U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #44, 99-04-05
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
Monday, April 5, 1999
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 Secretary Albright is pleased Pan Am 103 bombing suspects
have been handed over.
2 UN sanctions will be suspended when Secretary General
notifies Security Council.
2 US has Libyan sanctions apart from UN sanctions.
3 US has been in close contact with families of victims.
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (KOSOVO)
4,5-7 US has made a decision in principle to temporarily take
20,000 refugees: No details yet.
4 It's preferable to keep refugees in region, to ease their
eventual return to Kosovo.
4-5,10 Refugees continue to arrive in Albania, Macedonia, and
6,7 Ethnic cleansing is the reason for NATO bombing, not the
result of it.
7-8,10 Ambassador for War Crimes Scheffer has traveled to the
region, interviewed refugees.
7-8 Amb. Scheffer believes war crimes, crimes against humanity
are occurring in Kosovo.
9 It's becoming harder to envision sitting at table with
current Serb leadership.
9 US has reason to believe executions are occurring inside
10,11 Essential principles of Rambouillet accords must be
accepted by Serbs for bombing to end. and a permissive
environment to be created.
11 US believes Russia continues to talk with Serb government.
11 Milosevic will not get away with declaring a phony peace
without agreeing to NATO's four principles.
11 US not prepared to speculate on whereabouts, condition of
12 US has regular but infrequent contact with KLA, but not
formal military cooperation.
12-13 US remains concerned about possibility of Belgrade
crackdown on Montenegro.
13 US has been in close contact with Albanian government.
13 Deputy Secretary Talbott was in Albania Saturday, met with
president and prime minister, said the meetings went well.
14 Refugee placement, funding details are being worked out on
an urgent basis.
14 Issue of a protecting power has not been resolved; ICRC has
not yet visited abducted US servicemen.
15 US working closely with NATO to keep crisis from widening.
16 US deeply disappointed, greatly concerned about latest
French deal in Iran's oil sector.
16 US officials have been working out details of inspection of
suspect underground site.
16 US looks forward to Premier Zhu Rongji's visit, expects to
work on areas of interest.
16-17 US will make decision on Chinese WTO membership based on
17 US remains concerned about violence in East Timor,
including latest reported deaths.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, APRIL 5, 1999, 12:40 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Having
heard about the improvement in the weather, I got a very good
night's sleep last night. I hope everybody else slept well as
well. Here's how we're going to proceed. I'm going to read a statement
on behalf of Secretary Albright on the Libya situation, then take
some of your questions on that. Then shortly after this briefing,
we will provide some Administration officials who are experts
on this matter to discuss the Lockerbie situation with you in
Secretary Albright is very pleased with the news that today two
persons accused of the 1988 bombing of the Pan Am flight 103 are
now in the custody of Dutch authorities. The two were delivered
by the United Nations. Legal proceedings will now take place in
accordance with the US-UK initiative to bring the suspects to
trial before a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. This
bombing, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans, provoked
international outrage. It has taken 10 years of efforts by the
governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, with
the support of many of our allies and friends, to bring the suspected
criminals to justice. Many people played a critical role and in
the statement we'll spell that out.
Let me say that the turnover of these two suspects marks an important
milestone in achieving legal accountability for theses outrageous
crimes. The Secretary wishes to commend the effort and energy
of those British and American officials who led the investigation,
a difficult, painstaking process.
Second, the counter-terrorism strategy initiated by the Bush administration
and pursued by the Clinton administration has used carefully targeted,
multilateral sanctions, an international program to compel Libya
to surrender the suspects. Diplomacy, especially in coordination
with close friends and allies, can be one of the most valuable
tools in our arsenal against terror.
Third, in an extraordinary measure of international efforts to
achieve justice, the British and the Netherlands agreed to provide
for a Scottish trial, and the Secretary wishes to thank Foreign
Minister Cook and the Dutch government for their determined efforts
to bring this matter to this point. She especially wishes to commend
all the work of those in the Administration who have worked so
hard on this and the full statement will refer to the great work
of Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela and several other key international
figures. If you have any questions on that, we could go to that
QUESTION: Just a quick one - maybe it's one step at a time.
There's reference to sanctions. There's no reference to lifting
of sanctions. Is that implied? I remember past statements that
MR. RUBIN: The sanctions will be immediately suspended
upon notification by the Secretary General to the Security Council
that they have been turned over. We expect that to happen very
shortly. But sanctions will not be lifted. According to the UN
resolutions, there are other issues that must be addressed, including
payment of appropriate compensation, renunciation of support for
terrorism and cooperation with the trial. The Secretary General
will report on Libyan compliance in general, and we then will
address the question of a permanent sanctions lift.
QUESTION: Has anybody applied for the rewards?
MR. RUBIN: I understand that the rewards team is looking
into this. They have not made any judgments or provided awards.
I don't know whether anyone has applied for it yet.
