Read the Council of Europe European Convention on Human Rights (4 November 1950) 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 #51, 99-04-19

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>


832

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Monday, April 19, 1999

Briefer: James P. Rubin

ECUADOR
1	Statement on the Economic Crisis in Ecuador

FRY (KOSOVO) 1-4 NATO Examining Steps to Deny Belgrade Access to Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants 1 Secretary Albright's Conversations with Foreign Ministers Over Weekend 2 French Concerns About Widening the Conflict 2-3 Fuel Supplies in Montenegro 3 Fuel Sources for Belgrade 4-5 Update on Refugee Situation/Outflow of Refugees 5-6,7 NATO Summit and Agenda/Situation in Kosovo 6 Secretary Albright's Meeting with World Bank Representative Today 6-7 "Armed Conflict" versus "War" 7 Prospects for Use of Ground Troops 7-8 Prospects for Arrival of Refugees at Guantanamo 8 Status of Plans to Link Refugee Camps by Cell Phone Network 9 Numbers of Internally Displaced Persons In Kosovo 9 Involvement and Efforts by UN Secretary General Annan 9,11 Secretary Albright's Conversation with Foreign Minister Ivanov 9,11 Former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin Named Special Envoy for Kosovo 10-11 Prisoner in US Custody/Update on US Servicemen 10 Assessment of NATO's Military Campaign

NATO 4,7 Attendance at the NATO Summit/Heads of State 5-6,7 NATO Summit and Agenda

RUSSIA 4 Attendance at the NATO Summit 9,11 Secretary Albright's Conversation with Foreign Minister Ivanov 9,11 Former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin Named Special Envoy for Kosovo

TURKEY 11-12 Election Results

INDIA 13 Reaction to Fall of Indian Government

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO 13 Meetings in Tripoli, Libya

GABON 13 US Visit by President of Gabon


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #51

MONDAY, APRIL 19, 1999, 12:45 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. The day is Monday. We do have a statement on Ecuador that we'll be posting after the briefing. I have no opening remarks; let's go right to your questions.

Barry.

QUESTION: Jamie, on the notion of denying Yugoslavia oil, how does the Administration think this strategy should be pursued? What is it you're trying - I mean, I know what your ends are -- but how are you going to go about this or how are you going about this, physically or persuasively or some combination thereof?

MR. RUBIN: We do believe that it's appropriate to take all possible steps to deny Belgrade the access to petroleum, oil and lubricants - so-called POL - that contribute to Yugoslavia, Belgrade's war machine; the war machine that has done such terrible damage to its own people, including all the terrible reports about mass expulsions and murder and all the other war crimes that we've discussed with you on many occasions.

So we think it is appropriate to look at ways to try to cut off the supplies that fuel that war machine, and we are doing that in NATO. NATO is examining this question. We think that's an extremely important objective. Secretary Albright has been discussing that with her counterparts over the weekend. She spoke with a number of foreign ministers. President Clinton, I believe, spoke to President Chirac over the weekend as well. So this is something we're discussing, but no precise approach has yet been agreed upon.

QUESTION: Well, usually an approach is to first try persuasive powers and if that doesn't work, to sort of set up a blockade of some kind. I mean, can you convince the world not to provide Yugoslavia with oil, or are you going to have to move in ships and blockade Yugoslav ports; or has it not come to that yet?

MR. RUBIN: I think that's a little premature. I think that an example of a way to go about this is a regime of some kind of visit and search of ships, which would enable one to distinguish between products that would fuel the Yugoslav war machine and other kinds of products. So that's certainly an example of a way to go about it, but we haven't settled on the exact approach. Remember, we're consulting with 18 other countries in NATO to try to pursue this, and so that is something we will continue to pursue in Brussels.

QUESTION: When did you all first raise this with the NATO political leadership and how urgent do you all feel it is to come to a decision on it?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we do think it's important. I wouldn't know the first time any American official raised it with any European official. I know it's been something that's been discussed in the last few days. We do think it's important to deal with this problem, to confront ways in which to prevent the war machine from being fueled.

