Read the Treaty Establishing the European Community (Rome, 25 March 1957) A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Thursday, 20 February 2020
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #138, 98-12-15

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>


804

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Tuesday, December 15, 1998

Briefer: James B. Foley

IRAQ
1-2		Expected Report by UNSCOM Chairman Butler on Iraqi
		  Compliance
2,6-7		Next Steps at the UN
2-3		Prospects for Lifting Sanctions
3		Support for Iraqi Opposition
6		Reported Killing of Saudi Soldier Within Iraqi Terrority
6-7		Prospects for Military Action

MIDDLE EAST 4 Status of Travel Warnings/Worldwide Caution for Region

LIBYA 4,5,6 Reported Support by Libyan People's Congress for Trial of Pan Am Suspects 4--6 10th Anniversary of Downing of Pan Am 103, December 21

SYRIA 7 Report of President Asad's Brother Requesting Political Asylum in US

NORTH KOREA 7 Status of Heavy Fuel Oil Delivery to North Korea 7 US-DPRK Talks on Suspect Underground Construction 8 New UN Appeal for Food Aid

SERBIA 8,10 Ambassadors Holbrooke and Hill's Meeting with FRY President Milosevic 9 French Embassy Officials Killed in Fatal Car Accident in Pristina 9 Killing by FRY Forces of 31 Ethnic Albanians In a Series of Incidents 9-12 Killing of Serb Teenagers in Pec 10 Ambassador Holbrooke and Other Officials Travel to Kosovo 11 Update on the Numbers of KDOM and KVM Members

RWANDA 8 French Parliamentary Report Critical of US Regarding Rwandan Genocide 9 International Coalition Against Genocide Meetings

RUSSIA 12-13 Russian Ambassador's Concern Regarding Level of International Support


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #138

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1998, 1:20 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

QUESTION: Will there be a briefing on the Jets-Bills game?

MR. FOLEY: The Jets-Bills game? Actually, I feel pretty good about that because it's being played in Buffalo; and I would note that the football field in Buffalo is 100 yards long, not 99 yards long. So I like our chances. But actually, since you raised that subject - is that Charlie, Cowboys in the background - since you raised the subject, it permits me to eat a little crow, because I made a mistake yesterday. You know our spokesman retired baseball metaphors when he assumed the mantle of spokesman for the State Department; and I have a feeling he's going to retire the football metaphor when he gets back tomorrow, given the serious mistake I made yesterday.

I've been apprised by the Federal News Service, who wrote to me yesterday, that I was mistaken in ascribing to them an error in their transcript. They did indeed spell Flutie, F-l-u-t-i-e correctly. They referred to this as an unfortunate flip-flop in Flutie Flakes flaw-finding, and referred elsewhere to my Flutie Flakes faux pas. So I stand corrected and in honor of this, I would like to award the Federal News Service our play of the day.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. FOLEY: I'm not sure it rises to that level, but we'll let Mr. Rubin decide tomorrow.

QUESTION: Richard Butler is going to issue a report this afternoon on Iraqi compliance with UN Security Council resolutions. I wonder if you have your own evaluation of Iraqi compliance.

MR. FOLEY: Well, we have commented over the course of the last week or so on how the inspections appeared to be going. But we were also very careful to say that we would await Chairman Butler's formal report on the overall level of Iraqi compliance before commenting in any sort of formal, definitive way ourselves. However, I would note that Iraq has blocked at least three inspections in recent days: first, a site belonging to an Iranian opposition group; second the -- Baath Party Headquarters, and third, a CW inspection last Friday, December 11. Iraq also delayed a BW inspection team from beginning its work on Friday, December 4. All of these incidents are simply unacceptable.

When Iraq blocks an inspection, we assume Iraq has something it doesn't want inspectors to see. In terms of the timing that you mentioned, I've heard also that Chairman Butler may be delivering his report to Secretary General Annan in short order. I don't know precisely when he's doing that, but we're expecting that imminently, I believe.

In terms of what happens next, though, I'd have to refer you to the UN. I believe Secretary General Annan will distribute the letter to the members of the Security Council - or the report - and then convene or call a meeting of the Security Council. I don't know when that is scheduled to take place, but we would expect that sometime this week.