QUESTION: Jamie, the US has some unilateral sanctions against
Libya. Have you all given any thought as to what might happen
MR. RUBIN: Let me say with respect to our unilateral sanctions,
these are the product of presidential executive orders. They predate
the UN sanctions and in fact, some even predate the Lockerbie
bombing. They're intended to limit Libyan access to funds and
material for terrorist activities, weapons of mass destruction
programs and other destabilizing military actions. Those will
remain. We need to have additional concerns alleviated before
we will address modifying our own sanctions.
QUESTION: Last month US officials, when they heard the
news that Libya might turn them over, greeted it with skepticism,
saying they'll believe it when they see it. So, two things - is
the US surprised that he's actually gone through with it; and,
two, what do you think his motivation is for actually turning
MR. RUBIN: Well, we believe the sanctions policy and the
determination of the international community to hold Libya's feet
to the fire until they provide the suspects is what made the difference.
Let's remember that about a year ago, after many, many months
of behind-the-scenes consultation, Secretary Albright and Foreign
Secretary Cook decided to change tactics - to try to take Libya's
alleged willingness to allow a third-country trial, turn it into
a proposal that was consistent with UN resolutions -- namely that
it be a Scottish court in this third country -- and called their
bluff. As a result of the sanctions and the flexible and creative
diplomacy we've pursued in the last year, Libya has now come through.
But we'll have to see how Libya will proceed on the other matters
QUESTION: Can you elaborate a little on the assurance that
the aim of the trial is not to undermine the Libyan regime? Does
this have any implications for the type of evidence that can be
presented and the possibility of other Libyans facing charges
in connection with --
MR. RUBIN: It is our view that now that a trial is imminent,
that it would be inappropriate for us to make comments on very
good questions like that, considering that a judicial proceeding
is about to begin. The lawyers and other officials who are working
on this will be in a position to explain to you the reasons why
we think it would be inappropriate to make public comments now
that a judicial proceeding is about to being.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- brief families on this and --
MR. RUBIN: We have been briefing the families on and off
on this proposal. We've been in close contact with them since
the attack took place. We believe that almost all of them have
indicated relief that the suspects are finally in custody and
will be tried.
QUESTION: You say that lifting sanctions permanently required
measures linked with compensation, but obviously compensation
cannot be decided until the trial is over. So, how can --
MR. RUBIN: If the trial indicates Libyan responsibility,
there would have to be compensation.
QUESTION: Okay, so the trial won't be over in 90 days,
we assume, so --
MR. RUBIN: But in practical terms, the Libyans know that
specific sanctions that are in place now - namely, the ban on
flights, the ban on petroleum equipment, the controlled assets.
Those are now suspended. So in practical terms, they are able
to go about their business, but they won't be lifted until we're
satisfied that these three -
QUESTION: Does that mean until the trial is complete?
MR. RUBIN: They'll be lifted with the Secretary General
determines that these three conditions - reports on these three
conditions -- and the Security Council determines that they've
QUESTION: How much did the sanctions hurt Libya? Are US
companies going to be allowed to go back in?
MR. RUBIN: To the extent that the existing US sanctions
do not prohibit US companies from participating in commerce that
had been prohibited, they would be able to go back in. I think
the sanctions hurt Libya just enough for them to turn over the
suspects. Anything else?
Questions on Kosovo?
QUESTION: Business of refugees - I don't know how far along
you are - the US is -- in its own plans to take in refugees --
where they might be housed temporarily. I hope this doesn't sound
somewhat cynical, but wasn't the original intention to make sure
these people get to recover their own homes? I mean, this is a
pretty nice place to be, and considering what these folks have
been through - as Germany and the US and others house them, might
that in a way, in an unintended way, give Milosevic pretty much
what he wants -- getting rid of a lot of people he finds annoying
MR. RUBIN: Let me say that the current - the Secretary
has been working the phones extensively all weekend, trying to
work with partners and friends in Europe to try to accept certain
refugees. The overall goal is to find some spots for some 200,000
people in and around the area and beyond. We've made a decision
in principle to accept 20,000. We are still working on the location
and arrangements for that. Several European countries have now
indicated a willingness to accept some 41,000 refugees, so we
are continuing to work this problem.
But let me be clear, that all of these arrangements are temporary
arrangements, and are intended to be as such. We believe the refugees
want to return to their homes, and we are going to make arrangements
in order to alleviate the bottleneck where you see in Macedonia
and Albania them being overwhelmed and indicating that in the
absence of other people taking them temporarily, they won't be
able to accept the continuing inflow.
So this is a temporary arrangement designed to deal with an emergency
problem. It's not designed to have permanent relocation of these
refugees. That's why, we're trying to see that as many as possible
can be in the area, in and around Kosovo, rather than coming as
far as Guantanamo and other locations being considered for the
QUESTION: Could you tell us more about the Guantanamo,
MR. RUBIN: All I can say on that is we're seriously considering
that. We haven't made any final decisions. People are obviously
working very intensively to try to deal with this urgent crisis.
That is certainly a strong possibility, but no final decision
has been made on that.
