U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, MAY 28, 1999, 1:15 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing on
this Friday. I have one announcement to make and then I want to
turn to some information related to the war crimes issue.
On the announcement, pursuant to the indictment of the five individuals
yesterday, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control has designated
five Serbian nationals as so-called "Specially Designated
Nationals." Indictment of these five persons were announced
yesterday. Because of their positions and the fact that the indicted
officials clearly act on behalf of the Serbian and FRY Governments,
their property had been blocked under Executive Order 13088 since
June 10, and no US person therefore can act with them in that
Designation as a Specially Designated National further tightens
these restrictions because it puts the public on specific notice
that these are indicted war criminals. We do not believe there
are specific funds associated with them in freezing the assets
as requested by the Tribunal, but we're trying to create a model
for what we would want all countries in the world to do to follow
the Tribunal's call on countries to freeze the assets of these
I will have a fact sheet [statement] on this after the briefing,
but the point here is that the five individuals have now been
put through our system to ensure that their assets are frozen,
and we see this as a model for other countries where they may
have such assets.
Turning to the war crimes information we have available today,
it's two kinds. First I'm going to describe for you a little bit
of the linkage between the imagery that we've been showing some
of you and providing to the Tribunal, and the indictments that
were announced yesterday.
The easel on the far right begins that process. When we saw the
indictment released yesterday, we noted that of the eight massacres
listed in the indictment, we have shown over the past two months
imagery corroborating three of these incidents. We also showed
imagery of one of the towns listed in the indictment charging
forced displacement of Kosovar Albanians.
This first image is an image of destruction of a Kosovar Albanian
neighborhood in the town of Bela Crkva. The before picture on
the left was taken on March 1; the after was taken on April 2.
The incident described in the indictment occurred on March 25
and has been well reported in the press. What you can see from
this image is the destruction of buildings consistent with Serbian
attacks on civilians. Go to the next one.
This is a lifeless encampment of refugees near Velika Krusa. The
indictment details how Serb forces found the refugees in the woods
and killed them on or about March 25, before this image was taken
on April 8. The point of this image is the center area is an area
that is a set of trees - kind of a mini forest - in which is the
remains of a refugee camp. What this image demonstrates is that
at the very time that the reports indicate that the Serb authorities
removed the refugees from that refugee camp, we were able to take
imagery of that refugee camp and it never changed. So we believe
this is a lifeless refugee camp, consistent with the remains of
what refugees might have been living in when they were taken away
by the Serbs; and the timing is precisely the same. None of these
vehicles or any of the other parts of the encampment ever move
after the point when the refugees indicated that they were taken
- that the reports indicate that refugees were taken away and
Go to the next piece of imagery. This is the mass grave at Izbica,
the location of which we confirmed with the aid of a videotape
taken on the ground. This one will be familiar to you; it's part
of the briefing we did last week, where we showed how graves developed
in a particular location at a particular time at the very time
and consistent with the videotape that was provided by the Kosovar
Albanian authorities to the United States and to others. You can
go to the next picture.
This is the town of Kosovska Mitrovica. The indictment says Kosovar
Albanians were driven out of this town in late March. The before
picture on your left is a picture of buildings intact on March
22; the picture on the right - the after picture - is on April
5. Again, this is consistent with what our experts believe --
not military activity -- but the kind of behavior against civilians
that the War Crimes Tribunal deemed worthy of indictment. So the
destruction of these buildings are not of the kind that would
occur in a military engagement, but rather when civilians are
rounded up and their houses are burned or destroyed as part of
a terror campaign.
We also provided the prosecutors with a number of specific other
information that we're not able to go into at this time.
Let me now turn to the new imagery that we're going to be able
to provide today, and this tells us a broader part of the story
of Serbian authorities' crimes against humanity - war crimes--
Yesterday's announcement of the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic
is not the end of the Tribunal's work in Kosovo, nor in Bosnia
and Croatia. The United States will continue to support the efforts
of the Tribunal. As you are about to hear today, we are increasing
our efforts to support the work of the Tribunal and provide it
with more information to bring out the truth about war crimes
being committed by Serbian forces in Kosovo.
What we are showing today is visual corroboration of one pattern
of Serb behavior we have heard about for some time. Just as the
Tribunal and the refugees and the international community is exposing
the truth of war crimes being committed by Serb forces, it's especially
important to note that Serb forces are trying to hide the evidence
of their war crimes. This falls into two patterns. There are a
number of refugee reports that claim that Serb forces have exhumed
Kosovar Albanian bodies from mass grave sites then re-interred
them in individual graves. This is apparently an attempt to minimize
evidence of atrocities against Kosovar Albanians.
The second kind of behavior is that the Serbs appear to be burning
the bodies of their victims. We have seen numerous stories and
refugee reports throughout Kosovo that Serb forces have killed
civilians and then burned the bodies. There are individual reports
we cannot corroborate, but we do have our own credible reporting
that this type of activity has been ordered and conducted. But
this is following a pattern of other activity that we have been
able to confirm.
In both cases, it is a calculated effort to impede the location
of execution sites and to hamper the ability of forensic investigators
to tell the difference between regular graves and graves containing
massacre victims. Up to now, we have had to rely on refugee reports
to give you examples of these Serb efforts of concealment. Today
we can show how imagery corroborates Kosovar Albanian press reporting
of a massacre that occurred between April 17 and April 19 of approximately
70 civilians in the small town of Poblek near the city of Glogovac
in enter Kosovo.