QUESTION: Jim, two questions, that's four inspections out of how many they've blocked?

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, I didn't hear your question.

QUESTION: You say they blocked four inspections -

MR. FOLEY: I said three that were blocked and then on December 4, they delayed an inspection.

QUESTION: And that's out of how many attempts?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have the exact figure of how many inspections actually were conducted or attempted, but we'll get that, certainly, in Chairman Butler's report.

QUESTION: And also the Secretary General yesterday laid out some rather stark differences between Washington and him on Iraq policy regarding sanctions and the sort of the approach to easing them. I wonder if you have any comment on it.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I can restate our position; it's clear, and it's well- known. In the view of the United States, Iraq must comply with all of its obligations under all the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We've said repeatedly that the United States Government is not opposed to a lifting of sanctions if Iraq should meet all of its obligations. Of course, we remain skeptical that Iraq will do so. We have, it goes without saying, the utmost respect for the Secretary General of the United Nations, who has demonstrated resourcefulness and resolve in dealing with Iraq's non- compliance over the past year.

The fact is, however, that the Security Council has sole responsibility for framing and interpreting its resolutions. The Council itself has been resolute and unified in the face of Iraqi non-compliance over the past year, and we expect that to continue.

QUESTION: So the bottom line is even if Butler endorses - says the Iraqis are complying and closes the file, the United States will not veto an easing of the sanctions until they meet the requirements regarding prisoners of war and repayment of money for the destruction they caused during the war?

MR. FOLEY: Well, you're correct in that we oppose them. We will oppose the lifting of sanctions, absent Iraqi compliance with all of Iraq's obligations under all the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Of course, the question of the day or the week that you've been asking me has had more to do with the question of a comprehensive review. That issue is more closely tied to the specific question of Iraqi compliance with UNSCOM and the IAEA; and our assessment will at least be informed by those reports by the IAEA and Chairman Butler.

QUESTION: Jim, I think the point that Kofi Annan raised, however, had to do with the United States -- (inaudible) -- in the otherwise unmentioned issue of bringing Iraqi opposition into the mix - that the United States has brought the opposition leadership into this whole equation where it was never brought into a Security Council resolution.

MR. FOLEY: But really those, Jim, are separate issues. If you're talking about what action we will or will not support in the Security Council, be it a comprehensive review of Iraq's compliance and of sanctions, or be it the lifting of sanctions, our position will continue to be determined by the overall question of Iraqi compliance with all the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The question of US support and encouragement to democratic forces inside Iraq to the effort to help make the Iraqi opposition a more viable alternative to Saddam Hussein do not, strictly speaking, have anything to do with the question of UN Security Council judgment of Iraqi compliance or non-compliance. They're separate issues.

QUESTION: I think the point I derived from the interview in The New York Times was that he thought that it was not within the purview of the Security Council or any international body to support an internal opposition.

MR. FOLEY: Well, we've certainly not asked the United Nations to play a role in that regard. This is an effort on the part of the United States to assist the Iraqi opposition to become more cohesive, to become a more viable and effective alternative to Saddam Hussein. We've never said this was going to be an easy challenge that we would expect - we've never said that we would expect to help effect change in Iraq overnight. But we want to allow those opposition forces to put themselves in a better position to provide the Iraqi people with an alternative to a regime which has done nothing but terrible harm to the interests of the Iraqi people and the interest of the people of the region for lo these many years.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - overstepping its authority without international approval.

MR. FOLEY: The United States does not believe it requires international approval to assist democratic forces, especially in a country that's been so ill-governed as Saddam Hussein's Iraq, especially in relation to a regime which has visited terror not only on its people but on its neighbors.

But let me hasten to add, though, that what we're not talking about here is a US effort as such to unilaterally affect change in Iraq. What we are attempting to do is to help Iraqis help themselves to better offer an alternative to the current regime in Iraq.