As you know, NATO has done great damage to the fuel capabilities of Belgrade to fuel its war machine, including destroying its refinery capability and a large, large portion of its resources in this area and that will continue, pursuant to the air campaign NATO is conducting in Brussels. We do think it's important to try to prevent them from pursuing other means to fuel this evil war machine.

QUESTION: Does the US believe that a blockade or a search, such as the one you said as an example, would require international legal moves, such as at the UN or the EU?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: Can I follow that up? Is there any consultation, either at the United Nations or about United Nations action on this, or is that something you've completely --

MR. RUBIN: We don't think it requires UN action. We think that there are plenty of legal justifications that exist for this action. Let's remember, we are in an armed conflict with the Belgrade authorities; so we don't believe it requires additional UN action.

QUESTION: Will you have any trouble convincing your allies to accept this initiative?

MR. RUBIN: What I indicated in response to Barry's question was that we believe this is an important objective. We believe all our allies see the wisdom of pursuing this objective, and we're discussing ways in which to pursue it in NATO.

QUESTION: The French are reportedly concerned about it, saying that it could spread to a wider conflict. I mean, they're also concerned thinking that it would require some type of approval from the UN Security Council. Can you confirm those --

MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't be able to comment on the French position; that would be up to them to comment. Let me just say I think all of our allies believe it is important to work to prevent the Yugoslav war machine from being fueled, whether by internal resources or by external resources. That's why we're looking at ways to pursue that through NATO. Secretary Albright has been speaking to her counterparts. As I indicated, President Clinton has spoken to President Chirac, and we will continue to work on this. I prefer not to get into the details of what diplomats are saying to each other or leaders are saying to each other about different concerns one way or the other. But we are continuing to work the problem.

QUESTION: How big a problem, as you go about this, is the fact that you don't want to cut off fuel supplies for Montenegro, I assume, and yet you may be if there is a blockade?

MR. RUBIN: As I indicated, I think that is premature. So I would take the last part of your question off - the question of the blockade. We do think there are ways to do this. It is difficult, but we are pursuing it because we think it's important. I wouldn't, again, be able to get into all the details.

We do strongly support the regime in Montenegro. We have provided humanitarian assistance to that regime, given its democratic outlook and its democratic practices; and we will continue to do that. Again, we think there are ways in which one can try to limit the flow of petroleum products to the war machine of the Yugoslav military without necessarily interfering with other commerce in the area.

QUESTION: But what makes - you just said it is difficult; what makes it difficult - actual logistically doing it or is it difficult because it's difficult to build a consensus among the allies?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we're working through this. This has just come up in a couple of days. I wouldn't draw any conclusions about the allies. I've said that we believe that all of our allies - that's a consensus, all of them - see the wisdom of this objective. But we are going to pursue it, and it's a very technical matter. It has operational questions; it obviously has legal questions. We're working our way through it, and we'll find out how this proceeds as we go about it.

QUESTION: Jamie, what countries are providing the refined oil; and is Russia one of these countries?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of that. My understanding is that it tends to come from other parts of the world. I wouldn't be able to specify where, other than that some ships are obviously getting in or we wouldn't be considering this approach.

QUESTION: Have they discussed this with Russia, and would you try to recruit Russian support for some kind of oil blockade?

MR. RUBIN: You keep using a word that I'm trying to deter you from using.

QUESTION: Method of preventing oil from reaching the Yugoslav --

MR. RUBIN: That's a very loaded word, "blockade," so I'm specifically avoiding that. That's premature.

QUESTION: Okay, system.

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware this is something we're necessarily pursuing with the Russians. I think it's something, as I indicated in response to earlier questions from Eric and others, that we're pursuing primarily in NATO. Once NATO had made the decision to develop a regime to try to deter this, that we would think there aren't a lot of countries anxious to interfere with such a regime if that were to happen.

