that they can react rapidly to new circumstances, to contributing to NATO's vitality, and to preserving the alliance's prerogatives.

And certainly - also by way of general comment - we have, as you know, welcomed Prime Minister's Blair recent call on Europeans to consider ways that they can take more responsibility for their own security and defense. Certainly, the United States' interest is clear: we want a European partner that's capable of acting. So European efforts to do more for Europe's own defense help our engagement in Europe, they don't hinder it.

QUESTION: You wouldn't mind if you were squeezed out then?

MR. FOLEY: I didn't say that at all. I can repeat what I said which is our view, based on a preliminary reading, is that the document seems to not only strengthen the capability of Europe's armed forces to react to new circumstances but will contribute to NATO's vitality and to preserving the Alliance's prerogatives. I think I couched my statement in terms that address your question.

QUESTION: Since we don't know what prerogatives mean, you could have done better.

MR. FOLEY: Well, as you know, NATO is the embodiment of the transatlantic link.

QUESTION: I understand but -

MR. FOLEY: The organization that links European and American security as it has for almost 50 years. And we regard NATO as central, both as a forum for consultations and also for potential action.

QUESTION: But, there's a strong view well put by Roger Cohen in The New York Times this week ago Saturday, that you have other ambitions for NATO that the Europeans may not share.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I prepare to leave those -

QUESTION: Interests instead of territory.

MR. FOLEY: I prefer to leave those kinds of questions -

QUESTION: Monday.

MR. FOLEY: -- to the briefer - no, no, no -- this afternoon -

QUESTION: Oh, this afternoon.

MR. FOLEY: -- because you're going to get a background briefing.

QUESTION: Oh, that's right. So Monday is on the record, but it's Kosovo. Today is on background, but it's NATO. It's hard to remember.

MR. FOLEY: But in which the official up here will talk about next week's Ministerial, which in many ways is a predicate to the summit itself, which we'll address those issues.

QUESTION: Can we do Libya?

QUESTION: Do you see this agreement as affecting NATO in any real way? Is it outside of NATO? Is it within NATO? Can you comment on that?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think if you go back to the Berlin Ministerial in 1996, it was envisaged that Europeans would be able to act in circumstances where the United States chose not to involve itself drawing along upon Alliance assets. So the United States has certainly -- and long before that -- supported the principle of European capabilities. What we are interested in is not theology, and, of course, NATO issues sometimes deteriorate into theological discussions but, we're, for our part, in the United States interested in practical considerations -- the practical of the Europeans to act on your own defense. If you look, for example, at the extraction force that is being set up in (Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia on behalf of the Kosovo Verification Mission, that is a wholly European force, under European officers within the NATO context. So we see that certainly as a very good example.

QUESTION: I mean (inaudible) comes to mind more readily to me than other examples, but --

MR. FOLEY: I don't see the link between --

QUESTION: The link is that unless the United States was pushing Europe real hard and strong the Europeans weren't prepared to do anything to prevent --

MR. FOLEY: I understand your - I understand your point.

QUESTION: -- to stave off the worst catastrophe in human rights since World War II.

MR. FOLEY: I understand your point.

QUESTION: It took the United States -- if you want to leave all this to Europe, good luck to you. There would be a lot more dead minority people over in --

MR. FOLEY: Well, that is an editorial on your part, Barry.

QUESTION: The record shows it.

MR. FOLEY: No.

QUESTION: The Dutch stood there and watched them cart all the men off -- all the males off to the arena. They shot them and killed them all and bulldozed their bodies.

MR. FOLEY: All I am saying, Barry -- and I recognize your point -- all I am saying is that you can't have it both ways. We can't, on the one hand, wish that Europeans are better able to act together to promote common interests and then not welcome their willingness to take steps in that direction.

QUESTION: But to take over that -- look at it from another way. The United States wants this group, then - this arrangement to be within NATO because that way it has a veto over any activities they might undertake.

MR. FOLEY: I didn't say that. I don't want to get into specifics of a document that we've just received.

QUESTION: In general - the general theological feeling of Washington is, they want this group within NATO? Or are they comfortable with it outside of NATO?