We first hears reports of these killings at Poblek from Albanian
state-supported television and from Kosovar Liberation Army press
sources. They reported on April 20 and 21 that there had been
a Serb massacre between 64 and 76 civilians in Poblek. The report
said the massacre occurred when Serb forces went into the town
sometime between April 17 and April 19. These sources describe
the victims as mainly elderly and children. The easel on the far
right is the village of Poblek. On the top is what it looked like
on April 15. While there is some already existing damage to houses
at the right of the picture, and that is - see if we can make
this thing work - over here -- the houses are already damaged.
All the way over here, there is no damage to the houses. If you
look, then, at the after picture, you can see what the village
looked like on April 24. A number of buildings on the left-hand
side, over here - a number of these buildings -- our experts have
determined, have been destroyed, and this type of damage - again
down here - is consistent with burning of houses, not combat operations.
So that is what we believe happened, consistent with refugee reporting
in that town.
Now, the important point with respect to today's presentation,
is that we have press reports that Serb forces went into Poblek
on April 17. One family said that Serb police came to their house
and terrorized the family. First they shot the family dog; they
threw a hand grenade in the lap of a 55-year-old woman. Serb police,
using an automatic pistol, then killed a number of the other family
members, but some escaped. On April 23, Kosovo press listed the
family names of 64 of the victims of what it described as Serbian
military and police forces. On April 28, it reported the bodies
had been buried in a mass grave.
Nearly two and a half weeks later, Kosovo press reported that
on May 14, a specific day, Serb forces from Glogovac had exhumed
about 50 people from a mass grave, near the city, transported
their bodies by truck towards the town of Cikatova, and according
to a witness, the bodies were re-buried in individual graves.
This we can now pin down precisely. This image on my right, over
here, shows the cemetery near the town of Glogovac. In the picture
on the left, which was taken on May 13, you can see the earth
is undisturbed in the cemetery -- on the right, in this area over
here where there is no earth moved. On the right is a picture
of the same cemetery taken on May 15. These dark areas over here
appear to be the individual graves of what we believe to be 70
There are light lines, when you look at it very closely, within
those graves, that in our view are tire tracks where someone drove
a truck over every single grave. These images taken May 13 and
15 are important because they corroborate the press reports that
the bodies were re-interred by Serb forces on the very day that
the refugee said that this happened.
Obviously, there is much we cannot confirm, but it is an example
where we have corroborated, through imagery acquired by national
technical means, refugee reports that civilians were killed, their
bodies buried in a mass grave, then the bodies dug up by Serb
forces and re-buried in a regular cemetery. We believe the motive
for Serb forces undertaking this activity is to try to cover up
evidence of their war crimes, confuse the picture and obstruct
the work of war crimes investigators.
This is consistent with other reporting that we have that the
Yugoslav National Army recognizes that a day of reckoning will
come and they are - as I understand it, and the reporting that
I've seen suggests -- they are trying to be sure that evidence
is collected that points to other than the Yugoslav National Army
for the responsibility -- to para-militaries and other organizations
within their areas of control. So what we're seeing here today
is a pattern of Serb behavior that recognizes their own war crimes,
their own crimes against humanity and a massive cover-up of these
massive war crimes.
With those opening comments, I'd be happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: Jamie, yesterday Secretary Albright was asked
whether she had any ideas for bringing Milosevic and these other
four individuals to justice, and she almost used the word responsibility,
I believe. She cut her sentence off. Does anyone have a responsibility
for arresting these individuals?
MR. RUBIN: Well, she did cut her sentence off, but I don't
see the significance of it at all. It is the Serb authorities
who have a responsibility to provide to the War Crimes Tribunal
those indicted. It is others who may have war crimes indictees
on their territory that have a responsibility of bringing them
to justice. Every country in the world has a responsibility to
comply with the Tribunal's indictment, because it was set forth
by the Security Council of the United Nations.
QUESTION: Just to clarify, you showed us first - you showed
us three different pictures. Those are the ones that you're saying
were provided that helped in the indictment of Milosevic and the
MR. RUBIN: Correct.
QUESTION: And then these --
MR. RUBIN: This is new information, unrelated to the indictments.
This particular incident at this town is not listed in the indictment.
But the Tribunal has made clear they're going to continue their
work; and what we're trying to show here is we're going to continue
our work to help them. What this is about is evidence that the
Serbs recognize that war crimes are being committed, and that
there is a cover-up taking place by Serb forces to try to hide
the evidence, mix it in with other graves at regular cemeteries,
so that when there is a reckoning, after NATO forces do arrive
in Kosovo, that they can limit the evidence that might be available
to the War Crimes Tribunal.
