U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #51, 99-04-19
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 19, 1999
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 Statement on the Economic Crisis in Ecuador
1-4 NATO Examining Steps to Deny Belgrade Access to Petroleum, Oil and
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
4,7 Attendance at the NATO Summit/Heads of State
5-6,7 NATO Summit and Agenda
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
11-12 Election Results
13 Reaction to Fall of Indian Government
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
13 Meetings in Tripoli, Libya
13 US Visit by President of Gabon
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
So I would say that has taken on, perhaps, a bit more life in recent
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.)