MR. FOLEY: I am not prepared to get into that level of specifics today. As I said we just received the document. I think what - in a general --

QUESTION: This goes back to 1996. Back then you were happy to have it as long as it was within NATO.

MR. FOLEY: You are talking about an "it" -- the details of which we have not analyzed in a way sufficient for me to respond to your question. In a general sense the idea of the centrality of NATO to a transatlantic link and to our common defense is a cornerstone of our European policy. Certainly we would expect that any arrangements would respect the centrality of NATO, but to go beyond that into specifics is impossible for me to do at this stage.

QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts now that Kofi Annan is supposedly heading for Libya in the morning?

MR. FOLEY: We have been in contact with the UN Secretariat on this issue and the United States has made clear our view that the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1192 authorizes the UN Secretary General to facilitate the implementation of the Resolution and to assist in the arrangements for the physical transfer of the suspects to the Netherlands. Certainly this authority does not include negotiations. You're aware that we have made that position very clear every since we and the United Kingdom announced this proposal. So in this context we would expect a meeting between the Secretary General and Libyan officials to advance the hand-over of the suspects.

QUESTION: Has there been any clarifications sought by the Libyans to which the US has responded?

MR. FOLEY: I am not aware of any in particular. As I understand it, just from reading what is in the public domain, the Libyans have raised questions, indeed opposition, to the idea that the suspects would be, if found guilty, would be incarcerated in the United Kingdom. We have made crystal clear, as has the UK, from the beginning that that is not a negotiable point.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary General or his people suggested that a deal is cooked and he is just going there to ratify it?

MR. FOLEY: I'm, frankly, not privy to that kind of detail. As I understand it, the outcome of the visit was not clear. It hasn't taken place yet, and that's my understanding. But in so far - or in as much as the visit is going to take place, I can repeat that we would expect the meeting the Secretary General has with the Libyan officials to advance the hand-over of the suspects. Indeed, we hope that the visit succeeds in obtaining the turn-over of the suspects. But I wouldn't want to predict anything at this stage?

QUESTION: Do you have an understanding of a plane on stand-by somewhere?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have that information. I am not aware of that information.

QUESTION: There's one agency that quoted a State Department official as confirming that piece of information.

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of it. You might ask the United Nations. But I haven't heard that.

QUESTION: So the State Department --

MR. FOLEY: I just can't help you with it because I haven't heard it.

QUESTION: The State Department cannot confirm that? Is that what you're saying?

MR. FOLEY: I cannot confirm that.

QUESTION: He was originally to see other Libyan officials on the border, I think, before he - before this trip came up. Do you have any - any word on the outcome of those talks?

MR. FOLEY: No, I don't.

QUESTION: So does this follow on to those? I mean, is there a sense as to the fact that he's going? That there might be a possibility of a hand- over?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have any more information on the matter. I think perhaps the Secretary General's spokesman's office at the UN might be able to shed more light on it. But I don't have more information.

QUESTION: So it would be fine, I take it, then if the two suspects were brought to the Netherlands by Kofi Annan, no matter what the deal he made with Qadhafi would be, those two suspects would then --

MR. FOLEY: Bill, there is no deal. We don't support a deal, which is in, I think, the lexicon, an outcome of a negotiation.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. FOLEY: We support his effecting the transfer however it takes places as rapidly as possible.

QUESTION: But my point was, Jim, that if this happens successfully and they get him to the Netherlands, the United States would consider that those guys would be serving time in the U.K. if convicted, no matter?

MR. FOLEY: We expect them to be transferred rapidly to the Netherlands. Then you have a trial, and depending on the outcome of the trial, then the incarceration subject would come into play.

QUESTION: Well, but basically there is no give? There's no elbow room there? Is that what you said?

MR. FOLEY: I think I and other spokesmen have never said anything but that we will not negotiate this proposal as have the U.K. spokesmen.

QUESTION: Is there anything you can say about what will result if, in the end, and whenever that is, the suspects do not turn up at this court that you've set up? What would be - what, sort of, is the Administration's view on what the consequences of that would be?