QUESTION: Does the first - as it three or four pictures
- I'm not sure exactly - how does that implicate Milosevic, Milutinovic,
and these other --
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, I did not suggest that this evidence
we were providing was part of the command chain that Mrs. Arbour,
the prosecutor, will use to make her indictment. Mrs. Arbour's
indictment talks about events that occurred in seven towns that
involved atrocities or involved the mass deportation of civilians
that are crimes against humanity. What these particular images
are are evidence that can be shown publicly of what went on in
those towns that were the basis of the fact that crimes against
humanity were committed. The responsibility --
MR. RUBIN: Please let me finish. The responsibility for
those crimes against humanity and the way in which Mrs. Arbour,
the chief prosecutor, will argue her case about President Milosevic's
responsibility criminally, legally, under the Tribunal's statutes,
is for Mrs. Arbour to describe. I was merely giving you examples
of the help that we've been providing; concrete examples of the
places that were named in the indictment and what we think happened
QUESTION: There's a report that the day before the indictment
was actually - the warrant and the indictment was - not publicly
issued, but signed - that the US had sent over a lot of additional
information that did have - that did implicate Milosevic and the
others as part of the chain of the command. Can you confirm that
MR. RUBIN: No, I cannot. The type of information we provide
is very broad-based. When we are able to get it made available
for public use, I try to do so; when we can talk about it generally,
I would try to do so. I would not assume that information provided
the day before an indictment was announced was decisive in the
creation of an indictment. Lawyers work quickly, but that's awfully
quick even for the work of the Tribunal.
QUESTION: Could you go back to the first image on the far
left? Could you go back to that one?
MR. RUBIN: The first picture?
QUESTION: The first picture.
MR. RUBIN: Yes, the first - that was of Bela Crkva imagery?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: I'm having difficulty correlating those two images.
They look like two different landscapes to me.
MR. RUBIN: It's a close up from a different location, and
we can go through that with you afterwards; but it's the same
QUESTION: Okay. Have you had any word on what Chernomyrdin
is up to in Belgrade today?
MR. RUBIN: We have not received a briefing. Mr. Chernomyrdin
went to Belgrade on Russia's behalf to assess the situation is
the description he gave to Secretary Albright yesterday. Deputy
Secretary Talbott had met with him for a number of days prior
to that on a number of points. We certainly hope that if the question
comes up as to what NATO requires for the bombing to be suspended
that Mr. Chernomyrdin has a full understanding of our view of
what is required. But he was going on Russia' behalf, and I am
not aware that we have a formal report yet from him.
QUESTION: Jamie, what is the purpose of rolling these pictures
out? Why do you feel the need to bolster the war crimes charge
MR. RUBIN: I don't feel the need to bolster it. We think
it's very important for the American people and the world to understand
what happened yesterday. We've refused much comment on it prior
to its announcement because it was up to the Tribunal to make
that announcement. We do think that what has happened to the people
of Kosovo is relevant to the world and to the American people.
We think it's extremely relevant when people are murdered - in
the way in which they were murdered. It's so horrific that the
international tribunal - an independent tribunal created by the
United Nations - has chosen to indict a head of state. We think
that is a clear demonstration of the reason why the United States
and our NATO allies decided that the crimes being committed by
the Serbs in Kosovo justified the draconian sanction of the use
So following the indictment and the announced indictment, there
has been a lot of interest expressed by a number of people - a
number of your colleagues -- to explain the link between information
they've seen publicly and the indictment. So that is what the
first set of pictures were about - responding to a lot of expressed
interest by many of your colleagues in understanding the story
because there was a limited amount of information available at
Secondly, we think it is important of a demonstration of a pattern
that they are engaged in trying to cover up their crimes and that
that shows that this is going on; that it's significant; and that
the world needs to understand that the Serbs themselves understand
the forces involved - what is going on in Kosovo. That's why they're
going to great lengths to cover up the crimes.
QUESTION: Does the Department of State - the United States
Government, generally - believe, as Louise Arbour and the court,
that Milosevic is responsible for giving orders that these events
that are depicted in these satellite photographs - the orders
that brought about these massacres - is there a link up the chain
of command that Milosevic said do it?
MR. RUBIN: What we've said in the past, and we believe
very strongly, is that we believe that President Milosevic, as
the president of Yugoslavia, is politically and personally responsible
for the activities a wide variety of forces - police, para-militaries
and military forces -- are taking in Kosovo, which we have previously
labeled as crimes against humanity and war crimes. We believe
he is politically responsible, given that he is the president;
we believe he is personally responsible because we do not believe
he is a figurehead. Therefore, that is our judgment.
As to whether he's criminally responsible, many of you have asked
that question of us for a long time now. We've said it's up to
the Tribunal to make a judgment as to whether he's criminally
responsible. They have now made that judgment and we have no reason
to dispute it.
QUESTION: He's indictable whether he actually gave an order
or he just acquiesced - either way?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I would leave it to the Tribunal prosecutor
to make the legal case for why the indictment is justified. But
we certainly have no reason to dispute it.
QUESTION: We were with the Greek Foreign Minister this
morning, who was telling us that there was a need for direct talks
with Milosevic. Is that something the United States might consider,
especially after this indictment?
MR. RUBIN: I think we've been quite clear on this. We think
President Milosevic knows what he needs to do; the people around
him know what he needs to do. We are not interested in negotiations
in any way, shape or form. If at some future point we think contact
is necessary to implement our terms - and those terms and conditions
are quite clear in terms of getting Serb forces out of Kosovo
and NATO forces in - we're not going to rule that out. But whether
that would be necessary or not is a speculative question at this
QUESTION: Do you believe or does the United States Government
believe that the Serb authorities will arrest these people who
have been indicted?