QUESTION: Can you give us an update on the status of travel warnings, authorized departures, and so forth in the Middle East right now? I think there was a worldwide warning quite some time ago in November; is that still current?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, there was a public announcement covering, I believe, a worldwide caution. I don't have that before me, so I can't read from it.

QUESTION: But does it still stand?

MR. FOLEY: It still stands, yes - but David, your question about the posture of our embassy and specific travel announcements or warnings on any given post in the Middle East is not something I can just pull off the top of my head. I'd be happy to go back with you after the briefing and dig out the existing announcements that we've issued over the last few months.

QUESTION: Jim, the report that the Libyan legislative branch has expressed approval of a trial in a neutral country of the two accused Libyans?

MR. FOLEY: Well, our view is that after ten years - and it's been almost ten years since the bombing of Pan Am 103 and the murder of the passengers on Pan Am 103 - it is high time, for Libya to move from rhetoric to action, to move from words to the actual delivery of the suspects to a Scottish trial in the Netherlands.

It is a little difficult for us to parse the statement that we've seen in press reports to which your question alludes. We understand that the Libyan peoples Congress has expressed support for the trial of the Pan Am 103 suspects before a Scottish court in the Netherlands. I also understand that that statement may have been ambiguous or may have been caveated. I believe it referred to the resolution of obstacles; and if that is true, then that's not a good harbinger.

On the other hand, we want to see confirmation of Libya's position through the Secretary General. We believe that the time for rhetoric is over. The question is whether the suspects are transferred to the Netherlands in quick order or not.

QUESTION: The Secretary said - oh, I guess it was last month - that December 21st, which is the actual tenth anniversary, will not go unnoticed. She left vague what may happen if you know the process of a trial is not set in motion. Can you elaborate at all on that?

MR. FOLEY: Well, December 21st is certainly a day of commemoration, a day of remembrance and a day of renewed mourning for those who were killed and solidarity with their surviving family members.

Now, in terms of our initiative with the UK to propose a Scottish trial in the Netherlands for these two suspects, when the United States and the United Kingdom announced this proposal, we did not indicate a specific deadline. I'm sure you know that's the case because we repeated that many times, George. At the same time, we indicated that this was not something we were going to allow to be strung out indefinitely, and we would give a reasonable period of time for the Libyan authorities to act on a proposal which originated with them -- it was their proposal initially -- and to test their faith and goodwill. We are not far from the end of that testing stage. and the United States indicated at the time that we announced the proposal that we would contemplate other actions and other measures if this reasonable offer were not accepted. But I'm not prepared to make any announcement in that regard yet. We still hope that the Libyans will do the right thing and will transfer the suspects to The Hague, where they will receive a fair trial.

QUESTION: The other measures were in the context of strengthening UN Security Council sanctions against Libya. Is that basically what you're talking about?

MR. FOLEY: It will be something in that framework, yes; but I'm not in a position to announce a decision in that regard because we haven't made such a decision. Time is rapidly running out, but we are still hoping to see a positive Libyan response to the US and UK proposal.

QUESTION: Have you all been in touch with the Secretary General to see if he has either received some sort of reply formally from the Libyans, or whether he plans to receive anything in the near future?

MR. FOLEY: If we haven't, I'm sure we will be. I don't know the answer to the question as we speak. I believe these press reports date from this morning, so we're dealing with an issue that occurred today, I believe, and something that we'll follow up on rapidly. But I don't have a real-time answer for you.

QUESTION: Is there any possibility that the Administration will make any kind of announcement or statement on the 21st to coincide with the anniversary?

MR. FOLEY: I would expect that we will have something to say on the anniversary; it's an important anniversary - ten years since the downing of Pan Am 103.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. FOLEY: Well, as I indicated in response to the earlier question, that will definitely be a day for remembering, for commemorating and for renewed mourning. We will appropriately convey that on December 21.

It would be very welcome and just indeed if on that date or by that date, the Libyan authorities were to see their way to doing the right thing, to doing the just thing, which is rendering the suspects in this case to the authorities in the Netherlands for the holding of a Scottish trial.