MR. FOLEY: Well, it's been a long time. It's been too long. It's been almost 10 years since the tragedy, and certainly the families of the victims have waited too long for justice to be served. So we said when we announced this initiative with the United Kingdom that we expected prompt compliance. We have not specified a time frame, but our patience is limited. I am not here today to give you a specific deadline, as it were. But our patience is limited. Just to add to that, I believe - and I will check the record to be sure - but to the extent that the Security Council resolutions envisage the possibility of further sanctions if Libya does not cooperate and comply.

QUESTION: Belgrade apparently reads the --

QUESTION: What effect would a successful hand-over have on Libyan-U.S. relations in the future? Would it have any effect on the unilateral sanctions which date back to 1986 before the UN sanctions came into effect?

MR. FOLEY: I really have nothing to offer you on that today. I think the operative point is that according to the US and U.K. proposal and under the existing Security Council resolutions, if they hand over the suspects, the UN sanctions are suspended. But that's all I have for you today.

QUESTION: Can you say whether that would provide an opening for an improvement in relations - a whole new kind of atmosphere of --

MR. FOLEY: That really is a hypothetical avenue I don't care to travel down. Certainly, our problems with the Libyan regime are manifold, and moving down that road towards a different relationship would require a radically different approach to all kinds of issues on the part of the Libyan government.

QUESTION: If you want to bat the ball back into the Belgrade court --

MR. FOLEY: I think we're still on Libya.

QUESTION: But that's fine with the United States then?

MR. FOLEY: What is fine?

QUESTION: When they hand them over, you know, period, the sanctions are suspended?

MR. FOLEY: You should check the record of what we announced at the time of the initiative. That's what we said.

QUESTION: Okay, and so there's no - then that's it? That goes?

MR. FOLEY: That's my understanding.

QUESTION: It's UN sanctions.

QUESTION: Yeah, right.

MR. FOLEY: The UN sanctions, right. I think Barry is next.

QUESTION: I just wanted to see if you had something new. You know, it's --

MR. FOLEY: On what, Barry?

QUESTION: -- maybe your turn - the US's turn in the volleying with - the rhetorical volleying with Belgrade -

MR. FOLEY: Which one?

QUESTION: Milosevic's - well, whoever survives as Milosevic's - the senior aide had nasty things - it's things to say about what he took to be nasty US statements last week.

MR. FOLEY: You mean, Seselj?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. FOLEY: Really for a gentleman with his track record - gentleman, I use the term advisedly - but to talk about the United States - equating the United States - with I think Nazi Germany and talking about concentration camps, I think he may be someone who knows something about concentration camps. I trust that the International Tribunal is continuing to look into his potential responsibility concerning events that transpired in Bosnia a number of years ago. But certainly he would be one of the last people in the world who could utter words about concentration camps. It's Orwellian to say the least.

QUESTION: Besides Seselj, there's been some statements by, I think, the Federal Assembly or the Serbian Assembly accusing the United States of interference in the internal affairs.

MR. FOLEY: You know, Roy, I heard that coming in. I've not seen that, so I don't have a prepared comment for you. But, I think, you know very well, the situation involving indicted war criminals. Under the Dayton Accord, it's really the responsibility of the parties to turn them over. They signed on to Dayton. Nobody can complain about SFOR doing its job, doing a job that they're failing to do. This is really cut and dried. There's nothing to complain about. We've certainly made clear - and SFOR and NATO have made clear - that this was not an action in any way directed against the Serb people or against its army, which is cooperating with SFOR and has done so successfully in the interest of the people of the Republic Srpska.

Do we expect that to continue? Roy, I think you'll know that at the time, I think, the first apprehensions by SFOR or IFOR of indicted war criminals a number of years ago - two, two and a half years ago -- the reaction was very emotional, was very strong, and I think there was a period of sustained non-cooperation that lasted I don't know how many days. This doesn't compare to that reaction at the time.

QUESTION: Well, one of the interesting things is that at least one American official was quoted the other day in the Times as saying that the arrest of Krstic was also meant to be a signal to Milosevic. Can you elaborate on that at all? I mean, what is the signal that is meant to be sent to Milosevic?