MR. RUBIN: What we believe is that the Serb authorities
should arrest President Milosevic and the others indicted to fulfill
the requirements of the Tribunal. We believe a day of reckoning
will come in Serbia, when the people of Serbia and the relevant
institutions have concluded that with an indicted war criminal
as their president they will never be able to rejoin Europe as
a thriving member of the European mainstream; to get the democracy;
to get the economic assistance; to get the integration, and the
rule of law that the rest of Europe is developing so strongly,
and that that day of reckoning will come and that the statute
of limitations on war crimes does not run out. Many people thought
that none of the indicted war criminals would end up in prison.
Many of them have. Some of them have been arrested in Bosnia;
some of them have turned themselves in. But we certainly believe
the Serb authorities should follow the international law that
has been set by the Security Council resolution creating the Tribunal.
QUESTION: Does the State Department's rewards program now
apply to Milosevic?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we have a variety of rewards programs,
and I'll have to check with the authorities to see what I can
say on that subject.
QUESTION: Can you do that, because I believe there's a
- isn't it a $5 million level now on the rewards program?
MR. RUBIN: Let me check into that for you.
QUESTION: Jamie, a couple of things, going back to Chernomyrdin.
First of all, I think Russia was reporting that Chernomyrdin was
going there with a peace plan that would include NATO forces deployed
as peacekeepers and then some Serb forces remaining in the province.
That's not in line with NATO, is that right?
MR. RUBIN: Right. Our view is very clear -- that all Serb,
paramilitary, police, and military forces must leave, because
they are the ones that are responsible for much of this horror
that we've been showing you for the last half an hour. If the
Kosovar Albanians are going to come back, they're not going to
come back to be under the control of the very same people who
were responsible for these crimes against humanity.
If after they leave, and after a NATO force is deployed, some
very small presences may be necessary in a couple of places to
allow demonstration that Kosovo is part of Yugoslavia, we might
consider that. But we do believe they all need to leave.
QUESTION: Just following up. So when the Russians are going
there with this, I mean, they're on their own in this way; that's
not in any way --
MR. RUBIN: Right. What I indicated in response to Jim's
question is that the Russians -- former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin
is going there on Russia's behalf to try to assess the situation.
That's what he told Secretary Albright. We certainly hope that
if Milosevic wants to know what it is that is required for NATO
to suspend the bombing, that he will identify NATO's conditions
as what NATO has told him very authoritatively through Deputy
Secretary Talbott and others of what's required.
QUESTION: Can I ask a final follow on this -- a third follow-up.
The Russians are viewing this that if Chernomyrdin comes back
sort of with no success, empty-handed, then all bets are off for
diplomacy, and there's really going to have to be ground troop
movement - it will have to be ground troops in there for their
solution to the --
MR. RUBIN: There are a number of different ways that President
Milosevic can choose to accept NATO's terms and conditions. The
Russian initiative was not the only one, has never been the only
one, in our minds. This is not a problem of communication; it's
a problem of President Milosevic's refusal to do what's necessary
to stop the bombing of his country and his forces, for his own
selfish reasons. Once President Milosevic realizes that the only
future for his people will require the acceptance of these conditions,
there are numerous channels by which that can be formulated and
accepted by NATO. So this has never been the only channel.
We think it would be helpful and constructive if Russia did play
a role in resolving this conflict, and certainly playing a role
we would welcome in the peacekeeping effort that would follow.
But we've never said this is the only diplomatic channel, and
it's not our view that if this doesn't succeed, then there are
no other diplomatic channels.
QUESTION: The Secretary was saying yesterday that the indictment
could either accelerate or slow down the process of finding a
settlement here. Obviously, there's a danger of pushing Milosevic
into a - or pushing Yugoslavia into being another pariah state
like Iraq. How much weight are you giving this scenario and this
possible outcome when you're doing your analysis?
MR. RUBIN: There is understanding of what the possible
futures are. I think right now Yugoslavia is certainly a state
that is receiving the ultimate sanction of the international community.
NATO has just conducted massive bombing raids on Serbia and the
forces inside Kosovo. The highest number of sorties today and
each day has been higher than the last, and clearly dozens and
dozens of pieces of equipment are being destroyed and a whole
set of infrastructure and command and control facilities are being
destroyed. So they are already subject to the ultimate sanction
the international community can impose on a country. So I'm not
quite sure how to categorize them beyond that.
As far as what the future might hold, I think it's fair to say
that if President Milosevic doesn't submit to the jurisdiction
of the court, there will be no democracy in Serbia; and without
a democratization of Serbia, we cannot envisage Serbia re-entering
the community of nations, receiving reconstruction when this conflict
is over or receiving the kind of financial assistance they need
to grow and thrive in Europe. Beyond that, I don't know how to
be more precise.
QUESTION: You just said if Milosevic does not submit to
the court. Are you asking Milosevic to turn himself in?
MR. RUBIN: I think Secretary Albright did just that yesterday.
We believe President Milosevic should submit to the jurisdiction
of the court as required.
QUESTION: That he should just walk in?
MR. RUBIN: I'm sure arrangements can be made if his intent
QUESTION: Is the arrest and prosecution of Milosevic a
higher priority for the US than the same thing for Mladic and
MR. RUBIN: We believe all indicted war criminals should
submit to the jurisdiction of the court.
QUESTION: The IRC is expected to start air drops in Kosovo
this weekend. Is the US position that it's worth taking the risk?