With respect to Russia, the only relevant incident that I could point to is that the Hungarian authorities made sure that any humanitarian assistance that was going through by land to Serbia was genuinely humanitarian and didn't have excess fuel as part of the convoy. They made sure that the fuel carried by the convoy was commensurate with the needs of the convoy to go in and out so that excess fuel wouldn't be left for possible use in this regard.

So we continue to work the problem from a number of angles.

QUESTION: Jamie, why has it taken you a month to get to this issue?

MR. RUBIN: I don't see it that way at all. We are pursuing this. We've been steadily degrading their own capabilities and now we're approaching the problem from another way. So I wouldn't see it that way at all.

QUESTION: Could I follow up? It suggests that this is stretching out longer than you all had thought in your wildest dreams that it would stretch to. You're bombing the oil refineries, but you're not trying to limit the oil deliveries. It's just --

MR. RUBIN: Your suggestions are incorrect.

QUESTION: Can you say why my suggestions are incorrect?

MR. RUBIN: Because you're asserting something in our minds that isn't true.

QUESTION: As host of the NATO summit, have you now had word that the Russians will not be attending?

MR. RUBIN: No final word on that.

QUESTION: Can you get us up to date on the refugee situation?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I can. Our reports, basically, from the UNHCR indicate that outflows were much slower on Sunday after major outflows on Friday and Saturday. In Albania, some 6,000 refugees have arrived in the past 24 hours, bringing the total up to 365,000, which is an increase of 40,000 over Friday's numbers. In Montenegro, some 500 internally displaced persons arrived in the last 24 hours, bringing the total there to some 73,000. In Macedonia, some 500 refugees arrived in the last 24 hours, bringing the total there to 132,000, which is 10,000 more than were recorded on Friday.

As you know, we're working very closely with the governments in Albania and Skopje to deal with the refugee situation; especially in Albania, where we're working to deal with the problems in Kukes, which hosts more than 100, 000 refugees, to make sure they have necessary shelter and sanitation services. Apparently, they are now, in the camps, receiving water on a 24- hour basis. There was some weather problem over the weekend which made it hard to bring in relief goods. Also, UNHCR is trying to move some of the refugees out of the northern areas, where there are some risks, down to more stable areas. They think they can move some 5,000 a day. That is the current status of the refugees.

We are working very closely with Mrs. Ogata, NATO, and all the relevant authorities to try to provide adequate food, shelter and medicine for these people who have been forced out by President Milosevic.

QUESTION: Do you have any notion why the outflow has gone down? Is it because of something the Serbs are doing or are they running out of refugees; or has everybody come?

(Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: I don't particularly think it's funny when we're talking about the lives of these refugees. Let me say this -- it is clear that the Belgrade authorities are continuing their systematic expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. Refugees tell harrowing stories of arson, looting, torture and murder. Recent arrivals in Macedonia are reportedly from Urosevac. Despite the continued ethnic cleaning, the borders seem to be opening and closing intermittently. They dropped, as I said, on Sunday.

The UNHCR is reporting that the Kosovar Albanian border was closed on Sunday after the announcement that Belgrade was cutting off diplomatic relations with Albania. It was opened again this morning. No refugees have yet arrived in Albania this morning. So it is often difficult to pinpoint exactly what moves people - whether they're forced out. We know that in recent weeks they were herded onto buses and trains, box cars and convoys and pushed out. Right now, what we know is that the border is operating intermittently and the refugee flows are changing.

We are aware that there are very large pockets of refugees in several areas that we're looking at very carefully in northern and western Kosovo, but it's very hard, given our limited information and the fact that there is nobody on the ground to confirm exactly how many people, where they are, and what their future outflow will be.

QUESTION: I know, Jamie, that this weekend's summit has - at least the way that it's being billed is no longer as a celebration but a commemoration, and that most of it will focus on Kosovo. But can you give us a sense as to how the agenda, in terms of what the US hopes to get out of it, has changed?