MR. FOLEY: First, I don't know who made that statement. I can't comment on an anonymous statement. SFOR's mandate - and I don't have the text before me - but is to apprehend indicted war criminals with whom it comes in contact in the pursuance of its functions in Bosnia. My understanding is that Mr. Milosevic has not been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. So the authority of SFOR applies to those indicted by the ICTY.

QUESTION: Did you see what the Russians had to say about the arrest by the way?

MR. FOLEY: I think there was some criticism - there was a wire report I saw.

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. FOLEY: I can only repeat what I said. This is authorized under Dayton. It's an obligation of the parties to turn over war criminals. We hope that the arrest of this general is an occasion for the people in the former Yugoslavia to turn over remaining indicted war criminals voluntarily. It's the safest, surest way to get them to the Hague, where they will be given a fair hearing and a fair trial. And as you know, the tribunal at the Hague has, in some cases, dismissed charges. I believe there have been trials that have ended in not guilty verdicts in some cases as well. So it's a fair setting. And this apprehension ought to be a message, at least, to indicted war criminals that their place -- safest and surest place -- is the Hague.

QUESTION: There was a story in the Bosnian press the other day that one of the indictees that has been having sanctuary in Serbia had been promoted by Milosevic in the army, and he was indicted for the siege of Vukovar. Is there any indication that, indeed, Milosevic is promoting indictees to -

MR. FOLEY: I've not seen that, but what we do know is that he's not cooperating with the ICTY on a range of issues. But he's a signator of the Dayton agreement, and the outer wall of sanctions remain in place, and there are a number of reasons and one of the reasons has to do with cooperation or lack of cooperation on the part of the FRY with the ICTY. That's too many acronyms, I apologize for the listening audience, but those of you in the room know what I'm talking about.

QUESTION: But Jim, not to split hairs, just the other day Mr. Rubin said that you don't see Milosevic as a guarantor of any accords in the Balkans and you don't see him as abiding by them. Why, on the one hand you say he's signed them, he should live up to them. On the other hand, you say you don't expect him to live up to them.

MR. FOLEY: I think what Mr. Rubin was doing was countering the impression that you sometime see in the press that we look upon Milosevic as sort of as a savior or some sort of guarantor of stability, and he firmly rebutted that notion. He indicated -- I don't need to repeat everything he said -- that we'll work with him as we have to. But he signed Dayton. So he undertook certain obligations, just as he did with Ambassador Holbrooke concerning Kosovo, and we intend to hold him to his obligations.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about Israel's somewhat softer line - as we know rhetoric rises and falls all the time - it's done for a couple of decades. But you weren't - the State Department wasn't happy with the Israeli government two days ago. I don't know maybe you responded yesterday, but now what seemed to be prerequisites aren't prerequisites or preconditions.

MR. FOLEY: Let me say this. We have been in contact with the parties and both sides are well aware of their respective responsibilities and obligations according to the Wye Memorandum timeline. We believe it is important that both sides move ahead to fulfill those responsibilities and we are going to be working with both sides to facilitate that. Ambassador Ross is going to travel to the region next week to help prepare for the President's visit, and his deputy, Aaron Miller, will be staying on subsequent to that to help support implementation of the Wye Memorandum.

In regard to your specific point we have made clear to both sides that the Wye River Memorandum included a clear set of commitments which both sides agreed to fulfill and that the Wye Memorandum, therefore, must be implemented as signed without new conditions.

However, there has been considerable concern raised about the issue of unilateral statements or declarations. In that regard, we have made clear the following on previous occasions, but I would like to take the opportunity to repeat that today, that as regards the possibility of a unilateral declaration of statehood or other unilateral actions by either party outside the negotiating process that pre-judge or predetermine the outcome of those negotiations, the United States opposes and will oppose any such unilateral actions. The United States has maintained for many years that an acceptable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be found through negotiations, not through unilateral actions. For the present we are doing all that we can to promote permanent status negotiations on an accelerated basis. We are stressing that those who believe that they can declare unilateral positions, or take unilateral acts when the interim period ends are courting disaster.

QUESTION: Okay, so I can follow up on that. Last time this came up, we managed to extract from you that the unilateral statements --

MR. FOLEY: From me?