And also, how bad is the food shortage problem in Kosovo?
MR. RUBIN: We think there is a very serious food shortage
problem in Kosovo, and we have been looking at a variety of ways
to try to assist that. The air drop option is in its final stages
of completion and the International Rescue Committee is expected
to announce the details of that shortly. I would not want to preempt
that announcement, other than to say that we've been very supportive
of their consideration of this idea. We think that there are risks,
but we also think there are gains if the planes can be flown in
and tens of thousands of meals ready to eat or humanitarian daily
rations can be brought to the people of Kosovo.
I gather it was announced in the last 45 minutes, but we're definitely
supportive of that effort and the details they would be providing.
QUESTION: This detail might need to come from them, but
do you know - does this Administration know if the IRC worked
something out with Yugoslav Government so that when they're doing
the food drops, the Yugoslav government will allow those drops
to take place?
MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that arrangements have been
made to inform the Yugoslav authorities of the flight patterns
and the timing of flights so that they know what is - that these
are particularly types of aircraft doing this humanitarian work.
I don't believe they're asking for an agreement, but they would
have to describe the specific arrangements that they've made.
QUESTION: Will they be provided some sort of escort by
MR. RUBIN: No, that is not envisaged by this.
QUESTION: Can we go to a different subject?
MR. RUBIN: Let's see whether we've exhausted our demand.
QUESTION: You mentioned a number of other channels of possible
contact, communication with Milosevic. What are those?
MR. RUBIN: Numerous. I'm not in a position to detail every
potential diplomatic channel. Sometimes there's a desire to have
diplomatic channels that aren't discussed publicly. But I can
simply say that a number of different visitors have gone to Belgrade
and met with President Milosevic from a number of different countries.
A number of countries in the world are in touch with Yugoslav
authorities. So there's no shortage of ways in which to communicate
with President Milosevic. This is not a communications problem;
this is a stubbornness problem. This is the stubbornness of President
Milosevic refusing to accept that what he is doing is bringing
ruin to his people and ruin to his country.
QUESTION: Are these other channels authorized by the United
States, or are some of them freelancers?
MR. RUBIN: Some - both kinds. I mean, authorized by - we
don't authorize every discussion with President Milosevic. When
I say there are other channels, Jim, I wouldn't draw too many
conclusions. What I'm saying is there are many different individuals,
governments and others who have met with President Milosevic and
could meet with President Milosevic. So there's not a communication
problem -- any number of which could explain to him NATO's requirements.
QUESTION: There was a report from the Defense Department
yesterday that the KLA has had some success in beefing up its
forces. As this conflict draws out, does the United States see
any danger that the KLA may wind up moving into the power vacuum
and taking over large parts of Kosovo?
MR. RUBIN: That would certainly be a problem that would
avoid the kind of massive crimes against humanity that we've seen
and therefore would be relatively better. We don't see the capabilities
of the KLA as being, right now, in a position to fight battles
against armored units and take and hold large swaths of territory
at this time. We believe that the air campaign is seriously hampering
the activities of the Serbian forces, and that therefore they
are not able to operate and conduct the kind of operations they
were conducting in the early weeks of their operations that began
well before NATO's air campaign. So they are clearly hampered.
But I don't think we see a massive change in the balance of forces
right now, other than to say that Milosevic and his generals miscalculated
grandly and badly. They thought they could wipe the KLA out in
a few short weeks; and they were wrong. They made a grand miscalculation
because they thought once they did that, they could negotiate
an arrangement for peace. That grand miscalculation has caused
grave damage not only to the people who've been the victims of
these war crimes, but to the people of Serbia who have now had
to suffer through the results of NATO's decision to use air power.
QUESTION: I wonder if the KLA does move into large areas,
do you expect it to be more difficult to convince them to lay
down their weapons as a result of that?
MR. RUBIN: We believe that the discussions we've had with
the Kosovar Albanian leaders, including the KLA - this is the
very organization that chose peace in France in February. They
chose to demilitarize, to postpone their desire for independence.
They chose peace over war because they understood that the people
of Kosovo want peace and the miracles of peace that go with that
and the benefits of peace that go with that. We have every reason
to believe that at the end of the day, when President Milosevic
finally accepts the terms and conditions NATO has laid out and
NATO forces deploy, that we will be able to work cooperatively
with all the Kosovar Albanian authorities, including the KLA.
Any more on Kosovo? Just Kosovo.
QUESTION: Two things. Could you comment on yesterday's
reports by the British newspaper - The Times - suggesting that
President Clinton could send 90,000 troops to Kosovo --
MR. RUBIN: I believe my colleague at the Pentagon dismissed
that report out of hand. I don't have all the details of it, but
I think we regarded that as incorrect.
Any more on Kosovo?
QUESTION: And secondly, do you have an overall figure about
the number of Albanian men missing in Kosovo who might have been
killed by Serbs?
MR. RUBIN: We have various estimates. At one point the
estimates are in the hundred-thousand-plus range. I would have
to get you our best estimate for the record. But clearly, there
are massive numbers of men that are missing.
QUESTION: It just popped back into my head. Has the protective
powers thing been solved yet?
MR. RUBIN: No, it has not.
QUESTION: Is there an estimate - what's the current estimate
in terms of the number of internally displaced Kosovars?