MR. RUBIN: We will be giving extensive briefings in the coming days - both here and the White House - about the summit.

Generally speaking, let me simply say I think clearly there is going to be more of a focus on working on the Kosovo problem than there would have been had this not been a time when we're in military conflict with Belgrade over Kosovo. I think there will be a lot of discussion about the future, and how the Balkan region can be turned into a place of stability rather than a generator of instability.

Secretary Albright will be meeting with Mr. Wolfensen today from the World Bank. President Clinton spoke on Friday to the idea of trying to generate a long-term approach that will bring together the efforts of the international financial institutions, NATO, the European Union and other organizations so that over the long-term we can create a greater degree of stability in the region; that is particularly with the countries that are democracies and that are prepared to work together.

A number of countries have talked about this - Germany, Turkey and Greece. So I expect that to be one area where the leaders work to try to advance their vision of a Europe whole and free, of security and prosperity; to try to take this one part of Europe where there have been major problems in the past in Croatia and Slovenia, in Bosnia, and try to deal with it over the long term.

So I would say that has taken on, perhaps, a bit more life in recent weeks.

QUESTION: What is on the agenda -- or what is not on the agenda for this weekend that had been on the agenda?

MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't really see it that way. I think that certainly the tone is going to be different, but I would prefer to wait until the formal briefings that will be held in the next day or two about how each of the events will unfold. I don't think things have been taken off the agenda. I think the tone will be a little different, for obvious reasons, and there will probably be some additional ideas put forward in developing a communique that will focus on the Kosovo problem.

QUESTION: You keep using the expression - and forgive me, I don't know if you've actually used the word "war - but you refer to it as a military conflict. Do you feel comfortable substituting the word "war" in? Does the Administration not see this as a war?

MR. RUBIN: Well, there are legal implications of formally declaring it a war. Given that I am the State Department spokesman, people could misinterpret me using that word. So I'm going to avoid using that word. It's up to a more legal judgment to actual using the word "war" formally. So I am using, temporarily, "military conflict" until I'm told otherwise.

QUESTION: Yes, but wait a second, the problem with that that is developing here as this conflict continues is that we are asked what legal basis the US has for interrupting commerce. You say it grows out of this conflict situation --

MR. RUBIN: Which we believe there are statutory provisions for armed conflict that are sufficient for what we are trying pursue; so it isn't a problem.

QUESTION: There are federal, US or --

MR. RUBIN: No, international legal statutes that apply.

QUESTION: For conflicts that are not wars?

MR. RUBIN: Right, that would allow you to pursue this approach.

QUESTION: And without the UN, as was in Korea, for instance?

MR. RUBIN: Correct. So we don't think it is a problem.

QUESTION: Jamie, a very senior NATO official earlier today said that the NATO summit would definitely talk about the question of ground troops. Can you confirm that? And how would you answer those many commentators who say that if the summit doesn't take a decision in favor of threatening ground troops, then basically NATO will lose the war and will sign its own death sentence?

MR. RUBIN: Disagree with the first. The second, with the first, I have no new words to offer you on ground forces.

QUESTION: Whether it will be discussed, you mean?

MR. RUBIN: I can repeat each day the words that we have communicated to the public and to the media about ground forces. I'm quite familiar with them, and could recite them for you. I'm just offering not to do that for you. We've said what our position is on ground forces; I have nothing new to offer you on it.

With respect to the commentators expressing their opinion, they're entitled to.

QUESTION: Will it be discussed?

MR. RUBIN: That would be to add words to what our stated position is on ground forces, and I don't intend to do that.

QUESTION: Jamie, on the NATO summit, do you know how many heads of state are planning to attend and if anyone is considering not attending?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware there's been any significant change. I gather the Bulgarian leader needed to go back to deal with a certain issue. I don't know what his final plans are, but I can check that for you.

QUESTION: Jamie, on the refugee situation, has there been any updates as to whether or not they're going to bring the refugees to Guantanamo Bay or not?