QUESTION: No, from you, the corporate you, the government, that unilateral statements in themselves were not an excuse for holding up the timetable? Does that remain your position?

MR. FOLEY: I can repeat what I said which is that the Wye Memorandum includes a clear set of commitments which both sides agreed to fulfill. Our view is they have committed to implementing the agreement as signed -- that is what we stand for. Our view on unilateral statements, I have just stated at length. We are opposed to that. We've made that crystal clear.

QUESTION: The agreement itself contains a commitment not to make unilateral acts -- to take unilateral actions?

MR. FOLEY: For both sides. Yes.

QUESTION: Yes, right. So the question is: does a violation of the ban on unilateral actions invalidate the rest of the timetable?

MR. FOLEY: We believe that both sides must implement fully their commitments and I am not going to deviate from that's of critical importance.

QUESTION: The argument isn't only over statements, although that seems to be the main thing and certainly the hottest issue. But a close second is the business of prisoners. And, you know, this goes to substance. It isn't just statements. Does the US have a position on whether Israel has the authority to release-to make the decision who to release under the numbers they're obliged to release? Or do you feel there should be some larger representation of what would be called political prisoners?

MR. FOLEY: In our view at this stage the Israelis have done what they said they would do at Wye concerning prisoner releases. It is obvious that this issue is and continues to be of great concern to the Palestinians and there are differences on this issue. Now the two sides have an agreed channel to deal with questions of prisoners and we believe that these differences should be dealt with there in that channel through both sides talking to each other. In the meantime, though, we are going to remain in contact with both sides in this respect.

QUESTION: Would a statement like those we have heard recently from Yasser Arafat in which he says he hopes one day to have a Palestinian state, would that be considered a violation of unilateral actions or statements?

MR. FOLEY: I think I have addressed myself to unilateral actions that prejudge the outcome of the permanent status negotiations that have begun in an accelerated way. I think you are alluding to this distinction that statements have been issued that more specifically address what that side would do on a given date, and we have firmly opposed that and argued that it is counter-productive and courting disaster. Whether someone expressing a wish or not falls under the same rubric, I wouldn't want to say. I would just rather stick to the idea that negotiations are the avenue to success -- the only avenue to success for both sides. Sticking to the Wye Memorandum, implementing it -- both sides -- and moving forward in the permanent status negotiations, that is the only way each side is going to achieve its aims. Not through declarations, unilateral declarations, unilateral statements or unilateral actions.

QUESTION: Among the permanent status issues to be resolved is, as you know, whether or not there would, in fact, be a Palestinian state and what that entity would look like. So for the leader of the Palestinians to talk about a hope or a wish, does that prejudge the outcome?

MR. FOLEY: Anything I say could prejudge the outcome. I think the bottom line for the United States is that this kind of issue can only be decided at the negotiating table not through declarations. Nothing is going to be achieved through declarations. On the contrary, declarations can only undermine the hopes for a successful negotiation.

QUESTION: It's not just prejudging, isn't it? Albright's position was provocative statements. A statement of hope might be considered provocative, no? In other words, you weren't just ruling out prejudging? You were wishing that they also wouldn't --

MR. FOLEY: Well, we have consistently --

QUESTION: -- say anything provocative?

MR. FOLEY: We've consistently stated --

QUESTION: -- and to say Jerusalem is occupied territory might get under some Israelis' skin, I think.

MR. FOLEY: Well, we're not going to parse and evaluate and comment on every last utterance coming out of the Middle East. But we have made clear - as you indicate - that we oppose provocative language and we oppose language relating to unilateral acts which would prejudge or undermine the success of negotiations.

QUESTION: Will the Secretary be seeing the Israeli Foreign Minister before she leaves town Monday?

MR. FOLEY: I believe she is. I don't have a schedule to announce for - or maybe we will have that later this afternoon? Or after the briefing? Do you have the schedule? Okay, we'll do that later this afternoon.

QUESTION: Jim?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: What recommendation will the State Department make on whether the President should use Gaza airport?

MR. FOLEY: Well, that's a matter that the White House will decide. As far as I understand, that decision has not been made. But I have no information about it.