Again, this whole episode is perplexing, because after years and years of no progress whatsoever in achieving justice in this case, the United States and the United Kingdom decided to take up a Libyan offer - this was a Libyan proposal - that a Scottish trial take place in an international venue. This was a proposal that allowed the integrity of the Security Council resolutions to be preserved because this was to be a Scottish trial, as called for by Security Council resolutions, but in an international venue per an earlier Libyan proposal. It is utterly baffling that Libya has thus far not followed through on a proposal that matches what they themselves proposed I believe in January of this year.

QUESTION: Doesn't this appear to be a sign that they are, in fact, following through? I mean, this legislative group does not act on its own presumably; they presumably have some suggestions from Qadhafi.

MR. FOLEY: Jim, if this press report and this announcement is followed by the rapid transfer of the two suspects to the Netherlands, it will indeed have turned out to be a significant announcement that we would be justified in welcoming. But absent the actual transfer of the suspects, it is, at this point, mere rhetoric. Even if it is potentially hopeful rhetoric, it is still just words until they transfer the suspects to the Netherlands.

QUESTION: What if by that date or on that date, they do not render the suspects for trial?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think I answered that a few minutes ago, when I noted that the United States and the United Kingdom had not set a specific deadline. I also noted, though, that we indicated that this proposal would not be left on the table indefinitely; and we are not far from declaring that the offer is not going to prove to be viable if Libya does not embrace it and actually transfer the suspects to the Hague.

QUESTION: Can you confirm or comment on the Saudi press agency report that a Saudi soldier was shot upon and killed from a car within Iraqi territory?

MR. FOLEY: I have not seen that report.

QUESTION: If that were the case, what are -

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, I couldn't comment on a report I haven't seen. I know nothing about it.

QUESTION: On Iraq, you were talking earlier about the imminent Butler report. Did I understand you to say that now, once the report is given to Security Council, the next move is up to the Security Council? And if so, did you mean by saying that to rule out the possibility that the United States or the US and its allies might regard this - if the report is negative - regard this as evidence that must be acted upon, that Iraq must be punished for?

MR. FOLEY: Well, you haven't been here in recent days, and I was asked that question specifically yesterday, and I ruled out in any way answering a question about the timing, the nature or the very fact of military action. It's not something that we can comment about publicly for obvious reasons.

The immediate purpose of a Security Council meeting to assess Chairman Butler and the IAEA's reports will be to determine whether or not there's a basis for proceeding with a comprehensive review of sanctions. The other question that you raised, I can only say that all options are on the table, including the military option, as far as the United States is concerned. That is not an issue that, in our view, requires debate or let alone determination in the Security Council. Secretary Albright the other day made it crystal-clear that as far as we're concerned, diplomacy is no longer necessary and warnings are not necessary, either.

QUESTION: Jim, Syrian President Hafiz Asad's brother -- did he defect to the United States? If so, did he ask for political asylum?

MR. FOLEY: I've not even heard that report, so I couldn't answer it.

QUESTION: On North Korea, a question -- do you have a current status of the oil delivery of '98?

MR. FOLEY: Current status of what? I'm sorry, I didn't get that.

QUESTION: Oil delivery - the fuel oil delivery to North Korea, '98.

MR. FOLEY: Oh, fuel oil delivery. Well, before Congress went out of session, additional moneys were appropriated that allowed the Administration to purchase additional amounts of heavy fuel oil that we are in the process of delivering. I believe that with that appropriation, that we were in a position to met most of our obligations, in terms of providing heavy fuel oil in calendar year 1998 under the agreed framework.

Not all of our obligations -- and my understanding is that the Administration has been examining ways in which to make up for the remaining short fall. I have nothing specific for you on that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- number?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have a specific number.

QUESTION: So you can't say anything - President has signed a waiver?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we are working hard on the issue, and we intend to meet our obligations.

QUESTION: Just to clarify a point, have the North Koreans at any time refused to allow - said they wouldn't go along with the inspections of this site you all discovered, or haven't they just attached conditions to the inspection?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I am not in a position to comment publicly about the specifics of this ongoing negotiation. As I indicated on Friday when the latest round ended, some progress had been made; some gaps were narrowed, but gaps remain. That's why we're hoping to meet again soon to resume these negotiations.