MR. RUBIN: I believe it's in the 500,000 to 700,000 range.
MR. RUBIN: Okay. Can we move these now, and let's continue
QUESTION: Can you say something about what the US assessment
is about the situation in Kashmir and around the line of control?
Is it expecting further escalation? And secondly, is the US thinking
of sending any special observers there, other than the diplomatic
efforts that are already going on?
MR. RUBIN: Indian air strikes and ground attacks continue
against positions occupied by infiltrators from Pakistan that
are in India's side of, but very close to, the line of control
in Kashmir. An Indian helicopter was reportedly shot down today
on the Indian side of the line of control. This fighting is the
most serious in some time in Kashmir, and its proximity to the
line of control makes it of grave concern and great concern to
the United States. India has said it will limit its attacks to
its side of the line of control, but has every intention of dislodging
the militants there, who are threatening a key road to northern
Senior American diplomats in India and Pakistan are in touch with
host government officials in India and Pakistan to express our
strong concern about this matter, to urge them to show restraint
and prevent the fighting from spreading, and to urge both countries
to work together to reduce tensions. Assistant Secretary of State
Inderfurth gave the same message to the Pakistani and Indian ambassadors
The continued fighting underscores the need for India and Pakistan
to resolve their differences. We hope they will be able to do
this quickly in the context of the recent Lahore summit. We understand
that there have been a number of conversations between Prime Ministers
Vajpayee and Sharif. We believe that Indian and Pakistani military
and political leaders need to be in touch so there are no misunderstandings
and miscalculations. We think they should support bilateral diplomatic
efforts to pull their countries back from the danger of a heightened
and far more dangerous conflict.
Our position on Kashmir is well known. At this time, there are
no plans to send a US envoy to the region. And with respect to
where exactly the plane was, we are unable to establish whether
Indian aircraft have or have not crossed the line of control.
QUESTION: Do you have an independent assessment about the
genesis of this problem -- how the infiltrators came to be on
the Indian of the line of control? They are well-armed. Today
they used a Stinger missile against the helicopter. Pakistan says
that we don't know how these guys came to be; they must have traveled
through Pakistani territory. Do you have any comment on this?
MR. RUBIN: We have concern about not only the source of
the conflict, but the results of the conflict. We have expressed
those concerns directly to the governments involved, and I'm not
sure I want to escalate the situation further by publicly describing
everything we've said. But we do have our own view as to how this
situation developed. But that doesn't excuse heightened action
by the other side, either.
QUESTION: Do you approve of a country defending the territory
under its control?
MR. RUBIN: We think both sides, India and Pakistan, should
show restraint, understanding the grave risks they are posing
to their people and the world by the potential for an escalation,
and that both sides should show great restraint in a situation
QUESTION: This is an obvious question by now. Are you concerned
that this might lead to nuclear strikes between these two countries?
What's the likelihood of that? Is that what you mean when you
say grave concerns about escalation?
MR. RUBIN: I think any time that India and Pakistan, who
have fought wars in the past, have conflict between them, we are
gravely concerned. That concern is only heightened by recent activities
in the last year or so, but I was not specifically referring to
QUESTION: Have you received any source of assurances from
either side that they would not resort to the nuclear option in
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't be able to comment on diplomatic
discussions of that kind.
QUESTION: Could you comment on the use of a Stinger since
the Stinger missiles are in the region because they were supplied
to the Afghan rebels once upon a time by the US?
MR. RUBIN: Well, original sin is a very interesting thing,
and I'm not interested in speculating on it.
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the decision of the
President of Cuba to dismiss his Foreign Minister?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not sure it will have much of an impact
on any change in Cuba policy. We do not expect it to have any
impact on the nature of our relationship - tends to be in the
form of rearranging the deck chairs, in our view.
QUESTION: Do you have any updated information on Dr. Perry's
visit to North Korea? How about the meeting with Kim Jung-Il?
MR. RUBIN: Dr. Perry, Ambassador Sherman and rest of the
delegation did meet with a wide variety of senior North Korean
officials, including those from high-ranking political, foreign
affairs and defense circles. We do not have a full read-out. He's
expected to phone Secretary Albright shortly.
We do believe the delegation was well received and was afforded
the opportunity to hear authoritative North Korean views. The
delegation met with a range of senior officials from political,
foreign affairs and defense circles, and thereby heard authoritative
views. There was no meeting with Kim Jung-Il. A meeting with Kim
Jung-Il was not a prerequisite for the visit. The evaluation of
Dr. Perry's trip will therefore not hinge on that one question.
After briefing the Secretary and others, Dr. Perry will meet with
South Korean and Japanese officials in Seoul tomorrow, on May
QUESTION: Did the North Koreans give any explanation why
Kim Jung-Il was not available for a meeting?
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't be able to get into that kind of
detail until we've had a full report.
QUESTION: Is the US disappointed that such a meeting did
MR. RUBIN: No. What we've said is that we thought the trip
should go forward based on what we expected. We said that such
a meeting would be desirable. But we do believe that the meetings
that were held were sufficient for Dr. Perry to get authoritative
QUESTION: I'm not suggesting that you think the trip went
badly, because - but are you - is the US disappointed in light
of the fact that you said and made a specific point to say that
it would be desirable for such a meeting to happen?
MR. RUBIN: Right. And that desire was not fulfilled.