QUESTION: Is 20,000 it, or is there a possibility that
the US may up that number in days to come?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't want to predict what the future
will hold. Right now, we've agreed and told our allies that in
principle we're prepared to accept 20,000. We're trying to encourage
others to take large numbers so that this number of 200,000 or
so can be accepted so that we can deal with the backlog. Let me
say in that regard, the situation is still a major problem. We
are prepared to provide temporary asylum for 20,000 refugees as
part of a multinational effort to ease the burden.
The situation, as I understand it now, is in the last 24-hours
some 22,000 refugees arrived in Albania bringing that total up
to 244,000. In Macedonia, the 5,000 that arrived in the last 24-hours
have increased the total there to 136,000. There are also some
65,000 between Yugoslavia and Blace that have no shelter.
The first thousands of people trapped in this area have begun
moving to newly established areas last night. Montenegro now hosts
over 60,000, including the 2,700 that have arrived in the last
24-hours. So we're trying to do is alleviate the bottlenecks that
have been created by this swelling in primarily Albanian and Macedonia.
QUESTION: But the answer to my question is, you will reconsider
it, could end up being more than 20,000?
MR. RUBIN: Well, nobody's made any decisions beyond 20,000.
That decision was made over the weekend as a way of dealing with
the crisis. I'm not aware that additional decisions have been
made to accept more other than this single decision. I'm not going
to rule out anything out for all time, but that is the current
QUESTION: In regards to - are there any other sites being
considered other than Guam and Guantanamo and, in particular,
are there any sites that are on the actual mainland?
MR. RUBIN: These arrangements are still being worked out,
and I do not have details of what is being considered.
QUESTION: Can you say a little bit more on the logic behind
moving them from the region? Surely, logistically it's less difficult,
easier to house them and tend for them in the region than it is
to move them and deal with them elsewhere.
MR. RUBIN: Well, we're trying to galvanize an international
effort. We're trying to galvanize as many European countries as
possible to take - countries in the region to take refugees. We
think part of that process has to include the United States stepping
up to the plate and accepting 20,000 refugees on a temporary basis
so that it will be easier for others to do as well. We think that's
part of the burden sharing process. I don't think it makes that
much difference if you're going to fly to a West European country
or you're going to fly to some location like this. You're going
to be flown out on a temporary basis to be returned.
QUESTION: Jamie, how soon could they be coming to the United
States and any decisions on how they would get here?
MR. RUBIN: Those details are still being worked out. This
decision was just made yesterday - as soon as the detailed plans
are finalized, we'll try to get them to you.
QUESTION: Can I get a follow-up too? You said about the
European countries that agreed so far to take, what, 41,000?
MR. RUBIN: Correct.
QUESTION: -- and 20 - that's, obviously the math, 61 -
MR. RUBIN: These are announced numbers that I'm prepared
to announce. I think there are a lot of other countries that are
trying to make clear what their pledge would be and haven't yet
been prepared to announce it. We believe that the European Union,
for example, indicated their intent as a whole to accept 100,000.
But each of the detailed provisions haven't been spelled out.
QUESTION: But the US is confident that getting an amount
of 200,000 -
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't know about confident. I know that
we're going to work on it, and we're going to try to make that
happen. The European Union indicated 100,000. So we're going to
continue to work the problem. There are countries in the region
who are not part of the European Union that we're working with
QUESTION: -- being interviewed for asylum if they request
MR. RUBIN: The details of the plan for their temporary
location here in the United States is being worked out and so
I'm not able to predict what arrangements and procedures will
be followed. All I wanted to do was be able to indicate to you
that the 20,000 had been accepted in principle, but the details
of that are still being worked out.
QUESTION: Could you respond for the record for charges
that in doing this, NATO countries are helping Milosevic with
MR. RUBIN: I think that is simply wrong. What we are doing
is dealing with a crisis that President Milosevic created. The
refugee crisis is not a result of the NATO bombing -- it's the
reason NATO bombed -- that Milosevic would conduct this kind of
ethnic cleansing. Let's be clear. We would fully think it's possible
in the coming days for President Milosevic to having eradicated
the key elements of the Kosovar Liberation Army, having ethnically
cleansed whole sections of Kosovo, to suddenly announce he wants
to pursue a peace plan of some kind.
We are very clear that we're not going to accept anything short
of the four objectives spelled out by the five foreign ministers
this weekend, and, that is self-government; the return of refugees;
the Serb military, paramilitary and special police out; and acceptance
of a NATO-led implementation force to provide security in both
for the self-government and for the refugees that are returning.
Anything short of that is simply unacceptable.
So he is not going to gain anything by the fact that we are dealing
with the refugee crisis. I think it would be irresponsible of
us, having seen what's going on on the ground in Albania and Macedonia,
not to try to deal with it. That's what we're trying to do but
in no way should it be seen - and I doubt it will be - in Belgrade
as some indication that we are going to stop the bombing campaign
unless he accepts those four points.