QUESTION: There's a new plea from the UN for food relief for North Korea.

MR. FOLEY: Well, as I indicated yesterday, the United States' decision to donate food aid to the World Food Program 1998 appeal was based on humanitarian need. Obviously, as the assessments for another appeal in 1999 are being formulated, preliminary indications are that humanitarian food assistance may still be needed.

If such an appeal is issued, we would judge our response based on the humanitarian needs the World Food Program and other international humanitarian agencies have assessed. As you know, our track record in responding to such appeals has been very good over the last years.

QUESTION: This may be a little premature, but have Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Milosevic met yet; and if so, do you have a read-out on that?

MR. FOLEY: I spoke to Ambassador Holbrooke this morning, a number of hours ago, and he told me that his meeting - and he would be accompanied by Ambassador Hill in this meeting with President Milosevic - was scheduled to begin about an hour ago. So if past practice is any indicator, they're just in the first innings of such a meeting that is likely to be very lengthy.

QUESTION: And another one - maybe a bit early for you, too. There's a French parliamentary report saying that the United States is largely to blame for the Rwandan genocide because it failed to strengthen the UN force there in time. I don't know whether you've seen that.

MR. FOLEY: No, I've not seen it and can't comment fully until we've had an opportunity to review it carefully.

We have fully explained our position on the US response to the Rwandan genocide on past occasions and in various fora. Both the President, in Kigali this year, and Secretary Albright in Addis Ababa last December, noted that the international community should have done more to prevent the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and expressed our determination to work with the parties in the region to find peaceful solutions to all the problems there.

As a part of this process, the United States has established a Great Lakes Justice Initiative, and is engaged in consultations with states in the region to prevent future genocide. I believe there was a two-day meeting held yesterday and today on Rwanda that the White House hosted with members of the government of Rwanda in order to further this work against genocide. This the first in a series of promised consultations on genocide with all the signatories at Entebbe, where this pledge by leaders was made to systematically work to prevent a resurgence of genocide in the Great Lakes region.

We'll be holding the same kind of consultations with other African partners and emphasizing the same kind of issues to prevent other outbreaks of genocide in the future.

QUESTION: The event was in Entebbe or in Washington?

MR. FOLEY: It was at the White House yesterday. The meetings in Entebbe were held in March. This was during President Clinton's visit to Africa, when he and other African leaders pledged to work together to prevent, as I said, a resurgence of genocide in the Great Lakes region. The meetings at the White House were, I believe, the first in a series that we're going to be having with other African partners.

QUESTION: The skirmish yesterday - do you have anything?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, well, yesterday was a bad day in Kosovo. There were three tragic incidents that occurred in Kosovo yesterday. First, three officials of the French Embassy in Belgrade were killed in a fatal car accident five kilometers north of Pristina yesterday. Low visibility and poor road conditions were apparently contributing factors in this auto-bus collision. The United States extends its deepest sympathies to the families of those killed in the line of duty. Certainly, we have had our own experience with our career diplomats who have given their lives in performing their duties in the former Yugoslavia on behalf of peace in that region, so we feel great sympathy for and solidarity with our French colleagues and their families.

Beyond that tragic accident, the OSCE reports yesterday that FRY forces killed at least 31 ethnic Albanians in a series of incidents on the Kosovo- Albania border near Prizren The KVM, the Kosovo Verification Mission, was on the scene to investigate shortly after the incidents occurred. US KDOM representatives were with the KVM members when they viewed and counted the bodies. Most of these were in KLA uniform and all but one were male. KVM also confirms that the FRY forces are holding a number of prisoners.

Now, KVM is currently investigating these events further, and it has not confirmed whether the incidents originated from an FRY ambush or resulted from KLA troops simply crossing the border from Albania into Kosovo. Let me state that as far as the United States is concerned, we recognize the right of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to patrol its borders, but we have emphasized repeatedly to the Belgrade authorities the need for their security forces, including border guards, to exercise restraint in carrying out their duties.