QUESTION: Does the team have any speculation or any guess
on what this vast tunnel complex is about?
MR. RUBIN: I think there's been some reporting that is
less than accurate on this subject. The US team reported that
the underground site at Kumchang-ni is an extensive, empty tunnel
complex. A fuller technical analysis is underway to determine
as best we can what the site might have been intended for.
Based on what we know thus far, there is no basis to conclude
that North Korea is in violation of the agreed framework. Obviously,
we need to await further results.
With respect to the suggestion that there are a whole bunch of
sites around, let me say we demonstrated in our successful negotiation
with North Korea on multiple access - meaning more than one time
-- to Kumchang-ni that we are prepared to pursue our concerns
until we achieve results. We would do so again if we had similar
The underground portion of the site is a large, empty tunnel complex.
Construction was unfinished and no equipment was present. It was
at a stage of construction prior to the time when any relevant
equipment, other than construction equipment, would be expected
to be present.
QUESTION: I've forgotten what the deal was. The US inspectors
can come, what, every six months or so?
MR. RUBIN: We expect to go back on a number of occasions;
we have the right to return. I believe there's another scheduled
visit. But in anticipation of an outcome such as this preliminary
one, we wanted to insure future visits so that we could fully
remove our suspicions about the intended use of the site. So we
will return next May for another visit, per our agreement with
North Korea, and for subsequent visits to fully remove our suspicions.
MR. RUBIN: North Korea, yes.
QUESTION: So the delegation has finished their work in
Kumchang-ni and Dr. Perry went to North Korea. So what's the next
MR. RUBIN: I think we need to assess fully the results
of the technical work that was done by the mission to Kumchang-ni;
and then after Dr. Perry has consulted with Secretary Albright
and the President, we may have more to say about North Korea.
But those are the next steps right now.
QUESTION: You say you have to wait for the result. Are
you saying that you're holding any material from the site?
MR. RUBIN: I'd rather not get into any details. I've given
you a general conclusion that we've been prepared to make, based
on the work. A more detailed description of what we have found
and what judgments we make about what we have found has to wait
for a full evaluation.
QUESTION: Jamie, this is the obvious question: presumably
the people who went to the site asked the North Koreans why they
were digging large tunnels underground. Perhaps you don't have
an answer, but did they report what the North Koreans --
MR. RUBIN: Our view has not been to focus on what North
Korea says things are for. Our view is to focus on what the facts
on the ground and the deeds are in countries like North Korea.
So I am sure they had views as to what they said it was for; but
the focus of our attention and the reason why we want on-site
inspection is because we're not so interested in what they say
these things are for, we're a lot more interested in what we think
its capabilities might be.
QUESTION: Jamie, in light of this grand non-discovery,
is the US at all embarrassed or worried that the North Koreans,
after having stalled and stalled and stalled and protracted the
negotiations over visiting this site, may have pulled the wool
over your eyes?
MR. RUBIN: Well, no, I think what I'm trying to explain
to you is that this site was in such an advanced state of construction
that it was our judgment that they were not going to be in a position
to have had a massive technological facility there that they were
going to be able to take apart before we got there. We have other
ways of monitoring the site. We discovered the site by our national
technical means, and the inspectors were able to confirm the state
and the status and the timetable that would have been required
for the site to become something. So I don't see how any wool
could be pulled over our eyes when there wasn't any wool.
QUESTION: But that's exactly the point. You said this was
an advanced state, and they got there and basically it's just
a hole in the ground - a big one.
MR. RUBIN: So I don't understand your point. The fact of
the matter is we were concerned about the site, okay? We were
concerned about what the future might hold for that site. We think
being on the ground gives us a lot of advantages in determining
the state of the site. And letting the North Koreans know that
we're going to go back there every year has a powerful impact
on what some intentions might be for the future of the site.
So obtaining access through visits has both informational value
in the visit that takes place, and deterrent value in the visits
that are going to take place.
QUESTION: I guess I'm trying to ask, this was always referred
to as the suspect nuclear site. Were these suspicions founded?
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, I'm not going to make judgments
about the final findings of this group. But what we are talking
about here is sites that could be used for purposes that we're
concerned about. Having access to those sites on a regular basis
can affect what - change what could to would; meaning that what
they could be used for might not be what they would be used for.
QUESTION: Jamie, are you saying that they determined that
it could not have, in the past, contained any significant --
MR. RUBIN: Again, it's a hole in the ground. It's a construction
site for something. They wanted to see the size of the construction,
the types of equipment that might be associated with the construction
site. But it's a construction site. The advance - when you go
down M Street and you go left on 23rd, you see this big hole in
the ground -
--and what they will put on top of the hole is what we're all
waiting for so we can go to the restaurant.
QUESTION: The North Koreans, however, are not worried about
the US building a nuclear site at the corner of 23rd and M.
MR. RUBIN: That's why we want to be able to go there every
year. Yes, I think we've exhausted this.
QUESTION: Okay, China. You know the Chinese Ambassador
held a news conference today here in Washington. Two questions
for you - one, he continues to tell reporters that the Chinese
do not accept NATO's explanation that the bombing in Belgrade
of the Chinese Embassy was accidental. So the question for you
is, what kind of problems does this pose for the Clinton Administration
if the Chinese continue to refuse to buy the explanation?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think more broadly it is China that
has to come to grips with the fact that we had a tragic accident.