QUESTION: Have you made any decisions yet on the selection
criteria for these refugees? Will it be done at random, or is
MR. RUBIN: As I indicated to you, we're still working out
the procedures. We're trying to finalize that. I wanted to indicate
the 20,000 number, but these procedures are being worked urgently
by the refugee bureau.
QUESTION: Have you all been in touch with some of the Arab
countries, say, Saudi Arabia or Oman, and have they stepped up
to the plate to maybe take some of the refugees?
MR. RUBIN: I think, primarily, the Secretary's calls have
been in and around Europe and primarily in the region, in the
Balkans, including the European Union countries. That has been
the focus of our effort. I think if UNHCR has other ideas, they
may pursue that. But we've been focused on European countries
to try to, in principle, keep them as close as possible to where
they came from. But as I indicated, we thought as an indication
of our good faith and intent and willingness to bear our share
of the burden, that we were going to take 20,000 of our own.
QUESTION: Robin Cook said this morning that this is mass
deportation on a scale that Europe hasn't seen since the days
of Stalin or Hitler. Is this a war crime in the view of the United
States, and what is this government doing to help the tribunal
gather evidence and prosecute Milosevic?
MR. RUBIN: Let me say this, Ambassador Scheffer, our Ambassador-at-Large
for War Crimes has just filed a report with the Secretary, the
key elements, which I'm prepared to share with you. He went to
the region, and he worked very closely with a number of the international
relief and other international personnel there. They conducted
a large amount of interviews. He said that there was remarkable
consistency in the refugees accounts and that the large and growing
number of consistent reports by the refugees is too significant
to either ignore or understate.
We believe these reports, coupled with what we are learning from
other sources of information, clearly demonstrate that ethnic
cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity are occurring in
Kosovo. The widespread and systematic character of the criminal
conduct of Serb military, paramilitary and police units in Kosovo
points to many of the indicators of genocide. Kosovars are fleeing
Kosovo, not because of the NATO bombing campaign but because of
the Serb assault on the civilian population.
He indicated that the pattern basically, that I'm about to describe,
is based on interviews he personally conducted with these refugees.
Serb forces usually masked to hide their identities barge into
private homes and order the occupants to leave permanently within
five minutes with a number of derisive epithets. In Pristina,
the Serbs yelled, "There will be no Albania Pristina after
tonight." Pristina is being expunged neighborhood by neighborhood
with seemingly calculated and planned efficiency. Kosovars are
shaken down for their cash, money and their jewelry. Those Kosovars
who resist expulsion from their homes are killed. The basic message
is, "You leave or you die."
Killings and beatings are common. Many refugees reported about
individuals killed in their homes either by gun fire or by torching
the homes while they are inside. Executed bodies were seen on
the streets of Pristina and other towns with no apparent effort
to remove them.
There was a forced march of thousands of Kosovars from Podujevo
to the train station in Pristina. The paralyzed were either shot
in their homes or pushed in wheel barrels. Serb forces told these
residents you are the most resistant ones, so now you march. The
Pristina train station had tens of thousands of Kosovars crammed
together under orders not to move, subjected to the cold weather
and deprived of food.
Many refugees confirmed that their attackers were neighbors, wearing
black masks. They could tell by their voices. The refugees said
their neighbors donned the characteristic black uniform at night
and joined the Serb forces. There was an indication, that with
respect to the trains, that Kosovars were packed into each train
like sardines. One refugee called it the, "train of misery."
Another refugee estimated there were 300 Kosovars in each train
car, and the train had 21 cars. When it arrived at Blace, Ambassador
Scheffer witnessed thousands disembarking into the already crowded
Those are the conclusions based on some initial reporting by Ambassdor
Scheffer who is our Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes. Those
were pretty dramatic conclusions that he's reached based on his
own interviewing. He will be provided assistance to the Tribunal
and working both with refugee accounts, individual interviews,
documenting this information so that it's spelled out as close
to the events when it happened, has the most credibility as possible.
Then the rest of our government will be working with Ambassador
Scheffer's office to provide the necessary information for the
War Crimes Tribunal to do its job. We intend to support them,
and we hope they will follow the evidence where it leads.
QUESTION: At this point, can you conclude that Milosevic
is responsible for the actions being -
MR. RUBIN: Well, as I indicated to you that we do believe
war crimes, crimes against humanity, are being committed. We believe
they're indicators of genocide. As far as President Milosevic
is concerned, we have said for some time that the question of
command responsibility is one that needs to be addressed. We have
no doubt that President Milosevic is politically responsible for
what is going on in Kosovo.
The legal responsibility is pursuant to the rules of the international
tribunal is what they have to determine. We don't want to prejudge
that for them. We want to give them all the help they need in
order to draw their independent conclusions in the hopes that
whatever conclusions they do reach are as widely accepted as possible.
QUESTION: Can the United States not negotiate with a head
of state who is also an indicted war criminal?