MR. RUBIN: We have made available resources both to enable refugees to come to Guantanamo, as well as to build camps in Albania to house refugees. We are going to be guided by the people on the ground, who will have a better sense to what extent one needs to deal with problems in overflow in Albania, for example, or Macedonia. We remain willing to offer the places at Guantanamo that we indicated. I believe 500 are immediately available and could be ramped up quickly.

Secretary Albright, I believe, sent a letter to a number of her colleagues in Europe making sure they remain willing to accept refugees if that becomes necessary. But I don't have any plans for refugees now being flown to Guantanamo, but this sort of safety net capability that we've been building remains there if the UNHCR thinks it's necessary.

QUESTION: This may be too precise a question for you - may be better directed to AID, but I thought I'd ask anyway. There was talk and plans - I guess they're still underway - to link the camps in Albania and Macedonia by cell phone network and also to give each of these camps Internet sites so that people could attempt to find their families.

MR. RUBIN: I know the ICRC has set up centers to try to help find missing relatives. I know that we are working with them to assist technologically and through people in the effort of the refugees to find people they may have been separated from. I just don't have a specific answer to that, and we'll get you that from AID.

QUESTION: Follow-up on refugees, speak about the refugees that were killed on two separate road convoys last week. It was revealed today by a brigadier general of the US Air Force that US air forces were involved in bombing both of those convoys, and there were some other countries that were involved. But I think the conclusion was that it was not completely certain, based on the evidence they looked at in the last five days, that NATO forces were responsible for the deaths of refugees on those roads. My question is, do we still apologize to the Kosovars, the families of the people that were killed and say if we had anything to do with it we're sorry? Is that how you handle that diplomatically?

MR. RUBIN: We made clear that we do regret the unintended effects on civilians from a number of possible actions as a matter of policy.

With respect to this, I'm not sure you accurately characterized the extensive briefing done in Brussels. Let me say this - to the extent that there were civilian casualties as a result of our actions, we deeply regret that. But at the same time, we have to make very clear civilian casualties are the purpose of the policies of Milosevic's forces in Kosovo - whether it's the casualties to those who are forced out, the fact that we have rather graphic reports of rape and of mass murder and of separating of men and boys. There are still 100,000 men that we are unable to account for, simply based on the number of men that ought to have accompanied women and children into Macedonia and Albania. Based on past practice, it is chilling to think where those 100,000 men are. We don't know. We know that civilian casualties are the objective of President Milosevic's policy.

QUESTION: I want to follow up on what you had mentioned there. Are there still between 500,00 and 750,000 refugees in the hills, internally displaced people? Is that still an accurate figure? I didn't mean to make light of --

MR. RUBIN: I've been hesitating to give you a number of internally displaced persons inside of Kosovo because it's very hard to get accurate numbers. It may be as high as 700,000 Kosovars within Kosovo who are displaced. That means they're not in their original homes. I don't have more specific numbers to offer you; that is a guesstimate based on the work of the UNHCR and others. But clearly, this is a major, major problem.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- Secretary General Kofi Annan at the UN. After the meeting, he made statements in which he said that as long as the bombing campaign continues, the problem is getting worse. He asked for greater involvement of the UN as an organization. It seems like this is a slightly different position than the general position of NATO. Do you have a reaction on that?

MR. RUBIN: I think the European Union met last week at the leader level, and Kofi Annan was part of that. They were clearly looking to involve the United Nations in the process. We expressed our welcome of Kofi Annan's position in making clear that President Milosevic needed to reverse course and accept the basic conditions NATO has laid out.

So the fact that there would be discussions between the Greek leaders and Kofi Annan again about how diplomacy can support the military campaign to get President Milosevic to reverse course, that's fine with us. As far as Greece is concerned, we think Greece has been a strong ally. We've remained united; 19 countries remain steady in their determination to continue to confront the evil policies of President Milosevic's forces.