QUESTION: Jim, another topic?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Can I - can you just clarify the contacts in the recent days? Who spoke to whom on this?

MR. FOLEY: I believe Secretary Albright spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. That's the extent, at least as far as I know, of her contacts. But the United States has been in touch with Chairman Arafat. I don't know whether it was our embassy or coming out of the State Department. But we have been in touch with him, as well.

QUESTION: The North Koreans, now - first the army - and now the Committee for a Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland has ratified a scathing attack on the United States, South Korea -- and even Japan has been included in here. This text was just released a few hours ago, Jim. I would ask, what does the State Department think of this turn towards belligerence -- and they're even talking about another war on the peninsula -- when the United States is helping to feed and to relieve the humanitarian crisis in North Korea?

MR. FOLEY: Well, it's not helpful at all. Of course, we are not going to welcome any kind of language that's bellicose and hostile when, as you say, the United States is helping to feed the people of North Korea who are dealing with a humanitarian disaster on their hands. It's unacceptable language. But at the same time, we're in various negotiating fora with the North Koreans to deal with our security concerns and the four-party talks aimed to achieve a permanent settlement on the Korean Peninsula, a peace agreement. We would rather leave the focus on the actual negotiations that we're undertaking and urge the North Korean side to lower the temperature of the rhetoric.

QUESTION: Just to follow briefly, does the United States take this kind of rhetoric seriously? I mean, as a serious change in attitude of the government of North Korea?

MR. FOLEY: I think it's not unusual for this kind of rhetoric to be coming out of there from time to time.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the talks in New York, Jim?

MR. FOLEY: No, I don't.

QUESTION: Did they go forward today?

MR. FOLEY: I believe they did, yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: So what's your expectations on this (inaudible) talks in New York and moving to Washington?

MR. FOLEY: Of the which talks?

QUESTION: North Korea - US-North Korea talks.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think we can boil it down to one word: access. I can't really make news for you today, but we've made no secret of what it will require for our concerns and suspicions to be allayed, and that's direct access to the suspect site.

QUESTION: North Korea still?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that Japanese intelligence reports that the North Koreans might be test-firing another missile as soon as --

MR. FOLEY: I would refer you to the transcript of Spokesman Rubin's briefing - was it yesterday or the day before? He addressed that.

QUESTION: On Venezuela?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: They have a very important election on Sunday, and one of the candidates is described as a demagogue and anti-democrat. Given the Administration's preference for democratic rule in the hemisphere, do you have any thoughts?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I believe Mr. Rubin spoke to the Venezuelan elections earlier in the week. I don't have the text of what he said before me. So I would have to refer you to what he said. I can paraphrase, though. He indicated the United States very much hopes and expects that there will be a free and fair electoral process in Venezuela and that the will of the people will be reflected in the outcome. I have, I believe, nothing beyond that for you today, but we look forward to a successful, democratic election.

QUESTION: Still on Latin America?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Secretary Albright has just said -- yesterday, I believe -- that the US policy has been making big mistakes in Latin America. I wonder if you can tell us which mistakes she was referring to.

MR. FOLEY: I don't know if the word "big" was used. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I have not seen a transcript of what she said. This was at Emory yesterday in Atlanta. So I can't comment specifically on what she said. I haven't seen the text.

QUESTION: You don't know what mistakes the US did in Latin America or just what she was talking about?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I can, for the record state, that certainly the United States is not perfect, that try as we might to not only promote our interests but to stand for our values in the world, that we are human. Certainly, we've made mistakes, but I think the record of the United States in the world, not only in the hemisphere, in the 20th century is remarkable record. When you consider the fact that at this stage of history with the preponderance of power possessed by the United States in the second half of the 20th century with what moderation and towards which purposes it was used, I think, arguably, the world is a safer, more stable, more civilized place thanks to the global engagement of the United States around the world. You can parse the record and point to mistakes made by administrations - Democratic and Republican, by this leader or that -- but we stand on our record.

QUESTION: Cubans were killed during the attack to the democratic president in 1973 in Chile. Do you consider that one of those mistakes? I mean, you're talking about you're humans, you make mistakes, and humans were killed in Chile. Do you believe it was a mistake by the US to support Pinochet in '73?