MR. RUBIN: I don't want to prejudge the future. I will
say this: There is a growing sense in this Administration and
among western governments that it is harder and harder to see
how we can sit down at the table with somebody who is at least
politically responsible for these horrendous and barbaric acts.
It is harder and harder to see whether we can do that. I wouldn't
want to rule it out in the interest of achieving the peace that
the people of Kosovo want and the objectives that we've described.
But it's certainly harder and harder to see.
MR. RUBIN: Well again, for example, with our objectives
there are other ways in which we could know that the Serbs have
agreed to the four objectives that we had other than sitting down
at the table with Milosevic. We would have to judge whatever agreement
were reached to achieve our objectives based on concrete indicators
that that is real, but it is possible to imagine how to do that
without sitting down with him.
QUESTION: Reports of the exodus note, several of them do,
an absence of males of fighting age. Does Scheffer deal with that
at all? Is their fate more gruesome? It can't be happenstance,
MR. RUBIN: I think clearly our own indication suggest that
the worse plight is for those who are still in Kosovo. We know
that Serbs have herded Kosovars into larger towns from small villages,
where they've been subject to brutality and execution. But as
far as the specific report of Ambassador Scheffer, I don't believe
he dealt with any conclusions about that. We've all seen some
rather dramatic footage by the BBC and interviews in the region
by various news organizations that indicate what the refugees
and witnesses have said they've seen. We have reason to believe
that there are real executions going on inside Kosovo. But I don't
have anything based on Ambassador Scheffer's report.
QUESTION: Is there a belief that some of these men have
gone off to join the KLA? Are their ranks swelling?
MR. RUBIN: It's hard to know for sure, but again if you're
talking about a situation where villages and towns were surrounded
by Serb forces, I doubt the Serbs were going to let them do that.
If you're talking about a situation where people might have already
left in advance, that's certainly possible.
But let me say as far as the KLA's concerned, the attacks of the
military and police are concentrated in the Klina, Pec and Decani
region of western Kosovo, near the Albanian border. They continue
their massive shelling of Malisevo. Clearly the KLA is having
a very rough time of it, and there is less and less territory
of which they have any control of.
But as far as when people are rounded up in the villages and towns
and cities and the men, women and children are surrounded, that's
-- the question of where are those men of fighting age who are
not elderly or not children are - is one of the most horrific
question to contemplate.
QUESTION: A couple of questions -- do you have a new total
figure for the number of Kosovar refugees?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I gave you the number for the three countries.
There are additional numbers for the total within Kosovo and within
other parts. The total if you address the question of refugees
outside and internally displaced persons within the FRY, is now
in upwards of 855,000. But that includes people who were outside
of Kosovo prior to this most recent episode, 459,000 -- 395,000
new arrivals in Montenegro and other countries; 31,000 new arrivals
in the last 24-hours, for a total of 855,000. That's outside Kosovo
QUESTION: Could you elaborate or explain what the Secretary
meant over the weekend when she talked about ways of creating
a permissive environment?
MR. RUBIN: There's been some misunderstanding of that.
I talked to the Secretary, and I even watched the show, and I
did not interpret it the way some news accounts did. What is going
on here is people are dealing with the following situation, which
is that everyone realizes that the Kosovar Albanians and many
in countries around the world have not made - it's harder and
harder to imagine accepting all the elements of the Rambouillet
accord, which had 82 pages, a large number of legal and constitutional
and political pieces built into it.
But the basic principles of that accord - self government, Serb
forces out, acceptance of an international security presence led
by NATO and now refugee return - are our goals and objectives.
We would require acceptance by the Serbs of those four points
in order for us to cease the bombing. That situation would be
a permissive environment, which would allow for the deployment
of the NATO-led implementation force. The Secretary was not suggesting
that there was some other scenario where the decision has been
made or even to contemplate deploying ground forces. I think that
was something that was misunderstood.
QUESTION: Could you tell us whether Ambassador Scheffer
or anyone else for that matter has yet reached the stage of identifying
Serbian individuals who might be responsible for some of these
MR. RUBIN: Let me say this, I don't have details of that.
I think that he did receive a lot of information from these refugees.
He's putting it down - documenting it, providing it to the War
Crimes Tribunal. If there's any chance that this information from
this briefing can break through the propaganda wall of the Serb
television, let me say that those people conducting this type
of atrocity should know that the international community will
not rest until the evidence is provided and those responsible
are brought to justice; and that they should know that. That means
individuals who -- information develops that justifies an indictment
by the Tribunal, and that means individuals as far as the evidence
QUESTION: Different pictures being aired of Ibrahim Rugova,
this time meeting with a Russian official. What have you determined
about his status? Also, what are the Russians up to? Do their
diplomatic efforts continue in some way?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we certainly believe the Russians continue
to talk through a variety of channels with the Serbs. That's clear
to us. The Secretary has been in touch with Foreign Minister Ivanov
on a regular basis. She continues to explain to him our objectives.
I know she spoke to him this week.