QUESTION: Jamie, can I touch a couple of bases, because it bears a little bit on what you call the evil war machine? Is the line holding on weapons; is Yugoslavia still being denied weapons? And you remember that question last - sort of still on the table -- are the Russians not providing, as far as you know, Yugoslavia with intelligence and war material?

MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright spoke to Foreign Minister Ivanov earlier today on the phone. They continue to work together. They talked about the naming of former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin as a special envoy. He met with Ambassador Collins earlier - I guess on Friday or Saturday. We continue to work with Russia on clarifying the objectives that Russia can support of NATO's objectives. We made some progress toward that end when Secretary Albright was in Oslo and that continues.

We have, at a variety of levels, continued to assiduously ensure that Russia understands the importance of not moving from a situation where they have some political sympathy for the Serbs into a situation like the one you described. I would point out that I did see a press report that the reported arrival or departure of several ships was canceled. It was attributed to President Yeltsin's desire not to enter the conflict. Those basic assurances remain, and I have no new reports on provision of assistance to Russia.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- I mean, you say his refineries are crippled, he needs --

MR. RUBIN: Broadly speaking, Milosevic's war machine gets weaker and weaker every day. Whether it's ammunition, whether it's fuel, whether it's the actual vehicles on the ground, whether it's command and control, whether it's logistical support, telecommunications, with every passing day, Milosevic's war machine is getting weaker and weaker.

QUESTION: Jamie, can you talk about prisoners of war? Is there any update, any contact, any efforts ongoing? Is it any different than it was last week?

MR. RUBIN: I don't believe so. As you know, we have in our custody a prisoner that was transferred by the Albanian authorities to us. We have provided him access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, provided him access to medical care, enabled the Red Cross to pass on messages. This is in stark and dramatic contrast to the fact that authorities in Belgrade, as far as I know, still have not provided any access, pursuant to the Geneva Convention. It's another example of blatant violations of international law by the Yugoslav authorities. I have no update on their situation.

QUESTION: Does the Administration feel that it's winning this military conflict?

MR. RUBIN: With every passing day, President Milosevic's forces are getting weaker and weaker. And with every passing day, NATO's determination and its military campaign is getting stronger and stronger, and we are satisfied with that.

QUESTION: Okay, what about within Kosovo? Have you been able to slow the exodus and the atrocities?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, it's very hard to make a judgment as to what the results of things are from the air, with respect to the situation on the ground. Clearly, the forces that have been conducting these brutal operations - and these were operations that I think it's very important to understand that were planned to be executed regardless of NATO air strikes. It's very hard to know to what extent they have changed as a result of NATO air strikes. It is merely speculation. We believe the plan, the intent and the capability were there prior to NATO's using air power.

With respect to what's going on on the ground, our military has made clear that they are limited - the Yugoslav authorities are limited now -- in their ability to move around, for example, by lack of fuel, knowing that they could be subject to attack from above. Their need to hide, hunker down, prevents them from operating with total freedom to conduct their dirty business.

QUESTION: Back to the POWs, officials in Belgrade have said, as a reason for their not giving the three soldiers access to the ICRC, that they have not gotten a formal request for that. I realize that there's a lot to be said about that claim. But in light of that, has there been any resolution to the protective powers issue, which I think is the reason that they're saying it? Because the US doesn't have any representative there, they can claim that officially and technically they haven't gotten something from a diplomat saying please give them access.

MR. RUBIN: That is a bogus excuse on the part of Belgrade. The ICRC has sought access; it has been denied access. That is a violation of the Geneva Convention, fair and simple. There is no argument by any serious person about that. We have not resolved the protective power issue. We continue to work on that.

QUESTION: Russia - the conversation with Ivanov - last week you were saying how you had managed to narrow the differences and there was some evolution in the Russian position. Can you say whether the telephone conversation today showed any progress in that direction, any further progress?