MR. FOLEY: I think it's a mistake in question. I think any concerns about what happened to Cubans, you should address to Cuban and Chilean authorities in that regard.

QUESTION: Also on Latin America?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: There was a report about Citibank not following procedures to guard against corruption in Mexico. Do you have any information or reaction to that?

MR. FOLEY: I don't. I have not heard that. I'll look into it for you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) after terrorist Ocalan. Mr. Rubin has - two days ago - on this podium, he announced that -- he stated, European conventions suppressing the terrorism is a very useful tool, and Italy has to be putting him at trial -

MR. FOLEY: I don't think he urged a particular course of action. You'd have to check the record.

QUESTION: No, no, no -

MR. FOLEY: You'd have to check the record.

QUESTION: Yes, he said that it is a useful tool.

MR. FOLEY: He said what he said.

QUESTION: And the same time, and the Turkish Prime Minister and several European leaders, they mention about the same convention and asked Italy to put him at trial in Italy. Do you support this specific convention or -

MR. FOLEY: I have nothing new to add today. I'm not going to make news on that case. I'd refer you to what Mr. Rubin said. I think he carefully noted the existence of the convention and, therefore, this represented a possible means of bringing Ocalan to justice. But the United States has not reached the point where we are urging a specific course of action. Simply, we are continuing to work with our close friends - Italy and Turkey and Germany - in any effort to see that there be a way that Ocalan can be brought to justice. That's our concern, that he be brought to justice in one form or another.

QUESTION: Now that Pakistan's Prime Minister is gone from the US, what can you make out of his visit there? Are you satisfied - is the US satisfied from his visit or you got what the US wanted out of him - not just a showcase of his visit?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't know if you attended -- I believe, there were briefings at the White House following the visit, and I suspect you may have been there, in which a rather detailed readout of the visit was given, and I'd refer you to that. My understanding is that it was a good visit that they discussed the range of issues, including the non-proliferation issue and that the United States had recognized that progress had been achieved on the non-proliferation front prior to the visit. Certainly the President discussed what road still needed to be traveled in that regard -- also discussed Pakistan's economic challenges. But those were meetings that were held at the White House. I'd really prefer to leave you to the briefing that was given there.

QUESTION: According to the reports, Mr. Sharif failed to satisfy the US on nuclear promises and other matters.

MR. FOLEY: We still have a ways to go.

QUESTION: Jim, can you say anything about this letter that the Secretary wrote to Governor Bush regarding a death row - a person who will be potentially executed in Texas? Can you -

MR. FOLEY: You'd have to be more specific. I'm not aware -

QUESTION: Can you characterize what Secretary Albright's message was to Governor Bush, regarding the death row inmate who was apparently from Canada, who when arrested, Canadian authorities weren't notified.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think --

QUESTION: You're aware of this letter, aren't you?

MR. FOLEY: Not precisely, therefore, it would be helpful if you signaled prior to the briefing, I think, when you're getting into specific letters and such, it would help if you raised it beforehand, as sometimes is the case.

But, as you know, the issue of consular notification is an important one to the United States. We're committed under international conventions to provide such to foreigners who are arrested in this country, just as we want to see that right enjoyed by Americans and respected by foreign governments who are overseas. So I suspect that the Secretary wrote to him in that regard, but I'm not familiar with the letter specifically, so I'd have to look into it and get back to you after the briefing.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

MR. FOLEY: Oh yes, I'd be glad to look into it. We can post an answer then if that's possible after the briefing so that everyone can have it.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Libya, or does anyone else got something?

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, George. Did I interrupt you?

QUESTION: I was asking you if could if it would be possible to release the letter?

MR. FOLEY: I don't know. We'll look into the issue, though, yes.

QUESTION: The Libyans put out a statement this morning, that the line that Qadhafi is not authorized to take decisions on behalf of these people. Did you see this as a discouraging sign or, perhaps, some people interpreted it as an encouraging sign.

MR. FOLEY: I'm not going to read the tea leaves in Libya. I think that it would surprise most observers if it were alleged that Mr. Qadhafi did not wield decision-making authority in Libya. But regardless of the decision- making process, Libya is under international obligations. It's not a question of discretion or of decision but rather of compliance with the Security Council Resolutions.