As far as Dr. Rugova is concerned, we're just not going to speculate
on what the conditions are of these statements reported or contributed
to him, or whether this is a fair representation of what's going
on. I would urge as journalists, all of you, to bear in mind that
the Serb government is simply not allowing journalists to do their
job in Kosovo - go into all the places, get independent access,
and make these judgments for yourselves.
From our perspective, until we get an opportunity to see Dr. Rugova,
to speak to him, to know that he and his family are safe, we're
not going to react to purported descriptions of his position.
Again, let me say in that context, if President Milosevic thinks
that in the coming days he can stand up and declare this thing
over through some action short of the objectives that we have
set forth, he is sadly mistaken. This bombing campaign is going
to continue. We have made clear what our four objectives are,
and we're not going to allow him to preempt those objectives with
some phony peace deal in the coming days.
QUESTION: What made you say that - lead you to suspect
that he might unilaterally declare victory and --
MR. RUBIN: Past practice indicates that that's possible.
We don't want to rule that out. We think it's possible and we
think it's important to say that we're not going to accept that.
QUESTION: But have others suggested that to you?
MR. RUBIN: I think people have suggested that that's a
possibility and we have indications that's a possibility. But
we don't know what's going to happen. It's impossible to know
what's going to happen. But in light of that possibility we're
trying to be very clear. The Secretary's work with the German,
French, Italian and British foreign ministers is to deal with
that possibility by making clear that NATO countries are simply
not going to accept some phony peace deal.
QUESTION: Going back to if the bombing does not bring about
the agreement on those four principles you laid out and if, at
some point down the road, bombing does end because the US and
NATO do feel that they've degraded Milosevic's military capabilities
to the point where they're satisfied, is it possible then that
this international security force could go in and bring those
MR. RUBIN: The only consideration being given is to a permissive
environment, defined by Serb acceptance of such a force.
QUESTION: Have there been failed attempts to get in touch
MR. RUBIN: I think we've been trying to get in touch with
him. Primarily, it's Ambassador Hill's area, and he's been working
with him closely for many, many years now. I don't think his phone
has been answering to my knowledge, and we're not getting access
to him. I don't know what attempts have been made formally, but
I think attempts have been made. We certainly would want to get
an opportunity to talk to him and make sure that he and his family
are safe before we judge what his intentions or purported statements
QUESTION: There are some suggestions that the Milosevic
- Rugova meeting shown on Serb TV last week was actually a Spring
rerun of a meeting that was held between the two, two years ago
or so. Have any of your sleuths --
MR. RUBIN: We don't know. We just don't know.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what is the level of cooperation
- diplomatic, military or otherwise -- between the United States
and the KLA? Is there any consideration being given to stepping
up that level of cooperation?
MR. RUBIN: We have received infrequent, but regular, contact
from the KLA to describe the conditions they're living under,
to request air drops and to identify the horrors going on inside
of Kosovo. That has gone on through a variety of channels here
and in Macedonia and in other places.
But as far as formal military cooperation, I think right now the
KLA is having a tough enough time trying to keep its own positions
and avoid being overrun completely, and avoid being defeated completely.
I'm not aware there's any formal military cooperation. We have
not made any decision to assist the KLA with arms or weaponry
or anything of that sort. That's not going to solve this problem
in the near term. That's a long-term proposed solution by some
well-intentioned members of Congress, but I'm not aware of any
real formal military cooperation.
QUESTION: Over the weekend, the KLA actually called for
more support from their own folks -- they said people between
the ages of 18 and 55 should join up. Is this a bad idea? Does
the US think this is a bad idea?
MR. RUBIN: I don't think it would be appropriate for us
to comment on what the horrific circumstances are of the people
of Kosovo and what decisions are made by people trying to defend
their homes and their wives and their daughters and their families
from this horrific slaughter. It wouldn't be appropriate for us
to tell them what to do in such a terrible tragedy.
QUESTION: Jamie, last week you made statements several
times from the podium telling Milosevic to stay out of Montenegro
and that you all had indications that there was a possibility
that he might try and move on Montenegro. Does that situation
remain, and has it altered at all?
MR. RUBIN: We still believe there are indicators of a Serb
intent to act. One of their top ministers indicated they intend
to respond and not accept some sort of coup d' etat. But at the
same time, the situation in Montenegro is generally calm and peaceful.
We remain concerned about the potential for a Belgrade crackdown.
Indications are that pro-Belgrade forces are now attempting to
impose Serbian TV and other propaganda on the people of Montenegro
in an effort to undermine peace and stability. The humanitarian
situation remains a cause for concern. The UNHCR informed us that
supplies to meet the needs of displaced persons in Montenegro
are generally adequate, and the situation has not reached the
grave proportions seen elsewhere.
Some of you may be aware there was a rock concert held in Podgorica
last night. We have heard reports that during this rock concert,
pro-Belgrade elements had hoped to use this as a means of promoting
anti-Western, anti-Djukanovic fervor. However, indications are
that the Montenegrin students who organized the concert blunted
these efforts keeping the focus on music and entertainment.