In a separate incident - and a truly horrific incident in the town of Pec yesterday - six Serbs were killed when two masked gunmen opened fire in a cafeteria-style restaurant last night, where Serb teenagers often gather. A number of other Serb teenagers were wounded in the attack, one of them seriously. At the request of Serb authorities, KVM and KDOM sent six teams to Pec today, and we hope the team's presence will help to allay fears of further violence.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this wanton murder of innocent civilians. Barbarous actions like this can only lead to a spiral of retribution that will make reaching a settlement for the region all the more difficult.

Both of these incidents - the border incident and the killings in the bar in Pec - underscore once again the need for both Serbs and Kosovar Albanians to exercise restraint and to avoid provocative actions and they underscore the need to achieve an interim settlement for the region as quickly as possible.

This morning, Ambassador Holbrooke, as you've seen on television, spoke to me about the fact that he and colleagues decided to divert to Kosovo in order to try to calm the situation. Ambassador Holbrooke, Special Envoy, the US Chief of Mission in Belgrade, Miles; the KVM head of mission, William Walker; the EU Special Envoy for Kosovo, Wolfgang Petrisch; and the US head of KDOM, Shaun Byrnes, all were in Kosovo, as I said, to calm the situation. Currently, as we speak, Ambassador Holbrooke and Ambassador Hill are meeting with FRY Slobodan Milosevic.

I would finally add that when KDOM and KVM traveled to Pec to assess the incident and try to allay the fears of the people there, there were, I think some demonstrations that were not appropriate. I'd refer you to Ambassador Holbrooke's statement on the ground concerning the integrity and safety of KDOM and KVM. He said - and I quote - "if anyone is threatening the safety of the Kosovo verification mission, or KDOM, they are acting in direct violation of solemn assurances given by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia about the safety of the Kosovo Verification Mission."

The fact of the matter is that KVM, and KDOM before it, have been engaged in some very important and successful activities on the ground in Kosovo over these many weeks. You don't read in the newspapers about many of their successes, because the essence and the nature of their work is to try to diffuse tensions and to head off incidents. When they are successful, by definition almost, you don't read about it. So they are doing their job, all of them. It's a very important job. We continue to be confident that KDOM and, over time, the KVM, as it assumes all responsibilities from KDOM, will play a critical role in assuring calm and avoiding a return to conflict in Kosovo.

I'm told that the KVM will continue to deploy to Kosovo. There is no slow- down in the OSCE build-up in Kosovo as a result of these latest incidents.

QUESTION: Was Holbrooke's visit to Belgrade arranged before yesterday's incidents?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, yes, it was. I certainly believe his presence is fortuitous, as someone who was directly responsible for helping to negotiate the entre of international monitors to Kosovo and to bring an end to the conflict that was raging there and an end to the looming humanitarian catastrophe. He's certainly well-placed to assure all sides of the continued vigilance of the international community and our commitment to the continued peace in Kosovo and the continued efforts to achieve a diplomatic and negotiated settlement of the underlying conflict.

But, George, his visit was not long-decided. Secretary Albright, as I said yesterday, wanted to take advantage of the fact that he was in Europe, and asked him to go to Belgrade to meet with President Milosevic. But certainly it's turned out to be a very timely meeting.

QUESTION: Jim, you may not have it with you, but I don't recall it coming up in the last few days. Could you update us - if you do have it, fine, or in the next couple of days - on the KVM mission; how many people they now have; how many more they'd like to have; how many countries are represented; how many US people?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I can give you probably less-than-perfect ballpark numbers and I can try to get a scientific answer after the briefing. I believe that the KVM is now in somewhere the high 500 range, maybe close to 600. That's in addition to about 300 KDOM members who have already been on the ground and working, who will be rolled into the KVM. So I believe that we're not very far from reaching half the projected numbers. As I said a few minutes ago, Ambassador Walker is still working hard at expanding the staffing of KVM to reach its envisaged numbers. I think we look to the likelihood of, eventually, about 2,000 KVM members.

QUESTION: How many US?

MR. FOLEY: Well, the US is heavily present in the KDOM area. I don't know the answer under KVM; and of course, they'll all become part of the OSCE's KVM mission. I can try to get that for you after; I don't have the figure with me, sorry.