MR. RUBIN: I would not be in a position to comment in that regard. They did discuss those same subjects; they've been doing that for several phone conversations. I believe she spoke to Ivanov last week as well after our trip to Oslo. So they continue to discuss the matter, and as I said, they talked about the naming of former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to be a special envoy and the importance of us working together as he fulfills his responsibility; and he did have a meeting with Ambassador Collins on Friday.

QUESTION: Can you saying anything about the atmospherics?

MR. RUBIN: It was a good call; very constructive. She was pleased that they continue to work together in pursuit -- on this issue.

QUESTION: Do you know whether that conversation was before or after President Clinton spoke with Yeltsin?

MR. RUBIN: I believe that happened - it would have been before.

QUESTION: Before that? Have you been briefed by the White House?

MR. RUBIN: The White House will be sharing with its able reporters what it can about the call by President Yeltsin.

QUESTION: Did they give you an idea of what types of activities Mr. Chernomyrdin will be doing?

MR. RUBIN: That would be up for the Russian Government to describe.

QUESTION: Has he been asked to come to the NATO summit?

MR. RUBIN: I've never heard of such a thing.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the Turkish election?

QUESTION: Can you take one more on Kosovo? Prime Minister Blair said today something to the effect of NATO would do whatever it took to get these refugees back to where they belonged and to reclaim the land which was rightfully theirs - a fairly strong commitment. Does the United States share that determination?

MR. RUBIN: I would urge you to take a look at President Clinton's comments from last week, in which he indicated that the exodus of these refugees would not stand. So I think they'd both be united in that area.

QUESTION: The Turkish election?

MR. RUBIN: Turkey's voters went to the polls on April 18 to elect the 550 members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and all of Turkey's mayors, local assemblies and other local and municipal officials. Officials results will be announced later. President Demirel will name a prime minister- designate after the new Grand National Assembly is sworn-in. It would be, therefore, inappropriate to comment on the preliminary results released so far.

QUESTION: According to - I know you don't want to comment on it, but the religious parties losing the vote and the National Actions Party is increasing their vote. Is it the view --

MR. RUBIN: These are preliminary results and it would be inappropriate for us to comment.

QUESTION: India? Do you want me to ask the actual question?

MR. RUBIN: We can get to a position where you just name the country, and I'll just give you the answer.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Iceland

QUESTION: Finland.

QUESTION: We could go by numbers, right?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, there's a joke about that, that I don't even have to give you the answer.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: I want to ask about politics in India.

MR. RUBIN: The reaction to the fall of the government over the weekend, in our view, is a vivid demonstration of India's spirited democracy at work.

We look forward to working closely with whatever new government is formed in India. We were encouraged by the summit in Lahore in February between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan. We believe these talks reflect not only the commitment of the Prime Ministers to reconcile long-standing differences, but are also an expression of the popular will of millions of ordinary Indians and Pakistanis who want to move beyond these problems to a new relationship. We strongly support the Lahore process and hope it can be moved forward as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Do you see anything specific happening with the arms race there because of what's happened in Delhi?

MR. RUBIN: Again, it's hard to comment specifically on what the new policies would be of any new government. We, as you know, expressed regret at both India and Pakistan's missile tests. We want to see concrete steps taken as soon as possible to respond not only to the differences between India and Pakistan, but respond to the non-proliferation demands of the international community. So we'll have to see how this unfolds before we can answer that.

QUESTION: I see that over the weekend, Libyan diplomacy scored a minor triumph and managed to secure a cease-fire in the Congo conflict. I wondered if you welcomed the cease-fire and whether you had perhaps some nice words for Libyan diplomacy, seeing this was an objective of the United States for some time?

QUESTION: All you had to do way say Libya.

MR. RUBIN: Officials of the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo informed our Embassy in Kinshasa today that meeting between President Kabila and President Museveni did take place in Tripoli. We are still working to get additional details before we can do what you're anxious to see us do.

QUESTION: The President of Gabon is here today. Do you have anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright will be meeting with him, and shortly after that meeting we can provide you something about it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:25 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 Monday, 19 April 1999 - 23:47:46 UTC