QUESTION: How has the US responded to concerns from the
Albanians that the deployment and then possible use of these Apache
helicopters might draw them into a war with Serbs?
MR. RUBIN: Well, the US Government has been in very, very
close contact with the Albanian Government, both in terms of dealing
with the refugee crisis that's so massive. In terms of other military
questions, I would have to refer you to my Pentagon colleagues
to talk about any military arrangements for any equipment.
I know that there are significant efforts being made to send --
as yesterday and the day before -- 100,000 daily rations to Albania
by American aircraft. I'm sure that the Albanian Government is
concerned about the future. They have every right to be. Under
the Partnership for Peace, they're in a position to ask for a
meeting with NATO to discuss matters of concern. We would certainly
respond to that.
As far as the basic situation is concerned, however, I think they
recognize the need to deal with the refugees with whatever means
are necessary. I think they've been very welcoming of the military
equipment that has now been brought to bear to help deal with
that. As far as the military question you're asking me, I would
have to refer you to my colleagues at the Pentagon.
QUESTION: Has there been any diplomatic initiatives to
kind of calm the fears that the Albanians do have that if these
helicopters are used, that the Serbs might retaliate -
MR. RUBIN: Deputy Secretary Talbott is in the region, and
these are the kinds of subjects that he's discussing. He's felt
that he's had very good cooperation from the people he's been
meeting with. I would have to refer that question to his return
and any comments he might make on that. He was in Albania on Saturday,
where he met with the president and prime minister. As I understand
it, he felt those meetings went quite well.
QUESTION: Going back to the refugees and the 20,000 coming
here, where are the funds coming for that? Are they in a refugee
budget existing or you have to ask Congress for more money? Where
does that stand?
MR. RUBIN: In the area of finalizing the details of this
program - where they would go, what questions they would be asked,
where the funds would come from - that is something we're finalizing.
You first have to make a decision in principle, and then you have
to work out the locations, the financing and the procedures for
that. That's what we're doing right now. When we have details
about financing, procedures or the locations, we'll provide that
to you expeditiously.
QUESTION: Are there refugee resettlement funds that can
MR. RUBIN: There are funds but exactly where the funds
would come from for this is something that is being worked out
on an urgent basis.
QUESTION: Do you have any information on the three soldiers?
MR. RUBIN: No, I don't have any information on that. We
have tried through the Swedes and through the ICRC to get access
to them. We are in discussion with the FRY to ensure that the
interests of the US and the FRY are covered by the services of
an appropriate protecting power, but the issue has not yet been
resolved. To my knowledge, the ICRC has not yet gotten access
to them as required by an international law.
QUESTION: On that, the Swedes said over the weekend that
Belgrade was no longer allowing them to serve as a US protecting
MR. RUBIN: The Serb authorities have informed Sweden that
it can no longer be the US protecting power in Serbia. We are
discussing the situation and exploring alternatives.
QUESTION: Is this a violation of the Geneva Convention?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't think they have to accept any
particular protecting power. We're trying to work on arrangements
to get the protecting power to be accepted by the Serbs so that
they can look out for our interests.
QUESTION: Can they do that though? Can they say no, you
MR. RUBIN: Yes, they don't have to accept any country who
volunteers to be the protective power. They just have to accept
the idea of a protecting power, I believe.
QUESTION: -- Internet gossip column, Friday or Saturday,
which said that the Secretary's neighbors were so concerned about
the possibility of a Serb terrorist attack in Georgetown where
she lives that they were requesting that she move or be relocated
some government compound. Can you comment on that?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't normally comment on gossip columns
here from the State Department podium. Normally, I'm not asked
about them. But as far as the substance of that piece of gossip,
it is baseless.
QUESTION: Former Maryland congresswoman of Serbian descent,
Helen Bentley has offered her services as some kind of a go-between
with the Yugoslav Government. Is she getting any encouragement?
MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard anything about that.
QUESTION: -- involvement of the NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia
destroying part of a railway link. Are you concerned that the
involvement of the NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia will send the Yugoslavians
the opposite message that you've been stating, which is not involving
any outside states and that NATO peacekeepers are fair game, especially
in light of the capture of the three last week - US soldiers.
MR. RUBIN: Each of the decisions have to be made on their
basis. The SFOR commanders decided that based on their authorities
under the Dayton agreement that it was prudent and proper to prevent
a situation where the Dayton agreement could be affected by the
situation in Kosovo and the Serb behavior towards the Kosovars.
They made that judgment, and we felt we did what we had to do.
Let's just be clear. President Milosevic is trying to expand the
conflict. That's why he's sending hundreds of thousands of refugees
into Albania, into Macedonia, to try to destabilize these regimes.
This is precisely what we feared and why we said that Kosovo was
in the national interest - acting in Kosovo was in the national
interest - because of the risk of the conflict spreading. President
Milosevic is trying desperately to do that. We are working closely
with our NATO allies to prevent that by trying to shore up the
capabilities of the Albanian Macedonia Government to deal with
QUESTION: But by their being involved, doesn't that leave
them to open to retribution or retaliation?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we think it would be a grave mistake for
President Milosevic to try to lash out at the forces in Bosnia.