I think there's been a lot of public information that's already
available on the reasons for that accident. We intend to develop
a report to provide to the Chinese that explains the accident.
But in the long run, until the United States and China can work
closely together, Chinese interests will suffer and American interests
will suffer. This is a two-way relationship. We believe engagement
serves our national interest in a number of ways. We believe that
China is not doing us any favor over the years in working with
the United States. They believe it serves their national interest.
So, ultimately, we believe that greater interest will win out
over the mistaken view of the Chinese ambassador or any other
Chinese officials about the reason for the tragic mistake at the
Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.
QUESTION: And just one other thing. Dr. Henry Kissinger
yesterday in an interview was basically saying that the Cox Report
and then the anti-Chinese sentiment that is sort of building in
the Congress basically can start making out the Chinese into the
role played by the old Soviet Union in the Cold War, and he expressed
grave concerns about that. What do you - how do you respond to
MR. RUBIN: We believe that China is not the Soviet Union.
China has a billion people with a thriving market-based economy
in many respects. That is very different from the Soviet Union.
We believe the information flowing in and out of China is massively
different than the Soviet Union. We believe that China has not
had expansionist tendencies to the extent the Soviet Union did
in supporting secessionist, guerrilla and terrorist organizations
around the world. So I think the comparison is misleading. I think
there are those who may want to make the comparison for their
own political purposes. We disagree with it, and we certainly
want every American and every member of Congress and everybody
to focus on what is in our national interest; and that is that
stopping non-proliferation, stopping the Chinese support for activities
that might promote non-proliferation is in our national interest.
We believe getting cooperation from China in fighting terrorism
is in our national interest; in fighting drugs - it's in our national
interest; in fighting international crime - that's in our national
Those who would have us break with China need to answer how we're
going to combat the crime; combat the drug smuggling; combat the
terrorism and combat the non-proliferation that we are able to
combat with Chinese cooperation in the absence of that cooperation.
Otherwise, they are doing harm to American national interest.
QUESTION: How much did the Cox Report hurt the US-Chinese
MR. RUBIN: I think the Cox Report - many of the recommendations
we agree with. We'll have to see. The Cox Report came at the time
the previous question referred to, which is the tragic accident
at the embassy. So I don't know how one can assert one or the
What we know is that the Cox Report doesn't change our determination
to be vigilant in controlling our technology and to be vigilant
in advancing our national interests where we can and where we
think it's appropriate by working with China.
QUESTION: One follow up. Just in general, how concerned
is the United States about this rift with China, and how deep
do you think it goes?
MR. RUBIN: We do believe that we've been through a rough
patch, and that patch has not been passed through yet. But we
do believe that cooler heads will prevail in China when they realize
what's in their national interest; and we certainly will do what
we can in the Administration to ensure that the United States
does what's in our national interest.
QUESTION: What's the status of the report on the embassy
MR. RUBIN: I don't have any new timing or data on that.
QUESTION: On Colombia, a spokeswoman for the FARC guerrilla
group announced yesterday that the punishment for the guerrillas
who killed three Americans in March next to the Venezuelan border
will be to teach them how to write and read and to build roads
in Colombia. Does that satisfy your government?
MR. RUBIN: This would be outrageous if the report is true.
The suggestion of working on road construction for murder is completely
and utterly inadequate for a crime as serious as murder. We would
reject this and note that this does not come even close to meeting
what we have previously called for. Our position remains the same.
We continue to insist, as we have since these murders came to
the light, that the FARC must cooperate with the Colombian and
Venezuelan investigations of this act of international terrorism
and turn over those responsible to the appropriate authorities.
Nothing short of this will satisfy our demand for justice. We
believe that it is in the interest of the FARC to do this, so
this falls - is barely worth of saying woefully inadequate, it's
QUESTION: Just to follow up - does this announcement by
the FARC make it now more difficult for the United Sates to help
Colombia get going with the peace process?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we want to work closely with the Colombian
Government, and we will continue to do so. I'm not going to speculate
on what this may or may not mean.
QUESTION: Back on Venezuela. Do you have any official response
to the decision of President Chavez to deny the permission for
the DEA to fly over --
MR. RUBIN: No, I have no comment; I'll try to get something
QUESTION: Egypt. The Egyptian Parliament has passed a rather
draconian piece of legislation which would severely limit the
activities of non-governmental organizations, including human
rights organizations. It's now on the desk of President Mubarak.
Have you seen this; do you have any opinions; are you in contact
with anybody about this?
MR. RUBIN: We strongly support the legitimate and constructive
roles of NGOs in social, economic, political and cultural affairs.
We are deeply disappointed with the apparent thrust if the bill
approved by the People's Assembly. We are still reviewing the
text, but it appears the law increases the amount of government
control of non-governmental organizations. This is the wrong direction
to go if Egypt wants to energize civil society and promote development.
Freedom of association is a fundamental human right. Non-governmental
organizations play a critical role in providing citizens a channel
through which they can make their concerns known to the government.
Efforts to restrict non-governmental organizations are almost
inevitably efforts to limit free speech and free association.
We are raising our concerns with senior levels of the Egyptian
QUESTION: Senior levels -- would that include President
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't be in a position to specify any further
than senior levels.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:05 P.M.)