U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #138, 98-12-15
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 15, 1998
Briefer: James B. Foley
1-2 Expected Report by UNSCOM Chairman Butler on Iraqi
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
4 Status of Travel Warnings/Worldwide Caution for Region
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
7 Report of President Asad's Brother Requesting Political
Asylum in US
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
8,10 Ambassadors Holbrooke and Hill's Meeting with FRY President
9 French Embassy Officials Killed in Fatal Car Accident in
9 Killing by FRY Forces of 31 Ethnic Albanians In a Series of
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
8 French Parliamentary Report Critical of US Regarding
9 International Coalition Against Genocide Meetings
12-13 Russian Ambassador's Concern Regarding Level of
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
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.
MR. FOLEY: I'm not sure it rises to that level, but we'll let Mr. Rubin
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
QUESTION: There's a new plea from the UN for food relief for North
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(The briefing concluded at 2:00 P.M.)