When the two MiGs tried to do that, they were shot down.
QUESTION: Back to Libya, there was a report over the weekend,
a Reuters report, that said Congressman Hilliard had said Congressman
Hilliard had been invited to Tripoli for the handover this morning,
and I was wondering if you might have anything on that?
MR. RUBIN: I don't have anything on that. I believe that
Under Secretary General Corell flew the suspects to the Hague,
which is where it is just held a press conference. I'm just not
familiar with the presence of a member of Congress. I'm not familiar
QUESTION: ELF, the French oil company trying to deal with
Iran - I can't recall all the details, but do you - does this
fall - is it liable to be sanctioned under the ILSA?
MR. RUBIN: We are deeply disappointed and greatly concerned
about this development. The US remains strongly opposed to investment
in Iran's petroleum sector. We have repeatedly urged the governments
of France and Canada, at the most senior levels, to discourage
this investment. As in all such cases, we will look closely at
the facts of what has happened and will be assessing the implications
under the Iran-Libya sanctions act.
If sanctionable activity is found to have occurred, we will decide
upon and take appropriate action. As I have explained on a number
of occasions, in any case, we follow the same procedure - evaluate
the facts, determine whether sanctionable activity has taken place
and, if it has, decide in light of our national interests what
action under the law to take. That is what we intend to do in
QUESTION: Do you care to address how long it might take
to reach a decision on this?
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: Earlier this year there was another similar deal
- Total, right. Has a decision been made on sanctions on --
MR. RUBIN: Total, the decision was made last year. There
are number of cases that are under examination, and I don't have
any new information for you on them.
QUESTION: Apparently, the US and North Korea just finished
four days of talks, going over details of what they call technical
matters regarding the visits to Kumchang-ni, and I was wondering
whether you have anything at all reporting what they may have
MR. RUBIN: Well, they have been discussing in recent days
the arrangements necessary for the Kumchang-ni site inspections.
We are working on that closely. I don't have a report on the final
stage of these discussions, but we would expect to be able to
proceed on the basis of the agreement struck in New York.
QUESTION: Rongji about to start his visit - outlook for
that? Also how will it be affected by Johnny Chung's admissions
that the chief of Chinese military intelligence gave him $300,000?
MR. RUBIN: I'm aware there have been some press reports
on that. It's an ongoing investigation, and I'm not prepared to
comment on any element of that report or thereby speculate on
what a truth or falsity of that report might impact on a visit
that is going to happen.
So let me simply say that we want to work with the Premier. We
want to advance our national interest to work with China where
we can, on areas of interest, on the matters of North Korea that
was just asked about on the question of nonproliferation in the
subcontinent, on nonproliferation more broadly, on terrorism.
We're obviously working closely on the WTO - the World Trade Organization
accession talks, which we intend to pursue.
On objective criteria, if the Chinese meet the objective criteria,
we would like to see a situation where our exporters can get access
to the Chinese market. As far as what the other political components,
obviously Secretary Albright told the Premier about the difficult
time in Washington right now, and made clear that there was unanimity
both in congress and the executive branch with respect to the
human rights situation. That is why we've gone forward and are
pursuing a resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Commission
to call on the Chinese to reverse the actions they've taken on
human rights, to try to get people out of prison and try to improve
the situation on human rights.
So there's a complex relationship here. We don't think each visit
is going to necessarily going to have a breakthrough. We want
to have a regular dialogue with the Chinese. That means regular
visits by ministers - like the Secretary and other ministers and
Prime Ministers. So we'll have to see what his visit will bring.
QUESTION: When you said each visit doesn't necessarily
have to bring a breakthrough, are you signaling that there won't
be a WTO --
MR. RUBIN: Well, we're going to make that decision based
on the merits, and we'll continue to work with the Chinese. There
are discussions ongoing. We don't expect every meeting to have
a breakthrough, but we want to get market access for our companies
to the Chinese market, and we will continue to pursue that so
long as the objective criteria are being met.
QUESTION: In light of the ongoing air strikes, do you know
if there's been any expansion in security measures for the NATO
MR. RUBIN: I don't have any details on that. I can check
those for you, yes. But we normally, as you know, don't comment
much about security matters, other than occasionally declaring
baseless gossip columnists on the subject.
QUESTION: Xanana Gusmao, whom the Secretary met in Jakarta
-- very upset about the killing of civilians in East Timor and
is suggesting a return to arms.
MR. RUBIN: We are unable to confirm at this point these
reported statement. We will be seeking clarification of his views,
which if reported correctly, we would urge him to reconsider.
If true, this would be a dangerous and troubling development.
The United States remains concerned about violence in East Timor,
including the latest reported deaths. We reject violence as a
means of resolving the situation in East Timor and call for all
parties to work for a peaceful solution.
QUESTION: Thank you.