QUESTION: Jim, on Cambodia. Cambodia's new Foreign Minister is apparently on his way to the United Nations now to lobby for Cambodia's re-admission to the UN. Given that Cambodia has now formed a government, will the US drop its opposition to Cambodia's seats, and are we likely to reinstate aid to Cambodia?

MR. FOLEY: The aid question, I can't answer. I'm not aware of where we stand on it. In terms of the UN seat, I believe - and I would have to check it - I don't want to give you a formal answer, and so it's a little risky - but I believe that there is emerging consensus internationally given the constitution of a coalition government now in Cambodia that reflects the results of the recent elections, that it may be possible to move in that direction. But I'm going to have to look into it for you before I give you a formal answer, yes.

QUESTION: Greek Cypriot side has the appealed for the UN General Assembly to handle the old Cyprus question - the general hearing. Do you support this -

MR. FOLEY: Well, there is a process now underway on the island initiated by the UN Secretary General which focuses on reducing tensions and making progress toward an overall Cyprus and making progress toward an overall Cyprus solution. We strongly support this process carried out through Dame Ann Hercus' efforts. So, that's not news though. We've stated that previously.

QUESTION: What about the General Assembly hearing?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of the proposal.

QUESTION: Are you actively considering, and are you about to offer a reward for Bosnian Serbs that prosecuted the war?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think there's been some speculation about that, concerning our rewards program, and I may have some information for you on that if you'll bear with me one moment.

The United States Congress recently passed legislation, which amends the law for rewards for international terrorists and drug traffickers, and now will also allow us the Secretary of State to offer rewards for up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of persons indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Now, the Administration has not yet used this new authority to make an offer of rewards for persons indicted by the ICTY, though offers of rewards for international terrorists and drug traffickers, as you know, are already a matter of record. But it's something that we're implementing right now.

QUESTION: Can you describe where the Administration is in the process? Are there discussions under way as to whom might be a subject of a reward?

MR. FOLEY: Well, as I understand the legislation, it allows the Secretary to offer rewards, as I indicated, for persons indicted by the ICTY. It's a simple answer - persons indicted by the ICTY. There's a finite number. I believe more than half have now been rendered to the Hague. I believe the range - the number of those at large - is somewhere in the 30 range, a little under that. So, that's your target list.

QUESTION: Can you tell us any more on the $5 million reward on Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Is it bringing any results? Also, how much do you think Pakistan is helping during this trip of Pakistan Prime Minister to arrest or to bring him to justice?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I repeat what I said, which is that I prefer to leave the White House to comment on meetings that the President had with the Prime Minister. I'm certainly not going to comment on law enforcement, investigative procedures and how it's going in that regard.

QUESTION: On the Bosnia rewards question, is it the case - will there be specific bounties on the heads of individuals, or will you just simply have sort of a general reward of up to $5 million for any indictee?

MR. FOLEY: I don't know the answer, Roy. I suspect that's precisely one of the issues that we're trying to nail down right now. We're working on it, and we will implement the law. It's an important authority that's given to the Secretary. We found in other instances - whether it's involved with - especially in the terrorism field - that this program has reaped important dividends. We hope it will do the same as far indicted war criminals in the former Yugoslavia are concerned. So it's an effective tool that the Congress has given the Administration that we're going to use, but your specific question, I think, is one of the ones that we're working on right now.

QUESTION: Can we just talk about - you said it's something that we're implementing right now. You mean the extension of this reward system to the indicted --

MR. FOLEY: Yes, we're working on the implementing details of making it happen, addressing, among other things, the question that Roy raised.

QUESTION: The President's team sent out letters mid-November to Secretaries Cohen, Albright, and other national security advisers with regard to getting more information to review the case of Jonathan Pollard. Do we know exactly what type of review is going to go into Secretary Albright's response to the President's team?

MR. FOLEY: Well, of course, you won't be surprised to hear me say that this is an intelligence matter and by definition, we're not going to comment on it. So I'm not going to deviate from that. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

[The Briefing ended at 2:48 p.m.]


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