QUESTION: Could you ask --

MR. FOLEY: I think it's in the 100 vicinity, but I --

QUESTION: Could you ask Bill Walker if he could possibly brief us next time he's in the vicinity?

MR. FOLEY: You mean when he's passing through Washington? I don't know, unless you're planning a trip to the region, George, I don't know when he's coming back. But certainly when he comes back - and we do owe you a briefing by Ambassador Hill, because we unfortunately were unable to schedule him as had been anticipated the last time he was here.

QUESTION: Do you consider the observers to be under threat? Has someone made a threat - or what you consider threatening?

MR. FOLEY: Not that I'm aware of. What apparently happened today is that they went to Pec to try to calm tensions. I think it's wholly understandable that civilians in Pec would have been horrified and traumatized by the horrible killings that took place in that bar or restaurant there.

So my understanding is that members of KDOM and the KVM went there to try to calm tensions. But tensions are high, emotions are running high, and they may have felt threatened to some degree or another. As I said, I saw what Ambassador Holbrooke said and what he told me on the phone was that, of course, any threats to the KVM and KDOM are totally unacceptable and completely at variance with the commitments given by FRY authorities when the decision was made to send in international monitors.

I do believe that the FRY authorities understand this. They understand that the international verifiers and monitors are there as friends of Serbs, friends of Kosovar Albanians. They seek to promote calm and peace. We certainly expect authorities there to live up to their obligations to assure their security.

QUESTION: Jim, when you were talking about the border incident, you said FRY forces should exercise restraint in carrying out their duties. Can you be a bit more specific? Are you proposing any kind of rules of engagement on this border?

MR. FOLEY: Restraint means restraint. In order to define it beyond what I said, you'd have to look at a given incident, a given challenge, a given situation. That's impossible to do on a theoretical basis. Regarding the incident that took place yesterday, the international monitors - KDOM and KVM - are on the scene looking into the incident to try to determine what happened, how it happened, why it happened; and perhaps we'll be in a position to say whether we think things could have turned out differently. That's impossible to say in a theoretical sense. But restraint means restraint.

As I said, we recognize the FRY's right to patrol its borders; there's no question there. A given incident, though, would have to be examined on its merits in terms of what happened and why it happened.

QUESTION: At this stage, do they suspect that perhaps the FRY forces did not exercise restraint?

MR. FOLEY: I'm neither ruling that in nor ruling it out; I don't have that information at this stage.

QUESTION: On the cafeteria incident, do we have any information about the victims? Were they teenagers?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, they were Serb teenagers is what Ambassador Holbrooke told me this morning.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - perpetrator?

MR. FOLEY: We don't know who the perpetrators were. But it doesn't matter who the perpetrators were; it's a horrible and completely inhuman and unjustifiable attack. It's wanton murder.

QUESTION: Outgoing Russian Ambassador -- (inaudible) - last night was expressing dismay about what he sees as the low level of international support for Russia, talking about the tens of billions of dollars that are available to Brazil and other countries in their times of need, and that Russia can't even get $8 billion. Does the US feel that the levels are about right, or does it feel also that they're not adequate?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't share the assessment, if that's your question. Of course, we just had a very senior delegation in Moscow, headed by Deputy Secretary Talbott, with Mr. Summer and Mr. Fuerth They engaged with the Russian leadership and made clear what the United States has been making clear at least since President Clinton's summit in Moscow in early September, which is that the United States is indeed prepared to assist the Russians as they tackle their enormous economic challenges and difficulties.

But what we are not prepared to do is to - when I say we, I mean also our Western partners, other members of the international community - are not prepared to provide assistance in a vacuum. We have a responsibility to the American taxpayer, that assistance that we do provide is well-used and goes towards rational and effective purposes. We need to see that there is a credible and solid program in place - whether it has to do with the budget or with economic reform and opening to investment, tax collection, the whole litany of issues that the Russians are grappling with and need to tackle. If they're able to do that, then we will be in a position to help.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:00 P.M.)


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

HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
std2html v1.01b run on Tuesday, 15 December 1998 - 23:49:27 UTC